I am curious what very small companies and solo types here use for contact management.
What I am going to do with this system is the following. I sell a B2B service. I intend to call businesses and present myself. (It's cold calling - PLEASE don't hijack that related topic, I'm not here to debate that.) I then want to collect the business contact information for the places I have called and send them a personalized follow up letter. That's my current plan: a simple "drip" marketing campaign.
I want to start marketing my services and I believe that a usable contact management system is at the top of the list of must-have tools. I do not expect to expand beyond one user (myself.) I want to have something that can support mail merge and linking to external files. Decent usability is a prime consideration.
I've evaluated a few products so far. My impressions of each follow. Also, some accompanying entertaining, subjective rants.
SugarCRM and vTiger (a Sugar derivative) - way - hideously over the top for what I need. "Too" configurable. Too intrusive on my desktop system, requiring an Apache/MySql stack to be installed. Both are "slow" by desktop standards because both rely on web access.
Initially I was enthusiastic about vTiger, but an attempt to import CSV files much over 100 records caused the import process to bomb with a blank screen. I attempted to research the issue and even after following comments on the vTiger support fora I never got it to import more than a few dozen lines of my data at a time.
In my strong opinion, you really need a separate support person role for Sugar or vTiger. The logic I employed here is that when I run into a hurdle with a relatively simple function in an open source tool, I know that the entire product will be similarly challenging to deploy. These Sugar variants are big, complex, and require tinkering. And vTiger is just too rough around the edges for this one man act to bother with.
Zoho just seemed limited, although very nice for what it is.
ContactPlus - very jarring, dated, ugly UI. Looks like a 1996 vintage Delphi application (I used to love Delphi, that's another story.)
Maximizer - a 1.2 gigabyte download, installs SQL Server on your desktop. ARE YOU KIDDING ME! The eval copy expired after I didn't touch it for 15 days so I suppose I will never know. :) The product had an "overwhelming" feel to me, another "too much" product.
There is the rest of the field, of course. Google returns hundreds of distinct hits for "contact manager". Also, everyone wants to sell a "CRM" as SaaS and charge monthly prices. Regardless whether the business model of the CRM vendor is SaaS, I really think that I want a desktop application that I buy outright.
Finally, I found one program that I actually like, very much so far:
Chaos Software's "Intellect" - an advanced version of "Time and Chaos".
Importing my data was a breeze. It actually worked. One thing I didn't like: Intellect does not have a way to save an import field mapping. So you must redo the field map every time you import. vTiger has this feature, and it made importing the same kind of file multiple times very easy.
The UI is clean and lightning fast.
The UI is not very configurable. However, it's pretty close to what I would want ideally.
The user defined fields can work OK for me.
The "Find" feature is a bit clunky but usable. The "tagging" feature could stand some spiffing up but is usable as well.
I can compromise on these things. I just believe that Intellect "nails" what one person actually does with a contact manager.
So my questions to you folks are:
What contact management systems do you use?
Anyone here use Chaos Intellect?
Anyone here use something else much better, and want to defend it as a superior tool? (I am not going to debate. I am simply interested in experiences and other people's judgement.)
In essence, I want to know if I am about to choose "the best" product for purchase and incorporation into my workflow. And please note, I really don't care about multiuser operation, outsourcing the data, or accessibility everywhere.
Also, price is not a huge deciding factor. "Intellect" is $60 and Maximizer is $200 but the major expense here will be the effect on my own effort over the months in using whichever program I choose.
Thanks for any insight, experiences, etc.