If you’re considering a new CRM system for your organization, as part of the evaluation and selection process, you may have discovered a host of available third-party add-on functionality for CRM systems.
CRM add-ons range from small utilities to complete productivity applications.
Not all add-ons require additional payment. For example, third-party vendors often provide free apps to connect CRM to their platforms.
Here are four general types of CRM add-on functionality:
1. Free Native Functionality
These are entirely free CRM add-ons that developers release for various reasons. Native means that the functionality runs entirely inside the CRM system.
Sometimes, vendors will offer these apps as loss leaders in order to subsequently market paid products.
In other cases, developers will post free apps out of altruism or a desire to be recognized — they’ve come up with something useful and want to share it with the world.
2. Paid Native Functionality
This type of CRM add-on generally adds a complete set of incremental functionality within a CRM application.
Examples are project management, accounting, commission tracking, and CPQ apps.
Since these are effectively entire applications within a CRM application, the vendors typically charge standard app prices.
3. Free Integration Between CRM and Standalone Apps
Third parties that offer products that run in a separate environment from CRM (i.e., non-native applications) will often provide their integration packages for free.
For example, email marketing, marketing automation, and eSignature vendors will generally not charge extra for packages that integrate CRM systems with their applications.
4. Paid Integration Between CRM and Standalone Apps
When third-party integration packages are developed by integration vendors instead of by the CRM or third-party ISV, there is an additional fee for the integration itself.
Sometimes, the add-on product ISV will charge extra for the CRM integration with their product. In these cases, three different payment streams are associated with CRM plus a third-party app.
For specific business requirements, evaluating CRM add-ons is critical to the overall evaluation process.
For example, ensuring the selected CRM system integrates seamlessly is essential if a marketing automation system is already in place. In other cases, the evaluation of CRM add-ons can be part of a later phase.