Accpac International is on a recruiting mission for its latest CRM package.

Top Accpac executives, including company president and CEO David Hood, hit the road on a 10-city tour with stops in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, all in an effort to build support for its CRM 5.5.

During the

tour, 290 attendees came out to the Canadian dates and over 600 for the U.S. dates. From those, Accpac has signed up to 80 to become CRM solution providers.

Accpac CRM 5.5 is squarely positioned in the SMB space. It includes a new user interface and more enhancements to its Sales Force, Marketing and Customer Care functions.

Beyond that the latest version also has for the first time expanded e-mail integration and response management with support for most e-mail systems including Lotus Notes, Microsoft Outlook and Eudora.

Accpac CRM can also be a hosted application at www.accpac.crm.com. For example, if the package is deployed in-house a small business may have up to 20 users as opposed to an unlimited amount of users if that application were hosted.

According to the Aberdeen Group, Accpac’s approach to hosted CRM services may be on the right track.

In Aberdeen’s latest report, the research firm says economic and technology cycles have converged to give ASPs new life – the economy continues in the doldrums, and CRM’s early majority cohort is demanding cheaper, easier-to-use, and faster-to-install applications – all of which have made many people take a second look at CRM delivered as a service. But even more fundamentally, Aberdeen believes that even if the economy were going full tilt, the opportunity for hosted CRM would still be present, and vendors in the space would be doing well. In other words scarce corporate resources are no longer the driving force behind the uptake of hosted applications.

Accpac is in a dogfight with rival Microsoft, which launched its first entry into the CRM market earlier this year.

“Comparing Accpac CRM and Microsoft CRM is not even like comparing apples and oranges,” said Hood.

“It is more like comparing apples with a seed. Microsoft CRM is a 1.0 release, while Accpac CRM is a 5.5 release, meaning it is more mature.”

Hood did not stop there with his comments on Microsoft.

He added that with Microsoft CRM a company is locked into licensing SQL Server, Exchange and BizTalk. That company also runs the risk of having Microsoft change its policies later on.

“Microsoft CRM is a minor SFA (sales force automation) solution, not a complete CRM solution,” Hood added.

Garth Dean, GM of Microsoft Canada’s Business Solutions division, in response to Hood’s comments, said Microsoft has five years of CRM experience and has been serving the mid-market for two decades. Its CRM product does provide tight integration with Outlook and other business solutions.

“The catalyst behind bringing Microsoft (CRM) to the market is that the mid-market was underserved,” Dean said.

Dean did not cover the licensing policies of Microsoft CRM in his statement.

Hood also confirmed that Accpac is working on a competitive upgrade program for ACT and Goldmine.

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