Brazilian SaaS firm RD takes on CRM vendors with free SME offering

The platform is aimed at boosting global attractiveness of the firm's marketing automation tools.

Brazilian software vendor Resultados Digitais (RD) is offering a free customer relationship management (CRM) platform as a means to boost the global uptake of its marketing automation product focused on small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

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The company's main product RD Station is a marketing automation suite currently in use by 12,000 customers across Latin America. As part of its international expansion plan, the company launched an English version of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform at the SaaStock event in Dublin last month.

The English product is pitched as a cheaper and simpler digital marketing option than the options offered by the competition and is also a tool to test new international markets. The CRM functionality, provided by Plug, a Brazilian company RD has acquired in August, will be available separately or in addition to the marketing automation product and will be offered in English from Q1 2019.

The free version allows unlimited users and contacts, as well as visibility of the sales funnel and monitoring of each step of the sales process, with customer interactions recorded and available collaboratively.

The basic version will be available at 39,90 reais ($10,54) and offer functionalities such as conversion reports per funnel stage and target tracking, as well as integration to project management tools such as and Trello, messengers such as Whatsapp Web, financial management and enterprise resource systems.

"With more information, management and metrics, SMEs can grow in a sustainable and scalable way, generating more jobs and boosting local economies," said RD chief executive Eric Santos.

According to Santos, integrations with mainstream CRM tools from vendors such as Salesforce will be maintained despite the fact the company will be offering the functionality for free.

"We will still integrate with all the main CRM tools - using our marketing automation product plus a CRM platform is clearly beneficial to customers in terms of client retention and performance," Santos told journalists at the company's client event RD Summit last week.

According to Santos, while large CRM firms understand RD is introducing a competitive element to the market, RD's new offering is positive to the market as a whole. To illustrate his point, executive cited that about 70 percent of the company's customers don't use any tools to manage their client interactions.

"We spoke to all of [the large CRM vendors] in a very transparent manner and assured them we will keep investing in integration. I don't think they see us as a real competitor though that might happen in future," Santos argued.

"SMEs often don't use CRM systems since vendors in that space tend to cater for larger companies at a prohibitive cost. So when we talk about competition, right now our biggest competitor is inertia," the executive concluded.

Angelica Mari covered the RD Summit as a guest of Resultados Digitais.