Below is a quick outline of the options and sorted roughly from least to most expensive.  At the low end are some free options, at the high end are a couple of options that can cost even more that the base CRM software licenses.

Built-In Quoting: Unlike most CRM products, Microsoft had made an attempt to provide quoting function as a built-in feature.  Strengths: generate quotes from built-in price catalog, manage the quote process (create, activate, approve, revise, track revision numbers), manage multiple price books, works with other built-in CRM functionality (links to Opportunity, converts to an Order and then to an Invoice and easily integrates with ERP applications), cost (no additional software licensing costs).  Weaknesses: does not provide a configurator, cannot handle kitting/bundling, large price lists with many SKUs can be difficult to navigate.  

QuoteAdvantage: This is a free, open-source quoting add on for Microsoft CRM.  It adds some basic bundling capabilities to CRM, is quite easy to use and is fairly powerful.  It doesn’t offer nearly the number of advanced features that some of the other products offer – but it is a great match for businesses that need basic bundling/kitting functionality in addition to the core quoting features that are already built in to CRM.  Last time we looked, the most significant weakness was documentation and support (close to "none" in both categories).

 QuoteWerks: This is a fairly strong quoting tool that has been around for quite a long time.  We have not tested this with Microsoft CRM – though their site does a nice job of demonstrating the integration and we have heard fairly good reviews from some users.  Strengths: this is a proven solution that has been in the market for quite some time, good integration with Microsoft CRM, fairly good bundling and configurating tools.  It is also familiar to many users because it integrates with ACT and other CRM tools.  Weaknesses: it is a desktop application (not deployable via the web like Microsoft CRM), does not integrate with the Quote functionality or price catalogs already built into CRM.  You are required to purchase the Corporate Edition to work with Microsoft CRM.

Advanced Quote & Order Processing 4.0:  This is one that we stumbled across recently.  Admittedly, we don’t have any information on it – but it looks promising.

Smart Catalog: A strong product configuration tool that also includes guided selling methodologies.  It includes the capability to build complex “rules” to aid in the configuration of products.

Experlogix: Another very strong product configurator tool.  It goes beyond simple “bundling” and allows users to custom configure complex products (for example, it can make sure that memory that is added to a computer configuration is compatible with that computer).  Options for this add on range from fairly simple, to very complex (including integration with a web site so customers can generate their own quotes).

Pricing on these final two products is quite high - they are generally for companies that can derive significant value from a highly automated quoting tool that needs to work with a highly complex set of product configuration rules.


A couple of side comments:

  • Most of the add-on quoting products work with the existing quoting available in CRM – they simply extend the existing functionality. 
  • Although most businesses with complex quoting needs find that they require an add-on, we always recommend that you first evaluate the built-in quoting capability to determine if it will satisfy your needs.