Let me be clear that the following solution, Advantage Xi is not right for everyone. That's why I offer over 25 different CRM solutions for Realtors. This just happens to be the one that suits my personal needs the best. If the following describes your needs as well, then maybe you should take a look at it or get a free trial by going to http://advantagexi.GaryDavidHall.com. You can also purchase at a discount on that same page.
Using Gmail and its apps to handle e-mail and contacts and calendar is OK, but it doesn't do anywhere near as much as a good CRM. The same can be said of Outlook, or Business Contact Manager. If all you need is an e-mail client, phone book, and calendar, they may be fine for you. However, if you really want to grow your business and automate follow-up and transaction management, and you don't want to have to re-invent the wheel, you need much more.
WARNING: You may need a cup of coffee before you try to follow this. Fortunately, Advantage Xi's tech support will help you set it up if you ask, and you can get their help to do it all during the free trial period.
I have now been using Advantage Xi for over 4 years, and have yet to find a better CRM for me. Although there are many things I like about it, such as its power and flexibility, I will focus on the e-mail capabilities and the sync with my Droid X here. By the way, this will work with any phone that works with Gmail, which is just about anything.
First let's review how POP3 e-mail works so the rest makes sense. Incoming e-mail resides on your e-mail host's server. When someone sends you an e-mail, it sits on that server until your e-mail software performs a send/receive. If you are using Outlook as an e-mail client for instance, when it performs a send/receive it goes to the "POP3 Server" address you told it to in the setup, and downloads the e-mail to your hard drive to be opened by Outlook.
All of the following happens automatically.
In Advantage Xi, I have it set up the following way. I use Gmail to "POP" my e-mail server. I use Internet Crusade as my e-mail host, because it allows me to do bulk e-mails to my sphere of influence of over 3,000 contacts without being rejected by that SMTP/Outgoing e-mail server or other incoming servers as spam. I have almost 6,000 contacts that are being synced to Gmail and my Droid X.
So first the e-mail comes to Gmail. I don't use Gmail for anything other than to POP my e-mail host. So first it gets the e-mail and it sits there. Advantage Xi then POPs the e-mail in Gmail, to download it into Advantage Xi's e-mail client. Their e-mail client replaces Outlook, so I don't need Outlook for anything any more. It has a very similar look and feel to Outlook, to the degree that when I show it to people, they often think it is Outlook. When Advantage Xi gets the e-mail from Gmail, it automatically stores that e-mail with the contact record if they are already in my database. If I right click on that e-mail while it is in the inbox, I can also opt to store it with the property/transaction record. Meanwhile, any time Gmail gets e-mail from my e-mail account at Internet Crusade, it also syncs it to my Droid. So what does this all mean, practically?
When I am out on the road with my Droid, I can receive an e-mail, and then reply to it. Rememeber, the original e-mail is already in Gmail. My reply from my Droid also gets synced to Gmail. Because Advantage Xi is getting all mail that goes to Gmail, both the original e-mail, and the reply are automatically stored with the contact in Advantage Xi. Also, if I get e-mail on my Droid that I don't want to store with a contact, I just delete it on the Droid. It is then automatically deleted from the Gmail inbox, and therefore never makes it to the Advantage Xi inbox. The end result is that when I get back to the office, I don't have to sit there and delete e-mails that I already decided I did not want/deleted when I viewed it on my Droid.
One other aspect of the Advantage Xi e-mail is that it can automatically add incoming Web/e-mail leads as new contacts, categorize them, and launch a follow-up drip campaign (just e-mails) or an action plan consisting of e-mails, to-do's, appointments, letters, post cards, client reports, and phone calls.
With regards to contacts and calendar items, any contacts or appointments I add to my Droid, are automatically added to Gmail, and then Advantage Xi, and vice versa when it syncs.
If you are fairly conversant with CRMs, you may be realizing that Advanatge Xi is a desktop CRM as opposed to a Web based CRM. No worries. If you want to share the database, which includes the e-mail, with others on your team, or with both your home and office computer, it can do that. Go to http://garydavidhall.com/advantagexiSynching.htm for an explanation. Many people I talk to think they need a Web based solution for different reasons. The only reason I have found is if you truly need to access your CRM from computers other than your own, on a regular basis. What the decision comes down to is having a truly all around excellent CRM, and sacrificing an occasional need to access it from a community computer, or having Web access and accepting a much less powerful and flexible solution. To me it's a no brainer.
To hear other existing users talk about Advantage Xi, you can go to the Yahoo user group by going to http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/Mark-It-AdvantageXi/ .
Or see some comments on it by going to http://garydavidhall.com/advantagexi.htm#testimonials