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Sage Software officially launched its new CRM suite, Sage CRM, on Tuesday at its third annual business-partner conference Insights 2005.

According to the company, Sage CRM is a Web-based customer relationship management solution targeted at SMBs (small and midsize businesses) and is available both as an on-demand and an on-premises solution.

Sage Software, based in Dallas, Texas, and formerly known as Best Software, is trumpeting its new release as the first CRM solution that follows what it calls a “rent-to-own” model.

Sage Software provides an investment-protection guarantee so that businesses, particularly SMBs with their typically limited IT resources, the ability to get their feet wet with CRM solutions without being required to commit either to a full-scale implementation or to long-term subscriptions.

With the rent-to-own program, Sage Software promises to refund a given customer as much as 50 percent of the customer’s hosted-subscription costs should that customer decide to move to a client-server CRM suite solution during its first year of hosted CRM service.

“ would have businesses believe hosted software means no software. That’s a clever way of saying they offer no choice,” said Jim Foster, executive vice president of Sage Software’s midmarket division.

According to Foster, businesses seeking a front-office solution want both choice and long-term investment protection; therefore, he says, Sage CRM is an ideal solution that straddles these needs.

“We’re making the decision process even easier with our unique rent-to-own program. Businesses who are at the crossroads of deciding to implement a hosted or traditional on-premises CRM strategy now have choice,” Foster said.

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