Customer relationship management (CRM) is any process, tool, or strategy that helps businesses to better access and organize customer data. As with many things, software makes CRM easier and faster. Therefore, in order to compete successfully in virtually any industry, you need reliable CRM software.
The best CRM software will provide you with valuable insight into how your customers behave and what they need from you. You’ll be able to track the tasks you need to accomplish to keep your customers happy and close more sales. It also streamlines and simplifies business processes for any employee that interacts with your customers. In the long run, CRM software should improve your bottom line.
We reviewed 15 CRM software companies to create our expert-chosen list of the seven best providers based on a variety of small business needs. Read on to learn where each software’s strengths lie, as well as prices, integrations, reporting features, and more to help you make an informed decision.
Best Overall : Salesforce
We chose Salesforce as best overall due to its ability to impact multiple aspects of your business, including marketing, sales, and even the IT department.
Operates on a cloud-based system, allowing access from anywhere
Provides a variety of business needs beyond CRM
Fully customizable to fit the needs of your business
Many features are price-based, so monthly subscription cost can climb substantially
Too much customization can be difficult for your employees, resulting in further training, and potential costs
The best overall selection on our list, Salesforce brings many of your business needs together, integrating with just about any of your current systems, such as IT, sales, customer support, and marketing. This allows you to continue using your current system, while your programs share data and centralize information for your employees. Although it caters to small businesses, it can handle mid-size and large businesses, too. Thanks to its cloud-based platform, no matter where you are, Salesforce keeps you connected to your business while allowing you to focus on your customers.
The most important feature of Salesforce is how it integrates with other software. This is a basic part of the system, but other features can be added based on your needs, such as territory mapping and a speed-dialer to name just a few.
Salesforce utilizes a learning community that consists of Salesforce experts that can answer questions. It also provides training videos and even certification programs. This is pivotal in that it allows a customer to access such information at any given time, without having to contact customer support.
Salesforce is flexible with a world-class tech support team that can tailor features to meet your specific needs. You can create customizable reports even without the help of their developers. The Small Business and Sales plans both start at $25 per month per user paid annually and can climb to over $1,000 per month when you add more users and more features.
Best for Solo Business : Freshworks
Freshworks is our favorite solution for solo businesses because it saves you from the hassle of toggling between platforms. All your software can now be found in one spot.
Leads and sales are organized, operating on an intelligent data metric
Perfect for small and mid-size businesses just getting started
Customizable to fit the needs of your business
Proposals for sales may not be specific to the business and could create more work
Third-party integrations are limited, which can increase costs for seeking additional platforms
Does not have as much flexibility for customized reports
Freshworks creates a platform that focuses your needs in one place, saving solo business owners time and improving focus. Setup is as easy as one click to start converting website visitors into leads. Access your information from anywhere with this cloud-based software. With a connection to some of the best leads for your business, you now have the ability to increase customer engagement and the number of sales closed.
Freshworks uses an AI platform to predict your needs with smart analysis. This collaborates perfectly with the many platforms supported for integration such as Hubspot, Facebook, Klenty, and Calendly, just to name a few.
This software has the capability of pulling your contact details into one location. You can create summaries of recent activities, email campaigns, and much more. With the analytic feature, you can analyze customer support data seamlessly.
Through the Freshworks Academy, you can improve your knowledge and become certified. In addition to the training academy and blogs, customer support is only a few keystrokes away.
Pricing starts at $29 per user per month. Based on the needs of the business, there are more advanced and customizable plans available. These cost-effective options cater to new and small businesses with an all-in-one platform while offering the plan that will best suit you.
Best Value : Pipedrive
Pipedrive stands at the front of the line for small business value. The software offers advanced capabilities like creating websites and rich reporting for a reasonable price.
Tracks emails within the software, making it easier to locate
Easy to use and track leads
Offers some of the best software for basic sales management
A beginner CRM, so this is not best for bigger or more advanced businesses
Not the best customizable software
Tracking reports can be tedious and time-consuming
Pipedrive offers the best value with all the features your business needs to sell more while working less. The platform focuses on controlling the sales process, empowering you to scale your business to its fullest capability. The easy-to-use software makes it possible for you to focus on your business and not the software.
Its activity-based methodology tracks your sales and makes lead follow-up easier. Pipedrive simplifies integration with your other programs, like email, OneDrive, GoogleDrive, and more.
Pipedrive’s 14-day free trial gives users full access to all it has to offer, including 24/7 customer support. Plans start as low as $12.50 per month, with additional charges for add-on packages like their LeadBooster or Web Visitor programs, which are $32.50 and $41 per month, respectively.
Pipedrive offers customizable reporting. Metrics measure the performance of the company against goals. Integrated AI (artificial intelligence) automates repetitive tasks, letting you focus on your customers.
Pipedrive offers blogs and support to enhance your skill with the program, as well as broader instructional articles about sales, scaling your business, management, and employee motivation.
Best Free Option : HubSpot
HubSpot has earned its hard-won title for best free CRM software. The free plan has no time limit and allows you to manage one million contacts through your marketing, sales, and customer service workflows.
Offers a marketing automation tool
Integrates email inboxes within the platform
Connects all your customer interactions in one spot
Compatible with different platforms for integration
Can be time-consuming to create
May require customizing based on the complexity of your customer service requirements
Additional features will cost you
HubSpot offers free marketing, sales, and customer service tools in one place, and users can manage up to one million contacts without worrying about time limits or expiration dates, making HubSpot our best free CRM option.
Beyond their free program, paid pricing starts at $45 per month billed annually. Add-ons such as inbound and outbound marketing consulting can take your business to the next level. It includes a consultant to help guide you through strategies and growing your business.
HubSpot has a community of professionals worldwide that can answer your questions. There are in-app support options, as well as email and phone support that can assist at any time.
Integrating into and with HubSpot is an easy process. With step-by-step tutorials, you can get your platform set up and operating in no time. The software integrates with popular programs like WordPress, Gmail, AgencyAnalytics, and Zoom, just to name a few.
Users get detailed reports on productivity, individual performance, and sales activity. All this information is available at your fingertips from the reporting dashboard. With its full capability to customize your process to benefit your business, you cannot go wrong with HubSpot.
Best for Multi-Channel Communications : Bitrix24
Bitrix24 CRM delivers everything you need in one package, making it possible for you to run almost every aspect of your company, with a notable benefit of merging all your incoming and outgoing communications into a single place for better organization.
Full CRM capabilities, plus more
Ability to centralize all communications and collaboration
Email marketing integration
User interface could be simpler
Massive number of functions could be overwhelming; no ability to remove
Limited social networking capabilities
Bitrix24 comes with full CRM capabilities along with many communication options. For instance, it allows video conferencing with high audio clarity. The software also fully integrates with over 70 VoIP providers, e.g., RingCentral, Nextiva, and Vonage. With video, telephone, work chat, and more, it’s easy to see why Bitrix24 is one of the leading CRM software companies, trusted by over five million users worldwide.
Its many other features allow you to:
- Create departments (e.g., marketing, sales, customer service)
- Easily segment people for workgroups, knowledge bases, and communications
- Share/view the work and progress of all group members
- Set up knowledge bases where users can message each other, create pages, post articles, and collaborate on tasks and projects
- Use the internal chat feature to message teammates individually or by the group or department
- Record and send videos
- Connect your email account, allowing you to send and receive mail from contact records in the CRM and keep a running history of messages
- Set up customizable fields for managing contacts to capture the specific data that works for your business
- See the communication "load" produced by a contact (how much time your business is spending communicating with them)
Webinars and training courses are available online for customer support and training. Technical support is not available to free account users.
Bitrix24 is free for unlimited users, but as with almost all free entry-level plans, only a fraction of the features are accessible. Paid plans start at $19 for two users.
Best for Customization : CompanyHub
While some CRM software providers have developers on staff that can try to customize your features, CompanyHub wins best for customization because they’ve put much of the control into your hands.
Highly customizable, especially by your staff
Powerful reporting capabilities
Email marketing integration
The lowest-priced plan lacks adequate reporting features
Integration with MailChimp not available
No social media integration
In addition to standard CRM features such as contact, product, and sales pipeline management, CompanyHub is highly customizable for different industries, with creative control that you may be able to handle on your own.
The creators of CompanyHub software have worked in the CRM space since 2012. They’ve developed a deep understanding of the needs of different types of businesses. They have used many CRM programs for their own sales teams, and realize that many CRMs are either too complicated or too basic. This led them to design their own powerful but easy-to-use CRM which is easily customized to the user’s needs.
Most CRMs that claim to be customizable are somewhat limited in what you can change. However, CompanyHub goes way beyond the norm. For instance, you can:
- Create custom tables to store any kind of data pertaining to payments, projects, courses, schools, properties, etc.
- Associate records belonging to different tables with each other
- Change the labels to be more specific (e.g., "Company" to "College")
- Filter records by any chosen criteria
- Produce reports on any table or field for any particular period of time
CompanyHub also gives you strong email automation capabilities. Email Sync automatically provides updated leads. Email tracking shows you who opened which mail and which links they clicked on. You can schedule emails and set reply reminders. A Gmail plugin is also available to allow you to track any mail sent from there.
CompanyHub has made feeding data into the CRM easy, too. For example, from a single page, you can create records, edit fields, and add notes, conversations, and tasks, then send follow-ups.
You also have the ability to customize who can see which data, and you can choose from hierarchy-based and rule-based access control. This means that even if two or more salespeople view the same report or page, the data they see will differ depending on what has been set to be visible to them.
Plans are available at $15, $24, and $42 per user per month. The $15 plan provides a single sales pipeline, app integration, website leads gathering, and email and calendar functions. The $24 plan adds more reports and pipelines, and the $42 plan adds advanced customizations and automation.
A training call and demo are available wherein a CRM consultant will talk to you about your requirements and guide you to get the best out of your CompanyHub CRM software.
Best for Small Business Sales Teams : Infor CloudSuite CRM
Infor CloudSuite CRM, our best choice for small business sales teams, identifies opportunities, streamlines sales activities, alerts users to drive accurate forecasts, and has tools for sales managers to monitor their teams and territories.
Great sales team support
Dynamic business rule ensures no leads are missed
Good for mapping key opportunities and targeting profitable prospects
Does not autosave
Some reviews say it’s a bit hard to learn how to use
Industrial-looking user experience
Not all CRMs are as useful to sales reps as they are to marketing departments. Sales teams need specific things from a CRM, including contact management, lead and pipeline tracking, and deal management. Infor’s CloudSuite CRM delivers all of these features and more, making them best for small business sales teams.
Infor CloudSuite CRM helps sales reps streamline the process of moving opportunities through the sales process. Each step in the process gets associated with a probability that the opportunity will eventually produce a sale. As the opportunity moves forward through the process, it contributes a higher value to the sales forecast. Sales managers can then review and adjust the probabilities assigned to each opportunity, or exclude an opportunity from the forecast. Here are some more important sales features of this CRM:
- Allows reps to create new contacts or import them from an ERP or Microsoft Office and store them in one location within the CRM
- All contacts are automatically updated with contact history, and reps can look up required information via one interface
- Through its dynamic business rule, no leads are missed at any stage
- Hot leads are allocated to the appropriate rep
- A rep is able to track a lead at every stage, from prospect through a closed sale, and all steps in between
With prices starting at $65 per month, Infor CloudSuite CRM comes with a logical calendar enabling users to schedule, accept, decline, or delete meetings. The calendar is synced with Microsoft Outlook on a real-time basis so all parties are kept up to date.
Infor’s award-winning support team provides comprehensive service for companies of all shapes and sizes.
The best CRM software allows you to store notes, email, phone calls, and a sales pipeline forecast associated with client records in your database. It minimizes the risk of tasks, appointments, and notes being missed, which could hurt your sales success. There are many choices to find the CRM software that works best for how you work, and for your budget.
We chose Salesforce as our best overall because the program is the most extensive CRM software on the market. Whether it be its list of features, its ability to integrate with other software you’re probably already using, its rich training program, or its customizable features and reports, Salesforce leads the pack.
|Software||Wins For||Key Benefit|
|Salesforce||Best Overall||Extensive catalog of features, integrations, and training modules|
|Freshworks||Best for Solo Business||Everything in one place|
|Pipedrive||Best Value||Robust CRM starting as low as $12.50/month|
|Hubspot||Best Free Option||Free features span CRM, sales, marketing, and customer service|
|Bitrix24||Best for Multi-Channel Communications||Centralizes communications from video, to work chat, to social media, to phone, and more|
|CompanyHub||Best for Customization||AI-powered assistant that learns from you and adapts; centralized communications|
|Infor CloudSuite CRM||Best for Small Business Sales Teams||Sales management tools to effectively manage teams and territories|
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is CRM Software?
Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) software allows businesses to manage interactions with customers in one place. By keeping track of information like the last date of contact and the likelihood of closing the deal, businesses use the centralized management of this information to improve customer experience and service, and hopefully grow sales. The typical foundational features include email integration, contact notes, tasks, reminders, sales forecasts, and reporting.
What Are the Benefits of Using a CRM Software?
At its core, a CRM helps companies build relationships. The better the relationships, the more customers like you and are likely to buy from you. CRM software helps you manage your leads, track interactions, and simplify your scheduling process. It also streamlines your email marketing efforts and helps you interpret customer data. Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of using CRM software is that it helps you stay in front of your customers in a methodical way so that nothing important falls through the cracks.
How Much Does CRM Software Cost?
CRMs vary in price according to how many features they offer. Some offer free plans, but these will always be limited in scope. A well-known and robust CRM like Salesforce can cost hundreds of dollars per user per month on the high end. Add-on features that drive up the price typically include more email marketing campaigns, task automation, extensive reporting, and even video hosting, to name a few.
When Should a Business Implement CRM Software?
You know your company is ready for a CRM when:
- You are losing data about your clients, or have so much information that you can’t use it effectively.
- You need to track how your salespeople are performing.
- You need to save time with automation (email campaigns, logging phone calls, etc.).
- Your customer service needs to be proactive and not reactive.
- You need to easily share information between departments (such as sales to marketing).
- You want more personalized customer service.
- Your company hasn’t seen a lot of growth lately.
What Makes a Good CRM Software?
Here’s what to look for in a good CRM software:
- It tracks the contact history you have with your leads so you don’t miss anything, and you know what’s going on with each client.
- It has functional mobile options so you can find the information you need on the road.
- It mines and analyzes information so you know how to make good business decisions.
- You are able to customize features to fit the unique needs of your business.
- It’s simple and straightforward to use; if a CRM is too complicated, people won’t get the most out of it.
How We Chose the Best CRM Software
We dug into 15 of the best-known CRM programs on the market to arrive at the seven best for small businesses. CRM software that proved easy to set up and use, and was feature-rich starting in their entry-level plans made it to the top of our lists. Customer support and training had to be accessible and robust, too. If the CRM integrates with many other popular software programs businesses use, we gave it additional points in our scoring.
We also examined reporting capabilities, customization possibilities, and their price points to find lower-priced CRM software that can inform and adapt. Finally, we checked the software to see if it was a better fit for a particular industry or company size. Each of our chosen winners is strong across all of these parameters and shows particular leadership in the category it won.