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The 10 Best CRMs For Small Businesses in 2019

By 19/07/2019 No Comments

This article will help you quickly compare and evaluate the best customer relationship management software and, in particular, CRM software for small businesses and start-ups.

CRM stands for customer relationship management. Because we’re focused primarily on digital project management, you might be wondering why we’re here, talking about managing customers.

Here’s why: while project managers aren’t (usually) directly responsible for CRM strategy and software, it’s important to understand how it plays into your organization’s strategy and projects. PMs should know the types of tools their teams are using, who is using it, for what purpose, and how. The PM is the person who connects the dots between different people and activities, and knowing their toolkit helps in making better decisions and asking the right questions when planning projects.

Quickly Compare & Evaluate The 10 Best CRMs For Small Business in 2019

Best CRMs for Small Businesses Logo Soup

A robust CRM strategy is essential for any business nowadays—but particularly so for small businesses who are still looking to build out a loyal and returning customer base, generate positive reviews, and spread their name by word-of-mouth advocacy.

There are several things that organizations consider when developing a basic CRM plan:

  • How do you solve disputes before they become a problem?
  • How do you make customers feel valued and heard?
  • How do you attract new customers?
  • How do you retain former customers?
  • How do you encourage people to return frequently?

And Why Do You Need A CRM Plan?

Even if a customer has a positive interaction with your business, 60-80% of them do not necessarily return to you again. You have to think above and beyond simply giving people a good experience the first time around because even that doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be back.

You should have a plan to keep them coming back, which might include marketing touchpoints like staying “in touch” through eNewsletters or a social media presence; engage in events or activities within your community; have your very best people in customer-facing roles so that each transaction is impeccable; listen to all feedback, positive and negative; make sure you are easy to contact by phone, email, and mail; and so on.

So how can you possible navigate all of this on your own? Small businesses often have tight budgets and limited manpower. That’s why you might be considering CRM softwares for small business.

In this post I’ll share with you the best free CRMs to include on your CRM strategy shortlist. I will also explain how CRM for startups can help you grow your budding business. Below you’ll also find that I have answer some FAQs about CRM systems, but you can always leave further questions you have in the comment section below and our community of PMs might be able to help you out.

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The 10 Best CRMs List

Here’s my list of the top CRM software for small business. More details below:

  1. HubSpot
  2. Pipedrive
  3. Zendesk
  4. Agile CRM
  5. Copper
  6. Freshworks
  7. Zoho CRM
  8. Salesforce
  9. Ontraport
  10. Active Campaign

CRM Marketing FAQ

Still have some burning questions about CRM strategies and software? Look no further:

What is a CRM platform?

The best CRM platform will help your business navigate relationship-building (and maintaining) with both current and potential customers through tracking relationships over time, launching marketing touchpoints, assisting with customer service, and more.

What are the types of CRMs?

There are three primary types of CRMs: Operational CRM (for sales, marketing and service), Analytical CRM (for data collection and analysis), Collaborative CRM (sharing information between different teams).

What is the difference between CRM and ERP?

CRMs are customer-focused, often looking outside the company for tools to grow, where are enterprise resource planning (ERPs) work internally to optimize between corporate departments.

What are the benefits of CRM for a business?

Top CRMs will be able to track customer details, collect feedback from customer-brand interactions, trace the sales cycle from lead to sale, developing marketing campaigns, social media management, a contact center, and so on.

What types of businesses use CRMs?

Large scale businesses across all industries most likely have a CRM strategy in place. However, small to medium sized businesses will also find CRM helpful for growing their customer base and building their reputation.

Not looking for a CRM software list? Check out our other lists of top software to manage projects and work processes:

  1. CRM is just one part of marketing that you will need to tackle as a startup or small business. Don’t forget to have a complete marketing strategy, including the necessary marketing project management software to help you along the way.
  2. As you start to make progress, you might want to employ some business intelligence tools to help you collect and plot data in order to hone in on your strengths and weaknesses and push passed and obstacles or plateaus.
  3. Helpdesk software is a great starting point for anyone looking to address their customer base’s needs, questions and concerns. You may also be interested in internal support for your team, which helpdesk software can do as well.

CRM Systems Comparison Criteria

The best CRM systems are determined by the following list of criteria.

  1. User Interface (UI): Does it offer clear, well-designed displays and intuitive navigation? For CRMs, the ability to customize the interface is a top consideration—can you easily edit the fields, pipelines, and sales processes? Often the ability to customize the interface is only available in higher-level pricing plans.
  2. Usability: CRMs can be really complex tools, so I look for ones that are easier to learn. I look at whether each CRM offers tutorials, training, and user support through multiple channels.
  3. Features & Functionality: How many of the key CRM features and functions does it provide, and how powerful are they? Specifically, I looked for:
    1. Contact or customer management: Create and edit contacts, and easily find them in a searchable CRM database. At a minimum, this feature should integrate with email functions and phone calls.
    2. Deal management: Create pipelines to track outreach, negotiations, and deals. This feature should be easy to visualize and offer the ability to quickly update leads.
    3. Interaction tracking: Manage relationships by quickly understanding a contact’s history of interaction with your business. Interaction tracking keeps records of phone calls, meetings, chats, emails—you can log these manually, but many tools automatically generate records.
    4. Process automation: A small business CRM solution should be able to automate things like your sales workflows and follow-up tasks.
    5. Reporting tools: the best CRMs can track performance by looking at the data for activities logged in the system, such as data on sales, revenue, contacts, and rep activities.
  4. Integrations: Is it easy to connect with other tools, and does it come with pre-built integrations with business tools for accounting, e-commerce, project management, and marketing?
  5. Value for $: As a rough figure, on average a CRM for a small business costs around $25 – $60 per user per month, and very few would cost more than $80 per user. I look at the price of each CRM and gauge how appropriate it is considering its features and capabilities. I also give priority to tools with clear, transparent and flexible pricing.

The 10 Best CRM Software For Small Business

CRMs For Small Business - Featured image

It may feel impossible to narrow down the best CRM for small business. However, just take it step by step and investigate the many options available one at a time:

  1. HubSpot – Marketing, sales, and customer service software with popular features like contact insights, lead generation and email marketing.
  2. Pipedrive – Automatic tracking of emails, calls, and progress and a streamlined view of your sales process.
  3. Zendesk – Customer service and engagement products with interaction capabilities across phone, chat, email, social media, and more.
  4. Agile CRM – Sales enablement and customer service systems with built-in, advanced marketing capabilities.
  5. Copper – Centralizes communication around leads, accounts, deals and offers G Suite compatibility.
  6. Freshworks – Customer support, messaging, sales, and IT services with a cloud-based call center and onboarding tools.
  7. Zoho CRM – 40+ integrated applications that includes social media integration, a customer experience platform, a finance platform, and more.
  8. Salesforce –  A sales, marketing, and customer relationship platform with marketing campaign tools and an app builder.
  9. Ontraport – Marketing software that connects all promotional pieces from emails to webpages and pop-up forms.
  10. Active Campaign – An email marketing automation system with list segmentation, dynamic content, contact management, and more.

The Best CRMs For Small Businesses Summary

SoftwareFree OptionPriceSite
HubSpotHubspot logo - Best CRMs for Small BusinessesfreefreeCheck out HubSpot
Pipedrive logo - Best CRMs for Small Businesses
free 14-day trial$12.50/user/monthCheck out Pipedrive
ZendeskZendesk logo - Best CRMs for Small Businessesfree 30-day trialfrom $5/user/monthCheck out Zendesk
Agile CRMAgile CRM logo - Best CRMs for Small Businessesfree for up to 10 usersfrom $8.99/user/monthCheck out Agile CRM
CopperCopper logo - Best CRMs for Small Businessesfree 14-day trialfrom $19/user/monthCheck out Copper
FreshworksFreshworks logo - Best CRMs for Small Businessesfree 21-day trial


from $15/user/ monthCheck out Freshworks
Zoho CRMZoho CRM logo - Best CRMs for Small Businessesfree demo

free 15-day trial

free version for up to 3 users

from $12/user/monthCheck out Zoho CRM
SalesforceSalesforce logo - Best CRMs for Small Businessesfree 30-day trialfrom $25/user/monthCheck out Salesforce
OntraportOntraport logo - Best CRMs for Small Businessesfree 14-day trialfrom $79/monthCheck out Ontraport
Active CampaignActive Campaign logo - Best CRMs for Small Businessesfree 14-day trial

free demo

from $9/monthCheck out Active Campaign

Other Small Business CRMs

Being a small business looking for just the right CRM is tough. If none of the above options spoke to your niche and needs, here are a few more to consider:

  1. Insightly – Workflow automation, custom fields, email templates, record linking, and more.
  2. Copper – a CRM designed for G Suite that makes it easy for entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses to implement a CRM without the administrative bloat.
  3. NeonCRM – CRM for nonprofits with a focus on donor engagement, volunteers and events.
  4. Less Annoying CRM – Simplified, affordable CRM for small businesses.
  5. Real Simple Systems CRM – Award winning, simple CRM software for small teams working B2B.
  6. Bpm’online – Accelerate business processes and build applications with this low-code platform.
  7. InStream – Sales, contact management, relationship automation, and social media insights.
  8. Capsule CRM – A complete view of your customers with customizable data fields.
  9. Nimble – CRM that works directly inside your Office 365 or G Suite inbox.
  10. Nutshell – CRM and sales automation solution with reporting and progress tracking.
  11. OnePageCRM – Minimize data entry with a range of lead clippers from Gmail, Outlook, Xing, Facebook and Twitter.
  12. Salesboom – Customizable web-based CRM software to unify sales, marketing, and customer service initiatives.
  13. SutiCRM – A cloud-based customer relationship management software with marketing and sales tools.
  14. Teamgate – Calling features, lead gathering tools, marketing, account management, geolocation and more.

Want Help Narrowing Down the Options?

This tool is pretty useful. We’ve partnered with Crozdesk to give you access to their “Software Finder”.

If you input some of the details about your project and the features you’re looking for in a project management tool, it will generate a list of tools that match your preferences. You provide your email, and they send over a nice PDF guide with a summary of your best matches.

What Do You Think About Our List Of The Best CRM Systems?

Do you have any experience with CRM software that really wowed you? We’d love to hear from small business teams what worked (or didn’t work) for you. Let us know in the comments.

Ben Aston

About Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager. I've been in the industry for more than 10 years working in the UK at London’s top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from video virals to CMS’, flash games to banner ads and eCRM to eCommerce sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a wide range of great clients; automotive brands including Land Rover, Volkswagen and Honda; Utility brands including BT, British Gas and Exxon, FMCG brands such as Unilever, and consumer electronics brands including Sony.

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