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 these tools, for what purpose, and how. The PM is the person who connects the dots between different people and activities, and knowing their toolkit helps with making better decisions and asking the right questions when planning projects.
Quickly Compare & Evaluate The 10 Best CRMs For Small Business in 2021
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The 10 Best CRM Software For Small Business
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.
Here are the top CRMs project managers should know:
monday.com is an all-in-one CRM platform that enables you to run all of your operations from one central, integrated place. This highly flexible tool excels at giving you high-level overviews of where every deal stands and managing everyday tasks across all teams (including marketing, client projects, and more). Because it’s so easy to adapt to different use cases and easily grows with the business, I’d consider it one of the best CRMs for startups due to its flexibility, easy rollout, and scaling potential.
Using monday.com, you can get a clear overview of your sales pipeline and prioritize leads according to status or deal value. Along with being a CRM tool, monday.com has robust workflow management capabilities that enable you to do everything from setting up automatic reminders, due date notifications, and automatically assigning teammates to new tasks. Use their reports and insights to dig into data for sales, processes, performance, and overall business opportunities.
The user interface is colorful and easy to use, but what makes this CRM stand out is its capacity for deep customization. Impressively, most customizations can be set up without the need for a coding specialist – the out-of-the-box automation ‘recipes’ and apps make it a reasonably fast and easy process to tweak the platform for your specific needs without needing to deep-dive into lines of code. monday.com boasts integrations with the likes of Dropbox, Excel, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Integromat, Slack, Trello, and even more through Zapier.
If scheduling meetings between many clients and many company representatives is part of your day-to-day, then monday.com might not be the best tool for you. Viewing appointments in different groups can be cumbersome; you may find you end up with an overwhelming number of boards, and recurring meetings require a third-party app.
monday.com starts at $11/user/month for 3 users and has a freemium version for up to 2 users. Paid plans come with a 14-day free trial.
Zendesk Sell is small business CRM sales software with features like sales email tracking and automation, built in click-to-dial and call recording, integrations with over 50 third-party apps, customizable sales dashboards, sales forecasting, and goals tracking. Zendesk Sell also has a highly rated mobile app with unique out-of-the-box functionality like visit tracking, geo-verification, and mobile reports. The app is available on both iOS and Android.
Everything related to CRM and sales is tracked in one system, capturing valuable data that’s analyzed in over 30 reports. CRM team leaders can get a clear understanding of predicted revenue and which opportunities are more likely to close with sales forecasting tools. Plus, you can set individual and team goals to chart revenue and milestone progress with goals tracking reports.
Zendesk Sell can also connect, for an additional cost, with Zendesk Support to create a 360° view of your prospects and customers. From within Sell, see who has open tickets with your support team. On the flip side, support agents can pass new leads or notify the sales team, with a single click from live support tickets.
Sell integrates with key email providers such as Gmail, G Suite, Office 365, and many more. Sell can be connected with out-of-the-box integrations with over 50 apps such as MailChimp, Zapier, Hubspot, with the option to display or update external data, or even build a custom solution. Sell APIs and SDKs also provide the foundation to set your integration project up for success with sync services and pre-built code libraries.
Zendesk Sell starts at $19/user/month and offers a 14-day free trial.
ClickUp is a CRM and project management suite for small businesses with features for visually managing customer relationships, account tracking, email, and more.
Users can see clients and orders at a glance with flexible views that include lists, boards, and more, as well as set up custom status workflows for account pipelines and use custom dashboards to analyze customer data and reduce bottlenecks.
Centralize all of your customer outreach by integrating your emails into ClickUp to fast-track organization and follow-up. Users can collaborate on accounts with the team, send project updates, and onboard new customers from one place. The tool also allows users to streamline account processes by setting up automations to trigger steps for each stage of the pipeline and collecting information with custom forms.
The tool also includes features for calculating costs and contract values with formulas, tracking orders with custom fields, and using comments and chat to work with team members and clients.
ClickUp offers native integrations with Slack, G Suite, Dropbox, and many more tools, as well as over 1,000+ integrations through Zapier.
ClickUp’s free plan is robust and includes all primary features. The unlimited plan starts at $5 a month per user and offers additional functionality.
- Intuitive, at-a-glance overview of clients and orders
- Frequent updates with new or improved features
- Easy to convert map nodes into tasks
- Unlimited dashboards and custom fields features limited to Business and Enterprise plans
- Mobile app can be a bit slow
- Edit permissions are not available with the free plan
Freshworks CRM Sales Cloud is a CRM solution intended for use by sales teams, and which includes sales and marketing automation, chat, and telephony features. Freshworks also includes tools that assist with attracting leads and provides AI-powered insights.
Users can build and manage pipelines with the assistance of the artificial intelligence capabilities that the platform offers. The tool also records all customer interactions and displays them in one location, and users can also set up personalized welcome emails and journeys for leads and customers. Salespeople can communicate with leads and customers via phone, email, WhatsApp, or chat.
Artificial intelligence capabilities include reporting on historical data, insights into the best deals to pursue and actions to take, and predicting revenue with sales forecasting. Users can also automate repetitive tasks.
Freshworks integrates with Slack, Mailchimp, HubSpot, Office 365 Calendar, QuickBooks, Google Apps for Work, and more.
Freshworks costs from $29 per user and offers a 21-day free trial.
Kintone’s customizable platform lets teams create a CRM solution specific to their business. It enables users to take total control of their data and spend less time maintaining information and more time acting on it.
The tool allows users to tailor what information the CRM records and holds, update and change fields or entire workflows without relying on IT support, and create automated reminders to notify sales members of important deadlines. You can also view, edit, and update tasks, data, and workflows from the platform’s mobile or desktop applications.
Kintone’s platform makes dealing with change easy. Users can quickly reassign work and add new customer information by adding new data fields to your workflow. Neither of these changes will interrupt team access to their CRM.
What sets Kintone apart for busy sales teams are its built-in collaboration features. Each new CRM record contains a “chat wall” where sales members can add notes, feedback, or comments on a lead’s status. Users can better understand why a lead’s lagging by checking the wall. This permanent conversation record also helps sales managers reduce time spent “getting someone up to speed” every time a task needs to be reassigned.
Kintone’s CRM integrations include Slack, Gmail, Google Calendar, Outlook, Tableau, Dropbox, Salesforce, HubSpot, Eventbrite, WordPress, QuickBooks, MailChimp, and many more through Zapier.
Kintone pricing starts at $24/user/month.
- 15 days free trial
- From $14/user/month billed annually. Also has a freemium version upto 3 users.
Zoho CRM is an omnichannel business management platform that provides its users with complete visibility and control over their sales pipeline and processes. Zoho caters to businesses of all sizes. When it comes to small businesses, Zoho CRM hasn’t scaled its features down. They understand that small businesses need to keep their productivity streamlined to help them focus on delivering stellar customer experiences and building brand loyalty.
Zoho CRM’s lead management software ensures leads find their way into your sales pipeline with smart web forms, a business card scanner, website visitor tracking with live chat, social media integrations, lead scoring, and distribution rules. Zia, Zoho CRM’s AI-powered sales assistant, can predict the best time to contact customers, scans your emails for urgency, and can even pull up relevant statistics or documents when performing searches. You can automate sales processes by assigning rules and mapping modules within or across Zoho products.
Analytical widgets such as charts, KPIs, target meters, and funnels are part of Zoho CRM’s customizable dashboards. Match data across modules and create in-depth reports with filters based on specific criteria, such as the deal stage, name, or time. Export reports as Excel, CSV, or PDF files, and embed dashboards into your website or share them on your Slack channel.
Zoho CRM is one of the 40+ integrated business apps on offer from Zoho. CRM users can work seamlessly with the most popular business apps on the market such as G suite, WordPress, MailChimp, Evernote, and Unbounce, with over 300 integrations. Over 150,000 businesses worldwide trust Zoho CRM, and their software is available in 26 languages.
Zoho CRM starts at $14/user/month, with a free version available to organizations of up to 3 users. Sign up for the 15-day free trial to learn more. You can pay monthly or annually for features of your choice with no hidden costs. Their free edition has a maximum of 3 users, with 24/5 support.
Really Simple Systems is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) system designed specifically for small B2B businesses. This easy-to-use software is designed to help small businesses streamline their sales and marketing processes from initial inquiry through to close.
The CRM includes a stand-alone sales module, plus options for marketing and/or service desk software – so all your data is stored in one place.
It also includes two integrated report writers for listing and forecasting reports, giving you easy access to essential management information and data analysis.
Really Simple Systems lives up to its name—it’s not just easy to use but also simple to set up, and you’ll be able to train your team in a matter of minutes. The software includes a wealth of support materials that can be accessed from a pull-out drawer on each screen. There are numerous short “how-to” videos, step-by-step guides, and regular live webinars. And, if you still need help, customer support is free of charge to all customers.
In keeping with the company ethos of making CRM simple, Really Simple Systems does not include some of the more advanced features you might find in CRM systems, making it ideal for small businesses and start-ups.
Really Simple Systems offers an integrated marketing module as well as an optional service desk module built-in. The system includes native integrations with Xero, Sage Business Cloud, KashFlow, OneLogin, Microsoft Azure, Google and Microsoft 365 contacts and calendars, plus over 1,500 apps through the third-party integration platform Zapier.
Really Simple Systems costs from $16/user/month. Freemium version and free 14-day trial available.
Salesmate is a carefully designed sales CRM that businesses trust to manage sales and boost revenue growth. It has everything you need to track your sales process and manage your sales teams. Its clean interface and self-explanatory dashboard help in saving time at all the stages of the sales cycle.
Salesmate is a feature-rich system that helps sales teams close more deals with affordable pricing plans. From contact management to workflow automation, all the essential features are covered to make your sales squad more productive. You can create multiple pipelines for your various offerings where deals can be dragged and dropped to respective stages. With communicational features like email inbox sync, text messaging, and a built-in calling system, you can connect with prospects while keeping an eye on your deal progress.
Using its smart dashboard, reporting, and email tracking tools, you can collect vital sales insights for improving your sales team’s performance. With features like sales automation and sequences, you can follow-up and complete tasks in real-time. Moreover, you can boost efficiency and save a lot of time with its Power Dialer.
Other features, such as shared team inbox, product management, and auto-profile enrichment can help you create a productive environment for your sales team.
As a system, Salesmate is an easy-to-adapt CRM software. Every feature and action button is placed at the right location, so you might not need any help to get started. A new user will be precisely guided to complete the necessary actions. If users face any troubles, the Salesmate support team is always there to solve every problem.
Salesmate offers integrations with some of the most important tools such as MailChimp, Google & Microsoft Calendars, QuickBooks, Invoice Ninja, RingCentral, Shopify, Google Maps, Slack, Clearbit, and many more. You can even use Zapier to connect Salesmate with your existing apps.
Salesmate pricing plans start from $12/user/month – $40/user/month.
EngageBay is a marketing, sales, and service automation platform with CRM capabilities that is built to grow small businesses and startups.
The CRM has features such as simple contact management that integrate with and keeps track of emails and phone calls, automated tasks, custom reporting and analytics, and more. EngageBay also includes sales automation, deal tracking, and sales pipeline creation to grow your sales.
The tool is cloud-based and the learning curve for users is shallow. EngageBay is simple to set up and offers a suite of resources and guides, as well as “how-to” videos and free customer support.
EngageBay costs $10/user/month.
Streak CRM automatically captures data from your contacts and emails, and can notify users as leads and contacts progress through the pipeline. Smaller, resource limited teams will appreciate the ability to set reminders for follow-ups.
This tool can automatically fill in data such as ‘Date created’ or ‘Date of Last Email’, which is a great automation feature. You can also automatically share emails, notes, and call logs with your team so you can pick up where they left off and increase collaboration among the team.
Streak CRM is built directly inside Gmail for both desktop and mobile, with G Suite integrations (Sheets, Chat, Drive, and more) to help you access and gather your data quickly. The tool’s open API integrates with Zapier to connect Streak to other apps and tools you use.
Streak CRM has a free basic plan. Paid plans cost from $15/user/month.
The Best CRMs For Small Businesses Summary
How To Choose A CRM: Consider Your CRM Strategy
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 email newsletters or a social media presence; engaging in events or activities within your community; having your very best people in customer-facing roles so that each transaction is impeccable; listening to all feedback, positive and negative; making sure you are easy to contact by phone, email, and mail; and so on.
So how can you possibly navigate all of this on your own? Small businesses often have tight budgets and limited manpower. That’s why you might be considering CRM software for small businesses.
Comparison Criteria For CRMs For Small Businesses
The best CRM systems are determined by the following list of criteria.
- 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.
- 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.
- Features & Functionality: How many of the key CRM features and functions does it provide, and how powerful are they? Specifically, I looked for:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Process automation: A small business CRM solution should be able to automate things like your sales workflows and follow-up tasks.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
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 about what worked (or didn’t work) for you. Let us know in the comments.