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
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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CRM Systems Comparison Criteria
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.
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:
- HubSpot – Marketing, sales, and customer service software with popular features like contact insights, lead generation and email marketing.
- Pipedrive – Automatic tracking of emails, calls, and progress and a streamlined view of your sales process.
- Zendesk – Customer service and engagement products with interaction capabilities across phone, chat, email, social media, and more.
- Agile CRM – Sales enablement and customer service systems with built-in, advanced marketing capabilities.
- Copper – Centralizes communication around leads, accounts, deals and offers G Suite compatibility.
- Freshworks – Customer support, messaging, sales, and IT services with a cloud-based call center and onboarding tools.
- Zoho CRM – 40+ integrated applications that includes social media integration, a customer experience platform, a finance platform, and more.
- Salesforce – A sales, marketing, and customer relationship platform with marketing campaign tools and an app builder.
- Ontraport – Marketing software that connects all promotional pieces from emails to webpages and pop-up forms.
- Active Campaign – An email marketing automation system with list segmentation, dynamic content, contact management, and more.
The Best CRMs For Small Businesses Summary
|HubSpot||free||free||Check out HubSpot|
|Pipedrive||free 14-day trial||$12.50/user/month||Check out Pipedrive|
|Zendesk||free 30-day trial||from $5/user/month||Check out Zendesk|
|Agile CRM||free for up to 10 users||from $8.99/user/month||Check out Agile CRM|
|Copper||free 14-day trial||from $19/user/month||Check out Copper|
|Freshworks||free 21-day trial|
|from $15/user/ month||Check out Freshworks|
|Zoho CRM||free demo|
free 15-day trial
free version for up to 3 users
|from $12/user/month||Check out Zoho CRM|
|Salesforce||free 30-day trial||from $25/user/month||Check out Salesforce|
|Ontraport||free 14-day trial||from $79/month||Check out Ontraport|
|Active Campaign||free 14-day trial|
|from $9/month||Check 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:
- Insightly – Workflow automation, custom fields, email templates, record linking, and more.
- 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.
- NeonCRM – CRM for nonprofits with a focus on donor engagement, volunteers and events.
- Less Annoying CRM – Simplified, affordable CRM for small businesses.
- Real Simple Systems CRM – Award winning, simple CRM software for small teams working B2B.
- Bpm’online – Accelerate business processes and build applications with this low-code platform.
- InStream – Sales, contact management, relationship automation, and social media insights.
- Capsule CRM – A complete view of your customers with customizable data fields.
- Nimble – CRM that works directly inside your Office 365 or G Suite inbox.
- Nutshell – CRM and sales automation solution with reporting and progress tracking.
- OnePageCRM – Minimize data entry with a range of lead clippers from Gmail, Outlook, Xing, Facebook and Twitter.
- Salesboom – Customizable web-based CRM software to unify sales, marketing, and customer service initiatives.
- SutiCRM – A cloud-based customer relationship management software with marketing and sales tools.
- 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.