Our 2018 award for best CRM overall goes to Salesforce because it's an established full-feature CRM that can meet the needs of even the largest businesses.
To understand how we selected our best picks, you can view our methodology, as well as a comprehensive list of CRM software, on our best picks page.
Powerful and well designed
Once Salesforce is implemented, it's blissfully easy to use. The CRM dashboard is arranged in an intuitive way, with reporting widgets and real-time summaries of sales numbers and customer data. Dashboard views can easily be customized, so employees with varied roles see only what's important to them, from quotas and pipelines to key opportunities, leaderboards, team summaries, sales numbers and more. Admin capabilities also make it easy to define user roles and permissions on a group or individual basis.
Navigation within Salesforce is easy, too. Each tab is separated into easy to understand categories, such as Home, Contacts, Accounts, Leads, Campaigns, Opportunities, Forecasts Files and more. This tab-style layout makes it easy to see all the information available and jump from task to task.
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Some CRM solutions have one or two standout features that make them worthy of consideration among business users, but Salesforce's sheer variety of features and nearly limitless service options make it an award winner in our book. Here are a few of the best CRM features Salesforce offers business users:
- Customizable dashboards
- Advanced analytics
- Contact management
- Lead generation
- Opportunity management
- Collaboration tools
- Project management via workflows, task assignment and approvals
- Lots of integration, syncing and import options
With nearly 20 percent market share as of 2015, Salesforce owns more of the CRM market than tech giants SAP, Oracle and Microsoft. While size may seem irrelevant when it comes to the end user, some companies prefer to implement products from major companies because larger SaaS providers tend to continue to build out the types of services and products they offer. Getting multiple solutions from one provider can also make it easier for large businesses to keep a handle on the tech they use.
Salesforce isn't necessarily the best solution for every business user. Like other business software companies, Salesforce offers so many packages and options that simply sorting through all the products and figuring out what you need, what you don't need, and how much it will all cost will require at least a little help from a sales rep. Even gathering general information or viewing a demo requires filling out a form, and many SMB and multitasking entrepreneurs prefer a more self-serve approach.
Pricing may also be an issue for some small businesses. While the $25 per-user fee seems like a win, it can only be used for teams of five or fewer people. Businesses that need more than five subscriptions will have to pay at least $75 per user, per month. Customizing the software and adding on third-party solutions may result in additional fees, and if you lack the requisite skills to implement or customize the software, there are additional costs to hire developers to do it for you. Some small business owners we talked to said they were quoted hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars from developers to help them implement Salesforce.
Ready to choose a CRM solution? Here's a breakdown of our full coverage: