1. HR Solutions
  2. Financial Solutions
  3. Marketing Solutions
  4. Security Solutions
  5. Retail Solutions
  6. SMB Solutions
We are here for your business - COVID-19 resources >
Zoho Review

Best Overall CRM Software

A Business News Daily Review

Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.
  • Zoho CRM is our pick as the best overall CRM solution. It helps you measure the effectiveness of your communication with customers.
  • Zoho CRM can be used to automate your business so you don't repeat certain tasks. 
  • With Zoho CRM, you get real-time notifications when customers interact with your business. 
  • This article is for business owners and professionals wanting a detailed breakdown of Zoho CRM, our choice as the best overall CRM software. 

Zoho CRM is our choice as the 2020 best overall CRM software solution because it is easy to implement, intuitive to use and inexpensive to adopt. This system offers businesses everything they need in an effective customer relationship management platform. Zoho CRM offers multiple affordable price points, a full range of features, and customization options, all of which help make this CRM a quality and complete program for small 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

Editor's note: Looking for the right CRM software for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs. 

Part of what makes Zoho CRM a great program overall is the multiple pricing options it offers. Users can choose from five different subscription plans and are charged per user, per month. Here's more about each subscription plan and the features you get with each plan (Note: The prices listed below are based on annual pricing, not the actual monthly price.):

The free version of Zoho CRM is a great place to start if you have three or fewer users and aren't familiar enough with CRM software to know exactly what features you'll need. It includes basic lead, contact and account management for up to 1,000 contacts or records. Excellent collaboration tools like group calendars, chat and folder sharing are available in the free version as well.

At just $12 per user, per month, Standard delivers excellent value for small business users with typical CRM needs.

Features like sales forecasting, reminders, mass emailing and custom dashboards become available at this level. The number of records jumps to 10,000 – a nine-fold increase over the Free plan. It also includes better admin tools. For example, whereas with the Free plan you can run standard – but not custom reports – with the Standard plan, you can.

Additionally, you can get automated lead generation from social media, something you don't get with the Free plan. Plus add-ons and integrations with apps like Zoom, Slack, Zapier and Mailchimp are included with the plan.

Moving up the Zoho CRM ladder, the Professional tier is, in our opinion, the best fit for most small businesses. 

This plan costs $20 per user, per month and includes the features that many growing SMBs require like full email integration, workflows and macros, unlimited record storage (10GB, or 5 million records), and Google AdWords integration. This level includes significantly more customization options, like custom fields or modules, custom links modules, more workflow rules and conditions, assignment rules, and unlimited custom dashboards and reports. 

Zoho's Enterprise plan level runs $35 per user, per month, still significantly less expensive than other SaaS solutions for enterprises. Data storage increases to 15GB (or 7.5 million records). Some key features of the top level are Zia Voice, a conversational AI assistant, multiuser portals (an excellent feature for large organizations), mobile SDK and app distribution, and more sophisticated analytics, including predictive AI. Users can also accept multiple currencies, parse emails, create more custom modules and buttons, create more workflow rules, send up to 1,000 emails per day, and create autoresponders.

Zoho's Ultimate subscription costs $45 per user, per month, and while this plan is geared toward really large established businesses (data storage for this plan is 30GB, or 15 million records), what users will get from the Ultimate plan versus other plans are more customization features, enhanced prediction tools, and a higher number of web forms allowed. 

Key takeaway: There are five Zoho CRM pricing options, which include a free version, ranging from $12 to $45 per user, per month.

Even though Zoho CRM has the feel of a lightweight SaaS solution, it packs a punch in the features department. We discuss more about the specific features in Zoho CRM below. Not every feature is available at every subscription level, and third-party integrations may cost extra if you don't already use the services you're integrating, but Zoho's bevy of features is still impressive.

Very few affordable SaaS CRMs offer a lot of extensions and integrations, but Zoho does. The Zoho Marketplace boosts the functionality of Zoho CRM by allowing you to add on free and paid extensions, many of which require no technical skills to implement. With extensions covering categories like IT and administration, finance, analytics, productivity, and marketing, you can effectively build out your own custom CRM.

It's not a feature of the CRM specifically, but Zoho's online documentation is so comprehensive, specific, organized, and easy to follow that it qualifies as a special feature. Step-by-step guides on downloading extensions, webinars, e-books, admin and user guides, integration guides, and an active online community of users make it easy to get answers to your technical and organizational questions.

Zoho CRM is one of just a few SMB-focused SaaS CRMs that offer AI-driven features. Zia, Zoho's proprietary AI assistant, offers, according to the company, "predictions on trends, anomalies, conversions, and deals closing." At the advanced level, i.e., the Ultimate subscription plan, Zia offer insights about the best time to contact customers, it sets auto-reminders for you, and analyzes the tone of customer emails to inform the best responses.

For streamlined call dialing and automatic call logging, Zoho offers single-click dialing directly from the CRM. Once you've integrated telephony, anytime a user views a contact card, they have the option of click to call. The telephony feature also has built-in reminders so you can set future callbacks, and the automatic call logging makes it easy to see customer info and a conversation history. Call analytics and reporting round out Zoho's telephony features by offering valuable data visualization and custom feedback on your customer service.

The customer portals in Zoho CRM allow your business to communicate with your most valued customers in a new way. Your customers, who must be granted access to customer portals, can do things like browse catalogs of products and services, view invoices, and place orders without contacting a salesperson directly. Likewise, vendor portals allow your most trusted vendors to communicate with you directly in the CRM as well as view invoices and transactions.

Zoho CRM is jampacked with collaboration tools that are ideal for small teams. The built-in document management system stores documents, pictures, music and videos. Access privileges make it easy to lock down sensitive materials and only share certain items with certain team members. The calendar feature is also great for collaboration; groups can share calendars, and individuals can maintain their own directly within the CRM. 

Key takeaway: Key Zoho CRM features include Zoho marketplace extensions, artificial intelligence devices, the telephony tool, customer and vendor portals and collaboration tools. 

Zoho CRM gives small business users the best of both worlds: It's inexpensive and easy to implement, but it offers far more functionality than similarly priced products. Zoho's other business apps are equally SMB-friendly, which means you can build out a custom cloud suite as your business grows and your needs expand.

While Zoho CRM does not have the customization options that Salesforce offers, it still allows users enough options to make the CRM their own, making it suitable for a wide variety of industries. 

One of Zoho's best characteristics is that it's easy to use out of the box. This isn't a stodgy old business tool with a clunky interface; it's a streamlined cloud product that's ideal for users of varying skill levels. The admin controls are also simplified, so you don't need an experienced software admin to maintain permissions, which is a major boon for small operations.

When you log in to your account, you can navigate using the menu and keep an eye on your notifications in real time, so you don't have to click away from your primary task to respond to an email or action item. The dashboards in Zoho CRM are also well designed, with appealing color palettes, clear labels and a familiar design.

Key takeaway: Zoho CRM is fully featured, customizable, and has an easy-to-use system.

Zoho's biggest problem is its wait time when it comes to customer service. It's not unusual to be on hold for up to 10 minutes at a time, or to be transferred multiple times for simple questions.

On the upside, once you get through, everyone is friendly, helpful and diligent about quick follow-ups. You are given a knowledgeable breakdown of the program and leave with a better understanding.

While customer service is certainly a concern, for the price point and built-in functionality, Zoho is a strong choice.

Key takeaway: When you call into Zoho's customer support, long wait times are not unusual, and you may be transferred multiple times before you're connected with the right person.

Despite sometimes having long wait times, there are a lot of positives about Zoho's customer support. Zoho CRM does a lot right when it comes to customer service. Whatever training program it implemented for customer service representatives is working, because everyone is uniformly friendly and attentive. The call routing could improve, though. It takes too long to reach the right person, and the process feels outdated.

Zoho has a decent online reputation. It has good reviews on some sites, but bad reviews with the Better Business Bureau. It earned a D- with the BBB. This page, however, is a reflection of the entire Zoho corporation, not just Zoho CRM.

All this said, Zoho CRM still offers better response time than many other CRMs we reviewed. Zoho does not ignore requests for service, and technical questions are consistently routed and satisfactorily answered by knowledgeable employees.

If you would like to speak with a salesperson for support, you can call, email or request a one on one with a Zoho representative on their site.

Key takeaway: While its call-routing process could be improved, Zoho reps strive to answer questions and resolve problems.

Ready to choose a CRM solution? Here's a breakdown of our full coverage:

Editor's note: Looking for the right CRM software for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs. 

Simone Johnson

Simone R. Johnson was born and raised in New York City. She graduated from the University of Rochester in 2017 with a dual degree in English language media and communications and film media production. She has been a reporter for several New York publications prior to joining Business News Daily and business.com as a full-time staff writer. When she isn't writing, she enjoys community enrichment projects that serve disadvantaged groups and rereading her favorite novels.