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Updated Feb 22, 2024

Best CRM Software of 2024

Jeff Hale,Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
Verfified CheckEditor Reviewed
Best for Small Businesses
  • All-purpose CRM
  • Starts at $25 per month
  • Includes AI-powered tools
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Links to Salesforce CRM
  • All-purpose CRM
  • Starts at $25 per month
  • Includes AI-powered tools
Best for Project Management
  • Sales-focused CRM
  • Starts at $10 per month
  • Includes helpful templates
Visit Site
Links to monday Sales CRM
  • Sales-focused CRM
  • Starts at $10 per month
  • Includes helpful templates
Best for Cross-Platform Integrations
  • All-purpose CRM
  • Starts at $35 per month
  • Includes “low-code” customization
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Links to Quickbase
  • All-purpose CRM
  • Starts at $35 per month
  • Includes “low-code” customization
Best for E-commerce
  • All-purpose CRM
  • Custom pricing plans
  • Includes an ERP platform
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Links to NetSuite CRM
  • All-purpose CRM
  • Custom pricing plans
  • Includes an ERP platform
Best for Visual Sales Pipelines
  • Sales-focused CRM platform
  • Starts at $14.90 per month
  • Includes automation capabilities
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Links to PipeDrive
  • Sales-focused CRM platform
  • Starts at $14.90 per month
  • Includes automation capabilities

Table of Contents

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What is CRM Software?

CRM software helps your team understand your customers’ needs better by establishing individual client profiles for each of them and then tracking all interactions they have with your team members. CRM software can help to improve customer experience by providing sales and marketing teams with valuable information on your customers, increasing their ability to capture new leads, drive conversions and close deals. The best CRM software will integrate with email marketing software and text message marketing software to automatically capture communications on these channels, reducing the need for a team member to perform manual data entry and ensuring communications records are comprehensive. Not all CRM systems are created equal and some are designed for specific purposes, from retail CRM solutions to customer support CRM systems. Knowing what you need a CRM system to do can help you make the best possible choice for your business.

There’s a lot to consider when choosing CRM software, including cost, features, setup and integrations. It can be a big job to research the best companies and determine which is the right choice for your business. You have a business to run, so we’ve done the research for you and chosen the best CRM software solutions for small business based on a range of factors, including cost, ease of use, sales and marketing features and available integrations with other business software. If you’re looking for a CRM software that will get the job done, our guide and reviews will help you find it.

Find the Right CRM Software for Your Business

Compare Our Best Picks

BND Ribbon
Our Top Picks for 2024
Salesforce CRM
monday Sales CRM
Quickbase
NetSuite CRM
PipeDrive
Freshsales CRM
HubSpot CRM
Zoho CRM
Keap CRM
Sage CRM
SugarCRM
Insightly
Zendesk
Rating9.5/109.5/108.5/109.3/109.1/109.4/109.3/109.2/109.4/108.5/108.5/108.6/109.0/10
Best use case

Small business

Project management

Cross-platform Integrations

e-commerce

Visual sales pipeline

Communications

Integrations

Remote/hybrid teams

Ease of use

Customer support

Automation

Customization

Complete customer lifecycle

Starting monthly price

$25 per user

$10 per user

$35 per user

Custom quote

$14-$99 per user

$0

$0

$14 per user

$159 ($29 for each additional user)

Custom quote

$49-$85 per user

$29 per user

$19 per user

Free trial

14-30 days

14 days

30 days

14 days

30 days

21 days

14 days

30 days

14 days

30 days

7 days

14 days

30 days

Customer support

24/7 phone support with Premier plan

24/7 email and chat

Email (response time of 1 business day)

24/7 email and chat

24/7 email and chat

24/5 phone, email and chat

24/7 email and chat

24/7 phone and email with Enterprise plan

24/7 chat; 24/5 phone support

Web form and appointment by request

Varies by plan

24/7 email and limited phone

Phone, email and chat during business hours

Minimum seat requirement?

No

Yes

No

N/A

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

Contract terms

Mostly annual

Monthly and annual

Monthly and annual

Monthly and annual

Monthly and annual

Monthly and annual

Monthly and annual

Monthly and annual

Monthly and annual

Monthly and annual

Monthly and annual

Monthly and annual

Annual

Review Link
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Our Reviews

Salesforce CRM: Best CRM Software for Small Businesses

  • Salesforce has the largest selection of targeted CRM products and customizable solutions to fit any business in any industry.
  • The modern sales features let you leverage the power of social media engagement to gain leads and drive sales.
  • Most Salesforce CRM plans require an annual commitment.
Editor's Rating: 9.5/10
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Salesforce is a leader in CRM software and offers a popular essentials-level platform that’s ideal for small and growing businesses. Small businesses will benefit from the workflow builder, helping to automate every task your team performs repeatedly. The Salesforce mobile app is also designed for ease of use, mirroring the Salesforce desktop experience with room to be customized for employees with different roles.

With one of the industry’s largest third-party app marketplaces, Salesforce has integration capabilities for an impressive amount of platforms. Whether it’s Mailchimp, QuickBooks, Dropbox or Google Workspace, Salesforce can help you integrate and streamline whatever you need to accomplish your sales and service goals.

Salesforce recently introduced an upgraded version of its AI-powered Einstein tools, Einstein Copilot and Einstein Copilot Studio. Einstein Copilot facilitates natural language queries using secure proprietary data from Salesforce Data Cloud. Meanwhile, Copilot Studio enables AI-powered app creation for functions like sales acceleration and customized websites. It simplifies customization without the need for technical expertise.

In early 2024, Salesforce unveiled a new suite of tools within its Commerce Cloud and Marketing Cloud platforms, driven by the Einstein 1 Platform. Among these new tools are Einstein Copilot for Shoppers, which delivers tailor-made product suggestions to consumers, and Page Designer, which uses AI to streamline the process of e-commerce website design. Return Insights and Inventory Insights assist in reducing product returns and maintaining optimal inventory levels, respectively.

The Starter plan, which is optimal for many small businesses, is $25 per user, per month, and has a maximum of 10 users. With this plan, small teams will enjoy big-team features like lead management, web-to-lead capture, mass email, campaign management, email templates, case management and five lightning flow automation processes. The Sales and Service Professional plans are $75 per user, per month, and feature custom applications and collaborative forecasting. The Marketing Clout Account Engagement plan for small businesses is $1,250 per month for up to 10,000 contacts.

monday Sales CRM: Best CRM Software for Project Management

  • Building and implementing timesaving automations is very easy with the premade templates.
  • All plans include the same 24/7 customer support by email and phone.
  • Automations are limited by number of actions each month.
Editor's Rating: 9.5/10
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For businesses with seemingly endless sales tasks and complex ventures, monday Sales CRM from monday.com offers a great solution for project management. The core work management platform provides key timesaving and organizational capabilities. Monday Sales CRM customers enjoy easy-to-use interfaces and unlimited boards to organize projects. Whether you need a custom dashboard for specific communication needs or want to delve into analysis with customer data visualization tools, monday Sales CRM offers intuitive technology to support your success. The core work management platform stands out in its intentional design and ability to run and scale to any workflow.

Not only is monday Sales CRM a user-friendly platform optimized for project management, but it is also highly customizable. Customers can set up and integrate notification systems with communications platforms like Slack, eliminating the need for regular status update meetings by automatically alerting team members when a project or task is ready for further action. Additionally, all plans include unlimited boards to organize projects and contacts. With monday Sales CRM’s simple trigger and action templates, you can build any number of timesaving automations easily without any complicated tasks or coding involved. You can save time and increase productivity with a centralized source of data that can automatically log sent emails, maintain a record of customer interactions and help you prioritize your sales opportunities.

monday.com recently introduced mondayDB 1.0 for all its customers, enhancing its Work Operating System with a new data infrastructure. This architecture addresses various complex work scenarios to ensure smoother workflow management and increased performance. mondayDB 1.0 notably accelerates board loading up to five times faster, enhancing data-intensive processes and user interactions.

Prices for the Basic and Standard plans range from $10 to $14 per user, per month, when billed annually. For large-scale operations in need of highly advanced automations, analytics, integration and security, monday Sales CRM offers the Enterprise plan, but you will have to contact the sales team for a custom quote. Students and nonprofit organizations utilizing monday Sales CRM may qualify for discounted or free access and all annual subscribers are eligible to save up to 18 percent on plans.

Quickbase: Best CRM Software for Cross-Platform Integrations

  • Quickbase allows you to build a CRM to your exact specifications.
  • It’s adaptable to changing business needs, no matter how broad.
  • This system requires much more technical aptitude than a prebuilt CRM solution would.
Editor's Rating: 8.5/10
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Despite the large number of CRM software on the market, some small business owners find that nothing is quite the right fit. Enter Quickbase, a downloadable CRM template that you can use to design a seamlessly integrated CRM.

Quickbase is a “low-code” solution, meaning most of the heavy lifting is done for you, but it still requires some coding knowledge to create the finished product. Quickbase isn’t the right CRM for everyone, but developers will recognize the value of a low-code app that can be ready for rollout in weeks instead of months. Tweaks and changes to the system are made in a sandbox environment, so there’s often no need to take the entire CRM system offline for updates. Some components can be changed with no downtime at all.

Once live, Quickbase behaves like a traditional CRM. It includes drag-and-drop workflow automations, file attachment space, business app integration, reports and other common CRM tools. Each service plan includes access to a library with hundreds of sample apps worth browsing. Quickbase isn’t as feature-rich as prebuilt solutions, but many businesses consider that an advantage. A flexible CRM gives you the option to include the features you want without paying extra for features you don’t need. Quickbase has three plans that start at $35 per monthly user.

NetSuite CRM: Best CRM for E-commerce

  • Built on an enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform, NetSuite is a truly unified, all-in-one commerce solution for sales, marketing and operations.
  • NetSuite is among the most customizable CRM platforms available.
  • You will have to purchase the full ERP platform to use any of the CRM’s available features and tools.
Editor's Rating: 9.3/10
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Midsize e-commerce companies that rely on repeat business from their customers need a CRM platform that will help them understand their customers’ shopping habits better. Oracle’s NetSuite is a cloud-based ERP platform with CRM capabilities that is well-suited for business owners who want to provide the best customer experience possible. The CRM module helps companies obtain maximum value from each client interaction at every touchpoint. NetSuite organizes, automates and synchronizes your customer interactions across different departments, including marketing, sales, customer service and technical support. That means any employee can access all necessary context when interacting with a customer.

With NetSuite’s dashboard, you get a 360-degree view of your customer data and a clear view of what’s being accomplished across your customer-facing departments. The dashboard features key performance indicators, active campaigns, new leads, monthly data analysis and other helpful tools. NetSuite’s marketing automation is available for campaigns on multiple channels with forecasting tools that predict deal outcomes and help you stay on top of business goals. The mobile app allows for seamless work from any internet-connected device and its native shipping integration can help handle the tedious work of labeling and shipping.

Pricing for Oracle’s NetSuite CRM module is only available upon request, but most small and midsize businesses (SMBs) should expect the monthly cost to be a few thousand dollars. Many NetSuite CRM customers choose to bundle NetSuite with other Oracle services to achieve a lower total cost per user. While the unknown pricing may be a drawback to some, Oracle has software solutions for businesses of all sizes, and it is worth the effort to get a price quote if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution.

PipeDrive: Best CRM Software for Visual Sales Pipelines

  • Pipedrive is a process-focused CRM developed for salespeople.
  • You can make better decisions faster with Pipedrive’s easy-to-understand data visualizations.
  • You’re limited in the number of open deals you can have running through your sales pipelines.
Editor's Rating: 9.1/10
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For businesses in need of a powerful visual sales pipeline with at-a-glance information and data visualizations, Pipedrive is a great CRM solution. Its visual tools make it easy to understand each opportunity, while the drag-and-drop interface helps team members respond easily to the mission-critical tasks highlighted on the dashboard. With customizable pipelines and fields, you can optimize your existing workflow systems and improve processes across departments. With a powerful mobile app, Pipedrive also helps you engage with customers and team members on the go.

Pipedrive is easy to set up, even without a dedicated information technology staff, and its visual features are designed to enhance the efficacy of sales performance, reporting tools, automation of workflows and communication tracking. With a native messaging inbox, you can save interaction history automatically to help Pipedrive deliver valuable information about sales strategy. Pipedrive’s artificial intelligence (AI) tool picks up on key opportunities for improvement with performance recommendations and suggested tasks. The software also calculates your average conversion rate so that you know how many new leads to get and which activities to complete to meet your nearest targets. Real-time reports show if you’re on track, giving you time to adjust course, if needed, and providing timely coaching to maximize your sales strategies.

We also like how Pipedrive lets users share their automations creations with their co-workers. Rather than making sure all employees have the level of technical know-how, Pipedrive’s sharing functionality helps make sure your whole team can easily take advantage of the individually-created automations. In addition, Pipedrive recently gave sales team members the ability to to develop contingent automations, including those that vary by customer action (such as clicks or replies). For those who need support in developing automations, the template homepage and template-building wizard have been expanded and improved.

We also like how Pipedrive lets users share their automations creations with their co-workers. Rather than making sure all employees have the level of technical know-how, Pipedrive’s sharing functionality helps make sure your whole team can easily take advantage of the individually-created automations.

Pipedrive offers its customers a 14-day free trial with full access and no credit card required. At $14.90 per user, per month, when billed annually, Pipedrive’s Essential plan provides 24/7 support and over 275 integrations. The Advanced plan, priced at $27.90 per user, per month, includes additional workflow automations and email capabilities. At $49.90  per user, per month, the Professional plan features in-depth forecasting and one-click calling. Pipedrive’s most comprehensive plan, the Enterprise plan, costs $99 per user, per month, and adds unlimited feature use, user permissions and visibility settings.

Freshsales CRM: Best CRM Software for Communications

  • Each plan includes Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone capabilities that can save money by allowing you to cut out other service providers.
  • You can run complex outbound email campaigns from this CRM.
  • Some automated activities, like bot sessions, are restricted with each plan and may require you to purchase added sessions each month.
Editor's Rating: 9.4/10
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Freshsales CRM software is both intuitive and adaptable, offering built-in tools designed to optimize communications and understand customers better. The powerful AI assistant, Freddy, is designed to help you develop a more comprehensive understanding of your customers based on historical sales data, activities and engagement. Freshworks also has a basic built-in VoIP phone service with toll-free local numbers available for purchase in more than 90 countries and calling ability from any device.

Once you have your pipelines, workflows and forecasting tools in place, Freshsales makes it easier to better understand and serve your customers’ targeted products and services. From within the platform, you can run personalized bulk email marketing campaigns, manage deals, predict deal performance, forecast revenue and strategically engage with prospects. Your Freshsales CRM can also automatically build your prospects’ contact profiles, spot rotten deals and reawaken cold leads that still have potential.

While all three paid Freshsales plans include everything necessary for successful sales and marketing, the Pro and Enterprise plans offer standout features that make Freshsales such a desirable CRM platform. Freshsales offers a free plan and a 21-day free trial for any account. The lowest-cost plan, Growth, is listed at $15 per month and includes up to five sales sequences and 250 personalized bulk emails per day. The Pro plan provides double the sales sequences and greatly increases the daily email limit for $39 per user, per month. For advanced sales needs at larger companies, the Enterprise plan is available for $69 per user, per month, with 25 sales sequences and 5,000 personalized bulk emails each day.

HubSpot CRM: Best CRM Software for Integrations

  • HubSpot’s free plan is ideal for new businesses looking for a simple platform for sales, marketing and service.
  • HubSpot has one of the best libraries of primarily free integrations, with over 1,000 popular software applications.
  • The Professional plan includes a mandatory $3,000 onboarding fee.
Editor's Rating: 9.3/10
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With thousands of integration capabilities featured in the new Operations Hub, HubSpot is a great option for sales teams looking to improve their performance by centralizing data from various software providers. Customers can connect third-party tools to sync and clean customer data easily while automating business processes to assist the efficiency of your team. Once you have integrated your other software platforms, your HubSpot CRM tracks sales funnel metrics, activity insights, productivity and performance across your sales activities.

HubSpot integrations also help businesses centralize lead information in one place. Every interaction with a lead, no matter the platform on which the communication took place, is stored in a tidy timeline so you will always know exactly where a conversation left off the next time you or any other team member picks it up. By syncing with Gmail, Outlook and social media platforms, HubSpot captures virtually every customer interaction and makes it easy to track and use.

HubSpot offers a forever-free plan with more than 90 report templates available for customized dashboards, but its paid CRM solution with unlimited free user seats adds customer report builders so you can access precise data and fine-tune report results. If your small business is looking to integrate and centralize your sales operations, HubSpot’s free plan may be ideal. The entry-level paid Starter plan has a variety of essential marketing, sales, service, CMS and operations features to help you launch a new business online or streamline an existing one.

Zoho CRM: Best CRM Software for Remote and Hybrid Teams

  • Your out-of-office team can get real-time notifications when customers interact with your business.
  • Zoho’s easy-to-use automations can save your team time on repetitive tasks and improve your sales processes.
  • Only Enterprise subscribers have access to the AI-powered tools.
Editor's Rating: 9.2/10
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For teams on the go and in different locations, Zoho CRM enables remote workforces to accomplish more together. Zoho is designed to increase leads, accelerate sales and measure performance accurately with ease and efficiency. Zia, the AI-powered assistant, predicts leads and deals, identifies potential customers for conversion and helps large sales teams focus their efforts with user-friendly guidance. Zoho is also an appealing option for remote workforces with its gamification features that encourage friendly competition. Every lead, call and deal can be made into a trophy that generates a competitive and encouraging sales atmosphere, no matter where your team members are located.

With Zoho, it’s easy to build a custom and user-friendly platform with hundreds of available integrations and a flexible dashboard. Helpful tools like the Feeds notification module are easily accessible and can be universally highlighted across all team members’ dashboards. Other helpful tools include SalesSignals, which tracks customer interactions across various channels and notifies team members of valuable and time-sensitive potential leads to act on quickly.

Zoho offers four pricing plans: Standard, Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate. According to the software provider, the Enterprise plan is the most popular, which costs $40 per user, per month, when billed annually. It features the helpful Zia AI, a customer journey command center, Canvas visual CRM, a mobile software development kit and multiuser portals. The Standard plan is priced at $14 per user, per month, and the most advanced plan, Ultimate, is $52 per user, per month.

Keap CRM: Best CRM Software for Ease of Use

Keap CRM
keap company logo
  • Keap has easy-to-use e-commerce features for billing and invoicing.
  • You can access more than 2,500 software integrations to streamline nearly any business process or workflow.
  • Keap uses contact-based pricing, which will mean additional expenses for teams with more than 10,000 contacts.
Editor's Rating: 9.4/10

With its user-friendly interface and simple setup, Keap is an appealing tool for businesses engaging with CRM software for the first time. Keap is designed to help its users learn quickly without assuming its customers are CRM experts. The all-in-one CRM platform stores all customer activity in a centralized space and automatically adds all customer interactions to grow your team’s ability to sell and offer support efficiently. Right from the dashboard, your team can text, email, book appointments, process purchases and add invoices with one click. To make building your business easier, Keap automates contact management intuitively from activities across multiple platforms.

Keap can be set up in 20 minutes in small business scenarios, and all customers are provided with a dedicated support manager to ensure the successful use of the software. Truly designed to grow your business, Keap provides premade and customizable templates for new pipelines and helpful video guides explaining the software’s capabilities. Without any coding experience, you can trigger automated actions to help turn leads into sales. For efficient navigation, you can organize information chronologically or through a category view. Keap also offers user-friendly analytics and support for revenue trends, email marketing performance and list growth.

Not only is Keap uniquely suited to first-time users, but its pricing structure is also different from those of other CRM software providers. Using a contact-based pricing structure, Keap offers two main plans: Pro and Max. When billed annually, the Pro plan starts at $159 per month for two user seats, and the Max plan starts at $229 per month for three user seats. Both plans include a limited number of contacts but, with a higher monthly base, the platform can easily handle more than 25,000 contacts. The company also offers a 14-day free trial.

Sage CRM: Best CRM Software for Customer Support

Sage CRM
sage company logo
  • Bundling sales and support tools into a single platform keeps your software costs down and centralizes important customer data.
  • Simultaneous access to sales and service history provides a total picture of a customer’s journey.
  • You have to call a sales rep to learn about Sage’s CRM pricing.
Editor's Rating: 8.5/10

Providing a superior customer experience doesn’t stop when you close a sale. You must continue to nurture your customer relationships and respond quickly when issues arise. Sage CRM’s customer service tools can help your employees provide support and monitor resolutions without leaving the CRM platform. Team collaboration features provide metrics on case histories and resolution times to help you identify service gaps, and reporting tools let you create comprehensive visual charts and reports.

Sage CRM includes a central repository to capture common issues and their solutions. You can add solutions as you go or store reviewed and preapproved solutions in the knowledge base for consistency and faster case resolutions. Alternatively or in tandem, you can create a web self-service portal that helps your customers resolve their own issues, reducing the burden on your support team.

A wealth of additional CRM features support the customer experience from the initial point of contact to the close of the sale. Automated workflows and lead routing ensure your salespeople interact with customers at the right time while forecasting and reporting tools analyze everything from customer behavior to sales strategies. Sage CRM also has a collection of features to help you manage multichannel marketing campaigns and support targeted marketing efforts.

SugarCRM: Best CRM Software for Midsize Businesses

SugarCRM
SugarCRM black stack logo
  • Add-on modules for sales, service, marketing and more make SugarCRM a platform that can grow with your business needs.
  • All three sales plans have tools for intelligent pipeline management and forecasting.
  • The entry-level Essentials plan has a relatively low seat cap of five users.
Editor's Rating: 8.5/10

For businesses of all sizes, keeping up with a fast-paced and evolving sales environment can be a challenge. SugarCRM has designed its software with automation in mind, and its AI-powered predictions and lead conversations help teams operate more effectively and efficiently in a digital landscape. While its add-on modules enhance its automation capabilities, SugarCRM’s fixed core features work to maximize productivity without any customizations. Reports and dashboard summaries help you access the information gathered by SugarCRM’s automated features through a centralized overview. The AI system develops a complete history of a customer’s journey and predicts outcomes with impressive accuracy to help businesses stay on top of monthly, quarterly and annual goals.

Sugar Market, the marketing automation module that can be combined with the Sell tool, helps businesses attract more visitors and gain visibility. It’s easy to cultivate leads with multistep nurture campaigns and conversion-focused emails along with CRM tools. Intuitive drag-and-drop page builders help users leverage the power of Sugar Market and reduce repetitive tasks.

Most small business owners will likely be satisfied with the features and functions of SugarCRM’s entry-level Essentials Sell plan. However, if your business has more advanced needs, including intelligent lead or opportunity prioritization, the Advanced plan with additional add-ons and AI-powered capabilities can increase efficiency immensely.

SugarCRM’s upper-tier tier plans feature tools like expanded customer support, cloud storage and advanced workflows. When billed annually, the basic tier plan, called Sell, starts at $49 per user, per month, with a three-user minimum. The Serve plan allows businesses to create better experiences for customers at key moments and starts at $80 per month. Next, the Enterprise plan starts at $85 per month and gives businesses maximum control over their CRM operations. Finally, the fourth and highest-level plan, Market, starts at $1,000 per month for 10,000 contacts and helps businesses align their strategies and operations on a global scale.

Insightly: Best CRM Software for Customization

Insightly
Insightly company logo
  • Insightly’s easy-to-build personalized dashboards give your team members access to the data they need in their roles.
  • Insightly uses a flexible record-linking system to give teams better context for complex customer relationships.
  • Customer support is limited to email communications on the entry-level plan.
Editor's Rating: 8.6/10

Offering a unique and highly useful relationship-linking feature, Insightly CRM gives customers extra control over their sales operations. For small teams without the ability to manage all the details of sales processes, Insightly offers a dynamic and easily customizable solution. Admins and reps can build their ideal personal dashboards to highlight particular contexts, metrics and workflows. While AI and predictive tools are available only with the most expensive plans, all of Insightly’s service plans allow you to create specific rules for common events that trigger actions within the sales process.

Tracking metrics and key performance indicators is different for every business, and Insightly enables the customization of both reports and processes to fit any business in any industry. The highest-level plan gives customers the ability to create and specifically define entire workflows around a single event. These customization features can save a significant amount of time and relieve team members from monotonous low-productivity tasks. With complete workflow automation, custom validation rules, dynamic page layouts and configurable webhooks, Insightly offers impressive automation abilities with a fully featured plan.

Insightly CRM offers three pricing plans. The lowest-level plan, starting at $29 per month, allows you to work from any device and includes Slack integration with the AI bot to keep your team up to date on new leads and internal communication. The Professional plan priced at $49 per month helps businesses identify and manage leads with customizable real-time insight cards and additional integrations. For $99 per month, the Enterprise plan takes your CRM capabilities to the next level with stronger customer relationships, connections to any application and the ability to easily provide custom quotes for complex and customizable products.

Zendesk: Best CRM Software for Complete Customer Life Cycle

Zendesk
Zendesk company logo
  • Zendesk is especially well suited as a customer service CRM to manage your post-sale activities and renewals.
  • Zendesk offers a suite of collaboration tools to keep team members actively engaged and working together from any office location.
  • The home dashboard doesn’t have the most user-friendly navigation of the CRMs we’ve reviewed.
Editor's Rating: 9/10

Zendesk offers unique native integration and customer services products to provide support through a full customer life cycle. Customer experiences that extend beyond the sales team require everyone to be on the same page. Zendesk Sell maximizes collaboration across departments, allowing teams across sales, marketing and support to work together with the same centralized data and goals. This CRM provider unifies data from multiple customer touchpoints, preventing different departments from duplicated communications or missing context. This is incredibly valuable for businesses with complex customer profiles and long-term relationships. For example, your support team can stay in the loop throughout the customer’s journey across marketing and sales with Zendesk Support.

Zendesk’s smart lists also help sales teams segment customers and filter leads, enabling marketing teams to monitor customer engagements and develop effective communications. This is one way Zendesk’s CRM solution supports accurate forecasting and management with full visibility into sales processes. Whether you are using the basic plan or an upper-level plan, you’ll be able to provide high-level customer support with all of the current and historical information you need at a glance.

Zendesk offers two valuable AI solutions — Intelligent Triage and Smart Assist — to empower businesses to triage customer support requests. The tools enable businesses to access valuable data at scale. Customer inquiries can be sent automatically to an agent equipped to handle billing for a quicker resolution. The tools can also recognize highly negative sentiments in writing, whether a user is writing in all capital letters or in a sarcastic way. These queries can be routed to the top of the queue for immediate attention. Zendesk’s unique approach to applying machine learning with these tools enables users to create more personalized and informed interactions to serve customers better.

Small businesses and solo entrepreneurs are best suited for Zendesk’s entry-level plan. It includes core CRM features, basic reports and customizable sales pipelines. For those in need of sales forecasting, advanced call analytics and ample document storage space, Zendesk Sell’s upper-level plans offer an appealing solution at a competitive price. Role-based permissions and other customizable settings give administrators granular control over data access within the CRM along with unlimited email templates to help teams streamline email marketing activities.

CRM Costs

Most CRM software is priced on a per user, per month basis. Many companies opt for annual billing to simplify the payment process and save money as most services reduce the monthly rate for clients who pay annually.

With that in mind, these are the general pricing tiers you can expect:

  • $0: Free CRMs are worth considering for brand-new businesses and independent contractors who are getting started with this type of platform. Most free accounts include a very limited set of CRM features and user accounts. Ultimately, they can be a good way to learn how to organize customer outreach and begin using modern sales tools, but they’re not a long-term solution for most businesses.
  • $10 to $15: Inexpensive CRM products are a great option for tiny businesses with modest needs, and many services charge only $10 to $15 per user, per month. Affordable systems like these don’t usually require much in-house tech support to implement. If you want a fast solution with minimal hassle, this price range is a great place to find one. Make sure the storage options meet your needs as low-cost CRM software usually caps the number of customer records you can store.
  • $20 to $40: For additional features and a broader range of integrations with third-party systems, a CRM in the range of $20 to $40 per user, per month, will likely meet your needs. The majority of CRM software we reviewed falls into this price range because it’s designed to meet the needs of the SMB set. As you peruse options in this price range, check for limitations on the number of supported users and storage caps that could force you to upgrade to higher-priced plans.
  • $50 to $75: Typically, CRM software that falls between $50 and $75 per user, per month, is intended for enterprise use. Such systems often include options to integrate with legacy systems and allow greater customization than other CRM software. As powerful as they are, systems like these are not necessary for most small businesses.
  • $250 or more: High-end CRM systems often provide extensive training, customization and implementation services with the software. Another reason for the steep cost of these solutions is that they are not cloud services. Instead, they can be hosted locally, which is a boon for organizations with unique security needs.
Did You Know?Did you know

Most CRM services offer free trial periods for new customers, so you can test-drive the system of your choice without the risk of sinking money into a product that ultimately doesn’t work for you.

CRM Features

When you seek a CRM program, it’s important to know what you need. Here are common features you’ll find in CRM systems so you can decide which ones would best serve your business’s needs.

Workflow Automation

Workflow automation is the basis of how your system moves and the automatic actions within the software. For example, you could set the software to send a message automatically to a sales representative whenever a customer fills out a form on your website. This feature moves certain procedures and data along within your program, minimizing your workload and taking care of the tiny details of your team’s sales and marketing tasks.

Reporting

CRM reports break down your sales and marketing data to help you better understand and analyze leads, customers’ buying behaviors, the number of outbound calls your team makes and other important marketing metrics. Some CRM software offers more report types than others – with some allowing you to tailor your own reporting metrics ― and more ways to view the data, such as in bar graphs or pie charts.

Customer Data Management

Understanding your customers is the first step in running a successful business. Customer data management tools allow you to organize data on customers clearly, helping you improve customer relationships.

Customization

Making your CRM your own will reduce the learning curve of using it and ensure it provides the information you need. When a program is customizable, you can pick the features you want and mold your contact fields, dashboard, reports, extensions and plugins to best support your needs and budget.

Third-Party Integrations

Third-party CRM integrations provide a wider range of tools to use within your system. You can connect your CRM to programs with features that the CRM may not have, such as your email marketing or accounting software. This saves you from entering data you already have in another program manually, flipping constantly between apps and spending money on additional tools for your CRM. [Related article: How CRMs Streamline Email Marketing]

TipTip

To ensure you get the most out of your CRM system, outline what you’re looking for and need before buying. This will keep you from overpaying for features you’ll never use.

How to Choose CRM Software

Not all CRM software is created equal. This checklist will help you buy CRM software that suits your business and integrates seamlessly into your existing workflow.

1. Set a budget.

CRM costs range from free to upward of $1,000 per month, so it’s best to set your budget before you start shopping. It’s easier to narrow down your options by eliminating CRM software outside your price range before you drill down into feature sets and service plans.

2. Make a feature list.

The number of tools and functions in even the most basic CRM system can be overwhelming. For clarity, list the CRM features you must have and the features that would be nice to have but aren’t crucial. This is a good time to get feedback from other people in your company who will use the CRM. They may recommend features you hadn’t thought of or eliminate ones you thought they would need.

3. Gather referrals from businesses like yours.

In a crowded sales technology market, choosing the right CRM can be daunting.  Recommendations from people who understand the needs of your industry from the inside are invaluable.

4. Assess the current market.

The CRM space changes rapidly as technology improves, so high-profile solutions you’ve heard of in the past may no longer be the best choice. Small business advice websites and trade publications are the best way to see what’s currently popular ― and what’s not.

5. Read reviews.

As your list of CRM candidates grows, take the time to read any user reviews you come across. You’ll gain more insight as to how individual solutions perform in the real world than you will by reading about them on the vendors’ websites.

6. Test your top choices.

At this point, you’ll have a sense of which CRM software has the most potential, so take each one of these contenders for a test drive. Most companies offer free trials, so try as many as you can before spending money on a permanent solution. Sales reps are usually eager to answer any questions you have or show you a demo of their product but remember that it’s their job to present their CRM in the best light possible, so using the software yourself is the best way to test it.

7. Make your decision.

Once you’ve done your due diligence, it’s time to make a final selection. It may take a while to work through all these steps, but it’s time well spent on such an important investment.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway

CRM software is a critical part of your sales and marketing teams’ daily operations, which serve as the engine of your revenue. Keep detailed notes as you explore various platforms and invite other team members to join demos and take advantage of free trials.

Advantages of CRM Software

A central location where your employees can log all customer communications and build marketing campaigns can benefit your business in multiple ways. A CRM offers your company the following abilities:

  • Organize and maintain customer information: CRM software is ideal for companies that need to use up-to-date data to service their customers. This is the most basic yet essential benefit that CRM software can provide for your business.
  • Forecast your sales process: CRM software allows you to predict your future sales based on past sales data. Sales reports and insights are key for companies to project future needs and costs.
  • Streamline and scale your sales cycle: With the data you receive from CRM software, you can streamline your sales process and cut out unnecessary steps. You’ll see which types of communication work and which ones don’t. When you need to scale up your sales process, CRM software can help you with that too.
  • Automate your workflow: CRM software automates data entry and administrative tasks, allowing your team to focus on building meaningful customer relationships. Workflow automation also minimizes the potential for human error.
  • Build customer relationships: CRM software helps your team engage and build lasting connections with customers. Using the data stored in your CRM, your team can track customer information and cater their interactions to meet each customer’s unique needs and preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions About CRM

CRM systems help your sales team log communications, manage leads and sometimes build marketing campaigns. In other words, a CRM allows you to build and maintain relationships with your customers and other businesses.

Organizations use CRM solutions for various reasons. Initially, though, the CRM industry was geared primarily toward sales and PR professionals, offering a convenient way to store information and track communications with customers. Today, CRM solutions straddle several areas, such as marketing, analytics, communication and light project management. Some CRM systems even have built-in chatbot and calling capabilities, letting your sales reps communicate with clients directly from the system.

CRM software is any tech solution that helps businesses manage communications with their current and potential clients. Leaders in the CRM software industry include Salesforce, Zoho and HubSpot.

When software claims to be “open source,” it typically means that some or all of the source code is available to users for review and modification. Developers and programmers who want the ability to customize their CRM software extensively often opt for open-source solutions.

ERP software has some overlap with CRM software, so it’s understandable that there’s frequent confusion regarding the difference between ERPs and CRM software.

ERP software is intended to manage nearly every aspect of a business’s operations, including accounting, human resources, inventory and analytics. As such, CRM capabilities are often built into ERP software. CRM software focuses specifically on managing customer information, logging interactions with clients and storing sales-related lead details. Marketing automation, meanwhile, is what businesses use to streamline, automate and measure marketing tasks to build their revenue.

The obvious perk of using a free CRM is that it does not cost anything. Systems like HubSpot move the needle when it comes to what free CRM software can offer, improving business processes and organization at zero cost.

Free programs typically limit the number of users, integrations and campaign creation opportunities. They give you enough features to show you that you may need more. In other words, they are good starter programs to use while you figure out exactly what you want.
However, you may encounter poor security features or a lack of automatic backups. Free programs can be breached or lost and they don’t offer much support for growing companies.

Sales and marketing add-ons are the most common integrations for CRM solutions. Reporting and tracking tools are also popular. Direct integrations typically connect most quickly while third-party integrations require middleware to facilitate the exchange of data between the CRM, the operating system and other applications. Custom application programming interface integrations typically take longer because the integration has to be built.

It’s important to communicate to your team the benefits of a CRM system. Include your staff in the search process so that you can find a solution that pleases everyone. Before and during implementation, make sure your team gets all the training they need so they’re comfortable using the program. Talk to your employees about their concerns and encourage them to ask questions so the training representative can address them. You want your team to feel that they can use the CRM system comfortably and proficiently.

A CRM analyst examines your consumer data to help your business make the best sales and customer service recommendations. These experts help you understand your customers’ needs and interests so you can determine the best ways to market to them.

As with any business strategy, there are some challenges in using CRM software. First, some systems may not be affordable for small business owners. In addition to being pricey upfront, many CRM services have hidden costs.

For example, you might have to pay for system administrators, software developers, maintenance and data backups on top of the CRM’s base fee. Read the fine print and ask the CRM vendor about any hidden costs before deciding whether you can afford a certain system.
Your CRM could also negatively impact your business if it shuts down or fails. You run the risk of losing all your records, which can hurt your business financially and let your customers down. Also, depending on the CRM’s learning curve and your team’s experience, training your staff to use the CRM effectively can be a long and tedious journey.

The first step in the CRM process is research. Take time to understand your target audience and how you should approach them. You want to know their interests, how they prefer to be contacted, their demographics and what forms of communication they respond to the best.

Then, divide your targets into groups so you can market to them directly according to their preferences. Gathering and grouping your leads is an important initial step in the CRM process, allowing you to understand the marketing strategy you should create better so that you can turn them into customers successfully.

You can automate three kinds of workflows within your CRM: marketing, sales and service roles. CRM automation allows your program to perform certain tasks repeatedly so an employee doesn’t have to do them manually. This not only saves time and streamlines your team’s workflow, which can boost your company’s overall productivity, but it is also especially useful for moving consumers from the knowledge-gathering part of the buyer experience to the stage where they can be molded into a customer.

What to Expect in 2024

In the coming years, the CRM industry is poised to see massive growth. According to Technavio’s newest report, the industry will grow at an accelerated rate at a compound annual growth rate of 13.43 percent and a 12.6 percent year-over-year growth rate between 2022 and 2027.

In 2024, CRMs will become more focused on self-service for customers. Examples of self-service will be seen in FAQs pages, help centers and secured customer profiles, where returns can be processed or orders can be tracked.

There will also be more integration with the Internet of Things (IoT) in the form of CRM connections to IoT feeds. The number of IoT-connected devices is expected to surpass 25.4 billion by 2030. By 2025, estimates suggest there will be 152,200 IoT devices connecting to the internet every minute. The developers who tap into these trends in a way that maintains or enhances user experience are poised for success in the next decade.

The emergence of natural language processing technologies like ChatGPT is showing promise in many business-focused technologies and CRM platforms are no exception. Companies like Salesforce have gone as far as partnering with ChatGPT maker OpenAI to bring more generative AI to its CRM’s functionality. The implementation of similar language processing tools across the category will allow savvy sales and marketing teams to reduce their repetitive tasks and communications, freeing them to focus on higher-value activities that drive revenue with efficiency.

The adoption of AI has improved customer relationships for businesses, enabling them to provide highly customized experiences that resonate with consumers. We expect more and more CRM platforms to find additional ways to utilize this growing technology. This can be for much more than just automating replies to customers. It can be used to help predict when sales may increase to spur customer interactions. In addition, automation and increased security will also be a focus for CRM providers in 2024.

Jeff Hale is a writer and editor based in San Diego with a background in business development and marketing. He has identified new market opportunities for Fortune 500 companies and developed communications strategies and digital branding for tech startups and small businesses. Jeff covers emerging technologies and business solutions with a focus on efficiency and growth. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Irvine, and an MBA from Chapman University.
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