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Best CRM Software 2018

Best CRM Software 2018
Credit: Jirsak/Shutterstock

Looking for a better way to manage and grow your small business? Customer relationship management software can make all the difference. Whether you're looking for a robust CRM software solution, a simple one designed for very small businesses or a free version to fit your budget, there's a CRM software choice for you. Our CRM software reviews can help you find the right product for your business.

Organizations use CRM solutions for a variety of reasons. Initially, the CRM industry was geared primarily towards sales and PR people and offered a way to store customer information and track communication with those customers. Today, CRM solutions straddle several areas of business, including customer relationship management, marketing, analytics, communication, and even lightweight project management. Some CRM systems even have built in chatbot and calling capabilities, so reps can communicate with clients directly in the system.

Overall
Salesforce
Read Review
  • What It Is
    Robust, full-featured CRM
  • Key Features
    Customizable dashboards, advanced analytics and tons of collaboration and project management tools
  • Pricing
    Starts at $25 per user, per month
Small Business
Zoho CRM
Read Review
  • What It Is
    Intuitive and easy to implement
  • Key Features
    No-code third party integrations, advanced analytics and forecasting, real-time notification
  • Pricing
    Free edition for up to 10 users; plans starts at $12 per user, per month
Very Small Business
HubSpot
Read Review
  • What It Is
    A scalable solution with numerous training resources
  • Key Features
    Automatic sales logging, sales pipeline management, email syncing,
  • Pricing
    Free version available; plans start at $50 per user, per month
Startups
SugarCRM
Read Review
  • What It Is
    A highly customizable, developer-centric CRM
  • Key Features
    Limitless integrations through open API, active developer community, robust reporting and management tools
  • Pricing
    Starts at $40 per user, per month
Low-Cost
Less Annoying CRM
Read Review
  • What It Is
    A simple, approachable CRM designed for small business
  • Key Features
    Easy import/export options, email logging, shared and individual calendars
  • Pricing
    $10 per user, per month

Today, even small businesses can afford to invest in powerful customer relationship management software, thanks in large part to the proliferation of affordable SaaS solutions, which deliver lots of functionality without the fuss of a major software implementation project. Tiered pricing structures and lots of competition means SMB have their pick of easy to use CRMs that optimize the customer relationship management process, but too much choice can be overwhelming. Luckily, we did the hard-work of comparing and testing CRM products for you.

Here is a roundup of our best picks for customer relationship management software, and how we chose them. To help you find the right CRM tools for your business, check out Choosing a CRM Software: A Buyer's Guide, which answers questions like "what is CRM software?" and outlines the best approach for quick and easy adoption.

Salesforce is an all-in-one, cloud-based solution that has everything you need in a CRM software. Although this software is typically associated with larger businesses and enterprises, Salesforce's small business edition lets you take advantage of the product's robust set of CRM tools and resources at an affordable, small-business-friendly price. Part of Salesforce Small Business Solutions, the platform is very easy to use and includes key features like lead generation, contact and opportunity management, sales forecasting, workflow automation, and much more. Read our full review of Salesforce.

Editor's Note: Looking for CRM software for your business? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free.

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Easy to implement, intuitive to use and inexpensive to adopt, Zoho CRM offers users lots of functionality at a competitive price point. While the customization options aren't as extensive as some other CRMs we reviewed, there are still a lot of ways to tailor Zoho to meet your needs. Like Zoho's other business apps, its CRM module feels modern, clean and immediately intuitive. Zoho also offers a bevy of click to install extensions through the Zoho Marketplace, and the easy adoption process make it possible for small businesses to build out a customized CRM solution without a developer. Read our full review of Zoho CRM.

HubSpot offers independent contractors and owners of tiny businesses an easy entry into the world of CRM solutions. The free version of HubSpot may offer enough functionality to improve processes and organization at zero cost. It offers users a wealth of training resources in its online library, including learning guides, invoice template generators, email signature generators, and marketing plan template generators. Motivated users have a great DIY buffet of options – without the need to spend money on development and training. Read our full review of HubSpot.

Tech savvy startups will appreciate SugarCRM's developer-centric focus, rich set of features and stellar customer service. This highly customizable solution offers users more learning resources than nearly any other SaaS CRM out there. SugarCRM provides numerous developer resources in the form of learning guides and technical documentation. It also has a highly active online dev community, including a separate open source Community Edition specifically for developers. Read our full review of SugarCRM.

With just one subscription tier of $10 per user, per month, Less Annoying CRM takes the complexity and expense out of adopting a customer relationship management solution. Although this solution lacks the bells and whistles the competition has, it simplifies the implementation process: you can expect to have the system up and running in hours. Anyone interested in Less Annoying CRM can check out a software demo online and view screenshots, without filling out a form or submitting a request. Read our full review of Less Annoying CRM.

Locating the best CRM software for small business, we started by asking small business owners what CRM software they used, what their likes and dislikes were, and what they think makes the "perfect" CRM software.

Next, we looked at CRM software that appeared on review sites, business websites and other reputable online sources. We also considered popular CRM software that we were familiar with or have heard about. 

The last steps of our research involved testing our top picks ourselves. We signed up for business accounts, tried out software demos, downloaded mobile apps, watched videos and contacted vendors with questions, posing as business owners. 

In total, we ended up with more than 50 CRM software products. Our top picks are Salesforce, Zoho CRM, HubSpot, SugarCRM and Less Annoying CRM.

Here are the criteria we used to construct each CRM review:

  • Cost
  • Ease of use
  • Contact-management features
  • Lead-generation tools
  • Sales and marketing tools
  • Employee-tracking capabilities
  • Customization options
  • Automation capabilities
  • Third-party integration
  • Reporting and analytics 
  • Mobile access
  • Service limitations
  • Customer service

When writing our CRM reviews we payed careful attention to pricing. Most customer relationship management software is priced out per person, per month, but companies typically opt for annual billing to simplify the payment process. With that in mind, these are the general tiers you can expect from CRM pricing.

  • $10 to $15: Inexpensive CRM products are a great option for tiny businesses with modest needs, and there are many services that charge between $10 and $15 per user, per month. Affordable systems like these typically have very quick implementation times and don't usually require much in house tech support to get things up and running. If you want a fast soultion with minimal hassle this price range is a great place to start, just make sure the storage options are robust enough to meet your needs; low cost CRMs usually have caps on the number of records they can store.
  • $20 to $40: For additional features and a broader range of integrations with third party systems, a CRM priced in the $20 to $40 range will likely meet your needs. The majority of CRM software we reviewed falls into this category because it's designed to meet the needs of the SMB set. As you peruse options in this price range, however, make sure you check for any limitations on the number of users supported and storage caps that could force you to upgrade to higher priced tiers in the future.
  • $50 to $75: Customer relationship management software that falls in the $50 to $75 range per user is typically inteded primarily for enterprise use. Such systems often include options to integrate with legacy systems and allow for greater customization than other CRMs. As powerful as they are, systems like these are not necessary for most small businesses.
  • $250 or more: The highest end CRM systems often feature packages that include extensive training, customization, and implementation services. Additionally, many of the most expensive CRMs are priced so high because they are not cloud services and can be hosted locally, which is a boon for organizations with unique security needs. 

It's important to note that 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 a lot of money into a product that doesn't work for you. Here is a full list of CRM software and a summary of what each company claims to offer. This alphabetical list also includes our best picks.

Act! Essentials, by Swiftpage, marries contact management with e-marketing to help you get organized, convert new customers and get more from existing customers. The software takes the guesswork out of choosing where to focus time and resources by offering you intelligent, prioritized recommendations based on the level of engagement of customers and prospects. act.com/products/act-essentials

Sales, marketing, telephony and customer service features all unite with Agile CRM. This affordable SaaS product offers a free version for up to ten users and 50,000 contacts and even their Enterprise version is under $50 per user, per month, which is inexpensive compared to other CRMs with similar functionality. agilecrm.com

If you're looking for a simpler way to acquire leads and maintain customer relationships, AllProWebTools' CRM software is a unique integrated solution. This CRM tool is part of a business suite that also includes email, Web and e-commerce hosting, marketing, task management, and timecards.  Having all these tools available from one dashboard keeps you organized and saves you time. allprowebtools.com

Apptivo CRM combines contact and lead management with project management and marketing software to help your business connect better with customers. Apptivo CRM is part of Apptivo's suite of business solutions. apptivo.com/crm

Use Outlook as your CRM software with Avidian. The company's own Prophet CRM turns your inbox into a full-featured, mobile-friendly CRM solution. From contacts to emails, tasks, notes, appointments and meetings, Avidian also syncs all your data in a familiar platform you likely already use every day. avidian.com

Called an "intelligent productivity platform," Base is all about using data to help your business make wiser, more informed sales decisions. It closely monitors your sales pipeline, sales rep activities, goals and quotas to make sure your team is productive and succeeding. getbase.com

Bitrix24 offers cloud and self-hosted CRM solutions. The free tier of this solution supports up to 12 users, and the unusual pricing structure, which is not on a per-user basis, makes the paid versions extremely affordable. Plus, this CRM boasts varied features like social media and telephony integrations, chat and video collaboration and more. bitrix24.com

Bluenose combines big data analytics with powerful technology for customer-success management. Known as a "Customer Success" platform, the software empowers software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses to proactively manage and engage their customers through its insight-driven toolkit, built-in playbooks and more. bluenose.com

Do you own a real estate business? BoomTown's predictive CRM software is designed specifically for agents, teams, brokerage firms and other real estate professionals. Services include lead generation, a website builder, success management and the ability to manage multiple offices. boomtownroi.com

bpm'online combines business process management (BPM) and CRM to help organizations execute their campaigns. bpm'online offers agile solutions for sales, marketing and service, so you can manage it all in a single platform, from lead generation to customer service. The company also offers an engaging userface — which resembles the look and feel of social media — making it easier to navigate and provides a more pleasant experience for users. bpmonline.com/crm

True to its name, Buddy CRM acts as a small business's CRM BFF for establishing and keeping customer relationships. It starts by giving you all the information you need about customers before you even contact them, so you're always prepared for a sales call or meeting. Buddy CRM also gives you at-a-glance looks at the status of your business throughout the sales cycle, so you can pinpoint hot leads, identify where and why sales are lost, monitor KPIs and track team activities from a single screen. It also comes with a free mobile app, so you can take Buddy CRM with you wherever you go. buddycrm.com

Own a service-oriented business? Bullhorn CRM is specifically built to help service providers strengthen relationships with customers while improving sales productivity and driving growth. There are also dedicated CRM software offerings for niche businesses, such as staffing and recruitment firms and PR agencies. bullhorn.com/products/crm/

Campaigner offers two types of CRM software. One is for businesses that deal with shorter, simpler sales processes, and the other combines CRM with sales-process management to help companies with longer, more complex sales processes. The latter option offers more advanced functionalities, such as reporting, customization, a sales process API and more. campaignercrm.com

Capsule aims to make CRM as simple as possible by offering six core capabilities to help you run your business: managing relationships, managing the sales pipeline, organizing emails, saving contact histories, performing task management and completing customization. capsulecrm.com

Specifically designed for small to midsize businesses, Commence is a web-based CRM software that's both powerful and affordable. It's also designed for fast deployment, meaning it's easy to implement and you can get started right away. commence.com

Contactually is all about getting the most out of your CRM investment. It is built to help businesses convert existing leads into closed sales, build relationships for long sales cycles, stay on top of revenue opportunities and get more prospects down the sales funnel. contactually.com

Need a premise-based CRM software? Unlike cloud-based CRM software, GoldMine is installed on your own servers and infrastructure to give you more control over your software. In addition to its many CRM features, the company also offers one of the best customer support systems, so you can get help right when you need it. goldmine.com

GreenRope combines the best of CRM with robust marketing automation to help you save time and dedicate more resources to closing sales. Additional features include project management, collaboration tools, e-commerce, event management and more. greenrope.com

One of our runner-ups, Hatchbuck is all-in-one sales and marketing tool built with small businesses in mind. It focuses on simplicity, ease of use and affordability, while giving you all the tools you need to organize data and automate marketing processes. hatchbuck.com

Also a top contender on our list of best CRM software, Highrise focuses on helping you manage three key areas of your business: contacts, tasks and communications. You can maintain and share contacts with your team, create tasks and set reminders, and keep track of emails, notes and other forms of correspondence. highrisehq.com

Our top pick for the best CRM for very small businesses, Hubspot's CRM software streamlines your sales process across multiple channels in your organization. It works in the background to save you from wasting time manually performing repetitive sales and marketing tasks. The software also specializes in automatically logging and syncing data from different sources of communication, such as your website, phone calls, emails, social media and more. Go to hubspot.com or read our review here.

Infusionsoft is a favorite amongst small business owners we talked to, because of its ease of use and because it offers a comprehensive set of CRM tools at a small-business-friendly price. Users particularly liked its automation features, ability to nurture leads all the way to closing the sales and extras like email marketing, billing and project management. infusionsoft.com

Insightly is a simple, scalable solution that grows with your business. It offers both basic and advanced capabilities, so you can start with a free or super-affordable standard plan, then upgrade as your business expands. insightly.com

iSEEit offers an intuitive way for sales people to manage all their daily sales activities. This iPad and Web-based CRM solution makes it easy to focus on the right steps to move deals through your pipeline by letting you better qualify leads, tasks, and opportunities; manage deals via milestones and qualifiers; and coordinate and collaborate with customers and colleagues, all from a single, consistent source. now.iseeit.com

If you're looking for a simple way to gather, manage and convert leads, LeadMaster can help. First, the software aims to save you hours spent looking for high-quality leads by automating your marketing system. Next, its sales lead-management tools helps you turn those leads into sales by making it easy to track, analyze and communicate with those prospects. leadmastercrm.com

This newcomer to the CRM scene is our pick for the most affordable CRM solution. It has one simple subscription tier of $10 per user, per month, and can be implemented and running within a matter of hours. This approachable CRM takes the complexity and expense out of adopting a CRM solution, and allows you to easly import contacts from Excel or other CRM software. Go to lessannoyingcrm.com or read our full review here.

Need more flexibility in your CRM software? Maximizer is an all-in-one CRM solution that is completely customizable to cater to your business's unique needs. In addition to offering three robust CRM tools – sales management, marketing automation and customer service – the software also gives you a choice of using the cloud-based version of the software or an on-premise version hosted on your own servers. maximizer.com

Do you use QuickBooks as your accounting software? Intuit-approved Method works with QuickBooks to integrate your customer data with your financial data. This software links and syncs everything from contact information to invoices, purchase histories and much more to give you a complete view of customers in one, easily accessible place. method.me

Microsoft Dynamics CRM takes a different approach to CRM. The software uses social insights, business intelligence and campaign management to help your business strengthen relationships with customers, improve marketing campaigns and, ultimately, boost sales. It is available in the cloud, on premise or a combination of both, and you can integrate the software with Office 365 for even more productivity. microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics/crm.aspx

A SMB-focused lightweight CRM solution, Outlook Customer Manager is part of the Microsoft Business Center, which comes standard with all subscriptions of Microsoft 365 Business and Office 365 Business Premium. This tool integrates with Outlook and all other related Microsoft products, and allows businesses to manage, track and grow customer relationships through the familiar Outlook interface, with very little implementation time or technical oversight required. Outlook Customer Manager

NetSuite CRM lets you track leads through each step of the customer lifecycle, from lead generation to prospect nurturing, sales ordering, fulfilment and support. It also shows you opportunities for up- and cross-selling, as well as renewals to boost sales and maintain customer loyalty. Other features include order management, commission management, sales forecasting and e-commerce. netsuite.com/portal/products/netsuite/crm.shtml

Does your business rely heavily on social media marketing? Known as an Intelligent Relationship Platform, Nimble automatically syncs all types of contact data across multiple channels, including social media. It uses "social listening" to filter contacts and prospects on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn to help you find and close high-value opportunities. The software also syncs emails, direct messages and @mentions, making them easily accessible straight from your dashboard. nimble.com

Specially built for small businesses, Nutshell helps you close sales fast. In addition to standard CRM features like contact and lead management, Nutshell also offers collaboration tools, custom reporting and third-party integrations. You're also in luck if you use Google Apps; the software automatically imports Gmail messages and events and meetings into Google Calendar. It promises fast deployment, too, so you can get started in no time. nutshell.com

Odoo is an open-source software that focuses on tracking leads, closing opportunities and generating accurate forecasts. And because it's open source, it lets you customize the software to your exact needs and add on a wide range of apps. Supported apps include marketing, project management, e-commerce, website building, billing, accounting and even human resources. Odoo is a little on the pricier side, however. It requires a monthly per-user fee in addition to a monthly per-app fee, though you get two free users to start. You can also use the software on multiple companies for an additional fee. odoo.com/page/crm

OnContact combines CRM with marketing automation, giving you a complete sales and marketing solution in one. Unlike many CRM solutions, however, OnContact comes with powerful customer-service features, such as contact center capabilities and incident tracking, so you can be there for your customers whenever they need you. OnContact is available as a cloud-based or on-premise software. oncontact.com

Small business owners like Pipedrive because it is simple and easy to use. It's also a highly visual platform, making it easy to quickly navigate the dashboard and get the data you need at a glance. There is also no training required, and setup takes less than two minutes, so you and your team can get started right away. pipedrive.com

PipelineDeals doesn't just help you boost sales; it also helps you and your staff be more productive. What makes it stand out from other CRM software is that it goes the extra mile. For instance, it can send snapshots of your pipeline to your inbox every morning so you know exactly how your business is doing before you even open the software. Plans also come with premium support, so you can reach a real, live PipelineDeals representative any time to help resolve any issues. pipelinedeals.com

If you're a visual person, you'll like Pipeliner. This CRM software presents all your data in an intuitive, visual way, so you don't have to go through multiple steps to get the data you need. For instance, when you go to the Pipeline section of the software, you'll be greeted with charts showing you who is in which stage of your pipeline. This way, you don't have to open each stage or contact separately to get this information. Pipeliner also offers an all-inclusive pricing model, so you get all the features for just one monthly price. pipelinersales.com

Podio aims to cut through the noise of CRM and deliver a clutter-free CRM solution. It is a very lightweight software that lets you customize features, so you get all the capabilities you need without all the fuss. With this product's simple interface, you can easily get where you need to go without getting lost in extra steps navigating the software. podio.com/site/use-cases/crm

Sage CRM is an all-in-one solution that lets you do more with your CRM. In addition to contact and lead management, Sage CRM offers targeted marketing, email marketing, social CRM and more. It also comes with a built-in customer-service portal to help you deliver excellent customer support. And if you use Sage ERP, Sage CRM integrates seamlessly for even better sales acceleration. sagecrm.com

Our top pick for the best CRM software overall, Salesforce has everything you need in a cloud-based CRM software. It's affordable and easy to use, and offers a ton of features at a small business price point. It also comes with top-notch customer support, so you can get help any time you need it. Go to salesforce.com or read our full review here.

Salesnet takes CRM to the next level by pairing it with Microsoft Office. Besides Salesnet's native CRM features, the software integrates with Outlook to automatically sync contacts, meetings and tasks; Excel to view and edit reports; and Word to merge data and attach files to the software. salesnet.com

SalesNexus isn't just another CRM software; it combines CRM with email marketing to help you better target leads, connect with them and convert them to loyal customers. You won't even need a separate email-marketing solution to get the job done. SalesNexus' lead-generation tool also lets you find leads using a wide range of specific categories, such as by industry, title, company revenue, location, social media profiles and more. Each plan comes with 500 leads and 25,000 emails per month. salesnexus.com

SAP offers enterprise-level CRM tools at a small business price point. Features include lead, contact and opportunity management, as well as robust collaboration capabilities to help you and your team engage more effectively with customers. It's also easy to get started — just follow the step-by-step wizard and you're good to go — and you can manage the software yourself (for instance, you don't have to wait on SAP to make user changes to your account). And because the software is built for small businesses, there are no minimum user requirements and it is scalable to your needs as your business grows. Sapstore.com

If you want a truly comprehensive CRM solution, check out Snapforce. This CRM software eliminates the need to use multiple tools to manage your business. In addition to core CRM features, Snapforce offers cloud-based file storage, calendars and event management, email syncing with your email client, and case management via a ticket system. It also comes with a complete call center software, so customers can reach you with a simple phone call. snapforce.com

Our pick for the best CRM software for startups, SugarCRM is powerful CRM software that integrates sales, marketing and employee tracking. The base plan comes with a robust set of features, such as sales automation and forecasting, lead management, call-center automation, reporting, unlimited customizations and unlimited online support. SugarCRM is available as a cloud-based or on-premise software. Go to sugarcrm.com or read our full review here.

Vtiger is a one-stop shop for all your sales, marketing and customer-support needs. It features a bevy of built-in CRM solutions, including email marketing, project management, calendar and task management, reporting, document management, and more. It also has a customer portal where customers can access their accounts and submit help tickets. vtiger.com

Known for its high level of customer satisfaction, Workbooks is one of our runner-ups for the best CRM software for small business. It focus on four core areas of CRM: sales to boost your business's growth, highly targeted marketing to help you get the most ROI, order fulfillment to streamline your sales processing and customer support to keep your customers happy. A free version is available for up to two users; it also comes with free online support. workbooks.com

Zoho CRM is our pick for the best CRM software for small businesses. It's packed with features, and offers tons of functionality at a competitive price point. This intuitive solution has tons of click-to-install extensions through its marketplace, and lets small businesses build a highly customized CRM solution without the need for a developer. Go to zoho.com or read our full review here.

If you'd like your company to be added to this list and possibly considered as a best pick for our next round of reviews, please email your request to: b2bconsiderrequest@purch.com.

Additional reporting by Sara Angeles.

Editor's Note: Looking for CRM software for your business? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free.

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Mona Bushnell

Mona Bushnell is a New York City-based Staff Writer for Tom’s IT Pro, Business.com and Business News Daily. She has a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and has previously worked as an IT Technician, a Copywriter, a Software Administrator, a Scheduling Manager and an Editorial Writer. Mona began freelance writing full-time in 2014 and joined the Purch team in 2017.