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Best CRM Software 2018

Mona Bushnell
August 7, 2018

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.

Our Best Picks

To help you find the right CRM software, we researched and analyzed dozens of options. Here is a roundup of our 2018 best picks for CRM software and an explanation of how we chose them.

Best Overall

Cost: Free up to 10 users; $12 per user, per month
Zoho CRM
Cost: Free up to 10 users; $12 per user, per month

Best for Small Business

Cost: Starts at $25 per user, per month
Salesforce
Cost: Starts at $25 per user, per month

Best for Very Small Business

Cost: Paid plans start at $50 per user, per month
HubSpot CRM
Cost: Paid plans start at $50 per user, per month

Best for Developers

Cost: Starts at $40 per user, per month
SugarCRM
Cost: Starts at $40 per user, per month

Best Low-Cost

Cost: $10 per user, per month
Less Annoying CRM
Cost: $10 per user, per month

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.

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.

Editor's note: Looking for CRM software for your business? If you need help choosing 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.

Best Overall

Zoho CRM

Best Overall

Summary

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 businesses to build out a customized CRM solution without a developer.
Read our full review of Zoho CRM
Best for Small Business

Salesforce

Best for Small Business

Summary

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
Best for Very Small Business

HubSpot CRM

Best for Very Small Business

Summary

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 CRM
Best for Developers

SugarCRM

Best for Developers

Summary

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
Best Low-Cost

Less Annoying CRM

Best Low-Cost

Summary

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

Our Methodology

Locating the Best Services

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

Choosing the Best Services

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.

Researching Each Service

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.

Analyzing Each Service

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. 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.

 

CRM Pricing

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.

Frequently Asked Questions About CRM

What are some examples of CRM Software? 

Customer relationship management (CRM) software refers to any tech solution that helps businesses manage communication with current and potential clients. Some examples of leaders in the CRM software industry include Salesforce, Zoho, HubSpot and Sugar CRM. 

What makes a CRM software "open source"? 

When a 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 that want the ability to highly customize their CRM software often opt for open source solutions.    

What are the differences between ERP and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software? 

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software has some overlap with customer relationship management (CRM) software, so it's understandable that there's frequent confusion regarding the difference between ERPs and CRMs. ERP software is intended to manage nearly every aspect of a business' operations, from accounting and human resources to inventory and analytics and 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.

Full List
Best Picks

Full List of CRM Software

Here is a full list of CRM software we recommend and a summary of what each company claims to offer. This list also includes our best picks.

Capsule Software

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.

Base Software

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.

CallPro CRM Software

CallPro CRM Software provides users a number of different features designed around better conversations. With better conversations come better customer leads and relationships, which can lead to more sales.

Apptivo Software

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.

Azurepath Software

Easy-to-use Azurepath lets you automatically track data to keep every lead current. You can customize fields, layouts and views, and quickly batch-update your data.

Nimble

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.

Vtiger

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.

AgentCubed Software

AgentCubed is a CRM solution designed specifically for insurance agents. It offers lead generation and distribution, CRM, and agency management features in one platform. CRM features include integrated telephony, call scripting and quoting. Tools such as real-time sales analytics and integrations for automated underwriting and commissions help agencies track sales and streamline operations.

SalesNet

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.

360Alumni Software

Tailored for higher ed, schools, and nonprofits, 360Alumni is an engagement platform designed to keep one's network up to date and informed. Its solution offers several tools, including a map-based directory, end-to-end event management (fundraisers), job boards, mentorships, fundraisers and email marketing software so schools and nonprofits can cultivate and sustain an active online community.

Batchbook Software

Batchbook is a comprehensive CRM for small businesses and freelancers, offering social monitoring of your contacts and goal tracking in addition to contact information management.

LeadMaster

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.

Nutshell

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.

BlueFolder Software

BlueFolder's CRM software focuses on making it easy to communicate with customers by keeping their information just a few clicks away at all times. Other features included a detailed and user-friendly customer portal.

BoomTown Software

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.

PipeDrive

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.

Bitochon CRM Software

Bitochon allows you to sync CRM emails with outlook, view information on a simple dashboard design and more. The service also allows for certain levels of customization.

Auric Prospector Software

Auric Prospector aims to make it easier for you to manage your many customers, leads and business contacts. The application is an all-in-one CRM that includes lead management, analytics and customer service features.

Aavaz Software

Aavaz specializes in call centers. Among its various services for call centers is its contact management solution, which keeps track of your call and lead histories.

Bullhorn CRM Software

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.

CRMnext Software

CRMNext is a financial services CRM that enables omni-channel customer interactions from a single platform. It offers numerous features to improve your sales, including marketing, social media, process management, collaboration, analytics and cross-selling tools.

OnContact

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.

CampaignerCRM

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.

Pipeline Deals

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.

Sage 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.

SAP Digital CRM Software

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.

Snapforce

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.

Accelo Software

Originally developed as an internal CMS for a service, Accelo was launched in 2009. Accelo offers cloud-based software for professional service businesses. Its CRM platform offers a host of valuable features, including real-time conversation analytics, multi-user syncing, the ability to create, send and convert quotes, and more. The company offers pricing plans to fit the budgets of small and larger businesses. The platform integrates with G Suite, Office 364, QuickBooks and more.

Act! Essentials

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.

AllProWebTools Software

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.
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Salesforce

Salesforce is widely thought to be the industry standard for CRM solutions, and we consider it the best overall choice. The sheer number of features, third-party integrations and add-on options makes this CRM ideal for businesses with diverse and evolving needs. Once implementation is complete, Salesforce offers users a beautifully designed product that's speedy, powerful and easy to use.
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HubSpot CRM

HubSpot offers a completely free version of their CRM, making it a fantastic option for entrepreneurs on a budget, as well as small business owners who are unsure about investing in a high-cost CRM. Even the free version connects with Gmail, G Suite and most version of Outlook, making it ideal for email marketing. There are additional paid services, like the Marketing Hub and Sales Hub, but HubSpot allows businesses to opt-in for those paid services based on specific users – everyone else on your team can continue to use the completely free version.

Maximizer CRM

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.

NetSuite

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.

Workbooks

Known for its high level of customer satisfaction, Workbooks is one of our runner-ups for the best CRM software for small business. It focuses 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.
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SugarCRM

Sugar CRM is packed full of features like contact and lead management, marketing tools, reporting and analytics, call center capabilities, workflows and approvals, and more. There's a bit of a learning curve to using this CRM though, and getting started may require some work, but if your company has a decent in-house tech team, this solution will offer you unparalleled customization options and tons of high-level resources. The outstanding customer service and active online community make this CRM the clear choice for developers who want to fully customize the customer relationship management experience.
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Zoho CRM

Affordable and beautifully designed, Zoho CRM looks and feels like a lightweight CRM solution, but it packs in a surprising number of high-end features and customization options. Since this CRM is part of the Zoho SaaS family, it can be used on its own or in tandem with other Zoho apps and services, and it is compatible with many popular third-party social media platforms as well. Built-in collaboration features, like the shareable calendar and file repository, make this CRM ideal for small teams and multitasking individuals.

Agile CRM

Sales, marketing, telephony and customer service features all unite with Agile CRM. This affordable SaaS product offers a free version for up to 10 users and 50,000 contacts. The Enterprise version is priced at under $50 per user, per month.

Bitrix 24

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.
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Less Annoying CRM

As the name implies, Less Annoying CRM is a product that aims to provide an alternative to large and complicated CRM systems. The result is a lightweight user-friendly CRM with just one affordable subscription level ($10 per user, per month), but somewhat limited functionality. This contact relationship management software allows users unlimited contacts, the ability to collaborate with teams, lead and pipeline management, and some project management. Even the tiniest business with no internal tech support can get this system up and running in a matter of hours, but it lacks many integrations larger systems offer, and isn't intended for big businesses.

Avidian/Prophet

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.

Buddy 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.

Method:CRM

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.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM

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 Outlook Customer Manager

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.

iSEEit

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.

Odoo CRM

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.

Podio for CRM

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.

SalesNexus

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.

Editor's note: Looking for CRM software for your business? If you need help choosing 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.

Mona Bushnell
Mona Bushnell
Mona Bushnell is a New York City-based Staff Writer for Business News Daily and Business.com. 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 Business.com team in 2017.