Best CRM Software for Small Businesses in 2020
For businesspeople, CRM is a daily part of their schedule. But what is CRM? And what is CRM software?
To define CRM, you should first understand its history. CRM is an acronym that stands for customer relationship management. Customer relationship management is any tool, strategy, or process that helps businesses better organize and access customer data. It all started with handwritten notes and Rolodexes, but with the advent and proliferation of digital technology, it eventually evolved into databases stored on individual computers, and then the CRM definition shifted into something far more complex.
It was no longer just notes. Managing your business’s relationships with customers became a complicated process. Now, in order to compete in any industry, you need a reliable system built on CRM software. Few things are as important to a business as maintaining a relationship with its customers.
Whether you cater to consumers or other businesses, it’s important to stay up to date on evolving conversations with existing customers while also effectively managing new leads. Your customer satisfaction depends on your ability to offer attentive, personalized engagement with your clients, but your growth demands you continue seeking out new customers as well.
Customer relationship management (CRM) tools do just that, helping your sales team log communications, manage leads and even build marketing campaigns. In the past, CRMs were only available to large organizations, but the rise of cloud-based services has availed CRM platforms to businesses of all sizes.
This guide includes a comprehensive breakdown of what to look for in a CRM solution, as well as reviews of some of the leading products on the market today. It also includes our best picks of CRM software that stood out from the crowd.
To help you find the right CRM software, we researched and analyzed dozens of options. Here is a roundup of our 2020 best picks for CRM software and an explanation of how we chose them.
Editor’s note: Looking for the right Customer Relationship Management software for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.
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 Customer Relationship Management 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.
While small businesses can take advantage of the lower-priced tiers, the plans and features of the Salesforce system are suited for larger businesses.
Ideally suited for small B2B businesses and startups who want to sell more with less work.
Salesflare is the intelligent CRM for small B2B businesses and startups, who want to sell more with less work. Salesflare automatically fills out your address book and keeps track of all interactions with the people you’re in contact with. It takes data from email, social media, company databases, phone, calendar and hands it to you in automated customer timelines that tell you everything you need to know. You just have to write the emails, make the calls, and have the coffee.
Bitrix24 is the leading free online CRM software used by over 3.5 million companies worldwide. It is available in cloud or on-premise with open source code access. Unlimited leads, deals, contacts, companies, quotes, invoices and appointment scheduling. The free plan also comes with email marketing and telephony.
Advanced versions have sales and marketing automation, bulk SMS, campaign management and support for multiple pipelines. Available in 12 different languages.
Free CRM from Cogmento is a cloud-based free solution for customer relationship management and sales force automation. Contacts & Companies Deals & Pipeline Dashboards Sales Forcecasts Multi User Calendar Task Management Campaigns – Voice – SMS – Email Documents Quickbooks, Google, Facebook & Twitter.
Freshsales, a customer relationship management software application by Freshworks, is designed for businesses of all sizes. With an easy-to-use user interface, Freshsales makes it simple for businesses to attract, manage, close and nurture their leads.
The software includes several valuable features, including built-in phone and email service, artificial intelligence-based lead scoring, intelligent workflow automation, customized visual reports and dashboard, and a visual deal pipeline.
In all, Freshsales provides businesses with a CRM that lets them manage all of their sales leads from one program.
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 Customer Relationship Management 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.
Zoho CRM is an extensive solution that’s ideal for just about every small business. It has a decent price point and provides good support to customers.
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.
Of all the companies we reviewed, Hubspot has the best free option. This is ideal for very small businesses or other companies that have limited experience using CRM systems. Further, Hubspot has one of the most extensive online training libraries to pull from.
Keap is on a mission to simplify growth for millions of small businesses.
For 18 years, Keap has helped small businesses get organized so they can deliver great service and close more business. Keap’s award-winning CRM solution serves more than 200,000 users globally.
We’re in the business of helping you grow yours.
Step up to all-in-one sales and marketing software designed for growing service-based businesses, ranging from entrepreneurs and startups to larger teams. Keap’s platform organizes your customer information and daily work in one place, freeing you up from repetitive tasks so you have more time to focus on growing your business and delivering great service.
Less Annoying CRM
With just one subscription plan costing $10 per user, per month, Less Annoying Customer Relationship Management takes the complexity and expense out of adopting a customer relationship management solution. Less Annoying CRM doesn’t have the features competing CRMs have, but 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.
It’s an approachable small business tool that can handle all of your needs from a sales and CRM standpoint, plus it’s easy to implement, whether you have experience in using CRM solutions or not.
Organizations use CRM solutions for a variety of reasons. Initially, though, the CRM industry was geared primarily toward sales and PR professionals, offering a convenient way to store information and track communication with customers. Today, CRM solutions straddle several areas of business 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 from the system.
Even small businesses can afford powerful CRM software, thanks in large part to the proliferation of affordable SaaS solutions, which deliver a lot of functionality without the fuss (or headaches) that come with a major software implementation project. Tiered pricing structures and lots of competition mean SMBs have their pick of easy-to-use CRMs that optimize the customer relationship management process.
Of course, when you have several options available to you, the choices can be overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve done 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 for your business, read Choosing a CRM Software: A Buyer’s Guide, which answers your common questions and outlines the best approach for choosing and implementing a solution.
What to Expect in 2020
As CRMs have improved, they have become more sophisticated and integrated with a wider range of business operations. Social media and email integration, for example, have been hallmarks of the Customer Relationship Management evolution. And, with the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, CRM functionality only continues to grow.
In fact, AI use cases in CRM are expected to increase by more than 250% over the next two years. The top expected use cases for AI include customer segmentation and data modeling, programmatic advertising, media buying and personalization for specific channel experience. Generally speaking, AI will continue to automate key CRM functions, reducing the need for manual reentry of data and the potential for human error that comes along with it.
In 2020, look for more automation and integration to streamline CRM usage, boost productivity and widen the scope of business operations that CRM tools impact. The developers that tap into these trends in a way that maintains or enhances user experience will be poised for success in the new decade.
Customer Relationship Management Pricing
For our review of CRM systems, we payed careful attention to pricing. Most customer relationship management software is priced on a per-person, per-month basis, but companies typically opt for annual billing to simplify the payment process. With that in mind, these are the general pricing tiers you can expect.
- $10 to $15: Inexpensive CRM products are a great option for tiny businesses with modest needs, and there are many services that charge $10 to $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 solution 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 cap 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 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 users supported and storage caps that could force you to upgrade to higher-priced plans.
- $50 to $75: CRM software that falls in the $50 to $75 range per user is typically intended 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 include extensive training, customization and implementation services with the software. An additional reason behind 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.
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 ultimately doesn’t work for you.
Frequently Asked Questions About CRM
Q: What are some examples of CRM Software?
A: 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.
Q: What makes a CRM software “open source”?
A: 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.
Q: What are the differences between ERP and customer relationship management (CRM) software?
A: 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.