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Which is the best CRM for you?

Should you buy THE best CRM?

All CRMs can do what they are supposed to do: organize your customer data. Beyond that, what do you want to achieve with your customer data? Your goals could be

  • More leads
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Automation
  • Customer experience

Also you might have constraints like

  • Budget
  • Adoption
  • Transition of processes
  • Time

Depending on your organization’s size and sales process maturity, your goals and constraints will direct your definition of the best CRM.

Sixteen CRMs that are best for small businesses

  1. Pipedrive
  2. Copper
  3. Less Annoying CRM
  4. Nimble
  5. Nutshell
  6. Capsule
  7. Keap
  8. EngageBay
  9. Vtiger
  10. Insightly
  11. Apptivo
  12. Zoho
  13. Hubspot
  14. Freshsales
  15. Creatio
  16. Bitrix24

Pipedrive 

The first thing you notice about Pipedrive is its visually pleasing user interface and layout. The CRM is budget-friendly and is good for teams starting with sales force automation. Pipedrive has kept the CRM simpler by not overly focusing on marketing and services aspects that has come to be associated with CRMs.

 Key Features: 

  1. Deals: This module helps you track your progress in three ways: as a pipeline, a list, and as a forecast. The pipeline will give you the progress in stages, the list gives you the list by names, and the forecast shows your progress in dollars.
  2. Activities: Mark your tasks on the built-in calendar and never lose track of a deal. You can schedule meetings with customers. See activities filtered by salespeople and by week or day.
  3. Insights: Here, you can make dashboards and reports, and set goals. Pipedrive has already made the most frequently used reports and placed them on the dash. By setting goals, you can compare your performance against them.
  4. Products: Create products, assign price, taxes, and owner to products. In the product list view, you can filter products by product code. When a product is added to a deal, you can see that deal as an associated view in the product details page.
  5. Lead inbox is an additional stage between leads and deals. Keep those leads which are not so cold yet but have the potential to become a deal some day. Lead inbox thus brings better organization to your Pipedrive account.
  6. The Meeting scheduler makes it easy for you to share a link with someone and get booked for appointments. You can even connect your Google calendar or Outlook calendar in addition to setting up availability on Pipedrive.  
  7. Caller is a built-in feature in Pipedrive. You can make calls right from the webapp. Caller allows you to call from it or from one of the integrations you have. After the call, Pipedrive can prompt to log this as an activity. It also keeps a recording of your calls.
  8. Custom fields will collect information vital to your organization but is not available as a default field. There are different field types and you can set properties for each. Custom fields are available in the important modules.

 Pros: 

  1. Pipedrive is easy to learn and easy to work with. At first glance you might feel that the CRM is too sparse and might lack in features but they have managed to cover features without an overwhelming user interface.
  2. Leadbooster: You can use live chat, webforms, and chatbot to generate leads. The Prospector will find your leads based on the criteria you set for searching the database. Leadbooster is a premium feature which is not included in the regular subscription.
  3. Security center is a key differentiator of Pipedrive. It assesses that might be perceived security issues, sends you a monthly email about it. The dashboard and alerts keeps you updated about important security metrics and issues.
  4. Pipedrive marketplace and APIs offers you functionality that is out-of-the-box. You can use one of the integrated apps from the marketplace or create a new integration with the API. Around 300 apps are available in the marketplace now.
  5. Mobile apps: There are a bunch of interesting features in the Android and iOS apps like Note scanner, activity reminders, nearby view – shows you customers near to your location. Along with the offline mode, mobile apps is a real complement to the Pipedrive web app.

 Pricing: Pipedrive offers four paid plans: Essential, Advanced, Professional, and Enterprise. These plans range from $12.50 per user per month to $99 per user per month. Additionally, you can buy LeadBooster add-on at $32.50 and Webvisitors add-on at $41.

Copper 

Copper is beginner-friendly and very supportive if you are looking for your first CRM. They have added sample data which makes it easy to get a real feel of your future CRM. You can import your data in to various modules if you have been maintaining spreadsheets. Copper’s Chrome and Gmail extensions make it easy to use the CRM from your email itself.

 Key Features: 

  1. Opportunities are leads which are qualified. You can create pipelines with stages and move opportunities along the stages. You can create stages and move opportunities along. Opportunities give your a snapshot of your sales process.
  2. Leads report gives your search and filters to find leads or create views. You can create new filters and save filtered views.You can add new leads manually or import a spreadsheet of leads to get started.
  3. Dashboards are where you start when you login. You can see your tasks, metrics and performance from the various reports on the dashboard. Similarly, it will help track your activities and goals.
  4. Workflow and Task automation: Copper allows you to set up triggers and initiate corresponding actions. Similarly, you can create a task for yourself with activities, deadlines, priority etc.

 Pros: 

  1. Use within Gmail: with its Chrome extension, Copper is handy for sales teams using gmail. Copper provides contextual information about every email interaction. You can also set reminders for email and relate conversations to any of the different modules in Copper.
  2. Goals: set targets for you team and measure their performance against that. It can be set for activities, opportunities, lead conversions, or revenue. By setting permissions, you can allow goals to be visible beyond a personal dashboard.
  3. Projects: You can manage your projects in Copper. See your tasks as a Kanban board in stages. Move tasks between stages when you progress. These can be saved as templates and the basic layout can be edited.
  4. Google Data Studio: Since Copper is built with the Google ecosystem in mind, you can connect Copper to Data studio. You can pick the modules and select the data points that you want to generate reports.
  5. Meeting scheduler: Create a meeting and send the meeting link to the customer by email. The meeting will appear as an element in the email composer. The number of meetings that you can create depends on the pricing plan.
  6. Integrations: Copper has integrated with software needed by CRM users. Beyond integrations, Copper provides API access also. However, they do not have a marketplace like some other vendors.

 Cons: 

Copper is a good CRM to start with. However, they don’t have many features built-in, for ex: caller, webforms, reporting, email marketing. Copper users have to depend on integrated apps to achieve these functionality.

   Pricing: 

Copper has three pricing plans: Basic, Professional, and Business. These plans range from $25 per user per month to $119 per user per month.

Less Annoying CRM 

Less Annoying CRM is a simple CRM in its functionality and pricing. It is the easiest CRM to work with among all apps covered here. LACRM has strictly restricted itself to contact management, tasks, and pipeline management. There is no workflow automation, which is one of the essential features of a CRM. It is integrated with commonly used apps but there is no marketplace. However, an APIs available.

 Key Features: 

  1. Pipelines are a way to see your leads visually by the stage in which they are during the sales process. The stages can be customized and leads can easily be moved from one stage to the next. The pipeline view in LACRM is not a Kanban view. You can add custom fields to each pipeline to denote a deal value, the product, etc.
  2. Contacts: LACRM allows you to import and sync your existing contacts. LACRM, since it is a lightweight CRM, focuses on contact management. A contact record houses not just contact information, but all interactions and activities that the salesperson has with that contact.
  3. Built-in calendar shows all your tasks and events in a calendar view. These events are automatically logged into the record of that contact. By connecting Google and Outlook calendars, you can avoid scheduling multiple events in the same time slot. You can uncheck shared calendars to get a filtered view and color code certain events to denote priority.

 Pros: 

  1. Less Annoying CRM is, as its name denotes, a simple and straightforward CRM. Though they are a lightweight CRM, their pricing and no-frills approach makes us remind ourselves of the budget airlines.
  2. Pricing is another major plus of LACRM. They have the easiest-to-follow pricing plan. At $15 per user per month, there is nothing that you need to scratch your head with.
  3. The 30-day free trial is an advantage customers get from LACRM. No need to make a decision in a hurry. You get sufficient time even to check how your team responds to a new CRM.
  4. In multiple help videos and resources, we see LACRM asking us to contact them or email them even with the slightest of doubts. They seem genuine in their mentality.
  5. Since LACRM focuses on contact management, they make it easy to import or sync contacts from multiple sources. They offer to do the import themselves if you are facing difficulties.

 Cons: 

  1. No mobile apps for iOS or Android.
  2. No Kanban view for pipelines: this is in contrast to what other CRMs offer. A Kanban view is pretty much the standard view of a pipeline.
  3. No built-in inbox: you have to bcc a LACRM email address for your email conversations to be logged. And, if you get a reply, you have to forward it to that address. This is not as easy as linking your inbox with CRM
  4. Reporting: The number of reports and charts are less compared to the other apps covered in this article. The available reports could use a better design.
  5. Not a great user management: though you can create roles for users, the permission sets available with each role is not exhaustive.
  6. There is no way for customers to book an appointment on the built-in calendar. Other CRMS give a URL for customers to book meetings.

 Pricing: 

Less Annoying CRM follows the product’s simplicity in the product pricing also. There are no pricing slabs. It is just $15 per user per month. They offer a 30-day free trial also without storing your credit card details.

Nimble CRM 

Nimble CRM’s strength is contact management and social prospecting. They focus on their ability to auto-populate the contact data with information available from social accounts. You can also build your contact list by importing a csv file. Also, they are tightly integrated with O365 and therefore able to unify data from inbox, contacts, calendars into the CRM.

 Key Features: 

  1. Prospecting: Nimble offers one of the easiest ways among CRMs to build a lead list. Using their browser extension, you can keep adding leads to the CRM by hovering over social media profiles.
  2. Deals are leads where you sense an opportunity. Add the deal value, close date, and probability of closure. Deals are added to pipelines to keep track of their progress. The conversations with deals are synced with the deal records.
  3. Pipelines: You can create multiple pipelines in Nimble and keep separate track of things. For ex. You could create a pipeline for leads before they become deals and track their progress. You can later move these leads to the deals pipeline. Nimble offers a Kanban view for its pipelines.
  4. Reporting: You can see forecast reports and sales performance details based on deals pipeline. It will help you keep tab on the current and future performance.
  5. Activities: this listing will give interactions you and team have had with your customers. Managers can filter and sort this report to see how their team members perform on different activity types like meetings, calls, etc. Team members can see their past and scheduled activities for each contact.

 Pros: 

  1. O365 integration is a major feature of Nimble. As we said earlier, Nimble tries to build a great contact list for you. Here, its O365 integration will collect data from outlook, Dynamics, calendar and enriches your contact and activities.
  2. Nimble has mobile apps for both iOS and Android platforms.

 Pricing: 

Nimble has a simple pricing plan which starts at $19 per user per month when billed annually. They also offer a 14-day free trial. There is an additional charge for the amount of storage, $10 for 10GB, which is applicable beyond the 2GB included in the regular subscription. 

 

Nutshell CRM 

Nutshell is a handy, good-looking CRM that has packed many cool features. Nutshell’s strength is in reporting. However, they have managed to develop all aspects of their CRM equally without leaning heavily on just one aspect. Nutshell is a good CRM for you to start with: they allow imports, are intuitive, have great learning resources and offer unlimited data and contacts in all pricing plans.

 Key Features: 

  1. Leads: Nutshell keeps all leads here. They don’t have a contacts module. In the leads module, you can create multiple views based on lead status and work on those lead views which are likely to convert. Nutshell also has a products module. You can add products to leads to assign them a value.
  2. Activities and tasks: You can set yourself activities and tasks for stages on the pipelines. You can set a stage goal and move the lead to the next stage when that goal is reached. Nutshell provides guidance (system suggested goals) for stages when you don’t define any goals or activities.
  3. Pipelines: Nutshell offers the regular Kanban style pipeline views. You can create multiple pipelines to track different types of leads. The pipeline stages can be customized. Leads can be distributed to pipelines based on set conditions.
  4. Reports are one of the best modules in Nutshell, something which the company is proud of. There are reports about sales, losses, funnel performance, activities, forecast, leads, and forecasts.
  5. Email sequences: You can create email templates and set them up into a sequence of emails separated by duration (days). The templates can be changed based on their response rates.
  6. Bulk emails: With Nutshell, you can send upto 500 emails as bulk. You can select contacts or create a filtered view and send the email to them. Merge tags will be applied to customer name.

 Pros: 

  1. Slick UI: Nutshell has been able to keep its UI attractive. The UI is rich with options but it doesn’t feel crowded.
  2. Map view for leads: This is a unique feature. You can load your contacts in a map view and see all your contacts in a location. This is handy when you are on the road and want to pay friendly visits.
  3. The nutshell dashboard provides quick access to the most important information: reports, tasks, company feed, etc.
  4. Nutshell’s Chrome extension allows you to use Nutshell as a convenient sidebar in your gmail and other Gsuite apps. You can view and add leads, also add new conversations to Nutshell.
  5. You can import contacts and other data to Nutshell with csv files.
  6. Nutshell has a built-in dialler to make calls from within the CRM. If you want to make calls from another app like Ring Central, that’s possible too.
  7. Good help resources: they have a rich and engaging video series on Youtube. The help documentation is detailed, clear, and reader-friendly.
  8. You can create teams of users. Each team can have their set of permissions which will be mapped to the team members.
  9. Nutshell does sales automation in the following ways: lead assignment using round-robin algorithm, lead distribution based on conditions, moving leads to next stages when goals related to the previous stage is met, create mailing lists in MailChimp, notify internal Slack channels when a deal is closed, and so on
  10. Removed user and data reassignment: when someone leaves your team, their leads and and related data can be reassigned to another team member.

 Pricing: 

Nutshell has two products: Nutshell Sales and Nutshell Marketing. Nutshell Sales has two pricing plans: Starter plan which is at $19 per user per month and Pro plan which is at $35 per user per month. Nutshell doesn’t have any limits on the number of contacts you can add to the CRM or on the data. Also, Nutshell Sales comes with a free plan of Nutshell marketing obviously with some limits. However it is good to get familiar with it. They also offer a 14-day free trial.

Capsule CRM 

Capsule CRM is a great value-for-money CRM. Capsule is comparable to Copper and Less Annoying CRM in its simplicity and will be, along with them, a good CRM to migrate from spreadsheets. Capsule has a friendly user interface and the essentials of a CRM. You can manage your contacts, track pipelines and opportunities, and generate reports. A stand-out feature of Capsule is Case management which can be used for pre-sales and post-sales activities.

 Key Features: 

  1. Contact management: Capsule allows you to import your contacts or sync from your accounting software through their integration. You can use custom fields to add relevant data to your contacts. Tags help you in creating customer segments. Capsule can enrich the contact data from public social profiles.
  2. Pipelines: Capsule gives you three different views of your pipeline: list, pipeline, and dashboard. Each view has its advantages with the Kanban focusing more on stages and progress, dashboard on reporting and numbers.
  3. Opportunities can be moved through stages and given a probability of conversion. That way, the total pipeline value and projected value will be calculated.
  4. Reporting: Capsule provides built-in reports about sales, pipeline value, forecasts, and activity. By applying the correct filters, you will be able to see reports specific to users and teams. Also, you can define user level permission for reports.
  5. Cases is Capsule’s special way to manage multiple aspects of your pre and post-sales customer relationships. In a pre-sale context, you can automated tasks and map the case to an opportunity and a contact. In a post-sale context, you can use it to track project delivery.

 Pros: 

  1. Minimalist UI: This is essential for entry level CRMs. We can expect many first-timers here and a minimalist UI will put them at ease.
  2. Google Data studio: Capsule has built-in reports. By connecting to Google Data Studio, you can create custom reports from diverse data points.
  3. Xero integration: Capsule projects its integration with Xero and Quickbooks vastly. It is nice to have check the invoices and sync your contacts from these software.
  4. Mobile apps: Capsule has apps for iOS and Android. Both apps have an offline mode. You can add and view data, make calls, and complete tasks.
  5. Gmail add-on and Outlook add-in brings Capsule CRM right in your inbox. With these, you can track your email conversations, add contacts, and create cases and opportunities from your inbox.

 Pricing: 

Capsule has three pricing plans: Professional, Teams, and Enterprise at $18, $36, and $54 per user per month. There is a Free plan too. The pricing plans differ primarily in the limits they have on the number of contacts and the amount of storage. Capsule makes it easy for you to reach a decision by offering a 30-day trial. The Enterprise plan is rich with support options like dedicated success manager and implementation assistance.

Keap CRM 

Keap is a beginner-friendly CRM with its friendly onboarding and wizard based set up. Keap is able to build confidence in its users that they will be able to run the CRM themselves. Other than the onboarding, Keap also has live chat support, training programs, and extensive help documentation. While we evaluated the Keap Pro plan, the next level plan, Keap Max, adds marketing automation capability which makes Keap a CRM+Marketing automation solution. Keap is costly compared to alternatives, so our advice would be to evaluate it thoroughly. If it fits for your needs the cost can be justified.

Key Features: 

  1. Multiple pipelines to track your sales and projects. You can create new pipelines or use one of the templates. The pipeline is a Kanban view which makes it easy to create or move deals in stages. Keap also offers when-then style of automation for each stage.
  2. Automation: the stand-out in Keap’s automation is how visual it is. The users will not only find it intuitive but also enjoy setting up the automation. The common automation use cases include triggers like form submission, lead’s entry into a stage, and corresponding actions include sending an email, invoice, moving the lead to a new stage, updating a record, etc.
  3. Broadcasts, as the name suggests, is about email marketing. You can create emails from scratch or one of the templates, choose recipients by tags, and set up the time for email to go. However, broadcasts are not marketing automation and cannot be sent based on triggers.
  4. Payments and invoices: You can create quotes and invoices in Keap with a drag-drop builder. The Money module will show you a summary of the payments you received, pending, etc and the list of invoices. Another interesting feature is the checkout forms with which you can collect payments without generating invoices, much like an online payment.
  5. Reporting: Keap has a bunch of built-in reports that cover sales performance,  payments, marketing, and activity. While it is possible to derive insights from each report, there is not a way to create custom reports that you might need.

Pros: 

  1. Onboarding is one of the best parts of working with Keap. Their set up wizard, live chat make it easy to setup. The high contrast user interface with larger fonts, prominent icons, and the clean left pane navigation makes Keap a pleasant experience.
  2. Mobile apps: Keap has iOS and Android apps. However these are available only in a few countries now. With the mobile app, you can keep a tab on the contacts, your tasks, invoices. The app can also be used as a business card scanner.
    1. Keap business line is a way to dedicate a phone number for business. You can port your existing number or use a new one. However, this is available only in the US now.
  3. Appointments: Set up your availability on the appointments module, share it with customers and avoid the back and forth emails or calls.
  4. Landing pages: You can create pages to collect new leads easily. Keap offers a drag-drop landing page builder. Used along with email campaigns, landinng pages can be used also for sending out promotions, boost event registrations, etc.
  5. Dashboard: Keap’s home is a dashboard that gives you a quick glance into everything that matters: your numbers, pending activities, appointments, invoices. Not only are these present there, the high-contrast UI gives each element its prominence.

Pricing: 

Keap has three pricing plans: Lite, Pro, and Max. All plans come with 500 contacts and one user. You can add users at $30 and purchase contacts based on slabs.

The Lite plan costs $79, Pro costs $169, Max costs $199. Keap might offer you a discounted pricing for the first three months like how they offered me one during the trial period. The Max plan is the best suited if you want to do marketing automation with Keap. If you plan to use Keap as a CRM, the Pro plan should be the choice.

EngageBay CRM 

This is a CRM which brings together sales, support, and marketing together. You can buy all of them together or separately. Not only is Engagenay a suite of products but it is also affordable. However, they do not have a free trial for you check out the full product. There is a free plan though which is quite rich in its features and allows one user. EngageBay is among those CRMs that have move beyond CRM as a database to CRM as a customer experience management tool.

Key Features: 

  1. SalesBay helps you to mange your sales activities. Pipelines are tracks in EngageBay. You can add deals, move them across stages, and track the progress. It is possible to connect your inbox to EngageBay. You can also set up automation to assign incoming leads to sales reps based on criteria.
  2. Live chat: You can embed live chat into your website and have conversations with customers. The chat form is customizable. You can set up business hours also. The module will show the conversations filtered by the agent. It is possible to create shortcuts for messages by using slash commands.
  3. Marketing automation: Since EngageBay maintains the same contact database for both Sales and Marketing bays, it is easy to run marketing campaigns. You can run email broadcasts to customers segmented with tags, create email sequences to engage with customers during a trial period. EngageBay also has automation and workflows to run a set of actions based on automated and manual triggers.
  4. Reports: there are built-in reports for each module which can be added to or removed from the module dashboard. The marketing reports includes performance of landing pages, forms, broadcasts. Sales reports include deals, appointments, tasks, calls, contacts.
  5. Social media monitoring: you can connect your social media accounts and closely monitor customer engagement. It is possible to add new posts, send messages to the audience manually or by triggers.

Pros: 

  1. All in one suite of marketing, sales, and support: This is the best reason for you to choose EngageBay. Though they are not the only ones giving a full suite, they offer it at an affordable rate. You can control your customer experience without having to integrate multiple apps.
  2. Pricing plans are one of the best things about EngageBay. You can buy each bay separately or as a bundle. However, if you are planning to buy each bay separately, you will have to evaluate how it integrates with your existing systems.

Cons :

  1. EnagageBay does not have mobile apps for iOS or Android. Almost all popular CRMs have mobile apps.
  2. No free trial: Maybe because they have a generous free plan, they don’t offer a free trial of their paid plans.
  3. Service bay is a weak link: While marketing and sales bays are comprehensive, ServiceBay, which is free, is not comparable to some of the competing help desks.  

Pricing: 

EnagageBay all-in-one suite has three pricing plans: Basic, Growth, and Pro. Basic costs $10.79, Growth, $35.99 and Pro, $57.59 per user per month when you pay every two years.  The Marketing and Sales bays (modules) have their pricing plans if you want to buy them separately. The service bay is free.

Vtiger CRM 

Vtiger is another all-in-one CRM that can manage the whole customer experience. It has modules for sales, marketing, and customer support. You can buy these separately of all together. Vtiger is one of the few popular open source CRMs available, which you can download for free. Vtiger also offers a free trial and a rich Free plan called Pilot edition in case you want a free CRM. They also offer a 45-day free trial of their Calculus AI when you begin a subscription with them.

Key Features: 

  1. The marketing module of Vtiger has features to suppor the sales activity. It helps with lead scoring, auto-responders, webforms. You can also run email campaigns and evaluate success with reports. Also, as part of sales automation, you can set up email sequences to automate your sales follow up.
  2. The support module can streamline your customer tickets. Customers can log into a portal or use one of the many supported channels like email to create a ticket. You can set up assignment rules to auotmatically route these leads to agents.
  3. The projects module has the essential features to manage your customer projects even after you make a sales. You can create tasks and milestones, and track the progress of projects with Gantt charts and Kanban boards.
  4. The inventory module is useful for businesses with product sales. You can manage vendors, do invoicing and track payments. Another good feature in the inventory module is the subscriptions which can manage subscription based services.
  5. Calculus is Vtiger’s AI engine that is useful in sales and support modules. The AI engine helps both managers and their team in improving performance. It rates conversations, scores leads, sends alerts, and makes suggestions to the sales manager and the team.

Pros: 

  1. The All-in-one pricing plan at $42 makes Vtiger one of the affordable CRMs in the market. This plan can automate your sales process while providing the supporting modules like support, inventory, marketing, and projects to complete the customer experience. You don’t need to buy another software till you outgrow these modules.
  2. For those who do not need the all-in-one, Vtiger has enough flexibility in its pricing that you can buy just the modules you need. Even there, you have tiers of pricing plans for you to find a pricing and feature set closely matching your budget and needs.
  3. Vtiger supports open source development. You can download the open source version and customize it to your needs.
  4. Vtiger’s UI is different. You might feel it if you have been trying other CRMs and landed on Vtiger. Though it is difficult at the beginning, if you can get used to it, we see it as positive, especially the larger font size, breathing space, and a control panel like feel on almost every screen. There are icons and options on every screen to the next actions. So, you have a variety of ways to find your best way to do a thing.   
  5. Internal ticketing removes the need for another help desk to resolve issues that you employees face. This is a unique feature of Vtiger and was not seen in other apps we reviewed.

Pricing: 

Vtiger’s all-in-one pricing has three tiers: Pilot, which is free, One Professional at 30 USD, and One Enterprise at 42 USD per user per month when billed annually.  The Starter and Professional plans in both Sales and Help desk modules are priced at 10 USD and 20USD. Vtiger is one of the affordable CRMs in the market.

Insightly CRM  

Insightly has a neatly planned user interface that is easy to navigate. Though Insightly covers most CRM features, it never comes across as complex because of the friendly UI. This is remarkable because even some of the out-of-the-box features make their presence noticeable without us having to contact the support asking their availability. As with many other CRMs, Insightly also has moved ahead to customer experience management by offering products in marketing, support, and connecting apps together. However, there was no all-in-one plan listed on the website. Insightly offers a free trial for their CRM plans except the Enterprise plan. We evaluated the Professional plan for this review but have mentioned the features available in Enterprise plan wherever applicable.

 Key Features: 

  1. Opportunities: Insightly follow the familiar separation between leads, contacts, organization, and opportunities. When you qualify a lead, they are converted to an opportunity. Insightly gives a Kanban style view for each opportunity record and a combined view of all opportunities.
  2. Tasks and activity sets: You can use tasks to manage your work. They can be linked to the modules like leads, contacts, opportunities. Tasks can be assigned to people. You can set reminders and due dates for tasks. When you have the same tasks repeating, you can group them together as an activity set and assign them together thereby avoiding creating tasks every time.
  3. Workflow automation in Insightly removes the need to do repetitive tasks manually. Insightly can follow If-then like rules and follow it up with actions. You can move leads through stages, add tasks for salespeople, send an automated email, etc with workflow automation.
  4. You can connect records in different modules to each other with relationship linking. This is helpful when you have to link Contacts to Opportunities, assign owners to records, connect a lead to an opportunity, etc.
  5. When you log into Insightly, you see a dashboard with multiple reports embedded as widgets. There are many useful reports and more that you can create and add to the dash. You can set visibility permissions for the dashboards you create.

 Pros: 

  1. Custom apps are an interesting way to give selective access of your Insightly account to groups or individuals. You can choose the modules to be included in the app, its name and the roles that can access the app. While this can be done by setting admin-level permissions in any CRM, the difference here is how you can name and brand these custom apps.
  2. Insightly has separate modules for sales, marketing, service, and integrations. So, if you like the CRM, you can buy the other products also.
  3. AppConnect, the service for integrations, can prove to be very useful because you can connect the most used apps with it.
  4. Projects module is a good inclusion for businesses who have to deliver post-sale services. As with other modules, you can connect project module to related records. It is also easy to view the progress of projects on Kanban charts.
  5. Lambda functions adds muscle to Insightly’s capabilities. You can write your own special functions and customize your Insightly. It is possible to talk to other software and update Insightly. Also, you can run these functions based on a schedule or trigger.

 Cons:

  1. There was no module to automate appointment scheduling for salespeople. This is a common feature in CRMs now because they reduce the back-and-forth email to schedule a meeting. It improves the chances of a successful meeting, sooner.
  2. While it is possible to connect your email provider and use the email add-on to connect emails to contact records, there was no built-in inbox where you can send and receive emails.
  3. Writing lambda functions is a skill for which you need developers. Unless you have people in your company to do it, this can be an expense. Almost all CRMs need some customization and coding. However, some need it less. You have to make a choice there.

 Pricing: 

Insightly’s CRM has three pricing tiers: Plus, Professional, and Enterprise which are priced at $29, $49, and $99. Insightly’s pricing can be tricky because some of the features and services are offered at additional cost, for ex. Insightly Voice, the dialler. Insightly has a free plan for up to 2 users. We could not find a bundled pricing for Insightly products in sales, marketing, service, and integration.

Apptivo CRM 

Apptivo is a unique CRM. It is built as a bunch of apps that can be interconnected. When you subscribe to one of the different pricing plans, you can enable as many apps as that are allowed in that pricing plan. The apps belong to functions like sales, marketing, support, project management, finances, HRMS. All apps follow a similar structure with ways to create records, views, reports, search, and connect/convert into another app.

The top plan, Ultimate, allows up to 65 apps and is priced at $20 per user per month, which makes Apptivo one of the best value for money CRMs in the market.

Apptivo is an all-in-one app suite with CRM at its center.

Key Features: 

  1. Contacts: you can create new contacts or sync with your Google or Outlook contacts. Apptivo also offers you ways to categorize your contacts. You can create markets, segments, and industries and map them to your contacts. It is possible to mark contacts meeting a criteria with a specific color by using highlighting feature. There is also an option that will prevent duplication of contacts or allow duplication with a warning.  
  2. Opportunities: This module or app has multiple dashboards that show the sales pipeline as a kanban board and a sales funnel. Added to this, there are dashboards that analyses your wins, losses, and leads. You can also see the opportunities as filtered lists. There are default views and you can create new view of these records. You can also create multiple sales cycles with each cycle having their sales stages.
  3. Leads: As with other apps/modules, you get built-in filtered views of leads. You can also set up lead statuses, ranks, and actions based on lead sources. This helps in creating lists automatically and using them for marketing. Using the Qualification cycle, you can set criteria for leads to assign specific statuses for each lead. You can create relationships with other modules from this, customize the layout of leads dashboard, and customize the actions you can do from this module. These are not limited to leads module but available in other moduels as well.
  4. Contracts: You can create multiple contract types in Apptivo. You can set up approval workflows, payment terms and also utilize the eSignature function. In the approval flow you can pick approver by role or by their names. It is possible to create resource types – ex. Consultant, statuses – Draft, Executed, contract types – sales in the Contracts module.

Pros: 

  1. All-in-one platform: You can run your entire business on Apptivo using various apps. If you are a small business and want a common database for all your apps without having to worry about integrating these apps, Apptivo is your choice.
  2. Feature-rich: Apptivo is a suite of apps but at the same time they are good at an individual level. Each app has options to create records, view them as reports, create custom views and ways to set permission levels. The apps can be customized in layout and the functions they offer.
  3. Workflows: Each app in Apptivo can enable workflows based on event and time based triggers. They follow a if-else condition flow where you can set the criteria from one of the many modules and the fields associated with them. This give you great flexibility in automation.
  4. Reports, Views:  Apptivo has built-in dashboards, reports in each app. Additionally, you can set search criteria to create views that you wish for and save them under My views.

Pricing: 

Apptivo has four pricing tiers: Lite, Premium, Ultimate, and Enterprise, which are priced at $8, $12, $20 per user per month. If you are an Enterprise user, you can contact them for the price. The Lite edition offers, 18 apps and 100 custom fields per app, the Premium edition 46 apps and 250 custom fields per app, and the Ultimate edition, 57 apps and 350 custom fields per app. You can choose an edition which suits your current stage of growth and level of customization needed.

Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM scores well on multiple aspects: features, UX, affordability, help and support, updates. It can stretch itself to cover the use cases of larger enterprises. The flexibility that comes with Zoho CRM is that you have other options to choose: Bigin, if you are looking for an entry level CRM, CRM Plus, if you are planning to use CRM to streamline you sales, marketing, support, and customer experience efforts. Zoho CRM has achieved that elusive combination of a large feature set with a good user experience. Without overwhelming the customer with a confusing UX or a costly subscription, Zoho CRM offers some features which you expect only from Salesforce, such as AI, Gamification, Customization, Developer console, Marketplace, Partner ecosystem, etc.

Key Features: 

  1. Lead management: Zoho CRM has built in modules for managing your leads, contacts, accounts, and deals. Each of these modules have options to search, filter, and sort the records. You can switch to one of the three available views for these modules: List, Kanban, and Canvas views.There are built-in actions that you can conduct on records filtered by criteria when needed. For example, you can filter the records by territory and send them a mass email. If you’re switching to Zoho CRM from a spreadsheet or another CRM, you can import your contacts, leads, and other records.
  2. Process flows: Zoho CRM has multiple process automation tools like Blueprint, review process, approvals, and command center to map your real work processes in to CRM. Blueprint help you to execute perform state transitions like changing a lead status based on an action. Approvals can take care of quote, discounts, etc while reviews can ensure that CRM records are validated by an assigned user. Command center is ideal when you want to perform state transitions based on triggers that are generated by other apps, API calls, etc.  
  3. Automation: Zoho CRM can automate your lead assignment, scoring, and customer segmentation with rules and field updates. Similarly, it can assign tasks, send emails, and show alerts. If you want to execute a function based on a trigger or on a schedule, Zoho CRM can do that too. By creatively using these, you can automate a bunch of your manual work.
  4. Reporting and analytics: All modules come with basic filtering and list reports. You can create custom reports under the reports module by combining data from multiple modules, applying criteria relevant to fields and applying a date range. It is also possible to create dashboards combining multiple charts and reports. If you want better reports, you can connect Zoho Analytics – the BI tool – to Zoho CRM.
  5. Activities: To streamline customer follow up, you can create tasks, schedule meetings, and make calls in Zoho CRM. These will be displayed alongside the customer record to give you easy access. Zoho CRM is integrated with various cloud PBX providers to dial customers from within CRM. You can also sync the Zoho CRM calendar to another calendar like Google to sync the events between them.

Pros: 

  1. Zoho CRM is feature-rich that makes it more than just pipeline management or salesforce automation. There is depth and breadth in its features. Some of the interesting features include Sales Signals where you will get notified about customer interactions from a variety of sources. You can even set up custom signals. Similarly, they have territory management with which you can map leads into territories (defined by geography, deal size, etc) and define a hierarchy to manage them. It also has Inventory management, Case management – for support tickets, lead scoring, portals among others. 
  2. Customization – Zoho CRM has allowed CRM customization in different ways: layouts, views, functions, client scripts, SDKs, APIs, custom modules, rules, fields and many other ways. They have enabled the Canvas view where you can design beautiful html pages without code. This means you can make your CRM as distinct as possible. Similarly, with APIs, SDKs, client scripts, and functions you can expand the capabilities of your CRM.
  3. Zoho ecosystem: Zoho CRM is pre-integrated with many Zoho apps, which means you can use Zoho Books to manage accounting, Zoho Campaigns to run email marketing, Zoho Sales IQ to run live chat on your website… all contextually exchanging data with each other and Zoho CRM. Also, you get to natively develop custom functions using Deluge scripting.
  4. Integrations: Zoho has a marketplace where it has integrated with hundreds of apps that the sales team use and also plugins and widgets. It means that you can continue using the tools you are already familiar with. Not as extensive as Salesforce, but it has integrations with all popular tools.
  5. Relevance: Zoho comes up with feature updates every quarter and they keep adding new features like AI which keeps them relevant in the market. You won’t see many CRMs in the market which has a gamification tool or one which offers so much flexibility in customization.
  6. Multi-channel communication: Zoho CRM is integrated with email, cloud telephony, social media tools, live chat tools. This makes it possible for customers and sales people to interact with all these channels. Additionally, sales signals alert you about customer interactions so that you can initiate a conversation or gauge their interest for a conversation.

Pricing: 

We evaluated the Enterprise pricing plan of Zoho CRM, which is priced at $40 per user per month. However the base plan, Standard, is at $14 followed by Professional plan at $23. The Ultimate edition pricing plan is at $52 per user per month. Zoho’s plans are affordable for the feature set that they provide. Not only that, you can always look for the bundles like Zoho CRM plus, Zoho One or opt for a lighter CRM like Zoho Bigin.

Hubspot

Hubspot has been a well-known name in the marketing space and their CRM is at its best when used with their marketing platform. If you are already considering Hubspot for your marketing, the CRM is an natural continuation of the inbound methodology. As a standalone CRM, you will see that Hubspot has covered the features widely but has not gone in depth with them. Hubspot is one of the best choices as your first CRM because they have a popular and usable free plan, and features to support your growth in their paid plans, and an enormous amount of supporting resources to learn and manage sales and marketing on your own.

 Key Features: 

  1. Contacts: Hubspot has three modules to support lead management: Contacts, companies and deals. The information stored about each company gets updated from Hubspot’s database and its AI. The AI can be activated to collect information from emails and messages. Deals can be viewed as a table or a Kanban board. You can manually or automatically move deals across stages. Each deal stage can be mapped into a forecast stage to develop accurate forecasts about revenue.
  2. Sales: You can support your sales efforts with playbooks, documents, quotes, meetings, and payment(only in USA). Playbooks can be creatively used to make step-by-step guide for salespeople to do effective onboarding of new users, train themselves, and follow sales process without external guidance. Hubspot doesn’t have a built-in calendar but you can connect your Google calendar or Outlook, create multiple meeting types and meet with customers.
  3. Calls and Inbox: Hubspot integrates with multiple cloud telephony services like RingCentral which can be used for calling customers. There are options to record these calls and do some analytics on them to see what helped and didn’t in a sales call. Additionally, you can connect your inboxes to send and receive emails from Hubspot. If you don’t want to you can utilize the CC email addressees for outgoing and incoming emails to be attached to your contact.
  4. Marketing: It is possible to connect your digital ads portals like Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn ads to Hubspot and manage and track ads from there.  Hubspot also gives you access to its SEO and Lading page tools for you to do effective content marketing tu support your sales efforts.
  5. Workflows and sequences: Sequences are sales-oriented and goal-specific emails that you can set up for customers. If you want them to take a specific action, you can set up a series of emails and stop the sequence when they take an action. Workflows are good for marketing emails where you can define a trigger and action. Workflows can go beyond emails and can be used to update fields, connect apps, etc.

 Pros: 

  1. Hubspot suite: Since Hubspot CRM is part of the Hubspot suite, you can anytime add their marketing, service, and operations hub to your bundle and enjoy the complete Hubspot experience. The marketing hub is older than the CRM and that is something that you want to add to your CRM first.
  2. Marketplace: There are three divisions to this – Apps, Assets, and Service providers. You can connect to other apps from the Apps marketplace, download themes and templates from the asset marketplace. From the service provider marketplace, you can find a provider that you want to hire.
  3. Help and Support: Hubspot is famous for its extensive blog and help documentation which will help you at every turn of your marketing and sales journey. In fact that is the best advantage Hubspot has over any other CRM discussed here.
  4. User experience: Hubspot has covered many features, but it still manages to appear simple. The UI is not crowded but there is clear navigation and help text. The modules are interlinked contextually so that you can jump quickly to email settings if you are in the inbox module but realize that you haven’t connected your email.
  5. Account based marketing: Hubspot has features that are helpful if you are plannign to do account based marketing. You can set up criteria, which if met will mark those contacts as target accounts. This can then be mapped to your ABM team. There are bunch of intergrations from third party databases to ad syndicates, to email marketing platforms which you can connect to Hubspot CRM to manage your ABM.

 Pricing: 

Hubspot pricing depends on whether you buy the CRM alone or as part of the CRM suite. They also allow you to create your own bundle. If you are buying CRM alone, you have pricing starting with Starter plans at $18 for 2 users, Professional at $450 for 5 users and Enterprise at $1200 for 10 users. The minimum user requirement can be a concern for you but Hubspot also has a Free plan. As our recommendation, it would be going for the CRM suite.

Freshsales CRM Enterprise  

Freshsales is a decent CRM choice for fast-growing companies who want to invest in a CRM that will meet their needs for a few years. Freshsales goes beyond the very simple CRMs which are basically contact managers or pipeline managers, but stops just short of extensive customization, feature-depth, integrations, etc that are necessary for a large organization. That way, it covers a broad CRM audience of SMBs who can keep using Freshsales throughout their early and later growth stages. The CRM has a pleasing UI, and good help documentation which makes learning and using it quite easy.

Key Features: 

  1. Freshsales has default modules like contacts and accounts. You can also create custom modules from these default ones using the relationships between them. All modules allow you to import records in bulk, add new, edit, and hide records.
  2. You can create multiple pipelines in Freshsales to match sales processes followed for different audiences. The contact lifecycle stages can be customized. Sales teams can also create and track their activities and goals.
  3. The sales forecast feature gives a projected value based on the deals in the pipeline and their state and probability of conversion.
  4. You can connect your inboxes to Freshsales and choose if it has to be a one-way sync or 2-way sync. Create team inboxes for anyone from the team to send, and respond from that. You can configure the settings to auto-add the emails to contact records
  5. Beyond one-on-one email conversations, you can also set up sales sequences to guide your contacts/leads through a set of actions. There are built-in templates and configurations to run the sequence based on your need.
  6. Freshsales is also integrated with cloud telephony services. Salespeople can make and receive calls directly from the CRM. Incoming calls can be routed based on custom rules.

Pros: 

  1. Chat automation: this is one of the stronger areas for Freshsales. You can chat with the customer on your website. The chat can be routed based on topics, automatically. You can also create and train bots to do the chat conversation. It is also possible to customize the chat appearance and also the language.
  2. Marketplace: Freshsales has integrations with other apps. You can choose the ones you want to use from the marketplace. They also have a partner program where developers can build apps on the marketplace.
  3. Freddy is Freshsales’ AI engine. It can give you insights about your forecast, alert you about anomalies. Beyond that, it can do contacts’ profile enrichment, detect duplicates, score contacts, detect out of office emails.
  4. User experience: Freshsales has clean UI, easy navigation, and contextual help text on the UI. They have sample data to make your onboarding easy. During the signup, they have an onboarding wizard which guides you through important steps.

Pricing: 

Freshsales offers one of the longest trial periods among CRMs, 21 days. After that you can continue in their Free plan or move to a paid plan. Freshsales has four pricing tiers: Free, Growth – $15, Pro – $39, and Enterprise – $69. The pricing is for per user per month. The Free plan is equivalent to a contact database, while Growth allows your sales team to utilize pipelines, and email sync. The Pro plan has better reporting, multiple pipelines, custom fields, while the Enterprise plan gives you better control over user permissions, logs and it also has AI capabilities.

SalesCreatio  

Creatio is a decent CRM choice for larger companies. Smaller companies will find Creatio expensive, has a steeper learning curve, and overwhelming. Creatio is highly customizable compared to other CRMs because of its low-code pedigree. The depth of features is also commendable. Each module and submodule comes with its own set of reporting in the form of dashboards, which will make it easy to measure and improve. Creatio is also comprehensive in that it has cloud and on-premise deployment, dedicated support packages. However, Creatio’s UI differs highly from other CRMs and common cloud apps, which makes it difficult to set things up on one’s own. Creatio is one of the CRMs that you definitely need to work with a partner.

Key Features: 

  1. Sales modules: Creatio has contacts, accounts, opportunities, and activities modules like any other CRM. What differentiates Creatio is the amount of details packed into each of these. For ex.in the contacts module, when you open a contact, you get an overview of the contact, the next actions that are planned for that contact, its status, the timeline of the contact’s relationship with you, service and service agreements, and a lot more. This level of detail can be highly useful or highly overwhelming but you have to option to use it either way.
  2. Project module: Creatio has a basic projects module which can use as part of your deals. You can create a set of tasks, assign resources and monitory the progress. There is also a way to keep the documents, notes related to a project with it and also create a feed for the project.
  3. Order management: Creatio has product, invoicing and orders to manage and sell you products. These can be mapped to opportunities
  4. Email, chat, calls: Creatio can manage multi channel communication by allowing you to connect your mailbox, and your phone servers. There is a separate module for chat where you can monitor and take action on chats.
  5. Partnership and KB modules: These are modules unseen in other CRMs. You can create your partnership details here and track their progress on the dashboards. Similarly, you can create knowledgebase articles and track their effectiveness too.

 Pros: 

  1. Creatio was previously BPMonline and hence they have a strong process oriented and low-code base. The CRM is supposedly built on top of this low code platform. That opens up numerous possibilities when it comes to creating custom CRM processes, workflows, and UI.
  2. In addition to SalesCreatio, you can also opt for the CRM bundle which has the MarketingCreatio and the ServiceCreatio. MarketingCreatio has emails, campaigns, webforms and landing pages. It is better to go for the CRM bundle to make use of MarketingCreatio. ServiceCreatio can be used as a helpdesk for internal and external customers. It follows ITSM standards.
  3. Creatio filters, folders, views, actions: There are numerous contextual options available in the list report to either filter, sort, export, import data. This greatly enhances what you can do with the data.
  4. ML models: there are built-in models in the Studio, which you can enable, disable, train and use for lead scoring, prediction, assessing similarity, recommendations, etc.
  5. Another pro of Creatio is how deeply interconnected the modules are. Whatever record you are on in any module, you can easily see related information from another module. This removes the need for constant back and forth between modules.

Pricing: 

Creatio offers a 14-day free trial of its product. The starting price of SalesCreatio is $30 per user per month. However, that is for cloud. The on-premise version is available at $25. Note that there is no monthly subscription option and the fine print says that your minimum subscription amount per year should be $5000. There is a minimum contract period of three years, and you have to buy certain features and services as add-ons. We feel that pricing is not simple and easy to process and hence involving a Creatio partner or consultant will be the ideal way.

Bitrix24

Bitrix24 is a suite of apps combining CRM with collaboration tools. It is made with a special emphasis on online sales as well. You can create websites, online stores and manage delivery of products. What makes Bitrix unique is the collaboration tools like chat, project management, document management, which are juxtaposed with the CRM.

Bitrix has mobile apps for Android and iOS users along with a desktop app. Bitrix’s effort to be the one suite for your entire business is visible in how they allow you to create a company structure and offering a way to clock in and clock out your day in the app. Bitrix is also available as open source. You can customize it as much as you want, however, there are not many customization options available that are easy to achieve.

Key Features: 

  1. CRM has the essential features like deal management, activity tracking, forecasting and reporting. It also has the marketing module to do email marketing and paid ads. You can configure your Facebook and Instagram ads from within the UI itself.
  2. Extranet: this is similar to an external portal where customers, vendors, or other third party stakeholders can connect with your Bitrix24 account. You can give them selective access to your modules.
  3. Workflows and automation: There are multiple ways to automate sales and marketing processes like rules and triggers, smart process automation. The built-in workflow designer makes it easy to set up these workflows.  
  4. Sites and store: For online businesses, Bitrix24 allows to create sites and online store. There are built-in site templates for different businesses. You can even import html or js scripts. Bitrix also takes care of hosting your website. For online store, you get to manage the products, orders, check our process, discounts, and also shipping.
  5. Inventory management: Bitrix has an inventory management module where you can manage inventory across multiple warehouses. The stock gets updated automatically when a sales is made.

Pros: 

  1. Desktop app: this is unique. We haven’t seen a desktop app with other CRM providers. Along with the mobile app, and the browser version, Bitrix promises a seamless experience with the desktop as well.
  2. Pricing: Bitrix has possibly the most affordable pricing plans in the market. Their standard plan, which offers up to 50 users at $79 is a steal. You are not just getting a CRM but a bunch of other apps as well, it is a suite of apps.
  3. Free plan: They also have a Free plan which allows unlimited users and a host of basic features. That is a unique combination in the CRM market.
  4. Marketplace: The marketplace has apps, widgets and extensions for your Bitrix24 suite. The marketplace is supported by partners and developers.

Pricing: 

Bitrix24 is very cost effective. There are four plans listed on the website, including the Free plan. The highest plan is at $159 for unlimited users, the Basic plan is at $40 for 5 users, and the Standard plan for 50 users at $79. There is some uniqueness here as well. While most of the other CRMs ask you to pay monthly or yearly, Bitrix offers a quarterly payment plan as well. HR and Business process automation modules are available only in the top plan. The other modules are available with the rest of the plans but some of them capabilities may not be available. The pricing page is meticulous and you get comparisons between plans module-wise.

What is CRM Software?   

A CRM software assists you in managing your customer’s experience with you. You need to start using a CRM if you expect repeat business from all customers, which is the case with any business! It is the go-to software for your customer-facing teams like sales, support, and marketing because it can store customer’s contact data, their history and interactions with you. CRM also has tools for salespeople to convert customers and is still its predominant function. So, how does a CRM support the sales team?

Essential features of a CRM 

  • It maintains a database of your leads. CRMs allow you to collect as much information as you like about the lead. You can search, sort, filter, and group this data to find the best leads. Most CRMs allow you to qualify a lead and pursue those in separate modules called contacts/opportunities/deals. They also give you pipeline views that display leads grouped by stages.
  • Roles and permissions: Add your team to the CRM, map their real world roles in it, and define a permission set for each role. That way, you streamline unnecessary access and establish a hierarchy.
  • Rules, workflows, and automation reduce the manual work in repetitive tasks. This is a big component of CRM and should be a major deciding factor when you choose a CRM.
  • Tasks: A sales process is a bunch of tasks. Make it easy for your team to create and act on those tasks. Check out the progress with task reports.
  • Dialler: it is a convenient feature to call, record, and log customer interactions. Salespeople do not have to pick a phone, or make notes or update the CRM later. With a built-in dialler, these are automated.
  • Inbox: the majority of sales conversations happen via emails even today. You will lose the complete picture if these conversations are not logged into the CRM. That’s why the CRM should allow you to connect your inbox to it. When that is done, you can send and receive emails from the CRMs. CRMs with AI functionality can read emails, update records, and provide insights.
  • Analytics: with so much data available in it, any good CRM should give you insights to predict and increase your sales. Reports like sales forecasts, sales performance are common. You will be able to create dashboards combining multiple reports to review your sales team quickly.
  • Doc management gives you easy access to sales collaterals that are stored either within the CRM or in one of your drives like GDrive or Dropbox.
  • Integrations are what makes a CRM flexible. The more the integrations, the less you need to switch between apps. The common integrations are with email marketing, accounting, social media, ticketing apps.

How Do You Choose the Best CRM Software?  

  • Needs direct your choice of CRM to a large extent. The need could be a simple contact database or sales automation and as large as customer experience management. Think about your needs and also talk to a CRM consultant.
  • Budget: as you would be thinking, you can’t buy a CRM that ticks for all your needs but doesn’t fall in your budget.
  • Sales maturity: this is an important criteria. Think about your business model, the current sales process, and where you would like to move forward with it.
  • Team: you cannot buy Salesforce and get a young, inexperienced sales team to jump start on it the next day. Discuss with your team, get their co-operation. A CRM shouldn’t be introduced without training. Ideally, it should be one of the many improvements that your sales team is undertaking.
  • Trial: Most CRMs offer free trials. Utilize free trials to evaluate the CRM, if possible with your entire team. Check out if there is enough help resources, training, and support.

My  ranking of the CRMs

  • Pipedrive
  • Nutshell
  • Nimble
  • Copper
  • Less Annoying CRM
  • Keap for CRM+Marketing Automation
  • EngageBay for CRM+Support+Marketing

Three most important aspects of a CRM   

  • Salesforce automation
  • Lead management
  • Customer engagment

Questions to Ask When Choosing CRM Software.   

  • Do I need a CRM?
  • How can I import my current contact list?
  • How long does it take to get up and running?
  • Is the best CRM the best choice for my company?
  • Will the CRM work with my favorite tools?
  • What is the cost? What is the total cost of ownership with integrations and add-ons?
  • Will my team love the product?
  • What are the limits placed in the pricing plans?
  • Do they have a partner ecosystem and API for custom needs?

What Are the Benefits of CRM Software?   

  • Productivity
  • Sales growth
  • Clarity
  • Sales team management
  • Automation

Seven steps to get started with a CRM 

  1. Add your team
  2. Import your contacts
  3. Set up pipelines
  4. Set up activities
  5. Create a dashboard
  6. Configure automation and workflow
  7. Integrate other apps

CRM Software FAQ   

  • What is the best CRM for a start up
    • You could look for free plans in popular CRMs. We found Nutshell to be a good choice but they do not have a free plan.
  • Which is the easiest CRM?
    • All CRMs want to be easy but we feel that the easier you make a CRM, the less feature-rich it is going to be. Among the apps we compared here, Less Annoying CRM is the easiest.
  • Which CRMs work best with Google?
    • Check the Google workspace marketplace for CRM apps. Almost every CRM app has a Google plug-in too which works as a Gmail or Chrome extension. From the apps in this article, Copper is highly-rated for Google.
  • Is HubSpot CRM really free?
    • Hubspot CRM is not free, they have a Free plan along with paid plans.
  • What is the best CRM?
    • Salesforce is the undisputed best CRM. However, the best CRM is not always the best suited for every business.

Executive Summary   

Choose a CRM that matches the maturity of your sales organization. Also, try to understand how each vendor defines CRM. Some are sales focused, others are customer focused. To summarize this article:

Zoho is the best CRM considering pricing, features, user experience, and number of years in the market.

If sales and marketing alignment has been a pain for you, and you need a CRM that helps in achieving that, Hubspot is your CRM. Hubspot is also the best choice as a first CRM because of their focus on user education.

Freshsales is another CRM you can consider along with Zoho and Hubspot.

If you want a whole business suite at an attractive price, try Apptivo.

We would place the above four CRMs as good options for mid-level companies.

Of the remaining options, Pipedrive is the best overall CRM. We would place Nutshell as the second. Nutshell does not have an app marketplace like Pipedrive.

Nimble is a great CRM leaning a lot towards effective prospecting through social media and working with your email inboxes. Copper is second to Nimble because it is not strong as Nimble in its social prospecting capabilities Less Annoying CRM might be the right choice if you want to be careful and have a safe-than-sorry approach. They offer a 30-day trial and charge only $15 per user per month.

Keap is an excellent choice if prefer easy set up, support, and hands-on training with marketing automation also in mind. EnagageBay is a good option if you want to unify you sales, marketing, and support departments and offer a great customer experience.

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