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Updated Jun 27, 2024

The Best CRM Software of 2024

Salesforce may be the best-known CRM software brand, but Pipedrive, Freshworks and others are worthy competitors.

Mark Fairlie
Written By: Mark FairlieSenior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership
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A editor verified this analysis to ensure it meets our standards for accuracy, expertise and integrity.
Best for SMBs
monday Sales CRM
  • Starts at $30 per user per month
  • 14-day free trial
  • 24/7 support (email, phone, chat)
USALinks to monday Sales CRM
Visit Site
  • Starts at $30 per user per month
  • 14-day free trial
  • 24/7 support (email, phone, chat)
Best for Automation
Pipedrive CRM
Pipedrive logo
  • Starts at $14 per user per month
  • 14-day free trial
  • 24/7 online chat, premium for phone
USALinks to Pipedrive CRM
Visit Site
  • Starts at $14 per user per month
  • 14-day free trial
  • 24/7 online chat, premium for phone
Best for Sales Managers
Freshworks CRM
  • Starts at $15 per user per month
  • 21-day free trial
  • 24/5 phone, email, chat support
USALinks to Freshworks CRM
Visit Site
  • Starts at $15 per user per month
  • 21-day free trial
  • 24/5 phone, email, chat support
Best for Sales and Marketing Integrations
HubSpot CRM
  • Starts at $30 per month (2 users)
  • Free plan or 14-day free trial
  • Email/app support, phone costs more
USALinks to HubSpot CRM
Visit Site
  • Starts at $30 per month (2 users)
  • Free plan or 14-day free trial
  • Email/app support, phone costs more
Best for ERP Capabilities
Oracle NetSuite CRM
NetSuite logo
  • From $999 + $99 per monthly user
  • No free trial
  • 24/7 ticketing plus self-service
  • From $999 + $99 per monthly user
  • No free trial
  • 24/7 ticketing plus self-service

Table of Contents

Open row

At, our team of technology experts has analyzed hundreds of tools and services designed to improve essential business operations, from POS systems to GPS fleet management services to remote PC access software, and we use these experiences to provide business owners with actionable guides and industry insights. Every playbook and explainer is infused with advice from real IT consultants, implementation experts, security specialists, software developers and more. 

Our rigorous product review process involves in-depth industry research, vendor interviews, hands-on testing and service comparisons. Each analysis — whether for a business phone system, CRM platform, call center software or website builder — is independently verified by a editor to ensure our recommendations are free of bias and errors. Learn more about our editorial process.

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How We Decided

When evaluating the best CRM software, we looked closely at each system’s features, such as lead generation tools, marketing capabilities and analytics. We considered whether the CRM’s dashboards and...


When evaluating the best CRM software, we looked closely at each system’s features, such as lead generation tools, marketing capabilities and analytics. We considered whether the CRM’s dashboards and various functions were user-friendly and if the platform could be customized. We compared plans and subscription costs to see which CRM vendor would provide the best value at the most affordable price. We also took into account each product’s limitations and the quality of customer service provided.







When evaluating the best CRM software, we looked closely at each system’s features, such as lead generation tools, marketing capabilities and analytics. We considered whether the CRM’s dashboards and various functions were user-friendly and if the platform could be customized. We compared plans and subscription costs to see which CRM vendor would provide the best value at the most affordable price. We also took into account each product’s limitations and the quality of customer service provided.







For your sales team to operate at its best and close as many deals as possible, they need to be able to keep track of interactions with leads and prospects as they nurture them along the sales funnel. Marketers need to devise targeted, personalized campaigns that resonate with your target audience. And your customer service team needs to be able to promptly address customer inquiries and complaints effectively in order to maintain customer satisfaction.

Enter customer relationship management (CRM) software. These platforms have become indispensable to sales, marketing and support teams, helping them understand more about the people they’re communicating with to better meet their needs and achieve business objectives. We’ve conducted countless hours of research and testing over the years to help you find the best CRM software on the market today, so you can grow your business with confidence. Our best picks below provide all the features you need to drive more leads, closer more deals, and improve customer satisfaction.

Pipedrive metrics

CRM systems allow managers to track the most important metrics to them. This is the team dashboard for sales managers in Pipedrive. (Source: Pipedrive)

Compare Our Best Picks

BDC Ribbon
Our Top Picks for 2024
monday Sales CRM
Pipedrive CRM
Freshworks CRM
HubSpot CRM
Oracle NetSuite CRM
Salesforce CRM
Rating (Out of 10)
Best for



Sales Managers

Sales and Marketing Integrations

ERP Capabilities


Cross-Departmental Collaboration

Custom Row - No Data
Starting prices

$30 per month, per user

$14 per month, per user

$15 per month, per user

$30 per month (2 users)

Custom quote

$25 per month, per user

$19 per month, per user

Custom Row - No Data
Free trial

14 days

14 days

21 days

Free plan or 14-day trial


14 days

14 days

Custom Row - No Data
Email features

Templates, native integration, templates, tracking

Bulk send, scheduling, tracking, templates

Automation, templates, analytics

Scheduling, templates, tracking, analytics

Automation, target lists, personalization

Bulk sending, personalization, segmentation, template designs, tracking

Bulk send, templates, insights, priority notifications

Custom Row - No Data
Cloud Document Storage

500MB on Free plan, 5GB-1000GB on paid plans

Up to 50MB per spreadsheet size

From 2GB per user on Growth plan


Files up to 2GB for paid accounts


Up to 200MB (data) and 10MB (file) storage per agent

Custom Row - No Data

24/7 support (email, phone, chat)

24/7 live chat support. Phone support for Power/Enterprise users

24/5 phone, email, chat support

Yes but depends on plan chosen

24/7 ticketing plus self-service

24/7 web + premium option available

24/7 via help centre and dashboard

Custom Row - No Data








Custom Row - No Data
Review Link
Scroll Table

Our Reviews

  • Base Price: $30 per month per user
  • Top Features: Workflow automations, lead management, range of data visualizations, team collaboration tools, customizable workspaces, wide range of integrations and plug-ins.
  • Trial Period: 14 days
Editor's Rating: 9.5/10
Visit Site

Why monday Sales CRM is Best for SMBs

In our review of Sales CRM, we found the platform provides a comprehensive set of tools to overcome these problems. We liked that managers can streamline their team members’ workloads quickly by building customized workflow automations with the platform’s easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface. This leaves more time to focus on core administrative, marketing, sales, and service responsibilities. We also liked how marketing teams can use the platform to plan, launch and track campaigns to customers, getting instant performance information on the customizable real-time dashboard. Better still, the built-in communications platform records all external interactions whether by email, SMS, phone or other channels, building up each client’s history in the shared database.

monday CRM workflows

monday Sales CRM allows SMBs to automate workflows precisely to improve efficiency and manage customers up to and beyond the sale . Source:

monday Sales CRM Pricing and Services

Plan Price Features
Basic $30 per month, per user
  • Unlimited read-only viewers
  • Contacts and customizable pipelines
  • 5GB file storage
Standard $42 per month, per user Everything in Basic plus:

  • Two-way email syncing with Gmail and Outlook
  • Quotes and invoices
  • Gantt, timeline, and calendar data views
  • Guest access
  • Up to 250 automations and 250 integrations per month
  • 20GB file storage
Pro $72 per month, per user Everything in Standard plus:

  • Private boards
  • Sales forecasting and CRM metrics
  • Time tracking
  • Chart and workload views
  • Email tracking
  • Up to 25,000 automations and 25,000 integrations per month
  • 100GB file storage
Enterprise Call for quote Everything in Pro plus:

  • Enterprise-grade security
  • Advanced CRM reporting
  • Lead scoring
  • Team quotas
  • Up to 250,000 automations and 250,000 integrations per month
  • TB file storage

Unlike other providers, has set amounts of seats you must purchase each month. The minimum is three which increases to five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50 , 100 or 200+ users. This means you might have to subscribe to more seats than you need or limit access to certain employees, depending on the subscription level you choose.

monday Sales CRM Advantages

  • There are near limitless customization options on the platform ranging from lead scores and labels to pipelines and dashboards.
  • You can program in workflows to automate repetitive, necessary, but unproductive tasks like changing contact statuses and sending notification alerts.
  • offers a large number of integrations out of the box which you can further expand up using Zapier, Make and the API function.

monday Sales CRM Disadvantages

  • To be able to customize workflows, you require knowledge of Excel–type formulas in some instances.
  • There are limits to the number of automations and integrations depending on subscription levels.
  • The requirement to purchase in seat increments is arbitrary and inflexible. Would you want to pay for 100 users if you only had 70 members of staff?

monday Sales CRM Customer Reviews

Users on TrustRadius think highly of Sales CRM, rating it 8.6 out of 10. Customers are impressed by the platform’s flexibility in particular as well as its intuitive user interface, team collaboration options and advanced reporting.

Click here for our full monday Sales CRM review

Pipedrive logo
  • Base Price: $14 per month per user
  • Top Features: Sales- and marketing-related automations, lead generation functionality (including power diallers, chatbots and lead prospector database), integrated email marketing platform, AI-powered sales agent, customizable dashboard and integrations.
  • Trial Period: 14 days
Editor's Rating: 9.4/10
Visit Site

Why Pipedrive CRM is Best for Automation

We found Pipedrive to be an intuitive platform that allows teams to automate multiple sales pipelines for different types of products and services. Bringing in this level of organization will help sales reps manage their day more effectively, stay on top of each lead and remind them when deals need working on or progressing to the next stage. Managers can use the platform’s smart visual sales pipeline to track the progress of every deal in progress and the forecasting tool will be a real help in determining which leads to prioritize. We really like the range of add-ons that help reps close deals (like the power dialler and prospector database) and marketers bring in new leads through email marketing. If you have a talented sales team that’s underperforming, Pipedrive might be the answer.

Pipedrive workflows

Building automations is straightforward in Pipedrive to improve your workflows. Source: Pipedrive

Pipedrive CRM Pricing and Services

Plan Price (billed annually) Features
Essential $14 per month, per user
  • Lead and deal management
  • Customizable pipelines
  • Data import and export
  • Email inbox
  • Sales Assistant AI tool
  • Deal reports
  • Company and user goals
  • Visual dashboards
  • Deal rotting
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • 400+ integrations
  • Single sign-on
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Mobile apps
  • Calendar syncing
  • Automatic call logging
  • 3,000 live deals
  • 30 custom fields per lead
  • One insights dashboard
Advanced $29 per month, per user Everything in Essential plus:

  • Email open and click tracking
  • Meeting scheduler
  • Automations
  • Smart contact data
  • Web-to-mobile calls
  • Recurring revenue reports
  • 30 active automations per user
  • Two-way email syncing
  • Custom email templates
  • Bulk email
  • 10,000 live deals
  • 100 custom fields per lead
Professional (most popular) $49 per month, per user Everything in Advanced plus:

  • Pipeline-specific deals
  • Deal card customization
  • Contacts timeline
  • Automated lead assignment
  • Team management
  • Smart Docs add-on
  • Required fields
  • Revenue forecast reports
  • Team goals
  • 60 active automations per user
  • 100,000 live deals
  • 300 custom fields per lead
  • Unlimited dashboards
Power $64 per month, per user Everything in Professional plus:

  • Phone support
  • Access to an implementation program
  • Free project add-ons
  • Custom onboarding services
  • 90 active automations per user
  • 200,000 live deals
  • 500 custom fields per lead
Enterprise $99 per month, per user Everything in Power plus: 

  • Security alerts and rules
  • Unlimited reports and customizations
  • Unlimited live deals
  • Unlimited custom fields per lead,
  • 180 active automations per user
  • Unlimited dashboards

There are the following four add-ons you can purchase from Pipedrive on top of your subscription:

  • Web Visitors (from $49 per month): Reports on who has visited your website by IP address.
  • Projects ($29 per month): Add Kanban boards to your Pipedrive.
  • Campaigns ($16 per month): This gives you access to the in-built email marketing platform.
  • Smart Docs ($9.90 per user per month): Document signing service that autofills contracts with data from Pipedrive.

Pipedrive CRM Advantages

  • Pipedrive’s set of features and customizable automations are ideal for any company that relies on sales teams to close deals.
  • We appreciate the features on Pipedrive that help generate new leads like the email marketing campaign platform to chatbots and web capture forms.
  • This intuitive platform offers prospecting data which will append live, verified data to your customer and lead database for greater client knowledge.

Pipedrive CRM Disadvantages

  • Pipedrive is very focused on its use case – sales and marketing improvement – and its functionality outside that is limited in comparison to other platforms.
  • Some of the limits applied to useful features like open deals and active automations are low on more entry-level subscriptions.
  • Telephone support is 14/7 and limited only to Power and Enterprise clients.

Pipedrive CRM Customer Reviews

Pipedrive scores well on TrustRadius with a score of 7.9 out of 10 which reflects its focus on general business and sales automation. Users rate most highly the platform’s marketing automation and project/workflow management features. A front-end developer in an IT services business commented that Pipedrive “helps our sales team stay accountable and organize customer data so much that we use it as our CRM.”

Click here for our full Pipedrive CRM review

  • Base Price: $15 per user per month
  • Top Features: Cloud telephone, reporting and analytics, omnichannel communications, advanced AI integration, e-commerce integration, bulk email broadcasting, workflow automations, deal management function.
  • Trial Period: 21 days
Editor's Rating: 9.3/10
Visit Site

Why Freshworks CRM is Best for Sales Managers

Sales management is complex, especially now that customers expect to be able to communicate with you over multiple platforms. Freshworks’ comprehensive range of features helps managers deal with an omnichannel environment and take control of lead generation and deal management to boost revenue. We really like how the platform seamlessly supports phone, email, and social media communication with clients. Every interaction is recorded, helping to build detailed individual customer profiles, ideal for sales staff to personalize their approaches.

Freshworks sales pipeline

Sales managers see a broad overview of the sales pipeline including deals won and lost. Source: Freshworks

Marketers can use the wider database to create buyer personas for more targeted campaigns. Managers can also create customized automations to save their sales staff time and help them more effectively handle their workloads as well as target the most lucrative potential clients. We were very impressed by the analytics on the platform too and how the insights contained in the customizable reports managers can create will help them drive better team and individual performance.

Freshworks CRM Pricing and Services

Freshworks offers a free plan which includes contact and account management, lifecycle stages, deal management, a built-in chatbot, iInbound Caller ID, phone and email integrations and the platform’s mobile app. Its paid plans are:

Plan Price  Features
Growth $15 per month, per user Everything in the Free plan, plus: 

  • Visual sales pipeline
  • AI-powered contact scoring
  • Sales sequences
  • Up to 2,000 bot sessions
  • Five sales sequences
  • 250 personalized bulk emails per day
  • WhatsApp Business
  • Activity dashboard
  • 20 workflows
  • 2GB of storage per user
  • Two-way email sync
  • Call recording
  • Messaging integrations
  • Custom fields
  • Automated workflows
  • Product catalog
  • Custom reports and dashboards
  • File storage of 2GB per user
Pro (most popular) $39 per month, per user Everything in the Growth plan plus: 

  • Multiple sales pipelines
  • Time-based workflows
  • 10 sales sequences
  • 1,000 personalized bulk emails per day
  • AI-powered deal insights
  • Up to 3,000 bot sessions
  • Territory management
  • Offline access
  • 50 workflows
  • 5GB of storage per user
  • Advanced call queues
  • Lead-gen bot
  • Answer bot
  • Custom sales activities
  • Auto-assignment for contacts, accounts and deals
  • Sales forecasting
Enterprise $69 per month, per user Everything in the Pro plan plus: 

  • Custom modules
  • AI-based forecasting
  • Audit logs
  • Up to 5,000 chatbot sessions
  • Dedicated account manager
  • Customer profile enrichment
  • 100GB of storage per user
  • 25 sales sequences
  • 5,000 personalized bulk emails per day
  • Holiday call routing
  • Website tracking
  • Automatic profile enrichment
  • Sales and marketing dashboard
  • Deal teams
  • Advanced sales metrics

In addition to third-party app charges, the following Freshwork features attract a fee and are not part of a subscription package – CPQ module, phone credits, bot sessions, extra workflows, and more.

Freshworks CRM Advantages

  • Every inbound or outbound contact with customers is recorded and logged so that sales reps can better personalize closing on individual deals.
  • Sales managers can run email, telephone and SMS marketing campaigns to generate more leads for their teams.
  • Control who gets leads on your team based upon factors you choose including recent performance and subject matter expertise.

Freshworks CRM Disadvantages

  • Many useful features like certain VOIP functionality and API access are only available on higher plans. Usage caps on other system tools seem quite low in many instances, too.
  • For new CRM users, the sheer volume of features may require a longer onboarding procedure for teams, even though the system is intuitive and relatively easy-to-use.
  • Customer service is only available on weekdays, even to subscribers to the most expensive plans.

Freshworks CRM Customer Reviews

Freshworks scores an impressive 4.5 out of 5 stars on G2 with 71% of reviewers giving the platform 5 stars. One user commented that “Freshsales is a perfect CRM tool for small to mid-sized organizations for both daily sales-related activities to monthly and quarterly planning. It is easy to operate. All my leads, prospects, clients are categorized and managed properly… FS is easy to integrate, at least to me. I had tried a couple of CRM tools including Leadsquared but FS is unbeatable.”

Click here for our full Freshworks CRM review

  • Base Price: $30 per month (2 users)
  • Top Features: Contact management, shared dashboards, deal pipelines, lead generation and nurturing, reporting and analytics, omnichannel comms and marketing, customer segmentation, marketing personalization.
  • Trial Period: Free plan available or 14-day free trial for paid plans
Editor's Rating: 9.5/10
Visit Site

Why HubSpot CRM is Best for Sales and Marketing Integration

Hubspot’s omnichannel functionality allows seamless one-on-one and mass communication with customers and prospects. Every interaction is recorded, enriching each customer profile and allowing marketing and sales teams to identify and address weak points in the sales funnel, ultimately improving future results. We love how easy it is to streamline complex sales and marketing processes and pipelines thanks to its visually appealing drag-and-drop tool. Additionally, HubSpot’s advanced analytics and reporting tools offer deep insights into how well both teams are doing so you have the data you need to constantly refine their strategies and approaches for greater success. This is why HubSpot stands out as the platform you should choose to integrate your teams, maximize their efficiency, and improve their performance.

Hubspot campaigns

Run campaigns on various advertising networks from within HubSpot. Source: HubSpot

HubSpot CRM Pricing and Services

HubSpot offers a branded-free service that allows you to send 2,000 emails a month and install a live chat bot on your website. Below are the charges for the main paid tiers from the CRM suite which includes elements of the five HubSpot iterations – operations, CMS, sales, marketing, and customer service.

Plan Price Features
Starter From $30 per month for two users (each additional user costs $25) Everything in the free tier plus:

  • No HubSpot branding
  • 1,000 properties per record
  • 10 dashboards with 10 reports each
  • 25 active lists and 1,000 static lists
  • Payment processing
  • Form automation
  • Email retargeting tools
  • Two deal pipelines
  • Document storage
  • Sales content analytics
  • Sales automation
Professional From $1,600 per month for five users (each additional user costs $100 a month) Everything in Starter plus:

  • Customer reporting
  • Contact center attribution
  • Deal and company scoring
  • Dynamic personalization
  • A/B testing
  • SEO analytics
Enterprise From $5,000 per month for 10 users Everything in the Professional package plus:

  • 10,000 marketing contacts
  • Additional tools

There are additional charges you may have to pay. For example, subscription to the Professional plan requires payment of a one-off $3,000 onboarding fee. While you can pay monthly for the Starter plan, all other subscriptions require an upfront annual payment. As your usage increases, you may pay more for WhatsApp conversations, API calls, dedicated IPs, transactional emails and more.

HubSpot CRM Advantages

  • HubSpot’s use of customizable shared dashboards introduces transparency and collaboration opportunities across your sales and marketing teams.
  • The platform allows you to communicate one-on-one and market en masse to customers, recording all interactions which, over time, create comprehensive, up-to-date customer and prospect histories.
  • We love how easy it is to create automated workflows on HubSpot thanks to its intuitive, no-code drag-and-drop interface.

HubSpot CRM Disadvantages

  • HubSpot rivals Salesforce for its superb functionality but, like Salesforce, locks much of it away behind premium plans.
  • Telephone support is still important to many customers but it’s not available to HubSpot’s Free and Starter plan customers.
  • For very heavy users of the platform, additional fees relating to API calls and transactional emails could add up quickly.

HubSpot CRM Customer Reviews

HubSpot is one of the most popular CRMs on the market and that’s reflected in its online reviews from customers. On G2, it scores 4.4 out of 5 and on Software Advice, 4.5 out of 5. Customers prize not only its ease of use but also its content creation, email marketing functionality and marketing management features. One SaaS product manager commented that “we’ve been able to track the conversion rate and optimize for better conversion rate. It’s super easy to use and it integrates seamlessly with various other tools in our stack. We really like it.”

Click here for our full HubSpot CRM review

NetSuite logo
  • Base Price: $999 per month, plus $99 per month per user.
  • Top Features: Easy integration with Oracle Netsuite ERP functionality, CPQ feature for complex quotes, sales forecasting tool, vendor commission management, upsell and cross-sell recommendations.
  • Trial Period: No
Editor's Rating: 9.2/10

Why Oracle NetSuite CRM is Best for ERP Capabilities

If you’re already using Oracle’s software ecosystem and want to add CRM functionality, Oracle NetSuite CRM is a logical choice thanks to the seamless integration it offers. Not only will this give you end-to-end management of the customer journey but it will also enhance operational efficiency across your entire business.

We like how Oracle Netsuite offers an impressive range of tools to improve the productivity of your sales teams and your ability to accurately predict future performance thanks to its automations and smart tools like CPQ and sales forecasting. The Oracle app marketplace is vast and offers opportunities for further customization and specialization. A stand-out feature we also really appreciate is the e-commerce add-on module that allows firms to optimize everything from inventory control to same-day shipping.

Oracle NetSuite CPQ tool

The CPQ tool in Netsuite CRM is excellent for complex quotes with variable input costs. Source: Oracle

Oracle NetSuite CRM Pricing and Services

Pricing for NetSuite CRM is tailored according to use cases and user numbers so finding ballpark pricing is difficult. However, our research indicates that the minimum monthly price is around $1,000 per company with a charge of $100 per user on top.

Oracle NetSuite CRM Advantages

  • Oracle NetSuite CRM integrates seamlessly with its wide-ranging ERP platform, giving you the option to build a software solution you can run your entire business from.
  • There is a great range of sales aids including CPQ for complex quotes, upselling and cross-selling recommendations, and partner management programs for third-party sales.
  • Thanks to its wide range of third-party apps and API platform, you can build out this CRM to meet your exact marketing, sales and customer support specifications.

Oracle NetSuite CRM Disadvantages

  • While the sheer level of customization options is a strong selling point, the system is complex and staff using it will have to traverse a steep learning curve.
  • Oracle NetSuite CRM can not operate as a standalone system and it will require subscription to Oracle’s wider business app suite.
  • Prices uncovered during research for this article suggests that pricing is towards the more expensive end of the market.

Oracle NetSuite CRM Customer Reviews

Gartner users score Oracle NetSuite CRM 4.4 out of 5 across over 150 ratings. Users note the complexity of initial set up but express happiness and satisfaction with the end result. One reviewer commented that Netsuite was a “great scalable CRM we use for most of our business processes” and another “truly exceptional… because of the sheer breadth of features and capabilities”.

Click here for our full Oracle NetSuite CRM review

  • Base Price: $25 per month, per user
  • Top Features: Wide range of productivity tools, excellent AI integration, sales forecasting, lead management, granular customization for look, function, and objects, create custom apps for your business with developer tools, huge range of integrations and add-ons.
  • Trial Period: 14 days
Editor's Rating: 9.5/10

Why Salesforce CRM is Best for Customization

For companies that want maximum control over their business processes, it’s hard to find a platform that competes with Salesforce. It offers the extreme flexibility of Oracle NetSuite but, unlike NetSuite, Salesforce can work as a standalone platform. We were very impressed by how easily you can create custom workflows for your marketing, sales, and customer service teams with Salesforce, introducing real operational efficiency to your company. We also liked that you can build on this with the vast array of apps available in the system’s well-stocked marketplace. This has only improved with the introduction of AI to the platform, which helps reps close deals, service teams resolve customer issues, suggest workflows, and improve decision-making. The initial set-up will take time and there is a learning curve, but once fully implemented, Salesforce will unlock the latent potential in your business.

Salesforce Datorama

Datorama is a new extension to the Salesforce marketplace allowing users to create apps for deep marketing insights. Source: Salesforce

Salesforce CRM Pricing and Services

Plan Price Features
Essentials $25 per user per month; available for up to 10 users
  • Account, Contact, Lead, Task and Opportunity management
  • Lead auto-assignment
  • Duplicate prevention
  • Automatic capture of a lead’s available web information
  • Mass email
  • Marketing campaigns
  • Customizable reports and dashboards
  • Email integration with Gmail and Outlook
  • Salesforce mobile app
Professional $75 per user per month Everything in the Essentials plan plus: 

  • Pipeline management
  • Lead registration
  • Rules-based lead scoring
  • Collaborative forecasting
  • Forecasting mobile app
  • Quote and order management
  • Roles and permissions
  • Developer sandbox
Enterprise $150 per user per month Everything in the Professional plan plus: 

  • Workflow and approval automation
  • Sales teams and territories
  • Opportunity scoring
  • Advanced reporting
Unlimited $300 per user per month Everything in the Enterprise plan plus: 

  • Sales engagement hub
  • AI-powered sales insights with Einstein
  • Sales cadences
  • 24/7 support

A number of useful features aren’t available in the subscription packages and must be purchased separately like CPQ & Billing at $75 per user per month.

Salesforce CRM Advantages

  • Salesforce, like Oracle NetSuite, offers incredible customization options. Unlike Netsuite, it can operate as a standalone solution.
  • For companies with complex operational needs, having sales, marketing and customer service teams using the same database and platform will greatly improve efficiency and collaboration as well as drive improvement.
  • The implementation of artificial intelligence on the platform is best in class and will assist everyone from customer service reps right up to C-suite decision makers.

Salesforce CRM Disadvantages

  • The sheer level of choice Salesforce offers means that, if you don’t start out with a minimal viable product in mind, implementing the platform might be eternally delayed as you add further features.
  • Customer service could be a lot better and paying an extra 30% on top of your fees for their ultimate support package feels overpriced.
  • Although the platform is introducing more drag-and-drop and no-code interfaces, you still need to know CSS, HTML and other programming languages to customize certain Salesforce processes and elements.

Salesforce CRM Customer Reviews

Salesforce, launched in 1999, was arguably the first popular CRM package and it’s used the time since its launch well to build on its platform. This has not gone unnoticed by customers who award it 8.4 out of 10 on TrustRadius. The most popular features among its user base include its customer data and contact management tools, opportunity management functionality, customizable reports and workflow management. One user wrote that their B2B business “really appreciates having this full funnel visibility at all times, so all teams can tap in and understand the wider company”.

Click here for our full Salesforce CRM review

  • Base Price: $19 per month, per user
  • Top Features: Enrichment and prospecting, unified customer database, well-stocked app marketplace, internal collaboration tools, smart lists, AI-powered customer services, list templates, self-service area builds, power dialer, powerful analytics tools.
  • Trial Period: 14 days
Editor's Rating: 9.5/10

Why Zendesk CRM is best for Cross-Departmental Collaboration

Zendesk’s centralized database integrates seamlessly with its omnichannel communications platform so everyone sees the same information when speaking with a customer, helping them provide a more personalized service. Tools like “side conversations” and “light agents” enable employees to collaborate across teams to resolve issues efficiently. Managers can use customizable dashboards to monitor performance and identify training opportunities. We were impressed by Zendesk’s AI, which supports training by providing prompts to representatives during calls. For these reasons and more, Zendesk is our top choice for improving cross-departmental collaboration.

Zendesk Light Agent

Colleagues can bring in other coworkers to customer-facing conversations to effect quicker resolutions using the “Light Agent” feature. Source: Zendesk

Zendesk CRM Pricing and Services

There are two Zendesk products that compliment each other excellently. Zendesk Suite focuses on customer support post-purchase and Zendesk Sell on marketing and sales.

The subscription levels for Zendesk Sell are:

Plan Price Features
Sell Team $19 per month, per user
  • Two sales pipelines
  • 2GB storage per user
  • Email and calendar integrations
  • Tasks
  • Appointment setting
  • Text messaging
  • Call tracking and recording
  • Prebuilt sales dashboards
Sell Growth $49 per month, per user All of Sell Team’s features plus: 

  • 10 pipelines
  • 5GB storage per user
  • Advanced and customizable sales reports
  • Sales forecasting
  • Goal tracking
Sell Professional $99 per month, per user All the Sell Growth’s features plus: 

  • Lead scoring
  • Deal scoring
  • 10GB storage per user
  • Task automation
Sell Enterprise Call for a quote The Sell Enterprise plan offers a customized service level with unlimited sequences and pipelines.

The subscription levels of Zendesk Suite are:

Plan Price Features
Suite Team $55 per month, per user
  • Ticketing system
  • Help center
  • Standard bots
  • Integrations
  • Omnichannel communications
  • Online support
  • Digital onboarding
Suite Growth $89 per month, per user All of Suite Team’s features plus: 

  • Multiple tickets
  • Light agents
  • Service-level agreements
  • Customer satisfaction ratings
  • Self-service customer portal
  • Ability to set business hours
Suite Professional $115 per month, per user All the Suite Growth’s features plus: 

  • Customized analytics
  • Live conversations
  • Skills-based routing
  • Access to Sunshine conversations
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance
Suite Enterprise $150 per month, per user All the Professional level’s features plus:

  • Sandbox for developers
  • AI-powered content cues
  • Content blocks
  • Contextual workspaces
  • Customized agent roles

Zendesk CRM Advantages

  • The customer database on Zendesk is perfectly integrated with the communications platform so everyone will be working from the same information.
  • The ability to involve colleagues and Zendesk’s AI when an employee is dealing with customers should ensure much higher first resolution rates.
  • Zendek’s reporting and analytics are in depth and it’s easy for managers to create customized dashboards to monitor team and individual KPIs in real time.

Zendesk CRM Disadvantages

  • The platform’s functionality is excellent, but cheaper alternatives exist. You could recreate many features with customizations and integrations on other CRMs, though this would require time and effort.
  • The customer service team is only contactable via a ticketing system who will get back in touch with you in their own time.
  • There is a limit to the number of API calls you can make each month. If you exceed them, you’ll be charged extra.

Zendesk CRM Customer Reviews

Zendesk Sell scores highly on online review sites, achieving a rating of 4.2 on G2 and 4.3 on Capterra. One commenter, a software engineer, noted how Zendesk’s collaborative tools have “made teamwork smoother than ever, ensuring everyone is on the same page.” Another stated that Zendesk had helped his “sales team effectively follow up with leads… (and helped) us close deals more efficiently.”

Click here for our full Zendesk CRM review

Creatio logo
  • Base Price: $19 per month, per user
  • Top Features: Intuitive no-code/low-code process builder from the ground-up, AI and ML powered sales and customer service, whole customer view, centralized contact and account data, collaboration tools, fully customizable workflows and automations, robust reporting and analytics.
  • Trial Period: 14 days
Editor's Rating: 8.9/10
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Why Creatio is Best for Customer Lifecycle Management

The sheer level of flexibility in Creatio makes it particularly suitable for companies wanting to manage complex customer lifecycles more effectively. First, choose one or more of the platform’s three distinct modules – Sales, Marketing and Service – to target the specific areas you want to improve or systematize.

Within each module, you can then select pre-built processes which you can then customize to build each step of your customer lifecycle out to even the most granular level.

We love how the drag-and-drop interface makes the creation of simple or complex automations easy and how you can invite colleagues and contractors to participate in the process. You can then connect these automations together to encompass the entire lifecycle. The platform’s built-in AI and ML tools continuously analyze usage to suggest more streamlined automations and workflows, as well as identify prime leads, forecast sales, and suggest “next best actions” for continuous improvement.

Creatio dashboard

Absolutely everything about Creatio is customizable from complex granular automations to the configuration of individual users’ dashboards (Source: Creatio)

Creatio Pricing and Services

Plan Price per User Features
Growth $25/mo
  • No-code UI designer
  • No-code workflow designer
  • Desktop, web, mobile apps
  • Customization through scripts
  • 5 users
  • Unlimited applications, workflows, and records
  • 50k executed process elements per month
  • 1Gb database storage and attachment space per user
  • 10k API calls per user per day
  • 2 environments
  • Cloud hosting only
Enterprise $55/mo Includes all Growth features, plus:

  • Custom UI branding
  • Unlimited executed process elements per month
  • 2Gb database storage and attachment space per user
  • Unlimited API calls per user per day
  • 3 environments
  • Cloud and on-premises hosting
Unlimited $85/mo Includes all Enterprise features, plus:

  • Unlimited database storage and attachment space per user
  • Unlimited environments

Subscribers at all levels get access to basic support, a customer success manager and access to an online academy and community. Enhanced support is available at 10 percent of the overall cost of your subscription and premium support at 20 percent.

The following three products unlock specific functionalities and tools that you can then customize on your version of Creatio:

  • Sales ($15/mo per user): The “Sales” module is bottom-of-funnel, focusing on revenue generation. It is designed to manage customer data, automate lead and opportunity workflows, forecast sales, handle contracts and documents, and promote collaboration across your sales team.
  • Marketing ($15/mo per user): The “Marketing” module is aimed at generating new leads and nurturing prospects with the aim of progressing them to the sales team. Key functionality includes segmenting client and prospect databases to improve campaign responsiveness and launching and analyzing marketing campaigns.
  • Service ($15/mo per user): The “Service” module is intended to increase the chance of sales from existing customers and reduce client churn. It allows for omnichannel case management, knowledge sharing and productivity enhancement across teams, and general request and case management.

You can add further users to the system

  • Limited Internal User ($12/mo per user): This permits access to Creatio and one product (like Sales, Marketing or Service), but locks users out of other features.
  • Mobile-Only User ($12/mo per user): This offers full access to Creatio and all services, but only from a mobile device.
  • External B2B Portal User ($12/mo per user): This is an option to allow access to people not working for your business like contractors or partners to access specific records and sections on the platform.

Creatio Advantages

  • Creatio has successfully simplified the often complex process of creating and then joining up automations and workflows.
  • Splitting the main functionality into three different areas – Marketing, Sales and Service – allows companies to focus on specific areas of improvement they want to make rather than renting a whole system with redundant functionality.
  • We appreciate that the Marketplace has 16 business categories (like banking, insurance and telecoms) and eight use categories (like sales, marketing and customer journey) to make apps easy to find.

Creatio Disadvantages

  • Some of the more useful features are only available to customers on higher subscription levels, like HIPAA compliance and offline app support for Enterprise clients and on-premises installation support for Unlimited clients.
  • There will be a learning curve to using the system, especially for those building automations and customizations but it’s likely to be a lot less steep than other complex systems like Salesforce and NetSuite.
  • Enhanced customer service extra. If you don’t pay for support, it’s 9/7, email only, with a high-priority case response time of 4 hours.

Creatio Customer Reviews

Customer enthusiasm for Creatio remains long after the initial implementation, according to reviewers’ opinion on TrustRadius where the platform scored 9.2 out of 10. The most popular features of the platform were its drag-and-drop interfaces, its scalability and its high level of security. One reviewer stated that “I think the biggest strength of Creatio is no-code technology. It’s incredible how easy every department can tailor the system capabilities to their particular needs.”

Additional Options Worth Exploring

There are dozens of CRM vendors, each with their own platform and value proposition. Six other platforms we’ve reviewed that are worth considering for your business include:


Growing a business is challenging. When it becomes too much for one person to manage, even with employee help, it’s time to consider a CRM. We recommend Zoho as the best platform for managing expansion while maintaining the high standards your customers have come to expect.

Zoho impressed us with its scalability, vital for any company intent on expansion. Its intuitive user interface is very well executed and will reduce the learning curve for you and your team during implementation. We really liked how the platform managed omnichannel communications so that you could stay in touch with clients and prospects by email, phone, SMS, social media and more.

So your staff stays as productive as possible, we were impressed by the extensive customization options the platform offers so you could adapt it to fit your company’s unique workflows. Efficiency is further improved by Zoho’s built-in AI which powers a range of functions including contact and deal management. We also loved Zoho’s extensive app marketplace and its large selection of popular tools you can plug the CRM, great for productivity.

Find out more about the platform by reading our comprehensive review of Zoho CRM.


Keap is a powerful contact management-driven CRM designed to help companies manage customers at each point of the sales cycle. It does this thanks to its highly flexible workflow automations that users can build with the platform’s user-friendly drag-and-drop builder and customizable out-of-the-box templates. You can streamline customer management and declutter your team’s working day with automations like chase-ups of unpaid invoices and following up with unhappy customers.

Keap is highly effective not just in improving deal conversion rates but in helping companies generate more sales leads. We really like the integrated email platform that’s built into the software which allows for the easy creation of email designs, precise segmentation of customers for better targeting, and powerful analytics tools to measure engagement. We were impressed by the high volume of integrations too with popular software like HelloSign and MailChimp in the marketplace. You can also create your own integrations via Zapier.

Click for our in-depth review of Keap.


Creatio is a no-code platform that enables companies to create automated workflows tailored to their needs without hiring a developer. Competitively priced at $25 per user per month, Creatio can streamline complex customer journeys and repetitive tasks, thereby improving your company’s efficiency.

We really liked Creatio Copilot, an AI assistant that provides helpful recommendations and generative content development. We were also impressed by their Studio platform, which makes it easy to build and manage custom applications without any coding skills.

With Creatio Studio, you can create and customize workflows, design user-friendly CRM interfaces, and integrate them with other software you use. Implement your own CRM system with Creatio Studio to ensure your marketing, sales, and customer service teams collaborate better at all stages of the sales process.


HoneyBook is an all-in-one business management platform primarily targeted at freelancers, small business owners, and the creative sector. The service manages everything from lead generation and client management to invoicing and payment processing. The AI-powered automation built into HoneyBook, like Creatio Studio, requires no coding knowledge, allowing users to create their own automations and customizations.

When we reviewed it, we loved the simplicity of the dashboard and the ability to quickly add the information and metrics most important to you. You can choose to display your calendar on the dashboard to stay up to date with upcoming tasks and meetings so that you stay organized and on top of your workload. Larger businesses may require more functionality, but for small businesses seeking a user-friendly and affordable solution, HoneyBook’s free trial is worth trying.


Repeat business is easier to find and more profitable than constantly searching for new customers to replace those that have churned. Selling again and again to the same customers has been the foundation of some of the world’s biggest businesses in the past two decades. If you want to build strong client relationships that go beyond winning the deal, Insightly is the CRM we would choose to manage the customer journey effectively and efficiently.

Customer knowledge is key to repeat business. We were impressed by how Insightly enriches customer records with social data, identifies relationships between contacts, and detects duplicates, ensuring you’re working from accurate data. You can stay in touch with your contacts by sending out between 2,500 and 10,000 marketing emails a day and track campaigns to work out which offers perform best. We loved the powerful automation on Insightly, key to create workflows that prevent follow-ups from being forgotten and keep sales teams and managers up to date with the progress of each deal.


We really liked this system when we first reviewed it and still do. This is a ‘what you see is what you get’ CRM, priced at $15 per user for all features, aimed squarely at microbusinesses with 10 or fewer employees.

Although workplace automation is limited, the platform excels in several areas, including contract management, pipeline management, reminder setting (to coworkers and customers), custom fields (to personalize your client database), and reporting and analytics. The drag-and-drop functionality is among the smartest and most intuitive we’ve seen on any CRM. You’ll pick up using the system in no time, and that’s one of the many reasons we rate Less Annoying CRM as the best for microbusinesses.

Costs of CRM Software

Small businesses have many CRM pricing options. There are free and inexpensive CRMs, which are best for small teams and microbusinesses. These platforms come with plug-in upgrades if extra functionality is needed. There are also heavy-duty CRM platforms that cost more and have a much greater number of features (both native and plug-in). These CRMs offer better flexibility and scalability.

When deciding on how much you’re going to spend on CRM software, try to strike the right balance between understanding your current business needs, anticipating future needs, and what your business can afford.

Most cloud-based services offer the option of monthly or annual billing, with the possibility of up to a 20 percent discount for paying for the year upfront. On-premises CRMs, where the system is hosted on your computer network, often charge a flat one-time per-user fee.

Complicating matters further are add-on products and services, storage upgrades, mandatory training and implementation fees, and automatic upgrades. One CRM software’s per-user price might be cheaper but when you plug in the add-ons you need to achieve the functionality you want, it may end up costing you more.

Satisfy yourself that you fully understand the pricing structure of any CRM product before you decide on one platform. Make sure you specifically ask about automatic upgrades, storage limits and user limits when inquiring.

Here’s our mini guide to give you a sense of the general price range of CRM software.

  • Inexpensive cloud CRM systems often have a free version for up to 10 or so team members. Usually, entry-level paid subscriptions begin at around $15 per user per month.
  • Midrange cloud CRM subscriptions tend to run from $20 to $40 per user per month. These systems generally meet most small business users’ needs. If ultralight solutions aren’t working for you, investigate this level.
  • Enterprise-level cloud CRM products are available for about $50 to $150 per user per month. These systems often offer higher levels of customization, more features and personalized customer support or training services.
  • High-end cloud CRM subscriptions can cost upward of $250 per user per month, but most SMBs will not need the wide range of features they offer.
  • Client-hosted CRM software can cost well over $900 per user per month. On-premises systems offer more control but also require a significant upfront investment, as well as technical knowledge and skill to maintain.
TipBottom line

Consider how many of your team members need access to the CRM. The fewer users you need to onboard, the less expensive and easier to implement the CRM will be.

Which CRM Features Do You Need?

CRMs run the gamut, with lightweight services intended for quick and easy customer relationships and lead management as well as powerhouse systems that offer integrated e-commerce solutions and advanced analytics.

While many small business owners worry that they’ll sign up for a product that won’t offer enough functionality later, these concerns are often overblown. Higher tiers of service and add-on features are nearly always available.

Also, while more CRM features and functionality may seem inherently better, too many options within a system can be overwhelming. An excess of features often extends the implementation process and makes the system more complicated and expensive.

If you already know what you’re looking for but want to narrow down your options, ask yourself and your team these questions:

  • Should we have workflows with built-in multilevel approvals?
  • Will we need to email clients directly from the CRM?
  • What sales tools do we need?
  • Do we want software we can use immediately after setup, or do we want to do lots of customization ourselves? If we do want to customize the system, how much API access do we want?
  • Who will be the primary software admins and what is their comfort level in that role?
  • How much are we willing to spend, either per user or on an annual basis?

In addition to your answers to those questions, list the integrations you need (including proprietary legacy software, if applicable) and ask the CRM company how you’d achieve such integrations with its software before you choose a product.

For example, in some CRM systems, integration with an outside solution is as simple as clicking a few boxes; in others, you must use a third-party tool (like Zapier) to click your way through the integration. Some even require hands-on coding to make integrations happen.

It’s important to understand which key functions a CRM should offer so you get the most out of the program. Here are some of the most important features.


You want to use a program that automatically executes actions based on data in the program. For example, when a customer fills out a form, your CRM should automatically send the message to the appropriate sales representative. After the message is received, the CRM should send a notification that the message was received or opened.

Workflow automation minimizes or eliminates much of the time-consuming, nonproductive work involved in data entry and sharing. It gives your staff more time to make sales and reduces the chance that a lead may be overlooked or lost in the system.

Zendesk automation

Some CRMs have drag and drop automation building tools while others use a step-by-step approach. Source: Zendesk

Reporting Tools

Reports help you understand how well your sales and marketing campaigns perform. Knowing how many leads or sales you get within a certain time frame and the point at which leads drop off can help with sales funnels. Knowing how many outbound calls each team member has made enables greater visibility on KPIs. You can spot training opportunities for reps whose conversion rates are lower.

An effective CRM system helps you to make more informed decisions about your marketing and your wider company in general.

Customer Data Management

Understanding your customers is a big part of your business’s success and customer data management features with CRM systems help you collate and interpret that information.

Well-organized, easily accessible data on current and potential customers can help you build better relationships, which will help you sell more and increase the lifetime value of a client.

HubSpot customization

To personalize your data further, you can add custom fields to your customer database. Source: HubSpot


Customizable CRMs allow you to pick the features you need to help your business run better. You can create workflows and automations specific to your business that help it run more efficiently.

They also allow you to arrange your dashboards and reports in a way that makes more sense to you. You can get your CRM to do more by adding on extensions and plugins that you can often find in your provider’s marketplace.


Third-party app integrations connect your CRM software directly to the other programs you use in your business.

This is also a great timesaver because it eliminates the need to switch between apps and manually input data you have on other apps.

Bottom Line:

Bottom LineBottom line

To determine the features you need in a CRM, list what you want to do with it. Make sure you know exactly how you would use each feature and determine its potential value to you before investing in it. If you can’t see a clear use case for a feature, don’t purchase it.

How to Choose a CRM

1. Set Your Budget.

CRM software costs range from free to hundreds of dollars per month for enterprise-level solutions. Know how much you’re prepared to spend before you begin researching your options. This saves time by eliminating CRMs that are too expensive, and also makes impulse purchases less likely.

2. Write a Feature List.

Review the basic CRM feature list above and determine which of them will support your sales and marketing campaigns and processes. Decide which tools are essential and which would be nice to have but are not mission critical.

3. Ask Around.

Prior to working for you, your colleagues may have had both good and bad experiences with certain CRMs. The same is true for your supplier and your customers if you sell business to business.

Canvass as many opinions as you can to determine which ones should make your shortlist.

4. Research the Market.

Visit business advice websites for an overview of popular CRMs, pricing and features.

Trade associations and membership organizations related to your industry are also great places to learn about solutions designed specifically for your type of business.

5. Check Out Reviews.

Read a variety of user reviews about each CRM you’re considering. Look for patterns in the comments to learn common pain points and standout features from people who use them every day.

6. Try Out Your Favorites.

Most popular CRM vendors offer free trials as a hands-on way to get to know their products. Try as many as you can to develop a good understanding of their capabilities and how they compare to one another. Make sure you ask the rep consulting with you at each provider the questions you need answers to.

TipBottom line

Free trials may highlight a CRM’s best features only. Try all of the tools you may need, not just the most prominent ones.

7. Make Your Selection.

Now you’ve done your due diligence, it’s time to make a final decision.

Before you commit, negotiate the price. Most CRM software for small businesses has set pricing based on features and the number of users, but it never hurts to ask.

You may wish to play suppliers off against each other on price and functionality to secure the best deal. If you’re thinking about switching to a new CRM platform, you could use these quotes to try to extract further discounts or additional functionality from your current provider.

Benefits of CRM Software

There are many benefits to using CRM software in your business but, perhaps, four stand out over all others.

First, the sales funnel data generated by CRM software helps you gain a better understanding of what your customers want. Over time, you get to know what keeps prospective new clients on the funnel long enough to make an inquiry or purchase.

Second, you get to see which team members are performing better than others. Without centralized information on prospecting and conversion rates, it’s difficult to see who’s not getting in touch with enough new people and who’s not closing enough of their prospects. CRM systems allow you to identify training opportunities in coworkers struggling and make sure the top sellers get the best leads.

Third, you get to see your customers over the life cycle of their time with you. You identify more clearly who your top customers are and can nudge them when you need to get revenues up. You can also track interactions with your company to identify churn patterns (i.e., when a customer stops purchasing from you).

Fourth, CRMs save time. They automate the repetitive, dull, unproductive-but-necessary tasks and improve communication between sales, marketing, customer service and all other teams.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software FAQs

CRM  software is a type of software that companies can use to manage their sales and marketing communications with current and potential customers. Common CRM features include lead management, customer data management, sales forecasting, social media monitoring, workflow automation, reporting and third-party integrations. The software is often customizable so businesses can modify it to meet their specific management needs.

Ideally, implementing a CRM shouldn’t be a protracted exercise. However, several factors may prolong the process.

The factors include how well your team adapts to the program, how much you want it to integrate with other programs you use, and how much data you need to transfer into the software. Depending on the system you choose and your desired configuration, implementation can take anywhere from six weeks to four months. Training can take up to a further two weeks.

Marketing automation allows users to schedule and manage marketing campaigns like email campaigns and outbound telemarketing campaigns.

A CRM platform is a centrally held and centrally managed database that contains information on your customers, such as the length of time they’ve been with you, their purchase records, phone conversations, and records of their email correspondence with your sales or customer service representatives.

Many CRM platforms now offer marketing automation options.

CRM software allows you to personalize the way you market to your clients. It also tracks communications with your clients and provides you with the tools to organize client interaction data efficiently.

Building customer connections is key to the growth of your business. CRM systems are specifically designed to help companies manage and develop those relationships.

A CRM helps sales and customer service teams understand their customers better by making easily visible previous conversations, orders and service tickets with them. Marketing teams can use subsets of this information to manage marketing campaigns and find sales opportunities.

In a CRM system, the information from customers includes phone numbers and addresses. Some systems record phone conversations, allow for discussion notes and track follow-up appointments. A CRM also provides marketing, sales and customer service information, like targeted marketing campaigns and customer insights.

When a lead is assigned to a sales team member, they should research the person or business to assess the likelihood of that lead placing an order, the time frame in which the order might be placed, and the order’s likely value.

Businesses require a constant stream of revenue, so your sales team should prioritize leads based on revenue acquisition. Sales reps may need to do further investigation, particularly with larger companies, to determine who makes the final decision on buying your product or service and who influences that person.

Your rep should try to schedule a meeting with the appropriate individual and discuss what your prospect is looking for to see if you can fill a need for them.

The CRM implementation process means getting your company and its staff to the point where the CRM is in daily use. This involves setting up the software to your preferred specifications and transferring existing data into it. You’ll also want to make sure the CRM integrates properly with any other programs it will interact with, such as your email marketing service, social media networks, online calendars, business phone system and customer success software.

The final stage of the implementation process is training your employees on how the CRM platform works. If your coworkers don’t understand how to use the software properly, you’ll never benefit from the full potential value it can deliver. Be patient with their training; changing culture and workflows within a settled team of staff can be as challenging as steering a container ship around a buoy.

When the software has been live for a few weeks, revisit how it is operating to make sure it meets all of your needs and your employees are comfortable with it. Then, address any trouble spots.

You may have thousands of customers. Likely, each customer will know they’re one of thousands you look after. Nonetheless, each customer likes to feel special and that their business means something to you.

This is the purpose of a CRM. It stores key data on every customer, such as every interaction they’ve had, their purchase history, as well as their complaints and how those were resolved. CRMs make this information immediately available to your sales and customer service reps. They can understand the nature of a customer’s relationship with your business without the customer having to explain everything from the beginning.

Another great use of CRMs is reminders. You can use CRMs to schedule future connections with customers. For example, if you tell a contact you are going to call them in three weeks, instead of just adding it to your calendar, you can have your CRM send you reminders or set tasks so you can reach out to them when promised.

There are five kinds of CRM software. Here are the key points that separate each type.

  • Operational CRMs help you market to your audience based on the data you collect from the software.
  • Analytical CRMs provide business foresight through customer data.
  • Collaborative CRMs allow you to share customer information interdepartmentally (e.g., between your customer service department and your sales team) based on customer interactions.
  • Campaign management CRMs are often described as both analytical and operational systems. These solutions are ideal for assisting with sales and marketing campaigns based on collected client data.
  • Strategic CRMs integrate with other apps, such as Mailchimp, to run marketing campaigns. These systems use collected customer data to inform business decisions about how to execute marketing campaigns.

No, Google Analytics is not a CRM; it is a web analytics tool that helps businesses assess the effectiveness of their marketing efforts and understand their customers’ behavior. It provides data associated with consumers’ online activity and interaction with your brand, product or service. A CRM can use the information gathered from Google Analytics, though, to assist your company’s marketing efforts.

What to Expect in 2024

Perhaps the biggest breakthrough in computing since the dawn of the internet has been the emergence of AI. It’s been slowly developing for some years but it burst into the national consciousness with the launch of ChatGPT. Since then, a more advanced model has been released and OpenAI is actively working with developers to integrate the technology into their apps.

We’ve seen this reflected in CRMs. As you can read in our reviews of Salesforce, Freshsales, Zoho, Zendesk and Pipedrive CRM platforms (linked above), they have already deployed AI in their platforms to take care of tasks like forecasting sales and workflow automation. Closely allied to that is the rise of the no-code and low-code movements. The Zapier plug-in to GPT4 already makes it easy to connect apps that have no native integrations to each other without the need to code. Given the rate of development, we would not be surprised to see drag-and-drop interfaces on all CRMs and third-party apps that allow integration without the need for a developer.

Integrating AI into business operations has transformed how companies interact with their customers, enabling them to deliver tailor-made experiences effortlessly. By leveraging AI to analyze user behaviors, preferences and search histories within CRM systems, businesses gain valuable data-driven insights that are instrumental in crafting more tailored content strategies specifically designed for their target audience, significantly improving customer engagement. We expect the use of AI in CRM systems to increase in 2024.

In addition to AI, omnichannel communication is big too. You can see just how pervasive it’s becoming by reading some of the reviews of the best call center platforms — we’re starting to see the ability to converse with customers by phone, email, social media direct messages, WhatsApp and more built directly into CRMs. This is a sensible trend because customers now expect to be able to communicate with the brands they shop with on whatever channel they want.

In 2024, the focus will be on self-service CRMs to improve the customer experience. A Salesforce report found that 65 percent of customers prefer self-service to resolve simple matters. You can see how Zoho and Zendesk are doing this in our reviews of them (linked above).

According to Technavio, the CRM market was valued at $57.83 billion in 2021 and has a projected growth of $59,426.56 million from 2022 to 2027. Experts believe the growth momentum will progress, and North America will account for 52 percent of the market’s growth from 2022 to 2027.

Mark Fairlie
Written By: Mark FairlieSenior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership
Mark Fairlie brings decades of expertise in telecommunications and telemarketing to the forefront as the former business owner of a direct marketing company. Also well-versed in a variety of other B2B topics, such as taxation, investments and cybersecurity, he now advises fellow entrepreneurs on the best business practices. With a background in advertising and sales, Fairlie made his mark as the former co-owner of Meridian Delta, which saw a successful transition of ownership in 2015. Through this journey, Fairlie gained invaluable hands-on experience in everything from founding a business to expanding and selling it. Since then, Fairlie has embarked on new ventures, launching a second marketing company and establishing a thriving sole proprietorship.
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