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Best CRM Software

by Mona BushnellLast Modified: May 22, 2018

Intro
Best Picks
State of the Industry
Pricing
Features
Negotiation Tips
Reviews
Methodology
Common CRM Software Questions & Answers
Map
Services
Compare Quotes

Best CRM Services & Software For 2018

Customer relationship management software is increasingly being adopted by small businesses. In its simplest incarnation, CRM solutions help sales teams manage leads, log communication, and build campaigns, but many high-priced systems go far beyond the scope of typical CRM tasks. In our quest to find the best CRM software available, we tested full-featured solutions and lightweight cloud products side-by-side.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these types of customer relationship management software. As with any business software, the more features and functionality a product has the more in depth the implementation process is. Additionally, highly customizable systems often require more knowledge to set up than out of the box solutions, which are designed specifically for small, less tech intensive, teams. At the same time, while lightweight systems are easier and cheaper to implement, businesses that are expanding quickly may outgrow such systems quickly.

To identify the best customer relationship management solutions, we created a replicable ranking system based on product features, usability, scope, implementation process, UI, integrations, level of technical skill necessary, customer service and user opinion. We then created a diverse set of use cases to highlight top performers in our CRM software reviews.

Using our replicable testing method, we identified the best CRM solutions for small business users and reviewed dozens of other reliable CRM products.

Best Picks

Overall
Small Business
Very Small Business
Developers
Salesforce

Best Overall CRM

Salesforce

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

Zoho CRM

Best CRM for SMB

Zoho CRM

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

HubSpot CRM

Best CRM for Very Small Business

HubSpot CRM

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

SugarCRM

Best CRM for Developers

SugarCRM

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

State of the Industry

In the last two decades it's become harder to answer the question "what is CRM software?" It's grown from a glorified digital contacts repository to a powerful tool that businesses of all sizes can use to manage goals and tasks interdepartmentally. By aligning sales, marketing and inventory assets, CRM makes it easier for businesses to grow strategically and sustainably.

The proliferation of user-friendly CRM platforms and cloud-based CRMs has exploded the adoption of CRM across many industries and led to increased innovation among competing software companies. Today, the landscape is dominated by feature-rich, easy-to-use CRMs that offer scheduling features, streamline the email marketing process and offer visual data reporting. For small business users, the emphasis of choosing a CRM often comes down to ease of implementation, and companies have picked up on that. Delivering easy-to-use systems that are built for businesses without extensive in-house tech expertise has become the holy grail of all SaaS providers, including those that specialize in CRM products.

Increased demand for such solutions has led to growth industrywide. IBM reported in its corporate blog that, as of 2017, CRM was a $36 billion industry, with Adobe (27 percent), Salesforce (21 percent) and Microsoft (20 percent) leading the market share, and that 87 percent of all CRM systems market-wide live in the cloud. The trend of moving from natively hosted software to cloud systems is evidence of the changing tide in business software, away from strictly enterprise-level systems and towards customizable solutions that businesses of all sizes can use.

Pricing

For small businesses, there is an extensive world of CRM pricing options to explore. There are free and inexpensive lightweight CRM systems, which are best for small teams and microbusinesses, and often offer upgrades as needed. There are also heavy-duty CRM platforms that are priced higher and offer more functionality, flexibility and scalability.

The amount you spend on a CRM system should be a balancing act between your current needs, your potential future needs and what you can afford. Most cloud-based services list the price per user per month but bill annually, while most native software products have a flat one-time, per-user fee. Some software companies further complicate pricing by offering add-on products and services, storage upgrades, mandatory training and implementation fees, automatic upgrades and more. Make sure you fully understand the pricing structure of any CRM product prior to making your decision and specifically ask about automatic upgrades, storage limits and user limits.

To get a sense of the general price range of CRM software, here's our mini guide:

  • Inexpensive cloud CRM systems often have a free version that's approved for up to 10 or so team members. Usually, entry-level paid subscriptions begin at around $10 to $15 a month per active user.
  • Midrange cloud CRM subscriptions tend to run from $20 to $40 per month per user. Most small business users will be able to have their needs met by midrange systems. If ultralightweight solutions aren't working for you, step up to this level.
  • Enterprise-level cloud CRM products are available for about $50 to $75 per user each month. These types of systems often offer higher levels of customization, more features and personalized customer service or training services.
  • High-end cloud CRM subscriptions can run upward of $250 per user each month, but such services are not necessary for most SMBs.
  • Client-hosted software CRM systems can run well over $900 per user. These systems should only be adopted by organizations that have comprehensive reasoning behind requiring a client hosted system.

When considering pricing, it's good to consider how many members of your team will need to access the CRM. As with most business software and cloud services, the fewer users you need to onboard, the less expensive your service will be, and the easier it will be to make a lighter CRM work for you.

Which CRM Features Do You Need?

Like all SaaS products, CRM solutions run the gamut from lightweight services intended for quick and easy customer relationship and lead management, to powerhouse systems with integrated e-commerce solutions and advanced analytics.

While many small business owners worry that they'll sign up for a product that doesn't offer enough functionality down the road, these concerns are often overblown. Tiers of service and add-on features are nearly always available, and while more features and functionality may seem inherently better, too many options within a system can be overwhelming, make the implementation process longer and more complicated, and cost more than necessary.

The best way to determine the features you require in a CRM is to list out what you want to be able to do with it. Technology should never be adopted simply because it's current or common; it should be adopted because it solves a specific problem. If you cannot outline in a detailed way what you want to do with your future CRM system, and why you want to adopt one in the first place, you may not be ready to implement it. If you already know what you're looking for and why you need it, but you want to further narrow your options, begin by asking yourself (and your team) these questions:

  • Should we have workflows with multi-level approvals built-in?
  • Will we need to email clients directly from the CRM? What sales CRM tools do we need?
  • Do we want something that can be used out of the box or do we want to do lots of customizations ourselves? If we do want to customize our own system, how much API access do we want?
  • Who will the primary software admins be and what level of comfort do they have in that role?
  • How much are we willing to spend either per-user or on an annual basis?

Whatever your needs are, list them out in addition to the answers to these questions. Make sure you also list any integrations you need (including proprietary legacy software, if applicable), and inquire about how such integrations are achieved prior to choosing a product. In some CRM systems, integrating 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, and in others still require hands on coding to make integrations happen.

By outlining your needs ahead of time, you stand a much better chance of getting a product that does what you need without overpaying for features you'll never use. It's also good to keep in mind that you can always upgrade – a company is never going to refuse to sell you more features in the future, so start addressing your most pressing needs first, and go from there. Keep in mind that when you're not a customer yet, nearly everyone you talk to is a sales rep, so treat their advice accordingly.

Negotiation Tips

The more you know about the type of CRM product you need, and what is available for users like you, the easier it will be to find the right deal.

Most CRM software for small businesses offers structured pricing based on features and number of users, but getting multiple price quotes and asking for discounts is always worth a try if you're a smaller business. For larger businesses or those with a popular public image, it may be possible to negotiate for freebie features, additional customer support or add-ons in exchange for displaying the CRM in question on the "products we use" section of the business's website. In general, though, subscription fees are what they are.

If you're deciding between two levels of subscription services provided by a single CRM company, it may be worthwhile to inquire about creating your own custom plan, but again, customer relationship software providers may be more willing to do this for large and/or high-profile clients.

Reviews

Our Methodology

Once we assessed the most desirable features CRMs offer small business owners, we compiled a list of more than 30 established CRM software companies. During the first elimination round we compared factors like pricing, CRM software tools, small business focus, customer service, customer satisfaction and more, to establish the strongest 10 contenders from the initial list.

Next, we vetted our top 10 CRM companies against each other to select the ultimate winners. We created a numeric score based on features available (assessing nine different categories of features in all), and also noted qualitative differences in areas like training and implementation resources, ease of use, speed of setup, design, cost of additional features, integrations available and the ease of those integrations, tiers of service available, level of technical skills required for high level use, standout features and more.

Common CRM Software Questions & Answers

Have a CRM software question of your own?

CRM software is sales-focused, while marketing automation software is marketing-focused. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems measure and analyze customer data throughout the customer lifecycle. The goal is to improve the business relationships with your customers. - Think analytics, upsells, service levels and support. All activities of a CRM are based around keeping customers longer and happier. There are larger software systems, usually with an emphasis of keeping all of the...

Read More ▼

You might ask yourself the real purpose for a CRM. There are plenty of data bases to store information, you could have avoided the Excel issue with auto backups and duplication... the real value in a CRM is to track and propel the selling process. Set times to call back, or to prospect, separate prospects and clients, track significant facts or personal data about clients but more so to track the progress in your selling process. Maybe the question really isn't if your business is too small for...

Read More ▼

Hi Kristy, There are a number of great CRMs out there. The selection depends on how fast you are planning to grow your business, what channels are you planning to use, the number of transactions that you handle and your budget, of course. The best way to go is to choose a scalable solution, which will save you a ton of time down the road. I would go with Insightly or Pipedrive - for their simplicity and affordability, yet they both feature enough tools to cover your needs. If you need a...

Read More ▼

Hi Bill, There are the pros and cons of a lot of CRM systems. What I look at is cost and return. If you are looking for a free type solution or a lower cost solution for smaller businesses you have to think in simple functionality 1) Does it track the lead 2) Is there a sales process you can setup 3) reporting 4) Mobile accessible 5) Support From there use it and build the business. This way as your business grows you move towards a better solution going from...

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In my career I have used Salesforce, Act, Commence and Maximizer for extended periods of time. When working with teams Salesforce has been my favorite as it allows for easy customization and deployment. As System Administrator for a Salesforce installation I created twelve Dashboards, 385 custom reports, the development of contract data in Salesforce and a general reconciliation of customer data with multiple silos of information. It was easy. I also took advantage of Salesforce's AppExchange...

Read More ▼

The sooner the better. There are relatively inexpensive ones that can still be powerful (I know of one that is $20 per month). I started with relatively low-priced one, and then when I needed more functionality than the one I had, I migrated to another one. There are usually easy processes for integrating your existing database onto a new system electronically. With a CRM or not, you must always have a consistent process for staying in touch with your prospects (sometimes called a 'drip...

Read More ▼

Map

Zoho CRM
3910 S IH 35
Pleasanton, CA
Zoho CRM
Netsuite
2955 Campus Drive
San Mateo, CA
Netsuite
SugarCRM
10050 N Wolfe Road
Cupertino, CA
SugarCRM
Act
621 17thStreet
Denver, CO
Act
NetSuite
2955 Campus Drive
San Mateo, CA
NetSuite
Marketing360
3420 E. Harmony R
Fort Collins, CO
Marketing360
Mhelp Desk
3040 Williams Drive
Fairfax, VA
Mhelp Desk
MotherNode
8445 Freeport Parkway
Irving, TX
MotherNode
LiveAgent
3616 Kirkwood Highway
Wilmington, DE
LiveAgent
MangoApps
1495 11th Ave NW
Issaquah, WA
MangoApps
HubSpot CRM
25 First St.
Cambridge, MA
HubSpot CRM
Less Annoying CRM
1017 Olive St.
St. Louis, MO
Less Annoying CRM
Insightly
680 Folsom St
San Francisco, CA
Insightly
Pipedrive
460 Park Ave South
New York, NY
Pipedrive
Provide Support
65 Broadway
New York, NY
Provide Support
PlanPlus Online
3216 Highland Drive
Salt Lake City, UT
PlanPlus Online
Pipeliner CRM
15243 La Cruz Dr
Pacific Palisades, CA
Pipeliner CRM
PropertyBase
2560 28th Street
Boulder, CO
PropertyBase
ProsperWorks
301 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA
ProsperWorks
ReachEdge
21700 Oxnard Street
Oxnard, CA
ReachEdge
Agile CRM
12300 Ford Road
Dallas, TX
Agile CRM
SalesNexus
5535 Memorial Drive
Houston, TX
SalesNexus
KarmaCRM
2698 Marion Street
Denver, CO
KarmaCRM
LeadLife
7000 Central Parkway
Atlanta, GA
LeadLife
Kapture
10810, Katy Freeway
Houston, TX
Kapture
Ivinex
533 W 2600 S
Bountiful, UT
Ivinex
Deskera CRM Software
300 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA
Deskera CRM Software
Cosential Software
610 W 5th St
Austin, TX
Cosential Software
CRMnext Software
3 Hamilton Landing
Novato, CA
CRMnext Software
CorkCRM Software
564 Market Street
San Francisco, CA
CorkCRM Software
E Power Center
4400 Easton Commons
Columbus, OH
E Power Center
eSalesTrack
7400 West 132nd Street
Overland Park, KS
eSalesTrack
Oracle CRM On DemandRedwood City, CA
Oracle CRM On Demand
Pipeline Deals
1008 Western Ave
Seattle, WA
Pipeline Deals
Orange CRM
157 Harris Street
Griffin, GA
Orange CRM
Nutshell
212 South Fifth Ave
Ann Arbor, MI
Nutshell
Nimble
2043 Colorado Ave
Santa Monica, CA
Nimble
Pega
One Rogers Street
Cambridge, MA
Pega
SetShape
9070 Irvine Center Dr.
Irvine, CA
SetShape
Act! Premium Software
621 17th Street
Denver, CO
Act! Premium Software
360Alumni Software
85 Ethan Allen Highway
Ridgefield, CT
360Alumni Software
AgentCubed Software
7950 N. Horseshoe Bend Rd.
Boise, ID
AgentCubed Software
Accelo Software
530 Howard St
San Francisco, CA
Accelo Software
amoCRM Software
292 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA
amoCRM Software
Aavaz Software
1510 Colin Street
San Pablo, CA
Aavaz Software
Velaro Live Chat Software
8 Market Place
Baltimore, MD
Velaro Live Chat Software
VanillaSoft Pro Software
5600 Tennyson Parkway
Plano, TX
VanillaSoft Pro Software
vCita LiveSite Software
10777 Main st.
Bellevue, WA
vCita LiveSite Software
Vizor Complete Software
541 10th Street
Atlanta, GA
Vizor Complete Software
TrackMyLeads Software
3391 Peachtree Rd NE
Atlanta, GA
TrackMyLeads Software
Velocify Software
222 N Sepulveda Blvd
El Segundo, CA
Velocify Software
Vantage Integrated Production (VIP) Software
10 Route 35 Red Bank
New Jersey, NJ
Vantage Integrated Production (VIP) Software
WalkMe Software Reviews & Pricing - 2017
525 Market St
San Francisco, CA
WalkMe Software Reviews & Pricing - 2017
Vertafore Pipeline Manager Software
999 18th Street
Denver, CO
Vertafore Pipeline Manager Software
Vivantio Pro Software
31 St James Ave
Boston, MA
Vivantio Pro Software
Web+Center Software
13851 Fremont Pines Lane
Los Altos Hills, CA
Web+Center Software
X2Engine Software
877 Cedar Street
Santa Cruz, CA
X2Engine Software
w3bCRM Software
170S Green Valley
Henderson, NV
w3bCRM Software
Salesforce
The Landmark at One Market
San Francisco, CA
Salesforce
Maximizer CRM
260-60 Smithe Street
Vancouver, BC
Maximizer CRM
TeamWox
2502 V Center No. 49 Xinghuabel Street
Tiexi District,
TeamWox
SalesAchiever
1635 Foxtrail Drive
Loveland, CO
SalesAchiever
Reflect CRM
6120 Greenwood Plaza Blvd
Greenwood Village, CO
Reflect CRM
ResultsCRM
9171 Towne Centre Dr
San Diego, CA
ResultsCRM
Reply CRM
691N Squirrel rd
Auburn Hills, MI
Reply CRM
SalesBoomSan Francisco, CA
SalesBoom
Realtiva
6250 Jeffrelyn Dr
Hillard, OH
Realtiva
Refindly
9240 Bonita Beach Blvd
Bonita Springs, FL
Refindly
SAP - CRM Software
4001 West Chester Pike
Newtown Square, PA
SAP - CRM Software
SalesOutlookAtlanta, GA
SalesOutlook
Sharpspring
550 SW 2nd Ave
Gainesville, FL
Sharpspring
Saleslogix
23161 Mill Creek Drive
Laguna Hills, CA
Saleslogix
SalesExec
5425 E. Bell Road
Scottsdale, AZ
SalesExec
SecondCRM
1014 Perazzo Cir.
Folsom, CA
SecondCRM
SalesNet
6340 Sugarloaf Parkway
Duluth, GA
SalesNet
Zurmo Software
1101 Brickell Ave.
Miami, FL
Zurmo Software
TrackerRMS CRM Software
171 Saxony Road
Encinitas, CA
TrackerRMS CRM Software
Soffront Software Inc
6431 W Sahara Ave
Las Vegas, NV
Soffront Software Inc
Sprinx Systems
410 Park Avenue
New York, NY
Sprinx Systems
SmartTouch
4833 Spicewood Springs
Austin, TX
SmartTouch
Snapforce
1 International Blvd
Mahwah, NJ
Snapforce
Socious
1201 S. Alma School Road
Mesa, AZ
Socious
Auric Prospector Software
2605 Thomas Ave
Dallas, TX
Auric Prospector Software
Prophet CRM Software
13536-13898 SE 36th St
Bellevue, CA
Prophet CRM Software
Apptivo Software
983 Corporate Way
Fremont, CA
Apptivo Software
assyst Software
2214 Rock Hill Rd
Herndon, VA
assyst Software
Base Software
118 2nd St
San Francisco, CA
Base Software
xRE
7616 Lyndon B Johnson Freeway
Dallas, TX
xRE
BNTouch Mortgage CRM Software
4130 SW 117th Ave
Beaverton, OR
BNTouch Mortgage CRM Software
Bullhorn CRM Software
100 Summer Street
Boston, MA
Bullhorn CRM Software
CallPro CRM Software
4500 140th Ave N
Clearwater, FL
CallPro CRM Software
BlueFolder Software
7222 Commerce Center Driv
Colorado Springs, CO
BlueFolder Software
Batchbook Software
171 Chestnut St
Providence, RI
Batchbook Software
BoomTown Software
4701 Doyle St
Emeryville, CA
BoomTown Software
bpm'online CRM
280 Summer St.
Boston, MA
bpm'online CRM
FollowUp Power Software
1600 NE 12th Terrace
Fort Lauderdale, FL
FollowUp Power Software
Commence CRM Software
2 Industrial Way West
Eatontown, NJ
Commence CRM Software
ConvergeHub Software
11501 Dublin Blvd
Dublin, CA
ConvergeHub Software
OnContact
N80 W 12878 W Fond Du Lac Ave
Menomonee Falls, WI
OnContact
Daylite
30 Centurian Drive
Markham,
Daylite
Infusionsoft
1260 South Spectrum Boulevard
Chandler, AZ
Infusionsoft
Workbooks
Suttons Park Avenue
Reading,
Workbooks
Infor Ephiphany
641 Avenue of the Americas
New York City, NY
Infor Ephiphany
FreshSales
1250 Bayhill Drive
San Bruno, CA
FreshSales
Green Rope
249 South Highway 101
Solana Beach, CA
Green Rope
Hatchbuck
911 Washington Ave
St Louis, MO
Hatchbuck
Genoo
1405 N. Lilac Dr.
Minneapolis, MN
Genoo
Gigya
2513 East Charleston Road
Mountain View, CA
Gigya
Outfield
1336 Brittmoore Rd
Houston, TX
Outfield

Services

List of 117Best CRM Software

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