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The Best CRM Software of 2021

By
Lisa McGreevy
,
business.com Contributing Writer
| Updated
May 25, 2021

This buying guide includes our best picks for CRM software and tips for purchasing the right CRM solution for your small business.
Best for Project Management
Timeline planner
Multiple data views
Real-time workload tracking
Best for Collaboration
Cloud document storage
Email tracking
Smart list templates
Best Integrated Calling Features
Built-in phone system
Toll-free and vanity numbers
Call routing
Best for Growing Businesses
Intuitive interface
Lead scoring
Training resource library
Best Ease of Use
Sales automation
Client access portals
Email builder
This buying guide includes our best picks for CRM software and tips for purchasing the right CRM solution for your small business.

Customer relationship management (CRM) solutions help sales teams manage leads, log communications and build campaigns. While such systems were once used exclusively by enterprises with thousands of dollars to spend on software products, the proliferation of affordable SaaS systems has opened the CRM world to small and midsize businesses. Low-cost CRMs lack some of the features more expensive solutions offer, but they are typically easy to implement and manage.

 

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How We Decided
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Compare Our Best Picks

  Salesforce Freshworks Keap monday.com Zoho CRM Oracle NetSuite Quickbase Zendesk Sell HubSpot Sage CRM SugarCRM Insightly
Starting price $25/user/mo $29/user/mo $79/mo $8/user/mo $14/user/mo Call for quote Call for quote $19/user/mo $45/mo  Call for quote $80/user/mo $29/user/mo
Free trial 14 days 21 days 14 days 14 days 15 days 14 days 30 days 14 days Call for demo Call for demo 7 days  Free plan
Email features Bulk email, templates, tracking Scheduling, templates, analytics Segmentation, templates, reporting Third-party integrations Bulk email, templates, insights Automation, target lists, personalization Third-party integrations Bulk email, tracking, templates Scheduling, templates, tracking Third-party integrations Automation, notifications Bulk email, scheduling, templates
Cloud document storage 10GB 20GB 10MB 1,000GB 5GB None Additional fee 25GB/user 5,000 documents Call for details 250GB Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, and Box integrations

Our Reviews

monday.com: Best CRM Software for Project Management

monday.com offers a thorough set of tools to help teams manage post-sale activities.
The platform complements Agile and Waterfall environments alike.
Project dashboards are limited with the entry-level plan.

Sales strategies require a road map to ensure everything stays on track and runs according to schedule. monday.com has many project management features to keep sales professionals and teams on the same page, so nothing is missed. The company offers dozens of ready-made templates in a range of categories, including sales, marketing and office operations, so you can follow through on your strategy with minimal delays and disruptions.

There's no need to give up the processes you already have in place, because monday.com integrates with several popular business apps, including Slack, Google Calendar and Microsoft Teams. To help give teams complete visibility into a project, monday.com offers several ways to display and analyze data, such as Gantt charts and Kanban boards. A real-time workload tracker helps you manage and allocate resources to help you meet deadlines and milestones.

Projects often generate many files, and monday.com's document repository stores everything in one place, which is accessible from anywhere. monday.com offers a comprehensive set of CRM features that help companies stay on top of customer commitments even after the sale is closed.

Read monday.com Review

Zendesk: Best CRM Software for Collaboration

Zendesk is best for businesses with busy customer support teams.
Its collaboration tools keep teams up to date on the latest changes no matter where they're located.
The user interface isn't as intuitive as other CRMs.

Sales teams that collaborate with other teams and departments should consider Zendesk Sell. Its basic service plan includes a document repository, reporting and a customizable sales pipeline – Zendesk Sell is a good choice for small teams or startups. Plan upgrades, such as advanced call analytics, sales forecasting tools, call logs and scripts, and additional cloud storage space, offer incrementally more functionality.

However, Zendesk Sell's standout collaboration features help keep teams across the company on track and on target. Leads are segmented and filtered into smart lists to support your sales efforts, while marketing teams use email templates and email tracking tools to engage new and existing customers. Zendesk Sell integrates with Zendesk Support to ensure all customer service touch points are logged.

Zendesk Sell's collaboration tools are designed to enhance productivity and improve cross-team workflows and communication. Its tools and features are designed to work together seamlessly, no matter which service plan a company chooses.

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Freshworks CRM: Best CRM Software with Integrated Calling Features

Freshworks has an in-app dialer and phone system, which can lower your business's equipment costs.
Data migration is accomplished in one click.
The upper-level service plans are pricey.

Freshworks CRM makes it easy for businesses of all sizes to attract, manage, close and nurture leads. It offers an intuitive user interface, expansive feature set, AI-based lead scoring, visual deal pipelines, intelligent workflow automation, and customizable visual reports and dashboards. Freshworks CRM is designed to help businesses manage their sales without having to juggle multiple platforms.

What differentiates Freshworks from other CRMs is its built-in phone system. Sales professionals can initiate a call with a single click while simultaneously reviewing customer notes and logs displayed in an onscreen widget without leaving the application. Integrated features like automatic call recording and logging provide additional context around customer interactions, and custom greetings and voicemail messages add a personal touch to inbound calls. The phone system includes standard features like call transfer, call masking and Caller ID for easy call management.

Additional tools include email sync and tracking, real-time chat and integration with WhatsApp Business. Freshworks' communication features complement other productivity features, like automated workflows and automatic lead routing. Freshworks CRM ports existing phone numbers, but users can purchase mobile and vanity numbers if they wish.

Read Freshworks CRM Review

Salesforce CRM: Best CRM Software for Growing Businesses

Salesforce has multiple options and features to accommodate businesses of all sizes.
Salesforce is a good option for heavily regulated businesses, such as those in the healthcare and finance industries.
Plan upgrades come with an increasingly complex set of features.

When you're expanding your business to keep up with customer demand, Salesforce's all-in-one, cloud-based CRM is worth considering. All service plans include guided onboarding, as well as email, chat, and phone support to help users get the most out of Salesforce. The solution includes key features like lead generation, contact and opportunity management, sales forecasting, and workflow automation.

Salesforce also offers lead management features, such as web-to-lead capture, lead routing and lead assignment, to prevent potential sales from falling off the radar. Customizable reports and dashboards keep the information sales teams need front and center.

All Salesforce customers can use its loyalty management platform software, regardless of service plan. Designed for both B2B and B2C businesses, the tools allow you to create loyalty tiers and time-based promotions for your customers.

While small businesses can take advantage of the lower-priced tiers, the plans and features of the Salesforce system are suited for larger businesses.

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Keap CRM: Best CRM Software for Ease of Use

Keap is a great solution for businesses that need a no-frills CRM.
It offers several features that help align sales and marketing teams.
Keap charges a $500 fee for onboarding services for all of its service plans.

Keap is a comprehensive, easy-to-use solution for businesses that want a CRM that works with minimal setup. Keap offers 60-minute webinars for new customers who want to learn more about its features, like lead capture and automation, and Keap has an extensive self-service knowledgebase. There's also a user community, where you can troubleshoot issues, as well as access to 24/7 chat support with Keap's service team.

Customers can use the software as is or tap into customizable features for dashboards and landing pages. Custom phone numbers, dates and text fields allow users to make changes to capture the data they need most. Keap also features built-in sales and marketing automation tools to streamline digital processes further. Create triggers using simple commands, or use the software's templates that include an editable email message to simplify many of your team's processes and communications.

Use Keap to create customer invoices, process single or recurring payments, and link transaction details with individual customers or organizations. Revenue and payment analytics provide insight on cash flow and track weekly and monthly activity to monitor overall growth. Additional CRM reports track daily, weekly and monthly sales for easy performance comparisons over time.

Read Keap CRM Review

Pipedrive CRM: Best CRM Software With a Visual Sales Pipeline

The visual pipelines are well designed and thoughtfully laid out.
Pipedrive is easy to set up in a few minutes.
Team-management tools aren't available with the entry-level plan.

Pipedrive's visual sales pipeline provides an overview of deals and stages at a glance, making it easy to see where you should focus your attention. The pipeline is fully customizable, so there's no need to rework your sales process. You can also easily update it on the fly as your needs change. You can create pipelines for individual agents or teams, and use Pipedrive's powerful filters to organize data by rep, deal stage, and more. 

Easy-to-use rule-based triggers automate workflows and free your sales teams from repetitive tasks that might otherwise get overlooked by busy agents. Pipedrive's artificial intelligence (AI)-powered sales assistant will make recommendations for your workflows based on past performance. The sales assistant generates reports and progress updates so managers can gauge the success of current sales strategies.

All of Pipedrive's service plans support unlimited contacts and their associated deals, activities, and communication histories. By linking email addresses to both deals and individual contacts, teams can send customized emails to the right customers at the right time and track open and click-through rates in near real time. You can store emails that your sales team uses often with Pipedrive's integration with Google Drive and OneDrive, or you can quickly create new ones with built-in email templates.

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Oracle NetSuite CRM: Best CRM Software for E-commerce

Oracle NetSuite supports online and on-site customer experiences equally.
Automated billing calculations reduce the potential for errors.
Oracle NetSuite may be too complex for very small businesses.
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Oracle NetSuite is a top-notch solution for commerce companies needing a way to track their customers' buying journey, including post-sale support activities.

Oracle NetSuite's campaign management tools track and analyze your marketing efforts based on purchase trends, demographics, response patterns and other data points. You can also deliver targeted messages using email and direct mail templates, manage additional activities (e.g., events and phone-based outreach in a single platform), and track all team efforts in real time.

You can build custom reports to measure personalized key performance indicators, assess marketing benchmarks like website visitors, as well as use standard reports to monitor customer service efforts such as case trends, call volume, and overall customer satisfaction.

Read Oracle NetSuite CRM Review

Zoho CRM: Best CRM Software for Remote and Mobile Workers

Zoho CRM offers plans to suit nearly every budget.
This solution supports growing businesses without charging hefty costs if you upgrade your plan.
The free plan lacks many features that are considered to be core features in CRMs.

Many businesses have pivoted to remote sales teams to meet changing markets and bolster new sales strategies. Sales agents who work in the field need reliable smartphone access to a CRM that closely mirrors the desktop CRM experience. Zoho CRM's mobile app includes access to sales analytics dashboards, scheduled tasks, customer notes and files, and collaboration tools to keep in touch with colleagues. New and modified data syncs across both platforms, so information is always up to date, no matter where it's viewed.

Zoho CRM offers users lots of functionality at a competitive price point – it is easy to implement, intuitive to use and inexpensive to adopt. While the customization options aren't as extensive as those of other CRMs, there are still many ways to tailor Zoho to meet your needs. Zoho also offers a bevy of click-to-install extensions through the Zoho Marketplace. The easy adoption process makes it possible for businesses to build a custom CRM solution without needing a developer. Zoho CRM is a comprehensive solution that's ideal for nearly every small business. It has a decent price point and provides good support to customers.

Read Zoho CRM Review

HubSpot CRM: Best CRM Software for Reporting and Metrics

HubSpot's free plan is a good choice for businesses that haven't used CRMs.
A variety of free templates and sales tools are available to all users.
Upgrading to a paid service plan is expensive.

HubSpot offers independent contractors and owners of tiny businesses easy entry into a CRM solution. Further, it offers users a wealth of training resources in its online library, including learning guides, invoice template generators, email signature generators and marketing plan template generators.

One of HubSpot's standout features is its reporting tools that offer a deep dive into your pipeline and sales performance. Analyze revenue forecasts by deal stage, observe productivity by team or individual rep, and assess current deals in the pipeline with multiple views of the sales funnel. Sales forecast reports evaluate how likely it is that your monthly or quarterly sales goals will be met.

Pipeline-management and deal-tracking tools keep everyone on the same page to avoid duplication of efforts or, worse, no action at all. Automatic profile enrichment adds publicly available data to contact records to give agents additional customer information. Live chat functionality, email templates, click-to-call in-app dialing and a meeting scheduler help sales agents engage with leads and customers in their preferred channel.

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Quickbase: Best CRM Software for Cross-Platform Integration

Companies can create custom CRM integrations with Quickbase.
Quickbase can be adapted to nearly any sales environment.
Quickbase requires a level of technical expertise that is not found in other CRMs.

Businesses that struggle to find a CRM that fits their sales team's unique needs should consider a tailored solution like Quickbase. The cloud-based platform enables businesses to build a CRM to suit their company's exact specifications. Quickbase's low-code platform supports updates or upgrades as needed at a reduced cost, and with little or no downtime.

Quickbase's adaptability doesn't come at the expense of security. Tools allow you to define user roles and set permissions to guard access to sensitive CRM data while optional single sign-on, IP filtering, and two-step authentication settings take security a step further. Advanced data encryption can help businesses comply with regulatory standards; Quickbase is well suited for companies that operate in the legal or healthcare industries.

Quickbase can give sales teams the tools they need without system bloat from features they don't want. Use prebuilt integrations with popular business apps or create API-based custom extensions to equip Quickbase with features like workflows, drag-and-drop dashboards and custom reports.

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Sage CRM: Best CRM Software for Customer Support

Sage CRM pairs sales and service tools in its platform, which can reduce your company's overall software costs.
The improved insight Sage offers on both sales and service interactions can help teams avoid redundancies.
Sage doesn't list pricing information on its website.

Customers and clients expect reliable support when issues arise. Sage CRM is the best solution to tie service activities into a CRM platform. Agents can view the status of orders in real time, review a customer's credit status and payment history, and access past service call notes.

A web-based self-service portal adds a layer of exceptional support by allowing customers to quickly research answers to their questions, freeing your reps to focus on cases that need more assistance. Reporting tools help teams provide the best possible care by assessing important metrics, such as resolution times and case volume by agent or team.

Pairing customer support data with sales data provides a 360-degree view of the customer experience and helps agents offer practical upsell or cross-sell recommendations and improve your customer retention rate.

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SugarCRM: Best Customizable CRM Software

SugarCRM has additional modules you can add for enhanced functionality.
SugarCRM is designed to be used immediately after deployment; you won't have to delay implementation while you wait for customizations to the CRM.
The lowest-tier service plan requires a minimum of 10 users.

SugarCRM is a highly customizable CRM designed to help companies stay agile in a changing market. Frontline users can easily modify fields, page layouts or entire modules to suit their workflow. Admins and designated users with more technical experience can change core features, like forecast builders and opportunity trackers. Along with a complete record of all customer interaction, the system makes AI-based predictions on future behavior. The same AI tool also analyzes relationships between people, events and places to help agents decide where to focus their sales efforts.

SugarCRM is available as a cloud-based solution, but consider its on-premises system, especially if you want greater control over your data and customization of SugarCRM. The on-premises choice is best for teams with unique sales processes, highly regulated companies with specific security needs or businesses that anticipate the need for frequent upgrades.

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Insightly: Best CRM Software Automation Tools

Insightly's workflow automation tools reduce the need for administrative staff to manage project details.
One innovative feature, a relationship-linking feature, uncovers connections between contacts.
Setting up your initial workflow and tasks can be time-consuming.

Insightly CRM unifies sales, marketing and project management efforts within a single, intuitive system with its task-automation tools. Insightly's automation features help you create workflows to ensure nothing slips through the cracks to derail an otherwise positive customer experience.

Automatic social profile enrichment adds social data to contact records and identifies potential relationships between existing contacts in the database. The system detects duplicated information automatically to ensure sales teams always have clean data, and it allows batch edits to records. Companies can automate several sales process steps, such as creating and updating records, sending emails, and generating tasks. Insightly automatically syncs to external business systems already in place.

Businesses can have confidence in Insightly's up-to-the-minute analytics and metrics, allowing managers to make rapid decisions and adapt sales strategies instantly. Insightly CRM is designed to manage every aspect of customer engagement, from initial contact to post-sale projects, and its automation tools free busy agents so they can focus on the customer.

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Costs of CRM Software

 

There is a world of CRM pricing options for small businesses to explore. There are free and inexpensive CRMs, 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 help your business achieve the perfect balance 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 on-premises software products have a 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, and automatic upgrades.

Make sure you fully understand the pricing structure of any CRM product before making your decision. Also, specifically ask about automatic upgrades, storage limits and user limits.

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 $10 to $15 a month per active user.
  • Midrange cloud CRM subscriptions tend to run from $20 to $40 per month per user. These systems generally meet most small business users' needs. If ultralight 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 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 a month per user, but such services are unnecessary for most SMBs.
  • Client-hosted CRM software can run you well over $900 per user. On-premises systems offer more control but also require a significant upfront investment, as well as technical knowledge and skill to maintain,

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

Buying Guide

Which CRM Features Do You Need?

CRMs run the gamut from lightweight services intended for quick and easy customer relationships 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 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, they extend the implementation process and make it more complicated, and they cost more than necessary.

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 something that can be used 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 comfort level do they have in that role?
  • How much are we willing to spend, either per user or on an annual basis?

List your needs in a CRM in addition to your answers to the above questions, as well as integrations you need (including proprietary legacy software, if applicable), and ask the CRM company how such integrations are achieved before choosing 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. These are some of the most important features:

Automation

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. Workflow automation takes the tiny details and extra work off your plate and allows your sales tasks to run smoothly.

Reporting Tools

Reports help you understand how well your sales and marketing efforts are paying off. Information like the number of leads or sales you get within a certain time frame or how many outbound calls your team has placed can help you improve your processes. Moreover, it allows you to make more informed decisions about your company.

Customer Data Management

Understanding your customer is a big part of your business's success, and customer data management features help you organize that information. Well-organized, easily accessible data on current and potential customers can help you build better relationships, which ultimately positively affects your business.

Customization

When a program is customizable, you can pick the features you want in your package and arrange your dashboard, reports, extensions and plugins to your liking. This flexible workflow creates a comfortable user experience for you and your team.

Integrations

Third-party integrations connect your CRM software to other programs you use, which saves you time from switching between apps and manually inputting data you've already stored in other software.

TipTip: The best way to determine the features you require in a CRM is to list what you want to do with it. Technology should never be adopted just because it's current or common but because it solves a specific problem. If you cannot outline in detail 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.

How to Choose a CRM

1. Define Your Budget.

CRM costs run the gamut from free to hundreds of dollars for enterprise-level solutions. Determining your budget before you begin researching your options saves time by eliminating which CRMs are too expensive, plus it keeps you from making an impulse purchase.

2. Write a Feature List.

Review the basic CRM feature list above, then consider what additional functionality you need to support your sales processes and strategies. Note which tools and features are deal-breakers and which ones would be nice to have but aren't mission-critical.

3. Ask Around.

Your business network is a great place to get referrals from current CRM users. Ask your colleagues what they like most and least about their CRM.

4. Research the Market.

Visit several 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.

Be sure to read a variety of user reviews about each CRM you're considering. Look for patterns in their comments to learn their 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, and don't hesitate to ask questions.

TipTip: Free trials may only highlight a CRM's best features. Spend time trying all of the tools you may need, not just the most prominent ones.

7. Make Your Selection.

When you're confident you've done your due diligence, it's time to make a final decision. Before you pull out the checkbook, take the time to negotiate the best price. Most CRM software for small businesses offers structured pricing based on features and the number of users, but it never hurts to ask.

Benefits of CRM Software

A major benefit of using CRM software is to gain an understanding of what your customers want from your business. This keeps you from wasting time guessing what their needs are.

A CRM system gives you the tools to organize all of your customer data in one place. It ensures you have a full picture of your current and potential customers, their needs, and detailed records of what you have discussed with them in the past.

CRM software is a great way to strengthen those consumer relationships and personalize the way you market to them. It is also a big help to your marketing, sales and customer service teams, letting them organize customer data more efficiently and move through their sales tasks quickly. 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software FAQs

What is the estimated time frame to implement a CRM solution?

Ideally, implementing a CRM should be fast, but several factors may prolong the process, like 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, implementation can take anywhere from six weeks to four months, and training can take up to two weeks.

What is the difference between marketing automation and a CRM platform?

With marketing automation, users can schedule and manage marketing campaigns, like email campaigns and business-to-consumer interaction. A CRM platform is more of a database and contains information on your customers, like how long they've been working with your company, their purchase records, phone conversations, and records of their email correspondence with your sales or customer service representatives.

What are examples of CRM software?

Any tech solution or program that assists businesses with their client management and communication is considered a CRM. Leaders in the CRM software industry include Salesforce, Zoho, HubSpot and SugarCRM.

Why is CRM software important for a small business?

Incorporating CRM software into your business is vital to your company's consumer relationships. It allows you to personalize the way you market to your clients, it tracks communications with your clients, and it provides tools to organize the data efficiently. Building customer connections is key to the growth of your business, so it's important to have a system in place to develop and manage those relationships. 

What does CRM offer to marketing, sales and customer service teams?

A CRM helps your sales and consumer service team enter contact information about your customers and track their interactions with your business. Additionally, it can help your team manage marketing campaigns and find sales opportunities.

What kind of customer information is being collected?

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. 

What steps should your sales team follow when a lead is assigned to them?

When a lead is assigned to your sales team, research the person or business to assess whether they're a worthy sales prospect. This is how you should prioritize your leads. Then, if the lead is a business, find the person within it who will make the final decisions about buying your product. 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.

What is a CRM implementation process?

The CRM implementation process happens when the platform you choose is ready to install. The process includes setting up the software with your company's preferences and transferring the information you may have in a different CRM solution. Additionally, you 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 properly training all of your employees in how the CRM platform works. If the actual users don't understand all the ins and outs of the software, the CRM will never show its true worth. It is critical to spend the necessary time getting every one of your staff who will be using the platform up to speed on how it works.

After the CRM has been up and running for a few weeks, you should revisit how it is operating to make sure it is meeting all of your needs and your employees are comfortable with it, and then address any trouble spots.

How do you build good relationships with customers using your CRM?

Make sure your CRM is storing all of the key data points on your customers. This will allow you to tailor all your interactions to their specific needs. Customers want to feel special; they don't want the companies they work with to treat them as just another sale. A CRM allows you to make sure you remember previous conversations, have all of the relevant contact information, and know where each customer is in the sales funnel. This means that the next time you connect with a customer, you can focus on the next steps without revisiting information that has already been explained.

Additionally, you can set your CRM to remind you when it is time to connect with a potential customer. 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 that you need to reach out to them.

Is Google Analytics a CRM?

No, Google Analytics is not a CRM; it is a web analytics tool that helps businesses assess the effectiveness and reach of your company's marketing. 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 to consumers.

How many types of CRM are there?

There are five kinds of customer relationship management software. Here are the differences that separate each type of CRM:

  1. An operational CRM helps you market to your audience based on the data you collect from them.
  1. Analytical CRM software provides business foresight through customer data.
  1. Collaborative CRMs allows businesses to share customer information interdepartmentally (e.g., customer service department, sales, etc.) based on customer interactions.
  1. Campaign management CRMs are often described as analytical and operational systems. These solutions are ideal for assisting with sales and marketing campaigns based on collected client data.
  1. 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.

 

What to Expect in 2021

According to the CRM giant itself, Salesforce, the future of CRM software will involve further aligning sales, marketing and operations around common goals informed by advanced analytics. Many CRM systems will focus on improving the customer experience as much as the internal employee experience, which has historically been the focus of such software. CRM programs will be more streamlined and include more integrations as well.

More AI and machine-learning features, like chatbots and automated responses, will eventually become the norm. However, such features are likely to spread through the upper echelon of CRMs before trickling down to the less-expensive options. The use of AI in CRM is expected to grow by over 250% within the next two years. Machine learning will reduce the need for manual data entry and, therefore, human error.

Lisa McGreevy
business.com Contributing Writer
Lisa McGreevy is a seasoned writer with years of experience covering small business technology. She specializes in customer management and content management software, as well as fundamental business needs like cloud-based phone systems. As a Certified Scrum Master, Lisa also writes about the benefits and challenges of an agile workplace.
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