business.com receives compensation from some of the companies listed on this page. Advertising Disclosure

The Best CRM Software of 2024

Updated Feb 22, 2024
Best for Customization
  • Thousands of third-party apps
  • Multiple API protocols
  • Drag-and-drop/no-code customization
  • Thousands of third-party apps
  • Multiple API protocols
  • Drag-and-drop/no-code customization
Best for SMBs
  • Visual and intuitive dashboards
  • Track prospects at all stages
  • Easy workflow & automation creation
  • Visual and intuitive dashboards
  • Track prospects at all stages
  • Easy workflow & automation creation
Best for ERP Capabilities
  • Part of the NetSuite business ecosystem
  • Complete e-commerce integration
  • In-depth reporting and analytics
  • Part of the NetSuite business ecosystem
  • Complete e-commerce integration
  • In-depth reporting and analytics
Best for Automation
  • Built specifically for sales teams
  • Deal stage customization
  • Email marketing platform built-in
  • Built specifically for sales teams
  • Deal stage customization
  • Email marketing platform built-in
Best for Sales Managers
  • Total manager control and oversight
  • Excellent AI & automation features
  • Built-in omnichannel communications
  • Total manager control and oversight
  • Excellent AI & automation features
  • Built-in omnichannel communications

Table of Contents

Open row
Mark Fairlie
Mark Fairlie
Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership at business.com
Share this on FacebookShare this on twitterShare this on LinkedIn

Customer relationship management (CRM) solutions help sales teams manage leads, log communications, and build campaigns. In recent years, they’ve also embraced marketing and customer care teams. While such systems were once used exclusively by enterprises with thousands of dollars to spend on software products, the proliferation of affordable software-as-a-service (SaaS) systems has opened up 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.

What is CRM Software?

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.

Tip Bulb

How We Decided

Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.

65

Considered

25

Researched

11

Selected

Compare Our Best Picks

BDC Ribbon
Our Top Picks for 2024
Salesforce CRM
monday Sales CRM
Oracle NetSuite CRM
Pipedrive CRM
Freshworks CRM
Zoho CRM
HubSpot CRM
Keap CRM
SugarCRM
Insightly
Zendesk
Less Annoying CRM
Rating (Out of 10)9.59.59.29.49.39.49.59.49.39.19.59.29.2
Best for

Customization

SMBs

ERP Capabilities

Sales Automation

Sales teams

Growing Businesses

Sales and Marketing Integrations

Sales automation

E-Commerce Businesses

Project Management

Cross-Departmental Collaboration

Microbusinesses

Service Businesses

Starting prices

$25 (changed)

$30

Custom quote

$14.90

$15

$14

$30 (CRM Bundle)

$129 per user per month

$49

$29

$19

$15

Custom

Free trial for paid plans

30 days

14 days Pro Plan

14 days

14-day trial

21 days

15 days

14 days

14 days

7 days

14 days (Professional Plan)

14 days

30 days

14 days

Email features

Bulk sending, personalization, segmentation, template designs, tracking

Templates, native integration, templates, tracking

Automation, target lists, personalization

Bulk send, scheduling, tracking, templates

Automation, templates, analytics

Bulk send, templates, insights, priority notifications

Scheduling, templates, tracking, analytics

Segmentation, templates, automation, analytics

Templates, signatures, macros, bulk email

Email templates, WYISWIG, batching, campaigns

Bulk send, templates, insights, priority notifications

None native, all thru apps

Email templates, editing, broadcasting, tracking

Cloud document storage

10GB (except on Strarter)

500MB on Free plan, 5GB on Standard plan

Not known

No

From 2GB per user on Growth plan

From 1GB

No

10GB

From 7 GB

10GB

From 2GB

25GB

From 20GB

Mobile app

Multiple

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No (browser access on cellphones & tablets)

Yes

Free plan

No

Yes

No

No

No

“Free forever” plan (up to 3 users)

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

No

Support

24/7 phone

24/7 email, phone, live chat

Yes (24/7)

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

Yes (24×5)

8/5 (24/5 premium support)

Yes but depends on plan chosen

24/7 email, chat, phone (U.S.-based)

8/5 to 24/7 depending on tariff

N/A

24/7 via help centre and dashboard

8/5

24/7 customer service via email, chat or phone

API

Yes (no on Essentials, $25pupm on Professional)

Yes

Yes

Yes

API access

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Integrations

2,000

150

2,300

400

500

1,000+

1,000

0

240

2,000

1,200

21

40

Review Link
Scroll Table

Our Reviews

Salesforce CRM: Best CRM Software for Customization

  • No pure-play CRM system comes close to the level of customization Salesforce has with its range of apps and integrations.
  • When fully set up, this intuitive, intelligent system can significantly improve sales, marketing and customer service team results.
  • Although Salesforce is transparent with its pricing, working out the cost for a fully customized solution is complex.
Editor's Rating: 9.5/10
Visit Site

Salesforce gives businesses the ability to create the customized workflows and automation they need to become more efficient and perform at their best. When you factor in the sheer number of features, third-party integrations and add-on options available to you in the app marketplace, the CRM is ideal for businesses with diverse and evolving needs. That’s why it is our choice as the best CRM for customization.

At its core, Salesforce is a competent, easy-to-use and powerful CRM tool that will scale with your business. There’s so much you can do with it. For example, marketing teams can send out 5,000 emails a day with the marketing tool, or they can use the platform  to coordinate telemarketing and online advertising campaigns. They can then analyze each campaign individually and in-depth to see which ones were the most successful. We like how Salesforce can handle workloads for sales and customer success teams better and more effectively because the system presents them with the information they need to close a sale or get a one-call resolution to an issue. But these examples only scratches the surface of what’s possible with Salesforce.

For a while, and with some justification, Salesforce had a reputation for being difficult to use and customize. We are impressed at how much easier the company has made it now. Instead of getting under the hood to make minor changes, you can customize many automations, reports and more using drag-and-drop functionality and prebuilt scripts. You can add thousands of apps to your system that improve a range of functions such as project management or supply chain coordination. The company’s ongoing integration of high-level AI is impressive. Einstein GPT, a generative AI developed specifically for Salesforce, and Genie, a data optimization tool, set the standard for the sector.

Salesforce recently introduced several new tools within its Commerce Cloud and Marketing Cloud platforms, powered by the Einstein 1 Platform, to enhance the shopping experience. These tools leverage generative AI and consumer data to provide real-time insights into customer behavior and preferences, improving employee productivity as well as customer interactions and loyalty. Key releases include the Einstein Copilot for Shoppers, which offers personalized product recommendations to consumers, and Page Designer, which simplifies e-commerce site customization.

By some distance, Salesforce offers the best CRM system for companies that want complete customization across their sales, marketing and customer service teams.

monday Sales CRM: Best CRM Software for SMBs

  • monday.com’s high degree of customization means you can greatly reduce admin, data entry and other nonproductive tasks across your business.
  • The lowest-priced plans on monday.com are as feature-packed as much higher-priced plans on other platforms.
  • monday insists you purchase the service in user increments, so if you have 70 staff members, you need to pay for 100.
Editor's Rating: 9.5/10
Visit Site

monday.com is an intuitive and intelligent CRM system that SMBs can use to achieve greater operational efficiency and effectiveness. Its ease of use is second to none. It’s as simple to operate as many of the underpowered CRMs that one-person businesses use, but it has much of the power and functionality you’d expect from an enterprise-level CRM. It’s highly customizable, very user-friendly and has one of the slightest learning curves of all the current CRMs.

monday.com has a sleek, minimalist onscreen work area that you can make your own using a drag-and-drop editor to include the information and features you need. This approach to customization makes it much easier for sales, marketing and customer service managers to create complex sales funnels and workflows without a programming background. We like how you can create different automations and pipelines for various products and campaigns. This provides ultimate internal flexibility.

Tasks like assigning leads, setting up new notifications and automating reminders for follow-up actions are easy. The marketing features on monday.com work particularly well, offering users the ability to launch and manage proactive multi-channel campaigns, create content marketing calendars and more. You get a helpful library of email templates, and when you want to launch an email marketing campaign, simply drag your design into the correct window, and monday.com auto-populates with the correct customer or prospect information.

monday.com recently introduced mondayDB 1.0 for all its customers, a data infrastructure enhancing its Work Operating System. The architecture caters to diverse and complex work scenarios, which allows for streamlined workflow management and increased performance. This software update was driven by the need to accommodate growing customer needs and evolving work processes.  For example, mondayDB 1.0 loads user boards up to five times faster, which enhances the data-intensive processes and user experience on the platform. 

monday.com’s user-friendliness, back-end power and flexibility make it our choice of CRM for SMBs looking to extract more value from their company.

Oracle NetSuite CRM: Best CRM Software for ERP Capabilities

  • Thanks to its huge range of apps and plug-ins, Oracle NetSuite’s ERP software provides the ability to build a completely customized CRM system.
  • Its connection to NetSuite’s dedicated e-commerce platform and other features like CPQ tailor-made is a plus for larger businesses.
  • It isn’t available as a stand-alone CRM and requires a larger NetSuite subscription.
Editor's Rating: 9.2/10
Visit Site

Oracle NetSuite CRM is a top-notch solution for companies needing to track their customers’ buying journey, from lead acquisition and deal management to order fulfillment and post-sales support. Easily integrated with NetSuite’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) module, the platform combines sales, marketing, customer success and accounting functionality, allowing users to manage all customer-related processes in one place.

NetSuite CRM’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.

Additionally, you can build custom reports to measure personalized KPIs, assess marketing benchmarks like website visitors and use standard reports to track customer service efforts such as customer purchase trends, call volume and overall customer satisfaction. We like how the software lets you review individual and team performance with a side-by-side comparison of expected results versus actual data.

The partner relationship management features help users track all partner-related sales and marketing efforts like joint campaigns, sales forecasting and partner commissions. We found that the online portal makes it easy for resellers and partners to place and manage orders directly, without the need to go through your sales team.

Pipedrive CRM: Best CRM Software for Automation

  • Pipedrive is highly effective at automating sales processes, which frees up more time for prospecting and closing.
  • Pipedrive’s built-in email marketing platform is functional, rivals what standalone providers offer, and can generate more leads for your team.
  • Pipedrive’s focus on servicing sales teams is great, but it lacks features for companies that require a CRM to manage the wider business.
Editor's Rating: 9.4/10
Visit Site

Pipedrive is the best CRM for businesses that rely heavily on the performance of their sales teams. Sales is a complex process — a lot happens between the point of contact and a closed deal. Pipedrive automates as much of the process as possible to reduce workload, giving reps more time to prospect and close. It also remembers where each deal in the system is at and can remind reps that they need to take a particular step at a given time to move a client along the sales pipeline.

Pipedrive is great for sales managers too. It gives them the ability to monitor what each rep is doing, where all their deals are, and view forecasted monthly revenue based on pipeline population. Pipedrive also has the rare distinction of being one of the few CRMs to include a recurring revenue model.

Pipedrive is a very use-specific platform. While it does have a well-executed email marketing platform built into it for lead generation, Pipedrive doesn’t do as much as other CRMs. But what it does, it does better than every alternative we’ve reviewed. It’s straightforward to set up and use, the pricing is mid-market, there’s a well-populated app store for adding more functionality, and AI has been intelligently applied throughout the platform.

Recently, Pipedrive added the availability for users to share their automations with each other. We like how this allows those who are skilled in creating automations to be able to share those with their colleagues who aren’t as tech-savvy. In addition, in September, more upgrades were made to the automations feature, including the ability for sales employees to build automations that are contingent upon specific conditions, including customer clicks or replies. The template homepage and template-building wizard were also built out to include increased support and functionality.

Freshworks CRM: Best CRM Software for Sales Managers

  • Freshsales has complete oversight for sales managers on their team’s performance with customizable dashboards and widgets.
  • The software has a built-in phone dialer, email client, website chatbot, social media messaging and private messaging app from one dashboard.
  • This system is capable of many things, but some of the most valuable features are only activated on higher service plans.
Editor's Rating: 9.3/10
Visit Site

Freshsales CRM from Freshworks makes it easy for businesses of all sizes to attract, manage, nurture and close leads. It offers an intuitive user interface, an expansive feature set, visual deal pipelines and intelligent workflow automation. Freshsales is designed to help your business manage sales without juggling multiple platforms.

We were impressed with Freshsales’s robust analytics features, as it allows sales managers to create visual dashboards and get detailed insights into their team’s performance and recent sales activities. Freshsales’s AI tool, Freddy, provides in-depth reports and tailored recommendations to improve your sales strategy. Freddy uses predictive lead scoring to highlight the most promising leads and opportunities and can flag stalled deals that require extra attention.

Freshsales also offers omnichannel communications functionality. Team members can initiate and respond to interactions by phone, email, webchat, social media and messaging channels like WhatsApp, Facebook and Apple Business. Freshsales CRM integrates with e-commerce platforms and packages marketing automation, multichannel campaigns, and conversational sales and support into one platform.

Zoho CRM: Best CRM Software for Growing Businesses

  • Zoho’s open platform makes it easier to share information across teams leading to better decision making.
  • Its well-built email marketing system comes with a minimum of 1,750 emails a week, which is great for generating leads and sales.
  • Zoho is great value for money overall; however, we wish the Standard and Professional services had more features.
Editor's Rating: 9.4/10
Visit Site

Zoho CRM is a leading CRM with a unique set of features that, together with its scalability, make it the best CRM for growing businesses. During periods of growth, businesses can encounter many complications. Revenue has to match increased expenses, which means the marketing and sales teams have to operate better than ever before. Customer service teams must be in top form to retain customers and spot new selling opportunities. Zoho’s integrated tools and optional extended functionality help each team maximize their performance and collaborate better.

Plug Zoho into your business so your key teams — the ones responsible for attracting, converting and retaining customers — can coordinate their activities to be more efficient and effective. Zoho enhances this collaboration by centralizing all data in a logical, neat and intuitive way so everyone has access to the latest information. Zoho offers managers the insights they need to create workflows and automation that minimize the necessity for staff to perform repetitive but non-value-adding tasks. This gives them more time to be productive.

Zoho has clearly prioritized providing companies and their employees with a quality, friction-free experience at every stage — the platform is very user-friendly. That extends to setup and training, both of which should require a minimal time investment. The integration of AI in Zoho is also worthy of praise. AI powers contact management, deal tracking, advanced analytics on the platform and much more. You can also deploy AI for sales and service reps to help them achieve the desired outcomes in live contact situations.

The range of services, competitive price, AI integrations, marketplace size and scalability make Zoho the best CRM for growing businesses.

HubSpot CRM: Best CRM Software for Sales and Marketing Integrations

  • HubSpot makes it easy for sales and marketing teams to share information and knowledge.
  • The platform is a fully functional omnichannel communications portal with great AI-supported reporting and analytic capabilities.
  • There’s a free plan, but most of the most valuable services and features are locked behind pricier options.
Editor's Rating: 9.5/10
Visit Site

HubSpot CRM is our recommendation for the best CRM for businesses wanting to benefit from greater sales and marketing integration. We were impressed by how well the system analyzes the vast amount of customer interaction data it collects in real time. The ability to easily share this information enables sales and marketing leaders to work together to optimize performance. Beyond that, HubSpot’s features, range of third-party apps, customization options and user-friendliness allow companies to shape the platform to achieve their goals.

The well-executed omnichannel functionality HubSpot provides is among the best of any CRM. Choose the channels you want a presence on, and HubSpot will track every interaction with customers and prospects on each channel. This allows you to spot ways to improve your marketing and sales funnels by examining the most common points at which prospects drop out. The call-recording feature is highly useful because it allows sales managers to share real-life target audience conversations with marketing managers. By allowing marketing leaders to hear conversations with potential clients at different stages of the customer journey, they are better able to gain deep insights into customers’ pain points and reasons to buy. We find this invaluable for improving future marketing campaign collateral.

Although Salesforce and Oracle NetSuite have greatly improved their interfaces lately, HubSpot stands apart from other enterprise-suitable CRM systems thanks to its intuitive navigation and user-friendly drag-and-drop customizations. This makes automation and workflow creation much easier and greatly flattens the learning curve for new users. The onsite training materials are excellent if you need them, and customer support is available 24/7.

Keap CRM: Best CRM Software for Sales Automation

Keap CRM
  • You can choose from numerous automation templates.
  • You can create custom advanced automation workflows in a visual drag-and-drop builder.
  • Keap’s pricing is steep for startups and very small businesses.

 

Editor's Rating: 9.4/10

Keap is a comprehensive, easy-to-use solution with built-in marketing, sales and e-commerce tools. The CRM software requires minimal setup and can be used out of the box, or it can be customized to fit your company’s specific needs.

Keap’s true power lies in its automation capabilities. You and your team members can set up straightforward trigger workflows to follow up with leads, send automated reminders and notifications, and create and update deals based on the set conditions. For those who want to create more advanced workflows with alternate decision paths and delay timers, Keap offers a visual drag-and-drop builder. You can then test the created automations, ensuring they work as intended.

Keap also provides excellent e-commerce features. You can use it to create customer invoices, process single or recurring payments, and link transaction details with individual customers or organizations. Revenue and payment analytics provide insight into 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.

We like how 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 knowledge base. There’s also a user community, where you can troubleshoot issues, and you can get 24/7 chat support from Keap’s customer service team.

SugarCRM: Best CRM Software for E-Commerce Businesses

SugarCRM
  • SugarCRM allows you to unlock data from unlimited e-commerce stores and improve your business and marketing processes.
  • The level of functionality, customizability, usability and range of apps is impressive.
  • There is a three-user minimum and you must pay annually.
Editor's Rating: 9.3/10

Connect SugarCRM to your e-commerce websites to get actionable, real-time customer and visitor insights. Although nearly all CRM systems integrate to some degree with online shops, the “eCommerce Solution for Sugar” plug-in does this particularly well, making Sugar our choice as the best CRM for e-commerce businesses.

As a standard CRM platform, Sugar is very capable. We were impressed by how easy it is to learn how the system operates. There’s a large bank of blogs, videos, training courses and webinars to help you use the platform better. The array of reports and workflows you can create without coding is impressive, as are the customizable dashboards. There are 240 native integrations, including those for analytics, accounting and communications. But the “eCommerce Solution for Sugar” really stands out for us.

The plug-in supports Shopify, BigCommerce and WooCommerce stores. You can integrate multiple stores into one SugarCRM deployment too. Marketing teams looking for segmentation opportunities will really appreciate detailed customer, order and product reports. You can also use SugarCRM to create customer support and order fulfillment workflows.

The plug-in costs $790 a year with unlimited users and supports all SugarCRM iterations. Platform subscriptions start at $49 per seat (three user minimum). This is a great stand-alone CRM. Although it may not be powerful enough to run Amazon, it is a great option for up-and-coming e-commerce businesses as well as clicks-and-mortar retailers.

Insightly: Best CRM Software for Project Management

Insightly
  • You can easily set up custom project dashboards and workflow automations to improve efficiency and business outcomes.
  • Set up and send up to 2,500 marketing emails a day on the starter plan and 10,000 on the $99 Enterprise plans.
  • Common CRM features like creating customized dashboards for coworkers, creating custom queues to manage tasks, and webhooks are only available on high-tier plans.
Editor's Rating: 9.1/10

When you’re building client relationships, winning a deal is just the beginning. Insightly’s comprehensive project management tools allow users to successfully manage post-sales activities and effortlessly convert won opportunities into projects. We were impressed with the way users can review key project information and the latest activities, track milestones, schedule and manage tasks, and create events that sync to their calendars. Insightly allows you to set up custom task workflows for each pipeline stage to minimize manual data entry. That way, the relevant tasks are automatically assigned to designated team members whenever the project moves ahead. Insightly’s project management features are also accessible through its mobile app.

Insightly’s automation helps 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 automatically detects duplicated information to ensure sales teams always have clean data and 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.

You can have confidence in Insightly’s up-to-the-minute analytics and metrics, which allow you and your team managers to make rapid decisions and adapt sales strategies instantly. Insightly’s CRM is designed to manage every aspect of customer engagement, from initial contact to post-sale projects. This helps build long-lasting client relationships.

Zendesk: Best CRM Software for Cross-Departmental Collaboration

Zendesk
  • Zendesk’s CRM encourages colleagues to work together with features like side conversations and light agents.
  • Omnichannel comms make it easier to market to customers and for customers to get in touch on their preferred channels.
  • To get the most from Zendesk, you need to subscribe to its Sell and Suite products, which can significantly drive up the costs.
Editor's Rating: 9.5/10

Zendesk is the CRM we recommend for businesses that want to lock in the productivity gains seamless cross-departmental collaboration can deliver. When sales, marketing and service teams work closely together from one accurate source of data and information, the insights gleaned can help companies generate more leads, improve conversation rates, and reduce churn. Zendesk provides businesses with a standardized and centralized database, along with great internal communications tools, to encourage cooperation and sharing ideas.

Two unique features that stood out to us — made possible thanks to Zendesk’s superb integrated omnichannel communications platform — were the ability to launch side conversations and appoint light agents. Both tools enable colleagues and teams to consult with each other to help improve the chances of making a sale or getting a first-contact customer service issue resolution.

We thought Zendesk’s built-in AI was impressively applied to a wide range of features. One example is its customer service chatbot. Zendesk has trained the AI on billions of service tickets over the past few years and programmed it so well that it quickly adapts its output to respond to customers’ questions accurately. The AI can also offer suggestions on improving performance and workflows based on its observations of how employees use the system.

The reporting and analytics functions on Zendesk are fully customizable. The platform offers templates to get you started that can be adapted to your needs. Zendesk’s user interface is intuitive and easy to navigate, and its marketplace offers more than 1,500 apps that can be used to improve functionality.

Particularly ideal for SaaS and subscription businesses operating in competitive markets, Zendesk can deliver joined-up marketing, sales and customer service functions to drive revenue and reduce churn.

Less Annoying CRM: Best CRM Software for Microbusinesses

Less Annoying CRM
  • For an out-of-the-box CRM with limited integrations and apps, Less Annoying CRM is surprisingly flexible and adaptable.
  • It offers simplified yet highly effective versions of the functions seen on expensive CRMs, and it’s hard to see microbusinesses needing more.
  • The platform would benefit from a wider range of integrations with accounting, inventory management and e-commerce platforms.
Editor's Rating: 9.2/10

Manage your contacts, leads and tasks with a simple and customizable CRM that syncs with your email and calendar. While many CRM platforms target enterprise businesses, Less Annoying pitches its services squarely at microbusinesses. It knows what its target audience wants and serves it very well. Price-wise, you get everything for just $15 per user per month.

Although other CRMs target this market, there are several reasons we chose Less Annoying CRM as the best for businesses with 10 or fewer employees. We like that contact management is so easy and clear. The dashboard makes it simple to access and alter any information. For owners, creating new users and assigning roles to them are straightforward. Less Annoying CRM gives insight into what team members are working on and their pipelines. Workflow automation is limited, but its drag-and-drop functionality is incredibly intuitive.

The app marketplace is a little empty compared to other platforms, but you will find MailChimp, Google and a VoIP provider there. Customer support is available by telephone, email and ticketing. Overall, Less Annoying CRM stands out for its advantageous features and the ease with which users pick up on how to quickly navigate it. That’s why we rate Less Annoying CRM as the best for microbusinesses.

Thryv: Best CRM Software for Service Businesses

  • Thryv is well-rounded, providing easy-to-use prospecting as well as CRM and payment packages ideal for appointment-based businesses.
  • The software’s powerful omnichannel communication makes it easy to reach out to customers and vice versa.
  • You must also choose two, five or 10 users for the service — you can’t pay for just the number of users you want.
Editor's Rating: 9.2/10
Visit Site

Run your service business from anywhere with a CRM that lets you book, bill and communicate with clients via your website, review websites, email and text. Thryv is an all-in-one marketing and promotional platform, CRM system and payment services provider. We like that the system’s many features knit seamlessly together on its intuitive and easy-to-use dashboard. This is why we rate Thryv as the best CRM for service businesses.

We were impressed with Thryv for how well it manages omnichannel conversational threads from a single inbox. Creating marketing campaigns is easy too, with the platform’s built-in templates. We like that you can create trigger-based marketing campaigns to send to customers or prospects you may not have heard from in a while. With Thryv, you can build your own marketing lists and send promotional messages to prospects and customers via SMS and email. You can also create a customer portal where clients can send messages, schedule appointments, and make payments. We were impressed at the way the platform can crawl social media platforms to flesh out existing customer profiles with more information. To reduce the risk of no-shows, you can send appointment reminders through Thryv, as well as promote upcoming events.

The dashboard interface is excellent and provides a great user experience. You can add to what Thryv already does through the app marketplace, but there are only around 40 options to choose from. Thryv does not share its pricing online, and instead provides individualized quotes for each customer.

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.

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 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.

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.

Customization

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.

Integrations

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 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

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.

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

  1. Operational CRMs help you market to your audience based on the data you collect from the software.
  2. Analytical CRMs provide business foresight through customer data.
  3. Collaborative CRMs allow you to share customer information interdepartmentally (e.g., between your customer service department and your sales team) based on customer interactions.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 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
Mark Fairlie
Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership at business.com
Mark Fairlie has written extensively on business finance, business development, M&A, accounting, tax, cybersecurity, sales and marketing, SEO, investments, and more for clients across the world for the past five years. Prior to that, Mark owned one of the largest independent managed B2B email and telephone outsourcing companies in the UK prior to selling up in 2015.
BDC Logo

Get Weekly 5-Minute Business Advice

B. newsletter is your digest of bite-sized news, thought & brand leadership, and entertainment. All in one email.

Back to top