Effective CRM software solutions have the capability to seamlessly integrate with various business functions, enabling efficient management of customer relations, optimizing workflows, and driving sales growth.
A CRM tool serves as a central repository for storing contact information of customers or prospects. It can monitor multiple sales pipelines, enhance workflow management, record customer interactions, and facilitate analysis of sales and marketing performance.
This article discusses the features and benefits of CRM software and provides recommendations for various business types, including small businesses and those in the real estate industry. For those interested in small-business CRMs, a guide is available. Additionally, a guide specifically for CRMs in the real estate industry is provided.
After thorough testing, we have compiled a list of the top 10 CRM applications available, as alternatives to Salesforce.
The Best CRM software
- Zoho CRM Plus is a comprehensive CRM solution designed for small businesses.
- Salesforce Sales Cloud is known for its high level of customization.
- HubSpot is an effective tool for business expansion.
- Pipedrive is known for its user-friendly interface.
- Ontraport is a software used for automating online transactions.
- Nimble is effective for customer prospecting.
- A brief summary for overseeing a team of salespeople.
- Apptivo is a software solution for managing business operations.
- This is a closing strategy suitable for inside sales teams.
- NetHunt CRM offers a solution for Gmail users who require advanced features.
What makes a great CRM platform?
How we evaluate and test apps
Our best apps roundups are created by experienced software users who spend a lot of time testing and writing about these apps. We research and evaluate each app against the specific criteria we set for the category. We never receive payment for featuring any app or linking to any site, as we value the trust our readers have in us to provide honest evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For a detailed explanation of our selection process, read our full rundown on how we choose apps for the Zapier blog.
CRM software stores contact and sales information in one place. It captures all touchpoints like calls, emails, chats, web visits, social connections, and campaigns. This is important because every customer interaction presents a learning opportunity.
To determine the most suitable CRM program, I identified the elements that are widely applicable across businesses with varying requirements.
Ease of use. Making websites easy to use is important, but it might not be feasible for CRM platforms. However, offering in-app directions, definitions, and help articles can make more advanced features easier to use. Providing regular support and onboarding options can also improve the user experience. The goal is for users to understand the basics after logging in for the first-time.
Contact and sales management. Managing people is crucial for your business and CRM. It’s important to know your customers well and find ways to connect with them. You should focus your sales efforts where they will be most effective. A CRM’s contact and sales management features should match your customers’ buying behavior.
Customization. A CRM application should align with a business’s unique terms, data requirements, processes, and integrated apps. It is important for CRM software to adapt to a company’s needs to the greatest extent possible.
Reporting. To manage something, you must measure it. What should you measure? Sales forecasting could be a good option. Your CRM should be capable of reporting on any data point you gather, such as sales by rep, sales cycle, average value, loss reasons, and more.
Automation and integrations. Automating processes can improve employee efficiency and prevent communication gaps. While no CRM can handle everything, incorporating third-party integrations can enhance departmental functions and improve customer data collection to create a more comprehensive customer profile.
How I tested the CRM tools
When evaluating CRM software, various factors are considered such as feature set, interface usability, pricing plans, and available support options.
An example feature that could lead to a high score is a strong automation capability for managing leads, deals, and workflow. Additionally, a desktop and mobile interface that provides quick and intuitive access to basic features is important for a company’s success.
We conduct an analysis of pricing plans and competitors, evaluating whether the subscription prices are justified by unique features not available in the market or if a cost-effective option would better serve those with budget constraints.
Customer support is given high importance, particularly for CRM software that may have a challenging learning process.
Best CRM for a small business all-in-one tool
Zoho CRM Plus (Web, iOS, Android)
Zoho CRM is a customizable software that allows companies to build what they need within the platform without requiring a large contract for maintenance. It is approachable and suited for those seeking a CRM they can tailor to their specific needs.
This CRM is available for all employees to use, ensuring optimal utilization of the software. The learning process is minimal, enabling staff to begin utilizing the extensive features and functionality immediately.
Zoho CRM offers a high level of flexibility, allowing for customization of dashboards and pipelines to suit individual customer needs.
Obtain useful and informative reporting data with just a couple of clicks.
Some notable aspects of Zoho CRM are:
- Sales insights are provided in real-time.
- The process of evaluating potential customers is known as prospect scoring.
- This software has the ability to send emails to a large group of recipients.
- The task of keeping track of goods and supplies in stock.
- AI technology can provide helpful assistance.
- Customizations can be advanced.
- The management of a blueprint business can be done both online and offline.
Zoho CRM is an affordable tool with plans ranging from $14 to $52 per user per month, depending on the features and functions you require.
Zoho CRM offers a free version that caters to small businesses with a maximum of three users.
Begin a 15-day free trial to determine if Zoho CRM is a suitable fit for your business.
Bigin, a sales-centric platform from Zoho CRM, is now available for small businesses. The starting price for Bigin is $7 per month.
Best customizable CRM
Salesforce Sales Cloud (Web, iOS, Android)
Salesforce is a highly recommended CRM software that has set the standard in the industry and continues to improve year after year, as many experts have noted.
Salesforce provides a CRM solution suitable for small business owners, sales, marketing, IT, or customer support teams. Their software is known for its versatility and can be tailored to meet specific needs.
Salesforce is a trusted platform for over 150,000 businesses, including T Mobile, Adidas, and Yeti, to enhance their customer relationships.
In addition, they provide customized solutions for 14 distinct industries.
- The company offers financial services.
- Healthcare is a vital aspect of society.
- The process of producing goods.
- The category of products known as consumer goods.
- The word is “energy.”
- The topic of discussion is communications.
- The topic is nonprofits.
The system offers versatility by allowing users to select the necessary apps to create a personalized CRM solution that fits their business needs.
Salesforce offers a range of services, including marketing automation, ecommerce sales, call-center software, and self-service portals, all aimed at enhancing customer relationships.
Their business strategies consist of:
- The Essentials package costs $25 per user each month and covers basic sales and support services.
- The Sales Professional package costs $75 per user per month and provides a comprehensive sales solution.
- The Support Professional service solution costs $75 per user per month.
- The cost for Pardot Growth is $1,250 per month and it allows for up to 10,000 contacts for marketing automation.
Additional features and applications can be added based on specific needs. Various plans, including sales, customer service, commerce, and marketing CRM packages, are available with differing features.
Begin your free trial of Salesforce today to experience it for yourself.
Best CRM for scaling a business
HubSpot (Web, iOS, Android)
HubSpot provides a CRM software for customer relationship management, in addition to their blog and free certification courses which are popular among those in the sales and marketing industry.
By using HubSpot, you can obtain valuable data on the behavior of your audience.
If you want to optimize your open rates, you can monitor when contacts open your emails with HubSpot. It’s also easy to track a contact’s behavior on your website with HubSpot.
In addition, they provide a range of solutions that cater to different roles within a company.
The solutions provided are specific to different positions such as sales, marketing, customer service, operations, and owners.
The free plan offers a comprehensive range of features that cover essential areas such as contact management, deal tracking, and reporting, providing you with everything you require from a CRM.
By utilizing the features offered by HubSpot, you can obtain valuable insights into your sales pipeline and effectively organize them to develop your upcoming strategies and campaigns.
In addition to what has been mentioned, HubSpot’s free CRM provides the following features.
- Emails can be scheduled.
- The service offers live chat support on a one-to-one basis.
- A tool for scheduling meetings.
- Tracking of website activity.
- Task management is a process used to organize, plan, and prioritize tasks or activities.
- Sharing of documents.
The features offered on HubSpot’s free plans are difficult to match with other plans on this list. Nevertheless, the paid plans provided by HubSpot are also of excellent value.
The Starter Plan is available at a cost of $40 per month when paid annually. Alternatively, if you choose to bundle all of HubSpot’s CRM software, access to all four can be obtained for $50 per month with a 12-month commitment.
By paying an additional $10 per month, you will receive software that is designed for marketing, sales, and customer service purposes.
Please note that the prices listed are based on a contact list of 1,000.
Additional charges will apply for every additional set of 1,000 contacts.
The free tier of HubSpot is suitable for small and medium sized businesses, but the paid tiers also offer strong features for SMBs. It is common for small companies to begin with the free tier before upgrading to a paid tier that better suits their needs as they expand.
HubSpot offers basic features for large enterprises, but may not offer the necessary flexibility and customization options for their needs. Despite this, many large organizations still choose to use HubSpot as their CRM software, depending on their specific requirements.
To begin using HubSpot, create a free account.
Best easy-to-use CRM
Pipedrive (Web, iOS, Android)
Pipedrive is a recommended choice for teams exploring CRM software for the first time or seeking a low barrier to entry. It offers user-friendly features and quality without compromise. Based on data from their website, Pipedrive helps teams achieve an average of 28% more sales.
Pipedrive is easy to use because of its pipeline-focused setup. This setup allows your team to quickly understand where your leads are in the sales process. The tool also has a drag-and-drop interface and custom fields that can be tailored to fit your existing processes. You can even customize the appearance of your dashboard.
By clicking on a lead, you can access the account’s recent actions, related emails, and utilize features such as live chat and call listening based on connected systems.
Pipedrive offers compatibility with various industry tools such as Slack, Zapier, and Outfunnel. This allows for automation triggers and workflows, including creating activities, sending emails, and setting alerts to move prospects through the funnel.
Data and reporting are crucial for sales teams, and Pipedrive stands out with its platform that offers customized full reports, pipeline metrics, and goal-setting capabilities for individuals and teams.
Additional notable characteristics are present.
- There are leads in the inbox.
- The company’s sales pipeline is being analyzed.
- The job title is “sales assistant.”
- Synchronizing a calendar with email.
- Mobile customer relationship management (CRM).
Pipedrive considers affordability in their pricing structure, with the Essential plan starting at $14.90 per month per user and the Enterprise level at $99 per month per user. See below for a breakdown of all pricing tiers.
- The cost for the Essential plan is $14.90 per user per month.
- The monthly cost for advanced usage is $24.90 per user.
- The cost for a professional account is $49.90 per user per month.
- The cost of Enterprise is $99.00 per month, per user.
To experience the benefits of the feature suite, a 14-day free trial of Pipedrive is available without requiring a credit card. Pipedrive provides a straightforward and efficient solution for organizing and consolidating sales activity.
Best CRM for automating online transactions
Ontraport (Web, iOS, Android)
Ontraport provides a range of features that enable businesses selling online to integrate the entire customer experience, from marketing and transaction processing to post-sale nurturing, cross-selling, and coupon codes.
Ontraport is different from most CRMs reviewed here, so it may take some time to get used to. When you click New Contact or New Deal, a screen with many fields and sections pops up. It’s unclear what needs to be filled out, and there’s no save button, only a back button. However, you only need to type one piece of info (e.g., first name), hit the back button, and a record is created.
The platform has various capabilities that can be seen in a contact record, such as campaign history, purchase and membership history, credit card information, subscriptions, and coupons. Additionally, from a contact record, you can email, text, create tasks, and process a transaction using a credit card.
To make deals, go to Deals and select New Deals. Fill in the necessary information, such as contact details, expected win percentage, and amount. This creates a card for each deal on your customizable Kanban pipeline board. The board displays the stage of each deal and the corresponding values.
Utilizing a vendor integration for a payment gateway, such as Authorize.net, PayPal, or Stripe, allows for both manual and automatic payment processing. Ontraport offers a customized membership site with the ability to accept payments and provide member content.
I tested Ontraport’s system by creating and launching a webinar registration. First, I made a signup landing page. Then I added automated reminder emails for sign up and upcoming webinar. I also added a text message reminder for the day of the event. It only took me 30 minutes, and the steps were easy to follow. You can view your automation as a visual workflow and make edits as needed. You can also access campaign stats by clicking on Performance. Ontraport has many capabilities beyond this simple example.
The marketing suite provides pre-built and customized automated campaigns to draw in customers. The builder employs a visual drag-and-drop editor, allowing for the configuration of triggers, actions (emails, texts, postcards), and filters with “if/then” branching logic to personalize the customer’s experience. All campaigns can then be monitored for statistics, including conversion rates, monthly recurring revenue, lifetime value, and contact flow.
In addition to payment gateways, third-party integrations consist of various eCommerce platforms such as Shopify and WooCommerce, as well as video, voice/text, forms, memberships, shipping fulfillment, and webinars, among others, with sales reporting primarily based on eCommerce transactions, including product and subscription sales, among others, while dashboards offer tracking for conversion rate, average time between two events, total value of something across contacts, and average value for a numeric across contacts, among other metrics and features available for analysis and evaluation purposes as needed or desired by users and stakeholders alike.
Ontraport offers Zapier integrations that can enhance the software experience. Examples of these integrations are provided to assist users in getting started.
Best CRM for customer prospecting
Nimble (Web, iOS, Android)
Nimble CRM is a software that combines contacts, email, and social media interactions into one place. Its interface is user-friendly and provides a to-do list, top/key deals, and more. It has a rules engine that predicts contacts and activities based on user behavior. Users can set reminders to stay in touch with certain users and mark important communications. It also works well with Twitter.
Best CRM for sales management
Nutshell (Web, iOS, Android)
Nutshell streamlines the sales process by automating tasks and providing clear guidance for representatives.
Nutshell’s reports provide valuable insights into business performance, allowing for identification of areas for improvement.
The reports offer customer data, metrics, and trends which can aid in making informed decisions for the sales process.
Nutshell offers useful features such as email templates and automated personal email sequences.
These features aid in maintaining a high visibility in the inboxes of your buyers with minimal effort.
Nutshell provides web forms intended to gather leads from your website and monitor their success.
This process simplifies lead capture and conversion, eliminating the need for manual data entry.
Best CRM for managing a business
Apptivo (Web, iOS, Android)
Apptivo is a cloud-based SaaS platform that offers a variety of features, including a versatile customer relationship management solution suitable for businesses of all sizes.
Apptivo’s CRM software is customizable and includes automation tools. It covers customer relationship management, lead conversion, and sales planning. You can access analytics for your sales pipeline and opportunity management data. The software integrates with email platforms like Gmail and includes templates for marketing and customer communication. You can also track your competitors’ performance.
Apptivo offers a premium version starting at $8 per user, as well as a free version.
Apptivo CRM is most suitable for:
- The users are individual.
- The team size is small.
- Startups are a common topic in business discussions.
- A business of small size.
- Lead capture is a process used to obtain information from potential customers.
- Management of opportunities.
- Tracking the sales process.
- Workflow automation is a process of automating tasks in a workflow system.
Best CRM system for inside sales teams
Close (Web, iOS, Android)
To improve productivity, inside sales teams dedicate significant time towards sorting through numerous contacts, making phone calls, and sending follow-up emails. Close offers a CRM solution that streamlines communication and simplifies the process of selecting who should be contacted.
Close plans come with a built-in phone that includes free monthly calling credits, texting, and email-sending from the web app. Every plan, except for Starter, offers unlimited contacts and custom fields. Phone plans are through Twilio, but management is done through the Close app for simplicity. You can rent phone numbers for $1.15/month/number and pay outbound/inbound call rates of $0.014/min and $0.0085/min, respectively, or port an existing number with a plan. SMS message rates are $0.01 per outgoing and incoming, and you can also add an existing number for outgoing calls.
I made my first call from a contact record in 30 seconds using a Power Dialer. The dialer can automatically call through a Smart View list for calling lots of leads quickly. The contact record is opened when a call begins and is paused if notes are still being made. Additional phone features include call recording, coaching, and pre-recorded voicemail messages. Texting and emailing from the record are just as easy with real-time tracking of all communications. An inbox displays all incoming calls, texts, emails, and tasks, allowing for filtering based on done and future activities.
Close’s lead management system treats leads as companies instead of contacts, allowing you to create a lead (company) and associate contacts with it seamlessly. To begin, select the plus sign next to Leads in the menu, enter the company and contact names, and proceed to the lead record where you can add further details for both.
Smart Views provide sales reps with categorized lists of leads to call and follow up with, including those never called and those with no contact in over 30 days. Close explains that these lists remove the need for decision-making on whether to call and what to say, as they are built with relevant leads based on set parameters such as statuses and best times to call. For example, a list can be created for contacts who have not answered but have opened at least one email. The Power Dialer can then be used to call the list or manually call them one-by-one from the screen. Additionally, a bulk or pre-made email sequence can be sent.
Enhance Close’s functionality through its integration with Zapier. This enables you to perform tasks such as automatically including new Intercom users in Close as leads, sharing Slack messages for new Close leads, or any other actions you require in your frequently used applications.
Best CRM for Gmail power users
NetHunt CRM (Gmail, Web, iOS, Android)
NetHunt CRM is specifically designed to be used with Gmail. This allows users to efficiently manage contacts, deals, tasks, reports, and email campaigns all in one place. This makes NetHunt the perfect CRM solution for those who prefer to use Gmail as their primary platform and avoid switching between multiple apps.
To use the inbox version, you need to download the Gmail extension after signing up for the web app. Access settings, import data, and integrate with other companies like Zapier from the company’s blue icon at the top-left.
Choose where you want NetHunt’s features to appear in navigation from the settings, and find a customizable dashboard showing activities, tasks, deal progress, and more. Below this are a deals list, Kanban pipelines, contacts, companies, tasks, campaigns, and reports.
To make a contact record, click the blue icon near your email’s name and choose the name that appears. To add more details, tasks, comments, or deals, click the name again to open the record. To add custom fields or folders, click the settings wheel next to the contact’s name. Pipelines can be customized for stages, names, probabilities, and visible details. NetHunt allows customizable webforms and pop-ups to capture leads and automatically add them to your created nurturing campaign.
The Workflows feature offers the ability for users automate tasks by setting a trigger and corresponding action. Examples include creating emails for webform submissions, setting conditions like follow-up emails or assigning tasks for representatives.
NetHunt has a separate extension for LinkedIn prospecting. This extension lets you easily create contacts while viewing profiles. The contacts are enriched with details like social, email, phone, company, and position. You can also add companies the same way. Each profile shows whether they’re already a CRM contact (blue icon) or not (white icon). Details from the contact record, such as emails and tasks, appear in a sidebar on each LinkedIn profile during prospecting.
What is the best customer relationship management plaftorm?
There are numerous CRMs available in the market, and many of them are capable of fulfilling your requirements. However, selecting a CRM that suits your organization’s specific needs can improve your ability to act quickly, adjust as required, and generate more leads. As customer relationship management is fundamental to your business, it is important to choose the right CRM.
After having extensive experience with all the CRM platforms listed, I can confirm their reliability as useful tools. I recommend reviewing my suggestions to determine which one aligns best with your business needs.