The very best CRM software program (in-depth evaluate)
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Your company would not exist without customers.
I think it could … but without a source of income to help you keep the lights on, you wouldn't last long. For this reason, it is important to understand how your customers behave and what they want from you.
This will make your experience better. And helps you generate more money.
The best CRM software will help you streamline, simplify, and improve your business processes to deliver better experiences for what your business is about – your customers.
But today your biggest challenge is choosing the right one.
With tons of options, it's easy to feel paralyzed. To help you out, I've reviewed the best CRM software available and made a comprehensive list of things to consider before making your final decision.
The top 5 options for the best CRM software
- Hubspot – Best Free CRM Software
- Salesforce – Best CRM software for versatility
- Zoho CRM – Best for Small to Medium Business
- Freshsales – Best CRM for sales teams
- Creatio CRM – Best CRM solution for companies
How to choose the best CRM software for you
With so many options and types, finding the best CRM software for your business can be impossible.
So let's talk about what to consider as you go through the process.
The size of your business matters in which CRM software is best for you. If you have separate departments for marketing, sales, IT, and customer service, you need more advanced capabilities than a five-person company.
In addition, you need to consider who will manage the software. Selecting and paying for software does not imply full use of the software.
You need to set it up and use its features for it to be worth the investment.
For small teams, it can be a joint effort by everyone involved. However, large teams may have dedicated people who set everything up and maintain the software in the future.
The size of your business also plays a role in the cost of the software. The more user seats you need, the more expensive the software is.
So take this into account.
Your use cases
Before you make a decision, it is important to consider which systems you want to optimize and improve. It can be helpful to think about current inefficiencies and how a CRM can help.
Typically, CRM software helps with sales, marketing, IT, and customer service. Which of these would you like to improve and do you have the ability to set it all up and maintain it?
There are also special CRM solutions for certain industries. And you can benefit from choosing a CRM that offers something that is specific to your industry. Be aware, however, that these may be more expensive.
Basic CRM functions
Most CRMs contain basic, standard functionality. And the CRM you choose should have them too. While the specifics of the individual functions vary from software to software, a system should be in place to help you with the following tasks:
- Contact and lead management
- Document sharing and storage
- Workflow automation
- Interaction tracking
- Mobile access
Look for these core CRM functions before making any final decisions.
Extended CRM functions
It is also important to consider the advanced CRM features that you will need. Often times these are only available for high level plans. So this plays a role in your pricing plan selection and can have a significant impact on your budget.
It can be helpful to outline your current processes.
This can help identify areas for improvement and the specific CRM capabilities you will need to achieve them. You can then use your list to narrow down your options.
Third Party Integrations
To truly streamline and automate your business processes, your CRM tool needs to work well with the tools you are already using to run your business. Make a list of the tools you use and double-check that your CRM is integrated with them.
Don't forget to consider the following:
- Email platforms
- Social media tools
- Internal communication software
- Customer service tools
- Call / video chat software
- Shopping cart (for e-commerce)
- Contract / offer software
- Connector (i.e. zapier)
- Analytics tools
Once you have your list, you can use it to narrow your choices down to the right CRM software. You can also use it when speaking to a sales team to make sure it has everything you need.
The different types of CRM software
There are three different types of CRM software. The most common type is ready for use. Fortunately, companies are integrating more functions from the other software types into their operational CRM systems.
This minimizes the need for companies to have three separate pieces of software.
Before we get into my top recommendations, let's talk about these different types and what they mean.
Operational CRMs support companies of all sizes in handling business processes and improve the existing lead generation systems. The idea is that optimizing your operational processes will help your company deliver better customer experiences.
There are four types of operational CRMs, including:
- Customer service
This is traditionally what people think about when they hear about CRM. Therefore, all recommendations on this list fall under this category.
With analytical CRMs, companies can collect, analyze, and use the data collected from their customers. Essentially, this type of CRM software helps turn large amounts of data into valuable information that you can use to improve the customer experience.
The recommendations in this list provide some basic analysis capabilities.
However, there are certainly more robust CRM tools for collecting and analyzing customer data, especially for companies with a lot of customer information.
Collaborative CRMs make it easy for companies to share everything they learn about their customers using operational and analytical CRM software.
With this type of software, team members can quickly pass lead, contact, and customer information from one department to another.
This allows you to track the interactions between customers and your company and identify the preferred communication channels your customers use.
Both together help to improve the customer experience.
Most of the recommendations in this list provide several ready-to-use CRM solutions that integrate seamlessly, making this type of collaboration easier.
However, there are better systems out there if you're looking for something more powerful.
# 1 – Hubspot Review – The Best Free CRM Software
If you're in the sales or marketing industry, you've likely read Hubspot's blog or taken one of their free certification courses. However, they also offer robust and free CRM software to streamline your customer relationship management process.
Hubspot gives you unprecedented insight into your audience behavior.
Do you need to monitor when contacts open your email so you can optimize your open rates? No problem. You might want to see how a contact behaves on your website. It's easy with Hubspot.
In addition, they offer a variety of solutions depending on your role in your company.
These position-specific solutions include sales, marketing, customer service, operations and ownership.
The free CRM plan comes with a number of robust features including:
- Contact management
- Email scheduling
- Manage pipelines
- Meeting planner
- 1-1 live chat
- Contact website activity
- Save, track and manage tasks
- Document sharing
- VoIP calls
These features are hard to beat on other free plans on this list. However, Hubspot's paid plans are well worth the price.
The starter plan starts at $ 40 per month and is paid annually. However, if you want to bundle all of Hubspot's CRM software together, you can get all four for $ 50 a month when you get a 12 month contract.
For an additional $ 10 per month, you can also get software that specializes in marketing, sales, and customer service.
Note, however, that these prices are based on 1,000 contacts. The price increases for every additional 1,000 contacts you have.
Sign up today for a free plan to get started with Hubspot.
# 2 – Salesforce Review – The Best CRM Software for Versatility
Whether you are a small business owner or a sales, marketing, IT or customer support team, Salesforce has the perfect CRM solution. They are known for their versatility and offer special software that adapts to your requirements.
More than 150,000 companies, including T Mobile, Adidas, and Yeti, rely on Salesforce to build strong relationships with their customers.
They also offer specialized solutions for 14 different industries including:
- Financial services
- Consumer goods
- Nonprofit Organizations
The system is so versatile that you can choose which apps you need to build a complete CRM solution that is tailored to your company.
From marketing automation and e-commerce sales to call center software and self-service portals, Salesforce has everything you need for unparalleled customer relationships.
Their business plans include:
- Essentials – $ 25 / user per month (basic sales and support)
- Sales Professional – $ 75 / user per month (complete sales solution)
- Support Professional – $ 75 / user per month (full service solution)
- Pardot Growth – $ 1,250 per month for up to 10,000 contacts (Marketing Automation)
However, you can add additional features and applications as needed. They also offer other plans for CRM packages for sales, customer service, commerce and marketing with different functions.
Start your free trial today to take Salesforce for a test drive.
# 3 – Zoho CRM Review – Best for Small to Medium Business
Unlike the other options on this list, Zoho CRM is an all-in-one solution. There are no additional modules that have to be searched for different departments or the like. This makes it an excellent option for small to medium sized businesses.
They also have an extensive network of 40 other business tools. So if you're already using Zoho software, the integration with Zoho CRM is seamless.
Plus, they have a global network of over 150,000 customers (including Netflix and Bose) in 180 countries, so you know you're in good hands.
In addition, Zoho offers a free forever plan with up to three users. It contains important functions such as lead management, document approval, task management, workflow rules and a mobile application.
However, their paid plans are affordable too and include advanced CRM features like:
- Real-time sales signals and customer notifications
- Blueprint Business Management for online and offline processes
- Prospect scoring functions
- Unique sales pipelines
- Mass emails
- Inventory management
- An AI assistant
- Advanced customizations
The cheapest paid plan starts at $ 12 per user per month, making it extremely affordable for small businesses.
Sign up for a 15-day free trial to see if Zoho CRM is right for you.
Note: Zoho recently launched a sales-focused CRM specifically for small businesses. It's called Bigin and it comes with a robust free plan if you want to try it out. Bigin's paid plans are $ 7 per user per month.
# 4 – Freshsales Review – The Best CRM for Sales Teams
Unlike the other options on this list, Freshsales is specifically designed for sales teams and lead management. With Freshsales, you can build better relationships while saving time on automation.
In addition, this CRM will help you find the best leads, connect with them through the preferred method, and close the sale.
And Freshworks includes an integrated email and phone system to make the process easier.
They have a customer base of over 40,000 companies including some big names like Dyson and Best Western. While new to the industry, they are by no means inexperienced.
With Freshworks, you get powerful sales-based features including:
- Lead, contact, account and deal management
- Task and appointment management
- Merge or clone records
- Extended conversation views
- Lead scoring
- Time-based workflows
- Distribution pipelines
- Team inboxes and email forwarding
- Email scheduling, templates and notifications
- Website visitor tracking
- Mobile apps for iOS and Android
In addition to an impressive array of features, they also offer industry-specific solutions for 15 different industries including retail, e-commerce, manufacturing, logistics, healthcare and more.
Their forever free plan includes access for an unlimited number of users with limited functionality. However, it's a great way to try it out before investing.
Freshsales paid plans are more robust, yet affordable for businesses of all sizes. Their premium plans include:
- Blossom – $ 12 / user per month (for small teams)
- Garden – $ 25 / user per month (for growing teams)
- Discount – $ 45 / user per month (for large teams)
- Forest – $ 79 / user per month (for business)
Sign up for a 21-day free trial to see if Freshsales is right for you and your sales team today.
# 5 – Creatio Review – The Best CRM Software for Business
While some of the other CRM software on this list have a business plan, these may be limiting when you're managing a large operation. However, Creatio is business CRM software designed specifically for businesses like yours.
They offer specific CRM solutions for sales, marketing and customer service teams.
Marketing Creatio gives companies everything they need to optimize their multichannel marketing campaigns and manage incoming leads. It includes features like:
- Visual campaign designer
- Tracking and segmenting website behavior
- Advanced trigger campaigns
- Personalized email marketing
- Event tracking and response management
Prices depend on the number of contacts and the number of emails per contact.
Sales Creatio is perfect for large sales teams that take over after the marketing handover. It's an end-to-end sales management platform that simplifies the process and saves you time.
It includes a wide range of features including:
- Opportunity management
- Customer profiles and insights into buying behavior
- Field service management
- Performance and operation
Pricing starts at $ 30 per user per month.
After all, Service Creatio is aimed at customer service teams who are interested in optimizing their processes and creating great customer experiences from start to finish. It includes features like:
- Account and contact management
- Case and knowledge management
- Omnichannel communication
- Service catalog
- Contact Center
Pricing starts at $ 45 per user per month.
If necessary, you can bundle all three CRM solutions. And you can use their online price calculator to estimate the total cost.
Start with a free trial to see if Creatio is right for you.
Hubspot, Salesforce, and Zoho CRM are my top recommendations for most businesses. Each offers a wide range of features suitable for teams from all departments, including sales, marketing, and customer service.
What's more, they're all affordable, easy to set up, and easy to use.
However, the best CRM software for you will depend on the size of your business and the features you need. So, use the criteria we talked about above as you go through the process of making your final decision.
What CRM software do you use?