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Best CRM for Small Business: Top 7 Picks for 2020

Sia Mohajer
Last updated: Aug 27, 2020

A CRM (customer relationship management system) works as an extra brain dedicated to storing notes and transactional and relational information about your current and past customers.

If you have an email marketing system, any reputable CRM should be able to integrate with it – as well as with popular accounting software, to simplify bookkeeping.

Many CRMs actually carry out these functions themselves, doing email list segmentations, tracking emails, and simplifying the bookkeeping of your business transactions.

Another key metric is the ability to crunch data in order to generate predictions about customer behaviors, trends, opportunities and sales & marketing activities.

The central goal of a CRM is to improve the satisfaction and quality of your relationship with your customers. In this guide, we look at the best CRM software for small business needs without money or infrastructure for IT teams to set up and manage complicated software.

Best CRM for Small Business in 2020


We sifted through the most trusted data for each provider, to bring you a summary of each client’s strengths and weaknesses. A Few Words on How We Ranked Each Top CRM for Small Business Needs

CRM Software Logo

These tools are aimed at individuals and small businesses wanting to avoid getting swamped by data and increasing how many opportunities are taken advantage of.

#1 HubSpot


Specifications:

  • Create a Deals Pipeline
  • Trigger Alerts for Progressions
  • Make Professional-Looking Quotes
  • Call Leads Using VOIP
  • Works on Any OS
  • Syncs with G-Suite/Microsoft Office

Pros:

  • Starter Has Detailed Metrics
  • Create/Track KPIs
  • 2 Users

Cons:

  • Limited Customizations
  • Free Version Very Basic

HubSpot Vector Logo

Our Verdict

5/5: The best small business CRM solution for small businesses features-wise, with a 100% free version.

Trial: free version

Starting: $30/mo

Best Features ✅

If you want to try out a CRM without making an investment, there’s a 100% free version that gives you basic features. The free version has inbound marketing savvy features, which you can use to improve the SEO scores of your blog posts and deliver essential email marketing.

You’ll even be given an overview of your sales pipeline, history of customer engagements across different channels, and the ability to identify/track new prospects.

Like Copper (#6 on this list), HubSpot’s  integrated with G-Suite. But you’ll also get integration with Microsoft Office 365.

HubSpot Options

It comes integrated with a bunch of other popular apps, too, such as Slack, Facebook Lead Ads and Google Sheets – helping you to add up a wide-ranging list of fussy admin tasks that can be streamlined for time efficiency (..plus new possibilities, like checking if a recipient has opened your email).

Drawbacks ❌

If you need a high degree of customization options, you’ll find yourself limited. For small businesses needing advanced features, extra may need to be paid for add-on packages to boost your CRM’s abilities.

#2 Zoho CRM


Specifications:

  • Prioritize Leads: Scoring Rules
  • Workflow Rules for Automations
  • Create Custom Pipelines
  • Bulk Emails
  • Customize Dashboards
  • Simple User Interface

Pros:

  • 100% Free Trial
  • No Credit Card Needed
  • Custom-Meet Your Sales Process

Cons:

  • No Individual Email/Lead Tracking
  • Sluggish UI

Zoho Logo

Our Verdict

4.5/5: A generous helping of features even on the standard plan, which includes automating conversions using workflow rules.

Trial: 15 days (free, no credit card)

Starting: $14.68/mo

Best Features ✅

The major boon with this platform is you can design workflows that logically organize your daily tasks without a high degree of IT complexities. Of course, also manage your leads, with all of the other essential CRM functionalities.

A slightly cheaper alternative to HubSpot.. integrate with social media, including Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, so you can reach out and engage with your leads while capturing useful data to crunch down.

As for analytics and streamlining of business processes/targets, Zoho tracks KPIs for you, taking this a step forward with rigorous sales forecasting. Keep an eye on exactly where you are in your level of synchronicity between KPIs and actual practices.

Zoho subscriptions CRM integration

Possibly the best CRM software for small business owners who want simplicity. But for even more advanced abilities, track your sales funnels at each step along the way in the Enterprise version, which isn’t far from HubSpot’s starter plan price point, at $36.64/mo.

Drawbacks ❌

There’s no individual email tracking option (the same goes for individual notifications). If your business uses lots of one-on-one interactions, this is a big limitation. The UI also is also sluggish, though it looks good – with hidden fees if you want to use add-on modules to expand the platform.

#3 Pipedrive


Specifications:

  • Android/iOS Mobile App
  • Syncs with Emails
  • Merge Duplicates
  • Contact Data Import/Export
  • Smart AI Sales Assistant
  • Activity Reminder Pushes

Pros:

  • Fast Setup: No IT
  • Simple UI
  • Real-Time Device Syncs

Cons:

  • Starter: No Email Templates
  • Starter: No Email Tracking
  • Starter: No Workflow Automations

Pipedrive Logo

Our Verdict

4.5/5: A capable CRM notable for simplifying the process, although some of the most useful features like group emailing are locked until the Professional tier ($59/mo).

Trial: 14 days (free)

Starting: $15/mo

Best Features ✅

A sales/tracking centric tool – if you’re a marketer focused on driving customers down the sales funnel, you’ll be giving a visually streamlined UI focused on the sales pipeline.. Pipedrive gives it away with the name; your partner-in-crime for deal-closing and optimizing funnels without being swamped by details.

Evaluate your workflow in one place: pick up leads, manage contacts, organize opportunities, and manage your sales pipeline. The ultimate utility of this tool is cutting down time spent on admin challenges so you can concentrate on engagement and fine-tuning.

Getting started with Pipedrive

There are customizables particularly for your sales pipelines (make for more than one). Get notifications/follow up alerts to your Android or iOS mobile. Integrate with other email clients.

Drawbacks ❌

Once upon a time, there was no native email platform, and you had to integrate it with a third-party email marketing tool such as MailChimp.

They’ve improved a great deal since. Now, you can send and track emails, but the starter plan is limited to just an inbox with basic functions. For example, you can’t use customizable templates, email en masse, or track open/click rates.

#4 Salesforce


Specifications:

  • Social Media Integrations
  • Email Support
  • Automatic Email/Meeting Tracking
  • Custom Reports/Dashboard
  • Mobile Friendly
  • Corporate Level Security

Pros:

  • Most Popular CRM Globally
  • Basic Edition for Small Businesses
  • Longest 100% Free Trial

Cons:

  • Add-Ons Can Be Expensive
  • Complex Setup

What is SalesForce

Our Verdict

4/5: Salesforce has been around for forever – the best CRM for small business big-name entry, with advanced features covering every element you could need – but not for the non-tech minded.

Trial: 30 days (free, no credit card)

Starting: $26.30/mo

Best Features ✅

The Big-Name in the CRM World this smart platform organizes you as you drive sales using SMS messaging, emails, social media, and paid advertisement. Covers team productivity, customer service, customer relations, eComs, sales, and marketing.

As for the Medium access an advanced contacts manager, with email integration and an alert system for reminders. The manager deals with leads, contacts, and opportunity management. Collaborate with your team anyway using the Salesforce mobile app.

Salesforce Options

You Get the Core CRM Essentials of Course duplicate merging, finding better leads, mass emails, and email templates – a surprising amount comes with the essential tier. Plus: build up to 5 processes/flows with drag-and-drop, though you can’t automate many finer workflow tasks including email alerts – until you climb to the Enterprise tier ($158.59).

Drawbacks ❌

Unless you have a pretty good IT and tech support infrastructure, this might not be a recommended CRM.

Configuring this client can be time-consuming and complicated. And the UI’s not ideal for beginners, making simple tasks more complex and cluttered than it needs to be (messy navigation bars). The learning curve can reach the clouds.

#5 Freshsales


Specifications:

  • Central Management System
  • 2-Way Sync for Email
  • Lead Scores
  • Integrated with SMS
  • Mobile Friendly
  • APIs

Pros:

  • Cheapest CRM
  • Visual Sales Pipeline
  • Long Free Trial

Cons:

  • Complex for Advanced Tools

freshsales Logo

Our Verdict

4/5: What is the cheapest CRM? Freshsales, with a specially advertised plan for small businesses/teams that includes all the essential CRM organizational tools.

Trial: 30 days (free, no credit card)

Starting: $12/mo

Best Features ✅

Freshsales is a moderately simple and capable CRM designed to help you expand your business, juggle opportunities, cut down on administrative rigmarole, perform email campaigns, and optimize sales funnels in one centralized hub.

The first ‘Blossom’ plan level is a central management system for leads, accounts, contacts, and prospects. Eliminate hundreds of Excel spreadsheets covering back-end admin tasks. Search using filters/categorical views, though you can’t access actionable activity insights, or those for revenue forecasts/lead conversions.

Freshsales Best Support

A small team will have essential organizational capabilities like a highly-visual sales pipeline where you see the status of deals at a glance. Also: 2-way email synchronisation, lead scoring, SMS Integrations, and integrations with over a hundred business apps.

Drawbacks ❌

The learning curve spikes for more advanced features. You’ll also find that some of the organizational systems, like filtering and sorting for contacts, aren’t particularly intuitive. Customer support is helpful but can take a while to find solutions.

#6 Copper


Specifications:

  • Simple Google Chrome Extension
  • Full G-Suite Integration
  • Schedule Meetings
  • Drag n’ Drop Pipeline Manager
  • Mobile Friendly
  • Starter Level: Basic Reporting

Pros:

  • Superb for Gmail/G-Suite Users
  • Strong Starter Features
  • Analytics on Starter Plan

Cons:

  • Significant Learning Curve
  • No Native File Attachments

Copper Brand Logo

Our Verdict

3.5/5: A relatively simple CRM which integrates very well with G Suite: the best CRM for Gmail users.

Trial: 14 days (free, no credit card)

Starting: $24/mo

Best Features ✅

A Top CRM for Small Business link this up with Gmail and it’s G-Suite and you’ll have a host of automated features running on your behalf: smart identification, customer tracking, optimizations for sales and marketing, as well as automated data entries.

The pipeline is surprisingly well-crafted, helping you to visualize your management of prospects as they qualify through each stage of the funneling process. Because the Gmail integrations are so good, you get a very simple yet streamlined way to access contacts using email, text, and even voice.

Copper Try it Now

(One interesting boon is an accurate voice transcription tool that takes notes for you inside the app: the best CRM software for small business owners who want practical tools).

Running a small team? Copper’s designed to help you manage that team and its workflow, using a  weekly task progression report with a simple drag-and-drop interface. Organize yourself over using customizable filters and alerts/follow-ups that let you know when a deal is dragging out.

Drawbacks ❌

Even though Copper has a reputation for being very simple for beginners, which is true, there is an initial learning curve. In other words, the simplicity is relative.

You may also find importing information from Excel to be troublesome, requiring you to manually enter instead. And there’s no file attachment possible, which means you need to go to your main client to send the message if you need to have an attachment.

#7 Insightly


Specifications:

  • Identify and Manage Leads
  • Mass Email Using Templates
  • Powerful Relationship Linking
  • Manage Documents in the Cloud
  • Works on Any OS
  • Mobile Synchronization

Pros:

  • Connect Different Lead Sources
  • Sync Mobile Voice Notes
  • Calendar Integration

Cons:

  • Limited Customizations

Insightly Logo

Our Verdict

3.5/5: A big reputation app that gives you essential customer relations features with surprising expansions to your typical CRM.

Trial: 14 days (free, no credit card)

Starting: $29/mo

Best Features ✅

Surprisingly, HubSpot almost doubles as the best CRM for small business and CDP (content data platform). Their ‘relationship linking’ feature is a huge boon as it manages to understand complex web engagements, mapping emails and other customer records into single-window overviews.

On the starter tier, work from any device, whether Android or iOS. Mobile apps give real-time data synchronization: works with calendars and there’s an integrated project management system for creating task milestones/tracking them.

Insightly help Center

It’s integrated with Google’s G-Suite including the calendar, and Office 365 – as well as Slack and Gmail/Outlook. Get email templates and the email/lead management system automatically detects duplicates.

They even track delivery rates in real-time, as well as open and click statistics on every template. Get notified when an email is opened – as soon as it is opened.

Drawbacks ❌

The main drawback is limited customization/very limited automation options on the starter plan. To get the essential automations, you’ll need to pay $49 for the Professional plan.

Buying Guide


Why Your Small Business Needs CRM?

CRMs of customer relationship management platforms give a small business the tools it needs to have a clear vista, showing business objectives vs. actual practices.

For instance, you’ll get insight into areas where sales are declining, where there’s high customer churn (also known as client attrition or turnover), and general dissonances between revenue targets and commission policies of sales staff.

You need to track your company’s bottom-line in a smart way, starting with an organizational overview. This includes having a place where all of your business emails, task management systems, and calendar systems are all managed.

Client management is in another crucial area, where as much visibility into your audience base will help to inform your business plan and new opportunities.

CRM Software Solutions

A CRM also helps your accountant, tracking billing processes with smart bookkeeping. And finally, client administration (including customer service) features are the core function of a CRM, giving you intelligent insight into sales trends and accuracy of deliverables.

A CRM stores and tracks all of this data for you, keeping it on the cloud where it cannot be lost. It stores the current status of your audience in their customer journey and gives you the general metrics you need to optimize conversions.

What are Benefits of Using CRM Software?

Here are three major benefits of using CRM software:

  1. The best CRM for small business should easily access up-to-date customer data. Store data about prospects (eg. learned during  meetings and sales pipelines) in a searchable directory. In this way, a CRM acts as your long-term memory, accessible across multiple devices.
  2. The best CRM software for small businessEliminate redundant/monotonous tasks using the CRM’s automations: standardize your  sales, customer service and marketing processes. Automations are useful at every level, from solo work to teamwork.
  3. Get some degree of analytics into your business’ performance and client behaviours/trends.. Not all offer this, but the best CRM software for small business needs should. Use to segment prospects/optimize your campaigns.

Things to Look for in Small Business CRM Software

Customization

How Do I Choose a CRM for My Business? For starters, CRM customisations alter existing features to make your CRM better-suited to your particular business needs. The three main customisation categories to look out for are:

  1. Custom fields that you can add to default forms. This could include contacts, opportunities, leads, and additional information.
  2. Sales/marketing automations that can be edited.
  3. Custom integrations with third-party tools such as accounting software.
Automation

CRM automations handle tediums in marketing, Sales Force Automations (SFAs), and service tasks.

Automate email campaigns like sequences with automated email list segmentations; streamline your scheduling and workload obligations; and lastly, streamline customer service based services, eg. with AI-powered chat boxes.

Vendor customer support

It’s a poor sign if your CRM has low customer support, considering that the main objective of a CRM is to improve customer relations. The number one CRM on this list (HubSpot), for example, has phone support around every continent. They also have live chat with an initial chat bot, to triage your specific query.

What You Need to Know About CRM Software (Technical Section)


CDP – Customer Data Platforms

Customer data platforms differ from CRMs as they focus on a customer’s broad marketing activities – this is tracked for you, even if someone was to read your blog a month before purchasing a product.

On the other hand, a CRM focuses on managing manually-entered customer interactions, such as personalized communications, with bookkeeping and business transactions features for accounting.

CDP Database

Both platforms track emails, but a CDP creates a broad customer database with behavioral and historical data about your customer from wide-ranging sources and glues them together. This can even include things like if they’ve used your apps, website visits and preferred content.

A CRM is more limited here. It focuses on customer transactions and requires an IT team for the setup and management. Whereas CDPs are simpler to create, though initial setup may require an IT team.

And a CDP tracks people who are not yet customers (eg. general information from social media or apps), while a CRM struggles to capture things outside of your known customer relationships.

Sales Force Automation

SFA as a general term for software that deals with Sales Management, which any top CRM for small business needs should do. These tools give you automated workflows for making the sales process more efficient and streamlined.

Use SFAS to manage your business prospects, make sales predictions and improve your team’s performance.. SFA is sometimes also called Salesforce Management.

Sales Force Automation

Key aspects are contact management, task management and pipeline/opportunity management.

Pattern Recognition

The best CRMs use pattern recognition, data mining and correlation systems that churn customer data/analyze it for you.

The Resulting Analytics Predict Things, Finding Weaknesses in Your Processes Where

  • Customer service can be improved by resolving small problems.
  • Marketing in a different way/to a different audience is wise.
  • Customer trends and behaviors can be looked in on.

FAQs


What Is the Easiest CRM to Use?

Arguably, Freshsales is the simplest: get started right away without needing IT for setup/management. They have video tutorials and the guides, with navigational icons you can hover over to see the meaning of and a short description.

freshsales contact relationship system

A live chat window’s present on every screen to access a freshsales rep. And simple buttons, for common tasks like creating leads and sending an email.

Pipedrive also advertises itself as a very easy CRM tool that only takes 2 minutes to set up. Try it for free with no credit card required for access.

They have over 90,000 users using their time-saving features focused on eliminating tedious administrative tasks, minimizing data handling.

HubSpot also focuses on simple automations, with a 100% free version you can use to test out its capabilities, with Copper also known for being relatively simple.

What Should Be Included in a CRM?

There are 3 essential CRM features any reputable solution should have, with a few more that are common:

  1. It should have a contact management system which stores addresses, names and social media accounts in a searchable depository. Make sure to choose one with a user interface that feels logically organized to you (ie. to the way you think).
  2. You should be able to track interactions, such as conversations with specific contacts across a timeline. Just consider how many times a lead will change lists as she moves down your sales funnel. You want a CRM that lets all involved parties collaborate.
  3. A lead management system that gives you key metrics into the conversion stage of prospects as they move down the sales pipeline. Choose something that visually makes sense to you with how a lead flows through your funnel.

Other common features the best CRM for small business have includes integrations with email clients like Outlook in Gmail, with segmentations of contacts into lists. Also, a way to upload, organize and store documents in a central depository so that a large team can work together for marketing/sales.

Four more capabilities the best CRM software for small business have:

  1. Send quotes/proposals to customers.
  2. See an overview of the whole sales pipeline.
  3. Get customer behaviour/sales analytics.
  4. Apply workflow automations for repetitive/redundant tasks.

What Is CRM Strategy?

The ultimate goal of CRM strategy is – one – to convert your prospects into customers. Two – to reduce customer attrition; in other words, finding ways of retaining your current customers by connecting with them through personalized communications.

The key is to align all of your business ‘verticals’. For instance, your sales, customer support, finance and marketing should be all working in tandem to deliver your CRM strategy.

CRM Strategy

Aim #1: reduce costs of acquiring new customers.

Aim #2: increase the lifetime value of each customer.

Without an efficient CRM strategy, chances are that overall customer satisfaction will be hard to improve, you will miss out on opportunities, and customer attritions will worsen. A business with a superior CRM strategy may steal what success you have managed to glean.

Conclusion


The best small business CRM? HubSpot offers the best value CRM solution, with a free version to get your feet wet – and no credit card required. The starter tier gives you perhaps the fullest set of core features.

The cheapest solution is FreshSales, for $12 each month, and a moderately long free trial. Zoho, Copper and Pipedrive all focus on simple CRM functionalities for small businesses, although they’re perhaps not as full featured as HubSpot. For instance, you can’t individually track emails with Zoho on the basic plan.

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