Analytical CRMs: Definition, Benefits, and Best Suppliers

The hand of an analyst gesturing to data on a computer

By Rob Binns | Senior Writer | Updated: 5 February 2021

Looking for a CRM tool that packs more of a punch? Want to prioritize automation over admin? Keen to spend less time running your business, and more time growing it? You’re in the right place…


It’s a fact as irrefutable as the laws of nature – as your business grows, so too will your reporting and analysis needs.

Pretty soon, the CRM (customer relationship management) system that served you so well as a small business won’t cut it anymore, and you’ll want to explore a more heavy-hitting alternative.

Enter analytical CRM software. Pioneered by the likes of Salesforce and Microsoft, analytical CRM allows you to use customer data to make more informed decisions about the future. We’re talking sales forecasting, revenue cycle modeling… basically, anything that turns raw data into refined statistical insights to help your business scale.

Sound good? Read on – we’re breaking down what analytical CRM is, and why you need it. Better still, we’ve conducted over 40 hours of research to rank, rate, and review the top 5 analytical CRMs in the US.

Let’s start at the beginning, though – what is analytical CRM, exactly?


What is Analytical CRM?

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software works on three levels.

At its most simplified, a CRM tool is a kind of database, from which you can manage your contacts, deals, and prospects in one place.

Of course, it’s more than this though. The value of a CRM system’s second level of functionality lies not in the mere storing of that data, but how you use it to automate key sales, marketing, and customer service processes.

If you’ve ever received an email from a mailing list, filled out a webform, or done business with a chat bot, you’ve come into contact with CRM software.

Finally – on the third, and most advanced level – there's analytical CRM.

A series of screens displaying analytical dashboards

Analytical CRM tools leverage your business’ sales, customer service, and marketing information to provide data-driven insights into past, present, and future commercial performance.

In most cases, this means real-time reporting – and we don’t just mean creating pretty graphs and charts to impress investors, either. CRMs equipped with analytical capabilities (and it’s not all of them) utilize machine learning and artificial intelligence. In doing so, they provide breakdowns of your business’s current and historical sales metrics, as well as predictive forecasts for the future.

Analytical CRM also leverages the best in business intelligence to drill down into your customers' purchasing behaviors. Who’s interacting with your website, and when are they most active? Who isn’t converting, and why? Better still, what can you do to turn them into your next customer?

With analytical CRM on your side, you’ll be able to answer all of these questions, among others. Moreover, you’ll be able to drop the manual tasks, do more of what works, and adopt a smarter, more streamlined approach to doing business.

Shall we find out how?

Are you in the right place?

This article is dedicated to analytical CRM software – that is, the higher end of the spectrum in terms of the technology available for businesses. Analytical CRM isn’t typically available as a standalone product, but rather as an add-on – you’ll usually need a subscription to the CRM it works with to access it.

That – combined with the larger price tag these systems usually come with – means it’s more medium-sized to large businesses (or at least those that are more established) that are set to benefit from this list. It’s these businesses that have more need of the granular insights the following CRM systems offer, and thus who we’ve tailored this list to.

If your business isn’t at this stage in its growth yet, don’t fret. For startups, or those trying CRM for the first time, we recommend heading to our page on the best CRMs for small businesses instead.


What are the Benefits of Analytical CRM?

In order to rate each analytical CRM provider on its effectiveness for medium-sized to large businesses, we assessed each provider on four key features all advanced CRM systems need to have.

Conveniently, these features also illustrate several of the key benefits analytical CRM can introduce to your business:

Sales Reporting

Generating accurate reports about the sales your business has made over a specific period isn’t just about understanding how much money you’ve made – it’s how you turn short-term success into long-term profitability.

Sales reporting allows you to understand who your customers are, and where they’re coming from. It allows you to identify the bottlenecks in your pipeline, and address them with confidence. Moreover, sales reporting allows you to see how each of your individual reps are performing against their own targets, and what that means for your business at large.

Revenue Cycle Modeling

Think of the sales funnel – that familiar shape that adorns the walls of break rooms and sales academies across the country.

Well, a revenue cycle is basically that, but tailored to your own business. It’s also less of a funnel, and more of a cycle – mapping out the journey each one of your customers will take, from a prospect all the way to a closed deal, or from failure to re-engagement.

Revenue cycle modeling allows you to understand where the gaps in that user journey lie. Moreover, it enables you to remove any roadblocks to lead qualification and conversion, while developing an intimate knowledge of the customer experience.

Did You Know?

CRM software ranges wildly in price. You can bag a system for as little as $8 per user, per month, or spend as much as $300 per user, per month for a more extensive solution, such as Salesforce.

To get to grips with the full spectrum of CRM costs, explore our bumper CRM pricing guide.

Sales Forecasting

Sales forecasting helps your team plan for the future, analyzing current sales to provide an estimation of what quota you can expect to hit in the weeks and months ahead.

Forecasting helps you manage your resources, cash flow, workforce, and growth. Taking into account a combination of your business’s historical data, wider economic trends, and your competitors’ situations, effective forecasting is vital to sales success.

Business Intelligence

Business intelligence is the process of analyzing and understanding data to make better decisions.

It’s also about seeing the bigger picture – about pulling data from numerous sources to get a holistic view of your operations. Business intelligence allows you to know what you’re doing well, and improve in the areas you’re not. It’s not necessarily limited to your own activities, either – if done well, business intelligence can help you identify emerging market trends and new opportunities to scale.

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1. Does your business already use analytical CRM software? YES NO

The Best Analytical CRM Software Suppliers in 2021

Our expert team researched, ranked, and rated multiple CRM software providers to determine which analytical CRMs are the best fit for your business.

According to our extensive research, Salesforce – with its superlative, AI-driven reporting module Einstein Analytics – is the top CRM pick for medium-sized to large businesses seeking CRM.

Rounding out the rest of our top analytical CRMs are SugarCRM’s Sugar Discover, Microsoft Dynamics 365’s Sales Insights, Zendesk Explore, and Zoho Analytics.

The best analytical CRM systems in 2021 are:

Salesforce Einstein AnalyticsZendesk ExploreDynamics 365 Sales InsightsSugar DiscoverZoho Analytics
Starting price$75 per user, per month$9 per user, per month$50 per user, per monthDependent on module$20 per month
Highest price$150 per user, per month$12 per user, per monthN/AOn request$400 per month
Best forDetailPriceCustomizabilityReportingUser-friendliness
Sales reportingXX
Revenue cycle modeling
Sales forecastingX
Business intelligence
Free trial?30 daysFree version and trialYesDemo onlyFree version

Read on to find out why, or dive right in and start comparing quotes from top CRM suppliers immediately. How?

Simply provide us with a bit of info about what you’ll require in an analytical CRM system  – such as how many users it’ll be for, what features you’ll need, and what kind of contact management software you currently rely on – and we’ll match you with suppliers that fit your requirements.

They’ll then be in touch with quotes tailored to your business. It takes just 30 seconds, and it’s free.


Salesforce Einstein Analytics

Best for the most detailed sales and service insights

Everything about Salesforce’s Einstein Analytics is designed to make your job easier. Visualizing all your business’s crucial data (from external systems as well as your own) on a single screen, you’ll have everything you need to make smarter decisions. Better still, everything is customizable: templates, apps, workflows, dashboards… the lot.

Expert Rating: Compare Quotes from Analytical CRM Suppliers

Perhaps the only setback is that Einstein Analytics is, well… too advanced! Many user reviews suggest it can be tough to use, and even harder to get to grips with. You’ll receive amazing insights, but equally need to be prepared for the costs and onboarding difficulties that may arise.

Works with Salesforce products:Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud
Starting price$75 per user, per month
Highest price$150 per user, per month

Salesforce Einstein Analytics: Feature Analysis

Sales reporting? Yes.

Revenue cycle modeling? And how! Einstein Analytics empowers you to build complex revenue cycle models based on how your users are interacting with your website, allowing you to see which behaviors led to which purchases, and better optimise your site and marketing for conversions.

Sales forecasting? Yes.

Business intelligence? Yes – in fact, Einstein Analytics actually represents the industry’s most advanced reaches into the depths of customer data analysis. Utilizing both machine learning and artificial intelligence, Salesforce offers granular insights into your customers, your team’s performance, and the overall health of your business.

Pros:

  • Tailored to provide insights for sales and customer service teams specifically
  • Integrates with thousands of third-party applications
  • User-friendly mobile app

X Cons:

  • Notoriously difficult to get to grips with
  • At $75 per user, per month, Einstein Analytics is expensive – particularly when added to Salesforce’s already steep costs

Zendesk (Explore)

Best for businesses on a budget

With an inviting price point of just $9 per user, per month, and a completely free version, there’s plenty you’ll want to explore when it comes to Zendesk’s analytical CRM. Working with Zendesk’s solutions for both sales and customer service teams, Explore enables you to break down your business’s most complex data, and then rebuild it in digestible graphs and reports. Omnichannel capability allows you to see how people are relating to your brand across all platforms, too – including email, social media, chat, and phone.

Expert Rating: Compare Quotes from Analytical CRM Suppliers

Sure, Zendesk Explore certainly isn’t the most feature-rich analytical CRM system on our list (if it were, you’d be adding another zero onto the end of those prices). However, it’s still a powerful piece of software – and, at the very least, an excellent entry-level analytical CRM for growing businesses.

Works with Zendesk products:Sell, Support
Starting price$9 per user, per month (free version available)
Highest price$12 per user, per month

Zendesk Explore: Feature Analysis

Sales reporting? No – this feature is part of Zendesk Sell, but not Explore. Zendesk Explore’s reporting features are tailored more to handling ticket submissions, and automating your team’s customer service CRM endeavors.

Revenue cycle modeling? Yes, but with Zendesk Explore’s ‘Professional plan’ ($9 per user, per month) only – not the free version!

Sales forecasting? No.

Business intelligence? Yes.

Pros:

  • Boasts an aesthetically pleasing user interface
  • Low starting price
  • Its reporting features are well-suited to customer service teams...

X Cons:

  • …but not so much to sales teams!
  • No sales forecasting feature, although this is available with Zendesk Sell’s ‘Professional’ plan and above

Dynamics 365 Sales Insights

Best for smart. customizable features

Microsoft bills its analytical CRM software as “bringing together the art and science of selling”. Good marketing… but does it live up to its mission statement?

We think so. Like Salesforce, Dynamics 365 leverages the best in AI, providing real-time insights to increase your sales team’s performance, and turn engagement into leads. As well as providing personalized talking points to help your salespeople start a conversation, Dynamics 365 also offers ‘health scores’, helping you keep tabs on any dwindling relationships with your clients.

Expert Rating: Compare Quotes from Analytical CRM Suppliers

Sales Insights comes at an appealing price point, too. However, you’ll have to pay extra for ‘Customer Insights’ and ‘Customer Service Insights’, its separate analytical tools for marketing and service teams, respectively.

Works with Dynamics 365 products:Dynamics 365 for Sales
Starting price$50 per user, per month
Highest priceFixed fee ($50 per user, per month)

Dynamics 365 Sales Insights: Feature Analysis

Sales reporting? Yes.

Revenue cycle modeling? Yes.

Sales forecasting? Yes.

Business intelligence? Yes – AI is available to supplement your sales data and help your team make more efficient decisions, such as prioritizing your lead pipeline and providing accurate profit extraps.

Pros:

  • Provides excellent predictive analysis
  • Powered by artificial intelligence
  • Considering the significant price tag of Dynamics 365’s other products, this one’s a bargain!

X Cons:

  • Requires a significant investment of resources to set up and use effectively
  • No on-premise solution available
  • The interface is a little clunky

Just thought we'd let you know – you’re over halfway through our list of the top 5 analytical CRMs. Time to start comparing quotes?

Simply hit one of the buttons below to start our quick questionnaire. It takes just 30 seconds to do, and by telling us more about your business’s specific analytical CRM software requirements, we can help ensure that you receive the best, most personalized rates on analytical CRM systems in the US.

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SugarCRM (Sugar Discover)

Best for data visualization and intelligent reporting

Sugar Discover – available as an add-on to SugarCRM’s products for sales, customer service, and marketing automation – does its work very much behind the scenes.

It continuously analyzes your sales and marketing metrics, identifying the relationships and patterns that exist across all your customer, lead, sales, and campaign data. This enables Sugar Discover to catch on to any changes in the norm, offering insights into what’s happened… and more importantly, why.

Expert Rating: Compare Quotes from Analytical CRM Suppliers

Our only gripe? The price point. Sugar Discover comes in at around half the price of what you’ll pay for the system it relies upon. However, when this initial cost can be as low as $52 per month and as high as $1,000 per month, there’s not much in the way of transparency.

Works with SugarCRM products:Sugar Sell, Sugar Market, Sugar Serve
Starting priceAround 50% of your total selected package with the above modules
Highest priceOn request

SugarCRM Sugar Discover: Feature Analysis

Sales reporting? No.

Revenue cycle modeling? Yes.

Sales forecasting? Yes.

Business intelligence? Yes.

Pros:

  • Its ‘root cause identification’ feature allows your team to get to the bottom of issues with ease
  • Straightforward onboarding process

X Cons:

  • No sales reporting functionality
  • There's a distinct lack of pricing transparency
  • The interface is a little clunky

Zoho Analytics

Best for the simplicity and usability of its interface

With two million users across half a million organizations – including HP, La Liga, IKEA, and Hyundai – Zoho Analytics must be doing something right. And, according to our researchers, it is – most noticeably the stylish, stripped-back elegance of its interface. But Zoho Analytics boasts just as much substance, with a scalable, BI (business intelligence) development platform that offers the highest levels of customizability.

Expert Rating: Try Zoho for Free

Our favorite feature has to be Zia, though. It’s a smart analytical assistant powered by AI, machine learning, and NLP (natural language processing). Ask it anything, and watch it come up with the reports or metrics to answer your query in moments.

Of course, Zoho Analytics does have its setbacks. It doesn’t boast as many features as Einstein Analytics or Dynamics 365 (though in truth, not many analytical CRM systems do), and sometimes it can be tough to drill right down to find the data you need.

Price-wise, it’s not quite as affordable as the rest of Zoho’s range of software products – though a passable free version helps to negate this.

Works with Zoho products:All
Starting priceCloud-based: $20 per month (free version available)

On-premise: Free

Highest priceCloud-based: $400 per month

On-premise: $30 per user, per month

Don’t know your cloud from your on-premise? Check out our guide to the best cloud-based CRM systems to get clued up.

Zoho Analytics: Feature Analysis

Sales reporting? Yes.

Revenue cycle modeling? Yes.

Sales forecasting? Yes, though this functionality is included as part of Zoho’s regular CRM, rather than being a feature of its analytics module alone.

Business intelligence? Yes.

Pros:

  • Zoho Analytics also offers an on-premise solution
  • Zia – wow!
  • Highly customizable
  • Affordable, and with a free version to boot

X Cons:

  • Its mobile app can be slow to update with data, with some online reviews branding it ‘cumbersome’
  • Limited range of integrations when compared to some other analytical CRM software providers

Next Steps

When it comes to data-crunching, number-churning, metric-munching analytical CRM solutions, these providers are the very best.

Of course, smaller businesses won’t require the sheer level of granularity the above systems have to offer. But as those businesses become bigger – and as medium-sized operations evolve into enterprise-level companies – analytical CRM stops being just a possibility, and starts becoming a necessity…

…which makes choosing the right provider even more important.

So, if you’re ready to compare quotes and explore how analytical CRM software could work at your business, let us help.

Simply take 30 seconds to complete our quick quote-finding form. Once you’ve provided us with a few details about your business, we’ll do the rest. All you need to do is sit back, relax, and wait for your phone to ring. When it does, there’ll be tailored quotes on the other end, ready for you to compare.

It’s free for all US-based businesses, too – why not give it a shot?


Our Methodology

How We Analyze and Rate CRM Software Providers

At Expert Market, it’s our aim to provide you with the most accurate, up-to-date, and transparent product and service reviews possible. So, to help you better understand the best CRM software options out there, we’ve conducted in-depth, extensive research into the CRM software market and its top companies.

Here’s how we did it:
Independent researchers
We worked with three independent researchers to rate eight different CRM systems over a total of 40+ hours. This included five separate varieties of CRM software, as well as more than 61 specific features. Using a bespoke, industry-style algorithm, we rated each provider across four key metrics.

Ratings

  • Help and support: we assessed the level of customer support (such as email, phone, or live chat), as well as its availability (24/7, or weekdays only?), to provide a weighted score for each CRM supplier.
  • Affordability: our affordability algorithm took into account the cost of CRM ownership over 12 months – based on the average buyer – as well as factors such as free trials and money-back guarantees.
  • Features: we assessed each supplier on five specific features per type of CRM. We then weighted these scores, and translated them into a point value system. This allowed us to form accurate ratings for each CRM provider, broken down by the industry it best serves.
  • Customer approval: we assigned each provider a ‘customer score’, which involved seeking opinions from within the community, as well as feeding data aggregated from online sources into a unique algorithm. This allowed us to calculate overall customer approval scores for each CRM supplier, in real time.

survey
We take the integrity of our research seriously. If you’ve got any questions at all about our research process, feel free to get in touch with Rob, our CRM specialist, at rob.binns@expertmarket.com.

Rob Binns
Rob Binns Senior Writer

Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings to the table industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, business loans, fulfilment, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny (socially-distanced) corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.

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