The 7 Best CRM Software Solutions in 2024

The letters CRM, circled in red pen in a page of the dictionary

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Customer relationships are at the heart of any successful business, and the right CRM software will empower your teams to optimize customer interactions across the organization.

However, finding the right software can be challenging. It can be tricky to determine what CRM solution is right for your business just by looking at the provider’s website. You don’t want to waste time and money signing up for a software plan your team can’t get to grips with.

That’s why we’ve done the work for you. Our pick for the best CRM software is Zoho CRM. It offers great value for money since it’s got a mid-range price point while still packing a ton of features. But it’s not the only contender, there are six other great options to choose from.

What are the top 7 best CRM software solutions right now?

  1. Zoho CRM – Best value for money
  2. Freshsales – Most user-friendly
  3. HubSpot CRM – Best free CRM software
  4. Pipedrive – Best for lead management
  5. monday CRM – Best for customization
  6. Salesforce – Best for automation and analytics
  7. Zendesk – Best for customer service teams

Clicking on the links will take you to the provider’s website. Our rankings are determined by how well the provider fared when evaluated using our in-house research methodology.

The Top 7 Best CRM Software Tools in 2024

Below you’ll find a simple breakdown of the top 7 best CRM software providers in 2024. If you’d like to cut straight to the chase, however, check out our CRM comparison tool, which will match you with some suitable CRM platforms based on the information you provide.

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Starting Price
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Free (paid plans start at $9 per user per month)

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Free (paid plans start at $15 per user per month)

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Free Plan
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Key Features
  • Unlimited contact limit
  • Wide range of integrations
  • Top ranking email features
Key Features
  • Customer segmentation for personalized campaigns
  • Networking features for events
  • Unlimited user limit


Key Features
  • Contacts scored by AI on success rate
  • Kanban-style deals, contacts and sales pipeline
  • 24/5 customer support available
Key Features
  • Free unlimited drip campaigns
  • Email A/B testing
  • Social media integration


Key Features
  • 400+ integrations
  • Website visitor tracking
  • LeadBooster add-on to generate more leads
Key Features
  • Project management
  • Workflow automation
  • File annotating and versioning



Key Features
  • Top-rated organization features
  • Sales engagement tools
  • Email automation
Try Salesforce Try Zoho Try Freshsales Try HubSpot Try Pipedrive Try monday CRM Try Zendesk
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Testing & Research Summary (2024)

I appreciate the breadth of features offered by Zoho CRM, especially given its price point – advanced forecasting features like sales forecasting are available on all paid plans, for example. However, you may find the platform a little overwhelming due to this. While it’s a great option if you’re looking to switch from another CRM, first-time CRM users might experience a steep learning curve.

Freshsales and monday CRM were the easiest systems to use. In Freshsales’ case, this is largely because of its excellent onboarding. Every step of the setup process comes with guidance. I found monday CRM particularly easy to get to grips with as the platform operates like a spreadsheet, and I have spent a lot of time using them. I was also able to make customizations directly from the dashboard, rather than going to a settings page.

However, Freshsales and monday CRMdon’t have many features, at least compared to HubSpot and Salesforce. During testing, HubSpot impressed us with its email scheduling features, while Salesforce was our top pick for analytics thanks to its dashboards. We did, however, have a lot of trouble importing data, which is a big drawback if you’re switching to Salesforce from another CRM.

Headshot of Expert Market Senior Writer Tatiana Lebtreton
Tatiana Lebreton Senior Writer, Expert Market

1. Zoho – Best for Value for Money

Zoho Logo
Zoho CRM
Pricing $14 – $65 per user, per month

Free plan for up to three users

Highly customizable platform

Lead scoring on all price plans


Not very beginner friendly

Limited file storage (100 MB/user max)

No spam prevention on webforms

Standard Sales forecasting, calendar booking, 10 custom dashboards $14 per user, per month (annual billing) $20 per user, per month (monthly billing)
Professional Automate follow-ups, leads assigned to available reps, unlimited custom reports $23 per user, per month (annual billing) $35 per user, per month (monthly billing)
Enterprise Advanced data visualization, customize modules, personalized customer journeys $40 per user, per month (annual billing) $50 per user, per month (monthly billing)
Ultimate Business intelligence analytics $52 per user, per month $65 per user, per month

Why is Zoho CRM the Best Value for Money?

Zoho CRM is the best value for money of all the CRM platforms we tested. It provides businesses with a vast network of features and integrations for a relatively low price.

Starting at $14 per user, per month, Zoho CRM is cheaper than Salesforce and Zendesk but includes advanced CRM features for a variety of use cases. Sales teams will appreciate Zoho’s lead scoring function, while customer service teams will enjoy detailed case management options – and these are both included in the first pricing plan.

On the marketing side, you’ll be able to create email templates and send out marketing emails en masse, although the number you can send is more limited on the cheapest plan (250 per day). Still, you’ll be able to track metrics like open rates and clicks, which is the kind of information you need to adjust your A/B tests and marketing strategy more broadly.

Zoho also has a free plan, although it’s quite limited in the sense that it only allows for three users. It’s still pretty good value for money, however, because you get access to Zoho’s suite of other business-focused apps. You won’t get any fancy forecasting tools though, or many customization options.

screenshot of interface for editing contact fields in Zoho CRM
Zoho CRM has preset fields for contacts, but we were able to edit them and make them more customizable. Source: Expert Market

Who is Zoho CRM Suitable for?

Zoho CRM is a great option for startups or small businesses looking to scale. It’s got a free plan for very small-scale operations, and four other plans designed to suit small to large businesses. Thanks to its mid-tier pricing ($14-$52 per month, per user), and large range of features, it also offers great value for money.

That said, it’s not a good option for total beginners. We found the onboarding tour a little limited, given the amount of features the platform contains. There are a lot of helpful tutorials in Zoho’s Resource Center, but a novice user would have to spend a lot of time going through them to get to grips with the platform. For a more user-friendly CRM software, we’d recommend Freshsales.

What's New in Zoho CRM?

Zoho CRM is constantly improving its platform. In March 2024, it released a host of new extensions to its platform, including OneDrive, Shopify, and Twilio SMS. It’s also increased its export limit from five detailed exports of 50,000 records a day up to 200 detailed exports a day.

2. Freshsales – Most Simple and User-friendly Platform

Freshsales Logo
Pricing Free – $59 per user per month

Easy to pick up and won’t require much training

AI-powered automatic lead scoring

Large collection of pre-made email campaign and webform templates


Limited tools for customer service teams

Steep price increase from cheapest to mid-tier plan

Offers fewer third party integrations than competitors such as Zoho CRM and Salesforce

Free $0 per user, per month (billed annually) $0 per user, per month (billed monthly)
Growth $9 per user, per month (billed annually) $11 per user, per month (billed monthly)
Pro $39 per user, per month (billed annually) $47 per user, per month (billed monthly)
Enterprise $59 per user, per month (billed annually) $71 per user, per month (billed monthly)

Why is Freshsales the Most User-friendly CRM Software?

Freshsales earned its spot as the most user-friendly CRM software thanks to its excellent onboarding process. The software will guide you through every step of the setup process, including importing data (arguably the most important step).

The platform also has a handy ‘launchpad’ tool, which is basically a search engine that users can use to look up features. This means you can quickly find the tool you’re looking for in the interface without trawling through endless menus, something we found we had to do when using HubSpot.

One of the tools we liked the most on the system is the AI-based lead scoring, called ‘Freddy AI’. It automatically generates scores for leads that indicate how likely they are to convert. You’re able to specify what type of leads are valuable, and which aren’t, to produce results accurate to your business.

However, Freshsales’ AI contact scoring system did show some inconsistencies in our testing. We uploaded five contacts with the same basic fields (name and email), and their scores differed slightly –  so we’d take the results with a grain of salt.

screenshot of Freshsales kanban style deals dashboard
We found the kanban board for 'deals' useful because it allows you to drag and drop cards between different stages easily. Source: Expert Market

Who is Freshsales Suitable for?

If you’re a small business looking for an easy-to-use CRM system, Freshsales will be right up your street. Its comprehensive onboarding, minimalistic interface, and useful AI assistant will help you get to work quickly.

Freshsales is simply a much more lightweight program compared to its heavy-duty rivals. While that might put off a large business with big sales teams, you’ll definitely find it a better fit if you’re part of a small-ish team that doesn’t need to build complex dashboards inside a multi-purpose CRM machine like Salesforce.

Freshsales is also relatively affordable. Like Zoho CRM, Freshsales has a free plan, and an affordable starting plan at $9 per month per user (cheaper than Zoho’s $14). However, it’s not quite as scalable as Zoho CRM, since there’s a steep price jump from the $9 Growth plan to the $39 Pro plan – and there isn’t quite as good on the value front.

While it won’t be appealing for small ambitious sales and marketing teams, we wouldn’t recommend Freshsales to customer service teams. It only has a few basic customer service functions, and you’d need to be on the Pro or Enterprise plans to create custom tasks for answering customer service queries. You also can’t rank tickets by urgency, a crucial function for any customer service team. If you’re looking for a CRM platform that’s rich in customer service tools, Zendesk is a better bet.

What's New in Freshsales?

Freshsales launched a few product enhancements in April 2024. For example, it added more customization options to its accounts overview pages (users can select cards and fields to display), and users can now also add their brand logo to webforms.

3. HubSpot – Best All-in-one Solution

HubSpot logo
Pricing $0 - $4,300 per month

Only pay for the premium features you need with bundle pricing

Easy-to-use interface

Free plan with comprehensive suite of features


Paid plans are expensive

Importing data is complicated and takes time

Contact scoring only available on two most expensive plans

Free Tools Free
Starter Customer Platform $15/month/user (billed annually)
Professional Customer Platform $1,170/month for 5 users (billed annually), additional users from $45/month
Enterprise Customer Platform $4,300/month for 7 users (billed annually), additional users from $75/month

Why is HubSpot the Best All-in-one Solution?

Hubspot is the best all-in-one solution for CRM largely thanks to its flexible pricing structure, which allows users to only pay for the premium features they need.

If you select the ‘Create a Bundle’ option on Hubspot’s checkout page, you’ll be able to mix and match the features on Hubspot’s three plans (Starter, Professional, Enterprise). For example, if you need minimal marketing features, but require more advanced sales features, you can select the Starter level for marketing, and the Professional or Enterprise level for sales.

When it comes to the features Hubspot offers, they’re quite extensive, and meet a variety of CRM use-cases. Here are some features we were particularly impressed by:

  • Sales Features: Call contacts directly from Hubspot. You can do this as long as you have a HubSpot-provided number (available on all paid plans), and the call will be logged and recorded.
  • Customer service features: Switch channels while talking to customers (go from live chat, to email, to Facebook messenger), and create dynamic ticket routing rules (customers can use AI chatbot or be directed to the appropriate employee)
  • Marketing features: Embed videos that contain CTAs and forms in emails, on your website, and social media, and track performance through Hubspot.
Screenshot of a marketing email being created in HubSpot CRM interface
We included the data category "Categories [the customer] had bought from," which appeared automatically in the personalization options in the email creator. Source: Expert Market

Who is HubSpot Suitable for?

Hubspot is a great solution for smaller businesses that need marketing, sales, and customer service features, but don’t want to pay for anything they’re not going to use. The bundle pricing option also lets you pick different price points for each set of CRM functions, depending on your needs, meaning you won’t pay for premium features you don’t actually need.

While the flexibility is a bonus, HubSpot can still be very expensive – the highest price point at $4,000 per month for seven users, it’s not a software we’d recommend for businesses without much of a software budget. For a more budget-friendly CRM solution that still has great features, look to Zoho CRM.

Worthy mention: Hubspot’s free plan

HubSpot offers a free plan that is a worthy rival to many of its paid competitors. The free plan allows for up to five users, a chatbot (which no Zoho plans have), and even dedicated customer service tickets (missing from Freshsales’ offering). If you’re a small marketing team on a budget, or just looking to use your first CRM software, you shouldn’t overlook Hubspot’s free plan.

For more on CRM for marketing, see our picks for the best CRM software for marketing automation.

What's New in HubSpot?

As of April 2024, marketing teams can now collaborate when creating CTAs through comments and task assignment. Hubspot also now offers a two-way integration with LinkedIn CRM, so that the sales team can share contacts and leads between the two platforms.

4. Pipedrive – Best for Detailed Lead Management

Pricing US$14 – US$129 per user, per month

AI sales assistant

30 preset workflow automations

Large amount of security settings (custom user permissions, MFA, two-factor authentication)


Best lead management features are on higher-tier plans

Not good for marketing (no drip email campaigns or email/social media integration)

Zero customer service team tools

Essential Custom data fields, notifications on stagnant deals, visual dashboards US$14 per user, per month (billed annually) US$24 per user, per month (billed monthly)
Advanced Two-way email sync, meeting scheduler, automations US$29 per user, per month (billed annually) US$39 per user, per month (billed monthly)
Professional Automatic lead assignment, required data fields, digital document signatures US$49 per user, per month (billed annually) US$64 per user, per month (billed monthly)
Power Custom to-do lists with subtasks, phone support, personalized onboarding US$64 per user, per month (billed annually) US$79 per user, per month (billed monthly)
Enterprise Stronger security features, unlimited deals per company and unlimited insights US$99 per user, per month (billed annually) US$129 per user, per month (billed monthly)

Why is Pipedrive Best for Lead Management?

Pipedrive is best for detailed lead management thanks to its automations, AI-sales assistant, and unlimited customizable pipelines, which appear in an easy-to-read Kanban view.

The platform comes with 30 preset workflow automations tailored to sales teams, so you don’t have to waste time building them when you set up – so you’ll have more time to focus on nurturing your leads. This isn’t the case for platforms like Zoho CRM and Freshsales, which demand a bit more of a DIY approach.

The top three most expensive Pipedrive plans also come with an AI sales assistant, which helps you to best choose how to respond to current deals. In addition, these plans give you access to automatic assignment, which means leads and deals will automatically be assigned to team members based on your preset custom criteria.

Pipedrive also integrates with Slack, Trello, and teams, enabling actions to be made within those apps based on activity within Pipedrive.

Our one gripe is that most of Pipedrive’s most attractive features are missing from its two cheapest plans, Essentials and Advanced, making the starting point $49 per month, per user, for most of what we’ve discussed.

Screenshot of add deal interface in Pipedrive CRM
We found Pipedrive's interface clear and easy to use. We didn't have any trouble adding contacts and deals. Source: Expert Market

Who is Pipedrive Suitable for?

Pipedrive is ideal for SMEs looking for a sales team CRM solution that comes with capable lead management features like list segmentation, automated workflows, and can accommodate a large number of pipelines.

Who it’s not for are businesses looking for a marketing or customer service CRM solution, since Pipedrive is highly focused on sales. It has no customer service tools, and limited email campaign functions.

For a customer service CRM solution, we recommend Zendesk, and for marketing functionality, we think you’d be better suited to Zoho CRM or Hubspot.

What's New in Pipedrive?

Pipedrive has made several tweaks to its platform in May. These include a new integration with Surfe, allowing users to bring LinkedIn lead data into Pipedrive, and a ‘recurring products’ feature, allowing users to set up recurring billing cycles for products.

5. monday CRM – Best for Customization

New logo of monday CRM
monday CRM
Pricing $12 - $33 per user, per month

Near endless customization

Large app store with 150+ integrations

Affordable pricing


Limited features (ex: no preset lead scoring automation)

Limited marketing features (ex: no email drip)

Chart library for data visualization is small

Free (coming soon) Store and visualize your own contacts $0
Basic Templates for lead management, smartphone app use, unlimited contacts $12 per user, per month (billed annually) $15 per user, per month (billed monthly)
Standard Email integration, create invoices, merge duplicate data $17 per user, per month (billed annually) $20 per user, per month (billed monthly)
Pro Sales forecasting, mass emails, email automations $28 per user, per month (billed annually) $33 per user, per month (billed monthly)
Enterprise Lead scoring, advanced analytics, enterprise-scale automations Custom

Why is monday CRM the Best for Customization?

monday CRM is the best CRM software for customization, allowing users to customize everything from dashboard, contact fields, tasks, and objects – and all with just a few clicks.

The platform is structured as a series of customizable rows and columns, similar to a spreadsheet, giving you a comparable amount of control over how data is displayed. There are also no fixed separate dashboards, for leads and deals for example, so you can combine information and items as you see fit.

We also appreciated how easy it was to customize monday CRM. Most changes can be made directly from the dashboard with a few clicks, whereas in competitor platforms we typically needed to sift through the settings to do this. monday CRM is impressive because it opts for this “blank canvas” approach, yet remains really easy to use.

There is a downside to this approach, though – its features aren’t as extensive as other CRM platforms. Marketing features are limited to webform creation and email sending, for instance. There’s also no preset automatic lead scoring, and while you can set parameters for this, it’s an extra step that could easily be removed.

screenshot of deals dashboard on CRM
We could set customizable priority status labels to items on, and particularly like the color-coding it gave use. Source: Expert Market

Who is monday CRM Suitable for?

monday CRM is suited to sales teams and service agents that have complex pipelines or a unique operating structure and need a CRM system with wide-ranging customization.

In the same vein, if you’ve found your current CRM a little restrictive and you want to try out another provider, monday CRM might be worth taking out for a test spin. You can use any paid monday CRM plan for a month before you have to pay anything, so there’s really no downside.

However, we don’t recommend monday CRM for marketing purposes, since it has virtually no features to support this, and lacks social media integrations. A better option for marketing CRM is Zoho CRM, which integrates your social media presence.

What's New In monday CRM?

In March 2024, monday CRM’s added click-through rate tracking for mass emails to its suite of features, in order to help teams measure engagement. More recently in May 2024, monday CRM added a sales leaderboard widget, which means you can inject a bit of healthy competition into your team!

6. Salesforce – Best for Automation and Analytics

Salesforce Logo
Pricing $25 – $500 per user per month

Feature-rich, with powerful, AI-driven automation and reporting functionality

Huge number of integrations

Excellent customer service, with a huge online knowledge base at your disposal


Tricky to use (importing data was particularly unintuitive)

Quite expensive when compared to competitors

Customer support costs extra

Starter Suite Lead management, email integration, schedule meetings $25 per user, per month
Professional Forecast management, customized reports, quoting $80 per user, per month
Enterprise Process automation, advanced pipeline insights $165 per user, per month
Unlimited AI lead scoring and deal health, premium support $330 per user, per month
Einstein 1 Sales Performance management, data cloud $500 per user, per month

Why is Salesforce best for automation and analytics?

Salesforce is one of the largest, most popular cloud-based CRM platforms on the market, with a market share of almost 20%, so it’d be hard not to include it in our list.

We chose Salesforce as the best CRM for automation and analytics because it has numerous options for automation, and more in-depth analytics tools than other CRM platforms.

Automation options aren’t just limited to automatically assigning leads once they’ve come in. Instead, Salesforce’s AI software ‘Einstein Analytics’ can generate content for your sales, marketing, commerce, and customer service teams.

When it comes to analytics and reporting, Salesforce has a report-building functionality separate from its dashboard creator. This means you can combine data from different dashboards, such as income and contact data, into one single spreadsheet. Data can also be displayed in many different ways, such as donut, funnel, line, bar, and dot charts.

However, we will warn you that the learning curve for this tool is fairly steep. Most customizations have to be done in the settings menu, and we struggled a lot with importing data due to Salesforce not being able to map fields automatically (we had to manually indicate them to the software).

screenshot of salesforce opportunities report
Salesforce allows different views of your opportunities, including a kanban view. Source: Expert Market

Who is Salesforce Suitable for?

Salesforce is best for the sales or customer service teams of growing businesses that need in-depth analytics and want to streamline processes through automation.

We’d recommend it to SMEs over very small businesses, both because of Salesforce’s high price point (the cheapest plan is $25 per user, per month, $10 more than competitors), and because larger businesses will benefit the most from the premium features available on the platform.

This is particularly the case when it comes to integrations. If you’re a larger business, you probably use a lot of software already, and need a CRM system that integrates with it. The Salesforce AppExchange connects your CRM to thousands of third-party applications – so there’s very little the software doesn’t work with.

As we mentioned above, Salesforce isn’t cheap. But if you are looking for CRM software that won’t burn a hole in the pocket of your slacks, we can help. We’ve listed the top 15 cheap CRM systems in the US – go get yourself a bargain!

What's New In Salesforce?

As part of its Summer 2024 releases, Salesforce has launched ‘Conversation signals’. This AI-tool detects keywords, product information, and positive and negative signals from sales calls, to produce reports and analysis.

7. Zendesk – Best for Customer Service

Zendesk logo
Pricing $19 - $219 per user, per month

Easy to switch between communication channels

Wide range of built-in VoIP functions and VoIP integrations

AI-powered customer chatbots


Sales and marketing related tools are a little limited

No custom reporting on two cheapest plans

Support Team $19 per user, per month (billed annually) $25 per user, per month (billed monthly)
Support Professional $55 per user, per month (billed annually) $69 per user, per month (billed monthly)
Support Enterprise $115 per user, per month (billed annually) $149 per user, per month (billed monthly)
Sell Team $19 per user, per month (billed annually) $25 per user, per month (billed monthly)
Sell Growth $55 per user, per month (billed annually) $69 per user, per month (billed monthly)
Sell Professional $115 per user, per month (billed annually) $149 per user, per month (billed monthly)
Sell Enterprise $169 per user, per month (billed annually) $219 per user, per month (billed monthly)

Why is Zendesk Best for Customer Service?

We chose Zendesk as the best for customer service because it enables users to have multiple channels open with customers, and brings everything together through dashboards and third-party analytic tools.

For example, tickets from all channels are fed into the same space, so agents can easily access and see them. There’s also a feature called ‘Side Conversations’, enabling you to speak to a team member for further support without leaving the main ticket screen.

Additionally, Zendesk allows you to let customers initiate tickets in multiple ways, including Whatsapp and X (formerly known as Twitter). This gives your customers the ability to contact you easily, and have their issues resolved more efficiently. Plus, it integrates with popular VoIP providers’ systems, such as RingCentral, Dialpad, and GoTo, making crossover between your phone lines and CRM possible.

screenshot of Zendesk CRM sequence settings
Zendesk allows you to create your own sequences with automated emails and task reminders. Source: Expert Market

Who is Zendesk Suitable for?

Zendesk has two sets of three plans, one is more sales oriented, and is more customer service oriented.

However, we’d recommend Zendesk for its customer service CRM plans over its sales ones, mainly because Zendesk’s sales plans are missing a few such as quote and invoice creation, while its service plans have a comprehensive suite of tailored features.

We also wouldn’t recommend Zendesk to businesses that want in-depth reporting features, since customized reports are only available on the two most expensive customer service plans, starting at $115 per user per month.

For a top of the notch sales focused CRM platform, that also has excellent reporting and analytics, go with Salesforce.

What's New In Zendesk?

As of May, Zendesk users with admin status can now permanently delete custom ticket statuses (previously they could only be deactivated). Zendesk has also introduced a new dataset that lets managers gain insights into employee’s workload and productivity.

How Much Does a CRM Cost?

The cost of CRM varies greatly based on your industry, team size, data allowance, contact allowance and more.

Some CRM systems are completely free, and are a good option for startups who want to test CRM software, or very small teams. They do, however, come with limited features and only accommodate a small number of users.

The cheapest paid plans start at $10-$12 per month, per user, and are good entry-level software for small businesses on a budget. Like with the free version, they tend to have limitations on the number of users, and the number of contacts you can store in them, but they’re generally easy to use.

If you upgrade to a more complete plan, you’ll pay between $30-$90 per month, per user on average. CRM software at this price point will suit small to medium businesses, and comes with more features, integrations, contact storage, and users than cheaper of free software plans.

Lastly, Enterprise plans for large companies with complex needs can be in the thousands.

Many CRM platforms also offer two pricing systems – annual and monthly. If you pay annually, the price will be slightly reduced.

You should also check whether you’ll incur extra costs due to add-ons, training costs and integrations that aren’t included in the basic fees for the system before committing to a long-term contract.

To compare CRM price tiers, go to our page, which offers a full breakdown.

CRM Buying Guide: How To Choose the Right CRM Software

With so many options out there, searching for the right CRM software can cause quite a head spin. Here are our tips for what factors to consider when choosing a CRM platform:

Ease of Use

Consider how easy your chosen provider is to use by reading reviews like ours, and customer testimonials. If your existing staff has previous experience using CRM software, it’s more likely they can handle a more complex platform. But don’t overlook new recruits, since you want to minimize onboarding time.

A big factor that effects how easy CRM software is to use is its level of customization. A highly customizable platform can take some time to set up, however, once you’ve organized it to perfectly match your needs, it’ll be much easier to use.

Make sure to take a look at the onboarding support, or or checking out the free trial version before taking the plunge, since this can also help you determine a software’s suitability.


Consider which features are a must-have for your business and check that these are included in your chosen plan. While some are expensive and some are cheaper, the most important thing is value for money. A more advanced system that allows you to outsource simple functions to automation will save you money in the long run, so it can be worth investing in a more high-end system.

Another factor to consider is your payment terms. Some providers charge less if you commit to them yearly, so this can be a great way to score a better deal.

Sales and Marketing features

There is a vast array of tools and features that can be included (or not) in CRM software. Double-check that your team will be able to fulfil all of its actions within your chosen software.

The features you need will differ depending on whether you have sales or marketing intentions. For example, you may want to check how well you can create a sales pipeline, or how well you can create and test campaigns or perform multi-channel lead capture. The list goes on!

Customer Support

With any technology, you may occasionally run into hurdles. This is where customer support comes in to save the day.

Check the availability of your chosen provider’s customer support. Some operate online only, whereas some can be reached via telephone too, which can be crucial if you’re somebody who prefers to speak to another human being rather than a chatbot.

What Are the Key Features to Look For in CRM Software?

The most important features in a CRM system are:

  • Contact/customer management: the main reason businesses use CRM, customer management features should help you store and visualize data from customers or contacts.
  • Automation: Whether it be automatic messages once a certain action has been completed, updating data across different boards, or moving projects down the pipeline, a good CRM software should have some degree of automation.
  • Customization: Your business is unique, so looking for a CRM platform that lets you customize data sets, processes, and reports, will ensure it matches your needs, and improves efficiency rather than slows you down.
  • Integrations: Choosing a CRM system that integrated with your existing software, whether it be a VoIP phone system or accounting suite, will save you from having to manually export and import data across platforms, and open up your CRM system to more use-cases.

This is just a list of general features, more specific key features your team needs will depend on they role in your organization. Here are some other features you may want to look out for if your team falls into these three common CRM user roles: sales, marketing, and customer service.

Marketing Teams: Key CRM Features

With the right CRM tools in place to execute multi-channel campaigns and capture interested prospects, pipeline and revenue growth follows, marketing teams can generate and qualify more leads to hit their pipeline goals.

Key CRM features for marketing teams include:

  • Campaign analytics
  • Automated emails
  • Landing pages creation
  • Social media and email integration

Sales Teams: Key CRM Features

For sales teams, having a complete view of prospects and deals along with tools to advance them is key for hitting revenue goals.

Key CRM features for sales teams include:

  • Contact management
  • Stakeholder deal pipeline tracking
  • Task automation and automatic reminders
  • Proposal/quote management.

Customer Service Teams: Key CRM Features

Seamless customer service requires context and communication tracking – which a CRM enables for support teams.

Key features for customer services teams include:

  • Support ticketing
  • Business website integration
  • Customer communication history logging
  • Service analytics

Read more about how CRM can help automated your customer service in our dedicated guide.

How We Test CRM Systems for Businesses

We tested 13 market-leading CRM systems to evaluate them in terms of functionality, usability, cost, scalability, and more so we can make the most useful recommendations to US businesses.

Our rigorous testing process means these products have been scored and rated in six main categories of investigation and 13 subcategories – in fact, we covered 84 areas of investigation in total. We then gave each category score a ‘relevance weighting’ to ensure the product’s final score perfectly reflects the needs and requirements of Expert Market readers – and that’s our product testing algorithm in a nutshell!

Our main testing categories for CRM systems are:

Features: the functionalities and capabilities provided by the CRM software, such as contact management, lead and opportunity tracking, and task and activity management.

Help and Support: the resources and assistance available to users when they encounter issues or require guidance while using the CRM software.

Customization: the ability to tailor the CRM software to suit the specific needs and processes of the organization, e.g. customizing fields, layouts, and workflows.

Scalability: the ability of the CRM software to accommodate the growth and changing needs of the organization, such as the capacity to handle a growing customer database.

Price: the cost associated with using the CRM software. It includes factors such as licensing fees, subscription plans, and additional charges for add-on modules or features.

Team Structure – Sales CRM: determining if a platform makes it easier to manage large sales teams, including team dashboards, team hierarchies, and team inboxes.

Usability – Small Business CRM: assessing the simplicity of the interface, the ease of navigating through menus and options, and the overall user experience.


Our top three picks for the best CRM systems are Zoho CRM, Freshsales, and Hubspot.

Based on our research, we think Zoho CRM offers you the most value for your money. It’s got a low starting price of $14 per user, per month, but still has enough features to suite a variety of CRM use-cases, from sales, to customer service. If you’re willing to pay more for an even more comprehensive CRM solution, we’d recommend you look at Hubspot.

If you’re relatively new to CRM, and want and easy and affordable system to get started with, we’d suggest you go with Freshsales. Starting at $9 per user, per month, it’s cheaper than Zoho, and its excellent onboarding process and search bar function will ensure you don’t lose your way while using it.

If you’re still unsure about which of these popular CRM solutions is best for your business, try our free comparison tool.

Simply provide us with a bit of info about your unique CRM requirements and we’ll match you with your best-suited CRM providers, who’ll offer tailored CRM quotes and advice. You’ll just need to set aside around 30 seconds of your time and be a US-based business. It’s that easy!

Written by:
Rob Binns
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.
Reviewed by:
James thinks all businesses can improve if they use the right technology. At Expert Market, he utilises his 4+ years experience as a researcher to offer specialised advice on a wide range of categories from CRM to Fleet Management.