The Best CRM Software for Sales Teams in 2021

Drawing of increasing sales on a chalkboard

By Rob Binns | Senior Writer | Updated: 25 January 2021

We’ve researched, ranked, and rated the six best sales CRM systems for US businesses. Find yours today, and compare tailored quotes from suppliers


Salesforce vector smallHubSpot white vector smallZendesk Sell vector smallMicrosoft Dynamics vector smallFreshworks CRM vector smallZoho vector small
Pricing from (per user, per month)$25$50$19$65$25$12
Past sales
Sales forecasting
Quote proposal management$$
Lead scoringX
Payment management$$$$$

Sales automation. Though it is powered by artificial intelligence, there’s nothing new-fangled or futuristic about it. It’s something your business can start taking advantage of right now – and it’ll boost not only your productivity, but your profits, too.

And don’t worry – sales automation isn’t about replacing your human reps with robots. Rather, it’s about lightening your sales team’s admin load, while taking care of some of the more manual processes – freeing up your sales hotshots to do what they do best (which, hopefully, is sell!).

So how do you introduce sales automation to your business?

With a CRM system, that’s how. You might already know about CRM for its contact and data storage benefits. But it’s so much more than a database – in the right hands, it’s a platform that’ll help you analyze past sales performance, provide accurate forecasts for the future, and empower your reps to engage the right leads at the right time.

Ready to find out which CRM system is right for your sales team? We’re way away ahead of you.

Over 40 hours – and with the aid of three independent researchers, no less – we ranked and rated some of the world’s top CRM systems. 

Want to know what we found?


The Best Sales CRM Systems in 2021

According to our research, the best CRM for sales reps and teams is Salesforce Sales Cloud. HubSpot Sales Hub is a close second, while Zendesk Sell, Dynamics 365 for Sales, Freshworks CRM, and Zoho complete our top six.

How did we decide? Jump to our methodology to find out. You can also find out more about the sales automation metrics we used to rate the best CRM software for sales teams below.

With that clear, it’s time to check out the providers. Scroll on for our reviews and ratings, or – if you’re short on time – start comparing quotes from leading providers now.

Simply provide us with some details about your requirements – including how many users the software will be for, which features you need it to perform, and what (if any) contact management software you’re already using – and we’ll do the rest.

You’ll then receive tailored quotes from leading sales CRM providers, all for free. You just need to be based in the US to be eligible!


1. Salesforce Sales Cloud

Salesforce is our top CRM pick for sales teams. In our rankings, it gets top marks for features, while its help and support is also superb. If our ratings expose any of this sales CRM’s weaknesses, it’s the price – because, though Salesforce starts cheap, adding the functionality your sales team needs can quickly become an expensive endeavor.

With a huge market share of over 18%, Salesforce isn’t just our top CRM provider for sales teams – it’s the world’s. Upgrading to Salesforce’s premium plans offers more customizability, and adds 24/7 customer support. You’ll also have to upgrade for forecasting and proposal management features, as well as Salesforce’s awe-inspiring AI-powered lead scoring and analytical CRM functionality.

Expert Rating:

Salesforce Sales Cloud: The Basics

Starting price$25 per user, per month (10 user limit)
Highest price$300 per user, per month
Customer support: Live chat, phone (24/7), email, knowledge center
Data storage limit: 10GB + 2GB per licence of files, 10GB + 20MB per licence of data
Free trial: Three months (for Salesforce Essentials), 30 days (all other plans)

Salesforce Sales Cloud for Sales Teams: Feature Analysis

Past sales? Yes. Salesforce’s historical trend reporting is a niche feature – and is a little complex to set up – but it’s there.

Sales forecasting? Yes, but only on Salesforce’s ‘Professional’ plan and above.

Quote proposal management? Yes, but only on Salesforce’s ‘Professional’ plan and above.

Lead scoring? Yes, but only on the ‘Professional’ plan and above.

Payment management? Yes, but you’ll need to pay extra for Salesforce’s CPQ (configure, price, quote) tool, and acquire ‘Salesforce Billing’ for full payment functionality. Rates for this aren’t advertised… but it looks expensive!

Pros:

  • An effective app makes it easy for reps out in the field to access and update information on the go
  • World-class analytics

X Cons:

  • Tricky to justify the basic plan – you’ll need to upgrade to get your hands on the worthwhile features

2. HubSpot Sales Hub

With full marks for customer approval and excellent help and support, HubSpot comes in at a close second. Though it’s somewhat let down by its price point (and, to an extent, its features), HubSpot’s Sales Hub remains a superlative pick for sales teams.

Starting at $50 per user, per month, HubSpot isn’t the cheapest sales automation tool out there – but it’s certainly still one of the most popular CRM solutions on the market. With a firm focus on helping small sales teams scale, Sales Hub has a slick, user-friendly set of sales automation features, and a free version that blows most of the competition out of the water.

Expert Rating: Try HubSpot for Free

HubSpot Sales Hub: The Basics

Starting price$50 per user, per month (when billed annually. Expect to pay around 25% more on a monthly plan)
Are you a startup? You might be eligible for 90% off, with HubSpot’s ‘HubSpot for Startups’ program.
Highest price$1,200 per user, per month (10 user minimum)
Customer support: Live chat, phone, email, knowledge center
Data storage limit: 1,000 documents
Free trial: Free version available

HubSpot Sales Hub for Sales Teams: Feature Analysis

Past sales? Yes.

Sales forecasting? Also yes – HubSpot’s simple reporting tool provides forecasts based on the number of deals in the pipeline, and your sales reps' assumed probability of closing them.

Quote proposal management? Yes, but only on HubSpot’s ‘Professional’ plan and above.

Lead scoring? Only HubSpot’s Marketing Hub allows this – it’s not included as part of the Sales Hub.

Payment management? Not included as standard. However, payment management can be achieved through integrating HubSpot Sales Hub with third-party invoicing and accounting software, such as QuickBooks.

Pros:

  • Email templates and automated sends help you reach more prospects
  • Workflows streamline each stage of the sales cycle

X Cons:

  • Lead scoring functionality is missing
  • Key features are excluded from HubSpot’s cheaper plans

3. Zendesk Sell

Zendesk Sell excels in two key areas: customer support and price point. Its customer scores are also the third highest of all the CRM software we looked at, though its comparatively fewer features for sales teams stop it from launching a serious challenge to Salesforce and HubSpot for the top spots.

At $19 per user, per month, Zendesk Sell sits at the budget-friendly end of the scale. However, you’ll really need to upgrade to one of its more advanced plans to benefit. Its ‘Professional’ plan unlocks sales forecasting (and the ability to easily estimate deal value and percentage of win likelihood), while the ‘Enterprise’ plan buys you lead scoring and past sales features.

Expert Rating:

Zendesk Sell: The Basics

Starting price$19 per user, per month
Highest price$199 per user, per month
Customer support: Live chat, phone, email, knowledge center
Data storage limit: 2GB to 25GB per user (dependent on plan selected)
Free trial: Free 30-day trial

Zendesk Sell for Sales Teams: Feature Analysis

Past sales? Yes, and upgrading to Zendesk Sell’s ‘Enterprise’ or ‘Elite’ plan also nets you the ability to export historical data.

Sales forecasting? Yes, though on the ‘Professional’, ‘Enterprise’, and ‘Elite’ plans only.

Quote proposal management? No, though integration with a third-party app such as Quote Roller should fix this.

Lead scoring? Yes, but on the ‘Enterprise’ and ‘Elite’ plans only.

Payment management? Not included, though you can integrate Zendesk Sell with an app such as ChargeDesk for free.

Pros:

  • Upgrading to a better plan unlocks premium account management
  • Money-back guarantee

X Cons:

  • 24/7 live chat and phone-based support restricted to the ‘Elite’ and ‘Enterprise’ packages only
Did You Know?

Research has shown that sales automation can lead to a 30% increase in deal closures, and a 14% reduction in time spent on sales admin – not to mention an 18% reduction of the sales cycle. Impressive!

Heads up – you’re halfway through our list of the top 6 CRMs for sales automation. 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’ specific sales and marketing automation CRM requirements, we can help ensure that you receive the best, most personalized rates on sales CRM software.

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1. Do you already use sales CRM software? YES NO

4. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales

Dynamics 365 scores highly for features, and its help and support is among the finest out there. Paradoxically, though, its customer approval ratings are at the lower end of the scale – perhaps because of Dynamics 365’s eye-wateringly expensive prices.

Dynamics 365 – Microsoft’s high-profile entry into the CRM space – utilizes artificial intelligence to help supplement your sales data, and make more effective business decisions. Using historical figures, Dynamics 365 provides accurate forecasting, allowing you to plot your pipeline and prioritize your leads with greater precision. There are also both cloud-based and on-premise deployment options available – providing greater flexibility, and allowing you to retain greater control over your business’s data.

Expert Rating:

Dynamics 365: The Basics

Starting price$65 per user, per month
Highest price$199 per user, per month (10 user minimum)
Customer support: Phone, email, knowledge center
Data storage limit: 32GB, though up to 4TB extra can be purchased
Free trial: Free trial available

Dynamics 365 Sales for Sales Teams: Feature Analysis

Past sales? Yes.

Sales forecasting? Yes, with Dynamics 365’s ‘Enterprise’ plan and above.

Quote proposal management? Yes.

Lead scoring? Yes.

Payment management? Yes, across all plans.

Pros:

  • Cloud and on-premise deployment available
  • Generous data storage limits

X Cons:

  • No money-back guarantee
  • One of the more expensive sales CRM systems on the market

5. Freshworks CRM Sales Cloud

Rounding out the top five is Freshworks CRM (formerly Freshsales). Though its scores for features and customer approval are at the lower end of the spectrum, it ties with Zoho as a top value pick. Add in impressive help and support rankings, and Freshworks CRM is a safe selection for sales teams.

The only supplier to offer 24-hour support included with its cheapest plan, Freshworks CRM also provides an excellent – and completely free – plan, too. Plus, its three different pricing tiers mean it’s able to cater to sales teams of various sizes, while also making sure you’re not paying for any features you don’t require (yet!). Freshworks CRM boasts native integrations with Mailchimp, Xero, and Google Calendar, slotting comfortably into your business’s current setup – and includes a treasure trove of sumptuous sales automation features to boot.

Expert Rating: Try Freshsales for Free

Freshworks CRM: The Basics

Starting price$29 per user, per month
Highest price$99 per user, per month
Customer support: Live chat (24/5), phone (24/5), email, knowledge center
Data storage limit: 1GB to 100GB per user (dependent on plan selected)
Free trial: Free version and 21-day free trial available

Freshworks CRM for Sales Teams: Feature Analysis

Past sales? Yes.

Sales forecasting? Yes, with the ‘Enterprise’ plan and above.

Quote proposal management? No – you’ll require a third-party integration to make this happen.

Lead scoring? Yes – and it’s actually one of Freshworks CRM’s best features! Powered by ‘Freddy’, Freshworks CRM’s in-built, AI-powered assistant, a ‘Predictive Contact Scoring’ tool scores each of your contacts based on their behavior and demographic information.

Payment management? No, although Freshworks CRM does boast native integration with QuickBooks.

Pros:

  • Role-based access makes it easy to control who’s using what
  • Allows you to capture leads from webforms automatically

X Cons:

  • Expect a serious cost hike if you want to pay month-on-month
  • The process of converting a lead to a deal or opportunity leaves a lot to be desired

Want to try before you buy? Take advantage of Freshworks CRM’s free 21-day trial today.


6. Zoho

Zoho is one of the cheapest CRM systems we researched. Though it ranks well for value, it’s let down by the lowest customer approval score, underwhelming customer support, and a lack of serious analytics functionality.

Zoho doesn’t boast the same depth and range of features as Salesforce or Dynamics, but it’s user-friendly – and, at just $12 per user, per month, it’s a steal, too. Better still, its sales forecasting and lead scoring features are available across all plans – meaning you get a lot of bang for your buck.

Expert Rating: Try Zoho for Free
Did You Know?

Zoho offers a whole suite of productivity and workflow automation tools for businesses. Among the best is Zoho Recruit – one of our top CRM picks for recruitment agencies.

Zoho: The Basics

Starting price$12 per user, per month
Highest price$45 per user, per month
Customer support: Live chat, phone, email, knowledge center
Data storage limit: 20MB to 10GB per user (dependent on plan selected)
Free trial: Free version available

Zoho for Sales Teams: Feature Analysis

Past sales? Yes.

Sales forecasting? Yes, across all paid plans.

Quote proposal management? Available on Zoho’s ‘Professional’, ‘Enterprise’, and ‘Ultimate’ plans.

Lead scoring? Yes, across all paid plans.

Payment management? Yes, though you’ll need an additional product integration known as ‘Zoho Subscriptions’. This helps you bill customers on a one-time or recurring basis, although it comes at an extra cost of up to $199, depending on the size of your business.

Pros:

  • Cheaper plans are generous in terms of features
  • Purchasing an annual subscription nets you a 20% discount

X Cons:

  • Low customer approval ratings suggest Zoho is a little too simplistic for many sales teams
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How We Rated the Best CRM for Sales Teams

To rate each CRM supplier on their effectiveness for sales teams specifically, we narrowed our focus down to five key automation features that a good sales CRM system has got to do well.

Each of the sales CRM systems above is ranked per its ability to perform each of the following crucial sales automation functions for reps:

Past Sales

In order to prepare for the future – and plan your sales strategy accordingly – you have to learn from the past. That means being able to view historical sales data (and segment it by region, rep, and client), and then export it into reports for clearer viewing and comparison.

Sales forecasting

Just as you need to know what the weather forecast is in order to organize a successful trip to the beach, so will you require an accurate estimate of your future sales to run your business effectively.

Sales forecasting does just this, providing insight into how you should 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.

Quote Proposal Management

Sales isn’t all high-flying deals and Wolf of Wall Street-esque banter. A lot of it is admin – preparing quotes, formatting documents, and ensuring sales orders are correct and in pristine condition.

Quote proposal management is a feature offered by many sales CRM systems as standard, though sometimes it will require an additional fee or integration. With it, you can propose and send quotes to clients using existing info within the CRM software’s database – thus freeing up your sales team to focus on what matters.

Lead Scoring

CRM software sporting this feature allows you to prioritize incoming leads based on how much they’re worth to your business. Lead scoring helps you understand which leads are sales-ready, and which require further nurturing – ensuring that you move on the right opportunities, at just the right time.

Did You Know?

In a study by inbound sales and marketing agency Protocol80, automated lead nurturing helped convert around 15% to 20% of potential buyers – even though they weren’t ready to convert yet.

That’s potentially one in five customers you’re currently missing out on!

Payment Management

Like quote proposals, payment management is an inevitable part of the job – but it’s also a productivity black hole, swallowing up your sales reps’ time with invoices and transaction details.

The best sales automation tools offer payment management tools either as standard, or as a third-party integration – and it’s a game changer for sales teams.


Next Steps

So, how do you choose the right CRM supplier for your sales team? There are several important factors to think about.

Firstly, the extent of the CRM’s sales automation features. Does the software offer lead scoring and sales forecasting? How about the tools required to send quotes and coordinate payments?

Secondly, the price point. If you’d prefer to stick to the cheaper plans, that’s fine – just make sure they still offer the deal and lead management features you’ll need.

Thirdly, the customer angle. Is the support up to scratch? Will you benefit from round-the-clock assistance, or is that only for the big spenders? What do your prospective CRM system provider’s existing customers have to say about it?

You’ll also need to know what services a CRM offers beyond sales. Here, we’ve just discussed CRM for sales teams, but – if you’re making decisions for other areas of your business, too – you’ll also want to check out our separate guides: CRM for customer service automation, and CRM for marketing automation.

Those are a lot of variables, and they don’t make choosing the right CRM any easier. So let us help.

Just take 30 seconds, and via this quote-finding form, enter some details about your business. You’ll then be contacted with quotes from leading sales CRM providers, who’ll be more than happy to discuss your CRM requirements in greater detail. Oh, and it’s free for US-based businesses.


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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