The Best CRM Systems for Small Businesses

CRM system on laptop thumbnail

By Rob Binns | Senior Writer

The nine CRM suppliers your small business needs to know about


Sometimes, it’s the smallest of businesses that come with the largest of workloads. Contact numbers, emails, spreadsheets, folders… how do you keep track of it all?

With a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, that’s how. It’s software that’ll help automate your workflow, and get more engagement out of your customers. It also acts as a central hub for all your business’ lead, deal, pipeline, and client information, which can be accessed any time, and from anywhere in the world.

Choosing to start using a CRM is the easy part. But choosing exactly which CRM is right for your small business? Well, that’s a little more difficult.

Thankfully, though, that’s what we’re here for. Taking into consideration popularity, reviews and the all important dollar sign, we’ve come up with a handy list of the best CRM systems for small businesses.

Read on to find out which CRM systems made the cut, or skip down to our FAQs for more info. Alternatively, get straight to good stuff by completing our free webform. Simply take 30 seconds to provide us with a few quick details about your business, and you’ll receive tailored quotes from leading CRM suppliers.


Best CRM systems for small businesses

CRM providerBest forPricing from (per user, per month)Free plan?Free trialRead more
SalesforceScalability$2530-daySalesforce Review
FreshsalesSales teams$12

30-dayFreshsales Review
CopperGoogle integration$1914-dayCopper Review
ZohoValue$12

15-dayZoho Review
NimbleCustomer satisfaction$1914-dayNimble Review
InsightlyEase of use$29

14-dayInsightly Review
ThryvSimplicityNot stated14-dayThryv Review
amoCRMCustomization$1514-dayamoCRM Review
Marketing 360Customer support$395NoMarketing 360 Review

Read more: Compare CRM Software Prices

Want CRM software for your small business? Get quotes

Salesforce

Best for scalability

You’ve probably seen the name pop up a lot already in your research, and with good reason, too – Salesforce’s industry-leading CRM software is used by more than 150,000 customers worldwide. But don’t let its size put you off – this CRM is as well-suited to small businesses as it is large ones.

Salesforce is a scalable, intuitive, and ambitious platform that can help take your business to the next level. And, while the pricing plans do get steep quickly, its ‘Salesforce Essentials’ plan won’t be too big a stretch on your budget.

Pros:

  • Access to a huge range of integrations through the Salesforce AppExchange
  • Offers some of the most advanced sales analytics money can buy

X Cons:

  • It can be tough getting the hang of its premium features
  • It’s expensive!

Freshsales

Best for sales teams

Freshsales is a small business’ dream. With a free plan and a range of low-cost, customizable pricing tiers, this CRM is the perfect way to hit the ground running. And though it’s light on hassle, it’s not light on features.

You’ll get pipeline management and thousands of daily bulk email sends, plus territory and lead assignment features, too. Better still, Freshsales’ configurable sales reporting tool makes it ideal for sales teams of all shapes and sizes. It also comes with a 30-day free trial, so what have you got to lose? 

Pros:

  • Quick and simple to set up
  • Integrates with MailChimp, Google, Zapier, Freshdesk and more

X Cons:

  • May be a touch too simplistic for the needs of some small businesses

▶ Read more: Best CRM for sales teams

Copper

Best for Google integration

Let’s face it – these days, we use Google for just about everything. So it stands to reason that your CRM needs to work seamlessly with the G Suite applications your business relies on. Thankfully, this is where Copper excels – so much so that it’s Google’s own top CRM selection.

It boasts analytics and forecasting tools, for boosting the performance of sales and marketing teams alike. Better still, Copper CRM automates all your emails, contacts, and account details – so you can wave goodbye to data entry, and say hello to closing more deals.

Pros:

  • Intuitive and attractive interface
  • Has over 12,000 customers, including heavyweights like Peugeot and Google

X Cons:

  • Bigger price tag of its better plans may outprice many small businesses
Want CRM software for your small business? Get quotes

Zoho

Best for value

Zoho is an easy to use, easy on the eye solution for staying on top of your customer relationships. And with its free plan (and no-obligation 15-day trial), you won’t have to open your wallet to start opening some windows of opportunity. Even Zoho’s paid plans are some of the cheapest CRM options on the market.

With real-time notifications, savvy email marketing, and a classy LiveChat feature, Zoho helps you automate the boring stuff. This streamlines your workload, and frees you up to do what you do best – growing your business.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Produces colorful reports for showcasing your business’ performance

X Cons:

  • Social media integration could be better
  • Average customer support

Nimble

Best for customer satisfaction

In the thorny world of the digital product reviews space, it’s difficult for a product to come out smelling of roses – but Nimble CRM does just that. It’s highly rated by its customers across all the big online review sites, and it’s not hard to see why – transparent pricing, low fees, and more than 100 app integrations make Nimble a sharp selection for small businesses. That said, its interface and capabilities may be a little too simplistic for businesses that are looking for a more advanced CRM system.

Pros:

  • Built to work seamlessly with Office 365 and G Suite
  • Simple deal pipeline offers instant and actionable insights

X Cons:

  • Lacks the level of advanced features and integrations offered by Salesforce, or Copper

Insightly

Best for ease of use

If you like the color orange, you’ll probably love Insightly. As well as being brightly rendered, this CRM also boasts one of the most attractive interfaces on the market.

Insightly displays all your business’ contact, lead, and pipeline info in vibrant, clear dashboards. And even if you’re not partial to a splash of color, you’ll love being able to easily export your data.

Impress stakeholders and power perfect presentations with graphs and charts that tell a story. What’s more, you can do all this from anywhere, thanks to Insightly’s award-winning app for your smartphone or tablet. Convenient!

Pros:

  • Life-affirming customer service
  • Excellent onboarding, with simple guidelines and plenty of resources to get you started

X Cons:

  • Lacks the in-depth analytics offered by other CRM suppliers
Want CRM software for your small business? Get quotes

Thryv

Best for simplicity

Thryv doesn’t just provide CRM – it’s a simple, all-in-one solution offering a range of features to fuel the growth of your SMB. As well as all the contact, service, and marketing tools you can expect from a CRM system, you’ll also get reputation management, and excellent social media integration to boot. It can even handle online payment processing!

Another area this CRM thryves in is customer support – there’s a team of experts available 24/7 if you run into any issues. Alternatively, you can take a DIY approach, by tapping into Thryv’s huge online knowledge base. It features a superb collection of downloadable guides to get you set up, and help you make the most of the CRM’s expansive host of features.

Pros:

  • Suitable for a wide range of industries
  • Basic package offers a lot

X Cons:

  • Not as well-suited to sales teams as other CRM software out there

amoCRM

Best for customization

If customization is key, go for amoCRM. Unlike other software, amoCRM isn’t fussy when it comes to compatibility. This means you can play around with integrating other software packages, until you’re satisfied that the CRM works for your business’ needs.

There’s a whole bunch of available extensions that are ready to go – and if you’re particularly nifty with software, there’s a free API (Application Programming Interface) for tailoring your very own CRM solution. Unlike other CRMs, you’re not limited to using a certain email provider, either.

The software is easy to use and the interface is fully optimized for iPad – great if you’re out and about in the field. On top of this, amoCRM features a clever business card scanner for those all-important networking events.

Pros:

  • Plenty of software integration options available
  • Solid customer support

X Cons:

  • Exporting data can be a bit of a challenge

Marketing 360

Best for customer support

Reviewers really like Marketing 360. It’s a great all-rounder, but top marks have to go to its customer service team, who are happy to listen to any hang-ups you might develop when using the CRM.

Even aside from the excellent customer support, Marketing 360’s savvy software more than holds its own for functionality. You can manage your social media and get more traffic coming to your website through smooth SEO campaigns. There’s even a clever UX (User Experience) development system, which enables you to design branded websites from scratch.

Of course, Marketing 360 isn’t the cheapest CRM software around. And you’ll need someone who knows what they’re doing to really get to grips with the best of what the software has to offer.

Pros:

  • Design your own website with confidence
  • Create entire marketing campaigns from your phone, tablet, or desktop computer

X Cons:

  • It might offer more features than you need!

Next Steps

So, what’ll it be? The tried-and-tested approach of a CRM heavyweight such as Salesforce, or more of a cheap-and-cheerful solution like Insightly or Nimble?

Perhaps you’d prefer not to pay for CRM software at all, and want to plump for a free plan from Cloze, Zoho, or HubSpot. The world is your oyster.

But if you’re still not sure which one of these shiny CRM pearls is the best fit for your business, then let us help. Just take a minute to fill out our free quote-finding webform. Then, we’ll match you with the CRM suppliers best placed to cater to the unique needs of your business.

It’s quick, easy, and who knows? It might just be the best decision your small business makes this year.


FAQs

What is CRM software?

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is the answer to most of the nagging administrative problems dogging small businesses across the US. As well as acting as a central data hub for all your business’ client, lead, deal, and prospect information, CRM offers a tasty buffet of features that let you leverage that data to supercharge your sales and customer service efforts.

CRM software also makes email marketing a breeze. You can craft targeted advertising campaigns, and monitor the amount of opens, clicks, and reads your communications have earned. Better still, CRM systems are largely cloud-based, meaning you and your team get all the benefits of the software, without even having to be in the same office.

What are the benefits of CRM software?

Let’s take a look. 

All your contacts, in one place

For most businesses, making lasting connections with customers is high up on their list of priorities. But it’s not always easy – unless you have a CRM system, that is. Contact management helps you capture key contact information, and store notes on interactions to follow up later.

You’ll know exactly which members of your team are dealing with which customers, too, so there’s no treading on toes – and no deals slipping through your fingers.

A wider view of your team’s sales

Managing a sales team (and their egos) can be complicated, but CRM makes it easier. Sales management helps you keep track of team member activities – who’s selling the most, and why? A CRM helps you draw on analytics from day-to-day business, and – crucially – use these to drive more motivated, cohesive teams.

Better customer service

All businesses, at some stage, will have to deal with complaints. But do you have a system set up for handling them? If not, CRM can help. Customer service management features let you log customer issues, and take deep dives into any pesky recurring problems.

Automate your marketing efforts

But by now, you’re asking – what’s the point of having all that data, if you’re not going to use it? Well, don’t worry – with a CRM system, you can. CRM software lets you cook up targeted email marketing campaigns, and serve them en masse to your client database.

Channel the force of social media

Good CRM systems also work with social media. Save time by automating posts to your followers, and keep them engaged with relevant curated content. You can also integrate CRM software with social listening services, allowing you to (quite literally) tap into what people online are saying about your brand and industry.

What should your small business look for in a CRM system?

As we just mentioned, a CRM is likely to become the most integral tool your business possesses. It follows, then, that you can’t just go with the first provider you come across – you’ll need to make sure the CRM software you choose offers all the features that your business needs to grow. Here are four things to look for in a CRM:

Scalability

If growing your business is a priority, scalability should be at the forefront of your mind when picking a CRM. Because, as your business gains traction and you add new staff to your ranks, the software you use has to follow suit. 

Is there an option to upgrade and add more features? Is it easy to increase your CRM’s contact and data storage as your client base expands?

Cost

Whether you’re buying a CRM system or an ice cream cone, cost is always something you’ll need to know before making a purchase. Most CRM software is priced per user, per month, so you’ll need to take into account the size of your team, and how much of that hallowed budget you’re willing to commit to your chosen CRM package.

Features

You’ll then need to balance those cost considerations with the features your business demands. After all, there’s no point in opting for a provider just because it’s cheap, and then later finding you’ve skimped on key features your business needs to get by.

Customer support

A CRM isn’t useful unless you’re getting maximum value out of the plan you’ve plumped for. And, let’s be honest – you’re not going to get that value if the CRM provider you opt for offers up poor or lacklustre customer support.

Is there phone (or at least email-based) support? At what hours of the day is that service available? 

At the very least, your CRM provider should have sufficient online resources to help get you set up – make sure to check these out before making your CRM choice!

Rob Binns
Rob Binns Senior Writer
Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, social media monitoring, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.
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