The 5 Best CRM Software Systems for Small Businesses for 2024

CRM system on laptop thumbnail

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The overall best CRM system for small businesses is Zoho Professional. Bursting with top-rated features, this is our number-one recommendation for small businesses looking to optimize their customer relationship management.

Now that hybrid working is the new standard, it’s essential to collect customer data in one place to avoid confusion and duplicated efforts. CRM software acts as a central hub for all your small business’s lead, deal, and client information, accessible anytime, and from anywhere in the world.

Short on time? Tell us your requirements and CRM software preferences, and we'll connect you with top suppliers who can offer tailored quotes for your small business. Otherwise, read on for our detailed breakdown of the top CRM systems for small businesses in 2024.

What are the Top 5 CRM for Small Businesses?

Based on our testing, we recommend these CRM systems for small businesses. The links take you to the provider's website.

  1. Zoho Professional – Best Overall CRM System for Small Businesses
  2. Freshsales Growth – Best for Ease of Use
  3. Pipedrive Advanced – Best for Email Templates
  4. Hubspot Free – Best Value for Money
  5. monday.com Pro – Best for Customizable Lead Management

What is a CRM System?

CRM systems are software platforms that help businesses manage customer relationships and interactions. The core purpose of a CRM system is to collect contact and lead information in one centralized location for all team members to access.

On top of that, CRM systems also help with sales pipeline tracking, marketing automation, reporting and analytics, customer support, integration with other systems, and customization.

While it's likely that larger businesses already have CRM systems in place, smaller businesses should also consider adopting a dedicated central system for contact management.

Small businesses can expect to pay $40 per user at the most and at the least, nothing – some plans, like HubSpot, are completely free.

The Best CRM Software for Small Businesses: Our Shortlist

Based on our research and testing, we have determined that these are the top CRM options for small businesses:

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4.7
4.7
4.3
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4.2
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$23 per user, per month (annually)

$35 per user, per month

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$9/user/month (annually)

$11/user/month

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$29 per user, per month (annually)

$39 per user, per month

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Price Range

$28 per user, per month (annually)

$33 per user, per month

Free Plan
Free Plan
Free Plan
Free Plan
Free Plan
Try Zoho Try Freshsales Try Pipedrive Try HubSpot Try monday.com
Why You Can Trust Expert Market

The Expert Market team is dedicated to providing unbiased rankings and information for small businesses, helping you make informed decisions with ease. To find the best CRM software for small businesses, we thoroughly tested 11 of the best CRM brands and whittled them down to just five.

We tested and evaluated them across five key categories and over 80 metrics, unpacking their features, value for money, customer support, pros and cons, and more. All scores on this page are decided by our team.

1. Zoho Professional – Best Overall CRM System for Small Businesses

Zoho Professional
4.7
$25 - $35 per user, per month
Who it's best for

Zoho's Professional CRM plan is the best all-rounder for small and growing businesses due to its top-notch marketing, sales, and customer service features.

Quick Facts
Price paid monthly $35 per user
Price paid annually $25 per user
Contact limit 5m
File storage per user 20mb
User limit Unlimited

Zoho Professional’s Ease of Use

We scored Zoho an excellent 4.5/5 for its user-friendliness, coming in only second to Freshsales. Zoho Professional offers a comprehensive suite of features that are customizable to your business needs. While there is a bit of a learning curve in getting to grips with the range of functions, we've found that the helpful onboarding features such as a checklist and walkthrough made the setup that much easier.

Zoho Professional’s Features

  • Integrations: Zoho Professional worked seamlessly with our other software as it has an impressive list of compatible apps including Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, Slack, Shopify, MailChimp and Facebook Ads, to name a few.
  • Contact Segmentation: Zoho allows you to group your contacts based on certain criteria to identify potential opportunities and offer personalized campaigns to secure deals.
  • Advanced Lead Scoring: Scoring your leads according to assigned criteria allows you to prioritize your sales and marketing efforts, saving you time and money. Zoho is one of only two providers offering this feature, the other being Freshsales.
  • Automated Workflows: Save time by focusing your efforts on the leads most likely to convert.
  • Mobile Access: Stay connected with your contacts and sales pipeline when on the go with the handy mobile app.

Which features does it lack? Drip marketing campaigns, chatbots and security emails.

What's New?

As of September 2023, it's now possible to use Zoho CRM to link all relevant contact email addresses to an ongoing deal, meaning you can track the evolution of communication and be sure that all parties are kept updated.

Zoho's lead scoring feature allows you to focus your efforts based on specific criteria.

Zoho’s Customer Service

We were pleased to encounter the best customer support options on offer from Zoho, with help available via its comprehensive online knowledge base. If you prefer personalized support, you can reach its team by email, phone or live chat from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Zoho stands out from other providers by offering onboarding support, although it comes at an extra cost.

2. Freshsales Growth Best of Ease of Use

Freshsales Growth
4.7
$9 - $11 per user, per month
Who it's best for

Freshsales' Growth plan is our top choice for ease of use. We recommend it for teams that are new to CRM or who frequently onboard new colleagues and are seeking a system that is easier to get to grips with.

Quick Facts
Price paid monthly $11 per user
Price paid annually $9 per user
Contact limit Unlimited
File storage per user 2GB
User limit Unlimited

Freshsales Growth Ease of Use

When it comes to usability, Freshsales is our top choice. Its kanban boards with drag and drop functionality provide an intuitive user experience. Additionally, we found that Freshsales makes it easy to import data from various sources and seamlessly integrates with other CRM systems. When implementing new software, high usability scores are crucial to ensure quick adoption by your team and a worthwhile investment.

Freshsales Growth Features

  • Data import and export: Nobody wants to spend hours manually inputting data so luckily Freshsales Growth takes this off your plate.
  • Tracks and automatically scores leads: Save time by focusing your efforts on the leads most likely to convert.
  • Advanced reporting and analytics: According to our research, Freshsales has the most complete reporting features, with insights into deals, activity and leads, as well as recurring revenue reports and revenue forecasts.
  • Integration with communications, accounting and eCommerce apps: Freshsales works seamlessly with the rest of your software suite, with numerous app integrations.

Which features does it lack? Customer support features, social media integration and a chatbot feature.

Freshsales' AI assistant, Freddy gives sales insights and predictions.

Freshsales Growth Customer Service

Freshsales does not provide onboarding support, unlike Zoho. However, they do have an online knowledge hub and community forum to help you with any questions you may have. If you prefer to speak with a support agent, you can contact them by phone or email. It's important to note that they do not offer 24/7 live chat as Pipedrive does.

3. Pipedrive Advanced – Best for Email Templates

Pipedrive Advanced
4.3
$29 - $39
Who it's best for

Pipedrive Advanced is ideal for small to medium businesses looking for an easy fix for email marketing with ready-made, customizable templates to improve their customer engagement.

Quick Facts
Price paid monthly $39 per user
Price paid annually $29 per user
Contact limit Unlimited
File storage per user N/A
User limit Unlimited

Why Pipedrive is Best for Email Templates

Pipedrive stood out against its competitors for its superb email template feature. We found it super easy to create and personalize email marketing campaigns. Sending out is easy with automated workflows and campaign tracking grants you insights into how each email performed, giving you the chance to replicate what struck a chord with your audience.

Pipedrive Advanced Ease of Use

Pipedrive’s interface is very intuitive and easy to follow and it offers a ton of ready-made email templates, earning it a 4.4/5 for usability. Similar to HubSpot, we found it slightly challenging to optimize the full potential of the platform after the initial setup, which may be important to note if you frequently onboard new team members.

Pipedrive Advanced Features

  • Customizable email templates: What stood out during our testing of Pipedrive was the customizable templates that make it very easy to create professional email campaigns.
  • Mobile app: Start-ups or sole traders can benefit greatly from accessing their CRM data on the go, especially since they may be more stretched for time than larger operations.
  • 400 integrations: With a vast library of 400 app integrations, you won't have to change your existing software suite to accommodate your new CRM. It will likely be able to slot right in with your communications, analytics and accounting software.
  • Email scheduling and tracking: Pipedrive's stand-out email features helped us massively with scheduling email send-outs and track successful campaigns, allowing you to replicate what works best.

Which features does it lack? High-level security features, phone support, custom dashboards and advanced reporting features.

What's New?

As of October 2023, Pipedrive has increased its interface customizability to include navigational preferences, so you can now edit your set-up to quickly locate your most frequented pages.

Create stunning campaigns with ease by using Pipedrive's email editor.

Pipedrive Advanced Customer Service

Pipedrive primarily relies on an online customer support system. They provide 24/7 live chat support, which sets them apart from other providers. Additionally, they offer a knowledge base and community forum. However, if you prefer email or phone support, it's worth considering other options like Zoho or Freshsales as Pipedrive only offers it on its more premium Power plan.

4. HubSpot Free – Best Value for Money

HubSpot Logo
HubSpot Free
4.2
Free
Who it's best for

Looking for a professional CRM system with unlimited users and features for boosting your sales, marketing, and customer service automation efforts? HubSpot is a free solution which includes all this and more.

Quick Facts
Price Free
Contact limit 1 million
File storage per user 5 documents
User limit Unlimited

Why HubSpot is Best Value for Money

Simply put, it's free. Don't be fooled into thinking that “you get what you pay for,” as HubSpot's free plan is super generous and offers professional features that rival its competitors. You may encounter some limitations, such as with storage allowance, but if you're thinking of dipping your toes into CRM without making a substantial investment, HubSpot should be your first port of call. Discover more affordable CRM solutions in our dedicated guide.

HubSpot Free Ease of Use

HubSpot Free received a usability score of 3.9 out of 5, which is the lowest score on this list along with monday.com. Although the interface was easy to navigate during our testing, more complex tasks like automated workflows required some additional time and effort to understand. Despite this, we found that these tasks proved to be extremely valuable in terms of easing sales and marketing teams‘ workload.

HubSpot Free Features

  • Contact segmentation: Split your contacts into groups based on certain criteria to send out targeted campaigns and hopefully, see a greater success level.
  • Social media integration: Integrate your CRM with your social media to create posts and track your social media engagement.
  • Chatbots and web forms: HubSpot Free is the only provider in our list to include both marketing features, and it’s free.
  • Visual sales pipeline: You can achieve greater visibility over your customer relationships by viewing all of your contacts in one place.
  • In-built email design editor: HubSpot allows you to create email campaigns from within your CRM, with no need for a third-party app.

Which features does it lack? Drip marketing campaigns and lead scoring.

Use HubSpot's chatbot builder to connect with website visitors, qualify leads and offer customer support.

HubSpot Free Customer Service

The customer support options for HubSpot’s free plan are rather thin on the ground – but for a free plan, you can’t expect the whole package. Unless you’re on a paid plan, you can’t access personalized help in the form of live chat, email or phone support and will have to make do with the knowledge base and community forum which may not be the best route for complex issues.

5. monday.com Pro – Best for Customizable Lead Management

monday Logo
monday.com Pro
4.2
£24 - £31 per user, per month
Who it's best for

monday.com is a slick, drag-and-drop-powered software that is best for teams who need to customise processes to suit their workflow and gain a clear overview of their contacts in custom layouts such as Kanban board and Gantt chart formats.

Quick Facts
Price paid monthly £31 per user
Price paid annually £24 per user, per month
Contact limit Unlimited
File storage per user 100GB
User limit Unlimited

Why monday.com is Best for Customization

monday.com is well-known and loved for its software platforms because they are easy on the eye, user-friendly and intuitive. It favors a drag-and-drop editing style and offers more flexibility than its competitors with regard to custom fields, dashboards, task types and objects. Companies who like to use their own lingo — this one's for you.

monday.com Pro Ease of Use

We found monday.com one of the least easy-to-use CRM systems, giving it a score of  3.9/5, alongside HubSpot. Although it is highly customizable with various views to accommodate your teams' needs, we found that some improvements could be made to enhance the user experience, such as faster loading times and simpler navigation.

monday.com Pro Features

  • Optimized for collaboration: monday.com is created with teamwork in mind, allowing you to share documents and make comments with coworkers.
  • Sales features: This plan is predominantly made for sales teams, rather than customer service or marketing teams. So it's well-stocked with sales features such as a visual sales pipeline and the capacity to create quotes and invoices.
  • Highly customizable: You can easily tweak your dashboard to show the widgets that are most relevant to your team and hide clutter.
  • Cloud-based: monday.com is hosted in the cloud, which means that teams can access it from anywhere.

Which features does it lack? Chatbots, drip campaigns, social media integration, lead scoring, email design editor.

What's New?

monday.com is frequently rolling out new features. The latest update in September 2023 brought workload management features and a priority column to better manage your team's time and resources as well as mass email analytics to better understand the success of your campaigns.

During set-up, monday.com offers customization options so that you can get the most out of the software.

monday.com Pro Customer Service

monday.com’s customer support options are almost as basic as HubSpot’s free plan, which is a little surprising since monday.com is a paid option. On top of the online knowledge hub and community forum, you can access personalized support via email. Unfortunately, there is no phone support, which is a shame for those who prefer to speak to a human being when encountering difficulties.

How to Switch CRM Provider

If you've outgrown your current CRM system or are just looking to try something new, it might be wise to switch to a provider that better serves your needs.

Here are the top signs that you may need to consider switching to a different CRM system:

  • You're spending too much on your current plan: It's always possible that you could find a better deal elsewhere to be sure to check out all the available options. Use our free tool to get tailored quotes directly from your best-suited providers.
  • You're missing out on vital features: If you don't feel you're hitting your potential when it comes to closing deals or efficiently dealing with customer service cases, consider whether your CRM system could be hindering your team's success.
  • You don't have enough paid users or storage available to efficiently use the system: If your business is expanding, you can quickly outgrow your current plan's capacity. You may be able to upgrade to a higher-capacity plan with your current provider but this may incur extra costs so it's best to review your options.
  • Your team doesn't use the CRM system effectively: Sometimes CRM software has all the features you could possibly desire but is not effectively used by team members. It may be that it's too complicated or lacks the ease-of-use necessary for team members, old and new, to get to grips with it.
Verdict

If you're seeking CRM software that covers all the bases for your growing business, Zoho's Professional plan is a top contender. With an extensive range of features, particularly in sales and customer service, it outperforms other platforms we tested. However, if your focus is on marketing, HubSpot's Free plan may be a better fit for an all-inclusive, marketing-oriented CRM system, and it's free.

Despite Zoho's impressive 4.5/5 rating for usability, we found Freshsales slightly more intuitive in our testing. This may be particularly attractive to businesses frequently onboarding new staff members who are seeking a simpler product.

Still unsure which is the right fit for your business? Use our free comparison tool to receive tailored quotes directly from your best-suited providers.

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.

 

Frequently asked questions

Why is CRM important for small businesses?
CRM is important for small businesses because it helps you efficiently manage customer interactions, track sales opportunities, and build stronger customer relationships. It enables your business to organize and analyze customer data, improve customer service, increase sales effectiveness, and make data-driven decisions to drive growth, which are all crucial for the success of any small company.
What should I consider when choosing a CRM for my small business?
Consider factors related to your specific business needs, such as pricing, customization, ease of use, sales and marketing features, or customer support. You should also consider the system's integration capabilities with third-party software. Assessing these factors will help you find the best CRM that aligns with your needs and maximizes its effectiveness for your small business.
Is there a CRM that offers a free or trial version for small businesses?
Yes, many CRM providers offer free or trial versions for small businesses, including HubSpot, Zoho, and Freshworks CRM. These free plans often have limitations in terms of features or user count, but they can be a great starting point for your small businesses to test the CRM's suitability before committing to a paid plan.
How user-friendly are these CRMs for small business owners with limited technical expertise?
The best CRM systems for small business are designed with user-friendliness in mind, catering to users with limited technical expertise. Some systems, such as Zoho and monday.com, often provide intuitive interfaces, customizable dashboards, and simplified workflows, while other CRM providers may offer user guides, tutorials, and customer support to help you navigate and make the most of the system, regardless of your level of experience.
Are there any hidden costs or additional fees associated with CRM for small businesses?
Just like any business software, some CRM systems may have additional fees for advanced features, integrations, extra users, storage, or customer support. We always recommend, to avoid surprises, to thoroughly examine the pricing model and ask about any potential hidden costs before selecting a software. However, most systems are relatively transparent with pricing.
Can I scale up or down my CRM subscription as my business grows or changes?
Yes, the best CRM providers offer flexible subscription plans that allow you to scale up or down as your needs change, or as your small business grows. You can typically upgrade to higher-tier plans with additional features and user licenses to accommodate business growth, but you can also downgrade or adjust your subscription if you need.
Do these CRMs offer mobile apps for managing customer relationships on the go?
Yes. Many CRM brands offer mobile apps that allow you to manage customer relationships from anywhere in the world, as long as there's an internet connection. These mobile apps provide access to essential CRM features, such as contact management, lead tracking, task management, and communication history, making it easy for small business owners and its teams to stay connected and productive while working remotely or traveling. This flexibility has become essential with the rise of remote working.
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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.