Top 5 CRM Software Examples and User Cases for Your Business

crm animation

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems provide a streamlined way to manage customers, and sales, and increase productivity. It does this by providing tools such as a sales pipeline and email marketing on one platform so you can manage your operations effectively.

Using a CRM system enhances your brand's reputation and visibility by giving you ways to talk to your customers more efficiently. You can quickly access a customer's contact information when on a live chat or phone call to deal with their query.

We've carried out a deep dive into CRM software to find out which system provides the best bang for your buck. Keep reading to find out the conclusion of our user cases.

What Are Our Top 5 CRM Software Examples?

These are the providers we recommend based on our research. Clicking on the links will take you to the provider's website.

  1. Zoho – Best for Building Your Own Sales Pipeline
  2. Freshsales – Best for Kanban Boards
  3. monday.com – Best for Businesses That Want a Fully Customizable CRM
  4. Salesforce – Best for Dealing With a Large Amount of Information
  5. HubSpot – Best for Creating Email Campaigns

We've tested and compared 5 different CRM systems to find the best on the market. Keep reading for more:

1. Zoho CRM — Best for Building Your Own Sales Pipeline

Zoho CRM is easy to use and is free for up to three users, making it a good choice for startups. It's also fairly affordable with prices starting from $14 per user, per month for the Standard package which includes automated workflows, social media integration, and a visual sales pipeline.

Zoho's sales pipeline includes tools such as lead generation, scoring, and conversion so you can build an effective pipeline to increase sales and revenue. We recommend this CRM for businesses who want to be able to build their own sales pipeline as you can customize it to suit your needs.

Zoho CRM's other plans include ‘Professional' with a starting price of $23 per user, per month, and compared to the Standard package which has a file storage limit of 200MB, Professional offers 10GB.

Zoho's most expensive package is ‘Ultimate' priced at $52 per user, per month, and provides 10GB if you have under 200 users and 30GB if you have more than 200.

Zoho CRM for Sales Pipeline: The User Case

Zoho CRM provides a checklist to help you onboard which is helpful at first as it provided me with a good indication as to where I was on during the onboarding process. However, once I created the first Deals pipeline, it wasn't as easy to navigate the platform.

The interface was fairly simple and not overwhelming but there is a lack of signposts so it's fairly difficult to navigate. If you do choose Zoho it's a good idea to use Zoho's videos and documents to help you understand which sections are relevant to your business.

If you want an easier CRM system to navigate, HubSpot does a much better job at providing an easier onboarding and set-up.

Zoho CRM is not beginner-friendly and you'd need a fair amount of training on the system to get used to it. Plus, it seems to be more targeted towards hardware or software companies.

I'd recommend Zoho CRM to businesses that have a specific sales pipeline and want to be able to fully customize it. However, it would take time to fully understand the system to make the most of it. So, it's best suited to those who have the resources for this.

zoho sales pipeline
The start of Zoho's sales pipeline provides you with a checklist so you can easily go through the steps and set up a deal.

2. Freshsales — Best for Kanban Boards

Similarly to Zoho CRM, Freshsales offers a free plan for up to three users. Once you pass three users, its paid plans start from $15 per user, per month, just $1 more than Zoho.

Its other paid plans get significantly pricier with the Pro plan starting from $39 per user, per month and the Enterprise plan from $69 per user, per month.

Freshsales has been voted by us as the best for Kanban boards and luckily even its free plan includes a Kanban view for contacts, accounts, and deals. A Kanban view provides a more efficient way of managing tasks and if your team wants to switch to using Kanban boards or is already used to using them, Freshsales is the right option.

Freshsales doesn't have a ton of customization options, so if this is important, we recommend monday.com  as our research found that it offers a higher level of customization.

Freshsales for Kanban Boards: The User Case

My experience with Freshsales was similar to that of Zoho CRM when it came to the complexity of the system: Freshsales is more suited to users of CRM systems.

It does provide a ton of support and demo suggestions which is helpful and will help you to pick up the system better but it can certainly be an overwhelming experience if you don't have CRM experience.

The Kanban board is fairly useful, the Deal board in particular displays the total cost of business and includes a ‘deal rot' calculation.

The overall system seems more suited towards newsletter marketing so if this is a big part of your business model, this could be the right system for you. For other businesses, it can be trickier to use and will take a while to get the hang of.

For a more straightforward system, Salesforce is a better option as there isn't a steep learning curve but it's much pricier with a starting price of $25 per user, per month compared to Freshsales $15.

Freshsales sales pipeline
This shows you the various ways you can reconfigure Freshsales deal pipeline.

3. monday.com — Best for Businesses That Want a Fully Customizable CRM

monday.com's mobile app means the system is suited to multi-taskers and those on the go. It provides phone and email support but lacks live chat support.

It also doesn't have social media integration, which can be limiting for businesses who want to seamlessly integrate social media presence. An alternative to monday.com for this would be Zoho CRM which provides social media integration even on its lowest-priced package.

However, Zoho's pricing starts from $14 per user, per month, a little pricier than monday.com's $10 per user, per month making monday.com one of the cheaper CRM systems available.

Aside from being fully customizable, monday.com offers customizable templates to help you get started. These templates include a project tracking board and  lead management across a range of industries, which you can then further customize to suit your business needs.

monday.com for a Customizable CRM: The User Case

With monday.com I was able to customize dashboards, titles, and columns. Almost every item can be edited by clicking on it and typing in a new name, this is then updated across all the dashboards saving you time and effort.

There are separate dashboards for Leads, Contacts, Deals, Accounts, etc. making it well-suited to sales teams that want to keep track of deal progression and set deadlines or priorities.

You're able to import data from Excel, other CRM software, and Facebook. You can also manually import data. If you're switching from Excel, you'll find it fairly easy to deal with monday.crm as all your data will be moved across and you can customize the system to suit your needs.

The dashboards are all interdependent and there is some information overload so it's not always easy to navigate. In fact, I'd say the UX design is fairly poor as I experienced difficulty when scrolling down to see dropdown options.

In order to see the entire drop down menu, I needed to zoom out. monday.com's design is a little bit lacking but overall the customizability is a big benefit for businesses who want this. If you're after a more easy-to-use platform, Salesforce is a good shot, especially if you have large amounts of information to deal with.

monday.com Deals dashboard
monday.com Deals pipeline which can be customized to suit your unique sales cycle.

4. Salesforce — Best for Dealing With a Large Amount of Information

Salesforce is one of the most popular CRMs available, with almost 20% of the market share. Salesforce can be integrated with thousands of third-party apps making it an accessible system.

A cloud-based software, Salesforce is typically more geared towards larger organizations due to how robust it is. Its also suited to larger organizations because of its costly price point.

Salesforce Essentials costs $25 per user, per month which is one of the more expensive starting prices compared to the other systems on this list. The Essentials plan has a limit of ten users, compared to monday.com which has unlimited users for $10 per user, per month.

Although, Salesforce can be used by businesses of any size, we recommend it for larger businesses because it has the capacity to deal with large amounts of data plus its fairly expensive.

Salesforce for Dealing With a Large Amount of Information: The User Case

Salesforce has an in-depth chart and visualization builder that lets you link up all the separate data points such as contacts, leads, opportunities, and quotes. We like this because it helps to generate powerful insights.

With Salesforce, we found that we were able to store large amounts of information from emails, tasks, call logs, contact information, etc. So, it's well-suited to businesses that have lots of information to utilize. Plus, its intuitive reporting means you can cross-reference these data points and visualize them.

Unlike some other systems like Zoho, the language used for the databases is fairly generic so it can be widely used by different organizations. It's also fairly  straightforward to use the system and we predict that new users will only need around a day to get used to Salesforce.

Salesforce houses all communication in one place, so if a client calls, an agent is able to quickly look them up and be up to date with the client so Salesforce is a good option for those trying to implement customer retention strategies.

Salesforce sales pipeline
Salesforce pipeline reporting feature showing current sales opportunities.

5. HubSpot Best for Creating Email Campaigns

HubSpot's free plan allows for unlimited users and a contact limit of a million which is pretty hefty numbers for a free plan. Its paid plan starts from $20 per month when billed monthly.

HubSpot's integrates with Canva which is pretty convenient, especially for businesses who use Canva for social media posts and other projects. For a free plan, it offers a fairly robust system, however, it has some limitations such as only being able to save up to 5 email templates at a time and the chatbots aren't super intelligent.

Aside from being great at creating email campaigns, our research found that HubSpot scores well all-around. Its sales system might not be the best option for sales teams as it lacks some lead communication features such as video conferencing tools. Lower priced tiers also lack lead scoring. If sales is a focus of your CRM, we recommend Zoho CRM as it offers more robust sales tools.

HubSpot divides its offerings up into sales, marketing, and customer service. Each of these start at $18 per month (paid annually) but you can also opt for the CRM suite option which includes all of these systems, priced at $30 per month (paid annually).

HubSpot starts to get pricey when you need add-ons such as reporting which will set you back $200 per month. If these prices are out of your budget, you might be better off with a system such as Salesforce or Zoho CRM which includes this feature in the price.

HubSpot for Creating Email Campaigns: The User Case

The setup and onboarding process of HubSpot's CRM was one of the easier systems we've looked at, with a step-by-step tutorial that doesn't make you feel overwhelmed. Illustrations are provided at the appropriate moments during set-up,

As mentioned above, HubSpot's Canva integration meant I was able to design email elements straight from the email editing space. It was really easy to personalize the emails, including specific data categories which I had created myself during the data upload.

However, the system isn't super clever as it was unable to interpret much of the data I attempted to import, and took a lot of manual work to fix. If you don't want to have to deal with this, Salesforce is a better system in this area as it allows for a much easier data import.

You can track your campaign spend and manage your marketing budget from within the platform which makes it much easier to efficiently create and manage campaigns. So, it's a good system for marketing and creative agencies as well as small businesses because of its robust free plan.

The automation workflows are complicated but once figured out they're an invaluable tool for sales and marketing operations at scale. Other drawbacks include the fact that you're unable to upload a spreadsheet that has more than one tab and you have to manually download Google Sheets to upload them onto HubSpot, you're unable to do it in one go.

Hubspot's email settings screen
HubSpot's email automation set-up offers handy tips at each stage.

How Did We Compare the Best CRM Examples?

Our team tested and compared 11 different CRM systems to find the best on the market. We focused on how well the systems were able to create a sales pipeline, email marketing campaigns, and contact management.

For the sales pipeline, the team was instructed to add contacts to the sales pipeline and manage each step along the way. The aim of this task was to see how well the pipeline is able to manage adding contacts, information, and close deals.

An important function of CRM systems is its ability to streamline your outreach and connection to current and potential customers. Our team used each system's email marketing tools to set up and create a campaign to see how efficient and useful these tools are.

Arguably, the main function of a CRM system is to manage customer information, so we set out to see how well each CRM system can deal with contact management. For each system, our researchers attempted to add a bunch of contacts and their respective information to the system.

Based on our first-hand experience with each system, we were able to determine how easy each system is to use and what type of business is suited to the CRM system.

Verdict

For businesses looking to focus on building an efficient sales pipeline, we recommend Zoho CRM. Zoho CRM allows you to create a specific and customizable sales pipeline but you'll definitely want to have some CRM system experience or set a good chunk amount of time aside to get used to the system.

If you're a fairly large business, we recommend Salesforce as we found that it's the best CRM system for managing large amounts of information. Plus, it has the added benefit of being a fairly easy system to use.

Overall, each of the CRM systems on this list has benefits and drawbacks and ultimately the best system will be the one that suits your business needs. We recommend you use our free comparison quote tool to get matched with a CRM system for your business.

FAQs

How can a CRM system integrate with other software tools commonly used?
A CRM system will typically have built-in capacity to integrate with third-party applications. For example, Salesforce can be integrated with thousands of apps, including other software such as QuickBooks.
Are there any notable CRM success stories from startups or small businesses?
According to our research, Airbnb was a startup that used a CRM system to manage both hosts and guests. Airbnb is now a household name and it was able to do this through the use of a CRM which was able to keep track of feedback and interactions to create a personalized experience for users.
What are the cost considerations when implementing a CRM system and what is the ROI?
When implementing a CRM system, you should expect to pay from around $10 – $25 per user, per month. If you don't currently have the hardware to support a CRM system such as a tablet or desktop computer, you may also need to invest in hardware.

In terms of ROI, you'll need to track performance indicators before and after implementing a CRM system to assess the impact on your business.

How can a CRM system help companies improve their customer relationship management and sales processes?
CRM systems efficiently collate and organize contact information so you can quickly access relevant details when interacting with a customer. You can also create marketing campaigns to further your business's reach.

The ability to also track your sales pipeline and close deals more effectively will help streamline your day-to-day operations and increase revenue.

Written by:
Zara Chechi
Zara is a Payments Expert, specialising in writing about Point of Sale systems. With a Law Degree from City University of London, she has used her legally-honed research and analytical skills to develop expertise in the Business Services world. Featured in FinTech Magazine, she quickly became an expert in payroll, POS systems, and merchant accounts.