The popularity and availability of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software has exploded in recent years. That's good news for businesses of all sizes, since the right CRM can streamline your workflow, help your teams to be more efficient and productive, and increase conversions and customer satisfaction.
It's especially good news for small business, since the competition among providers has brought prices down to a point where a good CRM is no longer the sole province of big business.
Top 5 CRM Systems
In order to help you narrow down your choices, we've compiled a list of the 5 most popular CRM software tools. Familiarize yourself with our favorites, getting to know the companies and the options they offer. With that information in hand, you'll be able to find a CRM suite that best fits the unique needs of your small business and its clients.
CRM on a Budget: Zoho
While several CRM solutions offer a limited trial or a free "light" version of their software, both options often come with many limits and strings attached. Zoho is unique in that its free CRM can be genuinely useful for some small businesses, and can help up to ten users manage and automate the sales cycle. The free version integrates with Twitter, Facebook, and email.
The paid version adds list management, customer support, reporting, invoicing and HR management utilities, as well as sales forecasting, mass emailings and social media lead capture.
Some small businesses or solopreneurs may find the free version of Zoho sufficient for their needs. However, reports can be frustratingly limited and the best customer support goes to the highest-paying customers.
Zoho provides free modules for billing, HR, and other functions, and the cloud-based architecture means that the application works seamlessly across a number of devices - especially useful in a start-up environment when time and money are at a premium.
Integration on the Cheap: Insightly
Targeted at small business, Insightly incorporates a surprisingly competent brace of features in a user-friendly package that includes not only CRM, but also project management, mobile apps, and a host of third-party integrations that includes Google Apps and the option to customize functionality via the REST API.
The lack of a server/desktop version takes Insightly out of contention for businesses needing HIPAA or Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. However, there’s plenty to like here, including the ability to manage leads and contacts, customize reporting, share tasks and files, and link related projects.
The cloud-based architecture means it works just as well with Android as with iOS, and allows you to work on a smart device from practically anywhere with an internet connection. Pricing ranges from free to $99 per month (billed annually; monthly billing costs more on all service tiers).
While it's not as feature-rich as some of its competitors that aim for mid-to-large sized businesses (automation is absent, sorting/reporting features sometimes frustrating), it's more than competent at handling the day-to-day needs of small businesses.
Best Social Media CRM: Nimble
Rather than an all-in-one solution, Nimble focuses squarely on social media. It's a cloud-based service with a single price point of $15/month per user.
You can use Nimble to import and manage contacts from several social media channels as well as your existing email accounts, managing activities by task, content, or team member.
A "unified inbox" tracks conversations and mentions in real time, allowing quick, proactive responses to problems and opportunities alike. A substantial app ecosystem allows users to integrate individual applications and entire services with ease.
For businesses that don't require all the bells and whistles of a larger service, or whose social media presence is the backbone of their marketing efforts, Nimble is an excellent solution. It's lean, with absolutely no fluff. Writers, artists, recruiters, and all manner of solopreneurs can benefit from the features and analytics offered, which are far more robust than competitors like HootSuite.
Nimble is also inexpensive enough to integrate with another CRM or ecommerce solution if your business warrants it. It also integrates with popular email services, making it a popular CRM software option for small online businesses.
Best Automation and Scaling: Infusionsoft
Whatever else it may be, Infusionsoft isn't cheap. There are onboarding costs, monthly fees, and additional costs for additional services, and businesses can easily find themselves paying $1,000 per month or more. But if you've ever needed proof of the axiom that you get what you pay for, Infusionsoft would be at the top of the list.
Infusionsoft offers the CRM features you'd expect alongside excellent sales and marketing automation and tools for online selling. It's cloud-based and integrates well with ecommerce platforms, content management systems, email providers, and quite a bit else. The addition of "Extras" allow for social media management, custom membership sites, and synchronization with Gmail or Outlook.
The feature set is a blessing and a curse; on the one hand, the learning curve is steep and the user interface a bit quirky. On the other hand, users that take the time to learn the ins and outs of the service will find quite a bit of power at their fingertips; the time saved in automation, and the money saved in better customer service and client relations tends to pay back the time invested in learning the service.
Best All-In-One CRM: HubSpot
While it's difficult to be all things to all businesses, HubSpot gives it the old college try, and surprisingly succeeds to a high degree.
More than just a CRM, HubSpot is a Swiss Army Knife of an inbound-marketing tool. Sidekick by HubSpot (free to start, with fees for premium features or Sidekick for Business) leverages email profiles, contact history, interaction history, social media profiling, templates, analytics, and more. Functionality can be further expanded with HubSpot Marketing Software, which integrates with dozens of third-party apps and proprietary HubSpot mobile apps.
Pricing starts fairly high, ranging from $200/month for 100 contacts to $2,400/month for 10,000 contacts, plus onboarding fees. Add-ons, like a custom website, custom reporting, and advertisements, will add more to your monthly total.
However, the price is balanced by a level of functionality that's practically peerless, and an ease of use that the next-closest competitor sorely lacks. While pricing may seem prohibitive for smaller businesses, the key advantage offered by HubSpot is the ability to take care of several vital business needs within the confines of a single very powerful application.
Running a small business comes with dozens of challenges. Some of these challenges can't easily be addressed by software. Cash flow is never quite what we'd like, our marketing budget could always stand to be larger, changing rules and regulations cause headaches, and finding the right people is anything but an exact science.
However, for a host of other business issues - lead capture, list management, client acquisition, workflow, project management, customer service, and so much more in the customer lifecycle - the right CRM can help your business work as smart as it works hard.
For more help finding the right CRM for your small business, contact us today or fill out the form above. We can help you find the right fit for your business's needs.