The 7 Best CRM Systems for Small Businesses

best crm systems for small businesses

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According to our experts’ research, the best and most user-friendly CRM for small businesses is Freshsales CRM.

Joining this industry heavyweight at the summit of small business CRM excellence are:

These platforms can be seen summed up in this table:

Swipe right to see more
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Best for

Marketing automation

Best for

Value for money

Best for


Best for


Best for

Managing big projects

Best for

Customer service automation

Best for


Price Range

£19-£99 per user per month

Price Range

£12-£47 per user per month

Price Range

£7-£49 per user per month

Price Range

£14 – £99 per user, per month

Price Range

£10-£24 per user per month

Price Range

£41-£82 per user per month

Price Range

£21-£83 per user per month

Try HubSpot Try Zoho Try Freshsales Try Pipedrive Try monday CRM Try Zendesk Try Salesforce

1. Zoho

Best value for money. Simple to get the hang of, easy to use.

Zoho Logo
Pricing From £12 per user, per month
Quick overview

A free plan and a free trial? Sign us up. As well as boasting one of the most user-friendly, eye-catching, and dynamic interfaces around, Zoho’s CRM is also one of the cheapest. For just £12 per user, per month, Zoho’s ‘Standard’ plan sets the standard – offering everything its free plan does, plus workflows, lead scoring, and mass email capabilities. Add in multiple pipelines and custom dashboards, and Zoho emerges as a CRM that’s equal parts style and substance.


Zoho’s cheapest CRM plan includes email insights and sales forecasting

Custom reporting available

No contractual commitments

Zoho Analytics also offers an on-premise solution

Highly customisable


Zoho (especially its cheapest CRM plans) may prove just a little too simplistic for the needs of some businesses

Its mobile app can be slow to update with data, with some online reviews suggesting branding it ‘cumbersome’

Limited range of integrations, particularly when compared to some other analytical CRM software providers

Standard £12 per user per month
Professional £18 per user per month
Enterprise £35 per user per month
Ultimate £42 per user per month
Zoho CRM interface

Zoho for small businesses: The verdict

Don’t let its simple, intuitive UI fool you – there’s a lot more to Zoho than meets the eye. With myriad integrations and a variety of plans to scale with your operations, Zoho ticks all the boxes a small business CRM should. Plus, in ‘Zia’ – the software’s conversational, AI-powered assistant – Zoho has one of the most efficient ways of using AI in customer service we’ve come across in our research.

2. Freshsales

Most user-friendly CRM for small businesses. Great for solopreneurs. Best customer support. Free plan.

Freshsales Logo
Pricing From £7 per user, per month
Quick overview

What’s better than a CRM system that can help maximise your profits? A CRM that’s cheap. We're talking £7 per user, per month cheap. Freshsales (also known as Freshworks CRM) fits this mould – in fact, it’s our top CRM pick for sales teams, period. Here’s why.

Firstly, lead scoring. You can prioritise new opportunities by their potential value to your business, and manage contacts, deals, and accounts hassle-free – all from a customisable visual pipeline. Secondly? Integrations. Whether it’s your existing email provider, your SMS marketing tool, or over 100 of the apps your small business uses every day, Freshworks CRM has you covered. Thirdly? 24/5 email, chat, and phone support, included with all plans. Need we say more?


Works with ‘Freshcaller’, Freshsales' own integrated VoIP telephony product

Connects to over 100 third-party business apps

Lead management and scoring both available with Freshsales' cheapest CRM version


Bulk email marketing not available with Freshsales' Sales Cloud – you'll have to opt for its Marketing Cloud plan, instead

Growth £7 per user, per month
Pro £29 per user, per month
Enterprise £49 per user, per month
Freshworks CRM interface

Freshsales Features

As one of the best CRM platforms out there, you can bet Freshsales comes packed with some handy features. Here are some of our standout favourites:

  • Automating sales sequences: You’ll be able to get more sales processed and completed as the more mundane parts of tasks are performed automatically
  • Custom fields: These allow you to gather more precise and specific information from your customers
  • Workflows: Workflows allow businesses to automate menial tasks and save man hours by installing triggers that occur at a specific date or time

Case study: Growth Division

We caught up with Tom Dewhurst, cofounder of small UK growth marketing agency Growth Division, to learn more about how his team uses Freshworks CRM.

Q: How easy do you find Freshworks CRM to use?

“Freshworks CRM is our go-to recommendation for small to medium-sized businesses looking to get started quickly with CRM software.

“We use it internally at Growth Division, and have led its implementation across tens of businesses over the last year. In my view, it’s the best value CRM on the market, and is very easy to get started with. The naming conventions for Leads/Contacts/Deals are very straightforward, and the flow between prospects is fairly intuitive.”

Q: What feature of Freshworks CRM do you find most useful?

“I find the ‘Sales Sequences’ feature most useful. This allows me to send multiple emails in a time-based sequence, to a specified contact segment.

“I use this feature to follow up with prospects at many different touch points along the customer journey. For example, when they’ve booked a demo, we send a series of articles and extra information. This feature is available with Freshworks CRM’s lower pricing tiers, and can be very expensive with other CRMs, such as Hubspot.”

Q: What thing about Freshworks CRM would you change?

“I would love it if Freshworks CRM improved its reporting capabilities. The ‘basic reporting’ isn’t very good, and you’ll need to upgrade to the ‘advanced reporting’ to get any real value from this feature. Even then, reporting is reasonably tricky to set up – and the dashboards have quite a few management limitations.

“You have to make multiple reports for each slight variation of variables, which seems like a waste of time, and can cause duplications.”

Freshworks CRM for small businesses: The verdict

Affordable, straightforward, and easy on the eye, Freshworks CRM is an ideal first CRM. There’s a free forever tier, after all, and round-the-clock weekday support is on hand to walk those small business owners with less CRM experience through any teething pains.

Did You Know?

Freshconnect is a free add-on that works with Freshworks CRM’s products for both sales and marketing teams. It’s an internal communication tool that allows your staff to send instant messages to each other, without leaving the CRM software’s interface.

3. HubSpot

Best small business CRM for marketing automation. Ideal for creating and executing email campaigns. Free plan.

HubSpot Logo
Pricing From £19 per user, per month (2 user minimum)
Quick overview

What makes a free CRM plan generous, do you think? Is it unlimited users? Features for boosting your sales, marketing, and customer service automation efforts, perhaps? Or is it being able to store up to one million contacts? Whatever your definition of the perfect cheap CRM looks like, HubSpot is close to it. And yes, while it is one of the more expensive CRMs to upgrade, the fact is that you may not even need to – especially because HubSpot works so seamlessly with G Suite, Outlook, and most of the tools your team already uses every day.

As with most free and cheap CRM software, though, there is a catch. If you use HubSpot’s free CRM product in conjunction with its Marketing Hub, any contacts you add to the free version will automatically end up in the database of your paid marketing tool. Unsurprisingly, this can lead to costs quickly ballooning (HubSpot charges you for extra contacts – go figure!), so it’s worth making a mental note of.


Sports a stunning interface, and even more immaculate UX (user experience)

Powered by drag-and-drop functionality

Its free plan includes strong list segmentation and email marketing capabilities

Live chat and conversational bots included


When you want to upgrade from HubSpot’s cheapest CRM plans, things get expensive – fast!

Starter £19 per user per month (minimum 2 users)
Professional £72 per user per month (minimum 5 users)
Enterprise £98 per user per month (minimum 10 users)

HubSpot Features

As far as features go, HubSpot isn’t lacking by any means. Here are three of their most remarkable features:

Mobile app: HubSpot’s mobile app allows you to use its multitude of features and tools while on the go

Analytics tools: You’ll be able to analyse your sales and customer service responses to fine tune your business

Scoring: HubSpot will give contacts and companies scores, allowing you to prioritise your attention

Case study: TopLine Comms

We spoke to Luke Budka, head of digital PR and SEO at small B2B agency TopLine Comms, to learn more about how they use HubSpot.

Q: How easy do you find HubSpot to use?

“HubSpot has probably the best user interface (pictured) of any piece of small business software I’ve ever used – a grand statement I know, but they’ve really put a lot of time and effort into making it intuitive.”

HubSpot CRM interface

Q: What feature of HubSpot do you find most useful?

“The CRM ties closely together with HubSpot’s included marketing solutions: primarily its email, list-building, and workflow functionalities. It also tracks contacts if they’ve opted into your marketing cookies. This means a contact’s CRM record contains information on the pages they’ve visited on your website, the emails, CTAs and social posts they’ve engaged with, and the workflows they’re a part of.

“This is super powerful, because it means you can easily auto-enrol contacts from the CRM into workflows. For example, if a contact engages with a particular social post or a certain email – or visits a specific page on your site – then they can be auto-enrolled into a series of sales emails.

“The beauty here is in the simplicity, because it doesn’t require specialist knowledge to set up. And, if you do get stuck, the knowledge bank is excellent – as is the speed with which HubSpot’s support team responds.”

Q: What thing about HubSpot would you change?

“Inevitably something this slick doesn’t come cheap! The ‘Marketing Pro’ setup costs £7,860, and includes 1,000 contacts. If you have more than that, then you can expect them to start bumping up the price – though deals can always be done!

“HubSpot will also charge a one-off £2,450 onboarding fee. You can negate this by onboarding via a certified HubSpot partner, though.”

HubSpot for small businesses: The verdict

HubSpot’s not cheap, and we can certainly see why this CRM’s price tag will dissuade some of the more thrifty small business owners out there.

Investment here, though – which you can make from £33.60 per month, or stick with a free plan – scores you the finest marketing CRM features around… full stop!

Small business teams looking to graduate from MailChimp and engineer email marketing campaigns with more serious firepower should look no further. Likewise, if you want your small businesses to do more with data, and reach customers across new channels – social media, for instance, or via chatbots – you’ll find plenty to love about HubSpot.

4. Pipedrive

Best for organisation features. Great for integrations, security, and contact management. Great usability.

Pricing From £14 per user, per month
Quick overview

Pipedrive is a new face on the CRM scene, but that doesn't mean they should be disregarded. In fact, they're one of the stronger CRM platforms on offer, bring highly streamlined and usable, having loads of integrations, and having the best organisational functionalities of any platform we've looked at.

Likely inspiring its name, Pipedrive's signature aspect is its pipeline builder. It's an easy (or even fun) to use drag-and-drop system that allows you to automate workflows and pipelines to be as efficient as possible.

Pipedrive is available at four different pricing tiers. You can start with its ‘Essential’ plan (£14 per user, per month), although it’s fairly sparse when it comes to features. We recommend springing for at least Pipedrive’s ‘Advanced’ plan (£29 per user, per month), to benefit from its excellent email marketing and sales automation capabilities.


Fairly affordable

High-quality chatbot

High quality organisation tools


No free tier

Support isn't reviewed particularly well

Essential £14 per user, per month
Advanced £29 per user, per month
Professional £49 per user, per month
Power £64 per user, per month
Enterprise £99 per user, per month

Pipedrive Features

Pipedrive is a great choice for anyone looking for a CRM platform. As for specific standout features, here are a couple:

Workflow builder: Automate entire workflows, allowing you to save time for other tasks

Email tracking: See which customers engaged with which emails, allowing you to optimise your communication

Revenue projections: See where your business is headed through projections based on your current statistics

Pipedrive for small businesses: The verdict

Pipedrive makes it a point to compare themselves to each and every one of their competitors on their site, and for good reason! They offer a great package that can rival any of their competitors, being extremely affordable, very usable, and coming with some great organisation tools.

5. monday CRM

Best for managing projects and teams. Most intuitive design. Highly affordable.

New logo of monday CRM
monday CRM Pro
£24 - £31 per user, per month
Who it's best for

monday CRM 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

monday CRM Features

monday CRM comes full of features that can benefit any team or business. Some highlights include:

Sales forecasting: monday CRM can use existing sales data to accurately predict how your business will perform in the future

Data importing: If you’ve been using a spreadsheet or other system to manage your CRM needs, you’ll be able to bring that over to monday CRM with little fuss

Email tracking: You’ll be able to see whether your email has been opened, read, or replied to, which can help you respond appropriately

Case study: Imaginaire Digital

We chatted to Seb Dean, director of small Nottingham-based marketing outfit Imaginaire Digital, to learn more about how his crew uses monday CRM.

Q: How easy do you find monday CRM to use?

“monday CRM’s interface is very visually stimulating, so if you’re someone that learns and works best with this kind of tool, it’s perfect for you.

“The integrations that monday CRM offers are useful, too – being able to connect to the likes of Slack, MailChimp, and GitHub gives us a nice level of flexibility to work with.”

Q: What feature of monday CRM do you find most useful?

“One of my favourite features of monday CRM is the timeline column (pictured). I benefit from this a great deal, by being able to quickly view the deadlines of each job, without having to dig into the task itself. interface

“I’m then able to plan my time more efficiently and, if I need to, jump in and edit the timeline with ease. Having that visual side really helps, because I’m able to gauge how much progress has been made, and develop a better understanding of what’s left to achieve.”

Q: What thing about monday CRM would you change?

“I think that the basic plan is missing a few important components that monday CRM’s project management competitors offer in their paid packages. While I understand why monday CRM [limits the features of lower-cost pricing tiers], I think that having a bit more functionality in its basic plan would make it a better platform.”

monday CRM for small businesses: The verdict

If you’re looking for a tool to stay on top of projects, collaborate seamlessly with your team remotely, and better manage workflows and processes, monday CRM is for you. It’s easy to get the hang of and use, too, and its price point makes it an alluring proposition for smaller teams and sole traders.

Bear in mind, though, that it won’t bear phone integration, or the elaborate tracking and analytical tools that CRM offers.

6. Salesforce

Best for analytics. Most comprehensive all-round CRM, with 24/7 phone support available.

Salesforce logo
Pricing From £20 per user per month
Quick overview

Best in class analytics, 24/7 phone-based support, and pricing that starts from £20 per user, per month? We like the sound of that. Offering thousands of app integrations, unlimited contacts, and just about every feature a business could ask for, Salesforce is one of our top CRM selections. Be warned, though – Salesforce does come with a fairly steep learning curve, and beyond its cheapest tier, it gets expensive – and fast. We’d recommend small businesses stick to the ‘Essentials’ plan, to keep costs down!


Its ‘Einstein Analytics’ add-on is one of the most advanced reporting tools money can buy

No contact limit

Free trial available for sales, service, and analytics modules

Tailored to insights for the specific needs of sales and customer service teams

Integrates with thousands of third-party applications

User-friendly mobile app


No free trial for its marketing automation product

24/7 phone-based support is restricted to Salesforce’s more expensive pricing plans

At £60 per user, per month, Einstein Analytics is expensive – particularly when added to Salesforce’s already steep costs

Notoriously difficult to get to grips with

FunctionStarting priceHighest price
Sales/Service £20 per user per month £240 per user per month
Marketing £320 per month £1,000 per month
Analytics £60 per user per month £120 per user per month

Salesforce Features

Here are three of Salesforce’s standout features:

Mobile app: One app allows you to access and control all of your CRM information

Sales forecasting: Data-driven predictions will allow you to see where your sales are likely headed

Automation: Basic daily tasks can be automated, allowing you to free up time for more complex goals

Case study: JellyBean

We spoke to Laura Hogan, owner of small Birmingham-based marketing agency JellyBean, to learn more about how she uses Salesforce.

Q: How easy do you find Salesforce to use?

“Salesforce has been JellyBean’s CRM resource for sales, marketing, and automation since we started.

“Salesforce at full use has been transformative to our sales and marketing functions; however, it took us several months of perseverance to understand how it can best work for our small business.

Salesforce CRM interface

“This involved taking a trial and error approach to some of its functions, and the customer service and technical support at Salesforce aren’t very responsive or helpful when issues arise.”

Q: What feature of Salesforce do you find most useful?

“We’ve found Salesforce’s most useful feature to be the level of customisation possible.

“As a small business, we like to generate regular pipeline and forecast reports that we can relay to our team, and many of the CRM systems we’ve tried over the years haven’t been capable of generating reports that reflect our industry or our sales process.

“Salesforce’s breadth of features means that once it’s set up and honed to your needs, you can spend more time speaking to actual clients and prospects who are likely to convert. It also means you can spend less time trying to save, edit, amend, and update CRM records (which with other CRM software is really frustrating).”

Q: What thing about Salesforce would you change?

“Like all small businesses, we find Salesforce to be incredibly expensive compared to its competitors. Still, Salesforce has become a core part of our planning.

“At £60 per user per month, the cost of the CRM is significantly more than other options. However, it’s so heavily ingrained into our small business that the cost of removing and retraining staff would also be expensive.”

Piqued your interest? Read more about what the market leader can do for your small business with our Salesforce review.

Salesforce for small businesses: The verdict

The ‘catch’ with Salesforce is a simple one. The more advanced you need it to be, the more expensive it is.

However, it’s a drawback that also plays straight into the hands of small businesses. Because Salesforce starts at just £20 per user, per month, it’s not only affordable, but you can be sure that you’re not paying for any features that you don’t need. And, as your small business grows and your data, reporting, and contact management needs balloon, you can upgrade the CRM to fit the scaling dimensions of your operations accordingly.

The sparkling interface, drag-and-drop pipelines, and lack of all contact limits are just a bonus!

You’re halfway through our list of the eight best CRM systems for small businesses.

Ready to compare prices from leading CRM providers? Hit one of the buttons below to fire up our quick quote-finding form. We’ll ask a couple of questions to find out what your main priorities are in a CRM, and match you with providers that are the best fit.

Then, you’ll receive free quotes from leading providers, each tailored to your small business’ exact size and unique requirements.

7. Zendesk

Lowest starting price. Excellent customer service automation features for small businesses.

Zendesk logo
Pricing From £15 per user, per month
Quick overview

With robust modules for sales and customer service, Zendesk is a versatile CRM offering plenty of value for small businesses. You can get started with a monthly fee of just £5 per user, and benefit from some of the highest quality help and support we came across during our research. Zendesk’s contact management features are a breeze to use, as is calling people through their profiles (pictured). That said, Zendesk – perhaps more than any other small business CRM here – ails from freemium software’s biggest weakness; that you’ll need to upgrade to the most expensive plans to enjoy its finest features.


Extremely low starting price

Excellent ticket management capabilities

Boasts an aesthetically-pleasing user interface

Low starting price


No document storage

Doesn't provide the same level of data analysis as Salesforce and SugarCRM

Team £15 per user per month
Growth £39 per user per month
Professional £79 per user per month

Zendesk Features

Zendesk comes with some very nifty CRM features! These include:

Data reports: All of Zendesk’s various analytics can be compiled into reports in order to provide easy reading of important stats.

ROI calculator: Less of a feature within the platform, and more one about the platform, but Zendesk offers a calculator to help you figure out how much you could save through use of a CRM platform

Zendesk for small businesses: The verdict

A lack of marketing functionality hampers Zendesk’s capabilities as an ‘all in one’ CRM solution. But for sales and service teams, it has plenty to offer, and its renowned customer support will have small businesses singing.

Its service CRM solution starts at just £5 per user, per month, too – one of the lowest rates around.

Next steps

Still not sure which CRM software is right for your small business? Here’s a recap.

How Did We Find the Best CRM Software?

Our team of independent researchers looked at a selection of the best and most popular CRM software. After finding all the information we need, the researchers then compare each software against its competitors, allowing us to find the cream of the crop. The criteria we look at include:

  • Price: Simple enough – the platform with the lowest price tag scores the best
  • Customisation: What does the platform allow you to toy with in order to make it suit your business?
  • Features: Again, fairly easy to assess. Whichever platforms offer the best variety of features are given a better placement than those that have a more skint collection of tools.
  • Team Infrastructure: How does the platform allow you to manage large sales teams?
  • Customer Support: Again, easy enough – look at the options available and see what each platform offers its customers when it comes to their support resources
  • Scalability: How much does each software allow your business to grow over time?

After factoring in all this information, alongside the scores they received, we were able to calculate a final overall score for each CRM platform.

Frequently asked questions

What does CRM software do for a small business?
CRM software can perform a bevy of services, including marketing, sales management, customer service tools, and contact management. Some even come with social media management tools, though these may cost extra.
I'm in the process of setting up my own small business. Is CRM right for me?
Of course! CRM software isn’t just for more established small businesses – it’s an ideal way of managing key supplier and deal information, while nurturing a growing customer base.

Plus, you can get some (albeit heavily limited) CRM systems completely free, so you won’t have to worry about another overhead clogging up your expense sheet.

What is the best CRM for small companies?
Due to CRM being a multi-faceted product, different providers are “the best” in different ways. For example, the best CRM for small business marketing is HubSpot, while most user-friendly platform is Freshworks. Zoho also deserves a shout out for being the most affordable platform on the market.
Why do small businesses need CRM?
With the variety of services offered by CRM software, almost any business stands to benefit from investing in a platform. If your business relies on touchpoint with your customers to encourage sales, then CRM will almost definitely be of use.
Written by:
Duncan Lambden
Duncan (BA in English Textual Studies and Game Design) is one of Expert Market's local Software Experts. His articles focus on ecommerce platforms and business software that allows small businesses to improve their efficiency or reach, with an emphasis on invoice financing, project management, and customer relations.
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.