The Best CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Software

The Best CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Software

The Best CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Software

What Is CRM?

As customers' needs and behaviors change, companies must adapt to keep their loyalty.

Customer relationship management software (CRM) uses technology and AI (artificial intelligence) to improve business operations, thereby making the customer experience better.

CRM helps a company store information about its customers to improve communication and make customer relations more personal.

Essentially, the goal of CRM software is to help a business interpret customer behaviors to better serve them in the future – and also to make a bigger profit.

The Different Types of CRM

Operational CRM

Operational CRM provides a complete overview of customer communications, generates leads and streamlines departments such as sales and marketing.

It is a problem solver.

The features of operational CRM are usually:

  • Sales automation – Sets service standards, encourages new clients by giving them a consistent experience, and organizes information to fulfill customer needs
  • Marketing automation – Finds the best way to advertise through effective channels and campaign management, perhaps by tracking where you customers come from
  • Service automation – Actively supports customers to achieve better satisfaction
  • Contact manager – Centralized platform that updates with every transaction
  • Lead scoring – Predicts lead qualification and which the best channels to utilize are

You would opt for an operational CRM if you:

  • Want to keep all customer contact information organized
  • Need a clear view of your customers’ habits
  • Want to leverage the benefit of lead scores
  • Plan to run automated sales and marketing services

Analytical CRM

Analytical CRM is concerned with data management and analysis. It also usually integrates with invoicing, so you receive reports about the company's financial performance too.

Features typically include:

  • Customer retention and acquisition – Uses purchasing patterns for a more targeted approach
  • Data extraction – Information is stored in a centralized location so it is easily accessible and the CRM’s data mining can find patterns and cluster analysis
  • Profiling personas – Full activity records of all your customers
  • Employee performance – Productivity reports, service levels and overall performance
  • Attribution – What made your customer become your customer and not a competitor’s?

Your company can benefit from an analytical CRM if you:

Collaborative CRM

Collaborative CRM establishes communications between all services and departments, streamlining workflows.

Features generally include:

  • Interaction management – Easy access to customer data so agents know how best to interact with them
  • Channel management – Tracking and coordinating communication channels so the customer receives a flawless and cohesive service
  • Document management – All a company's formal documents available in one easily accessible place

You should consider a collaborative CRM if you:

  • Must enhance communication between departments
  • Want to boost customer retention
  • Need to share customer details with third parties
  • Want to promote a customer-centric culture

What Are the Benefits of CRM

  1. Centralized customer database – This allows for quick access for all team members, saving lots of time.

  2. Sales reports – These allow teams to better manage their contacts, work pipelines and deals, and can also be used to keep track of employees’ personal goals and performance.

  3. Team communicationsEffective communication is the key to success. CRMs have features that allow teams to contact each other quickly, involve others in specific deals or discussions, and allocate tasks fairly.

  4. Faster customer communications33% of customers will change companies if their requests are not met promptly. CRM can create a database of a customer's entire interaction history so agents can respond quickly and accurately.

  5. Better customer retention – Poor customer service naturally leads to a loss of customers. CRMs prompt agents to reach out to customers that have not been contacted recently. The software can also send automated follow-up emails with to check customer satisfaction.

  6. Customer segmentation – CRMs allow you to divide your contacts depending on the criteria you require. This ensures that you contact, for example, all the customers most likely to purchase a deal, and do not waste time on less profitable avenues.

  7. Data protection – CRM software adapts to all changes in customer information laws so you do not have to worry. CRMs inform existing customers how their data will be stored and used, and allows them to manage their communication preferences.

  8. Automation of data entry – Some CRM software run updates, even if you are offline, to ensure all the data are up to date. While you may have to input some information at the time of sale or resolution, the system generally does the rest for you and then generate the relevant reports and analysis.

  9. Follow-up reminders – CRM tracks all your potential prospects and can remind you how and when to follow up to ensure that the sale succeeds.

Things to Look for When Choosing CRM Software

  1. Growth – CRM software is designed to facilitate your business's growth and profit margins. Before deciding which to use, consider if the software can handle increased operations as you scale your business and evaluate the cost of potential upgrades.

  2. Mobility – Is the software optimized for all devices and operating systems? Do you require it to work offline and automatically sync? These can seem like small features but they go a long way in improving your user experience and customer satisfaction.

  3. Functions – Before making your final decision, decide what features and functions your business currently needs. Are you a small business with few needs? Or do you run ongoing sales campaigns and need a program that can handle all that data?

  4. Free trial – Be money-savvy: test things before you buy them. Take advantage of any free trials the software might have and ask your team to try every feature. Towards the end of the trials, ask your team for feedback. Not only does the CRM need to match your business needs, but your employees have to be able to use it well.

8 Best CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Software
8 Best CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Software

The 8 Best CRMs

1. Zoho

Best for: Growing businesses
Cost: Price per month (equivalent when billed annually)

  • Free trial, unlimited time but only up to three users
  • Standard – $18 ($12)
  • Professional – $30 ($20)
  • Enterprise – $45 ($35)
  • Ultimate – $45 – annual billing only

Zoho is the winner of PC Mag's Editor's Choice Award 2020 and is the most widely recommended CRM software.

It is a cloud-based operational business platform with:

  • Multiple channel presence
  • Sales automation
  • Customizable dashboards
  • AI-powered sales assistant that predicts anomalies, outcomes and best contact times
  • Internal chat for team collaboration
  • Offline updates

Pros:

Cons:

  • No on-premise solutions – it is all in the cloud
  • Limited support for the free account

Visit Zoho

2. Freshworks CRM

Best for: AI
Cost: Price per user per month (equivalent when billed annually)

  • 21-day free trial
  • Growth – $35 ($29)
  • Pro – $85 ($69)
  • Enterprise – $149 ($125)
  • Add-ons – vary in price from around $15/month to $200/month

Freshworks CRM (formerly Freshsales) is easy-to-use and comes at an affordable price point. Its focus is to maximize sales team productivity through:

  • Lead scoring
  • Workflow automation
  • Contact management

Pros:

  • Has one of the most intuitive interfaces in the market
  • Allows two-way email sync so the customer will not receive the same email twice

Cons:

  • No tools for lead generation
  • Very few integrations
  • Have to build your own new contacts list

Visit Freshworks CRM

3. Salesforce CRM

Best for: Customizable features
Cost: Only billed annually; price given per user per month

  • Open source version – free; must be self-built
  • Sales Essential (up to five users) – $25
  • Professional – $75
  • Enterprise – $150
  • Unlimited – $300

Salesforce CRM is one of the industry's leading cloud-based software companies.

The interface is easy-to-use and incredibly customizable. It is a platform for companies that intend to grow and upgrade.

Salesforce CRM features:

  • Understanding customer requirements
  • Indicates new ways to assist customers

Pros:

  • Communities for sales and leads
  • Chatter and real-time visualization
  • Lots of social media capability

Cons:

  • Can get costly for customization
  • Complex environment
  • Poor technical support

Visit Salesforce CRM

4. Pipedrive

Best for: Ease of use
Cost: Price per month/per user (equivalent when billed annually)

  • Free trial available
  • Essential – $12.50 ($10.50)
  • Advanced – $24.90 ($21)
  • Professional – $49.90 ($42)
  • Enterprise – $99 – only billed annually, minimum of 10 users
  • Add-ons – prices vary from around $27.50 to $42

Pipedrive's selling point is its simple and minimalistic layout. While other software providers boast about mass customization and complex features, Pipedrive keeps it easy and accessible.

Other features include:

  • Webforms
  • Sales pipelines
  • Communication tracking
  • Activity calendar
  • Reports and insights

Pros:

  • Deal-driven workflow
  • Call and email synchronization
  • Excellent mobile app

Cons:

  • Limited functionality considering the price
  • No separation between existing customer lists and new customers

Visit Pipedrive

5. Engage Bay

Best for: Customer support
Cost: Price per user per month (equivalent when billed annually)

Engage Bay offers a further 20% off when users are billed biennially.

  • Free – Limited features but free forever
  • Basic – $12.99 ($10.39)
  • Growth – $24.99 ($19.99)
  • Pro – $49.99 ($39.99)

Engage Bay not only excels at customer support but it allows you to track deals in your pipeline and build long-lasting relationships.

Its free package is one of the most comprehensive available, with features such as:

  • Email marketing
  • Autoresponders
  • Lead grabbers
  • Landing pages
  • Help desk

Each subsequent level adds more features, such as SMS marketing at the Basic level, marketing automation at the Growth level and a dedicated account manager at the Pro level.

Pros:

  • 24/7 friendly and prompt support
  • Excellent free package
  • Integrates well with extant marketing
  • Automation features greatly reduce data entry time

Cons:

  • Limited native integrations

Visit Engage Bay

6. Really Simple Systems CRM

Best for: Sales with marketing
Cost: Price per user per month (equivalent when billed annually)

  • Free – Limited to two users, but free forever ($0)
  • Starter – $15 ($14)
  • Professional – $33 ($30)
  • Enterprise – $50 ($46)
  • Add-ons – vary from $22 to $46

Really Simple Systems CRM is simple and intuitive, just as its name suggests.

It has excellent user support and is ideal for small-to-mid-sized companies.

It features:

  • Market and lead management
  • Third-party integration
  • Reports and analysis

Pros:

  • Built-in email integration
  • Range of plans and products depending on your needs
  • User support

Cons:

  • Lead tracking only available in certain packages
  • Cannot track activities of individual customers

Visit Really Simple Systems CRM

7. Hubspot

Best: Value
Cost: Price per month per user (equivalent when billed annually)

  • Free – Limited free features
  • Starter – Limited to two users for the paid features; $50 ($45)
  • Professional – $500 ($450)
  • Enterprise – $1,200 – only available with annual billing
  • Add-ons – Such as Sales Hub Starter Onboarding ($250 one-time fee) and consulting ($400–$1,600/month)

Hubspot is probably the most famous CRM software available. It is also one of the most innovative for small businesses.

For example, during the COVID-19 lockdown, it has reduced its starter growth suite from $150/month to $50/month.

Hubspot features:

  • Total visibility when managing pipelines
  • Seamless workflow with the marketing team
  • Good email and website integration
  • Automatic logging of all activity

Pros:

  • Decent free version
  • Excellent email integration
  • Works in the background without affecting your work or other programs

Cons:

  • Pricing can get costly when you add up all the packages
  • No auto-update on some of the platforms

Visit Hubspot

8. Less Annoying CRM

Best for: Small businesses
Cost: Price per month – $15, after a 30-day free trial

Less Annoying CRM is the most affordable software on the market, making it ideal for small businesses.

It is hugely flexible and has a surprising amount of performance.

Its pricing plan is also the most simple – one price per month with no contract and unlimited users.

Less Annoying also has:

  • Lead management
  • A variety of support and help
  • An intuitive interface
  • Reports and analysis

Pros:

  • New and improved interface
  • Great implementation
  • Excellent value for money

Cons:

  • Basic reporting features
  • May take some getting used to the new interface

Visit Less Annoying CRM

Final Thoughts

Making any decision for your company is difficult, but making one that will influence productivity and profits is even more challenging.

When it comes to CRM software, there is no single stand-out product. It all depends on your business size, needs and budget.

Before committing:

  • Decide precisely what your company needs in terms of CRM now, next year and in five years
  • Take advantage of the free trials and explore all the features
  • Consider all the costs, including upgrades and growth

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