Customer Relationships Management Software

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is a system some businesses use to manage and organize contacts with customers, clients and others that a business works with. CRM software helps streamline a business’ interactions with customers and other important contacts by providing a central location where information, such as notes, can be kept regarding each interaction.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can be tricky to navigate through — there are so many options and all of them claim to be the best. CRM systems are difficult to choose, so one way to get around this is by subscribing to a professional CRM services company.

Relationship management has become an emerging trend in businesses. Most network organizations are trying to manage their relationship efficiently to maximize profit and reduce cost. Smart business organizations now understand that everybody is in the business of managing relationships. Though, relationships are made and managed by people, not by software.

Customer Relationship Management Software

A customer relationship management software system, or CRM, is an integrated software tool designed to help companies manage and track their customer relationships. CRMs allow businesses to capture and analyze data through a single platform that can be accessed anywhere and at any time, which helps them make informed decisions about their customers.

The first step in implementing a CRM is to analyze your existing data-gathering practices: are you already collecting customer information? If so, how are you storing it? What kind of information do you need to collect? This will help determine how much money and time you should spend on implementing a CRM system.

Next, develop a business plan for the implementation of a CRM system by considering which features are important for your business model. You may decide that it would be best to start small and add more functionality as needed rather than purchasing everything at once. For example, if your company sells products online but doesn’t have much interaction with customers over social media channels then it might make sense just start there instead of having all three components right away.

Customer Relationship Management Software Systems (CRM) are the most essential tools for managing customer relationships. They help you to organize, manage and track all information about your customers, which allows you to offer better services to them.

CRM systems can help you improve your relationship with clients by helping you to:

  • Keep track of all the information about your customers, including their preferences and buying habits.
  • Create a list of contacts for different types of customers, such as regular buyers or new prospects.
  • Manage all your sales processes more effectively with automatic reminders, notifications and other features.
  • Send targeted marketing messages at key points during the sales cycle so that they are more likely to convert into sales opportunities.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software systems are the backbone of any business.

They allow you to stay in touch with your customers, grow your community, and keep track of your sales. They are essential for any company that wants to succeed in today’s market.

But not just any CRM system will do. You need one that fits seamlessly into your existing workflow and provides everything you need to run a successful business.

That’s where [company name] comes in! We’ll help you find the right CRM software system for your company. Our team is made up of experts who have been working with CRMs since they were invented, so we know exactly what you need to succeed in today’s market.

The Importance of Customer Relationship Management Software

Customer relationship management software is a system that allows you to manage your customers in a way that increases the value they receive from your product or service. Your business needs to have a good customer relationship management software in order to survive. The first step to creating a good customer relationship management software is to understand what it takes and why this is so important for your business.

Why You Need Customer Relationship Management Software

A good customer relationship management software will help you do more than just keep track of your customers’ information. It should also give you the ability to monitor their actions, identify their interests, and anticipate their needs so that you can offer them products and services that meet those interests and needs without any extra effort on their part.

What makes a Great CRM System?

How we evaluate and test apps

All of our best apps roundups are written by humans who’ve spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. We spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it’s intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We’re never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog.

The best CRM apps don’t try to reinvent the wheel—they just try to make it roll a little smoother. This means keeping things like the user experience fairly conventional so that anyone—even if they’ve only ever operated an email inbox—can get up to speed quickly. The free CRM tools featured here are all relatively easy to operate for first-time users and provide enough resources (support or self-help) to assist when and if issues arise. 

And while the versions reviewed are all free, each CRM application offers different levels of upgrade plans to accommodate businesses with evolving needs. These paid plans are affordable for most small and medium businesses, especially when the capabilities are expanded enough to take the place of additional standalone software such as marketing and support. 

Below are the features we looked at when researching and evaluating free CRMs. While not every one of our picks checked off all five boxes, the ones that didn’t offered enough compelling features or highly specific use cases to make the final cut.   

  • Contact and sales management. When creating contacts, you should have some flexibility in the type of information you can add. Features like custom fields let you collect what info is important for your business. Also, a free app should provide room for at least several hundred contacts to get you started. Tracking deals is a must-have feature for any customer management software, and those that provide a visual (e.g., Kanban) pipeline with the ability to customize stages based on your sales process are ideal.
  • Ease of use. Customer relationship management software should make it relatively easy to perform repetitive actions (e.g., contact creation), input information, and provide a system with some customization options. We also looked for features that help automate actions such as performing tasks (emails, calls, etc.) as part of a sales process.     
  • Unique feature(s). If a product included a unique (or atypical) feature not usually found in free plans, we highlighted that in the review. 
  • Reporting and analytics. At the very least, you should have reporting to track total pipeline, deals by rep, and activities such as calls, emails, and meetings. Some of the apps we selected also had forecasting, leads by source, and average sales cycle duration.     
  • Integration with other apps. We valued CRMs that provide integrations with third-party apps, whether natively or with Zapier, since a customer tracking app is just one part of your business’s tech stack.

Best Free CRM (try before you buy)

Free CRM systems offer the opportunity to try out a platform with your team and see if you can derive value from it without dishing out on the initial investment—especially if you’re a small business or a budding startup on a lean budget a crm for small business is the way to go. 

Since it’s free, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t try it out! Here are some of the best free CRM software platforms, with enticing free plans:

Freshsales

Benefits:

Freshsales is a full-fledged sales force automation solution for sales teams. It provides everything a salesperson needs to— attract quality leads, engage in contextual conversations, drive deals with AI-powered insights, and nurture customer relationships. 

With built-in email, phone, chat, and telephony, Freshsales empowers sales teams with more time for selling by automating the sales process and increases efficiency and productivity in their daily activities. With Freddy AI, salespeople can get insights into the best deals to go after and what actions to take and predict revenue with sales forecasting. Businesses can take the next step forward towards powerful pipeline management with Freshsales. Also, the option to use native CPQ makes generating and sharing quotes and other vital sales assets hassle-free. 

Drawbacks:

Like many vendors, some of the better features are reserved for premium packages. Among these for Freshworks CRM are time-based workflows, some chatbot tools and advanced metric reporting. But overall, the free and basic plans are a decent place to start, and you can always upgrade.

Pricing:

  • There is a Free Forever Startup plan
  • Growth plan is $15
  • Pro plan is $39 
  • Enterprise plan is $69 

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Zoho

Benefits:

Zoho CRM provides a small business-friendly platform with a simple user interface, customizable modules, pragmatic automation, and social media features. 

If you’re seeking free-ness, their unpaid plan for up to three users is a good place to start. The platform will allow you to build up and define specific workflow, manage leads, and start rationalizing day-to-day operations. It integrates with Twitter, Google+, and Facebook too, so you can reach out to leads with superhuman perfect timing.

Once you outgrow the free CRM, you can upgrade to the reasonably priced Standard version of Zoho CRM, which pumps up the usability factor with robust sales forecasting and KPI tracking. The Enterprise version piles on more features like stage-by-stage sales funnel tracking, data comparisons across users, teams, regions, products/services, and much more. 

Drawbacks:

Zoho has no email tracking or individual lead notifications, which might be a problem if one-on-one, long-term engagement with specific users is integral to your business. UI can be a bit laggy. Paying for Zoho add-on modules to give the CRM more mileage can shoot up operational costs quickly.

The free version lacks mass emailing features and overall the CRM has pretty limited customizability.

Pricing:

  • A free version is available for up to 3 users. 15-day free trial for paid versions.
  • Standard edition is $14 
  • Professional edition is $23 
  • Enterprise edition is $40 
  • Ultimate edition is $52. Exclusive 30-day free trial.

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HubSpot

Benefits:

HubSpot is one of the biggest vendors out there (up there with Salesforce), and they offer a free CRM for unlimited users with basic features. 

The free HubSpot CRM allows you to assign and track leads, manage the sales process, manage workflows for better management, and record customer interactions across every channel in one place. It also has pretty comprehensive email marketing, as well as inbound marketing tools (the latter is quite useful for getting search engine hits for blog posts).

The platform works with G Suite and Microsoft Office, making implementation and data syncing seamless. Integration with Zapier facilitates easy information sharing and task management across apps like Google Sheets, Facebook Lead Ads, Slack, and more). 

The non-free, paid add-on packages for HubSpot CRM boost data storage, generate more sophisticated reports, and incorporate new AI and advanced automation tech.

Drawbacks:

The free CRM has many features, but a lot of them aren’t that robust, which means you may find yourself having to shell out for Marketing, Sales, or Service Hub products. Customizability is limited, which might make the CRM hard for certain niche small businesses to tweak and meaningfully implement.

Pricing: 

  • HubSpot CRM is free and the number of users is unlimited.
  • Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, and Service Hub add-on packages are $50 
  • HubSpot CMS starts at $300 per month
  • All-inclusive Starter Growth Suite starts at $113

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Less Annoying CRM

Benefits:

Less Annoying CRM (aka LACRM) is designed as an all-inclusive CRM solution for small businesses. They offer a long 30-day free trial. After that, they have a single, low-cost paid plan.

LACRM handles task management, lead-to-sale, contact management, and follow-ups. Manage all your customer data, track your leads through sales pipelines. Stay on top of events and to-dos (in easy-to-use calendar and agenda formats). Makes a great real estate crm. 

Emails written and received outside a CRM platform can be logged inside LACRM. The app provides every user with a unique email logging address. You can create a contact with whatever email provider you use.

Drawbacks:

There are minimal app integrations, which might be a significant limitation, depending on your needs. The app sends out notifications by SMS or email, but not in-app, which feels a bit retro.

Pricing:

  • $15 

LACRM offers a risk-free, 30-day free trial for its only pricing plan.

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Really Simple Systems

Really Simple Systems CRM

Benefits:

Really Simple Systems (RSS for short) doesn’t shy away from touting their marketing automation, sales and service platform as simple—but that doesn’t mean it lacks sophistication, it’s just really easy to use. This is especially handy for companies with distributed offices and remote workforces.

While they have paid-for versions, their free option is more than just a temporary trial offer for companies up to two users, so budding businesses and solo entrepreneurial ventures can use the CRM without watching the calendar. It allows for unlimited contacts and up to 100 MBs of document storage. The free version includes many of the core features including sales automation and customer service. 

Free users will be able to access distinct management tools for both contacts, which updates in real time all relevant info and related tasks for contacts, vendors and suppliers; and leads, which aims to convert contacts into eventual sales. RSS also does reporting their own way, dividing up the action in two parts. 

For one, there’s ‘Listing reports’ for quick stats on simple questions like, “how many hits did we get this month?” (you can formulate more complex questions too). Then there’s ‘Forecast reports’ which focus on expected sales numbers in a variety of time frames. 

For small businesses in the B2B game, RSS makes moving into the CRM zone a snap.

Drawbacks:

Generating reports is probably more complex than it needs to be. Opportunities system can be a bit clunky to use. Email marketing could be better; the email templates are fairly basic.

Also, if you’re using Outlook, you can’t link tasks to trigger active reminders in your inbox.

Pricing:

  • Free plan for up to 2 users.
  • Starter plan is $15 
  • Professional plan is $33
  • Enterprise plan is $50 

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EngageBay

Engage Bay CRM

Benefits:

EngageBay bills itself as a HubSpot alternative, and sells three business process-orientated suites: Marketing Automation, Live Chat & Helpdesk, and CRM & Sales Bay. The last of these, CRM & Sales Bay, provides contact management tools designed for simplicity and company growth.

The platform provides multi-channel listening, aggregating contact info from across all your customer touchpoints. Track contact activity, web activity, email response, open and click rates, and more. 

Integrates with Gmail, Office 365 or any other IMAP service, with two-way sync capabilities. Zapier, SendGrid, Mailgun, Xero, and Mandrill integrations allow you to connect your CRM with your other business processes and further streamline your operations.

Drawbacks:

Could use more native integrations with third-party apps. Email template options are limited in number and simplistic in style.

Pricing:

  • A free plan is available, limited to 1,000 contacts and 1,000 branded emails
  • Basic plan is $12.99
  • Growth plan is $24.99 
  • Pro plan is $49.99 

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Capsule

Benefits: 

Capsule works to bump not just your customer relationships, but all your business relationships, to the next level. And this it does ever so simply, with a clean user interface and zero learning curve.

Rather than piling on extended features, Capsule quite simply hones in on being really good at managing daily work. You can instantly find out what’s going on with your sales pipeline (bids, lead generation, proposals, customer data, etc.) and what your team needs to do and when.

It also makes it easy to find key information—contact lists can be imported from Gmail, Outlook, and your CSV spreadsheet and database files.

If you run a business solo or with a partner, you can get by with Capsule’s free version (the cap is two users). The Professional version features Zapier, G Suite, Zendesk, Twitter, and Mailchimp integration, helping you collect information and capture leads from across your apps.

Drawbacks: 

The free plan is capped at 250 contacts, so you may find yourself suddenly hitting a glass ceiling and having to commit to a paid plan. To keep using the product you’ve invested in for your day-to-day business, you may go from paying nothing to dishing out $18/month (or exponentially more). 

Apart from that, in order to track and auto-generate contacts from email, you’ll have to remember to BCC them to your Dropbox, which is quite easy to forget.

Pricing:  

  • Free, basic version of Capsule is available for up to 2 users. 
  • Professional version is priced at $18 
  • Teams version is priced at $36 

A 30-day free trial is available for Professional and Teams.

Choosing the Best Free CRM for a Small Business

The best free CRM software may seem like an oxymoron. However, as can be seen in our list, you can get a lot of features for little cost. Make sure you’re prioritizing the features important to your business.

Lead Management

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is meant to help you focus on your time where it will be most beneficial, as well as handling basic contact management. Free CRM options often limit the contact records you can store, which can put a limit on your ability to manage customer relationships.

There are free versions of CRM software that offer unlimited contacts, however. Whether that’s a priority may depend on your customer management needs.

Team Management

You may not be directly handling customer relationships, instead managing customer service teams. There are free CRM systems with the features you’re looking for, including assigning tasks to CRM users and other aspects of project management.

Marketing

Marketing tools are often vital to CRM, as it’s techniques like email marketing, ad management, web to lead forms, and other tools for sales that create new leads. Marketing automation can come at a premium, however, and may be hard to find in a free plan. 

Transaction Management

Something that may get left out of the average free CRM plan is deal management. It is possible to find some that offer tools to help with the sales process, including sales pipelines and workflow automation to keep things moving and bring neglected leads to your attention.

Reporting

Reports are one of the most important tools in project management, helping to pinpoint problems and opportunities. Most free CRMs come with some limited reporting, including website visitor tracking and conversion statistics. However, if you’re looking for complete reporting tools, you’ll usually need to look beyond the free plan.

Conclusion

If you’re searching for CRM software, there’s a lot to consider. When it comes down to it, though, you really can’t go wrong with HubSpot or Marketo. Either of these tools can give your business an edge in today’s competitive landscape. Which CRM software is the best for you? That’s something that only you can decide. Good luck!

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which CRM system will best meet your specific needs. To help you with that decision, we’ve created an easy-to-follow guide, complete with our final rankings and reviews. We hope it helps you find what you’re looking for.

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