Customer relationship management for small business, or how you manage and improve interactions with your customers, can be automated and optimized by utilizing CRM software. CRM software options generally offer business owners functionality for contact, sales, and customer service management, as well as marketing automation. Although the best CRM software for your small business will depend on your budget and specific feature-requirements, there are many top systems to choose from including Salesforce, Insightly, Zoho CRM, and Hubspot.
Keeping up with your customers is a huge part of running a successful business—and with technology growing to assist you in all areas of your business operations, there are more and more small business services available for customer relationship management. Customer relationship management for small business, or CRM, typically refers to the collection and analysis of customer data to help business owners manage their interaction with customers and optimize these relationships to promote business growth. CRM software for small business, therefore, allows business owners to digitize and automate these processes.
If you’re looking to grow your business, you might consider utilizing a CRM system in order to make the most out of your customer relationships. Just like other small business software, however, there are numerous options on the market and the right CRM for your small business will depend on your specific needs. To help you sort through the decision-making process then, we’ll examine some of the best CRM software for small business—considering factors like features, cost, and small business specificity.
Before exploring the different options for CRM systems for your small business, it’s important to establish what exactly is a CRM software and what you should look for when choosing one. As we mentioned, CRM software is a digital system that allows you to manage your customers, store information, and analyze your data to help your business and relationships with your customers to succeed and grow. This being said, the exact capabilities of a CRM software for small business can range. Depending on your specific business needs, it can simply serve as a contact hub to give you easy access to customer contact information, or it can manage more complicated tasks like sales reporting, marketing campaigns, and customer segmentation.
Like accounting software or other business tools, CRM software for small business can be cloud-based or on-premise. Cloud-based solutions are hosted by your software provider and eliminate the need for you to maintain your own server. Additionally, with cloud-based software, you have access to CRM for your small business wherever you have internet—whether that be at your home office or in your store. On-premise CRM software, on the other hand, is installed locally on your server and can only be accessed in that location. The cost of an on-premise CRM will be higher upfront, but if you think you’ll be using the same system for a long time and have suitable IT support available, may be worth the investment.
As we’ve said, the best CRM for your small business will be the one that meets your needs and contributes to your business growth strategies. To determine if any CRM system is right for you, there are a few factors you’ll want to consider: cost, usability, functionality, and support.
For small business owners, budget is key. If you’re going to be investing some of your finances into a CRM system, you want to keep cost top of mind. When looking into different CRM software options, therefore, you’ll want to compare the cost with functionality: Which CRM software for small business is cost-efficient but still provides the services you require?
Customer relationship management for small businesses can be complex—and if you’re utilizing software to help optimize your CRM processes, you want to be able to use it easily and effectively. As with all types of software, some are more user-friendly than others, so when exploring different CRM options, you’ll want to see what customers say about the ease-of-use, taking into consideration, of course, your tech-savviness and that of your small business team.
You want your small business CRM software to do what you need it to do, after all, that’s why you’re looking for a software solution in the first place. When examining your options, therefore, you’ll want to know what your business needs ahead of time, so that you can compare those needs to what each CRM system has to offer. Generally, the capabilities of CRM systems for small businesses can be broken down as such:
Additionally, when considering the CRM software needs of your small business, you’ll also want to see how each offering can be customized to your specific business, as well as if it can integrate with business tools you already utilize.
Once again, CRM systems for small business can be complicated, especially if your business processes themselves are intricate. When deciding on a CRM software, therefore, you’ll want to see what kind of customer support the provider offers you. Do you have access to support via email, phone, or live chat? What are the hours of the support team? How responsive are they? Along these lines, if you think you’ll need assistance getting your CRM software for small business set up, you’ll want to determine if the provider includes this type of customer support as well.
With all of these factors in mind, we’ve created this comprehensive list of the 17 best CRM software options available for your small business needs, starting with the best overall and then continuing with the best value, best free, and finally, the most affordable.
One of the most well-known options, Salesforce has been recommended multiple times as the best CRM software for small business by Business News Daily. Salesforce is an all-inclusive CRM for small business that allows you to track emails and meetings, manage leads, opportunities, and accounts, create custom dashboards and reports, and delivers social and email support. The Salesforce Essentials CRM includes guided onboarding and setup and accommodates sales and customer support for up to 10 users. For $25 per user per month billed annually ($30 on an actual monthly basis), you can customize Salesforce’s solution to your needs and scale your business with their other CRM tools. You can access the Salesforce cloud wherever you have internet, or on the Salesforce mobile business app.
If you’re looking for a best in class, all-inclusive CRM software with premium customer support, Salesforce is worth considering. The downside of this solution, however, is that it is on the pricier side and may be overly complex if your business is very small or streamlined on its own.
If you’re looking for a cost-effective solution that can also provide you with a wide range of functionality, these are two of the best options:
For $14 per user per month (billed annually), Zoho CRM is one of the most affordable CRM software options for small businesses. Zoho includes the full range of CRM functionality, with multichannel tools for process, pipeline, and team management as well as sales and marketing automation. Specifically, with the $14 per month Standard plan, you’ll receive email insights, workflow conversion, custom reports and dashboards, and more. Additionally, if you don’t need extended capabilities or users, you can utilize the Zoho CRM free edition, which includes three free users. The free edition contains CRM essentials like lead generation, documents, and mobile apps to accommodate smaller business owners.
Furthermore, Zoho CRM gives you the ability to integrate with any of the other related Zoho products, as well as apps from third-party providers. The customer service Zoho offers for their free plan is limited, but extends with the Standard and higher level plans. Overall, if you’re looking for a low-cost or even free CRM software for your small business, there’s no doubt that Zoho is a top choice.
Similar to Zoho CRM, with the option to use their service for two users for free, Insightly is a great, affordable option for small businesses seeking a CRM system. With this base plan, you’ll be able to manage your customer contacts, sales, and projects in one place. In fact, Insightly is known for their project management focus as well as the usability of their interface. Although the free, two-user plan includes functionality for project, contact, task management, sales pipeline tracking, and bulk email campaigns, their paid plans further extend your capabilities.
The Insightly paid plans start at $29 per month and provide more advanced tools for components like business intelligence and lead management. Additionally, on the whole, the Insightly CRM software is highly scalable, integrating with over 250 dozen small business applications, including QuickBooks, Dropbox, and MailChimp. The downside to this powerful CRM is that the free plan has limited functionality, compared to the paid offerings—which at one time began at a lower monthly cost and now starts higher than Salesforce Essentials.
As a small business owner always thinking about cost, a free business tool is always an added plus–as long as it can give you the capabilities you need. If you’re interested in a free CRM for small business then, you might consider Hubspot.
Hubspot is a completely free CRM software that gives you access to unlimited users, data, and up to 1,000,000 contacts. Hubspot provides you with a dashboard to view your sales funnel and manage your pipeline, tracks your customer interactions automatically, and stores all interactions with a lead in one place. The Hubspot CRM also allows you to sync with Gmail or Outlook, as well as integrate with the other Hubspot tools for added sales and marketing functionality.
At the end of the day, Hubspot can give you the essential functions you need from a CRM software, for free—making it a great solution for small businesses. If you’re new to CRM software, therefore, and want to test it out without committing to a monthly cost, Hubspot is definitely worth considering.
Once again, we know the importance of keeping your processes cost-efficient—and if you already spend business funds monthly for tools like payroll, accounting, or HR software, affordability might be your top concern when it comes to CRM. This being said, here are 14 additional top CRM software options for small businesses, grouped based on their cost.
As you can see, there are numerous options to choose from when it comes to the best CRM software for small business. Ultimately, the CRM system that’s right for you will depend on your business’s particular needs and what you value most in your platform. This being said, however, the most effective way to decide on a CRM for your small business is to specify your desired features and budget ahead of time and see which of the options out there fulfill those requirements. If you can, enroll for a free trial or demo of the CRM software at the top of your list—this way, you can get a better sense of how the system operates, what it can do, and if it will truly give you the functionality you need for your business’s customer relationship management.
Meredith Wood is the founding editor of the Fundera Ledger and a GM at NerdWallet.
Meredith launched the Fundera Ledger in 2014. She has specialized in financial advice for small business owners for almost a decade. Meredith is frequently sought out for her expertise in small business lending and financial management.