Best CRM Software For Small Businesses In November 2021

What to consider with CRM software

How much does CRM software cost?

CRM software compared

CRM features and benefits explained

CRM software reviews

The best CRM software solutions integrate with almost every aspect of your business, helping you track customer relations, streamline processes, and increase sales.

A CRM tool will act as a hub for storing customer or prospective contact information, and can track multiple sales pipelines, optimize workflow management, log customer communications, and enable analysis of sales and marketing performance.


For example, CRM software will enable someone in sales to scan a prospect’s business card, create a follow-up task, log a phone call, send an email campaign, see recent social media posts, close a deal, and track the status of the project, all in the same software solution.

In this article, we unpick the main features and benefits of CRM software and outline the best solutions on the market for all business types. If you're looking for small-business CRMs, then take a look at our guide to the best CRMs for small business. We also have a guide to CRMs for real estate.

Today's best CRM deals for SMB and enterprise

strong">>Salesforce is our pick for medium-size and enterprise businesses – from $25 per user/mo (US-only link)
Salesforce is the CRM software market-leader for good reason: it offers a comprehensive suite of customer relationship tools, excellent integration, and unrivalled customization. Follow this link to find out more.

Read our Salesforce Service Cloud review.

' data-widget-type="deal" data-render-type="editorial">Salesforce is our pick for medium-size and enterprise businesses – from $25 per user/mo (US-only link)

Salesforce is our pick for medium-size and enterprise businesses – from $25 per user/mo (US-only link)

Salesforce is the CRM software market-leader for good reason: it offers a comprehensive suite of customer relationship tools, excellent integration, and unrivalled customization. Follow this link to find out more.

Read our Salesforce Service Cloud review.

View Dealstrong">>Freshworks CRM is our choice for small business – from $15 per user/mo
Exclusive reader deal:
Freshworks offers a variety of CRM solutions that includes sales, marketing, and a customer helpdesk, and uses AI to help with organisation and lead-scoring. Freshworks is intuitive, has a user-friendly interface and boasts strong sales features.

Read our Freshsales review.

' data-widget-type="deal" data-render-type="editorial">Freshworks CRM is our choice for small business – from $15 per user/mo

Freshworks CRM is our choice for small business – from $15 per user/mo

Exclusive reader deal: Freshworks offers a variety of CRM solutions that includes sales, marketing, and a customer helpdesk, and uses AI to help with organisation and lead-scoring. Freshworks is intuitive, has a user-friendly interface and boasts strong sales features.

Read our Freshsales review.

View Deal

What to consider with CRM software

What is CRM?

Many businesses use some form of customer relationship management (CRM) system to nurture and monetize relationships with their prospects, customers, and partners.

Initially, this can be a spreadsheet, but, as a business grows, investing in a CRM solution can increase productivity and help close more deals.

The focus of each CRM software solution varies from project management tools to marketing automation to lead generation, so look for the specs that fit your requirements. 

To support you in your decision-making, below we address some of the most frequently asked questions about CRM software.

CRM software helps you manage relationships with business prospects, close deals, and making internal resources more productive. In practice, it enables you to do the following:

  • Store data about your contacts, including names, job titles, emails, and phone numbers.

  • Assign and track workflow tasks to sales teams, such as sending follow-up emails, writing business proposals, and tracking invoices.

  • Analyze and improve the effectiveness of sales and marketing activities through generating custom reports, forecasting future revenue, and anticipating sales bottlenecks.

CRM software equips you with tools that help you win new business. These include automatic workflows, email templates and campaigns, and performance reporting.

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salesforce dashboard

Many CRM solutions, such as Salesforce above, offer desktop and mobile apps. (Image credit: Salesforce)

Without a CRM solution, you’d be doing significant manual work to store, track, and interact with contacts, and the sales pipeline would be more sluggish without automation or reminders. 

Many CRM solutions can integrate with software including Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, Slack, Mailchimp, and business intelligence programs such as Microsoft Power BI. 

Populating your CRM database with customer data from elsewhere tends to be seamless: most providers allow imports from spreadsheets or contact apps such as Google Contacts.

How much does CRM software cost?

CRM software is usually priced as a monthly or yearly subscription, with plans varying in feature complexity. Usually, the quoted price is per user, unless stated otherwise. 

Many vendors offer unlimited free tiers, while paid plans grow in functionality from Starter to Professional to Enterprise. Sometimes, add-ons come at an extra cost; for example, phone credits, premium support, or access to automated marketing tools.

The first paid tier in CRM software, which generally works well for small businesses, tends to be between $8 to $29 a month, charged on a yearly basis. 

Mid-tier plans fit growing businesses and are priced between $20 to $75 a month. As a benchmark, Zoho CRM packs a competitive set of features in its affordable $23 monthly Professional plan. 

Finally, the Enterprise or higher tiers tend to be on the expensive side, offering customization options and a higher level of support: the range is from $40 to $150 monthly, with HubSpot’s full CRM suite reaching a whopping $4,000 a month.

CRM software compared

CRM softwareLowest monthly feeFree versionKey featuresSupport
Freshworks CRM$15 per userFree plan; 21-day free trialDeal management AI; In-built calling toolPhone and email support, Mon–Fri
Zoho$14 per userFree plan; 15-day free trialLead generation through website scraping; Deal management AIEmail support, Mon–Fri
HubSpot CRM$45 per two usersFree plan; 14-day free trialCombined sales and marketing workflow; Website usage analyticsLive chat, phone, and online meeting support
Keap$40 first user then $30 per user14-day free trialUnlimited email marketingOnline chat, phone, community
Apptivo$8 per userFree plan; 30-day free trialNative apps including invoice generator; Up to 10GB cloud storageLive chat, email, phone support; 24/7 on Ultimate plans
Insightly$29 per userFree plan; Two-week trialDatabase and workflow customization; Powerful reporting integrationsEmail support only; Premium phone and training support costs $1500/ year
Salesforce (US link)$25 per user30-day free trialSophisticated workflow automation; Enterprise app developmentEmail ticketing and toll-free phone

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CRM features and benefits explained


Contact / lead management

Storing and using prospect details to nurture relationships are at the core of a CRM system. Integrations with contact apps and social media accounts are a plus, maximizing lead information for sales teams.


Deal management

When there’s a sales opportunity, the deal management feature helps increase productivity so your team can close the deal. This can include setting milestones, tasks, and deadlines.


Workflow automation

Automation can get critical tasks done while saving time: for example, email templates can be scheduled to go out to prospects when they reach a certain stage in the sales funnel.


Bulk emails

Sending bulk emails to contacts can advance relationships and save sales teams a lot of time. You can usually store and personalize email templates and customize recipient groups.


Call and email logs

Keeping track of customer communications in a centralized CRM platform removes the need to rely on human memory and ensures teams are equipped with the latest information on the relationship.


Lead generation

A good CRM system helps you gather new leads in a cost-efficient way. This can include inputting business card data via mobile app and scraping the internet for specific customer profiles.


Lead assignment

If you’ve got a growing sales team, being able to assign leads to staff members is key to ensuring the best person is on the case, thus increasing the chances of closing deals.


Reporting and analytics

Customizing and exporting reports on your sales and marketing activities helps you learn from successful deals and focus your attention on high-likelihood prospects.


Drag-and-drop sales pipeline

For manual changes to your pipeline activities, drag-and-drop Kanban-style boards are a quick and easy way to update the status of different deals.


Third-party integration

Integrating with other business software increases the information you have on contacts and can add new features, such as email campaign management. 

CRM software reviews

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salesforce logo

(Image credit: Salesforce / Future)

Salesforce – Best for medium-sized and enterprise businesses

The market leader – and for good reason

Price: From $25 per user/moFree plan: NoTrial: 30 daysSupport: Email ticketing and phonediv">>TODAY'S BEST DEALSUS-ONLY LINK
Reasons to buy
+All-in-one functionality+Advanced customization
Reasons to avoid
-Pricier than the competition-No free plan

Salesforce is a global leader in CRM, with advanced, customizable functionality, user-friendly design, and outstanding reporting tools. 

The main CRM core is Salesforce Sales Cloud, which can be integrated with Marketing Cloud for email automation or with Einstein Analytics for AI-powered business intelligence, among others. While the lower Sales Cloud tiers are comparable with those from Zoho CRM or Apptivo, it’s the Enterprise features that justify the higher prices. 

On top of pipeline management, call and email logs, and customizable contact management, Enterprise plans and above include advanced reporting and prediction, app development, full sandbox, sophisticated process automations, and external system integrations via web services APIs.

In use, Salesforce Sales Cloud is intuitive and focuses on getting your leads over the line, but you can customize a significant part of your interface to suit your team’s needs, from dashboards to reports and contact forms. 

In large organizations, the app development and sandbox features can help make teams even more productive by customizing permissions and workflows across territories, customer verticals, and sales funnel stages.

Read our full Salesforce Service Cloud review.

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freshworks logo

(Image credit: Freshworks / Future)

Freshworks – Best for small buisness

Perfect if you value ease-of-use over customization

Price: $15 per user/moFree plan: YesTrial: 21 daysSupport: Phone and email (Mon-Fri)div">>TODAY'S BEST DEALSVISIT SITE
Reasons to buy
+Intuitive, user-friendly interface+Strong sales features, including built-in phone
Reasons to avoid
-No business card scanning tool-No internet-scraping lead generation feature

Freshworks CRM works best for small to medium businesses that prioritize ease of use over advanced customization. 

Its desktop and mobile interface is highly intuitive, including quick access to contact records and communications, and drag-and-drop Kanban-style boards for sales pipeline management. Its intelligent assistant tool, Freddy AI, can also help suggest which deals to close and how if you give it sufficient historical data to work with.

Its main focus is on sales team productivity and deal closure. You can integrate your email client—including Microsoft Outlook and Gmail—into the software, enabling you to create email templates, send bulk emails to prospects, and log incoming and outgoing messages. 

Furthermore, there’s an in-built calling tool with a recording feature that automatically updates customer communication records.

Freshworks CRM is limited in terms of lead generation tools, such as business card scanners. It does, however, feature customizable web forms, capturing lead data from your website and automatically assigning sales leads.

Read our full Freshworks review; our Freshsales CRM review to learn more about the sales-focused CRM; our Freshdesk CRM review to find out about its customer engagement CRM; our Freshmarketer CRM review to learn about the marketing CRM element; and Freshservice to discover its IT support CRM.

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zoho logo

(Image credit: Zoho / Future)

Zoho – Best overall toolkit

An excellent choice if you're in the Zoho eco-system

Price: From $14 per user a monthFree plan: YesTrial: 15 daysSupport: Email (Mon-Fri)div">>TODAY'S BEST DEALSVisit Site
Reasons to buy
+Integration with the Zoho suite+Social media lead generation+Workflow automation and customization
Reasons to avoid
-Steep learning curve-Limited customer support

We think Zoho CRM would work well for most people who are looking for a sales management solution. It does all the basics well—contact and pipeline management, communications tracking, workflow automation, and reporting. 

But its added value is in integrating with other apps from the Zoho sales, marketing, and project management suite, including Zoho Invoice and Zoho Campaigns, which can input valuable prospect data into your pipeline. Moreover, Zoho CRM can scrape contact details from social networks and scan business cards, making it a powerful lead generation system.

In use, the product is highly customizable: you can add fields to contact records, create lead assignment rules, and even personalize the look and feel of your CRM interface to maximize internal usage. Reporting and analytics features are also strong, including customizable performance reports and visualization tools. 

On Enterprise and Ultimate plans, you get the Zia AI feature, which recommends what leads to focus on and what emails to write, as well as how to assign workflow.

Read our full u">>Zoho CRM review.

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hubspot logo

(Image credit: HubSpot / Future)

HubSpot – Best for free functionality

Ideal if you're new to CRM tools

Price: From $45 per two users/moFree plan: YesTrial: 14 daysSupport: Live chat, phone, online meetingdiv">>TODAY'S BEST DEALSVisit Site
Reasons to buy
+Powerful free CRM core+Website marketing integrations, including ad management
Reasons to avoid
-Marketing contacts limited to 2,000 on non-enterprise plans-Limited reporting functionality

While many CRM providers offer free plans, none are as functional as the one from HubSpot CRM. The basics are well covered, including contact management, call and email logs, deal pipeline, and integrations with apps including Slack and Gmail. 

On paid plans, the core CRM is enriched with features from HubSpot’s Marketing, Sales, and Service Hubs. With the marketing functionality, you can generate pop-up forms, chatbots, and ad retargeting on your website, as well as automate and track email campaigns. Premium sales features include deal assignment automation, customizable reports, and intelligent lead scoring to help focus your team’s efforts.

The biggest obstacle is that the contacts you can market to—for example, via bulk emails or ads—are limited to 2,000 on all plans apart from Enterprise, which has a limit of 10,000. However, you can store and track up to 1 million prospects.

While enviable, HubSpot’s combined sales and marketing functionality comes with a steep price. A mid-tier plan, including sales, marketing, and service hubs, can cost $1,275 per month. 

Read our full u">>HubSpot CRM review.

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apptivo logo

(Image credit: Apptivo / Future)

Apptivo – Best for deal management

Great value for money

Price: From $8 per user/moFree plan: YesTrial: 30 daysSupport: Live chat, email, phone (24-hour on Ultimate plan)div">>TODAY'S BEST DEALSVisit Site
Reasons to buy
+Client management tools, such as invoicing+Great value for money
Reasons to avoid
-Difficulty navigating Apptivo native apps-Occasional bugs

Apptivo boasts a comprehensive set of features, including all the classic CRM must-haves: pipeline management, email logs, mass emails, sales team assignment, and reporting. But its selling point is the post-deal functionality, which can generate timesheets, track invoices, and even store account-related files. 

Apptivo stores up to 10GB per user on its Ultimate plan, so you can collaborate on client proposals, project plans, and other internal collateral. Note that two-factor authentication isn’t available on the Starter and Lite plans, which may put sensitive data at risk.

The interface is reminiscent of Google Workspace, with native apps performing different functions: for example, the Opportunities app streamlines the sales pipeline, while the Sales Planning app reveals team productivity reports. 

With 10 native apps and multiple third-party integrations available—including Microsoft 365 and Xero—navigating Apptivo can be cumbersome at first. Fortunately, emails and live chat are available 24/7 and phone support is accessible 24/5.

Read our full u">>Apptivo CRM review.

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keap logo

(Image credit: Keap / Future)

Keap – Best for email marketing

Price: From $40 per user/monthFree plan: NoTrial: 14 daysSupport: Online chat, phone, communitydiv">>TODAY'S BEST DEALSVisit Site
Reasons to buy
+Unlimited email marketing+Worflow automation+Very easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Limited contact storage-Limited reporting

Keap is not your typical CRM software. Its combined set of features blurs the line between sales and marketing, with native payments, appointment booking, and email marketing functionality built on top of a core contact and pipeline management system.

Keap helps you convert leads through advanced marketing campaigns and save time through workflow automations and payment integration. A straightforward interface and generous support options make Keap highly accessible even for the most novice CRM users. 

With Keap, you can get started straight away and reap benefits from email campaigns and automated triggers without a huge learning curve.

Read our full Keap review.

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insightly logo

(Image credit: Insightly / Future)

Insightly – Best for project management

Sales productivity at its heart

Price: From $29 per user/moFree plan: YesTrial: 14 daysSupport: Email and phone (at additional cost)div">>TODAY'S BEST DEALSVisit Site
Reasons to buy
+Integrated project management tools+User-friendly interface+250+ app integrations available
Reasons to avoid
-No live support options included with plans-Inbuilt telephony feature costs extra

Insightly is a great CRM system for managing complex sales pipelines, as you’re able to customize contact data fields, sales funnel stages, and more. 

Workflow automation, including scheduling emails when sales stages change, can save a lot of time and refocus team efforts on nurturing relationships.

Another strong point is its integration capabilities: contact sheets can integrate social media posts, while communications can be drawn from Mailchimp, Microsoft Outlook, and other programs. 

Also, Insightly’s reporting function can work with Microsoft Power BI to create advanced custom dashboards and reports, helping you measure and plan your sales productivity.

That said, lead generation features are slim: while Insightly features a business card scanner, it’s not able to scrape the internet for new leads. You don’t get much hand-holding, either: Insightly’s plans include only email and knowledge base support, and phone assistance has an added cost. 

Read our full Insightly CRM review.

How we review CRM software

When we review CRM software, we look at indicators including feature set, interface and ease of use, plans and pricing, and support options.

A high level of automation capability in managing leads, deals, and workflow is an example feature that could contribute towards a high score. Another important strength would be a desktop and mobile interface allowing quick, intuitive access to basic features.

We look at pricing plans and competitors to check whether higher subscription prices are warranted by features you can’t find elsewhere in the market, or whether a good deal could benefit those with lower budgets. 

Generous customer support options are also prioritized, especially for CRM software which may come with a steep learning curve.

More on CRM software

Looking to learn more about CRM software? Then try these articles. Read our in-depth reviews of Salesforce, and Freshworks, and our feature answering the question: what is CRM software? 

We've also explained what a CRM in real estate is; discussed five reasons why you need a small business CRM; seven changes to a CRM for business that drive customer growth; and ranked the best CRM for real estate and the best free CRM software

Source :

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