Are you thinking of improving the way that you manage data across your business? If efficiency, productivity and using data to inform your strategy is important to you, then CRM software is one of the best investments you can make for your business in 2019.
What is CRM software?
We all know how valuable the data that we hold and use is. It powers our businesses and enables us to do great work for our customers and partners. As companies grow, this data is often stored on spreadsheets and databases in shared network drives or hidden in someone’s email folders. Your data can end up all over the place.
The best way to fix this and bring your data together in one place is by introducing customer relationship management (CRM) software. CRM software allows you to store and organise client and company data to a profile or record within the system. You can then quickly look up information on a client or project, including contact details, their history with your business and their marketing preferences.
Why should you invest in CRM software?
One of the major benefits of CRM software is that teams can share data. This saves time, makes your teams more productive and allows people to make decisions based on the most up to date information. Another reason to invest in CRM software is that you can use it to help make strategic decisions in your business, thanks to built-in reporting features and dashboards. Say goodbye to manually creating reports every month. Build a report that you can run at the click of a button.
The right CRM software can become a hub for a whole range of business activities including contact management, marketing, sales, lead management and customer support. With everything in one place, your teams are empowered to deliver a better service to your customers and work more efficiently.
How do you choose the right CRM system for your business?
Your CRM software should become the place to store and organise data about customers, partners and teams within your business. It needs to be functional, but beyond that, you’ll need to consider your own unique needs and requirements.
We recommend taking some time to evaluate how your business works, ask your teams what they need or would value, and consider how much budget and time you have available to introduce new software.
Here are some of the areas to consider and compare when looking for CRM software:
- Features and modules
- Ease of use
- Pricing and length of contract
- Training and support
- Access type (cloud-based or local) and apps
- Integration with other software (eg, marketing tools or calendar integration)
- Importing and exporting data
We’ve highlighted a few of these areas within this list of popular CRM software, but make sure you head over to our list of CRM software products to help you compare and make a decision.
The best CRM software of 2019
There are hundreds of CRM software options to choose from, which can be overwhelming at first. You’ve probably heard of some of the bigger names in the industry, like Salesforce or Hubspot, but there are plenty of rivals in the small business and enterprise space. As well as more general CRM systems, you’ll also find tools designed for specific industries or niches – like RealSpace, for the property management industry.
To help you narrow down your search, here are five of our top picks for the best CRM software in 2019.
Best CRM software for: businesses of any size that want to pay only for the functions they’re likely to use
The company dominates the CRM landscape by offering a tool focused on sales, with the opportunity to add different elements or modules to it – like marketing, service and IT. This approach works well for businesses that only want to pay for the functionality they need, but if you want to run most of your operations from your CRM software it quickly becomes an expensive investment.
While Salesforce is a popular and capable CRM software, it can be confusing at times. As with most new tools that you introduce, your team will need training and time to get used to using the software. Salesforce has introduced Trailhead to make this easier, which offers on-demand access to training materials and the option to take a class with an expert.
How much does Salesforce CRM cost?
For the basic package, you can set your business up with Salesforce for £20 per month per user. This includes the main functions of a CRM like contact management, lead management, task tracking and reporting. To unlock functions like mass email marketing and quote management you’ll need to invest in the next tier up at £60 per month per user. There’s no free plan, but you can use the 30-day free trial to decide if it’s right for you before you invest.
Best CRM software for: businesses that rely on or invest heavily in marketing
HubSpot was founded in 2005 and serves over 60,000 customers across the world. It was created after its founders realised the power of inbound marketing and the role marketers and sales teams play in helping customers, which remains a central belief today.
At the heart of HubSpot’s offering is its free CRM software, HubSpot CRM. From here you can store contacts, manage your sales pipeline and track progress. You can also use features found in the paid version with some limitations. For example, you can create chatbots for free but the functionality is limited.
Like Salesforce, HubSpot offers you the ability to scale up your marketing and sales through your CRM by investing in complementary products for a monthly subscription – in this case, Marketing Hub, Sales Hub or Service Hub.
To help you get familiar with the CRM software, HubSpot has a detailed help section known as HubSpot Academy. You can also invest in remote or on-site technical support, as well as a monthly retainer if that suits your business better.
How much does HubSpot CRM cost?
HubSpot CRM is free for all users, which makes it a great option for new businesses that want to keep their running costs low or a place to manage contact information. If you want to integrate marketing, in-depth sales or service functions, you can add these from £42 per month or unlock a 25 per cent discount with their Growth Suite that includes all modules.
Best CRM software for: sales teams and businesses that want to improve their sales process
One of the most popular reasons to choose Pipedrive is its abilities as a sales management tool. It’s been designed to bring your sales data together, see everything in a visual timeline, and help improve productivity and effectiveness through automation. There’s also a range of useful reporting elements that help you evaluate performance and identify opportunities to improve.
As Pipedrive is a sales-focused CRM, you’ll need to use integrations to bring in data from your marketing, service and support teams. There’s a healthy range of app integrations across functions like email marketing, accounting, customer support and productivity. This is great news for businesses that would like to continue to stay with their existing marketing or support tools.
The stripped back approach means that Pipedrive is refreshingly easy to use. You can create a free account within minutes and start adding data to build out your new, more organised sales process. For when you need help, there’s a dedicated support section with articles and walkthroughs. You can also contact the support team 24/7 and even enrol in a free email course to help with your sales strategy.
How much does Pipedrive CRM cost?
After you’ve tried the product for free, you can continue to use the basic features from £12.50 per month per user. With all plans, you get access to the core sales management features such as multiple pipelines and advanced reporting. Upgrade to a higher tier from £24.40 per month per user to unlock the sales inbox, workflow automation, product catalogue and more.
Less Annoying CRM
Best CRM software for: businesses that prefer a simple, easy to use CRM system
Less Annoying CRM was founded in 2009 as a fresh alternative to other CRM software providers that tied users into long contracts and complicated pricing strategies. The company is smaller than some, with just under 20,000 customers, but has won awards for value and ease of use as a result of their uncomplicated approach to CRM software.
Like Pipedrive, Less Annoying CRM is built around one core function: contact and lead management. This is something it does well, with plenty of opportunities to input data, customise fields and manage your sales pipeline.
Less Annoying CRM is a more traditional CRM software than others on this list, so you won’t find features like marketing automation built in. While you can integrate Mailchimp to send email marketing campaigns, this is a CRM that’s better suited to businesses that handle the bulk of their marketing or customer support elsewhere.
With fewer modules, Less Annoying CRM is easy to use and is supported by a robust knowledgebase and helpful support team.
How much does Less Annoying CRM cost?
Less Annoying CRM keeps things simple with a flat $10 (around £8) per user per month subscription. For this, you have access to everything you need to manage your contact data and sales pipeline. You can also trial the CRM for free for 30 days before you decide to sign up for a monthly subscription.
This simple approach to CRM makes Less Annoying CRM a good choice for small businesses.
Best CRM for: businesses that want an affordable all-in-one CRM
Zoho is another big player in the CRM industry, with over 150,000 customers and more than 45 million users in total across its services. Zoho CRM is a popular choice that offers a strong contact management system plus a range of key CRM modules that cover marketing, sales automation, collaboration and analytics.
If you’re looking for CRM software that offers more than the basics but isn’t overwhelming, Zoho CRM serves this part of the market well. The software includes a decent range of popular features, like lead management and marketing campaigns. It also introduces newer technologies such as artificial intelligence and sophisticated real-time notifications for social media interactions from contacts.
Zoho CRM offers enough functionality that you can manage contacts, sales processes and marketing from one place. There’s also the ability to integrate apps and tools that you already use, including Google Drive and ActiveCampaign.
How much does Zoho CRM cost?
Zoho CRM has a free tier, which includes the basics for contact management plus limited functionality of more advanced features. To unlock most features, you’ll need to invest in a monthly subscription starting at £10 per month per user. If you want access to all features, the enterprise package is £30 per month per user.
For more recommendations on free CRM tools, read our article on the best free CRM software for small businesses.
Let us help you find the best CRM software for your business
Investing in CRM software is a big commitment, both financially and in asking your teams to become familiar with a new product for the long haul. It’s a decision that you want to feel confident in.
Here at EXPERTcomparison.com, we specialise in helping you find the right software and tools for your business. Our product listings and real reviews from customers make it easier for you to find the information you need in one place.
Whether you’ve found the perfect product in this list or you’re still at the research stage, our guide to customer relationship management software has the details you need to make a confident decision about your next CRM software.