When you’re looking for CRM software for your small business, the number of options can be overwhelming. To help you out, we’ve taken a closer look at six of the best CRM tools available.
- How to keep fit when you’re self-employed
- 7 low-cost destinations for self-employed holidaymakers
- The best UK business banks accounts for startups
- Why do I need business insurance?
What is CRM software?
CRM (customer relationship management) software does what it says on the tin: it helps you manage your relationships and interactions with your customers.
Your CRM software provides you with a platform where you can gather data about leads and customers, and it helps you categorise, interpret and act upon this data.
It’s a customer service tool but it’s also a sales and marketing tool. CRM software can help you keep track of orders, manage your pipeline, and identify opportunities for cross-selling, among other things.
Best CRM for small businesses
Since there are lots of CRM tools suitable for small businesses, we’ve done the legwork for you, comparing some of the best software available.
Salesforce is one of the best-known CRM solutions out there. Although you might associate it with big businesses, there’s a “Small Business Solutions” option for SMEs. Salesforce is cloud-based so you can access it from anywhere. The platform has a fully customisable dashboard and easy navigation, so you can get to grips with it quickly.
The contact management system allows you to capture past activities and communications for each customer, as well as contact details and social media accounts. You can track leads back to specific marketing channels, and assign them to sales reps for follow-ups. You can use the platform to generate quotes, forecasts and reports. Salesforce also offers comprehensive support, so there’s help on-hand if you need it.
However, some small businesses may decide Salesforce does far more than they need it to, and it’s one of the pricier options available. The starter package begins at £20 per user per month, although you can try it out with a 14 day free trial.
Zoho is a favourite with small businesses, partly because there’s a free version for up to 10 users.
Zoho’s features include contact management, social media integration and marketing and sales automation. There’s lots of personalisation available - you can customise the way information is organised, for example, and build custom apps. You can also extend Zoho by integrating other apps, so that you can use it to manage other things like accounting and analytics.
Bear in mind that the free version of Zoho CRM doesn’t include all the features, so it may be worth considering the paid version. There’s a 15 day trial so you can test drive the CRM.
Insightly focuses on project management as well as CRM, so it will help you track project activity and performance as well as helping you manage leads, customers, partners and suppliers. It offers configurable reporting, social media integration, and integration with other applications like Google Drive.
Insightly has a mobile app, so you can use it on the go, and there’s a customer support team on-hand if you need help or training. The pricing is a bit complicated, with five tiers to choose from. There’s a free version for up to two users, and then the basic paid version starts at $12 (about £9) per user per month. There’s a 14 day free trial to get you started.
As well as contact management, Apptivo can help you with project management, invoicing and other tasks, so you can use it to generate invoices and track orders and get a ‘360 degree view’ of your customer.
Apptivo offers a web help desk so that you can deliver customer support, and it integrates with other apps like Google Apps, Dropbox and PayPal. It gives you the ability to create email templates and send emails to your contacts, and you can create targeted lists for mass email marketing.
Apptivo was given an ‘Editors’ Choice’ badge by PCMag, who praised its “customizable yet broad functionality”. The starter package is free, and gives you up to three users and 500MB of data storage, with the paid version starting at $8.33 (around £6.45) per user per month. You can get a 30 day free trial.
Not just a CRM platform, Bitrix24 offers a whole suite of business tools, including group chat and instant messaging, project management, online document storage and shared calendars. It means you can choose to have all your company’s communication and collaboration in one place.
Bitrix24 describes itself as “your social intranet with a built-in CRM”, and features include an activity stream that’s a little like your Facebook newsfeed.
Within the CRM part of the system, you can store and manage contacts, create reports and analysis, and see a snapshot of your sales funnel.
The free version doesn’t include all the features and there’s an online storage limit of 5GB, but unlike most of Bitrix24’s rivals, you can have unlimited users.
Pipedrive’s CRM software is described by PCMag as “quick to set up, easy to understand, and downright intuitive”.
You can use customisable web forms to get leads into the CRM, and there’s a ‘visual pipeline’ so that you can see which stage your deals are at and move them forward. Email integration means you can see the emails related to a customer in their contact entry, and the live dashboard shows your deals and a summary of activity.
The design and layout of Pipedrive is deliberately minimalist and simple, so it may be a refreshing choice for some small businesses. You can start off with a free trial, but all plans are then paid, with prices starting at $10 (about £7.70) per month per user for the silver tier.
What are your biggest CRM challenges? Tell us in the comments!