The effective modern-day business simply can’t run without a formidable CRM solution, that much is clear. Choosing one, however, isn’t always the easiest process – there are plenty of big names, an overwhelming amount of information, and plenty of sales pages that don’t always tell the whole story.
We’ve put together our top 5 list with a slight twist: we’ve not just assembled the top solutions based on features alone, but we’ve also analyzed their affordability, core target market, and learning curve. The result? It doesn’t matter if you’re a microbusiness or corporate juggernaut, you’ll find a suitable tool amongst those in this list.
When it comes to customer relationship management, Salesforce is the industry standard. The company has been in the CRM industry for over 16 years and has since risen to being one of the leading SaaS companies in the United States. Salesforce has a 14% stake in the CRM market, making it the undisputed market leader.
Its cloud-based CRM software is an all-in-one solution that puts the keys firmly in your hands. Salesforce is a flexible piece of kit that allows you to adapt its plugins to your business needs. It also works across a range of devices, integrates with third-party social media applications, and has a strong customer support system through live chat, customer forums, phone, and ticketing system.
Pricing:Starts at $25 user/month (billed annually). The unlimited account runs at $250 user/month.
Ideal For: The Salesforce selling point is flexibility and scalability, making it a CRM solution that can adapt to your organization size. Whether you’re a small business with 5 employees or a large corporation, Salesforce is a cloud solution that can handle it.
What We Like: Salesforce works, plain and simple. In an industry full of software bugs and confusing UI, Salesforce stands out as a customizable solution that you can depend on.
The Downsides: For a small business or startup, it may be overkill. The feature set is expansive, but even its cheapest option is perhaps a little expensive. It also has a relatively steep learning curve and it can be a little overwhelming for CRM beginners.
Launched in 2009, Insightly had the aim of filling a market gap: an affordable solution for growing businesses that’s easy to use and extremely powerful all under one roof. And considering what they’ve managed to achieve in six short years (over 350,000 users!), it’s safe to say Insightly is a CRM success story.
This cloud-based tool is probably the easiest to use out of all the CRMs we’ve tested. It’s also extremely powerful and feature-rich despite its simplicity. Insightly places a lot of emphasis on both social and third party integration. The tool is great at mining social media accounts based on email addresses, while its integration with popular tools such as Google Apps, Dropbox, and MailChimp works seamlessly.
Pricing:It’s very affordable, especially at the lower-end pricing plans (starting at $12 user/month). There’s also a free plan for up to 2 users.
Ideal For: Small businesses will love Insightly, with its rich feature set, gentle learning curve, and affordable pricing options.
What We Like: Very easy to use, an intuitive UI and dashboard. Very reasonably priced for the features offered.
The Downsides: If you’re looking for an enterprise solution, Insightly is probably not the right fit for you. It’s not as powerful or scalable as some of the other (more expensive) options available.
If you need a customizable solution that lets you get at the source of the software, SugarCRM is worth considering. For companies that require a finely tuned deployment with unique custom-built features that integrate with existing functionality, you won’t find anything better than SugarCRM.
Unfortunately, SugarCRM has recently pretty much abandoned its popular open source edition Sugar CE. The most recent edition is only promised to receive bug fixes, meaning it will at one point become pretty much obsolete.
Pricing:It’s not the cheapest option out there, that’s for sure. Pricing starts at $40 per user per month. Sugar CE is free, but is limited in functionality.
Ideal For: Perhaps one of the best solution for medium-sized businesses. It’s feature-rich out of the box and also gives you the option to customize according to your business needs.
What We Like: Integrates well with third-party tools and software. SugarCRM also has mobile applications for a range of operating systems, including iOS, Android, and Blackberry.
The Downsides: We’re a little disappointed with SugarCRM’s decision to abandon its open source version. The paid options are also a little expensive compared to others on the market.
For those that like to tinker with their setup but don’t quite have the budget for something like Salesforce or SugarCRM, Zoho CRM may be just the thing you’re looking for. Zoho CRM requires a little bit more effort to get up and running compared to Insightly, but what you get in return is flexibility and more features compared to similarly priced solutions.
Pricing:Zoho CRM starts at an affordable $12 per user per month for the standard version, going up to $35 per month for the enterprise edition. Zoho CRM also offers a free plan for 10 users, albeit with limited functionality.
Ideal For: Zoho CRM is a big player, which means it can handle enterprise-level requirements. The free plan, however, sets it apart from competitors by making the product accessible to those that are short on funds.
What We Like: The free account plan is, while limited, nevertheless a feature-rich solution. The paid plans are not expensive considering the features offered.
The Downsides: Doesn’t offer email open tracking or reports. Not quite as many features as SugarCRM or Salesforce.
The youngest CRM in our top 5 list, Base is a growing solution that’s the preferred choice for companies such as Cisco and Barnes & Noble. It’s easy to see why it’s so popular: it’s incredibly simple to use, looks fantastic, and has perhaps the best CRM mobile app on the market. When it comes to refining your sales funnel, Base is arguably the best of its kind.
The downside? Beyond the sales process, Base isn’t really a mature product. Some will consider it too simple and lacking in features, while others will be frustrated by the product’s lack of customizability. Nevertheless, a product worth considering if increasing sales is your main driving force in a CRM.
Pricing:Reasonably priced, starting at $25 user/month for the starter edition, $75 user/month for professional, and $125 user/month for the enterprise edition.
Ideal For: Base was made from a sales perspective, making it perfect for businesses attempting to grow, scale, and sell.
What We Like: When it comes to managing leads and your sales funnel, Base is ideal. It’s also very pretty, with a nice UI that’s easy on the eyes.
The Downsides: Perhaps lacking in modules that don’t fall under the ‘sales’ category. If you need more varied functionality, this tool may not be suitable.
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