Since I first started using customer relationship management (CRM) software approximately 15 years ago, the technology behind it has undergone significant development. CRMs of today are incredibly adaptable, and as a result of the intense competition in this market, they have remained an investment that is only moderately expensive for companies of all sizes.
With dozens of different possibilities — it can be difficult to find the right customer relationship management (CRM) system because there are many different kinds of CRMs, ranging from those that are extremely sales-focused to those that are all-inclusive and combine multiple business functions into one platform. As a result, I invested a significant amount of time into conducting research and testing each one that I could get my hands on.
The following is a list of the 10 best CRMs, based on my experience using them. You can either keep reading to get more information on CRMs or click on any app to find out more about why I chose it.
The best CRM software
- In order to scale a business, use Zoho CRM.
- Salesforce Sales Cloud for customizability.
- Bitrix24 for multi-channel communication.
- Pipedrive is praised for its intuitive user interface.
- Ontraport, an online sales and marketing automation platform
- Nimble in the pursuit of new customers.
- Nutshell approach to leading a sales force.
- Apptivo is useful for managing businesses.
- Close for inside sales teams.
- NetHunt CRM for Gmail Power Users.
What makes a great CRM platform?
Customer relationship management software organizes customer contact and sales data into a central database that is simple to navigate and maintain. Your CRM should record any interaction that takes place, including a phone call, an email, a chat session, a visit to a website, a social connection, a campaign, and so on. Why? because every interaction is a chance to learn something new about your customers and their needs and preferences.
When it comes to customer relationship management (CRM), every company has unique requirements, so I chose the components that I believe most accurately represent those requirements across all businesses:
- Ease of operation. Even though the “don’t make me think” approach to website design may be unrealistic to expect from CRM platforms, it is still a worthy goal to pursue. If a user is able to log in for the first time and get a good sense of how the fundamentals work, then the mission has been successfully completed; however, not everything will be as simple. It is required to offer in-app directions, definitions, and articles of assistance; doing so will assist with the operation of more advanced features. Support and onboarding options that are made available on a consistent basis are also factors that contribute to a more productive user experience.
- Contact and sales management. Because people are at the core of both your CRM and your company in general, how you manage those people is of the utmost importance. How well-versed are they in you as a person? What are some ways in which you can get to know them better? Where should you concentrate the majority of your sales efforts? What is the most effective way to connect with one another and maintain communication? The contact and sales management features of a CRM should be tailored to your ideal customers and the manner in which they make purchases.
- Customization. Your customer relationship management software should function in the same way that your company does. Terms that are unique to your business, as well as data requirements, processes, and the apps that you use (for a list of integrations, see below), are characteristics of the way in which you conduct business. The customer relationship management software you choose should be as adaptable as possible to the requirements of your business.
- Reporting. If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it. What exactly are you looking to quantify? What about making projections of sales? In an ideal scenario, your customer relationship management system (CRM) will be able to generate reports on any data point that you are able to collect, including sales by rep, sales cycle, average value, loss reasons, and dozens of others.
The combination of automation and integrations. Automating routine tasks will improve employee productivity (which, in turn, will make them happier) and help ensure that important aspects of the job, such as communication, are not overlooked. No CRM does it all. Connecting the functions of different departments and increasing the power of data collection can be accomplished through the use of a diverse range of third-party integrations, which also results in a more comprehensive profile of the customer.
Zoho CRM (Web, iOS, Android) — the top CRM for growing businesses
Zoho CRM offers cost-effective plans that can scale with your business, so it doesn’t matter if you have one employee or one hundred. How reasonable is it? Start with free for three users, then move on to their small business-focused Bigin CRM ($7/month/user), and finally move up to their CRM Plus ($57/month/user), which integrates sales, marketing, help desk, and other channels into a single platform. To top it all off, Zoho provides add-on suites for integration, some of which include Finance, Custom Apps, and Forms. The availability of these add-on suites is contingent on the CRM plan that you have.
In this analysis, I will concentrate on the CRM Plus because it provides the clearest indication of scalability potential. From the primary CRM dashboard, you can navigate to any of the built-in channels that are included in this edition, including social, help desk, projects, and marketing. Simply select the channel from the drop-down menu that appears after clicking the settings icon to gain access to the configuration options for any of these. For instance, to add social channels, select Social from the settings menu, then click Social Channels, and finally select the desired channel from the drop-down menu: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram. It only took a few clicks for me to add my LinkedIn profile.
Canvas is a brand-new addition to Zoho and a feature that exemplifies the company’s commitment to the satisfaction of its users. Canvas gives you the ability to customize the look and feel of your CRM as if you were designing the UI from scratch, despite the fact that Zoho already permits a good deal of customization (see Wizards below for more information). You can get to it through the Setup menu, then choose the module (such as contacts) that you want to (re)design, and then you can get started. The next step is to either create everything from scratch or choose a premade format to modify. After reaching that point, you can choose the data fields, elements, and style by merely dragging and dropping them onto the WYSIWYG editor page. Last but not least, choose which group will be privy to the newly redesigned structure. You have the option of giving each module its own unique design or cloning them so that they are all the same.
Another example of customization is the use of Wizards, which give users the ability to design the process of record creation and streamline data collection by making it more contextualized. Therefore, if you are developing a sales application, you have the ability to design the order in which each step of the process will be carried out. Collecting fundamental demographic information might be the first step, followed by information about finances, which might come from a variety of sources. Each of these possible sources may be represented by a button option that, when selected, brings up a different screen. By clicking the button, you can choose the source, and then another screen with a form will open up for you to fill out. Consider it to be a decision tree that can be used to collect information.
Businesses that are expanding quickly will benefit from having a comprehensive view of each contact. You’ll be able to view all of the activities and touchpoints associated with a person in their contact record. This includes things like site visits, sales, social, help cases, emails, meetings, and campaigns, among other things. The “footprint” potential of any given contact is enormous, allowing you to better understand how each individual interacts with your company and providing a more comprehensive picture for employees to consider when making decisions.
I like the leads module better than the contacts module because it allows sales reps to concentrate on qualifying those people who come from different sources like trade shows, campaigns, and other similar things. You get a large image of the person to personalize it, which is pulled in using SalesIQ. Following that is a chunk of contact details that you can click on (phone, email) to begin a conversation with them. The leads view is convenient because of these features. A column of filters can be found to the left, allowing you to quickly sort through and select the desired ones. Once you have your list, you can select the individuals you want to work with by clicking on their names and then carrying out a variety of actions, such as sending emails, developing tasks, or adding people to campaigns.
In comparison to other CRMs, Zoho’s reporting functionality is among the most extensive available. There are dozens of pre-made reports (Sales, Desk, Projects) that can be customized to show a variety of views (chart, table, tabular, and more), and each of these views can be configured independently. The comment sections, in which users can engage in conversation about any of the reports, are a useful and enjoyable feature. Campaigns and Social each have their own section dedicated to reports, and the Motivator app enables you to gamify sales by holding competitions based on key performance indicators (KPIs) such as the number of leads converted, deals won, and emails sent.
You can do things like add new Unbounce form submissions as leads, create contacts from Facebook Lead Ads, or take action in the other apps you use the most with Zoho CRM‘s Zapier integrations.
Zoho CRM Price:
- Free for 3 users.
- From $7/month/user (Bigin).
Salesforce Sales Cloud (Web, iOS, Android) — the best customizable CRM
Consider utilizing Salesforce Sales Cloud for your company’s customer relationship management software if you require a large number of configuration options. The possibilities for creating a bespoke platform are practically limitless thanks to the platform’s own set of customization options, as well as its internal ecosystem and third-party AppExchange.
Using the Flow Builder, you are able to create individualized workflow management automations. In the Settings menu, navigate to the Flows section, and then choose the kind of flow you want to create. For instance, a record-triggered flow gives you the ability to design the events that take place after a specific record, such as a contact, is created. After that, you can add conditions by using the visual builder. For instance, you can have a follow-up email sent to contacts who were only created within a certain date range.
You have the ability to control, at the page level in Salesforce, who is able to view and edit which fields. Therefore, depending on the roles that employees play, you may wish to restrict their access to certain fields in contact records, such as preventing them from viewing or editing information that is unrelated to their work. This may be necessary for safety reasons, but it’s also done to protect the company’s integrity from employees who might not have the specialized knowledge required. You have the ability to create your own help text that explains the meaning of a field at the field level as well. You might, for instance, have an explanation for a discount field that says something along the lines of “this is the maximum that is allowed for this account type.” Anything above that requires approval from the manager. These instructions reaffirm standard operating procedures and serve as helpful reminders, particularly for more junior employees.
To make changes to a page such as contacts, navigate to the top right corner of the screen and click the Setup wheel. From there, select Edit Object. You will then have the ability to personalize the specifics of the page, such as the fields and the layout.
The AppExchange gives developers of both free and paid apps access to hundreds of different third-party integration options. You are able to search for available apps by the software edition (professional, enterprise, etc.), category, prices, ratings, and languages supported by the app. One thing in particular to check is whether or not an app is compatible with the edition of Salesforce you are using. For instance, integration with the D&B Hoovers prospecting app necessitates the Enterprise or higher edition, whereas the comparable app ZoomInfo mandates the Professional edition as the bare minimum.
In Salesforce, you are able to generate a report for any data point that you have collected there. There are dozens of pre-built reports that can be accessed for analyzing deals, activities, top accounts, win ratios, conversion rates, and any other metric that you might be interested in measuring. And the problem that drives sales managers crazy all over the world? Reps who are not keeping their deals up to date. With the help of the Login Wall of Shame, you will be able to identify which representatives are not even logging in, let alone failing to make updates.
The integrations that Salesforce offers with Zapier allow for even further expansion of your capabilities. Receive notifications in Slack when there are new opportunities, add leads based on submissions to forms, or do anything else that comes to mind.
Salesforce Sales Cloud Price:
- From $25/month/user.
Bitrix24 (Web, iOS, Android) — the best CRM for multi-channel communication
Working from a distance is here to stay. Bitrix24’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a strong alternative to Salesforce that offers a variety of ways for dispersed teams to stay in touch with one another, collaborate on projects, and exchange information with one another.
Due to the fact that there are far too many features to list here, we will simply state that in addition to its many communication options, this app possesses full CRM, marketing automation, project management, and web design capabilities. To get things rolling, you can begin by forming departments (for example, marketing, sales, and service) and assigning employees to those departments. After creating departments, it will be much simpler for you to divide teams into workgroups, knowledge bases, and when communicating with one another.
Workgroups are spaces that allow different employees, departments, or other types of groups to come together to collaborate on projects or work that is already underway. Because each one has its own tasks app, images, calendar, chat, and knowledge base (including Wiki and any other individualized options), the team’s work and its progress can be viewed and shared by all of the members of the team. Knowledge bases, for instance, are comparable to mini-websites that are housed within your CRM. Users have the ability to create pages, post articles, message one another, and collaborate on projects and tasks through the use of these knowledge bases.
Using the internal chat feature, you are able to communicate with other team members on an individual basis, in groups, or by department. In addition, you are able to add links, tags, and videos, as well as record and send them. To add a video, click the Record Video button in the chat window, then wait for five seconds. After that, the recording will begin on its own. Start recording, and when you’re finished, click the Stop button and select Use Video to insert it into your conversation. You also have the option to save the video to the drive associated with your Bitrix24 account, as well as other locations such as Google Drive.
Video conferencing is a simple and straightforward method of communication that enables users to easily share their screens, make recordings, and raise their hands. Make a copy of your video’s link, and then use either the internal invite message or the quick link to send it to the attendees of your event via chat. Connecting your email account, whether it be Gmail, Outlook, iCloud, or Office 365, gives you the ability to send and receive mail from contact records in the CRM, and it also maintains a running history of messages sent and received.
The telephone is an important tool that must not be overlooked. Integration with over 70 VoIP providers, including RingCentral, Nextiva, and Vonage, is available through the Bitrix24 platform. In addition, you can rent a number through Bitrix24 and pay for it on a minute-to-minute basis.
All plans include unlimited contacts, deals, and companies. Bitrix24 enables you to capture data that is relevant to your company through the use of customizable fields and sections for the purpose of managing contacts. The one-of-a-kind feature known as the Profile displays the communication “load” produced by the contact (does your company spend a lot of time communicating with them) along with all of the pertinent data, such as the value of deals, invoices paid, active invoices, conversion percentage, emails, and more.
- Free for unlimited users and limited features.
- Paid plans from $39/month for five users.
Pipedrive (Web, iOS, Android) — the easiest CRM
If you’re looking for user-friendly customer relationship management (CRM) software for your sales team, the widely used Pipedrive is a good option. Even though it has a lot of different customization options, the platform’s sole purpose is to assist salespeople in making more sales. There are no additional apps available, such as marketing or service features, to divert your attention.
The user interface of Pipedrive is uncomplicated, with all menu items organized to the left, a search box located at the top of each page, and an expandable menu located on each page for rapidly adding deals, activities, leads, and so on. Your inbox is listed as one of the options in the menu. Once your email provider has been connected, you will be able to send emails directly from the contact record or inbox, as well as track which emails have been opened and their history. In addition, you can synchronize your Outlook or Google Calendar, manage your meeting availability within the app, and create a link to send to contacts in your address book. One more helpful feature is referred to as Smart Contact Data, and it allows users to quickly retrieve known social and work data for contacts with just one click.
To be able to make calls through the application, you will need to purchase blocks of call credits (you are allotted five free hours per month), which contribute to the per-minute fees that are racked up over the course of each billing cycle. Calls can be made and recorded both from the list view of People as well as from the individual records themselves. After you have finished a call, you will need to select the result from a list before moving on to the next one. The recording is included among the other call activities that are logged in the timeline of a contact.
LeadBooster and Web Visitors are two of the sales-related add-ons that are available through Pipedrive. The first one offers live chat, chatbots, forms, and prospecting capabilities, all of which can assist sales representatives in establishing connections with prospective clients. Prospector offers information on businesses and contacts, enabling users to search using criteria such as company size, industry, keywords, and other characteristics that correspond to their ideal customers. Web Visitors gives you real-time data on the companies that visit your website as well as the pages that they view by utilizing a tracker code that is pasted into the code of your website. Additionally, it will identify particular visitors who are already logged into your system.
The AI-powered Sales Assistant will offer recommendations based on what they think should take precedence during the course of your day. In addition, Workflow Automation provides pre-made templates that can be used for sales tasks like sending follow-up emails and completing tasks. Creating activities whenever a deal advances to a new stage, sending a Slack message to a sales manager, or scheduling a call are all examples of automations.
While the reports keep track of forecasting, deal duration, conversion, won, and average value, the goals monitor each week’s activities as well as revenue. With customizable reporting, you can add conditions to each data field, giving you the ability to achieve any level of granularity you desire. In addition, there are both standard and customizable dashboards available for tracking the aforementioned information. If you want to connect Pipedrive to other apps, the Marketplace offers about 300 third-party native integrations with apps like Zoom, Slack, Trello, and QuickBooks. If you want to connect Pipedrive to other apps, visit the Marketplace.
Pipedrive’s Zapier integrations allow you to add new people to Mailchimp as subscribers, send Gmails when new deals are added to a stage, and perform a wide variety of other automated tasks, making them an excellent choice if you’re looking to boost the automation power of your business.
- From $12.50/month/user.
- LeadBooster $32.50/month/company.
- Web Visitors $41/month/company.
Ontraport (Web, iOS, Android) — most effective CRM for automating online transactions
If your company sells things online (products, services, memberships), Ontraport has many features that can integrate the entire customer experience. These features include marketing, transactional sales and payment processing, cross-selling and coupon codes, and post-sale follow-up and nurturing of customers. If your company sells things online (products, services, memberships), Ontraport has many features that can integrate the entire customer experience.
Because it is so different from the majority of the other customer relationship management systems discussed in this article, getting used to Ontraport can take some time. Here’s an illustration of what I mean: when you click “New Contact” or “New Deal,” an entirely new screen with dozens of fields and sections pops up. You are unsure of what information should be entered, and there is no option to save your work; the only button available is the back button. It turns out that you only need to type one piece of information (for example, your first name), hit the back button, and then a record will be created for you.
Aside from this, you can see the potential touchpoints the platform includes in its capabilities by looking at a contact record. These touchpoints include campaign history and actions, purchase and membership history, credit card information, subscriptions, and coupon information, to name a few. You can send an email or text message to a contact, as well as create tasks and handle credit card transactions from within a contact.
Simply navigate to the “Deals” menu, select “New Deals,” and then fill out the necessary information to create a deal (this feature is available with Plus plans and higher). It’s not hard to figure out from this vantage point. Connect with contacts, then calculate an expected win percentage, a weighted value, and the total amount, and then proceed. The cards that are involved in each deal are then displayed on your Kanban pipeline board, along with the total value and the weighted value of each stage.
You will have the ability to take payments both manually and automatically if you configure a payment gateway (such as Authorize.net, PayPal, or Stripe) by making use of one of their vendor integrations. For instance, Ontraport enables you to construct a bespoke membership website, in addition to handling payments and providing content to members.
In order to verify this, I developed and released a membership website by making use of a pre-built system. On the website, there was an offer to buy a made-up course for the price of $9.99. I used PayPal as my automated payment gateway to create a landing page for signups, and I was able to accept credit cards through that gateway. After that, I uploaded the course and included a welcome email and a login page so that students could access the materials. All of this took about fifteen minutes, and the steps and examples that were provided made it very difficult to get it wrong. Once the book was published, a subdomain was created for my membership page (you can use your own subdomain or Ontraport’s), landing pages, and course lesson pages; these pages could all be tracked under Systems. This straightforward example merely scratches the surface of the capabilities offered by Ontraport.
The marketing suite provides both pre-built and custom automated campaigns, both of which are designed to attract customers. The builder employs a visual editor with a drag-and-drop interface that enables users to configure triggers, actions (emails, texts, postcards), and filters with “if/then” branching logic in order to personalize the experience for each individual customer. After that, you will be able to track the statistics of all of your campaigns, including conversion rates, monthly recurring revenue, lifetime value, and the flow of contacts.
Other types of third-party integrations include payment gateways, video, voice/text, forms, memberships, shipping fulfillment, webinars, and others. Examples of eCommerce platforms that support third-party integrations include Shopify and WooCommerce. The reporting of sales is primarily based on eCommerce transactions, including sales broken down by product and subscription, to name a few examples. Tracking for conversion rate, average time between two events, total value of something across contacts, and average value of a numeric across contacts are all included in dashboards.
With Ontraport’s Zapier integrations, you can get even more use out of the software. Perform actions such as adding contacts to Ontraport from new WooCommerce sales orders or generating contacts based on responses to Typeform polls.
- From $79/month/user.
Nimble (Web, iOS, Android) — most effective CRM for customer prospecting
Nimble helps to keep sales teams that focus on prospecting organized and makes them more productive by providing them with a Prospector engine, contact action lists, and a social tracking feature. On top of that, the user interface has a lighthearted quality to it, which makes using it a pleasurable experience.
It is very difficult to avoid getting started with Nimble and getting up to speed as quickly as possible due to the extensive amount of instruction that is provided throughout the user interface (UI), particularly when first signing up. The dashboard provides a useful high-level overview of significant daily reports, such as deals, tasks, activities, email tracking, and Signals for social engagement. When you are ready to get started, the menu will still have these same items on it. Nimble’s somewhat limited reporting capability, which includes forecasted deals and revenue, deals won and lost, and opportunities by stage, is one of the company’s potential flaws.
The menu of the contact screen displays a list of action-oriented lists representing various stages of contact, including recently viewed, added, and contacted, as well as marked important, and stay in touch. These offer a speedy method for determining who you need to get in touch with or take some sort of action on throughout the day. For instance, if your sales manager just passed over contacts from the webinar that took place the day before, you can go to the tab labeled “recently added,” and from there you can segment the list into one that is more specifically targeted. You can segment for things like title, city, keywords, influence groups, and a wide variety of other attributes that will allow you to find people who are most similar to your buyer personas.
Nimble will display suggestions for LinkedIn and Twitter accounts when you add a contact, and it will ask you to confirm which accounts are the correct ones if there are multiple options. In addition to this, it compiles all pertinent information, such as previous employment. This information is then presented in the form of an intelligent summary, which gives a convenient overview of your contact’s work, bio, and areas of influence. Their social feeds will appear within the record, enabling you to monitor and interact with them without having to navigate away from the screen. The Signals section displays Twitter and Facebook streams for you and your contacts, including comments, mentions, and likes, in addition to any pending posts that you’ve scheduled in order to provide you with an overview of all of your social activities. Rating (on a scale of one to five), source, status, and type are the new lead fields that have been added to the contact record. You will then be able to create contact lists using these filters as filters.
When you visit a site, the Prospector extension will automatically grab information about the company as well as contacts and display it in the sidebar when you click it. You will see information regarding contact details, company insights (including size, year founded, industries, and keywords), as well as information regarding Twitter and Facebook profiles. You can add a company with the click of a button and check to see if any of your existing contacts are connected to that business. In addition, similar to contacts, all of your social activities will be displayed in your record.
Because Nimble integrates with Zapier, you can automate the process of adding new Twitter followers as contacts in Nimble, sending new contacts to Google Contacts, and performing any other task that needs to be done in the apps you use most frequently.
- From $19/month/user with 25 Prospector credits/month ($10 per additional 100 credits).
Nutshell (Web, iOS, Android) — most effective CRM for managing sales
Nutshell is a CRM that is primarily geared toward the sales department and is equipped with features that are designed to make the jobs of sales managers and the sales reps they manage easier and more productive. These features include highly specific customizations to match how and to whom you sell, team and territory management, and reporting options to measure any data point. Other features include the ability to track and analyze any data point.
You have full control over the many notifications (such as new leads, watched leads, activities, tasks, and mentions) that are sent to you as a manager, which enables you to keep tabs on the work that your team is accomplishing. You are able to set confidence percentages, the number of days a deal stage has been overdue, and automatic closings for overdue deals with customized pipelines. Other features that are specific to the company that are helpful include fields for competitors, industries, and markets.
You are able to assign and organize leads for your team based on the geography that is assigned to your reps when you create territories for your team. Territories can be created based on area codes, cities, states, or postal codes. If Hondo is given responsibility for the South region, then I will be able to automatically send any leads that come in to him based on the boundaries of his territory. Take this information and multiply it by a few different regions as well as hundreds of monthly leads. The industry, the market, and the sources are all taken into consideration when lead distribution is carried out.
When you add a contact, it will search for the appropriate LinkedIn profile and link to that profile as well as any other social accounts that are associated with that contact. In addition to that, it will incorporate your employer and pull in your job profile. When you schedule tasks and other activities, you can communicate with members of your team. The plans offered by Nutshell include an unlimited number of contacts and storage space for data.
If you have multiple lines of business (for example, products, services, and reseller), you can create separate pipelines for each one based on the sales processes you use for each of those lines of business. Deals are kept organized and displayed on the screens of the appropriate representatives if leads are automatically assigned for each pipeline based on criteria such as territory or market. You have the ability to create tasks that need to be completed as a part of your sales process and schedule automated emails to follow up with potential customers at each stage of a pipeline.
There are multiple types of stock reporting, some of which include sales value, average value, losses, and new leads. Sort each of these by the region they are assigned to, the source, or the assignee. Pipeline, quota, and projected sales are all accounted for in the forecasting process. And custom reports provide a nearly infinite combination of filters gathered from the fields that your team has completed, so if you want to measure data that isn’t included in the pre-built versions, you can.
One of the most recent additions to Nutshell is the company’s marketing platform, which enables users to create drip email campaigns and send them to specific target audiences. Create an email, then add a goal after determining when the sequence starts (for example, when leads are lost) (e.g., link in email clicked). After that, delay the sending of the subsequent email by a certain amount of time. Every single one of your campaign emails, including opens, clicks, and bounces, can be tracked in Engagement.
Increase the capabilities of your company with the help of Nutshell’s integrations with Zapier. You have the ability to do things like automatically create Trello cards from Nutshell leads and add people to Nutshell from newly subscribed Mailchimp users.
- From $19/month/user; marketing add-on starts at $5/month for 100 contacts.
Apptivo (Web, iOS, Android) — the top CRM for business management
Apptivo is a reliable and low-cost choice for businesses that want to manage multiple business functions, including sales, procurement, expenses, invoicing, marketing, and contracts, all from within a single app. Even though the user interface appears to be a little bit dated in comparison to some of the other CRMs that were reviewed, it is highly customizable, which allows you to adapt it to the way that you run your company.
It’s possible that customizing the home page and the six primary apps should be your first step. To clean up the appearance of the app, select the “Customize My Apps” option at the top of the page, and then rearrange the order of the menu items or conceal them all beneath a sandwich dropdown. The layout, fields, and sections of each of the apps can then be customized individually. Simply select Settings from the menu at the top of the page, and a comprehensive list of alternatives will appear on the left. A widget that allows for dragging and dropping gives you the ability to customize the appearance of each app, including the number of columns displayed in each section, the addition of data fields and tables, and the naming of all of these elements.
When you have created contacts, customers, or companies in the CRM, it is simple to associate them with other business functions once you have done so. To see what, if anything, the record is already associated with, select an option from the 360 View menu within the record, and then click the Create button. For instance, selecting Estimates will result in all of the pertinent terms pertaining to that customer being populated. If you have already created services or products in Product Management, then it is simple to add line items and costs by performing a search and selecting the appropriate results. In that case, you can spontaneously include it in the estimate, and it will be added to your stock along with a number that is automatically generated for that item. In order to keep tabs on supplies, you can also include information such as an SKU, price, cost, sales commission, manufacturer, and inventory details.
After that, you can easily transform the estimate into an invoice, an order, or a project with just a few clicks. When you are in the customer record, you can also quickly view or create any available features from any of the apps. This is possible at all times. You will also be able to see related customers, contacts, and leads in the record, in addition to being able to schedule appointments, complete tasks, send emails, and perform other actions.
You will be able to easily collect payments from customers and manage business expenses once you connect the Apptivo app to your bank account (or another payment processor such as PayPal, Stripe, or Authorize.net, for example). You can also give customers access to their invoices, orders, projects, and other functions within the app by using the Apptivo portal that is automatically created within your app. This allows you to streamline the process of providing customers with this information.
You are able to add suppliers, manage orders and inventory, as well as process and track shipping with the help of the Supply Chain suite. When placing an order, all of the necessary details, such as the shipping address, terms, contacts, and currency, are automatically populated based on the information provided by the customer. Simply generate packing slips, select the appropriate mode of shipment, and then quickly transform the document into an invoice. You are able to view all of your orders, including those that have been shipped, those that are awaiting shipment, and those that fall into other categories, such as booked, closed, back order, or partially shipped.
There are opportunities, funnels, contacts, activities, territories, and markets included in the pre-built sales reports. Additionally, you have the ability to customize your own sales reports to capture any data point you are recording with fields. The financials suite provides expense reports for employees and allows you to track payments, receipts, and invoices made by customers; however, there are no reporting capabilities included in the suite. You would need to integrate with a platform like QuickBooks in order to accomplish this goal.
- Free for 1 user; paid plans from $8/month/user.
Close (Web, iOS, Android) — for inside sales teams
Inside sales teams commit a significant amount of time to sorting through thousands of contacts, following up via phone and email, and making calls. The more straightforward it is to carry out these essential duties, the higher the level of output they will have. All of this is bundled up in a customer relationship management system called Close that simplifies communication and makes determining who to contact as simple as clicking a button.
You can make free monthly calls, send texts and emails directly from the Close web app, and get a built-in phone with free monthly calling credits with any of the Close plans. Every plan, with the exception of the Starter plan, comes with an unlimited number of contacts and custom fields. Phone plans are provided by Twilio, but configuration and billing are handled within your Close app to keep management as straightforward as possible. You have the option to either port an existing number onto a new plan or rent phone numbers for one dollar per month per number. The rates for outbound and inbound calls are 0.013 per minute and 0.0085 per minute, respectively. The cost of sending or receiving an SMS message is one cent per message. You can also make outgoing calls by adding an existing number, such as a mobile phone number.
It took me no more than a minute and a half to find a contact record that I had previously created, select a number to call, and place my first call. When you need to call a large number of leads in a short amount of time, the Power Dialer will automatically call through a Smart View list (for more information, see below). As soon as a call is made, the contact record is brought up in case someone answers the phone. The dialer will notify you that the next call is beginning either when there is no answer to the call or when the current call is ended. The dialer will automatically pause itself if it detects that you are still adding notes to the record; alternatively, you can manually pause it at any time. Call recording, call coaching, and pre-recorded voicemail messages are additional features that can be found on some modern phones. With a timeline that was recorded in real time, keeping track of all communications was as simple and convenient as texting and emailing from within the record. Separate rates apply. An inbox will list all of the incoming phone calls, texts, emails, and tasks, and it will allow you to respond to them as well as filter them based on whether they have been completed or not.
The Smart Views provide sales representatives with information on who to call and when to follow up with leads. A few of the categories are leads to call, leads that have never been called, and leads that have not been contacted in more than 30 days. According to Close, the reason for the existence of these lists is to relieve you of the responsibility of thinking:
- Ought I give this person a call?
- What am I supposed to say?
You are responsible for establishing the parameters of the lists by utilizing statuses (for example, in a trial), the best times to call, and other filters that build only the leads that are most relevant. To illustrate this point, I compiled a list of contacts to call whose status was “no answer” and who had opened at least one of my emails in the past. You can then call your list using the Power Dialer, as was just mentioned, or you can manually call each person on the list one at a time directly from this screen. You can also send them an email in bulk or use a pre-made email sequence to communicate with them.
Boost Close’s functionality with Zapier’s integrations by using them together. Perform actions such as automatically adding new Wufoo entries to Close as leads or posting messages to Slack regarding new Close leads.
- From $25/month/user
NetHunt CRM (Gmail, iOS, Android) — the best CRM for fervent Gmail users
With NetHunt CRM, which is a customer relationship management system (CRM) designed for Gmail, you can manage contacts, deals, tasks, reports, and email campaigns without ever leaving your inbox. NetHunt is the ideal customer relationship management solution for users who already spend the majority of their time in Gmail rather than anywhere else and do not want to switch back and forth between multiple apps.
You are provided with the web app to work from when you sign up; however, if you want the inbox version of Gmail, you will need to download the Gmail extension. When you access the settings, import data, or integrate with other companies like Zapier, the blue icon for the company will appear in the top-left corner after just a few clicks. You can choose where in the navigation you want NetHunt’s features to appear by going into the settings and selecting either “before” or “after” your inbox. You’ll find a dashboard that can be customized here that displays the status of various functions, including deals, activities, and tasks. The following can be found below this: a deals list, Kanban pipelines, contacts, companies, tasks, campaign reports, and more.
Simply create a contact record by clicking the blue icon that is located next to the name of your email account, then clicking on the name that appears in the pop-up window. To open the record again and make any necessary edits, such as adding new information, tasks, comments, or deals, click the name of the contact again. Click on the settings wheel that is located next to the contact’s name. This will allow you to add custom folders and fields. Pipelines can be altered in terms of the stages they contain, the names of those stages, the probabilities associated with those stages, and the details that are visible for each card. In addition, NetHunt provides customizable webforms and pop-ups that can be used to collect leads. These leads can subsequently be dropped automatically into a nurturing campaign that you design.
Last but not least, if you use LinkedIn for prospecting, the (separate) extension that NetHunt offers enables you to quickly create contacts while you are viewing profiles with just a few clicks. After that, information about the contact’s social media accounts, email addresses, phone numbers, employers, and positions are added. In exactly the same way, companies may also be added. When you are prospecting, each profile will indicate, with a blue icon, whether the person is already a CRM contact or not (white icon). Additionally, information from the contact record, including emails and tasks, is displayed in a sidebar on each user’s LinkedIn profile page.
With NetHunt’s Zapier integrations, you can accomplish even more than before. Make new records in NetHunt based on new rows in a spreadsheet, or make new to-do list items based on comments made in NetHunt.
NetHunt CRM Price:
- From $24/month for one user.
How I evaluated CRM tools
After determining and specifying these five prerequisites, I registered for free trials of customer relationship management software that appeared, on paper, to be the most effective at meeting those criteria’s requirements. After that, I spent approximately one hour becoming familiar with the user interface (UI), settings options, and primary features of each platform, while simultaneously making notes in a spreadsheet regarding each of the five criteria as I went along. I established contacts, pipelines, and deals, and if a contact, pipeline, or deal had a specific use case, I would conduct some preliminary testing on it. For instance, if the application supported business management, I would create product listings, compose an invoice, and send it to a made-up company so that I could practice using those features.
After going through this first round of evaluations, I whittled down the list of CRM software to include only those programs that I was confident met all five criteria and also offered something that set them apart from the competition. After that, I spent an additional hour or two in each of these applications so that I could delve a little bit deeper. This app does an excellent job of enabling users to create lead lists. Let’s put the in-house phone system with the automatic dialing for these lists through its paces. I also considered the impressions I had formed the previous year and evaluated whether or not they were still valid. And when it was necessary, I contacted vendor representatives to get answers to the questions I had.
On the basis of all of that information, I selected the ten CRM programs that deserved a place on our best CRM software list, and those are the programs that are presented in this article.