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Choose the Right CRM

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Your customer information needs to be reliable and accessible. Once a business grows large enough, using Google docs and spreadsheets to manage customer information becomes a mess—disorganized, inefficient, and costly.

This is when Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software starts paying large dividends.  CRM software lets your teams manage communications with clients and potential clients across different channels, such as phone, email, texting, social media, and websites.

A good CRM implementation combines sales, marketing, and customer support in a way that serves everyone better: Customers are happier, Employees have smoother workflows, and Leaders have more accurate and timely customer analytics. All of this can be implemented with varying degrees of automation, making manual processes a lot faster.

For Marketers, CRM will help turn sales leads into customers with various tools including email, text, and social media interactions. For sales, CRM will track leads, and as leads become customers all the necessary information is stored, giving insight into growing the relationship. For customer support, they can quickly access customer information and answers. For customers, service is better, they rely on you more, and your business grows.

Choosing a CRM is tough. There are many great options and finding perfect fit for your team can be a hard decision. Like choosing a car or a restaurant, there are tons of different options and rarely a clear best choice. But at some point, you need to start driving and get something to eat. Start with gathering detailed requirements from your teams, view online demos, and sign up for trial periods that let you test different services.

Here are some of the leading CRMs you should consider in your evaluation.


Salesforce serves over 100,000 businesses and been around over 20 years. Whether you work in financial services, healthcare, communications, consumer goods, retail, manufacturing, transportation, energy, or education, you can use Salesforce. They have templates for all different business sectors and with experts and documentation to guide you through the implementation.

Salesforce Essentials edition costs $25 per user per month and is billed annually. This plan is limited to 10 users, and you can get it running within minutes. With a 14 days trial available, you can test it out to see if it works for your business Salesforce also offers Sales Professional and a Service Professional plans starting at $75 per user per month. These plans have enhanced features that teams may need.


Freshworks is another favorite. Over 50,000 companies user Freshworks including leaders like Fiverr and Bridgestone.

Freshworks offers an app based system that lets you choose the parts and pieces you need, which is sometimes straightforward and other times not. It’s able to connect to many different social media sites and access all sorts of reporting and analytics tools.

Freshworks offers different paid services and two free tools called Freshping and Freshstatus. The paid products are Freshdesk, Freshsales, Freshmarketer, Freshservice, and Freshteam. All of these can be accessed for a trial period, and some have a few free features.

Freshping helps in monitoring websites. In fact, it does much more than that, offering insight into issues and alert configuration. It is free of charge forever and can be set up in no time.

Freshstatus can be used to alert customers, employees, and others about issues with your platforms. It is also helpful in receiving alerts about incidents so you can get to work on them as soon as possible. Together, these make for a great resource for small businesses looking for free CRM tools.

Freshdesk is a customer service solution offering all sorts of email, automation, bots, and other tools. It consists of a limited free version, and three other levels namely growth, pro, and enterprise. These cost $15, $49, and $79 respectively if you choose annual billing. The growth plan includes some automation, marketplace apps, custom SSL, and timesheet summary reports.

Freshsales is also divided into one free and three paid levels. For $15 a month, billed annually, you can hire the Growth service. With that, you get AI-powered predictive contact scoring, a visual sales pipeline, custom reports, a product catalog, and several other features.

The next tool in Freshworks’s toolbox is Freshteam, an HR software designed with small businesses in mind. It helps in recruitment, onboarding as well as in storing employee data and managing time off. It charges $1.20 per employee in the cheapest plan, plus a fixed $71 platform fee.


HubSpot is known for offering lots of great free tools. These are really free of charge, not just trials for a limited time. While somewhat limited, there are several features that are great to have, like deal tracking and customizing a landing page. It can also help you set up a ticketing system, live chatbots, and a shared team email.

HubSpot has most of the services you can think of when it comes to business CRM. For startups, it has a HubSpot for startups program your business can apply to. There is also a Hubspot for Nonprofits which features up to 40% discount.

HubSpot invests a lot into integration—you can access an app marketplace containing over 1,000 apps to connect to different services including Gmail, Google Calendar, WordPress, Outlook, Zoom, Google Ads, or Facebook Ads. For real customer service fanatics—you can sync your Google Contacts on your phone with your all you company Hubspot contacts.

HubSpot offers different services with a range of prices. Besides the free tools, there starter, professional, and enterprise bundles that include more powerful features. You can also choose from plans with specialized services for categories like marketing, sales, or customer service.

With starter prices of $45 a month to enterprise bundles of over $5,000, the options you select will determine your pricing, just like getting a sunroof on your SUV.

The starter $45 a month bundle offers capacity for 1,000 marketing contacts, ad management, email, and in-app support. It also removes HubSpot branding that appears on emails and other communications in the free edition. This version supports up to 2 users, and you have to pay extra to add more users.

The professional bundle starts at $2,243 per month and supports 2,000 marketing contacts. It allows for up to 30 currencies, compared to 5 in the starter bundle. This bundle also has Google Search Console Integration, SEO recommendations & optimization. This suite includes up to 5 users and also charges for extra users. It has too many features to mention, so make sure to check it out if it’s within your budget


Another popular CRM to consider is Pipedrive. Started in 2010 by experienced sales professionals it’s used worldwide focuses the needs of salespeople.

All of Pipedrive’s plans offer lead and deal management, customizable pipelines, products catalog, and tracking of communications. They also have automation tools, reports, Android and iOS apps as well as a marketplace with over 250 integrations.

To access phone support you have to possess an enterprise plan. Other plans are limited to help through live chat support or the online help center.

With both monthly and annual billing, Pipedrive offers four different plans called essential, advanced, professional, and enterprise. All of them are available as a free 14-day trial without having to register a credit card.

Essential starts at $12.50 per user per month, billed annually. It covers all features needed to be one of the best CRM for small businesses and many others. While lacking some tools like email open and click tracking, it has more than enough to get started.

Advanced plans start at $24.90 per user per month when billed annually, and provide several extra tools. Some of the most notable ones are access to a workflow builder, group emailing with open and click tracking.

Professional and Enterprise go for $49.90 and $99 per user per month, billed annually. With those, you enable features like one-click calling and call tracking, additional security options, and an implementation plan.

Next Steps

The first step is deciding if your business is ready for CRM. Get smart about how customer interactions occur, and data is captured, or not, at every customer touchpoint. Consult with salespeople, customer service, marketing, leadership, and other stakeholders to learn what’s working, what’s not, and what the priority should be for CRM.

Like buying a car versus walking for free, CRM pays for itself by speeding up your business, bringing in more sales, and improving customer service and workflows. Start by testing out free tools and trials. Make sure everyone gets to share input before a decision is made. When ready to implement, make sure the project is a priority for all the participating teams with an owner from each team.

Are you ready for CRM? Our team has years of experience in every part of the CRM decision in various industries and we are vendor neutral. Contact us to learn more.