Jan. 29, 2024: Added information about the author and made small stylistic updates.

Jan. 23, 2024: Verified vendor pricing and information.

Dec. 11, 2023: Added rubric scoring for all vendors. Verified pricing and features throughout.

Oct. 25, 2023: Added vendors.

Oct. 18, 2023: Updated pros and cons

Oct. 4, 2023: Updated visual elements.

Sept. 13, 2023: Updated elements to current standards. Verified links and pricing. Copy edits and a few minor changes to copy. Added bylines.

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At TechnologyAdvice, we assess a wide range of factors before selecting our top choices for a given category. To make our selections, we rely on our extensive research, product information, vendor websites, competitor research and first-hand experience. We then consider what makes a solution best for customer-specific needs. 

By defining business needs, we can determine the essential features organizations in various sectors require, and select platforms that will cover all bases. Reputable providers known for their ease of use and customer satisfaction are added to our compilation list for further analysis. We then evaluate each solution on the list based on the features they offer, considering the platform’s usability, integration capabilities, customization options, mobile access, and any other relevant functionalities. 

Price plans, hidden fees, customer reviews, and customer support are also assessed in the selection process. TechnologyAdvice writers will often take advantage of free trials and demos to get a first-hand user experience of available software. Finally, we curate a comprehensive list based on the previously stated factors, ensuring readers have the necessary tools to make an informed decision.

We rely on an internal algorithm to calculate star ratings, which are based on many factors.  

My research focused on your top-of-mind concerns like price, core and advanced features, and user experience. Below is a breakdown of the categories I used to grade each platform. Each category also includes my expert score, which contributes to its overall score.

​​As the market changes, we reevaluate our choices so you always receive the best insight for your purchasing decision.

User reviews:

User reviews from third-party software platforms like Capterra and G2 accounted for a small portion of the software’s overall score. I focused on software that received at least 3.5 out of 5 stars on these sites. Because users have real-world experience with each platform, they played a significant role in narrowing down my list of top products to compare.

Pricing: 

Software with transparent pricing, discounts, free trials, and free plans received the highest scores. I also considered each platform’s “value for money,” which determines whether the number of features in each price tier or module is competitive with other vendors in the space.

Platform and interface: 

How easy is the platform to use? Will it be able to grow with me? What is the customer service like? And will employees’ data be safe? This category covers the intrinsic features of most software platforms and vendors, including how well they will integrate with your current tech stack. 

Core and advanced features: 

Crucial capabilities including contact management, task automation, lead management, and more constitute one of the sections of our scoring rubric. More advanced tools such as AI analytics and chatbots, multi-channel support, and VoIP capabilities are also analyzed and scored. 

Integration and compatibility:

category of our CRM rubric evaluates how seamlessly a CRM system can mesh with your existing technological ecosystem. 

We evaluate API availability, checking for an open and accessible API that allows for custom integrations, crucial for adapting the CRM to specific business needs. The availability of pre-built integrations with common business tools and platforms is also assessed. We consider the ease of data import/export, a key factor for data management. E-commerce compatibility is analyzed, especially important for businesses engaged in online sales. Email integration level is scrutinized, as seamless email integration is vital for effective communication and marketing. Lastly, we assess the level of social media integration, reflecting the growing importance of social media in business operations.

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Aron Vaughan, Staff Writer
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Reviewed by
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Aron Vaughan, Staff Writer
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Reviewed by
Corey Noles, Managing Editor
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What is CRM software?

Customer relationship management (CRM) software stores, organizes, and analyzes business contact and customer information. Within the CRM platform, sales, marketing, and customer service teams automate the collection and organization of customer, lead, partner, and key business relationship data.

The processes and systems that help improve a business’s relationships with their contacts may also be called customer relationship management.

Best CRM platforms

Which brings us to this list. Below are some of the top CRM providers in the market, each with unique features and functions that make them best suited to various use cases. While not exhaustive, the details below should help guide your research. 

HubSpot – Best for CRM integration options


Our Rating: 4.5/5

Pros

  • One of the most trusted names in the industry
  • First-class automation and integration options
  • CRM, email marketing, and website management in one place
  • Free plan

Cons

  • Higher end cost structure for paid plans and added tools
  • Best for use cases that need more than just CRM software
  • Contact management: HubSpot CRM provides a detailed view of contacts, tracking every interaction automatically and allowing users to easily manage customer relationships.
  • Email tracking and notifications: This feature enables real-time notifications when a contact opens an email, allowing sales teams to follow up effectively.
  • Pipeline management: HubSpot CRM offers a visual dashboard for managing sales pipelines, helping teams to track deals and stages effectively.
  • Meeting scheduling: HubSpot CRM provides a tool to simplify meeting scheduling by syncing with your calendar and allowing contacts to book time directly.

Free trial available

Free plan available

Paid plan starting at $45/user/month

HubSpot CRM is recommended as the best CRM for integration options due to its unparalleled ease of integration, free offerings, and a user-friendly platform that simplifies complex processes. It’s the ideal choice for businesses that value a cohesive, interconnected suite of tools to streamline their operations.

HubSpot CRM sheets near-perfect scores across the board, boasting a 95.83/100 for both API availability and integration ease, and a 100/100 for the breadth of native add-ons and third-party integrations. 

The ‘no contract required’ policy and free plan make the platform a rarity among competitors. This approach democratizes access to powerful CRM tools, and makes it an attractive option for businesses of all sizes.

While Salesforce is often lauded for its extensive feature set and scalability, HubSpot CRM is the go-to for businesses prioritizing ease of integration and user-friendly experiences. It’s particularly well-suited for companies that leverage a wide array of tools and require a CRM that can integrate with them.

Pricing: 4.8/5

General features and interface: 4.4/5

Core features: 4.5/5

Advanced features: 3.8/5

Integration and compatibility: 4.8/5

UX: 4.8/5

Over time, HubSpot has significantly expanded its integration capabilities, moving from a marketing-focused tool to a comprehensive CRM platform. This evolution is reflected in its impressive score of 89.29/100 for contact management and sales pipeline features, indicating a mature and well-rounded product.

Zoho – Best for decentralized teams


The Zoho logo.

Our Rating: 4.5/5

Pros

  • Remote-first functionality and support
  • Amble collaboration tools for decentralized teams
  • Additional tool sets for other critical business needs

Cons

  • Free/low-cost plans have reduced functionality
  • AI-Powered Sales Assistant (Zia): Zoho CRM offers an AI-powered sales assistant called Zia that can predict trends, anomalies, and conversions, making sales forecasting smarter.
  • SalesSignals: This feature provides real-time notifications from across multiple channels like phone, email, social media, and live chat, ensuring you never miss an interaction.
  • Blueprint: Zoho’s Blueprint feature helps businesses design and automate their sales processes, ensuring that salespeople know exactly what to do at each stage of the deal.
  • Multi-Channel Support: Zoho CRM offers multi-channel support for phone, email, live chat, social media, and in-person meetings, keeping your team connected no matter how you communicate.

Free trial available

Free plans available for Mail and Projects

Standard: $14/user/month

Professional: $23/user/month

Enterprise: $40/user/month

Ultimate: $52/user/month

Zoho CRM is best for decentralized teams because it delivers a combination of flexibility, connectivity, and comprehensive features that are unmatched in the market. Its high scores in collaboration tools and mobile app functionality are not just numbers—they reflect a real-world efficacy that decentralized teams can rely on.

Zoho CRM scores an impressive 96/100 in advanced features, with perfect scores in multi-channel support and collaboration tools, essential for decentralized teams. Its ability to provide customer geo-location features and VOIP support further cements its position as the go-to CRM for teams operating remotely.

Additionally, Zoho offers a more seamless experience across all devices compared to competitors.

Zoho’s AI-powered Sales Assistant, Zia, offers smart sales forecasting, crucial for coordinating dispersed teams. SalesSignals keeps teams in sync with real-time, multi-channel notifications. Blueprint guides remote teams through each deal stage, providing process clarity. Zoho’s unique Multi-Channel Support covers everything from email to social media, ensuring all team interactions are captured, irrespective of location.

Our ratings

Pricing: 4.2/5

General features and interface: 4.3/5

Core features: 4.8/5

Advanced features: 4.4/5

Integration and compatibility: 5/5

UX: 4.3/5

Pricing: 4.2/5

General features and interface: 4.3/5

Core features: 4.8/5

Advanced features: 4.4/5

Integration and compatibility: 5/5

UX: 4.3/5

Zoho CRM is part of a larger platform that includes HR, accounting, operations, and more, placing it in a similar bracket to NetSuite. It’s accomplished this while still maintaining low overhead costs, thanks to its remote-first work environment. 

That prioritization of decentralized collaboration carries over to their suite of software solutions, including their CRM. With features and tools comparable to its peers in this list, but with the added bonus of designing the platform to function across time zones and national boundaries.

The software is tailored to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes, with a free plan and no contract requirement. Its pricing structure is competitive, offering value for money and reflecting an understanding of diverse business models.

Zoho CRM’s interface is intuitive, scoring a 75/100 in design, and it supports a mild learning curve, ensuring new users can quickly adapt. The platform’s customizability is a standout feature, allowing businesses to tailor the CRM to their unique processes.

In terms of product design, Zoho CRM has been crafted with the user in mind, offering a balance between functionality and simplicity. This balance is critical for user adoption and long-term engagement with the platform.

Zoho has consistently incorporated user feedback to improve its offerings, demonstrating a commitment to growth and improvement that benefits its users directly.

Shape CRM – Best for flexibility


shape logo

Our Rating: 4.2/5

Pros

  • User-friendly interface
  • Onboarding and training webinars offered daily
  • Prioritized list views
  • Robust phone dialer
  • Flat fee

Cons

  • eSignature functionality could be improved
  • Higher price point

Lead engine offering landing pages, lead distribution, automated scheduling, and more.

Built-in phone dialer with call tracking, live monitoring, and intelligent call routing.

AI chatbot, transcription assistant, and text and image generator.

$99/month when billed annually.

Shape CRM’s design philosophy centers around user-driven customization. This approach is evident in its intuitive interface, which allows users to easily modify and adapt the platform to their specific needs, enhancing the overall user experience beyond standard CRM offerings.

It offers a compelling blend of industry-specific features, making it a top pick for businesses with specialized needs. And, it has all the bells and whistles. Scoring high in advanced features (not an easy feat), it offers a dedicated dialer that can be considered a full VoIP system, an AI chatbot and assistant, and geo-location integration options.

Its flexibility also makes it a top choice for specific industries. Unlike many CRM systems that offer rigid, one-size-fits-all solutions, Shape CRM provides a highly customizable platform.

Pricing: 4.4/5

General features and interface: 4.1/5

Core features: 4.6/5

Advanced features: 4.4/5

Integration and compatibility: 4/5

UX: 4.5/5

Shape CRM has carved a niche for itself by offering highly customizable solutions tailored to various industries. Originating as a tool to simplify complex business processes, it has evolved to include features like AI lead scoring and bi-directional texting. The platform is lauded for its scalability and extensive features.

Recently, they’ve added bulk texting capabilities and enhanced payment options, further streamlining business communication and transactions. However, the cost could be a consideration for smaller enterprises.

One of the few gripes I have about Shape is its pricing structure. At $99/month if billed annually, it is on the higher end per user. However, the platform does include about everything a sales team needs. A tiered pricing structure in the future could fix this, allowing customers to choose their optimal level features for the price.

Pipedrive – Best for pipeline management and optimization


PipeDrive-Logo

Our Rating: 4.2/5

Pros

  • AI-powered lead tracking
  • Helps teams focus their energy on more effective efforts
  • Approachable interface

Cons

  • Not as valuable for teams with existing, well-refined lead pipelines
  • Pipeline management: Pipedrive offers a visual sales pipeline which allows users to effectively manage deals at different stages and streamline the sales process.
  • Sales reporting: Pipedrive includes comprehensive sales reporting features to provide insights and monitor sales performance over time.
  • Email integration: Pipedrive provides seamless email integration, allowing users to send and receive emails directly from the CRM, track correspondence and automate follow-ups.
  • Activity and goal tracking: Pipedrive allows users to set and monitor goals and activities, keeping sales efforts aligned with business objectives.

Free trial available

Essential: $14.90/user/month

Advanced: $27.90/user/month

Professional: $49.90/user/month

Power: $64.90/user/month

Enterprise: $99/user/month

Pipedrive is best for businesses that prioritize sales process optimization. Its intuitive design, combined with powerful automation and analytics, makes it an ideal tool for sales teams to streamline their workflows.

Pipedrive’s visual sales pipeline breathes life into deal progression, streamlining the sales process in a digestible, visual format. Complemented by comprehensive Sales Reporting, users glean valuable insights into performance trends. With seamless Email Integration, tracking correspondence and automating follow-ups becomes effortless. Pipedrive’s Activity and Goal Tracking further keep sales efforts aligned, optimizing pipeline progress. For businesses seeking a clear view and control over their sales pipeline, Pipedrive has the right formula, making it a top recommendation in the CRM domain.

Pipedrive’s overall score of 83.3 out of 100, with a 4.2-star rating, is a testament to its balanced performance across various criteria. It excels in core features like sales pipeline (100), task automation (100), and email integration (100), which are pivotal for effective CRM functionality.

Compared to other CRMs like Salesforce or HubSpot, Pipedrive is more accessible and less complex, making it ideal for small to medium-sized businesses or teams that require a straightforward, efficient sales process without the need for extensive customization or complex integrations.

Pricing: 3.5/5

General features and interface: 4.3/5

Core features: 4.6/5

Advanced features: 3.5/5

Integration and compatibility: 4.8/5

UX: 4/5

Pipedrive is also a bit of an oddity in the CRM and sales software space, in all the best ways. Pipedrive is designed to help teams make the most of their leads, and focus on the ones most likely to convert. It does this through a variety of non-conventional CRM capabilities, including AI analytics, intelligence software, and prescriptive data insights. 

The interface is also carefully crafted to present the most relevant information in a visual, easy-to-digest manner. Properly implemented, Pipedrive can dramatically reduce the number of leads that slip through the cracks, and the number of dead ends chased by sales staff.

Recent additions include improved AI analytics and more third-party integrations.

For more information on Pipedrive, check out Pipedrive Product Updates and Pipedrive Community.

Salesforce – Best for enterprises


Our Rating: 4/5

Pros

  • Extensive integrations
  • Enterprise-level software functionality for small teams
  • Can be configured to almost any situation

Cons

  • Mid-to-high pricing
  • Complex implementation
  • 360-degree customer view: Salesforce’s Sales Cloud brings together every interaction and piece of customer data, presenting a complete view of each client’s journey. This holistic perspective enables businesses to understand their customers better, enhancing relationship-building.
  • Einstein AI-powered analytics: Harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, Salesforce’s Einstein AI delivers insightful predictive analytics. This technology provides proactive lead scoring, trend analysis, and accurate sales forecasts, driving strategic, data-informed decision-making.
  • Extensive customization and integration: Salesforce is lauded for its vast customization capabilities. It offers a range of modules and a flexible API for seamless integration with other tools, ensuring Salesforce adapts to your specific business needs and tech stack, not vice versa.
  • Scalability and cloud-based structure: Salesforce is built with scalability in mind, making it suitable for businesses of all sizes. Its cloud-based architecture enables secure, anywhere-access to your CRM data, facilitating collaboration and boosting productivity across your team.

Free trial available

Essentials: $25/user/month

Professional: $75/user/month

Enterprise: $150/user/month

Unlimited: $300/user/month

*All plans billed annually

Salesforce is recommended as the best CRM for enterprises primarily due to its scalability, ecosystem, and innovation. It’s a platform that grows with your business and encourages it to grow, offering a suite of tools that are always at the forefront of CRM technology.

In evaluating Salesforce against its competitors, it scores exceptionally high in customization, integration capabilities, and scalability. Its user interface is fairly intuitive, and its customer support is strong (and gets stronger at higher tiers). 

What sets Salesforce apart is its ecosystem. Unlike competitors that offer a static solution, Salesforce provides a dynamic platform that grows with your business. Its AppExchange marketplace boasts thousands of third-party applications, allowing for significant customization and extension.

While other CRMs like Oracle are formidable in their own right, offering deep analytics and a suite of tools, Salesforce distinguishes itself with its cloud-first approach, providing more frequent updates, a larger app marketplace, and a more extensive community of users and developers.

Pricing: 2.7/5

General features: 4.5/5

Advanced features: 4.5/5

Integration and compatibility: 3.5/5

UX: 3.5/5

Salesforce CRM has been a titan in the enterprise arena for years, and it has largely gained its clout on merit. Its comprehensive suite of features, scalability, and innovative approach to customer relationship management all serve to make it a strong contender in the space. 

While Salesforce’s comprehensive features and customization options are a boon for many large-scale businesses, they can also present a steep learning curve for new users. The platform’s depth, which allows for extensive tailoring, may require significant training and expertise to navigate effectively. This could lead to additional costs for organizations in terms of time and resources spent on training.

Integration capabilities are a strong point for Salesforce, offering connections with a multitude of business applications. Yet, this interconnectedness can sometimes lead to complexity, particularly when managing and troubleshooting integrations across various systems.

The user experience is generally user-friendly and is regularly updated to introduce new functionalities. Nonetheless, some users may find the frequent updates challenging to keep up with, potentially disrupting workflows as teams adapt to new features.

Salesforce’s AI enhancements with Einstein and mobile experience improvements are commendable, positioning the platform at the forefront of innovation, but remember the cost associated with accessing these cutting-edge tools should be considered.

Oracle NetSuite CRM – Best all-in-one solution


Our Rating: 4/5

Pros

  • Most comprehensive business tool on the list
  • Full-fledged ERP capabilities
  • 360-degree customer view
  • Scalability and flexibility

Cons

  • Higher-end pricing
  • No standalone CRM option
  • 360-Degree customer view: Provides a comprehensive, real-time view of customer interactions across all channels, enhancing customer insight and service.
  • Sales force automation (SFA): Automates and streamlines the entire sales process, reducing errors and saving time.
  • Marketing automation: Enables businesses to streamline campaign management and track marketing ROI effectively.
  • Customer service Management: Enhances customer satisfaction by providing tools for managing customer support and improving service delivery.

Starting from $499/user/year

Oracle NetSuite CRM is as comprehensive as it gets. It’s a remarkably versatile tool, particularly for businesses seeking an all-in-one cloud solution that integrates CRM with financials, e-commerce, and more.

This powerhouse, cloud-based solution provides a 360-degree customer view, enabling businesses to see a full spectrum of customer interactions in real-time. Its advanced features, particularly in AI analytics and collaboration tools, make the platform stand out and clinch a spot in the 4 star range.

Compared to more specialized CRMs like Salesforce or Pipedrive, Oracle NetSuite CRM offers a more holistic approach to business management. It’s particularly well-suited for businesses that require not just CRM functionality but also integrated financial and e-commerce capabilities.

Pricing: 2.5/5

General features: 3.8/5

Core features: 4.6/5

Advanced features: 4/5

Integration and compatibility: 4.8/5

UX: 3.8/5

Rounding out the 4-star range on our list is NetSuite CRM from Oracle. If that name sounds familiar, it should: NetSuite was an internet pioneer back when the internet still ran on dial-up. These days, the brand (now owned by Oracle) continues to offer advanced software and digital technology solutions to businesses around the world. 

NetSuite is noteworthy for numerous reasons, but above all else, they are a comprehensive solution. The CRM portion is only a fraction of the platform—the suite handles enterprise resource planning (ERP), accounting and financials, inventory tracking, and more. Organizations looking to use a single system to manage and optimize their entire business infrastructure need look no further.

The overall design of Oracle NetSuite CRM also focuses on providing a comprehensive view of the customer lifecycle. While its interface and usability score moderately, the CRM’s strength lies in its ability to offer a 360-degree view of customers, integrating sales, customer service, and marketing effectively.

This evolution into a comprehensive ecosystem addresses the growing need for interconnected business systems, offering a more efficient and unified approach to managing various business processes.

That said, its greatest strength is also its biggest caveat. NetSuite is a package deal. Signing up for the CRM (or any individual business function) means signing up for the whole platform, so it works best for brands that stand to benefit from an entire workflow overhaul.

Insightly – Best for easy-to-read analytics and reporting


Our Rating: 3.9/5

Pros

  • Vast analytics and visualization options
  • Robust automation tools
  • Project management functionality

Cons

  • Not as intuitive or easy to deploy as some tools
  • Advanced reporting: Insightly’s advanced reporting allows users to create customized, detailed reports, offering valuable insights into business performance.
  • Dashboard visualization: Insightly provides dashboards for a quick visual representation of business health and metrics, aiding in swift decision-making.
  • Sales forecasting: Insightly’s CRM includes sales forecasting features, enabling businesses to predict sales revenue using historical and real-time data.
  • Integrations: Insightly integrates with popular software like Power BI and Excel, enhancing its reporting and analytics capabilities.

Free trial available

Plus: $29/user/month

Professional: $49/user/month

Enterprise: $99/user/month


Insightly’s design philosophy in its reporting and analytics features emphasizes simplicity and clarity. The platform allows users to easily create and customize reports, offering an experience that reduces the complexity often associated with data analysis.

Insightly pairs an easy-to-use interface with customizable reporting tools, making it ideal for businesses that need detailed insights without the complexity of more advanced systems. This makes Insightly particularly suitable for small to medium-sized businesses or those with limited resources for data analysis.

Despite the lower price tag compared to other software offering similar tools, it still boasts advanced reporting, allowing users to generate custom, in-depth reports revealing key business performance indicators.

Its dashboard visualization serves up crucial metrics at a glance, aiding quick, informed decisions. Coupled with precise sales forecasting, Insightly paints an accurate picture of future sales revenue. Plus, with smooth integration with platforms like Power BI and Excel, Insightly’s analytics game is seriously amplified.

For businesses that prioritize ease of use and straightforward data visualization, Insightly is a more suitable choice than Salesforce, which, while powerful, can be overwhelming for users new to CRM analytics. HubSpot, on the other hand, offers similar user-friendliness but may not match Insightly’s depth in customization options for reports.

Pricing: 4.2/5

General features and interface: 3.6/5

Core features: 4.3/5

Advanced features: 2.3/5

Integration and compatibility: 4.2/5

UX: 3.8

Insightly might be a brand name you’re unfamiliar with, but rest assured, it has a quiver of features that’s just as full as some of the bigger names on this list. Automation options, project management, and plentiful integration options are just the beginning. What’s not a common bragging right is their robust analytics and reporting capabilities.

In many ways, Insightly doubles as business intelligence, providing extensive flexibility and functionality regarding data discovery and scrubbing; organizing and visualization; powerful analytics insights; and intuitive reporting options. 

In recent years, Insightly has even enhanced its reporting and analytics features, focusing on providing more customizable reporting options and integrating AI-driven insights.

However, compared to competitors like Salesforce or Oracle NetSuite, Insightly’s advanced features like AI analytics and VOIP capabilities could be further developed. While it offers a solid foundation in CRM functionalities, expanding these advanced features could enhance its appeal to larger businesses or those with more complex CRM needs.

Nevertheless, for teams that want to dig deep into the data, find and leverage customer trends, and otherwise prove the value that the sales pipeline has to offer the organization as a whole, Insightly should be at the top of the shortlist.

Keap CRM – Best for sales-marketing synergy


Our Rating: 3.8/5

Pros

  • Sales and marketing automation
  • Helps small teams accomplish more
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • May not be the right fit for larger, more complex workflows
  • Smart client management: Keap’s CRM excels in organizing and updating client information, along with capturing new leads, all in one centralized, searchable database.
  • Advanced email automation: Keap’s CRM not only offers email marketing but also delivers personalized, automated follow-ups that nurture client relationships and keep businesses top-of-mind.
  • Integrated appointments: Keap seamlessly syncs calendars and sets up reminders, turning the scheduling of appointments with clients into a hassle-free process.
  • Billing and payment solutions: Keap stands out with its invoicing features, which provide the ability to create, send, and track invoices, accept credit cards online, and automate payment reminders.

Free trial available

Pro: $159/2 users/month

Max: $229/3 users/month

Keap CRM’s overall performance in sales-marketing synergy is impressive, scoring particularly high in core features (89.3 out of 100) and integration and compatibility (91.7 out of 100).

For small to medium-sized businesses looking for a CRM that offers both simplicity and powerful sales-marketing integration, Keap is a more suitable option than Salesforce, which might be overwhelming in complexity, and HubSpot, which may lack some of Keap’s specialized functionalities.

The platform’s automation and integration capabilities have also improved in recent updates.

Pricing: 2.5/5

General features and interface: 4/5

Core features: 4.5/5

Advanced features: 2.5/5

Integration and compatibility: 4.6/5

UX: 4.3/5

Keap CRM is a bit of an oddity in this list. While it’s fully capable of providing top-tier service to larger brands the way Salesforce or Hubspot might, its positioning tends to focus more heavily on solopreneurs and other small businesses.

To be fair, these are often the professionals who need the most support to keep their sales pipelines flowing. Certain “hats” have to be worn in every business—accounts receivable, sales, marketing, operations, logistics, project management, etc.—even when that business is a business of one. The fewer the heads there are in the crew, the more hats on a single head.

Keap aims to help these professionals by giving them somewhere else to put some of those hats, so to speak. Via robust sales, marketing, and financial automation tools, Keap streamlines some of the most difficult, tedious, and repetitious parts of the sales lifecycle.

Solopreneurs especially tend to be specialists in their product, with non-billable tasks being secondary skills at best. Keap gives these individuals and teams a way to get back to the work they do best, and rest easy about the duties that stress them out the most.

While Keap excels in many areas, it could further strengthen its position against competitors by enhancing its AI analytics and AI chatbot functionalities. These improvements would provide even more sophisticated tools for businesses to analyze data and engage with customers, keeping pace with the evolving trends of competitors.

Copper CRM – Best for security


Copper

Our Rating: 3.8/5

Pros

  • Unparalleled Google Workspace compatibility
  • End-user simplicity
  • Security safeguards

Cons

  • Fewer non-Google integrations
  • Not optimal for organizations built on Office 365
  • Google workspace integration: Copper CRM integrates seamlessly with Google Workspace, allowing users to manage contacts, deals, and tasks directly from Gmail or other Workspace apps.
  • Sales pipeline management: This feature provides a visual sales pipeline that makes it easy to manage opportunities and track progress towards sales goals.
  • Automated data entry: Copper CRM uses automation to reduce the burden of manual data entry, automatically populating contact and company details.
  • Lead and opportunity management

Free trial available

Basic: $23/user/month

Professional: $59/user/month

Business: $99/user/month

Larger, more established organizations often rely on Microsoft’s suite of apps and platforms to ensure secure collaboration. But Google Workspace is often a much more familiar space for newer brands with younger staff (many of whom used Gmail and Gsuite for their personal accounts). And Copper CRM is unmatched when it comes to Google Workspace interoperability.

Copper CRM distinguishes itself from competitors like Salesforce and Zoho CRM with its deep integration with Google Workspace, offering enhanced security features that are particularly beneficial for businesses heavily reliant on Google services. Unlike Salesforce, which offers a broader range of features, Copper focuses on providing a secure, Google-centric user experience.

Copper CRM’s design is focused on providing a secure yet user-friendly experience. Its integration with Google Workspace enhances security and ensures a seamless user experience, reducing the learning curve and increasing adoption rates.

Depending on your use case, your current workflow, and the level of tech literacy in your organization, Copper CRM could very well be the fastest time-to-value option available.

Pricing: 3.3/5

General features and interface: 4/5

Core features: 4.6/5

Advanced features: 2.3/5

Integration and compatibility: 4.2/5

UX: 4.5/5

Copper excels in seamless pipeline management, offering a visually appealing and intuitive platform to track progress and manage sales goals. Its automated data entry feature expedites processes, eliminating the hassle of manual inputs. The platform shines in lead and opportunity management, ensuring no prospect falls by the wayside. With its firm foothold in Google’s ecosystem, Copper CRM stands as a paragon of integration, streamlining operations in a way that feels native to Gmail and Google Workspace users. A true champion for CRM automation and user convenience.

To place higher on the list, it could further enhance its competitive edge by improving its AI analytics and AI chatbot functionalities. These advancements would provide businesses with more sophisticated tools for data analysis and customer engagement.

ClickUp – Best for project management


Our Rating: 3.8/5

Pros

  • First-rate CRM tool with first-rate PM functionality
  • Competitive pricing
  • Bonus features include real-time reporting, companion mobile app, and more

Cons

  • Requires a bit more training and onboarding to implement
  • Task and project management: ClickUp excels in organizing tasks, allowing you to create, assign, prioritize, and track tasks all within a single platform.
  • Collaboration detection: ClickUp’s unique feature helps avoid duplicate work by showing who’s working on what in real-time.
  • Goal tracking: With ClickUp, you can set, track, and achieve goals across different teams and projects, ensuring everyone is aligned and focused.
  • Custom views: ClickUp allows you to customize how you view your tasks and projects, whether that’s in a list, board, box, calendar, or Gantt chart view.

Free trial available

Free plan available

Unlimited: $5/user/month

Business: $12/user/month

Business Plus: $19/user/month

Enterprise: Contact ClickUp for a customized quote

ClickUp, primarily known for its project management capabilities, has ventured into CRM functionalities.

Unlike specialized CRM tools like Salesforce or HubSpot, ClickUp integrates CRM features within a broader project management framework. This integration offers a unique advantage for teams seeking a unified platform for managing tasks, projects, and customer relationships.

ClickUp’s robust Task and Project Management tools bring a fresh perspective to CRM, prioritizing organization and tracking. The Collaboration Detection feature ensures that no work is duplicated, vital in customer relationship management. Goal Tracking aligns teams with overarching objectives, and Custom Views offer flexibility in visualizing client interactions. ClickUp is breaking down the silos, showing that project management and CRM can coexist and flourish in one platform, making it an unexpectedly fitting CRM choice.

Pricing: 4/5

General features and interface: 4.1/5

Core features: 4.1/5

Advanced features: 2/5

Integration and compatibility: 3.5/5

UX: 4.3/5

This vendor may come as a bit of a surprise, as ClickUp is primarily known as a project management platform. That reputation is well earned (and why it takes the title it does in this list). ClickUp also has a CRM platform, one that fills many of the needs discussed here. 

ClickUp’s foray into CRM features is a recent development, evolving from its core strength in task and project management.

ClickUp already has a noteworthy share of the PM market, and picking up the CRM module can amplify the amount of benefit those teams get out of the vendor. Seeing as most other major brands in the PM space cost significantly more, it’s an excellent way to get powerful software tools without paying enterprise-level subscription fees.

While ClickUp offers excellent task management and customization, its CRM features could benefit from more advanced sales tracking and marketing automation tools. Enhancing these aspects would make ClickUp a more comprehensive solution for businesses looking for an all-in-one platform for project management and customer relationship management.

Less Annoying CRM – Best for companies on a budget


Our Rating: 3.5/5

Pros

  • Easy to deploy
  • Easy to use
  • Lower-end cost

Cons

  • Limited pre-built functionality
  • Less robust integration library
  • Simplicity: Less Annoying CRM prides itself on its user-friendly design that makes it easy for small businesses to manage contacts and track leads without unnecessary complexity.
  • Customizability: The platform allows businesses to tailor the CRM to their specific needs, with customizable fields, layouts, and reports.
  • Collaboration features: The system is designed for team collaboration, allowing multiple users to share contacts, calendars, and notes.
  • Affordability: The CRM offers straightforward and low-cost pricing, making it an accessible solution for small businesses.

Free trial available

$15/user/month

In the grand scheme of CRM software, Less Annoying didn’t measure up too well. But that is okay—it’s all about use case. Less Annoying CRM isn’t designed to offer all the advanced features of Salesforce of Netsuite; it’s perfectly happy providing a simple CRM at a simple price. In fact, it does that better than most of the other simple CRMs out there. That’s why it rounds out our list.

Celebrated for its simplicity, this CRM caters specifically to small businesses, demystifying CRM with a user-friendly design. Customizability allows the platform to mold to unique business needs, with bespoke fields and layouts. Its collaboration features foster teamwork, seamlessly sharing contacts and notes. Plus, with its straightforward, affordable pricing, Less Annoying CRM has carved a niche in providing a high-quality, budget-friendly CRM solution. In the ever-complex CRM jungle, Less Annoying CRM emerges as a refreshing antidote.

Pricing: 3.3/5

General features: 3.3/5

Core features: 3.9/5

Advanced features: 1.5/5

Integration and compatibility: 3.3/5

UX: 4.25/5

With a low per-user cost, and intuitive functionality, it’s a perfect choice for teams that don’t have complex criteria for a CRM or sales software vendor to meet. 

If you’re looking to deploy quickly, onboard staff with minimal training, and want to limit your cloud software overhead, Less Annoying CRM fits the bill. And while the list of available customizations and pre-built integrations is smaller than other CRMs in this list, there are no contracts or limitations, making this CRM a strong choice for up-and-coming brands.

Learn more about the best Simple CRM options here.

Find your new CRM software

Key CRM features to consider for your use case

While there are certainly software solutions that are objectively “bad,” the majority of options in any given vertical will be valued by how well they satisfy the intended use case. Trying to apply the tool outside the parameters it was designed for may fail to meet expectations, but that does not necessarily mean the software itself is of poor quality. It’s just a bad match.

Below are some core areas of concern for CRM consumers to consider when shopping around to help them find a tool that aligns with their needs.

ALSO READ: The Different Types of Roles & Responsibilities in a CRM

Contact management

For CRM tools, the most foundational functionality is that of collecting and organizing contact information. At the very least, it needs to be a step up from simply dumping leads into a spreadsheet only to immediately be forgotten. Spreadsheets have their place, but they aren’t optimized for automation or to serve as living records. If a CRM can’t improve on manual data entry, manual data scrubbing, and manual retrieval, then it’s just Excel with extra steps.

Contact management features in CRM and sales software, it should be noted, vary widely from system to system. But the common upgrades to functionality will likely look familiar to anyone who’s been using digital devices in the past two decades:

  • Automated data importing
  • Data export flexibility (via EDI, CSV, or other formats)
  • Integrations with other platforms, apps, and databases
  • Filters and search functions
  • Analytics and reporting functions

Communication records

By now, nearly everyone is familiar with the “This call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes” line spoken to customers calling in to a business for support. Having a record of customer/client/lead interactions can be indispensable. And not just for maintaining excellent service, either. 

Using recorded calls, chats, and other communication, businesses can achieve a multitude of important objectives, including:

  • Improving effectiveness of staff training, onboarding, company policies, and more
  • Compiling data for analytics (which can help identify patterns, predict trends, and even recommend strategies)
  • Providing evidence to help navigate legal concerns and protect against loss

If benefits like these factor into your CRM and sales software choices, then be aware that some software includes functionality to support it, while some does not. 

Integrations

Implementing new software systems can be difficult, and onboarding users only becomes more problematic when the system doesn’t play well with existing solutions in the workflow. 

Some CRMs are built as part of a larger platform of business solutions, and are intended to be used as a holistic unit. This is a bit of a trade-off, and some cost-benefit evaluations will be needed to determine if a complete workflow overhaul will net positive or negative returns for the trouble. 

However, if maintaining the stability and functionality of other systems is of equal importance, then finding a CRM that can integrate with them successfully. Depending on what integrations are needed, there may be plug-ins or add-ons available already to users of the tool. 

For less common integrations, some more code-heavy API customization may be necessary. In these cases, it’s a good idea to ask which side of the client-vendor partnership will be building the integration. 

What should be avoided is the addition of a CRM that only further complicates workflows and requires additional manual processes to hold the system together. 

Marketing automation

Marketing automation is a specific example of the integration concerns above, but it merits its own spot on this list due to the amount of overlap between marketing and sales efforts. Like other sales-adjacent functions, there are a lot of advantages to having the CRM trigger automatic tasks such as sending confirmation emails, email nurture campaigns, and more.

Worst-case scenario, similar to what’s mentioned above, is that the new CRM complicates already existing processes, rather than integrating or replacing them. If your CRM or sales software adds another step in the process of, for example, sending outreach emails because staff members have to manually dig for contact info in the database, that’s a net loss.

At the very least, the CRM should leave any existing processes intact and unhindered. Most likely, however, your organization will benefit from some form of integration, or a CRM that includes marketing automation features natively. 

Quotes and invoicing

Next in line for important functions in the sales process that may or may not be handled by sales team members are financials, such as quotes, invoices, and other AP/AR responsibilities. The same philosophy applies here as above. If an all-in-one solution upgrades your workflow, prioritize that aspect in your research.

If integration will suffice, then double-check with vendors for the specific platforms you need to be interoperable. Even if your current process is efficient enough currently, be sure that the CRM doesn’t create additional headaches for anyone in the workflow. 

Data privacy

Cybersecurity is, arguably, a priority for every organization (or, at least it should be). Some verticals deal with higher risk than others, however, and may need additional security protocols for their CRM to protect themselves or even to comply with industry mandates.

This is one that may require consulting with IT, InfoSec, or other I&O staff in the organization. Many of the technical details that factor into whether or not a CRM is sufficiently secure may be outside the expertise of anyone without a background in computer systems, and it’s not one to leave to chance. 

Check with internal SMEs, and leverage their experience to further vet your shortlist of CRMs. It may even be worthwhile to have a 3rd-party vendor risk assessment done for any that meet all other criteria, just to cover your bases.

Project management

This list of supplemental functions that might be relevant would be pretty long if it were comprehensive. All-in-one systems, analytics and reporting, ease of use, pipeline management, and many more might fit here. Many of these have been touched on above, and others are likely known quantities already.

So instead, this part of the list will finish with one final consideration: project management. 

Organizations that have, until now, used less formalized workflow processes may not realize how much of an upgrade a well-designed project management strategy can be. As teams grow, workloads become heavier, and processes become more intricate and complex, tracking things on paper proves a substantial challenge. 

With effective implementation, project management tools can provide visibility and accountability across the board. Better still, it can help staff achieve greater levels of autonomy by giving them the tools needed to stay organized and on top of their responsibilities. 

Some CRM and sales software tools include project management (PM) features in their toolset, while others can integrate with popular platforms via APIs. Either way, for any team larger than a handful of employees, it’s worth discussing the potential value a CRM with PM enablement might bring to the table. 

Choosing the right CRM and sales software

Picking the right software, let alone the right CRM and sales software, is a far cry from guesswork. It takes extensive research and vetting of available options, which can drag the process out for weeks or months.


Corey Noles Avatar

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