Last updated on September 4th, 2019 at 09:05 pm
Choosing a CRM to track leads, sales, and follow-ups, is an important decision for any small business. We’re here to help you make the right decision.
We’ve reviewed the entire spectrum of CRM options: from simple, user-friendly platforms to specialized systems with 3000+ add-ons and integrations.
Our Top Choice For Small Business CRM: Zoho
Zoho is an excellent option if you require a CRM with a high degree of customization.
In addition to layout and features that can be modified in multiple ways.
Customizable CRM with Standout Automation Tools
Useful features Zoho offers include customer service case management, invoicing, territory management and website visitor tracking.
The trade-off for the high degree of customization is that Zoho can be quite complicated to use, and requires some training to get started.
At $20 for the Standard edition and $35 for the “Enterprise Edition, it’s more expensive than Insightly.
It is, however, considerably cheaper than Salesforce, its closest competitor in terms of features and automation.
Zoho both start at $12/user per month. However, to access the advanced tools that are its definite advantage, Zoho requires an additional $20/month
Complex Yet Manageable
Zoho is a little more complicated to get started with. As illustrated in the above screenshot, there are a greater variety of options.
The main menu bar has 25 different options, including contacts, leads, quotes, purchase orders, and vendors.
However, the pages are well organized and contain simple click to edit tools, which, along with quick loading times, create a smooth UX.
Admins can also customize and minimize the range of options under System settings.
Wide Array of Features
The clear winner of Zoho’s wide range of features is its automation capability.
This lets you customize a trigger rule allowing you to complete complex action without manual intervention.
Examples of triggers include assigning leads based on team location, notifying managers when deals
surpass a certain value, or following up with a lead after a specified time period has elapsed.
The possibilities are varied and can be customized to precisely suit your business requirements.
The Workflow automation is available on the Professional edition or above ($20/month+).
Zoho’s mobile app is definitely a highlight of the platform
It allows you to access almost all desktop features. And a definite perk: it works offline.
Pros: Like Insightly, Zoho’s app has the ability to call and map contacts directly from the app.
It also allows you to access, review, and create a range of modules such as contacts, accosts, lead, tasks, and events.
You can do this even if you’re offline. Zoho will synchronize as soon as you re-connect.
Cons: The few features you won’t be able to access from the App include Campaigns, Reports, Documents and Invoices.
Our 2nd Choice: Insightly - The Low-Cost Option
Insightly is the ideal CRM for small businesses. It is easy and intuitive to use, low-cost and requires no training to get started.
From its intuitive menus to simple admin tools, Insightly is designed for simplicity. Insightly’s advanced features include project management, customized productivity reports, and webform-to-lead integration.
Below is an in-depth review (with screenshots) of Insightly and two other top contenders: Zoho and Salesforce, ideal for larger teams with more customized needs.
Easy to Use CRM
Insightly requires no training to get started and has a smooth User Interface that ensures your employees will actually use the CRM.
Plus, it offers handy widgets within Gmail and Outlook, and integrations with business programs such as MailChimp, Xero, and Quickbooks.
With only a minimal degree of automation and a lack of hierarchical territory management, Insightly is inconvenient for sales teams of above 20 employees.
Ease of Use
Insightly is straightforward, even for first-time users. The user journey begins with a simple Add a Contact screen.
Add new users by entering their email address, and Manage access levels by clicking icons.
The option to create custom fields is available under System settings. No jargon. No training required.
Pros: You can call, text, or email contacts from within the app, and even maps their locations.
A big plus: save audio notes and scan business cards to save directly to your CRM.
It also allows access to key features of the desktop version, such as records, calendars, and the ability to create tasks and convert leads to opportunities.
Cons: The app doesn’t substitute for the browser version. Although great for users, it lacks admin tools such as changing system settings or extracting reports.
Also, the app doesn’t work offline, which limits its on-the-go usability. The app is available for Android and iOS and updated frequently.
Our Third Choice: Salesforce
As illustrated in the above screenshot, Salesforce opens on quite a bewildering back end.
Simple tasks such as adding users, assigning roles, or creating custom fields require toggling through multiple menus - Roles, Permission, Profiles- and more.
However, although difficult for administrators, Salesforce has an intuitive and minimalistic UX. Unfortunately, this otherwise smooth UX is hampered by the slow loading speeds.
Salesforce has nearly the same automation tools as Zoho. Where it excels is the ability to integrate 3rd party applications into your workflow.
The main differentiator between Zoho and Salesforce (in addition to the price tag) is Salesforce integration capability with 3000+ programs.
Integrating other programs and workflows, such as accounting, document management, or marketing, allows you to leverage the full potential of a CRM system.
We’ll go over the value of integrations in more detail in the Integrations section.
The wide range of specialized functions and backend tools require considerable training to understand and use.
Its also got a hefty price tag- $70/month for the professional version, and a hefty $150/ month to access the workflow automation that are the main advantage of using such a complex system.
Saleforce’s App makes you feel in control
Pros: A perfect substitute for the browser version. Full customization and complete control on the go.
Cons: The natural downside to this features heavy app is that it has slow loading times and a tendency to freeze.
Insightly, Zoho, Salesforce Price Comparison
Insightly and Zoho both start at $12/user per month. However, to access the advanced tools that are its definite advantage, Zoho requires an additional $ 20/month.
With similar prices, the tradeoff between Insightly Vs. Zoho s is ease of use vs. customizability.
Salesforce is considerably more expensive, at $150/month for the recommended Enterprise edition, and $75/month for the Professional edition.
CRM Key Features
All 3 programs have similar tools for managing your pipeline. These include standard features such as importing leads from spreadsheets or websites.
Assigning leads and tasks to your team, and forecasting your sales funnel and earnings. In addition to these basics, each of these 3 CRMs has its standout features.
We loved Insightly’s email integration and contact profile pages, which include notes and files, and serve as a central database.
When a lead is assigned to a salesperson, they can send saved email templates from within the system. Insightly also offers handy workflow automation tools.
For example, you can automatically assign pre-defined tasks to team members at each stage of a sale, such as Scheduling Demos or Approving proposals.
Once a sale is completed, this can be automatically converted to a project, with reports.
Importance of Ease of Use For CRM System
How easy to use CRM and how much training it requires to get started are important considerations when selecting a CRM.
Advanced features and integrations can be very powerful tools, but these are useless if your employees are unable or unwilling to use them.
A good CRM needs to get the basics right, and that’s exactly what Insightly does. It loads quickly, avoids excessive options, and gives you handy tools such as drag and drop or click to edit.
Add-ons and Integrations
Integrating your CRM will other business software exponentially increases its potential. Integrations allow you to efficiently harness various workflows into a single platform.
We’ve divided our review of integrations into two categories: Official integrations supported through the CRM company, and 3rd party integration through services like Zapier.
All three CRMs support Zapier, which allows access to over 450 business programs including Freshbooks, Quickbooks, Xero, Freshdesk, Basecamp, and Shopify.
However, these are fairly basic, involving data transfers, and may entail a fee payable through Zapier.
More complex integrations allow you to access workflows from within your CRM, such as accounting, invoicing, project management or help desk.
Of the 3 options, Salesforce offers the highest range of Official and complex integrations with over 3000 through the AppExchange.
Insightly supports integrations with most essential business programs. These include handy widgets for Gmail and Outlook 2013, and Accounting integrations with Quickbooks and Xero ensure your CRM contains payment statuses.
Insightly also offers access to hundreds of other apps Through Zapier and Automate.io. However, these tend to be basic integrations to enable data transfers between programs.
Like Insightly, Zoho allows integrations with a range of standard business products, including Mailchimp, Evernote, Outlook, and Gmail.
Great Ability to Integrate
What differentiates it from Insightly, however, is the ability to integrate a wide range of workflows into your CRM.
Website visitor tracking is one of the Zoho’s most powerful integrations; you can see in real-time when leads or contacts are on your website, and which pages they’re looking at.
Another integration we loved is RingCentral, which lets you make VoIP phone calls directly from within your CRM.
Zoho also offers a range of other products in addition to the CRM, including Zoho Projects, Zoho Support, Zoho Invoice, and Zoho Books.
Zoho's suite of products allows you to combine workflows in a powerful way. Salesforce offers a huge range of integrations.
There’s nearly 3,000 listed on the AppExchange, including productivity apps, accounting, contract management, and eCommerce.
Integrations available on the $75/month professional plan include Mapping and Document Management and Data transfers Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF.
Our favorite integration by far, however, is the LinkedIn widget. This lets you view CRM data in LinkedIn as you browse through profiles.
However, to access the full potential of Salesforce and its integrations, you’ll need the Automation feature, available on the $150/month Enterprise account.
With the powerful combination of integration + automation, you’ll be able to do some very useful things.
With E-Signatures, for examples, you can E-sign documents from within Salesforce. The deal will be automatically marked complete, and trigger the next stage of the sale.
We also loved Direct Mail. Using an App like Cloud2You, you can automatically trigger postcards, such as a Thank you note when a deal is closed or a payment completed.
Niche CRM Options: Nimble, Hatchback, and More
Insightly, Zoho, and Salesforce are the best options respectively, in 3 segments of small-business CRMs: standard, customizable, and highly specialized.
However, every business is unique, and in some cases, a Niche CRM may be required.
Here’s a selection of the Niche CRMs we reviewed.
Highlights include Nimble, designed for businesses that acquire through social media, and Hatchback, tailored for E-Commerce ventures invested in email marketing.
One of the most user-friendly CRMs on the market. Intuitive designs and menus drag and drop features, and excellent customer support- should you ever need it. Its highly-rated mobile app allows access to main CRM features.
Social Media Users
Nimble centralize your social media platforms into a single contact book, inbox.
By pulling together platforms into a single database, Nimble optimizes your networks to mine new customers.
Hatchbuck uses strategic email marketing to get more leads, nurtures prospects, and upsell or cross-sell.
Microsoft Integrations and Offline Access
This CRM integrates other Microsoft Business applications- including SharePoint, Outlook and Office 365- into a single workflow. The Outlook Integration also allows offline access to some features.
Open Source Customization
With full access to source code, SugarCRM allows total customization capabilities to suit even the most complex business requirements.
Bitrix24 is great for Remote Teams and collaborative workflows, including handy tools like project management, web/video chat, and document sharing.
Our Final Review on the Best CRM Software for Small Business
We definitely recommend Insightly as the best CRM for Small Business. Small Businesses tend to use CRMs for fairly standard tasks, such as tracking leads, sales, and managing follow-ups.
Insightly gets these essentials right. Its immensely easy to navigate, and requires no training to get started.
Even the most complex CRMs won’t be of much use if team members don’t understand the tools or regularly use the system.
Plus, Insightly has quite a few powerful features and integrations. And at only $12/month, it’s very affordable.