Best CRM software 2021

The best CRM software solutions work across your business, optimising customer relations and all your customer-related activity. 

They act as a hub for storing contact information, tracking multiple sales pipelines, assigning tasks to staff members, logging customer communications, and evaluating the performance of sales and marketing activities.

It enables someone in a sales team, for example, to scan a prospect’s business card, create a follow-up task, log a phone call, send an email campaign, see recent social media posts, close a deal, and track the status of the project, all in the same software solution.

In this article, we unpick the main features and benefits of CRM software and outline the best solutions on the market.

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What to consider with CRM software


Many businesses use some form of customer relationship management (CRM) system to nurture and monetize relationships with their prospects, customers, and partners.

To begin with, this can be a spreadsheet, but, as a business grows, investing in a CRM solution can increase productivity and help close more deals.

The focus of each CRM software solution varies from project management tools to marketing automation to lead generation, so look for the specs that fit your requirements. 

To support you in your decision-making, below we address some of the most frequently asked questions about CRM software.

CRM software helps you manage relationships with business prospects, close deals, and making internal resources more productive. In practice, it enables you to do the following:

  • Store data about your contacts, including names, job titles, emails, and phone numbers.
  • Assign and track workflow tasks to sales teams, such as sending follow-up emails, writing business proposals, and tracking invoices.
  • Analyze and improve the effectiveness of sales and marketing activities through generating custom reports, forecasting future revenue, and anticipating sales bottlenecks.

CRM software equips you with tools that help you win new business. These include automatic workflows, email templates and campaigns, and performance reporting.

salesforce dashboard

Many CRM solutions, such as Salesforce above, offer desktop and mobile apps. (Image credit: Salesforce)

Without a CRM solution, you’d be doing significant manual work to store, track, and interact with contacts, and the sales pipeline would be more sluggish without automation or reminders. 

Many CRM solutions can integrate with software including Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, Slack, Mailchimp, and business intelligence programs such as Microsoft Power BI. 

Populating your CRM database with customer data from elsewhere tends to be seamless: most providers allow imports from spreadsheets or contact apps such as Google Contacts.

How much does CRM software cost?

CRM software is usually priced as a monthly or yearly subscription, with plans varying in feature complexity. Usually, the quoted price is per user, unless stated otherwise. 

Many vendors offer unlimited free tiers, while paid plans grow in functionality from Starter to Professional to Enterprise. Sometimes, add-ons come at an extra cost; for example, phone credits, premium support, or access to automated marketing tools.

The first paid tier in CRM software, which generally works well for small businesses, tends to be between $8 per month to $29 per month, charged on a yearly basis. 

Mid-tier plans fit growing businesses and are priced between $20 to $75 per month. As a benchmark, Zoho CRM packs a competitive set of features in its affordable $23 monthly Professional plan. 

Finally, the Enterprise or higher tiers tend to be on the expensive side, offering customization options and a higher level of support: the range is from $40 to $150 monthly, with HubSpot’s full CRM suite reaching a whopping $4,000 per month.

CRM software compared

CRM softwareLowest monthly feeFree versionKey featuresSupport
Freshworks CRM$15/userFree plan; 21-day free trialDeal management AI; In-built calling toolPhone and email support, Mon–Fri
Insightly$29/userFree plan; Two-week trialDatabase and workflow customization; Powerful reporting integrationsEmail support only; Premium phone and training support costs $1500/ year
HubSpot CRM$45/two usersFree plan; 14-day free trialCombined sales and marketing workflow; Website usage analyticsLive chat, phone, and online meeting support
Apptivo$8/userFree plan; 30-day free trialNative apps including invoice generator; Up to 10GB cloud storageLive chat, email, phone support; 24/7 on Ultimate plans
Zoho CRM$14/userFree plan; 15-day free trialLead generation through website scraping; Deal management AIEmail support, Mon–Fri
Salesforce (US link)$25/user30-day free trialSophisticated workflow automation; Enterprise app developmentEmail ticketing and toll-free phone

CRM features and benefits explained

Contact / lead management

Storing and using prospect details to nurture relationships are at the core of a CRM system. Integrations with contact apps and social media accounts are a plus, maximizing lead information for sales teams.

Deal management

When there’s a sales opportunity, the deal management feature helps increase productivity so your team can close the deal. This can include setting milestones, tasks, and deadlines.

Workflow automation

Automation can get critical tasks done while saving time: for example, email templates can be scheduled to go out to prospects when they reach a certain stage in the sales funnel.

Bulk emails

Sending bulk emails to contacts can advance relationships and save sales teams a lot of time. You can usually store and personalize email templates and customize recipient groups.

Call and email logs

Keeping track of customer communications in a centralized CRM platform removes the need to rely on human memory and ensures teams are equipped with the latest information on the relationship.

Lead generation

A good CRM system helps you gather new leads in a cost-efficient way. This can include inputting business card data via mobile app and scraping the internet for specific customer profiles.

Lead assignment

If you’ve got a growing sales team, being able to assign leads to staff members is key to ensuring the best person is on the case, thus increasing the chances of closing deals.

Reporting and analytics

Customizing and exporting reports on your sales and marketing activities helps you learn from successful deals and focus your attention on high-likelihood prospects.

Drag-and-drop sales pipeline

For manual changes to your pipeline activities, drag-and-drop Kanban-style boards are a quick and easy way to update the status of different deals.

Third-party integration

Integrating with other business software increases the information you have on contacts and can add new features, such as email campaign management. 

CRM software reviews

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Best CRM Software

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