Small businesses need to be as dynamic as possible in order to be successful. With limited resources and a small team of staffers, small businesses are always on the lookout for ways to maximize efficiency and output. They need to consistently identify inefficiencies in their process in order to work as effectively as possible. Increasingly, software is one of the first things that small businesses turn to for increased efficiency—and in particular, customer relationship management (CRM) software. With a strong CRM system in place, a small business can operate like a large one, and a small team can achieve the output of a team many times larger.
But what does a CRM solution do, and how does it benefit small business? Let’s start with the basics. It provides your business with a single repository of contact information. Each contact in the database—leads and customers alike—has their own contact page, and all the details about that individual and their company are stored there. It also tracks all your opportunities back to these contacts. All of that information is collaboratively updated by everyone who uses the system. Some solutions integrate with marketing automation and customer support solutions, and in those cases the system stores even more data. Some CRMs even provide those capabilities out of the box, which is a great benefit for small business. We’ll dig into this below, as we cover the 10 best CRM tools for small business.
Agile CRM provides the most extensive feature set among the top 10. That’s because it is more than a customer relationship management solution. Agile provides a complete, end-to-end business management solution, delivering full CRM and sales enablement features, along with a full marketing automation suite and a customer support module, all in one platform. With Agile CRM you also get an open API that lets you integrate many third-party applications with the core system, so anything you can’t do out of the box can be accomplished with a widget. Plus, the system is fully mobile-ready.
Agile’s sales suite offers over 50 sales automation features, including customizable deal tracks, gamification to increase sales, and many more. It’s CRM capabilities include a complete 360-degree contact view, and even built-in telephony. It delivers marketing automation features such as landing pages, forms, lead scoring, drip campaigns, email marketing and social CRM. You also get a customer support module, with help desk ticketing, service level agreements, dedicated help desk groups, and more. You would expect this large feature set to raise the price significantly, but Agile CRM offers a free package for up to 10 users. You get additional contacts and added features with the “Starter” package for $8.99/user/month, making it one of the best CRM tools for small businesses.
Nutshell claims to be the “CRM your sales team will actually use.” The price of the system and the service provided makes it a good option for small businesses. The system provides basic CRM features, such as contact interaction tracking, reporting, task management and so on. What sets Nutshell apart from the competition—according to the company—is an intuitive interface and its ease of use. Nutshell commits to having new customers up and running in less than 24 hours, whereas many CRMs require extensive onboarding and training before new users are ready to get to work. With Nutshell, you will sacrifice some functionality that you would expect from other providers, but you will get a system that’s relatively easy to use, which is an asset to small businesses. Their starter package begins at $19/user/month.
You can get a free version of Capsule CRM, albeit with limited functionality compared to its fee-based solution. That free version provides you with up to 10MB of online storage, a 250-contact database and unlimited opportunities for two users. If you want to move up to the “Professional” plan, Capsule CRM gives you 2GB of online storage and 50,000 contacts for $12/user/month—which is a fairly large contact database for the price. With that plan, you receive essential CRM functionality, such as contact management, email tracking, and pipeline reporting. Plus, with that package you also have the ability to integrate with a number of third-party applications, which will enable you to use the system as a base from which to manage other parts of your business. The cost is agreeable to small business, so be sure to check it out when weighing your options.
Base has positioned itself an all-in-one sales platform, offering a “Starter” version of its solution—starting at $45 per user, per month—that provides sales tracking and contact management. At that price point, it would be a good choice for a small to medium-sized business that has grown somewhat and can afford the price tag. With the starter version mentioned above, you get a customized sales pipeline, basic reporting and full mobile access. Their next two levels up—which come in at $95/user/month and $145/user/month, respectively—offer expanded sales functionality such as task automation, funnel forecasting and predictive sales analytics. Base also offers a host of add-on modules that provide things like communication and invoicing capabilities. Most small businesses would only be interested in the Starter version, due to the price of the next tiers up. But some, depending on budget, might feel it’s advantageous to look at those add-on modules as well.
Nimble’s presence in the market is proceeded by its claim to be a social sales and marketing CRM. Nimble does, indeed, offer robust social media capabilities, including the ability to import contacts from various social networks into the CRM. It can also help you discontinue your Hootsuite account by letting you post to social networks from within the system. It delivers the standard CRM capabilities that many expect and also some limited marketing automation functionality. All of this, combined with a price of $9/user/month for its “Contact” package, makes Nimble a good CRM tool for small business.
BatchBook is a CRM tool that was explicitly developed for small businesses. New customers can start out with their base package—which they refer to as “Essential”—which offers partial functionality for $19.95/user/month. Then, the next tier up provides full functionality for $39.95/user/month. With the Essential plan, users get contact tracking and management, and the ability to tag contacts for better organization and execution of sales outreach. You can create custom fields in order to configure the system to speak the same language that you do in your day-to-day job. It provides you with an at-a-glance view of your sales pipeline. Plus, you get task automation so that projects stay ahead of schedule and things don’t fall through the cracks. Finally, it provides mobile access, which makes it a good CRM tool for small businesses that need the ability to work on the go.
Streak has one particularly unique characteristic, which is that it is actually a Google Chrome extension rather than a standalone CRM solution. This means that in order to use the system, you must be using Google Chrome, because the system bases its contact management on Google Contacts, and the email features it provides require the use of Gmail. This may actually be a good thing for very new small businesses with employees who are accustomed to working with Google’s G Suite. Streak gives you basic CRM features like a view of your pipeline, but overall it is not heavy on traditional CRM features. The value here comes from the ability to work in G Suite, which is also a benefit for the non-tech savvy. It provides a free package, making it a good CRM tool for small businesses with limited resources.
With Big Contacts, you get a CRM solution along with a few light marketing features to help you grow your small business. Big Contacts offers a base package that is very limited in features and functionality. It’s second-tier (“Bigger”) package provides many more features and costs $15/user/month. With that package, you get database storage for up to 10,000 contacts. The system supports importing contacts and contact data from spreadsheets, as well as capturing leads at trade shows by scanning business cards, and online via web forms. You also get opportunity tracking, limited email blast capabilities and the ability to monitor social media from within the system. With a relatively low price point and a few features that go beyond typical CRM functionality, Big Contacts’ Bigger package is a sound investment for small businesses.
Zoho is growing in popularity, and indeed is a viable option for any small business looking for value for their buck. The system rightfully receives attention for the massive amount of contacts you get with its “Standard” package—100,000 to be exact—which runs $12/user/month. For that price, you get sales forecasting, lead scoring, emailing, reporting and an attractive dashboard to provide you with the insight you need at a glance. You can also pay more for additional features that don’t come with the Standard package. One caveat here is that although you get so many contacts for a low price, the vast majority of small businesses won’t have anywhere near that many contacts to store. If they did, they would probably no longer be a small business. At any rate, it’s still a decent option for small businesses simply based on its cost and the features it provides.
Daylite provides very extensive contact profiles, allowing users to view ample amounts of information and insight into each contact in the database. It also delivers project management capabilities, as well as a few marketing automation features that let users manage some of their marketing efforts from the system—these include email blasts and list segmentation. It also provides you with mobile access, which means that the $29/user/month price tag is acceptable for many small businesses. The only downside to Daylite is that it is only available on Mac. However, more and more small businesses are leveraging Macs these days, so it’s still a viable option for small businesses who prefer Macs over PCs.