Best CRM for Small Business in 2021

Updated on July 21st, 2021
Best CRM for Small Business in 2021

It's 2021, and you're a small business owner who's having trouble getting that customer number to go up. Although you know you need lead management, sales pipeline management, and social media marketing, nothing you try works. You're stuck with hundred uninterested followers.

Since you don't have the money for a top-level sales and marketing campaign, you start to dig for a customer relationship management (CRM) for small businesses that might help out.

One of them offers marketing automation, the other has a free trial, and the third one sweares that it has the best CRM tools for project management. With so many CRM solutions, it gets impossible to pick the best one for you.

You want to track your leads and turn them into customers. You don't have time to figure out third-party integrations. You hardly have time for anything else but your small business. You need CRM software that saves time, not take it away.

Nevertheless, you know customer relationship is vital for your small business. Good customers are hard to come by, while it's super easy to lose them. Research shows that 59% of loyal customers will leave after just several negative experiences.

To make your customer relationships easier, we list the best CRMs for small businesses in 2021 (maybe even 2022). In this blog post, we will go over each of these solutions with pros and cons so that you can pick the one that works best for you!

Zoho CRM

Price: $9-$65 per user per month

Free Trial: Yes

Besides being one of the cheaper options out there that won't necessarily make a hole in your wallet, the biggest strength of Zoho CRM is its integration possibilities and packages. While many business owners shrug at the thought of having countless software solutions, if you're running a remote sales team, marketing, and customer service, you probably need software or two to keep the ship afloat.

A small business that has a lot of moving parts can break easily.  Zoho CRM does a terrific job of putting all your core solutions such as Google Workspace (G Suite), Slack, and QuickBooks in a single place.

This way, Zoho CRM is more of a team management solution than a classic CRM. Nevertheless, Zoho CRM has a couple of aces in its sales/marketing sleave. These marketing tools come in several different packages; six, to be precise.

Free CRM

The free CRM comes with the essential tools you'd expect from a CRM platform.  The Free plan allows you to have three users, and it has features for contact, account, and lead management. It also includes customer data reports, workflow rules, web forms, email marketing templates that help you track visitors to your website. You can also collaborate with other team members through group calendars or direct messaging.

Overall, there's nothing flashy to it, but you're a small group of enthusiastic entrepreneurs, the free version of CRM is an excellent place to start.

Bigin

Bigin is the least expensive option with its $9 per user/month. The CRM features aim at tech-savvy small businesses that enjoy trying out new technology and getting the most out of each feature.

It's practical, it's slick, but it doesn't go overboard with infinite numbers of tools; quite the contrary. Bigin feels a bit more intuitive than your average CRM. Additionally, the mobile app is intuitive, and it doesn't negate the effectiveness of the desktop version. The CRM is all about helping your sales reps create a working pipeline so they can genuinely engage with prospects. As such, it's a great CRM for your small business processes.

Standard

Standard will cost you $20 per user/month. It gets easier to branch out with CRM features such as sales forecast, mass email, and social marketing lead generation. More tools, but also more customer interactions and more sales.

It's still a primary CRM/small business type of solution, but it's a step up from the first two. Although data entry is the same, the data reports have more helpful information to dig your claws into.

Professional

Besides moving the price to $35 per user/month, there's no significant difference between the two. You get slightly better security, larger quantities of reports, webhooks, emails, and inventory management options. Furthermore, you can gamify your sales and user experience.

The professional package sidesteps into the medium business zone, but is still useful for small businesses that focus heavily on marketing sales, have an inventory, and need proper workflow automation.

Enterprise & Ultimate

Since both Enterprise ($50 per user/month) and Ultimate ($65 per user/month) are CRM systems that aim at larger businesses and enterprises, we won't cover them. Keep in mind that both options are a solid upgrade for anyone looking to transform their small business into a big player if you end up liking Zoho.

Zendesk Sell

Price: Starts at Starts at $19 per user per month

Free Trial: Yes

Zendesk Sell is another solid small business CRM solution that's surprisingly easy to master. The main user interface has all the CRM tools you'll need in a single window, so there's no need to click around aimlessly.

All features like contact management and pipeline management are in a single place, so you can effortlessly jump from one to the other.

The central goal of Zendesk Sell is to boost sales by making the sales process easier for your team. If your small business has many deals going on, you can easily track them in the deal pannel. The neat sorting in incoming, contacted, proposal, won, and other sections provide a bird-eye view of each deal's current status.

You can interact with each deal without having a dozen open tabs while still keeping it easy to backtrack to the original page.

If Zendesk Sell does one thing right is contact management. It's incredibly easy to schedule phone calls with customers and other business owners while still keeping everything organized. Most of the manual work, like call records and customer data storage, is automatic. CRM cuts the right corners, freeing up your valuable time to focus on other tasks at hand.

An average business gets lost in the information fairly quickly. Still, with this CRM, you can store a hefty amount of customer data and reports without having a clogged interface after a couple of months.

Hubspot CRM Software

Price: Starts at $50.00 per month

Free Trial: Yes

It might sound scary when you realize that about 50% of your prospects won't buy what you're selling. Since it's almost impossible to know how the customer will react until the very end, it's imperative to have strong customer support.

Although only 50% of your leads will end up as clients, you still need to treat each one as your number one customer. Naturally, that takes a lot of work.

HubSpot CRM is a well know customer relationship management (CRM) software on the market. Businesses of all sizes use this cloud-based solution to boost their sales and maintain favorable customer relationships. Tools like live chat, marketing, sales, and service are all available.

Best of all, if you're a small business or a startup, you can get the basic CRM package free of charge. You won't get the flashy CRM features but will get everything you need to start.

HubSpot CRM is like a well-oiled machine that doesn't offer "mouth-watering" solutions that will make your "tech-senses" tingle. Instead, it provides background, artificial intelligence features that you won't see, but you'll know they are there within the first hours of using the CRM.

The CRM system provides a visual dashboard and real-time view of all elements in the sales process, allowing for automatic tracking of every customer interaction. The system organizes exchanges into a timeline by lead, whereas email, social media, live chat, or phone conversations.

Finally, the HubSpot CRM marketing and sales pipeline helps small business owners to track prospects, generate leads, manage email-based campaigns, and more.

The streamlined process not only increases your chances with each lead but also opens up time for other business activities. If you end up liking the free version and feel like you're ready to scale up, it's easy to integrate other tools with the HubSpot CRM.

Just keep in mind that the free version has its limits, and opting for the Starter plan ($50 per month) is likely the logical next step. Nevertheless, although you can argue it's one of the best CRM software, the best CRM in the free universe.

Once the price stacks up, the difference between HubSpot CRM and other CRM solutions starts to diminish. It's not that HubSpot CRM becomes worse, but there are better options for a smaller price out there.

Nevertheless, the free option is a powerful incentive. The idea that you don't have to pay to dip your toes in the CRM ocean is fantastic. Overall, an excellent CRM solution for businesses just starting, with the likelihood to stay your go-to CRM in the long run.

Less Annoying CRM

Price: $15 per user per month

Free Trial: Yes

Less Annoying CRM is a CRM solution for small businesses. The name fits the CRM quite well since the software excludes the fluff and "flashy" features that often confuse people.

The whole point of Less Annoying CRM is to be as simple as possible. Many CRM solutions pack the user interface with countless options that speed up the sales process and enhance business via marketing automation. This CRM system does the opposite, which is both good and bad, depending on what you need.

On the good side, Less Annoying is likely the perfect small business CRM if you're starting to develop your customer relationship management.

There's a single pricing plan, and it's effortless to start. Once you enter, you have everything you'd expect from a CRM. You can organize your sales teams, contact management, project management, and a simple calendar to have a nice overview of your workflow.

Less Annoying doesn't advertise with bleeding-edge technology. Instead, the punchline is its simplistic nature. Unlike other CRMs for small businesses, it offers what you need and what it provides; it does pretty well. 

It can be misleading to think that it's easy to provide a simple CRM solution and thus, move on to another option. But once you try it, it will surprise you how intuitive the entire CRM is. Additionally, the customer support is responsive, and even you feel stuck, you'll likely find a solution if you get in touch.

The flip side of this simplicity is restrictiveness. While small businesses won't hit a wall with this CRM system, companies with bigger, multiple teams might. It all comes down to what you're looking for. If you're a small business, this CRM software will provide everything you need. If you're running a more prominent company, other options have the features you need.

Freshworks CRM

Price: $29-$99 per user per month

Free Trial:

Similar to Less Annoying, Freshworks CRM does a great job of avoiding the complex technology trap. The first time you log in, you have plenty of tutorials to help you learn the ropes. Additionally, there's a friendly AI assistant to help out if you get stuck. More importantly, there's a free plan you can pick.

But Freshworks CRM takes an additional step by providing optional, more robust features. You can decide if you want to stay with the basic CRM or you want to customize a more advanced CRM system unique for your business.

With the drag and drop option, you can create a sales pipeline pretty quickly, and unlike with other mobile apps, you can do a hefty amount of the work straight from your phone. 

There are also many tags at your disposal to maintain a better overview of each lead, such as "at-risk" or "prioritize." Additionally, you can record phone calls and save them for future reference.

On the downside, Freshworks CRM isn't too flexible for small businesses looking to test CRM software. Yes, there's a free plan, but you won't get the best features. To be fair, every CRM solution locks its best features behind a paid plan; it's just how the business works.

But for example, the free plan doesn't offer data reports. Since every business needs data for decision-making, you'll either jump to the paid plan or move on to another CRM.

Agile CRM

Price: $14.99 per user per month

Free Trial: Yes

First of all, Agile CRM also offers a free version for up to 10 users on your sales team. For a free version, Agile CRM comes with a decent amount of tools. You can do email marketing, create a custom sales pipeline, and do your usual project management. You also don't get limited by a specific number of tasks or documents you can make. Furthermore, you can access everything via an intuitive mobile app.

The fact you get all these features puts it on the list of the best CRM software with a great free package. If you decide to go with the paid version, you'll also get a remarkable landing page builder tool, marketing automation for social media, etc.

Besides focusing on sales, email marketing, and lead management, Agile comes with a couple of fun features for your sales reps as well. There's gamification that creates healthy competition inside your sales teams while encouraging collaboration.

This might not seem much, but sales success depends on how well sales reps are performing. Although you're likely to focus on data, numbers, and charts, keep in mind the team's morale plays a vital role as well.

So although it might not seem much at first, having the possibility to gamify the entire process can provide a slight advantage if you play your cards right.

You can also use the platform for phone calls, both outbound and inbound. Finally, you can automatize call forwarding, follow-ups, and voicemail, so you don't have to do it every time you're working on something else.

Agile is a great CRM platform for managing multiple campaigns at once if you're heavy on marketing. The CRM alerts whenever someone mentions your brand and also helps with monitoring the overall customer satisfaction. If you need a CRM that, besides project management, also allows you to stay on top of trends and social media, Agile is among the best CRM software.

Insightly CRM

Price: $29-$39 per user per month

Free Trial: Yes

Insigtly CRM offers everything small businesses need, from retailers to online businesses. If you're a 2-people team, you get Insightly for free with most of the necessary features.

What makes it worthwhile is that you can combine your sales and project delivery inside a single platform. Meaning, sales reps don't have to jump from one platform to another while working on a lead and wanting to check how the latest marketing project is developing.

The design is intuitive and dynamic, so users that are new to CRM won't feel like in a boxing ring. It's straightforward to find your way and backtrack whenever you want to go back to what you previously did.

The fact that Insightly offers a solid range of features, it's surprising how well everything performs. You can store data without worrying that you'll lose it or forget. What often happens is that stored data gets lost in countless projects and folders to the point where you start collecting it all over again.

But Insightly offers an almost intuitive reminder thanks to the design. Meaning, you'll likely stumble upon the data you need without having to search for it consciously.

This is a great CRM software for businesses that are only starting and are figuring out their workflow automation. But, if you're a purely sales-oriented business, other small business CRM software will be a better fit. Another thing worth mentioning, if you rely heavily on phone calls in your sales project, Insightly might not be the best option.

How to Choose the Right Small Business CRM (Customer Relationship Management)?

The most common thing any small business looks for when picking the right CRM software is secure data storage, intuitive design, lead management, customer management, and mobile apps. But since there isn't a genuinely best CRM software out there, you need to know how to pick the right one for you.

Given that about 22% of business owners see new technology as the biggest hurdle for the company, picking the right CRM can be daunting.  But, you also need to consider that a 5% increase in customer retention can boost profits by a minimum of 25%. In other words, great CRM software is an investment worth making. To help you out, here are some tips when picking the right CRM for your small business.

Step 1: Know What You Need

Yes, you need a CRM that helps you manage customers to increase profit. But you need to go deeper than that. Increasing profits is the goal, but not the road that takes you to the finish line.

There are nuances you need to be aware of. Are you looking for a CRM to help you with marketing? Or maybe, you focus on sales and don't care if you have an online presence or not.

Similarly, do you offer consumer financing or not? If you are, you probably want to invest in CRM that offers great customer communication options.

To find the right CRM software, you need to figure out what type of activity you want to track. Additionally, ask employees about their experiences and how a CRM helps them. More often than not, your sales team will have a better idea of what features can boost the overall process.

Without knowing what you need, searching for a CRM is like going into battle without knowing if it's a gun or knife fight.

Step 2: Check What Each CRM Offers

Every small business CRM that's worth something knows that they have to be clear about their strong points. Meaning, it's easy to find out what the features are simply by visiting their website.

The basic features almost every small business needs are:

  • contact management
  • marketing automation
  • task management
  • data storage
  • lead tracking

When browsing different options, keep in mind the key features and how valuable they are to you. Additionally, ensure to check their approach to data. Without an intuitive and secure way to store data, you'll quickly end up with a mess that will take longer time to clean than it would to pick another CRM software.

Another general aspect to keep in mind is how customer-oriented the solution is. If you're already running some task management system, maybe you can integrate the new CRM. This way, you're saving time on starting from scratch.

Finally, what might be a great solution now, might not be tomorrow. If you have plans to scale your business, ensure that the CRM can follow.

Step 3: Test the CRM

Same as with a car, it isn't possible to get the genuine feel for a CRM until you try it out. Most CRM providers offer a test period of up to 30 days, while some companies offer a free plan.

Furthermore, see if they offer a live introduction where a representative shows you how the CRM works. This is also an excellent opportunity to ask questions based on your previous research from step 1.

After testing it out, take your time and discuss with your team if the CRM seems like the right fit for your small business needs.

Making the Job Easier for Yourself and Customers

A proper CRM is here to remove the barriers that keep your potential customers from reaching out to you for service. The more obstacles you remove, the better the chances.

But getting in touch with a client is only a single step in the overall process. Getting someone's attention is one thing, but getting them to act is ultimately another game.

The client is here to give you their hard-earned money for your service or product. Meaning, no matter how attractive your website is, if it doesn't pay off for the client, that's where the story ends.

With that, make sure you create an effective sales flow and that you choose the right CRM to support this flow. That, along with competitive financing solutions, is guaranteed to set your business in the growth lane.

Sara Hafeman
Sara Hafeman

With years of experience in the consumer financing industry, Sara Hafeman currently leads marketing and partner development at Time Investment.