The Top 8 Small Business CRM Systems in 2021

best crm systems for small businesses

By Rob Binns | Senior Writer | Updated: 8 January 2021

We’ve researched, ranked, and rated the eight best small business CRM systems for businesses. Find yours today, and compare tailored quotes from suppliers

Salesforce vector HubSpot logo white Zendesk logo table transparent Freshworks CRM mini logo white Microsoft Dynamics 365 vector SugarCRM logo table transparent Zoho vector logo vector small
Price from: £20* £33.60* £5* £25* £39* £64* £10* £35**
Free trial? 14 days None 30 days 21 days Yes Sugar Sell only None 14 days
Free version? No Yes No Yes No No Yes No
Audit trail? £ £ ? X
VoIP capability? £ £ £ £ X X
Segmentation? £ X
Dashboards? £
Social tracking? X X X

Compare small business CRM quotes

*Per user, per month

**For up to five users

= The product supports this feature

£ = The product can support this feature, though it may only be available on a premium plan, or require an additional integration with a third-party supplier

? = It's unclear if the product supports this feature – either because it's not clearly advertised, or because the functionality may be achievable via a workaround or stand-in feature

X = The product does not support this feature

Sometimes, it’s the smallest of businesses that come with the largest of workloads. Contact numbers, emails, spreadsheets, folders… it’s enough to make your head explode. How do you keep tabs on all the admin, while keeping all your staff on the same page?

With a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, that’s how. It’s software that’ll help you automate your customer service team’s issue management efforts, and tailor your marketing campaigns for better results. CRM software also acts as a central hub for all your business’ lead, deal, and client information, accessible any time, and from anywhere in the world.

Choosing to start using a CRM is the easy part. But choosing exactly which CRM is right for your small business? Well, that’s a tad more difficult.

That’s why we’ve researched, rated, and reviewed eight of the industry’s key suppliers. You can view our methodology here, or read on to start scrutinising suppliers. Or, if you’re short on time and just want to begin comparing quotes, we can help with that, too.

Simply provide us with some details about your requirements, and the type of CRM software you might be interested in. In return, we’ll put you in touch with leading CRM suppliers, who’ll provide you with quotes tailored to your business.

The top small business CRM systems

According to our experts’ research, the best CRM for small businesses is Salesforce. Joining the industry leader at the summit of small business CRM excellence are HubSpot, Zendesk, Freshworks, Microsoft Dynamics 365, SugarCRM, Zoho, and

Read on to find out why, or to learn more about the criteria we used to rate these suppliers, skip to our section ‘How we rated the best small business CRM’ below.

1. Salesforce

18% of the CRM market share, and a favourite of 99% of Fortune100 companies? ‘Nuff said. Offering thousands of app integrations, unlimited contacts, and just about every feature a small business could ask for, Salesforce is our top selection.

Function Starting price Highest price
Sales/Service £20 per user, per month £240 per user, per month
Marketing £320 per month £1,000 per month
Analytics £60 per user, per month £120 per user, per month
Customer support: Live chat, phone (24/7), email, knowledge centre
Data storage limit: 10GB + 2GB per licence of files, 10GB + 20MB per licence of data
Contact limit: No limit
Integrations: Salesforce has a large app exchange (conveniently titled ‘AppExchange’), where you can connect the CRM to over 2,000 third-party applications.

Data import and export? Both.

Document storage? Yes.

Audit trail? Yes.

VoIP capability? Yes.

Segmentation? Yes.

Dashboards? Yes.

Ecommerce integration? Yes.

Social tracking? Yes.


  • Its ‘Einstein Analytics’ add-on is one of the most advanced reporting tools money can buy
  • No contact limit
  • Free trial available for sales, service, and analytics modules...

X Cons:

  • … but not for its marketing automation product
  • 24/7 phone-based support is restricted to Salesforce’s more expensive pricing plans
Ask The Experts
Question symbol

What's it like to use Salesforce?

Lucy Crossfield

We spoke to Laura Hogan, owner of Birmingham-based marketing agency Sweet Digital (formerly Jellybean), to learn more about how her business uses Salesforce.

Q: How easy do you find Salesforce to use?

“Salesforce has been Sweet Digital's CRM resource for sales, marketing, and automation since we started. Salesforce at full use has been transformative to our sales and marketing functions; however, it took us several months of perseverance to understand how it can best work for our business. This involved taking a trial and error approach to some of its functions, and the customer service and technical support at Salesforce are not very responsive or helpful when issues arise.”

Q: What feature of Salesforce do you find most useful?

“We’ve found Salesforce’s most useful feature to be the level of customisation possible. As a business, we like to generate regular pipeline and forecast reports that we can relay into our team, and many of the CRM systems we've tried over the years haven't been capable of generating reports that reflect our industry or our sales process. 

“Salesforce’s breadth of features means that once it’s set up and honed to your needs, you can spend more time speaking to actual clients and prospects who are likely to convert. It also means you can spend less time trying to save, edit, amend, and update CRM records (which with other CRM software is really frustrating).”

Q: What thing about Salesforce would you change?

“Like all businesses, we find Salesforce to be incredibly expensive compared to its competitors. Still, Salesforce has become a core part of our business planning. At £60 per user per month, the cost of the CRM is significantly more than other options. However, it is so heavily ingrained into our business that the cost of removing and retraining staff would also be expensive.”

Piqued your interest? Read more about what the market leader can do for your business with our Salesforce review, rewritten for the new decade.

2. HubSpot

Known for its powerful (albeit expensive) marketing automation tools, HubSpot offsets its large price tag with a free plan and top-notch customer support. Add in generous data and contact limits, discounts for startups, and an extensive knowledge base, and HubSpot more than merits its lofty position on our list.

Try HubSpot for free, today
Function Starting price Highest price
Sales/Service £33.60 per user, per month (free version available) £990 per user, per month (minimum of 10 users required)
Marketing £33.60 per user, per month £2,624 per month (for up to 10,000 contacts)
Customer support: Live chat, phone, email, knowledge centre
Data storage limit: 1,000 documents to no limit (dependent on plan)
Contact limit: Most HubSpot products have no limits, though its marketing offering restricts you to between 1,000 and 10,000 contacts (dependent on plan)
Integrations: HubSpot integrates with over 300 applications via the HubSpot App Marketplace.

Are you a startup? You might be eligible for 90% off, with HubSpot’s ‘HubSpot for Startups’ program.

Data import and export? Both.

Document storage? Yes, though this feature is only available with HubSpot’s ‘Sales Pro’ plan.

Audit trail? Yes.

VoIP capability? Yes.

Segmentation? Yes.

Dashboards? Yes.

Ecommerce integration? Yes.

Social tracking? Yes.


  • Fantastic customer approval ratings
  • Extensive knowledge base
  • Slick user interface

X Cons:

  • Among the more expensive CRM systems you’ll find – particularly its marketing automation module
  • Onboarding fees apply
Did You Know?

You might be eligible for 90% off, with HubSpot’s ‘HubSpot for Startups’ program.

Ask The Experts
Question symbol

What's it like to use HubSpot?

We spoke to Luke Budka, head of digital PR and SEO at B2B growth agency TopLine Comms, to learn more about how his business uses HubSpot.

Q: How easy do you find HubSpot to use?

“HubSpot has probably the best user interface of any piece of business software I’ve ever used – a grand statement I know, but they’ve really put a lot of time and effort into making it intuitive.”

Q: What feature of HubSpot do you find most useful?

“The CRM ties closely together with HubSpot’s included marketing solutions: primarily its email, list-building, and workflow functionality. It also tracks contacts if they’ve opted into your marketing cookies. This means a contact’s CRM record contains information on the pages they’ve visited on your website, the emails, CTAs and social posts they’ve engaged with, and the workflows they’re a part of.

“This is super powerful because it means you can easily auto enrol contacts from the CRM into workflows. For example, if a contact engages with a particular social post or a certain email – or visits a specific page on your site – then they can be auto enrolled into a series of sales emails. The beauty is in the simplicity (this doesn’t require specialist knowledge to set up), and if you do get stuck, the knowledge bank is excellent – as is the speed with which HubSpot’s support team responds.”

Q: What thing about HubSpot would you change?

“Inevitably something this slick doesn’t come cheap! The ‘Marketing Pro’ setup costs £7,860, and includes 1,000 contacts. If you have more than that, then you can expect them to start bumping up the price – though deals can always be done! HubSpot will also charge a one-off £2,450 onboarding fee. This can be negated by onboarding via a certified HubSpot partner, however.

“To be fair, onboarding is an important element – it’s a significant outlay, and as with anything, the quality of what you get out very much depends on the effort you put in.”

3. Zendesk

With robust modules for sales and customer service, Zendesk is a versatile CRM offering plenty of value for small businesses. You can get started with a monthly fee of just £5 per user, and benefit from some of the finest help and support we came across. That said, Zendesk – perhaps more than any other small business CRM here – ails from freemium software’s biggest weakness; that you’ll need to upgrade to the most expensive plans to enjoy the finest features.

Function Starting price Highest price
Sales £19 per user, per month £199 per user, per month
Service £5 per user, per month £149 per user, per month
Customer support: Live chat, phone, email, knowledge centre
Data storage limit: For sales teams, it’s 2GB to 25GB per user, per month. For customer service teams, it’s 30MB to 200MB per agent, per month in data storage, and 500MB to 10GB per agent, per month in file storage (dependent on plan). More storage can be added at an additional cost.
Contact limit: N/A
Integrations: Zendesk’s sales and service products are supported by a range of free integrations. These enable a range of functions and services, including live chat alerts, and the ability to connect the CRM to your social media platforms.

Data import and export? Both.

Document storage? Not supported by Zendesk.

Audit trail? This feature is only available on Zendesk’s ‘Enterprise’ plan.

VoIP capability? Yes, through Zendesk Talk. It’s call centre software that's built into Zendesk’s customer service product, allowing your team to offer phone-based support from within the CRM software’s interface.

Segmentation? Yes, though it's restricted to specific plans. Segmenting data by tags, groups, and organisations, for instance, is not available on Zendesk Support’s ‘Essential’ plan.

Dashboards? Yes.

Ecommerce integration? Yes.

Social tracking? Yes.


  • Extremely low starting price
  • Excellent ticket management capabilities
  • Robust VoIP functionality

X Cons:

  • No document storage
  • Lacks the same level of data analysis as Salesforce and SugarCRM
Ask The Experts
Question symbol

What's it like to use Zendesk?

Let’s go back to Laura Hogan, owner of SEO agency Sweet Digital, for her first-hand experiences of Zendesk…

Q: How easy do you find Zendesk to use?

“We use Zendesk internally to manage existing client requests and marketing tasks. Zendesk is really easy to use from an agency perspective, and there were plenty of training and onboarding resources to help train our team on how to effectively use the help desk. 

“A survey we carried out among our clients found that their service satisfaction levels had improved by 6% since integrating Zendesk over 12 months ago.”

Q: What feature of Zendesk do you find most useful?

“A real positive feature of Zendesk is that [customer service] tickets can be merged and formed into collections with ease, making it possible to support client requests chronologically, and with a full understanding of the query. [Zendesk’s] ticket management has improved how efficiently we carry out our client-facing activities.”

Q: What thing about Zendesk would you change?

“The ZenDesk Answer Bot is the least valuable part of the software package. The level of AI is poor considering the technological developments that have been made, and its interpretation of customer issues is weak. After a short trial period, we removed the Answer Bot from our client communication structure, and reverted back to fully human-backed responses.”

4. Freshworks CRM

When you’re going to be staring at something for forty hours a week, you at least want it to look nice. That’s why we recommend Freshworks – its smooth, slick interface is true to its name, offering a refreshingly vibrant approach to business management. It’s leaner when it comes to features, sure, but counters that with 24/5 customer support, and an irresistible starting price of just £25 per user, per month.

Function Starting price Highest price
Sales £25 per user, per month (free version available) £79 per user, per month
Marketing £15 per month £79 per month
‘Customer-for-Life Cloud'
(all-inclusive plan)
£25 per user, per month £99 per user, per month
Customer support: Live chat (24/5), phone (24/5), email, knowledge centre
Data storage limit: 1GB to 100GB per user, dependent on plan. No data storage is available with Freshworks’ free plan.
Contact limit: 1,000 to 25,000
Integrations: Freshworks CRM has several key native integrations – including with all of its own products, naturally!

Data import and export? Both, although you’ll need to at least be on Freshwork's ‘Growth' plan (£25 per user, per month) to benefit from custom, business-specific reports and dashboards.

Document storage? Yes.

Audit trail? Only available with Freshworks CRM’s most expensive plan, ‘Enterprise’ (£99 per user, per month).

VoIP capability? All packages (except the free plan) support Freshcaller – Freshworks CRM’s own VoIP call centre software integration.

Segmentation? Yes.

Dashboards? Yes, though advanced reporting is only accessible with Freshworks CRM's ‘Pro’ plan (£55 per user, per month) and up.

Ecommerce integration? Yes.

Social tracking? No.


  • Free version available
  • 24/5 phone-based support for all users – Freshworks is the only provider to offer this
  • Budget-friendly

X Cons:

  • No social tracking
  • You’ll need to upgrade to at least Freshworks CRM's ‘Growth’ plan to make it worthwhile
Did You Know?

Freshconnect is a free add-on that works with Freshworks CRM’s products for both sales and marketing teams. It’s an internal communication tool that allows your staff to send instant messages to each other, without having to leave the software’s interface.

You’re halfway through our list of the eight best CRM systems for small businesses. 

Salesforce vector HubSpot logo small table Zendesk logo table transparent Freshworks CRM mini logo white Microsoft Dynamics 365 vector SugarCRM logo table transparent Zoho vector logo vector small

Ready to compare prices from leading CRM providers? Hit one of the buttons below to fire up our quick quote-finding form. We’ll ask a couple of questions to find out what your main priorities are in a CRM, and match you with providers that are the best fit.

Then, you’ll receive quotes from leading providers, tailored to your small business’ exact size and unique requirements.

Which CRM system is best-suited to the needs of your small business?
Find out now by answering a few short questions:
1. Do you already use CRM software? YES NO

Not quite ready to compare quotes? Read on… you’ve got a date with Gates.

5. Microsoft Dynamics 365

If Freshworks is the belle of the ball, Dynamics 365 is its stately gentleman. It’s classy, complex CRM, offering more insights and number-crunching than most of its peers, but lacking user-friendliness. It’s also more expensive than a lot of the other CRM software we reviewed, though with a starting price of £52 per user, per month, it shouldn’t cause your accountant too many headaches.

Function Starting price Highest price
Sales $65 (£52) per user, per month $199 (£159) per user, per month (10 user minimum)
Marketing $1,500 (£1,192) per month for up to 10,000 contacts* Fixed price ($1,500 (£1,192) per month) for the system; extra lots of 5,000 contacts cost $250 (£199) each
Service $50 (£39) per user, per month $95 (£75) per user, per month
Customer support: Phone, email, knowledge centre
Data storage limit: 32GB, though up to 4TB of additional storage can be purchased.
Contact limit: 10,000, with additional bundles of 5,000 contacts available to buy.
Integrations: Microsoft Dynamics 365 only offers integrations with third-party apps. We recommend using Zapier as the initial conduit between Dynamics and available integrations.
* Reduced to $750 (£596) if you already use another Microsoft Dynamics product, and have a minimum of 10 users

Data import and export? Yes, with its products for sales and marketing teams.

Document storage? Yes.

Audit trail? Users can disqualify and reinstate leads, and keep a log of all interactions. It’s unclear if the system keeps an official internal audit trail, though.

VoIP capability? Yes, through integration with a third-party softphone calling app.

Segmentation? Yes.

Dashboards? Yes.

Ecommerce integration? Yes.

Social tracking? No.


  • Its generous contact limits pave the way for your small business to scale
  • Its sales and service modules are affordable...
  • Offers good documentation regarding product specifics...
  • And its user guides are super easy to follow

X Cons:

  • … though we can’t say the same for its marketing automation product!
  • No social tracking

6. SugarCRM

If you can look past the £64 per user, per month price tag (make that £1,000 if you’re in marketing!), SugarCRM offers plenty of sweet features for your small business. Plus – in terms of analytical CRM, at least – it’s up there with Salesforce and Dynamics 365, and is sure to provide suitably granular insights into the health of your business’ sales.

Function Starting price Highest price
Sales/Service £64 per user, per month On request
Marketing £1,000 per month On request
Customer support: Phone, email, knowledge centre
Data storage limit: 15GB to 250GB (dependent on plan)
Contact limit: 10,000 contacts
Integrations: Released in April 2020, Sugar Integrate facilitates and supports integrations with over 200 different business platforms. Sugar Integrate also offers native integrations with several leading CRM software providers, including Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite, and Sage.

Data import and export? Yes.

Document storage? Yes.

Audit trail? Yes – newer versions of the product (version 8.0 and above) all provide a complete audit trail for increased employee accountability.

VoIP capability? Integrates with ActivePBX through CTI (computer-telephony integration), allowing you to add VoIP calling to your CRM.

Segmentation? Yes, with Sugar Market.

Dashboards? Yes.

Ecommerce integration? Yes.

Social tracking? Yes.


  • Offers an integration for… well, just about any software you can think of
  • Feature-wise, it’s all there
  • Respectable customer approval scores

X Cons:

  • It’s pricey...
  • … and not particularly user-friendly, either
  • Third-party integration required to enable VoIP calling

7. Zoho

Zoho’s logo, which depicts four colourful building blocks, describes the CRM’s interface accurately – it’s so simple, a child really could use it. Add in a jaw-droppingly low price point at £10 per user, per month for its sales, marketing, and customer service features, you can’t really go wrong and Zoho is amongst the very best CRM systems for small businesses.

Function Starting price Highest price
Sales/Marketing/Service £10 per user, per month (free version available) £40 per user, per month
Customer support: Live chat, phone, email, knowledge centre
Data storage limit: 10MB to 10GB (dependent on plan)
Contact limit: No specified limit
Integrations: Zoho works with a wide range of platforms, as well as integrating with custom third-party apps.

Data import and export? You can export up to 3,000 records in .csv format from your chosen module. For data import, anyone with the relevant permissions can access this feature.

Document storage? Yes.

Audit trail? Yes.

VoIP capability? Zoho integrates with PBX phone systems only, though they come with important features, such as automatic call logging and one-click call.

Segmentation? Yes.

Dashboards? Yes.

Ecommerce integration? Yes.

Social tracking? Yes.


  • Transparent, accessible pricing
  • No. Contact. Limit.

X Cons:

  • No VoIP capability… which is a biggie
  • No phone support


OK, OK… is more of a project management tool than a full-blown CRM. But when it has such a captivating interface (its colour-coded drag-and-drop planner screams productivity), we’re not getting too caught up in the semantics. Sure, it doesn’t quite boast all the features of a fully-realised CRM… but as a hip, low-budget alternative for managing tasks and projects, it’ll get the job done.

Start your free 14-day trial
Function Starting price Highest price
All £35 per month, for up to five users £69 per month, for up to five users

Try for free, today

Customer support: Phone, email, knowledge centre
Data storage limit: 5GB to unlimited
Contact limit: N/A
Integrations: integrates with a wide range of email service providers, plus applications that support collaboration, communication, conference calls, event management, and data collection.

Data import and export? Both.

Document storage? Yes.

Audit trail? No.

VoIP capability? No.

Segmentation? No.

Dashboards? Yes.

Ecommerce integration? Yes.

Social tracking? No.


  • Easy to use
  • Affordable
  • Integrates with your online store

X Cons:

  • No audit trail, segmentation, or social tracking features…
  • … and you can forget about VoIP calling!
Ask The Experts
Question symbol

What's it like to use

We chatted to Seb Dean, director of Nottingham-based marketing agency Imaginaire Digital, to learn more about how his crew uses

Q: How easy do you find to use?

With, the interface is very visually stimulating, and if you're a visual learner and worker, it's perfect for you. I'm a visual person, and so I find that caters to my way of working. However, others in my team feel differently – probably because they aren't very visual people! The integrations that offers are useful, too – being able to integrate with the likes of Slack, MailChimp, and GitHub gives us a nice level of flexibility to work with.

Q: What feature of do you find most useful?

One of my favourite features of is the timeline column. I benefit from this a great deal, because I can quickly view the deadlines of each job without having to dig into the task itself. I'm then able to plan my time more efficiently and, if I need to, jump in and edit the timeline with ease. Having that visual side of the timeline really helps, because I'm able to gauge how much time has passed, and develop a better understanding of how much time is left.

Q: What thing about would you change?

I think that the basic plan is missing a few important components that's project management competitors offer in their paid packages. These might include something like's range of integrations, or its private messaging feature. While I understand why does it this way, I think that having a few more features in its basic plan would make it a better platform.

How we rated the best small business CRM

To rate each CRM supplier on their effectiveness for small businesses, our research naturally had to take the basics into account. That includes:

  • Help and support

Is phone-based help and support included as standard with your CRM, or will you have to pay more to get it? Is there a live chat service available? And is support accessible around the clock, or just during office hours? 

  • Contact and data storage limits

As your small business grows, so too will your administrative load. Documents, contacts… just data in general! That’s why the right small business CRM needs to scale with your ambitions, and offer generous contact and file store limits.

  • Price

No matter how big your small business gets, a bargain is a bargain. We’ve only recommended the CRM systems with which pricing at least starts in a small business-friendly vicinity.

  • Features

To accurately rank and rate the top small business CRM suppliers, we looked at the bigger picture, assessing each provider against a series of features vital to SMEs wishing to scale. Here’s a quick (but not exhaustive) rundown of the features we explored to reach our final list:

  • Data import and export

Whether it’s presenting to stakeholders or analysing your latest sales figures, you’ll need to be able to easily export your CRM’s data into scannable reports and graphs. Likewise, you’ll want to easily be able to import your existing data into your new CRM, to streamline the implementation and onboarding process.

  • Audit trail

An audit trail feature allows you to track changes to client records – including what’s been altered or added, and who was responsible. Keeping an accurate log of activity within your CRM also helps you remain on top of your compliance and reporting responsibilities, and hold your staff to account.

  • VoIP capability

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is technology allowing your small business to make calls over the internet. Integrating VoIP with your CRM allows your sales and service teams to dial clients and prospects from directly within the software’s interface, saving time and increasing productivity.

  • Segmentation

As your business scales (and contact list balloons) you’ll have to start ‘segmenting’. This feature is used heavily by marketing teams, and involves splitting up your customers into smaller lists – grouped by their demographic or shared characteristics – to execute more targeted, effective email campaigns.

  • Dashboards

One of small business CRM software’s prime features is its ability to visualise your team’s key sales, marketing, and customer service data on a series of intuitive dashboards. Whether you’re a bar graph enthusiast, or more partial to a pie chart, dashboards provide easily digestible insights into your business’ health, at a glance.

  • Ecommerce integration

The best CRM systems for small businesses work hand in hand with your ecommerce store. By having your online sales figures pulled directly into the CRM, you’ll be able to capitalise on buyer trends, and reward your most loyal customers with special discounts and deals.

  • Social tracking

Through integration with various social listening tools, CRM software allows your small business to track customer interactions across various social media platforms. This enables you to know who’s talking about your company or industry, and what they’re saying. Social tracking also empowers you to identify potential influencers and brand advocates.

Next steps

Still not sure which CRM software is right for your business? Here’s a recap.

  • Salesforce: the industry leader, and for good reason. Trust us – its advanced analytical features justify the price tag.
  • HubSpot: ideal for marketing teams, with an intuitive drag-and-drop interface you’ll love.
  • Zendesk: affordable, with a range of pricing plans made to scale with your business.
  • Freshworks: easy to use, easy to look at… easy to summarise!
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365: a data-driven analytical platform available at a surprisingly reasonable price point.
  • SugarCRM: very feature-rich, but expensive.
  • Zoho: cheap and user-friendly, albeit simplistic. Its free version means it’s at least worth trying.
  • great for managing projects and motivating teams, but lacks the power of a fully-fledged CRM system

So, what next? Well, if you’re at least half as curious as our researchers, you’ll want to find out more – specifically, how much a solution tailored to your business’ requirements will cost. Luckily, we can make that much easier than it sounds…

Simply take 30 seconds out of your day and give our free quote-finding form a whirl. In exchange for some details about your business’ specific requirements, we’ll match you with the CRM suppliers that fit. You’ll then receive quotes tailored to your preferences and team size.

And, if you have experience using any of the CRM software we’ve reviewed, let us know. We’re a user-focussed bunch here at Expert Market, and are always looking to add testimonials from small businesses to our site. 

If you use CRM and have something to say about it, let me know at Until then!


What does CRM software do for a business?

Feeling clued up on the suppliers, but still not sure what a CRM system can do for you? Read on…

Contact management

For most businesses, making lasting connections with customers is high up on their list of priorities. But it’s not always easy – unless you have a CRM system, that is. Contact management helps you capture key contact information, and store notes on interactions to follow up later.

You’ll know exactly which members of your team are dealing with which customers, too, so there’s no treading on toes – and no deals slipping through your fingers.

Sales management

Managing a sales team (and their egos) can be complicated, but CRM makes it easier. Sales management helps you keep track of team member activities – who’s selling the most, and why? A CRM helps you draw on analytics from day-to-day business, and – crucially – use these to drive better, more motivated teams.

Customer service management

All businesses, at some stage, will have to deal with complaints. But do you have a system set up for handling them? If not, CRM can help. Customer service management lets you log customer issues, and take deep dives into any recurring problems.

Marketing and social media automation

But by now, you’re asking – what’s the point of having all that data, if you’re not going to use it? Well, don’t worry – with a CRM system, you can. CRM lets you craft and deliver targeted bulk email marketing campaigns to your database.

Good CRM systems also work with social media. Save time by automating posts to your followers, and keep them engaged with relevant curated content. You can also integrate CRM software with social listening tools, allowing you to (quite literally) tap into what people online are saying about your brand and industry.

I'm in the process of setting up my own business. Is CRM right for me?

Of course! CRM software isn't just for more established small businesses – it's an ideal way of managing key supplier and deal information, while nurturing a growing customer base. Plus, you can get some (albeit heavily limited) CRM systems completely free, so won't have to worry about another overhead clogging up your expense sheet.

If you'd like more information about how to use CRM to help you set up and grow an enterprise, check out our guide to starting a business in 2021.

I need CRM software tailored to my industry. Can you help?

Absolutely. Plenty of CRM systems come with solutions tailored to specific industries – you just have to know where to look for them. Whether you run a charity, a hedge fund, a law firm, or even a university, there’s a CRM tool out there for you.

And as a reminder, if you want to compare complimentary quotes from top suppliers, just fill out our form – you know where to find it.

How we analyse and rate CRM software providers

At Expert Market, it’s our aim to provide you with the most accurate, up-to-date, and transparent product and service reviews possible. So, to help you better understand the top options for CRM software out there, we’ve conducted in-depth, extensive research into the market and its top companies.

Here’s how we did it:

Independent researchers

We worked with three independent researchers to rate eight different CRM systems over a total of 40+ hours. This included five separate varieties of CRM software, as well as more than 61 specific features. Using a bespoke, industry-style algorithm, we rated each provider across four key metrics.


  • Help and support: we assessed the level of customer support (such as email, phone, or live chat), as well as its availability (24/7, or weekdays only?), to provide a weighted score for each CRM supplier.
  • Affordability: our affordability algorithm took into account the cost of CRM ownership over 12 months – based on the average buyer – as well as factors such as free trials and money-back guarantees.
  • Features: we assessed each supplier on five specific features per type of CRM. We then weighted these scores, and translated them into a point value system. This allowed us to form accurate ratings for each CRM provider, broken down by the industry it best serves.
  • Customer approval: we assigned each provider a ‘customer score’, which involved seeking opinions from within the community, as well as feeding data aggregated from online sources into a unique algorithm. This allowed us to calculate overall customer approval scores for each CRM supplier, in real time.


We take the integrity of our research seriously. If you’ve got any questions at all about our research process, feel free to get in touch with Rob, our CRM specialist, at

Rob Binns Expert Market
Rob Binns Senior Writer

Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings to the table industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, business loans, fulfilment, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny (socially-distanced) corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.

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