The Best CRM for a Small Business – A Comparison Guide

Marketing and sales tools for your growing business

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Having a customer relationship management (CRM) tool can help you automate processes, grow your marketing funnel, and dive deep into consumer analytics. Forget that spreadsheet; CRMs let you track customers while automating a significant portion of your repetitive, everyday tasks. But, forking over $300 a month per user may seem daunting for small businesses. After all, your CRM is supposed to boost your ROI — not destroy your pocketbook. So what do you do? What budget-friendly CRM options are out there for small to medium-size businesses?

You don’t have to drain your bank account to utilize a functional CRM. You just have to pick the right one! Let’s take a look at the best budget-friendly CRM tools for small businesses to supporting your overall marketing efforts.

Hubspot CRM – Inbound Marketing & Sales Software

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Without a doubt, HubSpot is the king of the CRM space. There’s definitely a reason that HubSpot is the most popular small business CRM. Not only is HubSpot’s CRM easy-to-use, intuitive, and simple, but it seamlessly integrates with HubSpot’s entire suite of marketing/sales tools. Here’s the kicker, HubSpot’s CRM is free-to-use (at basic levels.) Since HubSpot earns its revenue through its Sales Pro tools and HubSpot marketing subscriptions, they use their CRM as a lead magnet to their core line of products. Of course, this is great for small business owners who only need the basics. Upgrading is comparable to other CRMs, with the added benefit of incredible integration.

Pros of Hubspot CRM

  • The entry tier is completely free!
  • Clean user interface and highly customizable
  • Easy upgrades give tons of added functionality
  • Spectacular deal tracking can track your pipeline
  • Consumer analytics powerhouse
  • Campaign analytics are insightful, yet simple
  • Built-in task management features
  • Quick integration with many third-party plugins
  • Gmail integration is a breeze
  • Hyper-scalable
  • Robust training Academy including Marketing and Sales videos

Cons of Hubspot CRM

  • Workflow and Sequence automation features require an upgrade
  • Can’t run split tests (A/B) in the basic plan
  • Lacking direct support (they usually refer users to forums)
  • Can be a price creep with add-ons and large contact lists

Pipedrive CRM – Pipeline Management Software

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Built with small businesses in mind, Pipedrive’s value prop is simple: a platform built around taking control of your pipeline. The people at Pipedrive built their CRM with analytics, forecasting, and simplicity in mind. Pipedrive has fantastic granular lead tracking capabilities, but it falls a little short when it comes to social integration and lead capture.

Pros of Pipedrive CRM

  • Simple user interface
  • Drag & drop design makes pipeline customization easy-as-pie
  • Great lead insights
  • Low cost ($25 per/user month)

Cons of Pipedrive CRM

  • UI can get overwhelmed (freeze) at times
  • No Outlook email integration
  • No social integration (LinkedIn, etc.)
  • No real lead capturing capabilities
  • Weak list-building features
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Infusionsoft by Keap – Small Business CRM

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The Infusionsoft CRM lives and dies by its automation capabilities. Out of all of the CRMs on this list, Infusionsoft definitely has the most robust automation capabilities. Like others on this list, Infusionsoft’s value proposition directly targets small businesses. Infusionsoft definitely isn’t the cheapest option on this list, and it also has the steepest learning curve.

Pros of Infusionsoft

  • Fantastic automation
  • Great campaign analytics
  • Integrates with QuickBooks, Salesforce, and Outlook
  • Email segmentation is superb
  • Lots of nuanced features

Cons of Infusionsoft

  • Lacks reporting features
  • Massive learning curve
  • Clunky UI
  • Expensive (upfront fee of $1,999 and $99 per/user month)
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Salesforce Essentials – Customer Relationship Management

Salesforce Essentials CRM - Buhv Designs

Salesforce is without a doubt one of the biggest names in the CRM space. Luckily for small businesses, they have an Essentials edition that’s specifically catered towards small business needs. The Essentials edition comes with basic email integration features as well as automation features for sales and marketing teams.

I would highly advise staying away from the full Salesforce software offering for small businesses. While the standard for most enterprise-level corporate business applications, Salesforce is infinitely complex in its setup and configuration. Paired with their marketing automation software, Pardot, there is a steep learning curve and Salesforce implementation specialist and architects typically start as high as $250/hour for junior-level help.

Pros of Salesforce Essentials

  • Automation features help reduce repetition
  • Gamified learning system makes setup and easy to use
  • Cheap ($25 per/user month)
  • Scalable
  • Einstein Activity Capture keeps customer details up-to-date automatically

Cons of Salesforce Essentials

  • Some basic features are missing (you have to manually log phone calls for example)
  • Heavily geared towards B2B (con for service-based businesses)
  • Touch-and-go technical support
  • Complicated workflows can be difficult to learn
  • Wasn’t built for small businesses from the ground-up (some unnecessary features)

Zoho – Cloud Software Suite

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The final entry on our budget-friendly CRM list for small businesses is Zoho. Originally geared towards enterprises, Zoho Standard is a fit for small businesses in the budget category.

Pros of Zoho

  • Cheap ($12 per/user month)
  • Great sales forecasting features
  • Has native lead scoring capabilities
  • Intuitive social integration
  • Mass & automated emails
  • MailChimp integration is useful

Cons of Zoho

  • Poor customization features
  • Steep learning curve
  • Can be buggy
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Final Thoughts on the Best Sales Tools

Having a robust CRM can drastically change the way your marketing and sales teams operate. By leveraging automation and 360 customer views, you can create an efficient, well-oiled pipeline and transform your client lifecycle. All of the CRM tools above are great for lean budgets. Personally, we recommend HubSpot for small businesses due to its overwhelming number of features, simplicity, and sleek UI. Ultimately, you should pick what works best for your business to support your sales team and your continuing marketing efforts.

If you are currently not using a CRM, BUHV Designs can not only get your CRM integrated but also set it up to maximize your client satisfaction, marketing budget, and client sales lifecycle.

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