As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa writes about high-converting websites and customer-centric marketing. She's an avid traveler, with trips to Iceland, Ukraine, and Portugal under her belt. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her dog, Morrie.
A robust CRM is an essential part of any marketing technology stack. Without the right CRM in place, you can struggle to maintain accurate customer data, or run successful marketing and sales initiatives. While it's difficult to quantify how much time we waste on insufficient data, research from IBM indicates that it's substantial, around $3.1 trillion per year.
If you're looking for a better way to track customer behavior and sales activity, a new CRM tool is worth considering. Exceptional CRM software will help you improve your marketing and sales efforts, get better analytics, and master customer relationship management. But with so many CRM tools out there, how do you select the right one?
Whether or not you have an existing CRM, or you're looking to get one for the first time, there's a lot of platforms that could be a potential fit.
Tips For Choosing The Best CRM Software
When selecting a new CRM, you want to avoid disrupting your current workflow. You don't want to interfere with any current sales deals or curb the effectiveness of your ongoing marketing campaigns. That's why picking the best CRM is so crucial and merits a fair comparison of all the solutions out there.
This heavy-duty software product is a favorite to many enterprise companies, with customers raving about the supportive user community, premium customer support, and a large number of plug-ins.
- Pros: Salesforce is customizable, so it's easy for developers to make adjustments where needed. It also integrates well with the marketing automation tool Marketo.
- Cons: Salesforce has cumbersome reporting and a dated UI. Customers compare it to a glorified Rolodex. While it's a go-to for enterprise companies, Salesforce does not support non-enterprise organizations well.
- Cost: Pricing tiers range from $25 - $300 per month.
- What Customers Think: "I don't know where to start. Salesforce is the first tool I use every day as a salesperson. It helps me track all of my leads, check my opens and I really like how it is a centralized system, and it has all the notes on accounts and prospects. There is so much more to this tool than what I had listed. I can say so much about how powerful and helpful Salesforce is." - Martin Y.
- Try It: The complete CRM solution is free for 30 days.
Salesforce.com is one of the popular CRMs, with a 19.2% market share. Here's how Salesforce compares to HubSpot.
With Zoho CRM, you can easily connect with leads at every conversion point. The platform includes an AI assistant called Zia that quickly populates reports, and creates tasks and reminders. Customers like the ability to track their deal progress, the insight into data anomalies, and the ability to access the CRM from a mobile app.
- Pros: You can easily upload contacts and start creating workflows, with Zoho's intuitive interface. It's an excellent option for project managers who need to manage a CRM.
- Cons: Customers frequently report bugs, such as the platform failing to save information, losing data, or duplicating contact records.
- Cost: Pricing tiers range from $12 - $100 per month.
- What Customers Think: "Project management has been a large turnkey for us. I was disappointed that I did not utilize this tool prior. After using many different project management software products on the market, I did not have the benefit or ability to correlate contacts, leads or potential deals with projects. This was a solution for this missed area of my business."- Matt M.
- Try It: Zoho is free to try out.
Titled, the "real customer-centric CRM," Odoo is a cloud-based, open source solution. The platform provides a real-time overview of lead behavior, provides sales forecasts, and has in-platform messaging for your team.
- Pros: The onboarding process is easy and straightforward. You can also connect the platform with other Odoo features, such as project management and social media.
- Cons: Customers voice dissatisfaction with the additional costs of other Odoo products.
- Cost: Ranges per user, starting at $25, and $30 per user a month.
- What Customers Think: "Coming from Netsuite and Salesforce, CRM use was difficult to enforce and inevitably adoption would decline. Odoo CRM was so simple to deploy, and so intuitive our users had almost no learning curve. Drag and drop pipeline stages, email directly from Opportunity, Quote directly from Opportunity. The best part is that it is so simple to manage opportunities our reps can use PC, Tablet or Phone just as easy with no complaints." - Raymond C.
- Try It: The first Odoo app you use is free, with a 15-Day Free Trial.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales
Dynamics is perfect for teams that want to customize their CRM to fit their unique needs. Customers admit Dynamics is not an "out-of-the-box" solution, but say it's easy enough to keep track of customers and sales conversations.
- Pros: With dynamics, it's easy to upload and work with large datasets. Teams find the platform extremely functional, with a deep office integration that's great for smaller teams.
- Cons: A few common customer frustrations include issues such as difficulties tracking emails from Outlook, a necessary license to access the platform from a tablet, and some data inconsistencies. The UX also leaves something to be desired, with some challenges that prevent using it to it's fullest potential.
- Cost: Ranges per user and month, starting at $65.
- What Customers Think: "It has excellent functionality, Allows for additional options to provide an authentic ERP experience, The base software is very well provisioned and allows a lot of options, Allows a large number of specific reports according to the needs of the user."- Carlos Alberto P., Capterra.
- Try It: Dynamics has a 30-Day Free Trial.
OroCRM is a newer, open source CRM that teams use to segment customers and determine overall customer lifetime value. OroCRM is also great for personalizing marketing efforts, which is ideal if you need to conduct ongoing nurturing campaigns.
- Pros: There's a lot of flexibility, and OroCRM is easy to connect to third-party solutions. Customers rank the customer support positively making it easy for teams to overcome any challenges with the software.
- Cons: Customers feel that the UI has room for improvement and that customizations may be needed to make the platform work for your needs.
- Cost: $21,240 for a three-year agreement.
- What Customers Think: "The integration of CRM and eCommerce functionality cannot be overestimated. We also like the ability to adapt not only content but workflows to segments and groups of users. Having multiple checkout processes depending on whether the user is a dealer, a large distribution partner, or just an occasional buyer are fantastic." - Paul B.
- Try It: OroCRM offers a free live demo for new users.
HubSpot's CRM is an excellent tool that users love. The easy to use CRM connects with sales and marketing activities, centralizing up-to-date customer data in one place. For many, adapting HubSpot's free CRM helped avoid using multiple marketing and sales solutions.
- Pros: The CRM is entirely free to use, and it's easy to get started. You get 1,000,000 free contacts and unlimited storage. There's exceptional educational resources, customer support, and an active user community.
- Cons: There's a lack of automation for deals, and the actual platform (aside from the CRM) can be very costly.
- Cost: The CRM is free.
- What Customers Think: "HubSpot CRM automates so much that users can really focus on working leads and developing opportunities, not on data entry. Admin is straightforward, and the system reacts to users in logical and understandable ways, unlike some competitors. The speed and flexibility of the tool are very impressive - finding contacts, creating views and updating information is responsive and not sluggish in the slightest. The user interface is well designed and intuitive. The feature set has been well scoped to meet the needs of the majority of SMEs. The product is not bloated."- Phil V.
- Try It: The CRM is entirely free to keep and get started.
In Act!, users can connect their calendar and email inbox right to the platform. Customers also rank the customer support very highly. The tool is used by companies of all sizes, with an array of features to foster rich contact management.
- Pros: Simple and fast data entry, can make custom fields and columns. ACT also integrates with Office 365.
- Cons: There's a lack of forecasting in Act!, and you can't export the notes you take on contact records. Customers have reported that upgrades make the tool more complex and complicated to use.
- Cost: Starts at $25 for self-hosted per user/month.
- What Customers Think: "Our office has been using this product since before I started. It is a solid database program, and if that is all you want to do is have a large database of contacts, then this performs well." - Nicole S.
- Try It: Access Premium free with a 14 Free Day Trial.
- Pros: Users love the quick onboarding process. Emails, calls, and progress are tracked automatically, making it easy for you to keep up with leads within a sales pipeline.
- Cons: Customers report inconsistencies and bugs, resulting in emails going out more than once and challenges with reporting.
- Cost: Starts at $15 per user, per month.
- What Customers Think: "It presents an intuitive, simple and friendly interface for the novice user, has a simple installation does not need higher skills, allows to create more than one pipeline, in addition to having extensive options in the forms to create the cases." - Carlos Alberto P.
- Try It: Try it free for 30 Days.
You can adapt Maximizer to your processes, with customizations that don't require coding. It's simple for teams to manage contacts, with a lot of automated features.
- Pros: Two flexible deployment options, can connect with MailChimp, Gmail, Outlook, and Excel, and not entirely cloud-based.
- Cons: Complicated interface, web version tends to be slow. New upgrades and improvements don't address core issues users have with the product.
- Cost: Starts at $40 per user, per month.
- What Customers Think: "The software allows us to manage all our customer and supplier contact information in a centralized system. We also use the system to keep track of customer quotations and track customer service requests and job scheduling. It would be difficult for our staff to manage their workload without Maximizer." - Darrel M.
- Try It: Free 30-Day Trial for new Maximizer users.
The SAP CRM system uses machine learning technology and real-time data to help teams engage and nurture customers. It can integrate with multiple analytics, customer experience, finance, and people engagement products.
- Pros: SAP is very user-friendly. With a ton of storage, it's great for teams that need to store a lot of sales documents and contracts. Customers can choose from subscription-based and consumption-based plans.
- Cons: The CRM can be complicated for users to get started, and requires extensive training to get up to speed. Customers report that there's difficulty integrating with Microsoft tools.
- Cost: Potential users need to reach out to SAP for custom pricing details.
- What Customers Think:"SAP has loads of features and resources that can help a large business. There are so many resources and tutorials that can also help to make the integration more seamless. It's a product that's been around for quite awhile, so it's more trusted in the business. A lot of companies use SAP, and it's just one of those tried and true things. It also integrates well with other systems used here at Shure, which has made our processes more seamless. It has organized processes and made them more efficient, especially across different teams."- Lisa W.
- Try It: Free 30-Day Trial for new SAP users.
Selecting The Right CRM Software
When teams assess their goals and challenges, they can prioritize essential features they require from a CRM. The goal is to find a platform that can easily integrate and support marketing and sales initiatives without too many difficulties or obstacles. Here at Lean Labs, we use HubSpot. We're partial to the platform because we can use our customer data for more strategic engagement and nurturing campaigns.
We're so passionate about HubSpot; we offer a savings guide for the Marketing and Sales platform, which can be an expensive investment upfront. With our free download, Save Up To 60% Off Your 1st Year of HubSpot, you can learn how to use the free CRM and save on the additional marketing and sales features.
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