Tips for Choosing a CRM System that’s Right for Your Business

One of the biggest areas for app development has been in customer relationship management (CRM) software. There are so many SaaS companies scurrying around this playing field today, that it can be a little overwhelming when you decide it’s time to get on board with one of them.

If you’re unfamiliar with CRM software, it helps you throughout your sales process. In many ways you can think of it as an adjunct or road map to your sales funnel. In some systems, there are modules that allow you to create your sales funnel. Those products are useful if all your business is online, if all of it is done in person, or your business is a combination of the two.

Of the many app “directories” or review sites on the internet, GetApp and Capterra are probably the two most well known and used. GetApp gets about 1.3 million visitors a month. Capterra comes in with some 4.7 million visitors monthly. Softwareadvice is also a well-trafficked site, but for technical reasons, I haven’t included very much from its ratings here.

Top CRM Systems

The top 10 CRM systems on Capterra were:

  1. Salesforce
  2. Zoho
  3. Act!
  4. Microsoft Dynamics
  5. Hubspot
  6. SAP
  7. Maximizer
  8. Infusionsoft
  9. Oracle
  10. Sage

The top 10 spots on GetApp were:

  1. Pipedrive
  2. Hubspot
  3. io
  4. Salesforce Sales Cloud
  5. SalesforceIQ
  6. Zoho CRM
  7. Nimble
  8. WORK[etc] CRM
  9. QuickBase
  10. vCita

Before going any further, let me add two quick notes to these lists. First, number 11 on Capterra was Pipedrive and Softwareadvice included FreshDesk among its highest rated CRM systems, which didn’t make my list from the other two sites. The point of this article is to help you find the best CRM system for your business, and I know from personal experience that these two systems – Pipedrive and FreshDesk – should be on your radar.

The first observation I want to make is that the Capterra list leans more toward systems for bigger companies than does the GetApp list. SAP and Oracle tend to appeal to somewhat larger organizations. Topping the list at GetApp is Pipedrive, which is extremely popular with smaller companies.

CRM Systems for Medium Size Businesses

I believe most who read this will be looking at systems designed and priced for small to medium-sized businesses and I think that where these two lists overlap will give you good guidance to begin your comparison shopping:

  • Salesforce
  • Zoho
  • Hubspot
  • Pipedrive (yeah, I know it was #11 on the Capterra list, I’m taking a little liberty here).

(Please note that the order of those has no meaning.)

Cheaper CRM Systems

Salesforce comes in a variety of different “flavors” depending on the size of your organization and your specific needs. It bills itself as “the #1 CRM solution,” and in terms of pure CRM users, it may have the most. It’s cloud based and a lot of third party apps integrate with its system. It offers a 30-day free trial. The SalesforceIQ CRM plan starts at $25 per month per user.

Zoho has a number of modules, including its CRM apps. You get a 15-day free trial and the standard plan starts at $12 per user per month. Zoho also has project management, help desk software, and financial management tools available.

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Pipedrive and many of these comments center around its ease of use. Some CRM systems, while they have a lot of excellent features, get shunned by employees because they are somewhat daunting to learn. While Hubspot does much by helping you create your marketing campaigns, Pipedrive is far more simple. It helps you keep track of your prospects in a way that is easy to learn and effective. It’s pricing scheme is simple too: $12 per user per month with a 30-day free trial.

FreshDesk, known for its help desk software, now offers FreshSales that allows you to follow leads, contacts, accounts and deals, as well as create a customized sales process and score leads. It integrates with Freshdesk and has a free level for up to 10 users. The next level, which includes a deal funnel view, email tracking, templates and notifications, and Google calendar integration is $12 per month per user.

More Expensive CRM Systems

With Hubspot, the emphasis is on inbound marketing and sales. This includes content creation, email marketing, social media management, and more. If you’re building your marketing around an email list, for example, you need to take a very close look at Hubspot; they are very popular in that niche. At $200 a month it’s a little pricy, but it’s unfair to compare it to a CRM that mostly focuses on tracking or guiding prospects through a sales funnel.

Finally, although it didn’t quite make our lists, Infusionsoft is another system worth looking at. It’s for more powerful than a straight CRM. It gives you the ability to create all kinds of automated processes or reminders depending on the behavior of your prospects or customers. Pricing starts at $199 per month.

As you can tell from what we’ve discussed here, choosing the right CRM system for your business requires additional research and taking a few “test drives.” Be sure to match your system with your team. If you have a system that is too difficult to learn, you’ll be wasting your money. On the other hand, if you have sales and marketing pros who want to unleash the power of a full-blown SaaS sales and marketing system, be sure you give them the tools they crave.