In-Depth & Transparent CRM Software Reviews from CRM Analyst Mike Markus
Disclosure: CRMAdvice is reader-supported. When you buy a CRM Software through links on our site, we may earn commissions.
The Best CRM Software (2021 Updated)
Last updated: January 2, 2021
He is a CRM software enthusiast/analyst and the co-founder of CRMAdvice.org. He studied MC-IT Course from Melbourne University.
Tired of using Excel sheets or other complicated client management tools?
This is where a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool can be a good option for you to manage buyers’ journeys in your business.
Let’s see how…
Using a CRM is one of the fastest ways to manage your leads, build relationship with potential buyers, and turn them into loyal customers.
Although there are many CRM software tools out there, not all of them are equal. Some are more reliable, others are more flexible.
We at CRMAdvice.org have been using and analysing every CRM software (find them on this page) since 2014.
But first, read this…
Why Choosing the Wrong CRM Could Be Risky for Your Business
Going through all the different software options can be really stressful, in some cases even painful. Why am I saying this?
Because I know what it feels like.
Not just stress, but it is extremely time consuming as it might take weeks or some cases even months to find the right solution.
My team and I are here to help you to hopefully find the right solution.
So here we give our best so that you don’t need to go through all the pain and hassle.
That’s our guarantee!
This page will help you to quickly find the best marketing, sales and management software for your business.
Although there are two other pieces of CRM software you could use, Marketo and Eloqua, to use them you have to be able to pay $2,500/month minimum.
That is why we stick with these CRMs which we have reviewed on this page.
I hope we are similar, as I am not willing to pay 10-times more for an almost identical CRM software.
I am not a sales rep for either of those CRM software tools, even though I really enjoy guiding you through the process of making the best possible decision on using one of them…
Our CRM Software Review Process:
- Using Each CRM Software for 5+ Years.
- Ran Businesses With All of Them.
- Attended their Events.
- Tested for Consulting Industry,
- Business or Life Coaching,
- B2b Marketing & Sales,
- Offline Business,
- And for Pipeline Based Sales Model Business.
- Compared Usability, Cost & Value.
The 10 Best CRMs in 2021:
– – – – – – – – – –
1. Zoho CRM – The Champion Of CRM Tools (€12/mo)
Ranks #1 out of 15 CRMs
Zoho CRM has been around since 1996, and they now have more than 50,000,000 customers. They are the most popular, new-user friendly CRM option for their customers.
They are our top-rated CRM software company because of their easy to use application that offers a good overview of open items, action items, and things to do.
Unlike other CRM products (Microsoft, Salesforce), with Zoho CRM you don’t have to be an expert to get started.
Their cheapest plan is €12/user/month (billed annually). This plan does a solid job of delivering a simple to use CRM platform aimed at small business customers.
However, for just €75/month (30-day free trial), Zoho One comes with forty powerful services for your customer-facing teams on one single interface. So, for someone who needs more advanced features, all in one place with a good value for the price, this is probably the best option.
All their CRM plans come with a 15-day free trial and can be instantly activated, so you can start customizing your settings and then using all the features right away.
2. HubSpot CRM – The Best “All-Round” CRM (FREE Version Includes All The Main Features)
Ranks #2 out of 15 CRMs
HubSpot CRM is 100% free (Following features are included for an unlimited amount of time) :
They’re first for a good reason.
HubSpot CRM is the only CRM that is giving you most features for free, not just freemium, but after testing, analyzing and using — they can seriously rival many paid tools.
You don’t see that very often and that’s why it has consistently been our top rated tool.
Only downside? Even though, you can create and test beautiful landing-pages that will generate leads for your business.
After using it for years, we think the landing page editor could be better for non-developers.
On the other hand, HubSpot’s landing pages look great on any device – no designers needed for that.
HubSpot CRM is the best CRM tool for MOST small and medium sized businesses, in niches and industries such as:
- Law Firm
- Real Estate Agent
Just to name a few.
HubSpot CRM is NOT for you if your business or industry is:
3. Freshworks CRM (formerly Freshsales) – The CRM With Functionality of the “Bigger” Players at More Affordable Price Point ($12/mo)
Ranks #3 out of 15 CRMs
Freshworks CRM is an affordable service with an excellent reputation.
Having all those specific set of daily/weekly/monthly sales reports on a single screen, right in front of you and automatically refreshed.
You can integrate your email into Fresworks, so that all incoming and out going emails are logged.
With a wide variety of sales campaigns, lead scoring, email tracking, notifications, this Freshworks CRM has a lot to offer.
On the downside, there was one time where their sales rep overpromised to provide full service assistance with migrating data from a previous CRM to Fresworks, which took days longer than they promised.
Other than that, their customer service representatives are helpful and actually know what they’re doing, so they can help you.
If you’re hunting for a CRM that can be easily integrated with other software tools, Fresworks could be what you need. Their 21-day free trial gives you enough time to test this CRM yourself.
4. Pipedrive CRM – The Best Web-Based Sales-Focused CRM Software Out There (€15/mo)
Ranks #4 out of 15 CRMs
Consider using the Pipedrive CRM when your industry or business model is:
- Real estate agent
- Marketing agency
- Law firm
Use the Pipedrive CRM if you are some kind of client facing sales business. Chances are that Pipedrive would be a really good tool for you to manage those clients with all the amazing features it has.
What is Pipedrive not? Well, it isn’t a client CRM.
It is not a great tool for managing your EXISTING clients.
For that I recommend other project management tools that you see on this page.
Pipedrive is really for helping you track prospect through a sales process.
Once you’ve won or lost a sale, Pipedrive has sort of done its job.
Don’t get me wrong.
Yes, you can theoretically create pipelines for servicing your clients even though Pipedrive isn’t really optimized for that purpose.
Pipedrive CRM is best for TRACKING prospects through a sale.
Again, once you’ve WON or LOST a sale, it has served its purpose.
5. AgileCRM – Nice Most-In-One CRM Software ($9.99/mo)
Ranks #5 out of 15 CRMs
AgileCRM’s feature-rich sales and marketing automation service is great value for your money.
It’s easy to use and has features similar to Salesforce, Keap (earlier Infusionsoft), and Microsoft Dynamics 365, but you won’t pay $300-400 per month.
You will be surprised how much this tool can handle and how configurable it is without becoming too complex.
AgileCRM’s out-of-the-box feature gamification helps to increase collaboration, lead conversion, and revenue generation by encouraging your sales reps to take more action.
With AgileCRM everything is organized and, as its name says, “agile” (able to move quickly and easily).
Who is AgileCRM for?
Small and medium businesses and freelancers, while the free version (up to 10 users and 1,000 contacts) is great for tiny businesses and startups.
AgileCRM lacks in some of the large enterprise features, but the Enterprise plan has e-commerce integration with sites like Shopify and Stripe.
AgileCRM offers a 14-day free trial, so you can get started risk free.
6. Close CRM – The Best Cold Calling CRM ($21.25/mo)
Ranks #6 out of 15 CRMs
Close CRM is San Fransisco based sales-focused CRM for startups, small businesses, and freelancers.
Close CRM features give you a full overview of the sales performance (sent emails, opens, and the number of calls made, minutes spent talking about specific tools, and much more) of every member of your team to ensure that they are working to their full potential.
Who is Close CRM for?
Close CRM really solves the sales tracking management functionality for small businesses, freelancers, and startups.
It’s not overkill on big systems and includes the key features you need to drive deals without investing tons of time and money in a larger more feature rich offering.
If you’re looking for a pure sales communication CRM that allows you to just blaze through calls fast without jumping in and out of different tools…
… and if you do cold calls this tool is a no brainer.
Plus, it takes every single bit of communication you do (be it through phone, SMS, email, or now Zoom as well), and automatically puts it in one short “to do list” with zero data entry.
Close CRM comes with a 14-day free trial, so you can get started risk free.
7. Ontraport CRM – The Best CRM Software for Authors, Marketers, Consultants ($79/mo)
Ranks #7 out of 15 CRMs
Consider using Ontraport CRM when your industry or business model is:
- Workshop leader
- Information marketing
- Life and/or business coaching
Ontraport CRM is right for you if you are:
- New to online marketing (Ontraport is quicker to learn)
- New to marketing (get free campaign done for you)
- High volume emailer (Ontraport allows for personal IP addresses)
Ontraport CRM is NOT for you if:
- Your product or service is B2B. Ontraport does not have businesses factored into its CRM, only warmblooded humans.
- You need or want a multiproduct store where people can add several products to a shopping cart.
- You feel like you must have the visual designing capabilities of the Keap Campaign Builder to be successful.
8. Capsule CRM – A Basic and Cheap CRM for Small Service Based Businesses ($15/mo)
Ranks #8 out of 15 CRMs
Capsule is a simple to use, straightforward CRM with all the basic necessary features for small businesses.
It’s reasonably good value for money, and keeps you organized by tracking your prospects, customers, and sales.
The list of integrations for Capsule CRM is not the longest (around 50 integrations), but has Xero, MailChimp, G Suite, and many others alongside Zapier which integrates Capsule with 2,000+ business apps.
The downside to Capsule CRM is that it’s not meant for marketing automation. So if you don’t need a feature for that purpose, Capsule CRM covers you.
Who is Capsule CRM For?
Ideally for small service based businesses who are looking a free or low-cost paid version that has a very simple (and not feature-rich) CRM platform.
Capsule’s free version can be used for up to 2 users and has a limit of 250 contacts, which is not that many. But it’s a forever free version.
But if you’re looking for a CRM that has more complex sales features and email marketing automation, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere on our list.
9. Keap (earlier known as Infusionsoft) CRM – The Best CRM Software for E-Commerce, B2B, Brick & Mortar ($39/mo)
Ranks #9 out of 15 CRMs
Consider using Keap CRM when your industry or business model is:
- E-commerce (selling multiple products through a shopping cart).
- B2B – business to business marketing and sales (any company with a sales team).
- Pipeline based sales model (built-in tools for pipeline sales).
- Traditional small business (offline businesses, brick and mortar).
Keap CRM is right for you if you are:
- Wanting big community and massive events to support you.
- Dependent on a visual campaign builder.
Keap CRM is NOT for you if:
- You get very easily overwhelmed with technology (Keap might be frightening)
- You need personal help to succeed and don’t have the budget to pay for that help.
10. Bitrix24 CRM – A (Free) CRM With an Increadibly Long List of Features ($19/mo)
Ranks #10 out of 15 CRMs
Bitrix24 is a company intranet platform that can be used for multiple kinds of teams and functions.
It’s an all-in-one solution for customer management, client tracking, task management, sales, and chat.
You can set up a website, manage your CRM, and use it as a team management tool all at once.
The best part is their free version (restricted to 12 users), which is an almost complete product in itself and makes you wonder how much better the paid version could be.
Who is Bitrix24 For?
This is a solution for small and medium businesses, but mostly for companies that want to improve their communication.
Having a hard time with openly communicating across the team? Do things tend to get ignored, forgotten, or even confusing?
Then the Bitrix24, intranet platform which can be used for multiple kinds of teams and features might be just right for you. You can use live and video chat, share calendars, and have group calendars organized by department.
Social network updates on the Activity Stream make sure that your whole team is up to date and communication flows. (Their slightly public forum makes sure that people do not hide things or be dishonest.)
Bitrix24 has a variety of HR tools, so you can keep track of the employees and ensure that every member of your team does well.
If your ultimate goal is not to find a one-stop CRM and rather a software with as many different tools as possible, you’ll have plenty of options with Bitrix24. If not, you might be overwhelmed by everything else other than the CRM.
11. Less Annoying CRM – Best Budget-Friendly CRM For a Very Small Business ($10/mo)
Ranks #11 out of 15 CRMs
Less Annoying CRM is a low-cost tool with excellent customer service. You can even contact its customer support team by phone.
They are a small business themselves, so they understand the needs of other small businesses and startups.
LACRM is designed as a simple contact management solution, so it’s great for:
- Keeping profiles on your contacts,
- Tracking a sales process for them,
- Making notes,
- Setting up followups,
- And managing an internal calendar.
Unfortunately it has a short list of integrations, and you won’t find Less Annoying CRM in the Android store or on iTunes, although their mobile site will function on any phone with a modern web browser.
Don’t use it if you need a project management, marketing automation, and email marketing tools.
On the upside, Less Annoying has proven itself as a cheap CRM for a very small business friendly to the new user.
12. Sugar Sell (formerly SugarCRM) – The “One-Size-Fits-All” CRM solution ($52/mo)
Ranks #12 out of 15 CRMs
The team at Sugar Sell (formerly SugarCRM) says that they are a one-size-fits-all CRM solution for companies of all sizes.
At the same time they say that their main competitors are Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365, which are ideal solutions for enterprise level businesses.
After my extensive testing I say that the setup of Sugar Sell (formerly SugarCRM) is not simple and fast enough for small businesses and startups.
Sugar Sell (formerly SugarCRM) gives you access to many features that are not that user-friendly, which might be overwhelming for you.
The user interface (UI) and features such as dashboards and reports take a long time to learn.
Is it worth trying when you have a team of 1-9 employees?
Only if they have tech experience. Otherwise it is not worth your time to understand it all.
Is Sugar Sell (formerly SugarCRM) Right for You?
If you can afford its price which is $80 per user per month and you have a minimum of 10 users, then consider using Sugar Sell (formerly SugarCRM) for really good sales automation and strong client relationship building tools.
And if you are a company with an in-house tech team or have at least one tech-savvy person who would handle the training and integration, you’re good to go with Sugar Sell (formerly SugarCRM).
If you are not one of them, go back to the top of this list.
13. Insightly CRM – A Feature Rich and “Easy to Use” CRM ($29/mo)
Ranks #13 out of 15 CRMs
Insightly is a CRM solution aimed at small and medium businesses.
Insightly CRM’s strength is their reports and dashboards features which allow you to create smart visualizations. Also explore data trends and patterns with easily dragging and dropping.
Want to see all the relationships between your users and their records?
The linking tool lets you connect all those contacts/leads/customers.
There are a few drawbacks. Insightly doesn’t provide 2-way email integrations with Outlook and G-Suite (Gmail). For that you need to use a third-party integration PieSync ($29-$79/month extra).
And their (too) easy and basic user interface (UI) could be their strength and weakness at the same time (compared to more robust CRMs).
Who is Insightly CRM for?
If you are a small business owner and a savvy CRM user looking to improve the flow and organization of your business, then Insightly could be the right CRM for you.
…or if you are a team of 2 people and want to use the forever free feature, Insightly will cover you. The main differences between paid and free plans are related to storage capacity and customization capability. Although 2,500 records for free are a blessing, there is no support on the free plan.
Insightly CRM doesn’t offer any refunds although they offer a 14-day free trial for each of their plan.
Note: Medium and large businesses have to consider that Insightly prices product support separately.
14. Microsoft Dynamics 365 – Great Features, And Has A Lot Of Functionality, But Not New-User Friendly At All ($65/mo)
Ranks #14 out of 15 CRMs
You know exactly what you’re getting from a company called “Microsoft.”
Their Microsoft Dynamics 365 application is legit: Everything is in one place such as Sales, Marketing, Finance, Field Service, Customer Service, Project Service Operations and the Automation.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 also offers easy customization for various forms, campaigns and, emails, etc.
But the best part?
Easy access to the platform on the cloud so you control and manage the workflow from anywhere in the world.
There are a few drawbacks, though. Their set up process for new users is not worthy compared with some of our other options… It’s complicated and challenging, I would even say tough, plus, it takes a lot of time.
Last but not least, their support team is positive but oftentimes they don’t know enough about the product and will ask me for information that I already provided in detail upon initial case submission.
That being said, Microsoft Dynamics 365 product is innovating and improving so much you can’t possibly expect people supporting it to be 100% on top of their game.
Another drawback to this tool is the pricing.
While most of its major competitors keep their prices relatively low, the $65 per user per month starting cost for Microsoft Dynamics 365 is on the higher end of the spectrum. (Although, it does look a lot better when you can connect Dynamics 365 with Excel, Outlook, Microsoft Teams, and Power BI.)
You can still try them out since they have a 30-days free trial. However, setting up process might take some time.
15. Salesforce CRM – The Best “Enterprise Level” CRM ($125/mo)
Ranks #15 out of 15 CRMs
Similarly to Microsoft Dynamics 365, Salesforce CRM is very complex and provides a wide variety of functions for enterprise-level users.
Since its founding, Salesforce has become a CRM industry pioneer alongside Zoho CRM (#1 on our list) and in the 7th place overall.
It has a ton of features that help you stay organized in your daily efforts.
However, it can be incredibly confusing to a new user.
There are so many processes and procedures to understand in order to fully engage with the software to its full capacity!
It took us three days of training to learn and get everything up and running.
Again, I totally understand why enterprise-level organizations use this program.
But it is not a walk in the park; it requires a lot of maintenance and has a long learning curve.
Small and medium-size business owners or even seasoned CRM users who don’t want to go through the long process of setting everything up should probably stick to a cheaper and easier CRM software to use.
That being said, the goal is to help business owners make the best possible choice.
Now every time someone comes up to me, sending them to this website will help them save a lot of time.
One thing is for sure – even the best CRM software companies don’t provide the best possible information about their services on their websites.
This fact itself doesn’t make your job of finding the right software easier at all.
The sole purpose of this website is to show you the pros and cons of these software solutions.
If you have additional questions, get us at the bottom of this page. My team and I are happy to help you.
That’s what we’re all about!
I Feel You
You don’t like going through the search-and-possibly-find process, because you pretty much know what you need, but no one have sufficient details about their service to help you make the best decision…
If anything, I totally understand the suffering you would go through trying to find the right CRM software.
I’ve been there, done that – so many times that I should get a medal just for participating that many times!
These processes have 90% of the time ended up in the “worst decision” category, as I picked the wrong ones.
This process is even more frustrating when you don’t know exactly what your business needs.
If that’s you, please let me help you.
Ask me all the questions you have, also tell me a little bit about your current situation – we will go through that and get back to you as soon as possible. We’ve successfully done it already for 250+ people.
Again, don’t hesitate to contact me – I’ll help you out.
N.B. No Free Trial! No Free Trial!
Can you believe that used to be the case with many of them?
It used to be that CRM software companies did NOT want to give you free access to their product.
This of course did not make deciding easier, because you’d still have all the questions in your head. But now all of them offer at least a free 14-day trial.
Keep reading so that you can make the best possible decision for yourself and your business.
Now it’s just a huge decision with a few details.
With all those CRM software companies it’s always an investment.
That means that you will really like this page!
Because CRM companies do not have ENOUGH information on their home pages, which would make your deciding making easier.
With Keap CRM there is actually one more option you can use: talk to their salesperson, I suggest to do that only if you like to negotiate.
If you’re not that type of person, stay with us.
HubSpot, Ontraport and Pipedrive don’t even have sales people, but you can subscribe to take a look at them risk free.
Automation is KEY!
Imagine having absolutely everything automated.
I mean your membership sites, customer loyalty programs, online sales funnels, followups, newsletters, internal tasks, credit card processing, email marketing, CRM stuff.
Imagine how much more confidence and time you would have to focus on other things (after everything is set up).
Plus to your customer the business you’re running could seem like a Forbes TOP 500 company. Seriously.
All that is cool and awesome, especially in the online business world.
But cool and awesome is NOT enough. You need to ask yourself whether, it really benefits you and your business.
The questions you need to ask yourself are:
- Can you invest four to eight weeks to set everything up?
- Are you willing to put in the work or manage this work?
- Do you have $300 a month to spend on it?
Wake up call: Will getting a copy of HubSpot, Pipedrive or Ontraport explode your business and sales by 10 times?
No, by simply using them is definitely not enough.
It Requires Work
Yes, you need to put in the work!
But you will be happy and proud after putting in the time to set everything up.
If you’re having some questions, please contact me.
I am not a sales rep, so I will get back to you with an answer which will help you.
I have been testing and analyzing CRMs for years.
As I REALLY like CRM companies and what they are doing, they are just different pieces of software which are helping you to focus on other important things after everything is set up.
From my point of view again, I don’t really care which software you are going to use.
But what is important for me and what I care about is having you not making this mistake I did after wasting 7 weeks of searching and figuring out all those small things. (Back in 2014)
I went through this hell, don’t do the same mistake.
Instead of wasting weeks, give me some minutes to show you which one is best for you.
I’ve been in the same position before as you are now, that said, I have a proven track record helping hundreds of people make the right decision and choosing the perfect fit.