CRM Software RankedAs rated by the ComparisonX sales and CRM expert panel

Salesforce CRM

ComparisonX Rating: 96%

Industry leading CRM solution

  • Extensive range of features
  • Suitable for all sizes of business
  • Easy to use interface
  • Strong marketing integration
Free trial

HubSpot

ComparisonX Rating: 95%

Best for small and growing businesses

  • Free CRM solution
  • Integrates with an extensive range of marketing tools
  • Large user support community
  • Simple and easy to learn
Sign-up for free CRM

Pipedrive CRM

ComparisonX Rating: 90%

Best for customization

  • Extensive customization options to match your business structure
  • Seamless integration with external systems such as G Suite
  • Strong reporting and analytics
  • Multi language and currency support
Visit Pipedrive

FreshSales by Freshworks

ComparisonX Rating: 89%

Easy to use

  • Easy set-up
  • Accessible pricing
  • Automates data entry
  • AI based lead scoring
Visit Freshsales

Zoho CRM

ComparisonX rating 88%

Best automation features

  • Automates manual tasks
  • Automatically integrates email conversations
  • Integrates with social media activity
  • 360 view of each contact
Visit Zoho

Choosing the right CRM software

There are a host of CRM systems available on the market today. The reality is there is no one perfect system. The right CRM solutions will depend on your business requirements, budget and industry.

In this article we breakdown some of the key considerations you should factor in when choosing a CRM system.

CRM Integration with Marketing

The term technology stack refers to vendors who offer software solutions that handle multiple different tasks. One key integration for CRM systems is the ability to integrate with marketing automation tools.

Marketing automation (also known as Martech) is the technology associated with automated marketing campaigns. Martech may cover many different aspects of marketing such as social media, email marketing, search and website content.

When a CRM system integrates with marketing software it can allow companies to tailor their communications for individual sales prospects. This could take the form of unique email messages with offers designed specifically for that user, all the way through to website content that changes in real time for each visitor.

HubSpot and Salesforce have some of the strongest marketing capabilities. To use the marketing functionality normally means an extra fee in addition to the CRM fee. Other CRM solutions may not have their own marketing technology but can integrate with third party software.

CRM Integration with other software and departments

The ability for a sales system to integrate with other systems is one of the most important factors when choosing a solution.

Simple integrations like which email host a CRM system can sync with may seem trivial, but can have a major impact on day to day operations. More complex integrations are found when the software needs to integrate with finance and accounting processes.

Solutions such as Pipedrive are built around having open interfaces and API’s into other software. Other solutions such as Zoho and Freshsales are designed to be used with their companies own suite of software products.

Our advice is take advantage of the free CRM trials to test if the software you choose will integrate with your other systems.

Read our detailed guide to marketing technology

Check our the top rated marketing autmation companies

CRM Customization

No two businesses are alike. Almost all companies have different work practices and procedures. When deciding on a CRM solution it is important to understand if the software can be tailored for your organisations processes.

A lot of solutions are fairly stock standard. This means what you see is what you get. Others have extensive customization features allowing organizations to tailor features and processes for their business.

A good way to approach customization is to document all the areas in your business where sales and customers have a touch-point. It is these areas where CRM should be the unified data source.

In general the more operations you can do under one software provider the less customization becomes an issue. For example marketing and CRM through HubSpot or Finance and CRM through Freshbooks.  Pipedrive is the one solution that is best known for its ability to be customized.

Checkout our review of Pipedrive

Ease of use

CRM systems are only as good as the data which is entered into them. Many sales managers will attest to the challenge of getting their teams to enter the data correctly.

These systems are there to increase sales productivity, but if it is adding extra steps to closing a deal it is likely that salespeople will stop using it. The complaints often heard from front-line sales people is that opportunities are too complex to enter. Or the system is not accurately reflecting the probability of a deal closing.

Systems such Hubspot consistently rank highly for ease of use. In contrast, enterprise level solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics are known for their steep learning curve.

Training

Many CRM providers offer free online training resources. This normally comes in the form of instructional videos, articles and blog posts.

There are also a host of third party training organisations that offer classroom based training and certification.

Training is an area where the larger vendors tend to have an advantage, because of the amount of users creating content around their systems. Some have very active communities online that post ‘how to’ style content and answer questions in forums.

Salesforce and Hubspot in particular get high reviews for the level of training offered. In additionto the independent support communities that have risen around them.

CRM Support

The amount of support a business requires to set up and run a CRM platform varies significantly. For a lot of companies they will never need to request specific support. But for organisations that are integrating the CRM platform with other systems it is likely that they will need some expert help.

Each CRM vendor offers different level of customer support. Some have 24 helplines, whilst others use online ticketing systems.

Most of the time basic support is free. Several CRM vendors sell consultancy services to help companies set up and integrate their software. There are also a lot of independent product consultants that are experts on the major CRM platforms. This consultancy support is normally priced on an hourly basis. This can range from $250 all the way into four figures per hour.

Establishing the amount of support you need and calculating the cost of this should be factored into your decision when choosing a CRM partner.

CRM Price

Price is an important aspect in choosing any piece of software. At first glance CRM solutions can seem cheap, often priced at under $20 per user per month. But if you have a lot of users the costs can add up over the years.

CRM solutions have two main pricing models: One time purchase and SAAS.

Purchasing the software outright. This is the traditional model where you pay a one off price for the software and install it.

The advantage is it is a fixed one time cost. The problem with this is that often the software is not updated or support is not offered once installed.

There are still some credible CRM solutions that operate like this, but today most major CRM companies operate on a SAAS model.

SAAS stands for software as a service. This is where you pay a monthly subscription for the software and support. Typically the software operates in the cloud and is not physically installed on a users hard drive.

Software providers favor SAAS models as once they build the software they get additional revenue every month from every active user. For consumers, the SAAS model normally means there is not a big initial capital investment and they get updated software and ongoing support.

All of the CRM solutions we recommend are priced on a SAAS model.

When deciding on price calculate the cost of the system per year based on the number of users.

Conclusion

There is no ‘best CRM’ software. The best solution depends on each businesses requirements and budgets. Our advice is to scope out your own requirements and match these to each CRM providers capabilities.

Major platforms such as Salesforce and Hubspot will be right for a lot of companies. Yet, if your company is already using accountancy software from Zoho or Freshbooks, it makes sense to use their CRM offerings. For a simple and customizable solution Pipedrive is a strong alternative.

Whatever you choose, the businesses who see the most benefits from customer relationship management tools are the ones whose sales teams use them extensively. There is little value in adding the software if it only half used.

Do your research and take advantage of the free trial to see what is right for your business.

Read our HubSpot Review and Detailed Hubspot Pricing Guide

Read industry experts seven tips for choosing a CRM system

 

 

 

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