What Is CRM? Full Meaning of CRM System & Applications

Last Updated:Wednesday, January 31, 2024
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CRM Meaning Defined

An exhaustive overview of what CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is, detailing its definition, operation, and how CRM software enhances the outcomes of Sales, Marketing, and Service departments.

 

What is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.

A CRM gathers customer interactions across all channels in one place. Managing centralized data helps businesses improve customer experience, satisfaction, retention, and service.

CRM allows businesses of all sizes to drive growth and profits.

In the space of just a few years, CRMs have evolved enormously. Approachable and far more accessible to learn, implement, and pay for, they've morphed from three-letter monsters into ready-set-go software for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

These tools are still mainly designed for sales, marketing, and service teams. But now they do a dizzying number of other things, like help users manage relationships between team members, vendors, partners, and collaborators.

Learn more about our list of best CRM Software for a great roundup. Let's get started.

 

Uses and Benefits of CRM 

Improves Customer Service

One of the biggest benefits of a CRM system is that manages all your contacts and aggregates lead and customer information to build profiles of everyone you interact with. This type of system gives you easy access to critical information to better understand customer behavior, like purchase records and previous communications with contacts across different channels (chat, email, etc.). Customers won't have to repeat their stories over and over to you, and you'll be able to address issues with best practices and less effort for improved customer loyalty.

 

Increase in Sales

Streamlining and improving the sales process, building a sales pipeline, automating tasks, and analyzing your sales data will inevitably lead to one outcome—increased sales and sales productivity. A CRM system allows you to have all your customer-facing voice, chat, and email touchpoints accessible in one place. You'll clinch more deals by building a repeatable, proven sales process and delivering the right message on the right channel at the right time.

 

Retain More Customers

Retention and churn rates are significant determiners for a company's success. Customer churn is a major obstacle to business growth. CRM tools like sentiment analysis, automated ticketing, customer support, and customer service automation can dramatically improve your retention by letting human agents defuse problems. Analytics tools that look at customer lifecycles can show you when churn happens and why so you can identify and address pain points.

 

Better Analytics

Analytical CRM tools make your data available, intelligible, and relevant to your business needs. All your heaps of sales, finance, and marketing data flow into CRM to become visible metrics, with data warehousing and data mining there to make sense of everything. The net benefit is customer acquisition, customer retention, and better data management.

 

Higher Efficiency

Having all your day-to-day business functions in one place makes for better workflow, easier collaboration between team members, and better project management. Task automation eliminates menial, repetitive work and gives more time for the cognitive tasks humans are best at. Dashboards and analytics will help you gain insights into your work and optimize all business processes.

 

Better knowledge sharing

Miscommunication and lack of information transfer are two significant time-wasters. When people take time to self-learn things other team members already know how to do or work on redundant tasks, you're losing a lot of hours per week. Collaborative CRM tools can streamline your teamwork by letting you build a knowledge base, establish best practice workflows, and allow for frictionless communication between team members. 

 

More transparency

A CRM system allows you to foster greater transparency in your organization by assigning tasks, showing work, and delineating who is who and who is doing what. If your primary concern is sales, you can use performance tracking for individual sales agents. A CRM platform allows everyone in your organization to gain visibility on your business processes, fostering mutual understanding and collaboration.

 

How does CRM Software Work?

CRMs pull in information from email, voice calls, and other channels to help you get more customers and keep the ones you have. They give you a single place to organize your workflows and business processes so you can collaborate, close more deals, and get more done.

Marketing and sales force automation, contact, and project management are the bread-and-butter features of a CRM system.

CRM should work with the way your business works. There are many types of good CRM out there, and no one-size-fits-all CRM option. However, there is most definitely a CRM technology tailored to every company's unique business strategy.

 

The basics of CRM

CRM systems are generally designed to streamline and improve customer interaction, the sales process, and the running of marketing campaigns. They do this by enhancing efficiencies across workflow and the sales pipeline—automating tasks and analyzing data.

A solid CRM strategy provides an all-in-one solution for managing your team's voice, chat, and email touchpoints. They track leads, customer needs, offers, and conversions in one place and help optimize your website and run ad campaigns.

That improves the mechanism behind your business and dramatically increases visibility on your team, customer base, and the broader public.

Keeping track of all that data makes task automation one of the most significant advantages provided by today's CRM platform. By letting machine learning and analytics do some heavy lifting, you save time and keep yourself from getting burned out on cognitively distressing or low-brain-activity tasks.

Making phone calls within your CRM platform automatically generates data in real-time, the date, who made the call, and so much more. You'll be able to automatically track old and new customers and schedule follow-ups with a centralized base for contact information.

Click-to-call, cross-platform functionality makes it a breeze to call from anywhere, makes your business more agile, and saves an incredible amount of money on phone bills.

Email integration streamlines the sales process from your inbox, letting you organize leads, appointments, and contacts, sync information from Gmail to your CRM system, and generate follow-up reminders to close more deals.

Meanwhile, new developments in natural language processing and machine learning make a CRM system better at transcribing (and logging) phone conversations into actionable items so that no customer detail is forgotten.

 

Who Needs a CRM?

CRM systems benefit various entities, from individual freelancers and small businesses to large corporations, encompassing sales, marketing, service, and support roles. 

These systems enhance organization, centralize task management, and leverage AI and automation to streamline work processes. As businesses increasingly operate remotely and flexibly, CRM tools facilitate efficient workflow management through cloud-based access. 

The rising competition in online business underscores the advantage of CRM systems in automating repetitive tasks, allowing human resources to focus on their strengths. The CRM market's rapid growth, particularly among SMBs, reflects its critical role in modern business practices, suggesting a future heavily influenced by CRM technology.

 

What are the types of CRMs

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Sales … for selling

CRM systems are, by and large, designed for selling stuff. However, some of them specialize on the sales cycle and feature very sophisticated tools geared explicitly towards increasing conversions.

A sales CRM system handles selling from point A to B, encompassing sales leads, sales processes, and sales teams. It allows you to build a sales pipeline, track leads, and achieve significantly better visibility on sales opportunities. You'll be able to simplify workflow and manage your customer-facing voice, chat, and email touchpoints on a single platform.

Having an all-in-one sales CRM is great for effectively managing all things sales. That includes leads, contacts, and opportunities, as well as accounts, quotations, and proposals.

Lead management and contact management tools collect information from email, voice calls, and elsewhere, aggregating them to build up singular, rich profiles of the people in your business orbit.

With a Sales CRM, you'll be able to see where a customer is in the sales cycle and nurture leads by targeting them with relevant, individualized information. Opportunity management features help you spot sales as they develop so you can respond quickly.

Account management keeps track of clients: their activity, pending deals, payment status, and associated contacts.

Quotation management lets you create quotes fast and track those in play, which is invaluable for sales forecasting and managing production processes. Sales CRM integrations with proposal management tools like PandaDoc make creating, tracking, and storing proposals easy.

Salesforce automation rationalizes your workflow by sorting information across channels, generating new data and tasks, notifying you on follow-ups, order processing and tracking, and all telephone-related things. Automation helps to cut down your manual entry tasks considerably.

Agent performance tracking tools, meanwhile, are handy for evaluating and incentivizing your team, scheduling team members, and planning schedules for slow and busy periods.

Read the in-depth article on Sales CRM to learn more about this CRM type.

 

Pipedrive

Pipedrive has a name that leaves little to the imagination, but that's okay.

The platform is indeed all about the sales pipeline. It allows you to create multiple pipelines customizable to your business needs, with a highly visual design that provides a clear overview of all activities and prioritizes the most important sales activities.

Graphical cues and a drag-and-drop interface let you move leads through the sales pipeline and determine which are most likely to close.

You can migrate data from a previous CRM system into Pipedrive or import it directly.

Mailchimp, Zapier, and Google Apps integrations further expand the platform's scope of operations. iOS and Android apps help you manage sales on the fly.

 

Close

Close is a web-based app targeted at startups and small and medium-sized enterprises, offering easy-to-learn yet powerful tools for boosting sales team performance.

The platform has handy tools for voice calls. Call automation and predictive dialing features help you engage with the most qualified leads efficiently and effectively.

Call recording lets you monitor and review your sales team's interactions, address pain points, and boost conversions.

Customer profiles are automatically generated based on data segmentation. Lead tracking tools allow you to do in-depth, customizable lead scoring via an easily mastered user interface, particularly when paired with a powerful Autopilot integration.

 

SugarCRM

SugarCRM is a highly customizable CRM platform for managing customers and leads, bringing your sales team in sync with your marketing and support teams.

The platform's prime value is refining and personalizing your sales cycle and pipeline. Tweakable dashboards, productivity, and collaborative tools make it easier to combine your team's personas into a cohesive, appropriate system.

SugarCRM's Sales Stage keeps track of opportunities from "Prospect" to "Proposal" to "Deal Won" and assigns a probability of success for each stage. That's very useful for sales forecasting.

The platform's development tools let you build custom apps for your discrete selling needs. A clean, drag-and-drop modular interface enables you to do much 'developer' stuff, like setting up features and fields without knowing a line of code.

Android and iOS apps keep your sales squad humming along on the go, with access to in-depth sales information anytime.

 

Dialpad

Dialpad is a cross-channel 'softphone' sales platform with voice, video, call center, and messaging features. It's not a CRM in and of itself but a lightweight yet powerful tool that integrates with more broad-featured CRM platforms like Zendesk and Salesforce.  

The platform also offers native integration with G Suite for a seamless crossover with the web apps you already use.  

One of Dialpad's most exciting (and eminently practical) features is VoiceAI, an advanced AI analytics that uses speech recognition and natural language processing (NLP) technology. This handy tool automatically generates an accurate transcription of all your sales calls in real time.

Meanwhile, the Moments features create a timeline of each sales voice call, highlighting key moments and classifying them by customer' intent signals.' That means that when someone utters a line like "this price is a bit expensive," a 'price inquiry' flag and time note will automatically be generated, letting you know there's still space to follow up and make a deal.

Real-time sentiment analysis, meanwhile, generates a customer satisfaction score while in conversation. Real-time coaching floats in the background with automated feedback for the sales agent, including pricing, features, and competitor offering information.

 

Service

Customer service is more important than ever. A service CRM integrates tools from dedicated customer service and support (CSS) software and fits them in with marketing and sales to handle the breadth of customer experience.

Maybe you're asking yourself, "Why would I choose a CRM system over customer service software?" 

Well, one reason would be to have a unified knowledge base, aka customer information, that is collected by and accessible to multiple departments — for example, sales, marketing, and customer service. Streamlined access to contact data and collaborative team tools help you respond and resolve customer inquiries faster and smarter.

And, if you're going for a customer service-centric CRM, considering all the customer touch points—social, chat, email, phone, and website—is essential. A service CRM system offers service and support staff immediate access to customer information across all relevant channels.

Every feature of your CRM captures customer data, including case history, so all your service reps will have complete visibility of the people they're interacting with. This delivers faster resolutions and cuts down customer frustration, thus decreasing churn and boosting conversions.

Phone, email, online forms, live chat, and social media contact points are all available in-app.

A ' ticket ' is created when a customer reaches out across one channel. The ticket contains the customer's name, details, and the nature of their issue, also flagging the relevant department according to what the problem is to ensure they speak to the right person.

Read the in-depth article on Service CRM.

 

Agile CRM

Agile CRM features a Helpdesk that segments customers according to individual history, matching them to the rep most qualified to tackle their specific issue. Reps can be grouped into silos, so you can pass an issue to a specialist in the event the first choice isn't available.

Telephony features let you make calls in-app, record them for analysis and quality monitoring, and automatically generate call logs. Meanwhile, the platform's feedback database allows you to build up a backlog of information to guide operations towards best practices further.

 

Zendesk

Zendesk Suite puts incoming customer questions via email, tweets, chat, and social channels into one place, speeding your ability to respond and making your business smarter.

The software flags conversations that need attention and lines up tickets intelligently so agents can knock them down in the correct order. Records are tracked until the issue is resolved, and issues can be organized by type.

 

SugarCRM

SugarCRM offers full-fledged service CRM functionality, with case distribution workflows, tools for improving customer visibility, and collaborative tools for workflow rationalization and clear-cut task assignment.

Everything is designed with quantifiable metrics: speed response and resolution times, reign in customer service-related expenses, and optimize user experience with tailored customer satisfaction metrics.

 

Marketing

Marketing has unique challenges and fulfills a singular "frontline" role in your business. A marketing CRM setup can help out with that, big time.

Any good customer relationship management CRM is built on the principle of better business through overlapping communication and the centralization of tasks and data. In that spirit, a marketing-focused CRM offers much help with marketing by symbiotically merging it with sales, letting you run campaigns more effectively, obtain more leads, and close more deals.

Build marketing campaigns and automate them across channels, get statistics on opened/unopened mail status and click-through rate, and use A/B testing to find the best strategy for your landing pages.

A marketing CRM can segment leads into different categories according to how long they spent on your website, what links they clicked on, and what personal information they shared on a form. Marketing segmentation allows you to build separate campaigns for separate demographics, keeping your brand "top-of-mind" until the lead is ready to become active.

Integrations with tools like Customer.io and Mailchimp can help automate the delivery of emails and texts and build social media ads. Drip marketing features let you schedule emails to arrive over a set period.

Read an in-depth article on Marketing CRM.

 

HubSpot

HubSpot is a ginormous name in the CRM world and offers a very accessible, comprehensive CRM solution that forms the core of its 'full stack' business management platform.

Their dedicated inbound marketing hub boosts conversions with robust automation, management, and lead-tracking tools, linking marketing to your sales and support teams.

Meanwhile, the Personas feature can help you dig deep to understand the mindsets of different customer strata and then segment them for better marketing strategy.

 

Drip eCRM

Drip eCRM is built to support online businesses and does a great job tracking e-commerce KPIs. It's explicitly designed to help smaller operations get out from the shadow of big companies and their personalized algorithms, helping them build more intimate, intelligent customer relationships.

As may be given away by the name, it specializes in drip marketing campaigns. It handles the time-released distribution of marketing materials through email, text messages, Facebook ads, and personalized landing pages and websites.

The platform uses marketing automation to ascertain if someone is a prospect, customer, or an advanced user, then directs strategy in the right direction. Lead scoring and tracking features help you understand purchase intent and unique events.

 

Keap - (formerly Infusionsoft)

Keap organizes client information in one locale to personalize marketing and boost workflow. It's targeted at small businesses, with features built to run campaigns with advanced marketing automation.

You can use triggers to automate tasks once they meet specific criteria. Data from campaigns, workflows, and tracking are made extra intelligible through real-time monitoring, visualized statistics, and in-depth analytics.

The tracking features collect leads into different segments, each getting personalized "nudges" to close more deals, while workflows automate tasks based on triggers. Data from campaigns, tracking, and workflows become intelligible through statistical reporting.  

Visual editing lets you build email campaigns and landing pages; ready-made templates are available on their marketplace if you're strapped for time.

 

Creatio (previously BPM'Online Marketing)

Creatio does more than marketing; its main objective is acquiring, preparing, and qualifying leads. It's been designed to look and respond to user input like a social app, so it's intuitive to learn and easy to share your insights.

The platform helps to plan and execute marketing campaigns using a simple visual designer tool. You can also set up triggers to assign specific actions to contacts, like answering a CTA. Real-time monitoring lets you analyze campaigns and see how they're doing.

Creatio's email marketing uses a bulk mail creator, fully loaded with ready-to-use templates, to get the word out quickly and attractively. There are also A/B split testing and click-stat tools for gauging the most successful emails. All that data feeds into the platform's analytics.

 

Zendesk Sunshine

Zendesk has long been known for its sales, service, and support, but its new Zendesk Sunshine CRM platform takes customer engagement into a more front-line holistic approach.

Zendesk Sunshine was launched at the end of 2018. This open and flexible platform operates on the principle that customer data can power all aspects of a business operation, including marketing.

Another new tool, Zendesk Explore, allows you to analyze metrics creatively across email, chat, and voice.

 

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is a stalwart in email databasing and automated blast emailing. Their straightforward design tools let you create email marketing campaigns and tailor messages to reach people across email channels.

Mailchimp provides a long list of automation features, letting you set up auto-emails triggered by events like new sign-ups, purchases, or abandoned cart reminders.

In terms of integrations, Mailchimp offers a vast collection of ready-to-merge services and is easily teamed with CRMs like Salesforce, Insightly, and many, many more.

They also do postcards—yes, the real-life kind (come to think of it, Customer.io does this, too!).

 

Small Business

While there is no de facto best small business CRM, some software tools are more suitable than others regarding tiny teams' needs.

You'll want a CRM system with workflow, reporting, and automation tools that work well but aren't difficult to master. Simplicity, intuitive design, and a low learning curve are three other significant things to look for.

Likely, you won't need many app integrations just yet. Integrations with your email platform, document editing suite, and social media channels should be sufficient at the outset.

If you run a small business, you're probably doing things your way rather than following a playbook from established figures in your field.

With that in mind, it may be in your best interest to seek a CRM system with customization features and a drag-and-drop interface that lets you easily modify lead, contact, and opportunity fields and add sections relevant to your business.

Read the full article on Best Small Business CRM

 

Nimble

Nimble is a straightforward, no-nonsense web app CRM focusing on social media. It lets you aggregate posts from major social media channels, namely Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, keeping tabs on who's talking about or engaging with your brand.

Smart social search and market segmentation tools help you laser down on the most critical opportunities and smartly handle them. Data organization and reporting features show what's working, what's not, and where you can take strategy in the future.

Integrations with Office 365 and G Suite ensure you can import and organize contacts from the platform you're already using.

 

NoCRM.io

NoCRM.io has an interesting shtick insofar as their whole thing is, 'You don't need a CRM.'

While that may or may not be accurate, their suspiciously CRM-y platform focuses on simple yet effective tools for lead management, sales, and intra-team collaboration. It tightens selling by capturing leads from disparate places, from websites and email to third-party apps and business cards.

You can organize leads, prioritize and reference them, and assign them to specific teams or team members (as well as set up automated reminders to keep everyone on task and timeline).

NoCRM.io also bundles a full-featured mobile app for iOS and Android, helping you close more deals on the go.

 

Copper

Copper requires no training and can be installed in about five minutes. It also integrates with G Suite, so that's very helpful if you use Gmail every day.

The platform has small business-ready features like automated data entry, smart identification, lead and customer tracking, and optimization of opportunities and sales contacts. There's a visual, aesthetically pleasing sales pipeline for funneling and managing leads across the qualification process.

You can boost the management of your teams and workflows with weekly pipeline progression reports. Drag-and-drop functionality, custom filters, and alerts keep you on the ball and let your team (or you) put energy into building customer relationships. A useful @mention function enables you to send alerts to other team members.

Copper has competitive pricing that will work for most small businesses. Give it a whirl with the 14-day free trial, then consider the paid plans set at $19 (Basic), $49 (Professional), and $119 (Business).

 

Capsule

Capsule is straightforward, with a handsome user interface and zero learning curve.

Eschewing extended features in favor of the primary business of managing daily work, Capsule lets you instantly find out what's going on with your sales pipeline (bids, lead generation, proposals, customer data, etc.) and tasks. Essential information is made easily accessible. Contact lists can be easily imported from Gmail, Outlook, CSV spreadsheet, and database files.

If you run a business alone or with a single partner, you'll be pleased to know you can get Capsule's free version (the cap is two users). The freebie includes Zapier integrations for G Suite, Zendesk, Twitter, Mailchimp, and more.

There's a thirty-day free trial for the Professional Version. After that, paid plans start from $18.

 

Insightly

Insightly is available on the web and mobile versions for Android and iOS. It also integrates with G Suite and Microsoft Office 365.

Seamless pipeline integration with your CRM feeds into features like managing contacts and customer data, tracking opportunities (aka sales leads), and assigning tasks to team members with handy to-do lists.

The Insightly Sidebar sits in your browser as a Chrome extension, allowing you to save Gmail messages directly to your CRM and cross-reference contact information.

The platform also features Business intelligence (BI) (powered by Microsoft Power BI), aggregating historical and real-time data within your CRM platform, letting you decipher trends and metrics to make more informed decisions.

Like Capsule, it's free for up to two users. That said, it should be noted that Insightly's free version doesn't include a data backup system and contains daily caps for mass emailing. It also limits the number of custom fields added to each record.

Paid plans start from $29.

 

Zoho

Zoho CRM tailors its product to small businesses with a simple user interface, full-fledged automation features, and customizable modules.

Define workflows, manage your leads, and rationalize everyday tasks. Integration with Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ lets you reach out and engage with leads immediately.

Zoho is available in free and paid versions. The trial version is available for up to three users, but it's a bit limited in functionality, with no mass emailing feature and limited customizability.

More full-featured paid versions start at $12.

 

Pipedrive

Pipedrive has a visual and straightforward user interface to help move the customer down the sales pipeline and clinch deals.

The platform emphasizes the sales process and tracking of contacts. It's got tools for picking up leads, managing contacts, and keeping you on top of deals. Build multiple sales pipelines with customizable, unique stages that are context-appropriate.

Full email sync ensures you can view messages from whatever email service you use in-app.

Pipedrive has a functional mobile app for both Android and iOS to keep you on top of things.

Pipedrive is available from the not-too-shabby starting price of $14.90.

 

Freshsales

Freshsales, the CRM component of the Freshworks 360 customer engagement suite, is simple and effective.

The platform is built to help you scale your business, monitor deals, eliminate mundane tasks, run sales email campaigns, and create efficiencies through data centralization. Lead capture automatically grabs leads from emails. You can develop your lead-scoring criteria to find your best leads, too.

On the voice side, there's a built-in phone module with auto-dialing, call recording, and call routing features.

Freshsales offers a 30-day free trial for all its plans. The basic paid plan is $12.

 

Zendesk Sunshine

Zendesk Sunshine is the CRM arm of the Zendesk customer service and support empire.

As a "multidimensional" customer relationship management tool, it's built to work holistically across your business and break down barriers between teams and traditional roles.

The platform is built on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud. The AWS infrastructure easily migrates data in and out of the CRM. The fact it's based on AWS also makes it easy to create custom app for your specific small business needs.

 

HubSpot CRM

Then there's HubSpot, a big-name app with a free option with basic features that is highly suitable for small businesses looking for limited CRM functionality.

The free version of HubSpot has some pretty robust inbound marketing tools. Features for managing workflows beef up your project management. It's also easy to assign and track leads, monitor the sales process, and record customer interactions across all channels.

HubSpot is designed to work with G Suite and Microsoft Office, so it'll work for you regardless of your developer allegiance.

The paid versions of HubSpot are not cheap, but they add key features like reporting, AI assistance, and advanced automation. Depending on what you want your CRM suite to focus on, there are separate packages for Marketing, Sales, and Service at $50 a month each.

The all-inclusive Growth Suite starts at $113 a month.

 

Gmail: makes your inbox smarter.

If you're like most people, your personal and professional life is nearly dependent on Google's ubiquitous email service. Gmail claims over 1 billion active users and over 4 million paying business customers worldwide.

All this to say that Gmail is probably not going anywhere anytime soon. People appreciate the platform's design, efficiency, and emphasis on user experience.

As a result, many CRM developers have opted to craft software integrated with the platform. Since we already use Gmail and associated G Suite apps all the time, it makes sense that developers would want to piggyback off of the troves of information that flow through our inboxes.

It also makes sense that users like us would want to use a CRM tied to a platform we already know how to use. A Gmail CRM dramatically cuts down the learning curve compared to traditional CRMs and makes a successful CRM implementation a breeze.

Read the in-depth article about the best Gmail CRM.

 

Streak

Streak is a fully integrated Gmail CRM. It's built inside the Gmail box for desktop and mobile, resulting in an organic improvement on your pre-existing workflow. It integrates with various G Suite apps (most notably Google Sheets, Drive, and Chat). It provides familiar CRM tools like sales pipeline and lead generation, using automatic data capture from contacts and emails.

While widely used for sales, customer support, recruitment, and customer service, Streak counts many customers working in media and creative agencies. It does a great job of managing partner relationships, making it particularly attractive in industries where collaborators change from project to project.

 

Capsule

Capsule offers a Gmail add-on integration in the form of a sidebar Chrome browser extension. As a result, you access it in the same way as any other Google app—pretty simple indeed.

Once it's up and running, you can use it to generate and track leads, add follow-up tasks and new cases, and store entire email conversation threads with a two-click process. Better visibility will help you nurture relationships and convert more often.

Given its simplicity and clean, understandable design, the platform caters primarily to startup and small business clients. Customizable features and mobile CRM functionality seal the deal.

 

Pipedrive

Pipedrive offers a Gmail extension, which (like Capsule) runs as a sidebar application, letting you efficiently do stuff like scheduling sales activities and adding Gmail contacts to your CRM platform.

Pipedrive is geared primarily towards sales and emphasizes tracking leads and keeping your sales pipeline humming. Once you install the Gmail add-on for Pipedrive, a sales history for each contact will automatically be generated every time you open one of their emails. This dramatically improves your access to contextual cues for each lead, which is critical to closing deals.

 

Copper

Copper connects Gmail and CRM beyond the sidebar. The platform is built on Google Material Design, so you can do everything CRM—such as email tracking, call logs, and contact management—in what looks and feels like G Suite.

Copper's Chrome Extension lives inside Gmail, with full-fledged G Suite integrations to ensure your Google spreadsheets, docs, and slides link seamlessly to all your customer profiles.

Copper's native G Suite integration has AI-driven capabilities for automating menial and irritating tasks. The platform automatically records calls, emails, events, and other productivity documents.

That said, it's worth noting that Copper is not 100% integrated into your inbox. There will still be a bit of tab-switching in your daily grind, but Copper's workflow feels seamless and breezy.

Google itself uses and recommends Copper CRM for its millions of users. Not a bad recommendation.

 

Insightly

Insightly bills itself as the "#1 Gmail and G Suite CRM", but what it means to say is that they're (arguably) the #1 CRM with a pretty convenient Gmail integration.

Lack of full integration notwithstanding, their Insightly Sidebar Chrome browser extension is quite helpful. With a single click, it lets reps migrate contacts and emails from their Gmail inbox or sent folder directly into the app and gives users easy access to Insightly with hover note features and task creation options. It also automatically saves contacts and emails into the CRM sidebar.

Insightly has an equally helpful desktop and mobile app, Kanban sales pipelines, custom reports, and many dashboard options. It's built for enterprise-size sales and relationship management, but that said, it also offers a free-for-two-user option that caters to startups.

 

NetHunt

NetHunt is a fully integrated Gmail CRM, not a Chrome Extension or sidebar. It takes your familiar Gmail dashboard to the left of your inbox and adds a second tab, letting you access all the CRM capabilities you might need.

Deals, Companies, Support, Tasks, Contacts, and Pipelines are readily accessible from this dashboard, directly inside your inbox. A sidebar dashboard on the right side of the inbox gives more information, including company and customer profile details.

The whole CRM is built around "Records," a collection of your emails, tasks, and other files you can organize into customized groups and views.

Sales team members can check out key customer details in every email, create leads from emails in a single click, access social profiles, and view chat messages. Marketers can use personalized email campaigns backed by analytics and get automatic data updates based on email campaign results.

The app helps support teams outline, organize, prioritize customer requests, and automate support inquiries. Zapier integration connects NetHunt with 1,000 other favorite app combos.

Price-wise, NetHunt has a free plan for up to two users. The Professional plan is $24 (includes space for 25,000 records and 2,000 email campaigns per day). The Enterprise plan, consisting of 250,000 records and 2,000 email campaigns per day, is priced slightly steep—$48 per user per month.

Social: for social media management

Today's customer journey is complex. People have an incredible number of choices and increasingly pull the trigger based on word of mouth from their social circles. The public is likely to come upon your product from personal recommendations instead of direct advertising.

Social channels have become a key platform for advertising, customer engagement, and communication with the public. Hence, social CRM has increased, aggregating and analyzing posts from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

As the role of social media in business has evolved, competition has intensified. Staying on top of changes in online behavior is another major challenge.

That means social media management is now a crucial business investment.

Traditional CRM focuses on communication channels like phone, email, and text. Social CRM broadens this scope to include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn—platforms equipped with messaging modules where customers and businesses can chat directly.

For customer service and support, a social CRM translates to a quicker and more efficient method for addressing any customer feedback, whether positive or negative. Posts from multiple social channels are aggregated in one place, meaning you'll be better equipped to keep up with what's happening with customers, leads, and the public in real-time.

Read the in-depth article on Social CRM.

 

Sprout Social

Sprout is a social media management suite that helps foster empathetic, genuine interactions with customers and leads.

Its cross-channel aggregated social media feed powers a holistic platform designed to tackle all the needs, from social marketing to customer care, reputation management, and analytics. Social listening tools help you manage your brand in real-time and analyze social data for relevant marketing insights.

The software's auto-scheduling feature lets you easily queue up posts across all social channels and do so from many different accounts. The discovery tab helps you find influencers, discover the best people to follow or unfollow and see who's reacted to—or interacted with—your company or mentioned your brand.

 

Nimble

Nimble is designed for use with Google Apps and the Microsoft family of programs. It also integrates with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, AngelList, Foursquare, and Google+.

Social CRM is useful for generating leads, segmenting contacts, and tracking your cross-channel communications history.

The platform automatically finds and links the social accounts of leads and customers, using this data to generate detailed, singular contact profiles. Its smart search feature lets you sort contacts by connectivity status or following/followers stats.

 

Zoho Social

Zoho Social focuses on new lead acquisition across Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. It lets the user trawl social media to find potential customers, manually select those deemed likely to convert, and bring their contact information into the central Zoho CRM platform to begin the sales process.

The software allows for managing multiple brands in one place, which is a big plus if you're working in an agency environment. It also has an automated function to add new leads based on custom-defined triggers.

You can quickly generate impressive, high-quality leads by setting specific criteria, such as age demographic, 'Likes,' or shopping habits.

 

Salesforce

Salesforce is a pioneer in CRM and related SaaS tools. Recently, they've embraced AI as part of their customer solutions toolkit.

Regarding social media, Salesforce's AI helps social feeds identify leads and put them in touch with reps. It covers the usual social CRM features, like 'listening' for your product and service being mentioned across channels, letting you respond quickly to engagement, and organizing posts and analytics.

Marketing and sales features are bundled separately from customer service. Social Studio comprises social media sales and marketing, and Social Customer Service covers the customer specifics. Fortunately, navigating between both platforms and sharing information is pretty straightforward.

Among many other features, Salesforce's integrated Einstein AI includes an image classification tool that can identify logos, food, objects, and scenery shared in social images to develop metrics on the contexts in which a product is being used. Suffice it to say this opens up many new possibilities for deep social listening and plotting marketing strategy.

The platform has several pricing plans depending on package and business type, and nonprofits enjoy special discounts.

 

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a souped-up social network management platform. It should be noted that it's 'not really' a CRM per se, as evidenced by its lack of sales pipeline features.

It does have great scheduling tools and the all-in-one social dashboard going for it, not to mention beneficial analytics for measuring the success of your content.

The platform offers several integrations with platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, WordPress, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.

Your Hootsuite dashboard can be customized and made more CRM-ready with app extensions that link it to Nimble, Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, and more. You can find these extensions and more on the Hootsuite app directory.

Pricing starts from $29 per month.

 

Mobile: for deal-making on the move  

The days of the 9-5 desk jockey are quickly being numbered. Meanwhile, over half of all internet traffic is routed through mobile devices. Investing in a mobile CRM is a wise choice for an agile workforce on a flexible schedule and often on the move.

Mobile CRMs perform more-or-less the same functions as traditional CRMs. Still, they're accessible from (surprise, surprise) tablets and smartphones, thus re-formulated for smaller iOS or Android screens. The best of the bunch take advantage of the format, offering intuitive user interfaces and robust analytics and communications tools.

Ideally, a mobile CRM platform will allow you to access most, if not all, of the information that the web app provides. It will also allow you to input new data on the fly.

For sales reps, taking calls from customers and leads out-of-office — aided by in-app contact history and product information — is enormous. For everyone else in your business, having access to all your data anytime, anywhere, is super helpful for every department—from marketing and customer support to intra-team collaboration.

It should be noted that there is a unique security risk inherent in using a mobile CRM. If you've ever had your phone slip out of your pocket on a busy subway car, you know that it's a lot easier to lose a smartphone than a laptop. With that in mind, you'll want to ensure that you choose a mobile CRM backed with security features like two-factor authentication and VPN requirements.

Read the in-depth article Mobile CRM.

 

Copper

Copper's mobile app is designed to integrate seamlessly with all your G Suite apps. It's focused on simplicity but manages to mirror the look and feel of their web app.

Some key features include a visually oriented sales pipeline to manage leads through the qualification process, one-tap access to contacts via email, voice, and text, and the ability to log notes in-app with accurate voice transcription.

It also has a convenient @mention function for communicating and sending alerts to other team members on the fly.

 

Haystack

Haystack offers a clean, straightforward mobile CRM with a well-designed heads-up dashboard. You can view sales metrics, generate quotes, track emails and prospects in your sales pipeline, and manage contacts wherever you are.

Calendar sync ensures that CRM data on events, task assignments, and deadlines are automatically shared to your phone so you receive alerts.

Haystack's CRM product is geared at small businesses and those with a side hustle. With that in mind, they offer the solo entrepreneur a trial version of their services, albeit with some limitations versus their paid products.

 

Salesbox

Salesbox offers a mobile CRM focused on sales acceleration. Rather than wasting time on admin, sales agents are empowered to use their gut instincts and react to opportunities as they present themselves, with automation backing their play and putting everything in its proper place (as well as generating higher-quality data).

GPS features allow you to accurately track sales metrics geographically and find functional pinpointed patterns for sales and marketing forecasting. As a bonus, iOS users can use the software with help from Siri.

 

Pipeliner

Pipeliner offers a mobile version (iOS and Android-ready) with a professional look and feel. It boasts some extra features not included in its desktop version, namely phone, email, and camera apps integration.

That means you can run multiple sales pipelines and workflows on the go and engage customers one-on-one. Information syncs smoothly with the desktop app, helping you deliver more productivity.

Keep your salespeople away from data entry and on the hunt where they can thrive. Plans start at $25 per month.

 

Zoho

Zoho has a ton of apps under its brand but is maybe best known for its CRM and, specifically, its mobile app.

Access all your deals and notes, @mention teammates to collaborate while you're out and about, and geotag your locations for meet-ups with customers to better manage time and schedule. Design-wise, it's also pretty aesthetically pleasing, so there's that.

Price-wise, there's a trial version for up to three users. Paid versions range from $12 to $100 per user per month.

 

Open Source: the alternative option 

Most CRMs are proprietary. That is to say, they're a boxed-up, finalized product that just works. No hiring of in-house developers is required.

Open-source software, by contrast, is a platform for which the source code is available to the public. It's expected that you'll want to take the existing product and recalibrate it to meet your specific workflow needs.

The platform's open-source code is mostly very well-developed, and customization solutions have been streamlined for speed and ease. Everything is set up to be further developed by users.

This type of CRM thus offers advantages in scalability and flexibility, letting you create new custom features and integrations as they become necessary to your business. You can also proceed without fear of vendor restrictions.

Depending on your skill set and what you want to achieve with a CRM, an open-source platform may or may not be better than a closed-source one.

If you're running a niche business and looking for specific features, open-source software could be just what the doctor ordered. Ditto if you find appeal in the open source movement, with its sense of reciprocal community and freedom to innovate.

Then again, you may feel that open-source development is too much of a deep dive down the rabbit hole. If your business operates within a well-defined market, needs more complex tools, and demands highly responsive product support, it might be best to go with a full-stack, proprietary tool.

Read the in-depth article on Open Source CRM.

 

OroCRM

OroCRM has a reputation as being the most flexible open-source software in its category. It's based on the Symfony2 PHP framework for web development, which is widely used and well-liked. That means that lots of open-source developers find it easy to understand Oro's code and create new customizations, making it relatively effortless, not to mention cost-effective, to modify the platform to your needs.

Integrations with Zendesk, MailChimp, and many other well-liked apps round out the package.

 

Odoo

Odoo is all about 'extensible architecture'—in other words, a modular design that lets you mix and match different features. Over the years, freelance open-source developers in the Odoo community have built some modules for free and some for purchase.

You can shop around to see if there's an existing no-cost solution for your business, buy the right one for the best price, or hire someone to build what you need.

 

SplendidCRM

If you're running your working life with Microsoft products, there's always SplendidCRM. The developers behind Splendid deduced that Microsoft's CRM, Microsoft Dynamics, can come off as somewhat complex and daunting.

SplendidCRM believes Windows and Android people deserve as clean and straightforward a CRM experience as Mac/iOS users, so they built a platform that delivered just that. SplendidCRM offers robust integrations (Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps, Facebook, etc) and well-rounded features spanning workflow, contact, and product management.

The CRM is free Community Edition in three paid versions (Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate).

 

vTiger

VTiger open source CRM does all the CRM things you know and love, helping you run marketing campaigns and keep track of leads, customers, opportunities, the sales cycle, and daily workflows. A Gmail extension lets you reference CRM data and info while emailing.

To get vTiger up and running and implement it successfully, you'll need a hosting account and someone with some technical skills. As you scale up your app usage, you'll likely want to check out the marketplace for add-ons.

 

SuiteCRM

SuiteCRM is probably one of the most approachable open-source systems with a low learning curve and easy set-up. It handles sales, service, and marketing, with custom modules, layout, and relationship development tools that will please your IT department.

SuiteCRM offers Google Calendar sync and Elasticsearch integration for quicker, more scalable text searches across your data.

Modular customizability and add-ons mean you can use it for all applications. It also works on any platform: Windows, OS/X, Ubuntu, Android, iOS—you name it.

 

Zurmo

Gamified and intuitive, Zurmo is easy to use and modify, manages contacts, and amicably takes on sales pipeline and reporting features. Marketing and sales force automation cut down your manual input.

It's suitable for on-the-go situations with iOS and Android versions and runs on the cloud or your proprietary cloud, as you like. Points, badges, and experience points offer your team a healthy level of competitive motivation.

You may also be pleased to note that the developer also holds on to some lofty community, diversity, and inclusivity social goals.

 

Free: the very cheap option

In a perfect world, all CRMs would be free. Of course, the vagaries of business preclude that utopian reality. Still, there are free platforms out there, and one may just be good enough—or at least a good starting point—for your business needs.

free CRM allows you to try out new tools without making any initial investment.

You can determine a platform's value for your business without the time and money commitment, learn new features for no money down, and become savvier about what kind of workflow, collaboration, and analytics tools you'll need going forward. This is all helpful if you're a startup or small business on a lean budget.

Of course, we all know nothing is 'really' free, so there are limitations. Free platforms often have a cap on the number of users you can add, the number of contacts you can import and keep records of, and a ceiling for cloud storage space.

They also generally don't have the same full-fledged, high-powered features of professional and enterprise-paid products (say, in terms of analytics, AI, advanced automation, round-the-clock customer support, and so on).

 

HubSpot CRM

HubSpot offers a free version of its CRM, and it's a pretty full plate regarding features. It allows core CRM functionality and lets you import up to 1 million contacts. You can also add unlimited team members.

Given that HubSpot is such a massive operation, they provide many training videos to get you up to speed on various features. Meanwhile, their personalized customer service can help you with setup, troubleshooting, and whatever else.

One downside is that the free version only lets you share one contact at a time rather than your entire contact list, which can be a bit of a drag. However, given the immensity of features you gain for $0, this is a minor gripe.

 

Insightly

Insightly offers a trial version for one or two people. That might be enough if you're a freelancer, starting a business solo, or in cahoots with a partner.

The software is mainly targeted at small and mid-size businesses. It makes it easy to manage contacts, organizations, and opportunities (aka sales leads) and delegate tasks with handy to-do lists. Learning to use Insightly is straightforward, mainly thanks to a comprehensive range of well-made, official video tutorials.

The trial version doesn't offer a data backup system and caps your number of daily mass emails and custom fields in each record. It also lacks the more advanced lead assignment tools found in paid versions.

Insightly integrates efficiently with G Suite and Microsoft 365 apps. Apart from the main web version, it's also available as a mobile app for Android and iOS.

 

Freshsales

Freshsales is the CRM tool from Freshworks 360, a full-fledged customer engagement suite. The first 30 days of the trial version lets you maintain unlimited leads, deals, and contacts.

The platform's lead scoring assigns a value from 0 to 100 for every lead you have. You can customize the criteria for evaluation (ex., industry, job title…) so that you work only on the most promising cases. Likewise, you can set up custom 'sort' categories for organizing all other kinds of data.

Freshsales also features a robust built-in phone module with auto-dialing, call recording, and call routing features.

After 30 days, the full-stack freebie version shrinks into the more Spartan-featured Sprout plan, which is capped at ten users and 10,000 records.

 

Streak

Streak's platform is one of the only fully integrated Gmail CRMs. It lives inside your Gmail inbox and includes all the G Suite apps.

The app simplifies the CRM adoption process for brand-new or super-lean startups during the early days and lets anyone who already uses Gmail get up and running immediately.

Emails are automatically grouped according to everyday tasks and added to a pipeline. Data sharing among team members automatically lets you quickly reference email and phone call logs. When someone opens an email you sent, you'll get a notification.

The trial version of Streak is primarily for personal use and includes the essential CRM tools and the complete email power tools. One can also create an unlimited amount of pipelines.

 

Really Simple Systems

Really Simple Systems (aka. RSS) doesn't shy away from touting its marketing automation, sales, and service platform as simple.

They offer paid-for versions, but their free option is much more than just a temporary trial offer. It covers tiny teams of up to two users, so incubating startups and solo entrepreneurial ventures can have a CRM without eating costs early on.

The trial version allows unlimited contacts and up to 100 MBs of document storage. It includes core features like sales automation, customer service, and contact and lead management tools that aim to keep on the ball with sales, suppliers, and everyone else.

For small businesses in the B2B game, RSS is an excellent choice for entering the CRM scene.

 

Bitrix24

Bitrix24 puts communication and collaboration front and center.

The cloud version of Bitrix24 can be had for free, and it supports a whopping 12 users and 5 GB of storage. The paid plans don't differ much in features from the freebie but offer larger-scale uses of the same features and improved storage.

The platform's communications toolkit includes complete phone, chat, email, and video features. Task management is divided into group task features, which help plan and assign tasks and time them for future planning. Then there's project management, which utilizes devices like calendars and Kanbans in highly pleasing visuals.

The Bitrix24 CRM covers the gamut of pipeline management from engagement to sales to reporting. Setting quotes for clients and arranging invoices is facilitated with various currency and tax metrics, which are a fixture in their product catalog feature.  

Bitrix24 is a winner for the generous scale of their free version. Also, kudos to their clean aesthetics, which makes using it much more pleasurable.

 

Apptivo

Apptivo offers its starter version for free, and it's a solid bet for a tiny team of three users, with 500 MBs of storage provided.

The trial version doesn't support third-party integrations. Otherwise, you do get the core standard tools from their complete kit.

With Apptivo, plenty of features are available in their trial version, and what's great is how well they all work together. These take the form of various Apptivo-branded apps.

The contact app, for example, helps populate contact and lead info by importing data from emails and websites and cuts manual data entry.

There's also a suite of project management apps that help you organize the workload for individual employees and teams. Regarding customer service, there's a case app that will automate customer issues.

 

Airtable

Airtable is lightweight software (full disclaimer: it's not a CRM per se) with a mobile-friendly option and pleasing, breezing aesthetics. That said, there isn't anything superficial about Airtable—users can fiddle with the design to sort data to significant effect, with the added benefit of massive customization.

The app is more than just dragging, dropping, and color sorting. It also incorporates photos and other attachments, with the free version offering users 2 GB of storage. The workflow management database also allows users to link and interpret data from different sets quickly.  

 

Analytical

CRMs can improve your marketing campaigns with powerful analytics and collaborative tools for visibility across your team. Analytical tools can find meaningful patterns for actionable insights, letting you run effective, targeted ads through marketing automation.

Analytical tools can help turn a lead into a customer, predicting shopping habits and determining how likely a person is to repurchase something. That can prove invaluable for future marketing decisions and financial forecasting.

You'll also gain visibility on opportunities you wouldn't have noticed otherwise. That can influence and improve your marketing, strategy, and sales forecasting.

Marketing automation reduces work for your sales team, helps retain customers, and grows sales. Supported by data, your business operations are coaxed towards best practices.

CRM website integration allows you to develop a more accurate portrait of customer and lead behavior.

Your CRM will automatically update data and metrics, ensuring you have a complete, reliable portrait of your business. Analytic tools can offer insights on user interface and help you improve customer experience, increasing your bottom line.

Read our in-depth article on Analytical CRM.

 

HubSpot

Hubspot's CRM (free for up to 2 people) integrates analytics and reporting metrics across its dashboards. Meanwhile, HubSpot's all-in-one Marketing Hub beefs these features up considerably with advanced marketing analytics.

HubSpot Marketing Hub is designed to help improve all aspects of the marketing funnel, from lead acquisition to deal won. The marketing analytics dashboard works by trawling data from third-party databases and your CRM to find and interpret key metrics and generate reports.

Track trends over time, whether company-wide aggregate data or individual contact histories. Website analytics tools allow you to interpret which metrics drive traffic and direct marketing campaigns accordingly.

HubSpot's free Marketing Hub version will provide traffic and conversion analytics. Still, if you're looking for advanced analytics, there's a significant price rise at the Professional level (from $0 to the triple digits).

 

Zoho Analytics

Zoho also offers a dedicated tool for analytics. It's called Zoho Analytics (surprise, surprise), designed to integrate seamlessly with Zoho CRM.

This tool lets you aggregate information from a wide range of sources like apps, cloud storage, web feeds, and databases, which you can then turn into dynamic reports on sales funnel to win/loss and so much more.

Zoho offers a trial version of Analytics for up to 2 people with many limitations, like a low cap on how many rows of data you can save (just 10,000) and few app integrations.

Your best option is the Zoho Analytics' Basic package ($22.50 per month, billed annually), which is required for analytics to integrate seamlessly with Zoho CRM. Standard, Premium, and Enterprise versions offer ascending levels of data storage capacity, number of users, customizability options, and more app integrations.

 

Analytics tools to integrate with your CRM

Grow

Grow provides business intelligence solutions for small and scaling businesses. Deep data-diving is accessible to virtually anyone. Their M.O. is about clearly defining and unifying data, metrics, and analytics to produce clear visualizations and intelligent predictions.

The platform applies "transforms" to datasets, meaning it takes raw data and uses transformational actions like sorting, filtering, grouping, summing, and making ratio comparisons. Then there's the Smart Builder dashboard, which takes and separates data and charts and then, using business intelligence, arranges and charts information.

Social media, Google Analytics, and sales platform (ex. Salesforce) integrations expand the scope of data collection. CRM integrations with Zoho, Pipedrive, and many others ensure business information can be transmogrified into data-driven intelligence.

Grow is available starting at $29 a month (billed annually). You can also request a 14-day free trial.

 

Mixpanel

Mixpanel's user analytics tools are based on a simple principle: if you can figure out the behavior of visitors, leads, and customers, you'll make smarter, better business decisions.

Mixpanel changes the web page analysis game by emphasizing customer engagement above all else instead of the usual fixation on page views. It's less about volume metrics and more about refining the user experience and, in doing so, developing better, more sustainable conversions founded on detailed, data-driven insights.

By showing you what actions people take and what features they like best, Mixpanel helps you focus on your strengths and refine your offering. Integrations with Zendesk, Salesforce, Zoho, and other CRMs ensure MixPanel can slot into your existing workflow.

Mixpanel offers a free 'core analytics' version with the usual storage limitations. The full-featured version costs $999 a year.

 

Operational

Operational customer relationship management software is the most common variety. Truth be told, "operational" really is a catch-all term, and there are a lot of differences across CRMs in this category.

Generally, it just means software streamlining customer interactions with sales, marketing, and service automation.

The idea is to generate leads and convert them into customers and contacts.

Read the in-depth article Operational CRM.

 

Salesforce

Salesforce has a CRM with many powerful features, comprising the full operational suite of sales forecasting, reporting, automating tasks, and collecting and documenting sales leads. Calibrated to fine-tune daily operations and reduce effort and expenses, the platform offers iterative improvements to all your business needs.

AI and Einstein analytics predict and interpret data according to your business operations.

The new Lightning platform is fast, and its component-based, drag-and-drop user interface takes customization to the outer limits.

Salesforce will probably take some time to learn, but there's a free online training center called Trailhead that is very helpful and approachable.

Salesforce prices their CRM from $25.

 

Propeller

Propeller CRM lets you put an operational CRM into your inbox with Gmail integration (as a Chrome Extension).

It's built to manage daily operations, automate marketing, and manage your sales funnel—just like a good old operational CRM should. On the collaborative front, the platform's team-based features are broad and bountiful and include an overview of your sales activity, tracking tasks and processes, and assigning follow-ups.

Zapier integration connects Propeller to 1,000+ other useful apps. A full-fledged REST API lets you instantly send data wherever it is needed.

Propeller comes in a one-size-fits-all offering of $35 (all features included).

 

Less Annoying CRM

Less Annoying CRM targets small enterprises that have had trouble implementing operational CRM. Consequently, they provide basic features at a low price point with only the slightest of learning curves.

The software's user interface is minimal and functional, with no room for nonsense. All the lead tracking, collaboration tools, and follow-up reminder features you'd need are there and basic reporting.

Pricing is likewise relatively straightforward. Less Annoying CRM offers a 30-day free trial, after which you're looking for $10.

 

The rise of the nontraditional CRM system

It's worth noting that the changing nature of work has altered the landscape of CRM software.

There's an increasing number of platforms with non-linear, non-sales funnel-oriented applications. They handle everything from personal organization to brainstorming ideas and contact management.   

Nontraditional CRMs are gaining ground by catering to needs niche and holistic alike. That includes everything from nurturing collaboration across your team to managing freelance contracts, streamlining workflow, and sparking inspiration.

 

Airtable

Airtable is an all-in-one collaboration platform that fulfills basic CRM features but is based on flexible spreadsheet functionality. It synchronizes workflow and has a range of analytic, organizational, and communications features.

The software puts a premium on creativity and personalization. Layout and workflow can be endlessly tweaked and customized. Instead of just text and numbers, tables can be filled with lists, photos, and more.

At Tesla, Airtable is the primary engine for identifying and tracking vehicles leaving its factories. News magazine Time uses it to organize all of its production schedules.

 

Radar

Radar, a 'contact relationship management' platform, was developed by a team with a creative agency background. It's designed for businesses where talent morphs from project to project, providing a single space for organizing specialist freelance workers.

Radar emphasizes network-sharing across your business. It has a lot of potential applications, from managing freelancers to running a music label to handling photo shoots, film productions, and building up model agency rosters.

Dazed, for example, is currently using Radar for production—handling hiring and coordination of stylists, makeup artists, and art directors. Vice has two different Radar accounts, one for production and another for influencers they work with for brand partnerships.

 

Milanote

Then there's Milanote, which comes off as a cross between a mood board and a project management tool. Visually oriented and adaptable, it's designed to appeal specifically to creatives.

In Milanote, you put notes, images, tasks, files, and messages onto one platform to connect ideas. Collaborate and share ideas in-app, bridging individual initiative with team critique and insights.

While Milanote isn't a CRM, it does offer super-minimalist CRM-like capabilities in the form of workflow templates. The simple sales pipeline template, for example, is a basic but effective way of tracking prospects from the lead to the deal stage. Milanote does this in a Kanban-style card-based view, not unlike Trello.

 

Followup

Followup, meanwhile, offers a personal CRM for managing contacts. Running as a sidebar in Gmail, it offers intelligent insights and reminders to keep your work relationships healthy and informed.

 

Welcome to CRMLand: Your Ultimate Guide to Navigating the World of CRM

In the dynamic landscape of CRM, the journey to finding the perfect CRM solution for your business can be exciting and daunting. But fear not, for you're now stepping into CRMLand – the ultimate destination where the realms of CRM possibilities unfold before you.

Here, we understand that CRMs are not just about boosting sales; they're about revolutionizing the way you connect with customers, streamline operations, and harness the power of data to shape memorable customer experiences. Whatever your business is, whatever its size, you can rest assured an appropriate CRM solution exists. There's never been a better time to get into CRMLand.

At CRM.org, we're dedicated to guiding you through every twist and turn of the CRM universe. Our platform is a treasure trove of insights, reviews, and in-depth articles tailored to help you make informed decisions in your CRM selection process. Whether you seek operational excellence, aspire to elevate customer experiences, or leverage data analytics, CRM.org is your go-to resource.

 

What is a CRM: FAQs

What is CRM in simple words?

CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, is a system used by businesses to manage and improve interactions with customers. It helps organize customer information, track communication history, and manage customer inquiries or services. This system is essential in today’s business environment for building and maintaining strong customer relationships, ensuring personalized service, and improving customer satisfaction.

 

What is an example of CRM?

Global companies across various industries effectively use CRM systems. For example, Uber uses industry-leading CRM software from Salesforce to manage social media engagements and run loyalty programs, thereby retaining a vast customer base. Another example would be Tesco, a leading grocery and general merchandise retailer. They use CRM in their call centers and to manage customer data across various channels.

 

What are the three types of CRM?

There are three CRM types: operational, analytical, and collaborative CRM. Operational CRM streamlines daily operations like sales and customer service. Analytical CRM processes data to provide insights into customer behavior, aiding in strategic decision-making. Collaborative CRM focuses on improving communication between the business, its customers, and partners, enhancing overall relationship management.

 

What is a CRM for dummies?

CRM is a user-friendly system designed to make customer management easier for businesses. It consolidates customer information in one place, automates repetitive tasks, and provides tools for effective communication. This simplification helps businesses, even with limited technical know-how, to better understand and serve their customers, improving business performance and customer satisfaction.

 

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