Top 5 CRM Software for Small Business in 2017

Pipedrive: No. 1 CRM Solution


Customer Relationship Management or CRM software is a system that enables businesses to build strong customer relationships and manage all relevant customer information and data. CRM includes tools and applications to collect, process and analyze data coming from various interaction channels such as website visits, phone calls, emails, social media and others. CRM software organizes and tries to make sense of all these disparate data in order to extract useful information that can show sales opportunities, and be used to create sales funnels as well as carry out sales and marketing campaigns.

CRM software is designed to let businesses know everything about their customers, both existing ones and prospects. A business can be responsive only if it knows what a customer wants, and a CRM system can help in finding out customer preferences and behavior through their purchasing history and buying trends. CRM helps businesses put focus on the customers to drive engagements and interactions, strengthen customer loyalty, convert prospects to actual customers, improve products and services attuned to customer tastes, and give the best customer experience. All these are intended to bolster business growth and profitability.

What are the benefits of CRM software?

Businesses of all sizes and types in whatever industry can take advantage of the many benefits of CRM software. The system has been around for decades, but with today’s cloud technology it has taken on a bigger role and deeper significance. It has become more affordable, scalable, lighter, faster and mobile compatible. No more hardware setup or extensive training. It can be up and running immediately. The current crop of CRM software available in the market brings with them powerful functionality and features that can help your business realize the following:

  1. Increase sales – CRM software allows you to follow quality leads, check customer buying histories to identify potential leads, upsell opportunities, or repeat customers. It can identify your most valuable customers and create a customer reward system or personalized communication to increase engagement and conversion. You can also pinpoint weak links in the sales process and address them promptly.
  2. Boost efficiency and productivity – The software streamlines processes across your business operations to make sure sales opportunities are not lost and costs are minimized. Employees can access important data quickly to serve customer needs or resolve issues faster. CRM also integrates processes like accounting, inventory and sales for a seamless pipeline, avoiding repetition of tasks. Items like contracts, events, projects and products are aligned in one CRM infrastructure for faster turnaround of deliverables.
  3. Make intelligent decisions – A well-informed manager with access to real-time data can make adjustments quickly to react to market trends. CRM can produce accurate insights from real-time and on-location data. This means you can fine tune your strategies or tactics right away to take advantage of an opportunity or avert a crisis. Likewise, more accurate data permits the pooling of best practices by different departments to further improve overall business operation.
  4. Reinforce data security – Confidential customer data and trade insights are kept in a centralized CRM system instead of separate and disconnected desktops. You can focus your budget, human resources and capital infrastructure on one item: the CRM ecosystem. You can set parameters so only authorized employees can access the data, while keeping a close tab on a single channel for any instance of breach.
  5. Allow mobile operations – Mobile technologies today allow field teams to access CRM data like customer personal information, purchases or product information and delivery schedules on location and make decisions or reports on the spot, in front of the customer. Other field applications of mobile CRM include checking real-time inventory, checking customer credit limits, receiving alerts like out-of-stock items, and processing approval in minutes instead of days.

Overview of the CRM industry

CRM first started in the early 70s when annual surveys were used to gauge customer satisfaction. It has evolved through the decades and in recent years has become a thriving sector experiencing continued growth. The expansion of the CRM software industry has been pushed mainly by cloud technology facilitating the adoption of the software as a cost-effective SaaS platform. Since 2010, the CRM market has been on a continued upswing, growing at an average of 27% year over year and valued at %36 billion in 2016. For 2017, the latest forecast sees the CRM market exceeding $40 billion.

CRM Market Value 2010 – 2017 Credits:

To give you an idea of how CRM has become an indispensable tool in today’s business, here are some 2017 CRM statistics culled from various sources:

  • ROI on CRM is approximately $5 to every $1 invested (Baseline)
  • 79% of leads fail to convert without CRM (Pardot)
  • 30% of all leads fail as a result of bad data sources (Cyber Sphere)
  • 26% is the recorded adoption rate for CRM (Salesforce)
  • 65% boost in sales quotas is realized by businesses with CRM (Innopple Technologies)
  • 41% revenue increase is attained with CRM (Trackvia)
  • 60% of the time, CRM is used for email marketing by small businesses (
  • 47% of the time, leads nurtured in a CRM system are converted (Annuitas Group)
  • 300% improvement in conversion rates with CRM in place (Cloudswave)
  • 40% improvement in average purchase value with CRM (Cloudswave)
  • 23% reduction in lead cost with CRM (Cloudswave)
  • 47% improvement in customer service with CRM (Capterra)
  • 26% improvement in retention via Social CRM (Nucleus Research)
  • 74% of businesses using CRM report better customer relationships (Software Advice)

CRM Most Demanded Features Credits:

Our team selected the following top 5 CRM solutions we think are best for small business:

  1. Pipedrive
  2. Zoho CRM
  3. Freshsales
  4. Insightly
  5. Nutshell

1. Pipedrive – Our Score: 9.8/10

Pipedrive won our Best CRM Software Award for 2016

Pipedrive is known as “the sales CRM for small teams with big ambitions.” According to Inc magazine, it is now one of America’s fastest-growing private companies and the fastest-growing CRM provider, serving over 50,000 small businesses worldwide. It is designed to get your sales organized, enable you to control your sales activities, as well as help you plan ahead so you can focus on actions that matter.

You can manage and track everything about your deals, allowing you to work smarter and successfully move forward. With the platform, you get an activity-based selling methodology, intuitive and simple to use interfaces, and complete freedom to customize the software to serve you particular needs.

It is widely used by freelance and small businesses and flexible across industries. It is particularly efficient in sales-focused environments, where it helps manage deals by putting the spotlight on the right customers, and configuring a unique lead collection that leaves no highly-potential customer out. It features excellent reporting tools and analytics where you can isolate or consolidate metrics to unearth patterns and share the insight with the team.

Pipedrive won our Best CRM Software Award for 2016 and is the current leader of our CRM software category. If you want to try out this solution first, the vendor offers a great free trial plan. You can easily sign up for Pipedrive free trial here.

What is unique about Pipedrive?

  1. Provides full overview of sales pipeline. It is designed to help companies monitor deals in different sales stages, so that they can focus on the right customers, and become more productive.
  2. Focuses on the right activities and deals. It shows your deals from various sales stages, keeping you aware of your sales teams’ progress and allowing you to determine which deals need to be prioritized.
  3. Customizes everything. You can create custom products, which can be linked to deals, clients, or specific contacts; automatically create contacts in your pipeline with a fully customizable web form; and customize fields and pipeline stages where you can switch off features you don’t need.
  4. Easy to plan events and schedule meetings. It makes sure you never miss any important appointment with its handy Activity Scheduler where you can also sync data, forward documents, and assign tasks to agents.
  5. Flexible lead processes. It lets you capture leads from various sources and sort them in different ways that are meaningful to you. Its Web Forms tool is especially useful in collecting leads from your website and driving them down the funnel.
  6. Comes with top notch statistics. Allows generation of all types of standard and customizable reports. You can use it to compare won to lost deals, evaluate agents’ performance, or measure the effect of any activity.
  7. Fully mobile optimized and well integrated. It is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ system that can be incorporated in any software architecture and accessed from any device.

2. Zoho CRM – Our Score: 9.5/10

Zoho CRM is an award-winning web-based CRM that is part of the acclaimed Zoho productivity suite, and specializes in nurturing customer relationships for sales opportunities. It is designed to attract, retain, and satisfy customers in order to help your business grow. The core of Zoho CRM’s functionality is lead and contact management, but also features sales pipeline management and purchase control. It is an ideal solution if you want to simplify processes, get deep insights into running your business, and engage customers in whatever medium across multiple channels.

With Zoho CRM, you capitalize on existing customer database and make more repeat sales and upselling. Likewise, social media is optimized for more leads while insights are generated in real time. Like Pipedrive, Zoho CRM is targeted at retail businesses looking to improve their sales automation and lead management workflows. The software also features a suite for account regulation and supports mobile access.

It software works well regardless if you’re a small business, an entrepreneur, or a large conrporation. Zoho CRM can automate daily business activities, track sales, interact with customers on various platforms, and integrate with popular applications. Furthermore, its mobile app lets you take your CRM wherever you go so you can get updates quickly and real-time, and close more deals even while on location.

All these capabilities in an array of sales productivity tools empower you to connect with prospects at the right time, attract more customers, and promptly close deals. It is the smarter way to sell better and faster.

What is unique about Zoho CRM?

  1. Automates sales workflows. Capture and qualify leads, track them across the sales pipeline, and generate better sales forecast based on data, not hunch.
  2. Forecasts sales performance. Companies can discover revenue trends, revise quotas and forecast their accuracy compared to commit amounts, and draft reports on team/individual progress.
  3. Streamlines lead management. The system will track leads to deals faster, and match the sales-ready among them to the right agents. You can import leads from all external sources, and capture such from your website or trade show.
  4. Gives access to important data in real time. It lets you see where your customer is in the sales cycle, the size of the deal, contact history, and competitor profile to help you craft more fitting messages. Data can be easily accessed through dynamic reports and dashboards.
  5. Collates all of your email activities. You can manage your emails through this system, reply to customers using your favorite mail client, create merge templates, and distribute updates and notifications, among others.
  6. Social & Mobile CRM. It can search and engage customers via mobile and social networks, interact with them within the social stream, and stay focused on their interests and preferences.
  7. Integrated with Google Apps. Connects seamlessly to a number of Google Apps, including the essential Docs, Gmail, Calendar, Contacts, and Tasks.  You can also use it in synergy with other Zoho products without even changing your account.

3. Freshsales – Our Score: 9.5/10

Freshsales is the fourth addition in the Freshdesk software lineup, and a quality CRM designed provides your company the necessary tools for reliable lead capture and qualifying as well as event tracking. It is currently one of the more widely-used CRM apps, recognized by sales teams as the single contact management hub that helps them control thousands of leads.

Having a simple and easy-to-navigate interface coupled with robust features enable the streamlining of various aspects in the sales process. No need to utilize various programs to get the job done. Freshsales has collated all functions of legacy CRM systems, but found its own way to optimize sales, prioritize pipeline opportunities, and even reveal rich insights, making it a powerful system for high-velocity sales teams.

The core of its performance is depicting where leads are coming from. Along with lead capture capability, Freshsales can distribute, nurture, score, divide, and verify leads through multiple channels of communication. You also get an advanced suite of features such as auto-dialers, call recording, call routing and affiliate management. Its revenue analytics feature is top-notch, allowing all relevant source and metrics to be pulled out and collated into accurate reports. Freshsales also applies a variety of filters when summarizing your data, making it possible to group, organize and customize results.

One of the biggest advantages of this system is its flexible and affordable price. Freshsales is free to use for small teams while mid-sized businesses and corporations can shift to paid packages in the most convenient manner. In addition, there are no recurrent costs and hidden fees – you get what you pay for.

What is unique about Freshsales?

  1. Superior analytics and reporting. It has powerful features for receiving information and managing data. Together with default reports (pipeline, territory, email reports, and much more), you can build custom reports for every contact, deal, or opportunity, while all reports can be generated at any point in time
  2. Robust sales management. Being foremost a sales CRM, it offers visibility on all stages of the sales process. It can sort and track deals, filter close dates, distinguish bestsellers, make sudden changes for all actions, customize follow ups, analyze wins and losses, identify trends, or spot performance bottlenecks.
  3. All-in-one CRM and call center. It allows you to direct calls to it, and provides features such as ID recognition, auto-dialer, call routing and assigning, and much more. It can save all conversations, and track performance of concerned agents.
  4. Categorizes leads intuitively. Leads are not just collected, they are sorted in context for better qualifying of prospects or identifying trends and patterns as revealed by consolidated lead metrics.
  5. Tracks events. It displays a timeline for each client, where you can see their engagement information, interests, and preferences.
  6. Tracks emails. Sales reps and agents are able to see who has opened their emails, and who has ignored them, letting them know who are interested in a product and should therefore be prioritized for nurturing.
  7. Free plan. Small teams can avail of a basic free plan, and can easily migrate to a paid plan anytime they want.

4. Insightly – Our Score: 9.5/10

Insightly is known for its big-picture visibility while allowing you to drill down to details. Its capabilities are anchored on four main objectives – build relationships, accelerate sales, deliver projects, and meet enterprise-grade requirements. It does all these through a host of features such as comprehensive contact management, opportunity management, workflow automation, tasks and events management, and advanced data management.

With Insightly, you can access everything you know need to know about a lead or customer from a single page where you can view a contact’s communications history, key relationships, tasks and events, social profiles, sales opportunities and project involvement. You get a complete contact management picture even when you’re on the go with a free mobile CRM app. Furthermore, you can also model complex multi-step business processes with workflow automation, and even execute custom business logic to sync external systems from SAP, Oracle and others.

The software can also integrate with several apps for an extensible platform. It can be a CRM for Google where you can connect records to emails, sheets, docs and slides, or a CRM for Microsoft and link emails to contacts and opportunities. You can also combine Insightly with Mailchimp for email and marketing activities; with Quickbooks for accounting functions; and with Xero for invoicing and payments directly from your CRM.

What is unique about Insightly?

  1. Overall picture of your business. It provides both macro and micro views of your activities, tracks projects, tasks, and milestones, and compares progress to help you depict valuable opportunities.
  2. Relationship graph engine. It automatically captures the links between contacts, organizations and the business relationships they share, whenever Gmail or Microsoft emails are saved to Insightly.
  3. Generates opportunity reports. Alongside standard reports, it produces opportunity reports based on your business activities.
  4. 360-degree view of the customer. Customer data is organized and consolidated giving you a holistic profile of the types of people who buy from you.
  5. Extensible. It comes with conventional HTTP REST API. You can edit the system’s data directly on your device, and connect it to all third-party apps you’re using.

5. Nutshell CRM – Our Score: 9.4/10

Nutshell CRM is ideal if you want to focus more on improving agent performance than automating workflows. It has a robust contact management, while having one of the lowest pricing tiers. It sorts leads intuitively with historical and behavioral context. Likewise, leads can be sourced from other systems. It has excellent reporting tools that can present agent performance, sales forecasting, executive summaries, metrics and other information.

Nutshell CRM is a smart system dedicated to helping sales reps become more motivated and successful, while addressing the challenge that most CRMs face: adoption of the software by sales teams. It does this through its user-friendly and intuitive features that do not require user training; easy setup and installation that can get it running within a day; fully customizable dashboard and reports; affordable pricing with no hidden costs; and readily available customer support whenever needed.

The software is a viable option especially for outbound sales teams looking to save time and close more deals. They can have a mobile compatible CRM that can integrate with several leading apps, get organized with a centralized communication, focus and synchronize all sales activities, and streamline importing of tasks and contacts.

What is unique about Nutshell CRM?

  1. Automates sales processes. It has an intuitive and user-friendly dashboard, and aggregates all important activities for real-time follow up. It lumps all opportunities together, and adjusts prices to different markets automatically.
  2. Role assignment. The Setup section allows assigning of user roles which is a handy feature for larger teams where not all users are supposed to access customer history or manage pricing data.
  3. Comprehensive contacts display. Once contacts are imported into the system, you can see the entire history of your relationship, including emails and conversations. You can import them from different sources, and categorize them to your wish.
  4. Promotes teamwork. Empower your team with group discussions, shared files, bulk actions, and easy-to-follow comment threads to keep everybody in the loop.
  5. Solid customer support. With multi-channel support, you can contact the vendor via email, phone, live chat, send a ticket, or download their training materials.
Category: B2B News

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