The Best CRM Software for 2022 (2023)

If your sales team still relies on spreadsheets and simple contact tracking to maintain all-important business relationships, you're missing out on the benefits of dedicated customer relationship management (CRM) software. The best CRMs don't just let you take notes, they automatically keep a complete audit trail of every interaction your staff has with each customer. This includes the customer's initial purchase, support calls (and what they were about), and a regional sales rep's notes from a meeting or call. A CRM system lets you track, analyze, and surface this data when it's needed, often including integrations with other software systems.

There's certainly no shortage of CRMs on the market today, and many are of high quality. Unfortunately, that can often make it hard to choose the right one for your business. To make things simpler, we've gathered the best CRM services we've tested. Check out our top recommendations below, followed by everything you need to know about choosing the right CRM software for your needs.

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More About Our Picks

Salesforce Sales Cloud Lightning Professional

4.5 Outstanding

The Best CRM Software for 2022 (1)

Best Overall

Bottom Line:

Salesforce has long been the CRM solution to beat. This pioneering platform excels with a stellar feature set, as well as an ever-widening set of innovations, including AI, and ease of interoperability with many Salesforce partners.


  • Wide range of advanced features and customizations
  • Powerful social collaboration options and third-party app marketplace
  • Outstanding workflows and solid performance


  • Comes with a steep learning curve
  • Pricey

Why We Picked It

Salesforce basically wrote the book on CRM, and has maintained its lead even as younger, more agile competitors have risen to challenge it. There's probably no feature you could want from a CRM that Salesforce can't deliver. What's more, its pricing is tiered such that its entry-level Salesforce Essentials offering is affordable even to small businesses.

Who It's For

You really can't go wrong with Salesforce—unless, that is, it offers that much more than you ever expect to need. Salesforce is one of the few products we tested that truly scales up to the needs of the largest enterprises. However, if your ambitions aren't quite that lofty, you might want to explore some other options, which could get you started faster and be lighter on your pocketbook.

Read Our Salesforce Sales Cloud Lightning Professional Review

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Zoho CRM

4.5 Outstanding

The Best CRM Software for 2022 (2)

Best for Zoho Platform Customers

Bottom Line:

Featuring an unbeatable price and a batch of new, useful capabilities, including deep customization and the Zia AI tool, Zoho CRM continues its reign as the Editors' Choice pick for CRM.


  • Deep feature set
  • Near-total customizability, especially with Canvas Builder
  • Flexible AI layer at higher price tiers
  • Integrated gamification features


  • Steep learning curve
  • Most advanced features only accessible at the higher-priced tiers

Why We Picked It

Zoho offers an extensive suite of SaaS business software, and its CRM offering is a standout tool. Its feature set rivals even behemoth Salesforce. Its latest additions include Zia, an AI-powered analytics engine for spotting sales trends and anomalies; and Canvas, a drag-and-drop interface editor. It doesn't hurt that Zoho CRM is priced within reach of smaller teams.

Who It's For

Zoho CRM has a lot to recommend to any business. If you're already using other products in the Zoho portfolio, it's practically a no-brainer. Only Salesforce will give you more features with a more polished UI. Then again, if you like the idea of the Zoho suite, but feel daunted by Zoho CRM's feature set, you should consider Bigin by Zoho, the company's lightweight CRM designed specifically for small businesses.

Read Our Zoho CRM Review

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HubSpot CRM

3.5 Good

The Best CRM Software for 2022 (3)

Easiest to Use

Bottom Line:

HubSpot is relatively expensive, but the CRM tool contains all but the most advanced features provided by the category's top players. Unfortunately, some common features are locked behind high-end tiers.


  • Robust feature set
  • Generous free version
  • New support for integrated payment processing


  • Some commonplace features are only available at higher pricing tiers
  • Some features have a learning curve
(Video) Best CRM Software: Here're our Top 3 Picks! (2022)

Why We Picked It

HubSpot is a hybrid tool that combines CRM with marketing and help desk capabilities. That union might make it more compelling to some businesses than other, standalone offerings, even if its CRM feature set isn't quite as rich. It also shines in its ability to get teams up and running quickly, typically within a couple of weeks.

Who It's For

If you're starting at square one with CRM, and you'd like marketing and service tools to go along with it, HubSpot could be a good pick. Its integrated approach means your teams won't need to switch between multiple tools. Just check your budget first, because HubSpot comes at a premium price.

Read Our HubSpot CRM Review

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Freshsales CRM

4.0 Excellent

The Best CRM Software for 2022 (4)

Best Basic CRM

Bottom Line:

Freshsales CRM offers a lightweight and simple solution for SMBs that want to get up and running quickly. Sensible pricing tiers, an AI assistant, and customization options make it even more appealing for folks who value ease of use.


  • Freshsales simplifies the CRM process for small businesses.
  • Extensive customization options.
  • Proactive AI assistant
  • Various integrations to extend functionality.


  • No reports available in the free plan.
  • Determining which is the best plan can be time consuming.

Why We Picked It

Freshsales is a solid, entry-level CRM that's suitable for most small to midsize businesses. Although it lacks features when compared to other CRMs, it has lately done a good job of building integrations with other business software, such as calendars, email marketing software, and tools like DocuSign.

Who It's For

Give Freshsales a look if you want a CRM that's functional, but won't overwhelm your sales team with features (particularly if you're already using some of the software on Freshsales' list of integrations). Its lightweight approach should let your team get up to speed and start closing deals, for which they'll thank you.

Read Our Freshsales CRM Review

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Zendesk Sell

4.0 Excellent

The Best CRM Software for 2022 (5)

Best for Integration With Zendesk Products

Bottom Line:

Zendesk Sell remains an excellent option for SMBs that need an easy-to-use CRM, especially those seeking robust help desk integrations and user-friendly tools.


  • Excellent integration with Zendesk's help desk software
  • Explorer feature has useful reporting options
  • Easy onboarding and team-creation features
  • Useful Smart Lists


  • Quickly gets pricey beyond the lowest tier
  • Limited pipelines, even at the highest-priced tiers
  • Basic email and template editor

Why We Picked It

Zendesk has its roots in help desk software, but it later branched out into CRM. As a result, it's tightly integrated with Zendesk for Service, and its features skew toward help desks more than some other CRMs we tested. Even so, it's feature-rich enough to serve as a general-purpose CRM for any organization.

Who It's For

If you're already a Zendesk customer, this is probably the CRM for you. It's also well worth a look if a help desk is your primary use case. If, on the other hand, you need marketing automation features more than service support, you should probably look elsewhere.

Read Our Zendesk Sell Review

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Less Annoying CRM

4.0 Excellent

The Best CRM Software for 2022 (6)

Best for Start-Ups

Bottom Line:

One of the most affordable CRM solutions we tested, Less Annoying offers a surprising amount of flexibility and performance providing some extra value for small business and startups.


  • Newly redesigned interface is more intuitive
  • Wide range of help and support options
  • Great mobile website implementation
(Video) Best CRM Software: Top 3 Great Picks! (2022)


  • Existing users will have a bit of a learning curve with new interface
  • Basic reporting features

Why We Picked It

This entry prides itself on not annoying its customers—or not as much as the competition, anyway—but its most outstanding feature might be its price, which is among the lowest of all the products we tested. Although "less expensive" can sometimes mean "low value," Less Annoying CRM has an ample feature set that should make it worthy of the attention of most small businesses.

Who It's For

If you're unsure how much budget you're ready to commit to CRM, look this way. You'll gain all of the contact management and business-process features you expect from a larger CRM vendor at a very affordable price, and with luck, its ease of use and friendly UI won't annoy you.

Read Our Less Annoying CRM Review

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Sales Creatio

4.0 Excellent

The Best CRM Software for 2022 (7)

Best for Large Sales Teams

Bottom Line:

Aimed at enterprise customers, Creatio CRM is straightforward enough to handle midsize businesses' CRM needs. To help, the product is now bolstered by improved analytics and marketing automation capabilities.


  • Multifaceted and highly customizable unified business solution
  • Rooted in solid CRM functionality
  • Creatio CRM helps SMBs streamline processes from lead management to closing


  • Relatively short trial period
  • Hefty feature set
  • Customization can be daunting at the outset

Why We Picked It

Sales Creatio has undergone a number of name changes over the years, but it remains a top CRM choice. Its specialty is larger sales organizations, and it does a good job of catering to their needs. Creatio also offers tools for business process management (BPM), marketing automation, and help desks, enabling customers to address multiple business objectives in a unified way.

Who It's For

Sales Creatio is more than capable of scaling to meet the needs of salesforces of any size. That being said, it's complex, and that complexity might make it frustrating for smaller organizations with more modest needs. However, if you have specific needs and are willing to take the plunge, Creatio's low-code development tools allow almost limitless customization.

Read Our Sales Creatio Review

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SugarCRM Sugar Sell

4.0 Excellent

The Best CRM Software for 2022 (8)

Best Customization

Bottom Line:

SugarCRM is complex and expensive, but it is one of the most feature-rich CRMs we tested. If you're looking for a long-term CRM commitment, and you're willing to jump through significant implementation hoops to get there, then SugarCRM could be a fine fit.


  • Deep feature set
  • AI-powered data analysis
  • Useful Dashlet reports
  • Tightly integrated with help desk and marketing platforms
  • Great developer tools for customization


  • Complex enough to require a significant learning curve for new users
  • Stodgy list-based UI
  • Expensive, especially at the higher pricing tiers

Why We Picked It

SugarCRM is notable because it is one of the earliest players in the CRM field, beginning life as an open-source project. The latter fact makes it the most developer-oriented CRM we've tested so far. Every module, portal, and report is editable. That means that, with effort, you'll be able to squeeze every last benefit out of your CRM.

Who It's For

If you know exactly what you want out of your CRM, SugarCRM can show you how to get it. The trade-off is complexity. Large organizations that want to extensively customize the system may find themselves needing assistance from support. And smaller organizations who just want to get up and go might be confounded by the many SugarCRM options. In that case, choose a more SMB-friendly product.

Read Our SugarCRM Sugar Sell Review

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Apptivo CRM

4.5 Outstanding

The Best CRM Software for 2022 (9)

Best for Small Businesses

Bottom Line:

Apptivo CRM is a CRM solution that ticks all the right boxes. Powerful features, affordable pricing, and an intuitive interface make Apptivo CRM an outstanding Editors' Choice pick.


  • Comprehensive feature set with various customization options
  • Outstanding mobile applications, granular security controls, and 24-hour support
(Video) What is the Best CRM for Cleaning Companies?


  • Performance can feel sluggish
  • Could use extended APIs

Why We Picked It

Apptivo CRM is an affordable and highly customizable platform that aims to be a one-stop solution for all your business software needs. In addition to essential CRM functionality, it also includes tools for such tasks as accounting, invoicing, and project management. It's easy to use and includes support for Android and iOS mobile devices.

Who It's For

Companies that want the convenience of running every aspect of their business from one app will appreciate what Apptivo has to offer. Unfortunately, it has a relatively short list of third-party integrations, so if you've previously used other accounting or project management software, you might find yourself manually importing that data.

Read Our Apptivo CRM Review

Insightly CRM

4.0 Excellent

The Best CRM Software for 2022 (10)

Best for Growth-Stage Businesses

Bottom Line:

Insightly's easy-to-use interface, customization, and fluid data importation make it a CRM that can greatly enhance your business.


  • Smooth data input and sharing
  • Slick interface that's consistent and easy to pick up
  • Highly customizable
  • Easy integration with Insightly's help desk and marketing apps


  • Expensive high-end tiers
  • Lacks advanced features like custom workflows

Why We Picked It

Insightly delivers a lot of bang for your CRM buck. It's one of the easiest to use among the systems we tested, even if it's not quite as feature-rich as some. Importing data is a smooth process. Insightly's built-in reporting engine is AI-powered, and it provides one-button data export to Microsoft Power BI.

Who It's For

Teams won't dread using Insightly, even if they have little or no previous CRM experience. Its straightforward UI makes tasks easy, even if it's not particularly visually pleasing. However, if you need email marketing or help desk capabilities, be aware that Insightly only provides these as separate, add-on products.

Read Our Insightly CRM Review

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Pipedrive CRM

3.5 Good

The Best CRM Software for 2022 (11)

Best for Deal-Oriented Sales Teams

Bottom Line:

Pipeline CRM improves its small business-focused solution with advanced capabilities, chatbot creation for websites, and efficient reporting. But as we've seen with previous iterations, ease of use remains one of Pipedrive CRM's best features.


  • Offers an intuitive interface and deal-driven workflow
  • Solid mobile apps plus call and email synchronization
  • Helps SMBs keep on top of their CRM process


  • Limited functionality for the price
  • No separation between lists of new leads and contacts

Why We Picked It

Pipedrive is a deal-driven CRM with much going for it. It has a good-looking UI that's easy to pick up, and bundles a customizable chatbot that companies can add to their websites for lead generation. In addition, it has proactive deal-tracking capabilities that automatically tracks and organizes calls and emails, and synchronizes schedules across devices.

Who It's For

Deal-driven sales teams should find Pipedrive a natural fit. Its graphical deal pipeline view and streamlined UI won't get in the way of closing sales. However, if you want lots of customization and third-party integrations, Pipedrive doesn't offer as much to choose from as some competitors. Others may see this straightforward approach as a plus.

Read Our Pipedrive CRM Review

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Act! CRM

3.0 Average

The Best CRM Software for 2022 (12)

Best for Longtime Act! Users

Bottom Line:

The venerable Act! contact manager has evolved into a full-featured CRM that also includes optional digital marketing features. However, its convoluted UI may prove troublesome to anyone who hasn't previously used Act! products.


  • Integrated email marketing features
  • Easy-to-use dashboard designer
  • Good marketing automation workflow builder


  • Old fashioned UI is clunky enough to cause problems in many places
  • Email integration requires an external email client
  • Data entry is needlessly convoluted in places
(Video) Best CRM Software Tools In 2022-2023

Why We Picked It

In days gone by, Act! led the pack in contact management software. It has since evolved into a more rounded, cloud-based CRM, although it still shows its roots in a dated UI. Act! also has integrated marketing automation features with customizable workflows, and it can connect to Gmail or Outlook (but not very elegantly).

Who It's For

To be blunt, Act! CRM will probably only appeal to people who have past experience with Act! contact management. Its UI is just too unorthodox for the modern SaaS era. That means it's probably most appropriate for small teams, because new hires are likely to balk at its idiosyncrasies.

Read Our Act! CRM Review

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What Is CRM Software?

CRM software helps you track contacts and nurture them to build customer loyalty and repeat sales. A good CRM makes the information it gathers accessible to other business platforms via smart software integration. In this way, CRM becomes the epicenter of how you manage your customer's journey, from the first marketing touch, to a closed sale, and on to the next engagement.

Some small businesses use spreadsheets to mimic a CRM's functionality. However, this type of homebrewed solution delivers just a tiny subset of the features you'd get with a CRM, and it's cumbersome enough that you'll be frustrated once your customer list grows beyond 100 entries.

The best CRM solutions are not only easier to use than spreadsheets, but they also do more than just retain user and contact information. They also automate processes, such as dynamically creating calendar events, setting appointment reminders, prioritizing the sales pipeline, and automatically identifying new sales opportunities. They can even rank opportunities by likelihood of success. What makes that possible is integrating your other customer data so the CRM can access it, such as interactions with your help desk.

This information is a goldmine of opportunity. It lets you identify prospects for up-sell or cross-sell, convert existing customers to new products or services, target new marketing, or track invoices. The software is also a fail-safe because it prevents multiple salespeople from chasing the same prospect. Choosing the right CRM software dramatically improves your team's collaboration and productivity at the same time that it's increasing sales.

The Revenue Impact of AI Adoption in CRM

The Best CRM Software for 2022 (13)

(Credit: Statista)

A key area for CRM growth in recent years has been the addition of artificial intelligence (AI) to leading CRM platforms. Vendors, including Microsoft and Saleforce, are building their own AI engines to enhance their CRM capabilities. Others are partnering with the likes of IBM's Watson to integrate AI's benefits into their offerings. These capabilities will significantly improve any CRM's ability to parse data and draw new insights from all kinds of customer interactions.

How to Shop for a CRM System

Choosing a CRM is a significant investment. Knowing how your salespeople operate and having some idea of the features that can help them is where your pricing decision needs to start. Only by knowing what you need and then matching that up against the appropriate pricing tier are you going to get yourself the best deal. But there are gotchas beyond that, too.

For example, initial setup and training can eat up a chunk of the budget. So can upgrades and ongoing support. Integrating the software with existing systems might call for additional equipment. Does the CRM workflow mean the sales or customer service teams will need new PCs, smartphones, or tablets? These costs can quickly add up.

What's more, many CRM vendors are expanding their products into a variety of areas beyond customer relationships. They're moving towards managing the sales lifecycle end-to-end, with CRM representing the customer journey. The more expansive the tool, the more customization you'll need to make it work for you. That's why carefully evaluating these products is so important.

As with any piece of software, it's critical to take advantage of free trials when available. No matter how many reviews you read or demos you watch, you can't fully understand how CRM software works until you use it yourself. Be sure to have colleagues from different departments try out the software, too, so you can understand how successful it is in different situations.

Most vendors offer at least a 14-day trial (which is relatively short; 30 days is better). Some, including Apptivo CRM, Insightly CRM, and Zoho CRM offer free plans, albeit with limited features or users. These can either serve as a full-time solution for small companies or a long-term trial for larger companies.

Benefits of CRM for Small Business

One of the continuing trends we see with CRM solutions is consolidation into larger product ecosystems. Some products, like the venerable Zoho CRM, aren't just the flagship suite of solutions in their ecosystem, they set the template for the rest of the solutions the vendor offers. For example, Base CRM, once a notable standalone solution, was acquired by Zendesk and converted into Zendesk Sell, a more integrated solution that can feed into Zendesk's impressive array of customer support-driven SMB solutions.

Freshsales CRM similarly provides a lightweight and simple SMB-focused CRM solution while offering expanded functionality. This includes providing integrations, workflow automation, and sales intelligence features. Freshsales CRM also syncs nicely with Freshcaller and Freshdesk solutions, a distinct convenience for businesses using those solutions.

Other CRM solutions like Sales Creatio have refined their user interfaces to enable users to switch on specific business processes. Sales Creatio makes it possible to toggle between Marketing, Sales, and Service, functioning as a more dynamic control center for running various facets of CRM.

SMBs need to play the long game with their choice of CRM solutions. Growth-stage companies or businesses looking at expansion should start analyzing which integrations will make sense in the future.

What Does a CRM System Do?

The toughest part of making a good CRM choice is understanding what the product can do and what your salespeople actually need. Sales is a difficult and often fast-paced profession, which means your employees could actually feel burdened by the very tool you purchased to help them. That'll kill adoption rates, so you need to understand what they need before tossing more technology into the mix.

It's tempting to forgo this homework and simply pay for one of the big, all-inclusive CRM software packages just to have access to every feature. That approach will almost certainly wind up costing you more in both time and money, while probably delivering less flexibility than you'd expect. That's because these large CRM software packages are often platforms rather than tools. The numerous features they advertise are the product of integrating with a host of third-party solution providers, not merely options you can turn on. Third-party integration means not only added licensing dollars but also new costs.

A better approach is to first understand how your employees will use the software. Think about what tools your team is currently using and what processes they follow. Figure out how those tasks map to the CRM software you're evaluating. Consider what some of the most common tasks are. For example, if a tool forces users to dig through menus and submenus every time they want to log a call or email, the tool will complicate their jobs instead of simplifying them. More and more CRM tools combine the email and sales experience into a single, smart inbox or centralized dashboard view to manage all or most daily communications and tasks without leaving the CRM tool.

The ways in which companies interact with customers are shifting rapidly. Most customers still expect to interact with you via email, but social media is fast becoming a game-changing technology for interacting with customers. Understand how your company interacts with customers over email and make sure your CRM software complements that relationship and doesn't hinder it. A fully optimized CRM should automatically capture data from email interactions, not force your employees to do that manually.

Once you've looked at requirements from the sales team's perspective, flip it around and think about your customer. Maybe even run an online survey or focus group. What is their best sales experience? Once you know that, you can tailor your CRM to fit.

Why Is CRM Data Quality Important?

Data quality should be a key focus of that tailoring process. You'll need to pay attention to customer information that originates inside the CRM and the supporting data imported from other systems, such as finance or service desk tickets. Ensuring this data is "clean" means it needs to be verifiable, in the proper import format, and directly on-target to the CRM's queries.

A study(Opens in a new window) published in 2022 by Validity(Opens in a new window) surveyed more than 600 CRM-using organizations globally. When asked how CRM data impacted sales, 75% of respondents said that poor quality data had cost their firms customers. Another 44% estimated their businesses had lost at least 10% in annual revenue that was directly attributable to bad CRM data (see graphic below).

Estimated Annual Revenue Impact of Poor-Quality CRM Data

The Best CRM Software for 2022 (14)

(Credit: Validity)

Ensuring good data quality is a matter of testing and constant vigilance. You'll need to run regular and repeatable tests on your system. Depending on the size of your staff and your CRM investment, the Validity report recommends you should also consider appointing a data management professional as the lead on keeping your CRM data clean. That person should manage the entire data flow, including not just your CRM but any apps connected to it. They should also handle the full spectrum of data management tasks, including automating data workflows, data protection, and backup. If you feel such a hire is in your future, you should pull that person in as early as possible, preferably at the evaluation stage before you purchase anything.

Watch Out for CRM Complexity

Complexity is a common blocker to CRM adoption. Some of the CRM products we review here tout a "highly customizable interface." That means a lot more than simply changing the look. Next to data gathering, a CRM's next-most important function is as a workflow hub. That means you can decide which data you want to collect, who should provide it, when they should offer it in your usual sales flow, and where it should wind up.

Along the way, you can retool your CRM's interface to show only the tools and features necessary to complete those steps. Everything else can stay in the background until it's needed. It can take a good deal of work to get your CRM to this point, and not all the tested products can do it. But taking advantage of deep customizability is one of the most effective ways to make sure your CRM instance is as easy to use as possible. That's step one for successful adoption.

The other end of the spectrum is what to do when things go wrong. Whether it's a software bug or simply some difficulty using a particular feature, you'll need a responsive support team. You can make that part of your SLA if you've got one, but if you don't, then you'll need to do your own verification:

  • Make sure to understand the level of support associated with your pricing tier and whether you can modify it.

  • Research the provider's support forum. You're checking for the kinds of questions that are being asked and how long it takes before a response is issued.

  • Check for DIY resources. Are there self-service tools for certain issues if there's a support site? If there are, be sure to run through them to see how effective they are. Search the knowledge base to see what kinds of articles are included and the usual format. Make sure this content will be helpful to you.

  • Investigate the product's training options. Complex tools usually require some level of training, so see what your service vendor provides. Is on-site, in-person training your only option, or are there online resources, such as well-organized blogs, videos, and recorded webinars?

Make Mobile CRM a Priority

Make sure to take a close look at the CRM solution's mobile app. This should be a separate app, not just a mobile "capability" (which almost always means a mobile-optimized version of the desktop website). In addition, you shouldn't pay extra for it. Mobile devices are an entirely different breed from desktops or notebooks. Employees use them differently and software renders them differently, which means that business processes that involve them will behave differently.

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A CRM Might Be More Important to Your Business Than Phones

Make sure your CRM software of choice can support the mobile device platform your team uses. Are you providing every employee an iPhone or is yours a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environment, which inevitably means supporting multiple platforms? Next, carefully evaluate what the app can do. Some apps offer a read-only view of your sales pipeline or contacts but don't let you make updates until you get back to a computer. Others offer a seamless and responsive experience, letting you do everything on a mobile device that you would on a computer. Don't commit to CRM software until you've used the mobile app in a way you and your team would do on a day-to-day basis. For many SMBs and their agents, the mobile component of a CRM app might be more critical than the desktop version.

Many CRM vendors cater directly to a mobile workforce. Those apps are full-featured offerings, with responsive web design and layouts dedicated to a mobile experience. If you have a field sales team that leaves their laptops behind and instead works on their tablets and smartphones, then you need to give them the tools they need, and these kinds of apps fit that bill.

How to Integrate CRM With Your Existing Systems

Salesforce and other larger CRM platforms have huge feature stacks that are sold as modules, with each module having many related features. If the features are what you need, you can configure your entire solution simply by accessing the right modules. But if something is missing, or your sales staff is simply more comfortable using something else, you may need to use software from third-party vendors to fill gaps.

Integration takes two basic forms. The easiest is if the CRM system or the system to which you're trying to connect supports the other as a "native" integration. That means that the company has a pre-built integration module you can just download and use as needed. You'll have the best luck with big-name targets here, as many companies pre-build integrations for companies such as NetSuite or Salesforce, for example.

The other method is rolling your own integration. This is easiest if both systems have an open application programming interface (API). The most common standard here is representational state transfer (REST). With a REST API, you can have developers build a custom integration for you. That option certainly provides the most flexibility and customization, but it can also add significant costs depending on the level of your coding talent.

It's also worth looking at any third-party software you're considering, or indeed any software you already use, to see if there are integrations available from that side. Maybe you already have email marketing software that you love, or you want to connect your cloud storage service, lead management tool, or customer service management platform. As we've mentioned, you'll want to be able to connect your email account and perhaps your calendar, too.

Another excellent example of a value-add integration with CRM would be your product support or help desk platform. Next to your sales staff, your product support professionals probably have the most direct contact with your customers, and the information they gather in the course of even a short conversation can be gold to a salesperson. Problems with one product line can mean upsell opportunities to another.

Bottom line: Simply knowing that your CRM supports third-party integrations isn't enough, even at the outset of your purchase. The depth of integrations can hugely vary, so you need at least a semi-accurate understanding of the experience you want your salespeople and customers to have, now and in the future. Take your time and map this out as much as you can. You'll vastly decrease the likelihood of a deployment failure and get your staff excited about the new system at the same time.

How to Secure Your CRM Data

When you're working with the sales pipeline and customer data, make sure security is top of mind—especially if you're using a SaaS CRM solution (which means a big chunk, if not all, of your customer data resides in the cloud). You should feel comfortable with the company's security requirements. It's a warning sign when your CRM software lets you select a password, but doesn't generate an audit trail whenever someone makes a change, or if it doesn't let you define access controls for each user. Customer data is an extremely valuable commodity, especially now that customers are more reluctant to part with it. Securing it isn't just about maintaining privacy; it's about protecting profitable relationships that directly impact your bottom line.

Integration plays a role here, but it's mostly about research. You can make sure your chosen CRM software integrates with as much of your current IT security software as possible, such as your identity management system, so your employees can take advantage of single sign-on authentication. But even more important than that is doing your homework. That means digging deep into the vendor's service level agreement (SLA) and ascertaining exactly where your data resides, who is responsible for its safety, and what happens if there's a problem. Doing some Google surfing to see whether this vendor has been breached in the past—and if they have, what their response was—is another good indicator of just what you're getting your data into.

How We Test the Top CRMs

In this roundup, we tested 17 of the most popular CRM software packages on the market today. A few of them didn't make the cut this time, but the packages that did include Apptivo CRM, Freshsales CRM, HubSpot CRM, Insightly CRM, Less Annoying CRM, Pipedrive CRM, Sales Creatio, Salesforce Sales Cloud Lightning Professional, Zendesk Sell, and Zoho CRM. We've worked hard to evaluate this CRM software with the aforementioned criteria in mind, so check out each of the reviews to figure out which package is right for you. All have their strengths and weaknesses. Some are geared more toward small to midsize businesses (SMBs), while others have broader email marketing capabilities. Some CRM systems are easier to use out of the box, with simple navigations and standard workflows. Others offer deeper and more complicated customization. Some are dirt cheap, while others are quite expensive when you start moving up tiers, scaling up your sales workforce, or adding premium functionality.

Our top three selections remain Apptivo CRM, Sales Cloud Lightning Professional, and Zoho CRM, services that earned our Editors' Choice distinction for balanced feature sets and thoughtful integration features. Not all CRM solutions fit all business needs, however, so it's important to survey the landscape and try newer entrants, such as Capsule CRM or Zendesk Sell (formerly Base CRM). New solutions can bring just the right amount of innovation to capture an SMBs attention. In the end, it is the balance of a business' needs, the size and scope of its sales team, and how the company engages with it is customers that will determine the best CRM solution for a business.

(Video) 5 Best Free CRM Software in 2022

For more on contacting customers, check out The Best Email Marketing Software, The Best Small Business CRM Software, and The Best Lead Management Software.

Molly McLaughlin and Rob Marvin also contributed to this story.


What is the most commonly used CRM software right now? ›

Undeniably the most popular name in the CRM industry, Salesforce has everything your business could ever need. Its Sales Cloud Professional edition offers features like rules-based lead scoring, campaign management, and unlimited custom applications.

What is the world's #1 CRM? ›

Align customer needs and grow your business with Salesforce Customer 360, the world's #1 CRM.

Which CRM is better than Salesforce? ›

Here the top alternatives to Salesforce as a CRM software:

Best for top rated: Insightly. Best for enterprise: HubSpot CRM. Best for value: Agile CRM. Best for tech savvy: Bitrix24.

What are the 3 types of CRM? ›

The three types of CRM systems are operational, analytical and collaborative.

What is latest technology on CRM? ›

Lead Qualification: AI-powered CRM tools can automate need analysis. Chatbots and email bots help understand the exact requirement of leads and inform sales teams to improve performance and optimize sales processes. Sentiment Analysis: Analyze customer conversations during calls and assess their emotional state.

Which CRM is easiest to use? ›

The best simple CRM Systems are:
  • Freshsales.
  • Zoho CRM.
  • Pipedrive.
  • CRM.
  • HubSpot CRM.
31 Oct 2022

What is the biggest CRM system? ›

Why is Salesforce No 1 CRM? ›

One of the reasons that Salesforce is so popular is that it is packed with features like no other CRM software; features such as contact management, workflow creation, task management, opportunity tracking, collaboration tools, customer engagement tools, analytics and an intuitive, mobile-ready dashboard.

Is Salesforce still the best CRM? ›

After so much research and analysis on the various customer relationship management software's, Salesforce is recommended as the best CRM software for businesses as it offers everything needed to make it faster and easier to close sales for a business.

How do I choose a CRM tool? ›

How to Choose the Right CRM for Your Business
  1. Identify Your Goals. ...
  2. Understand the Implementation. ...
  3. Prepare For User Adoption. ...
  4. Understand Product Mobility. ...
  5. Layout Your Processes. ...
  6. Review Compatibility With Current Software. ...
  7. Dig Into the Product Demo. ...
  8. Ask About Reporting Capabilities.
1 May 2020

What are the 4 pillars of CRM? ›

A successful implementation of CRM is majorly built on four pillars such as workforce, strategy, processes and technology. To design any CRM process we need to consider each of these elements which if ignored, may result in failure of CRM implementation.

What are the two main types of CRM? ›

What are the major types of CRM? Three major types of CRM are analytical, operational and collaborative.

Is Oracle or Salesforce better? ›

Salesforce Sales Cloud offers tests, certificates, free online training, support documentation and in-product help. Oracle CX provides comprehensive training materials, how-to videos, certified courses and in-product suggestions. However, it doesn't offer free live training.

Is Salesforce still in demand 2022? ›

Today, there is a huge demand for Salesforce-specific skills. This is the reason for the creation of 3.3 million new jobs is predicted in the Salesforce economy by 2022. As mentioned earlier, several Salesforce-specific roles are in huge demand today.

What is basic CRM? ›

This is a simple definition of CRM. Customer relationship management (CRM) is a technology for managing all your company's relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. The goal is simple: Improve business relationships to grow your business.

What is the future of CRM? ›

To meet customer-centric goals, CRM systems need to evolve with greater precision and predictive analytics, as well as a focus on customer needs and behavior. As AI becomes more prominent in the sales space, sales reps will transition to more customer-care-focused tasks.

What the the 4 main types of CRM software and what are their uses? ›

Let's now take a closer look at each one of them.
  • Operational CRMs. Operational CRMs give your marketing, sales, and customer service departments the possibility to better support your existing and potential customers. ...
  • Analytical CRMs. ...
  • Collaborative CRMs. ...
  • Campaign management CRMs. ...
  • Strategic CRMs.
12 Dec 2019

What is CRM called now? ›

Microsoft Dynamics 365 was officially released on November 1,2016 as the successor to Dynamics CRM. The product combines Microsoft business products (CRM & ERP Dynamics AX).

What is the best affordable CRM? ›

Top 7 Cheap CRM Systems in 2022
  • HubSpot.
  • Zoho.
  • Freshsales.
  • Salesforce.
  • Zendesk.
  • Pipedrive.
  • Our Methodology.
31 Mar 2022

What CRM software is best for a small startup? ›

Top 6 CRMs for small businesses
  1. Zoho CRM. Zoho CRM is an all-in-one CRM for startups and small businesses. ...
  2. Salesforce. Salesforce has the best brand recognition when it comes to CRM software. ...
  3. Agile CRM. This one focuses more on lead management and marketing automation. ...
  4. Hubspot. ...
  5. Salesflare. ...
  6. Insightly.

Can I use Google as a CRM? ›

Google Contacts manages and centralizes your client data.

The quicker you get on top of your data as a small business, the better. The most obvious Gmail go-to for managing prospect, client, and partner data is to use Google Contacts as a CRM.

Is Salesforce bigger than Microsoft? ›

Today, Salesforce holds a commanding 19%+ share of the CRM market. Microsoft Dynamic 365 has a smaller market share, but definitely not insignificant—it's between 3-4%, putting the company in fifth place among all CRM vendors overall. Both CRM systems offer a comprehensive suite of work tools.

Which company is the market leader in CRM? ›

Salesforce Ranked #1 in CRM Market Share for Ninth Consecutive Year - Salesforce News.

Is Microsoft better than Salesforce? ›

Both offer comprehensive features designed to tackle any problem. Salesforce may be better for smaller and younger businesses but, for those business operators looking for a product to grow with their business, Microsoft Dynamics 365 may be the better choice.

Why Salesforce is better than Excel? ›

Salesforce enables you to leverage your data and provide a customer portal that gives your clients access to their own data and service records. Customized page layouts, field-level security, and personalized logos including user profiles make for an enhanced customer experience.

Is Salesforce good for future? ›

A Salesforce certification is a great way to gain expertise in the world's number one CRM cloud platform that is in high demand across businesses of all sizes. What's more, as the number of Salesforce platform end-users increase steeply, companies face a shortage of pros skilled in Salesforce knowledge.

Why Salesforce is more than a CRM? ›

Marketing professionals use Salesforce to not only target the right person at the right time on the right channel but to build a marketing strategy around the customer journey and automate engagement. Using Salesforce for marketing can help you improve: Lead generation. Customer acquisition.

Is Google better than Salesforce? ›

Google is most highly rated for Culture and Salesforce is most highly rated for Compensation and benefits.
Overall Rating.
Overall Rating4.34.4
Compensation and benefits4.14.3
Job security and advancement3.73.9
1 more row

Is Salesforce better than SAP? ›

The SAP CRM vs Salesforce contest is a close one, but our analysts found that Salesforce performs better for more individual features. That being said, Salesforce may not be the best CRM for every company, so it's important to keep your requirements in mind when researching CRMs.

What is a good CRM used for? ›

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a technology for managing all your company's relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. The goal is simple: Improve business relationships. A CRM system helps companies stay connected to customers, streamline processes, and improve profitability.

Is CRM a tool or software? ›

CRM software (customer relationship management software) is a tool that's designed to help your organization offer your customers a unique and seamless experience, as well as build better relationships by providing a complete picture of all customer interactions, keeping track of your sales, organizing and prioritizing ...

What every CRM should have? ›

We base our findings on the 5 core components that we consider every CRM should have: user adoption, security, functionality, automation, and data quality.

What is an example of a CRM tool? ›

1. HubSpot. HubSpot is a CRM platform —meaning, it tracks customer relationships as well as facilitates marketing, sales, and service processes. HubSpot is ideal for any scaling business (whether you're small, mid-sized, or enterprise) and any team (such as marketing, sales, customer service, operations, or C-suite).

What type of CRM is Salesforce? ›

Salesforce offers innovative, cloud-based CRM that's scalable and customisable, so every business can create their ideal solution.

What are the 7 critical skills of CRM? ›

  • Decision Making (DM)
  • Assertiveness (AS)
  • Mission Analysis (MA)
  • Communication (CM)
  • Leadership (LD)
  • Adaptability/Flexibility (AF)
  • Situational Awareness (SA)

What are the 10 rules of CRM success? ›

10 Rules of CRM Success You Need to Know
  • Know Your Business Well. Before you begin to implement a CRM system, you must know your business well. ...
  • Understand Your Customers. ...
  • Make Use of Technology. ...
  • Have Proper Data Entry. ...
  • Choose Your Software Wisely. ...
  • Executive Buy-in is Key. ...
  • Use Regular Updates. ...
  • Don't Be Afraid to Change Vendors.
29 Jan 2022

What are the 5 CRM success factors? ›

The Five CRM Critical Success Factors
  • Executive Sponsorship. CRM is a serious investment, it should be made to support the company's goals and objectives. ...
  • Implementation Approach. Avoid the Big Bang approach by prioritising and planning phases. ...
  • The Data Factor. Data. ...
  • The Right Partner. ...
  • The Right Technology.
29 Jul 2014

What are the 4 steps to a CRM process? ›

What are the 5 steps in the CRM process?
  1. Step 1: Generate brand awareness. ...
  2. Step 2: Acquire leads. ...
  3. Step 3: Leverage CRM data to convert leads into customers. ...
  4. Step 4: Build strong customer relationships. ...
  5. Step 5: Sell more to your current customers.
17 Mar 2022

What CRM system does Coca Cola use? ›

Using SAP CRM system Coca-Cola was able to achieve their goal of customer focus. The CRM help's the existing processes and also improve the new functions to satisfy the customer.

Why is Microsoft better than Salesforce? ›

Salesforce is generally more user-friendly in the UI department, and more customizable, but Microsoft Dynamics 365 is probably a bit easier to use for reporting. Then again, if you really want or need an on-premise deployment, a Microsoft Dynamics 365 plan is the only way to go—Salesforce is cloud-based, full-stop.

Who is Salesforce largest competitor? ›

Oracle CX Sales, one of the biggest Salesforce competitors, is a cloud-based platform that provides managers with big-picture data and helps sellers master buyer signals. Access Siebel, Oracle's on-premise CRM and extend Oracle CX Sales capabilities.

What CRM does Google use? ›

Agile CRM's Google integration lets users track customer interactions and get a timeline view of conversations through Gmail. It also allows better collaboration for teams that use Google Workspace, as it integrates seamlessly with Google Drive, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, and Google Docs.

Does Apple use CRM? ›

Additionally, Apple CRMs let users access their CRM system through the Safari search browser and iPhone device, plus integrate with Apple software tools like Apple Mail, Contacts, and Calendar.

What CRM does AAA use? ›

With AXIS Customer Relationship Management (CRM), an intuitive customer relationship tool used by AAA/CAA auto clubs, your team can leverage customer information to easily personalize marketing, sales and service activities and ensure every member gets a unique and valuable experience.


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