Customer relationship management (CRM) software provides a system for organizing contacts and communicating with potential buyers and customers. The best small business CRM also offers a centralized platform for managing and collaborating on sales, marketing, and administrative activities while giving teams the ability to automate certain tasks that ultimately increase productivity.
We evaluated multiple highly rated CRM software platforms and narrowed it down to the six best CRMs for small business:
- Freshsales: Best overall, and an excellent choice for small businesses looking for solid mix of lead management features and integration capabilities
- Zoho CRM: Best option for organizations that heavily utilize social media marketing
- Pipedrive: Ideal for business-to-business (B2B) companies with simple sales models that focus on direct selling
- Bitrix24: Solid option for small ecommerce businesses
- HubSpot CRM: Ideal for startup businesses looking to grow with a scalable CRM
- Salesforce Essentials: Great solution for small sales teams who want a robust mobile application
Looking for something more specific to your line of business? Read our guide to the best industry-specific CRM solutions.
How We Evaluated the Best CRM for Small Business
To determine which is the best CRM for small business, we evaluated product pricing as well as general CRM features that are particularly suited for small businesses. Solopreneurs and the owners and employees of small businesses often wear multiple hats within the operation. For this reason, we also considered a tool’s overall usability across the board and customer support (having dedicated sales, marketing, and accounting departments).
Based on our evaluation, Freshsales is the best overall CRM for small business because of the combination of its ease of use, robust lead management features, and affordability. It is equipped with lead generation and nurturing capabilities, and can be integrated with other native products for managing human resources, customer service, and call center operations.
You can learn more about how these features can help you better manage your business in our article on what is a CRM.
The tabs below offer insight into our evaluation process for choosing the best CRM software for small business:
40% of Overall Score
With cost typically being among the most important criteria for any small business, price was the most heavily weighted when reviewing the best small business CRM software. We considered the availability of free plans, capability for various subscription options, and whether or not monthly billing is available.
20% of Overall Score
We looked at overall CRM features like sales pipeline management tools, mobile application capabilities, and integrations with third-party applications. We also took a look at the automation and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities of each CRM platform.
15% of Overall Score
The functions of any application are only as beneficial as they are usable; therefore, ease of use was the next highest weight of criteria for the best CRM software for small business. This was analyzed in terms of the expertise needed to set it up and integrate it with other applications, the skill required to operate CRM tools, and the intuitiveness of navigating the interface.
15% of Overall Score
Extensive support and service can prevent issues a user might encounter while using the platform. Help and support were evaluated in terms of customer service hours and availability of support via phone, live chat, and email.
10% of Overall Score
In addition to firsthand experiences with the providers, we evaluated what other small businesses are saying about each CRM. These criteria consider how users feel based on their reviews to gain insight on the product’s popularity, ease of use, and overall value for the price.
Freshsales: Best Small Business CRM
*Pricing is based on an annual subscription. Monthly billing is also available at slightly higher rates.
Freshsales is an excellent small business CRM option, specifically due to how well it functions for lead management activities. Its Pro and Enterprise plans include Chat Bot. It’s an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered bot that engages website visitors in real-time conversation to convert them into leads. Users can manage their leads with automated lead nurturing functionality and track their sales pipelines with visualizations showing progress, potential value, and expected date of deal finalization.
In addition to the lead management capabilities, small businesses find plenty of value in its ease of use, as well as the availability of a free option and low-cost subscription plans. The platform also gives businesses the ability to integrate with other Freshworks products like Freshdesk and Freshservice. This allows them to have a full-service small business management system with modules for managing human resources, customer service, call centers, and IT ticket servicing.
While Freshworks has the ability to automate tasks within specific workflows, accessing this functionality requires subscribing to higher-priced plans. For small businesses that want better automation capabilities at a lower price, we recommend Zoho CRM as the best small business CRM that offers low-cost task automation.
- Visual sales pipelines: Its visual sales pipelines can be viewed in funnel, Kanban, or timeline styles
- Web integration: Integrates with websites to create web forms for generating leads and track website traffic
- Marketing segmentation features: Automate the grouping and filtering of leads based on geography, demographics, and behavior
- Sales forecasting features: Create revenue estimates and sales key performance indicator (KPI) reports
- Freddy AI insights: Deduplication of contact data, auto-appointment booking with leads, and predictive lead scoring
Want to learn more about this CRM? Check out our Freshsales review, where we explore its rich feature set.
Zoho CRM: Best for Social Media Marketing
*Pricing is based on an annual subscription. Monthly billing is also available at slightly higher rates.
Social media marketing is an extremely cost-effective method for growing a small business. Zoho CRM offers small businesses a centralized CRM platform for managing social media content, monitoring page activity, and generating leads through several social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
Zoho CRM has a free option, which makes it affordable for solopreneurs and small businesses. However, it’s limited as to the number of allowed users and in features, such as the ability to conduct mass email campaigns. For small businesses that want a free CRM with this feature, we invite you to check out Freshsales as a viable alternative.
Zoho CRM Features
- Social media tools: Integrations with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for publishing, scheduling, and managing social media content. It also offers features for social media monitoring, automatic lead generation from social media, and centralized history of customer interactions.
- Zoho Finance Suite integration: Enables processing of quotes and purchase orders
- Business card scanning features: Built-in business card scanner on mobile application syncs contact information to CRM database
- Remote management capabilities: Cliq and Meeting integrations for online meetings
- Integrations: Allow users to synchronize inboxes, contacts, and calendars into the CRM
Read our Zoho CRM review and find out what it does best, and how it helps small businesses achieve their goals.
Do you want to see how Zoho CRM directly compares to another popular CRM? Check out our comparison review of Zoho CRM vs Salesforce.
Pipedrive: Best Small Business CRM for Direct Sales Operations
*Pricing is based on an annual billing option. Monthly billing is also available, except for the Enterprise plan.
The Pipedrive features related to direct sales operations are particularly beneficial for the sales teams of small businesses. Its smart contact data features provide insights on leads based on data found online and through social media profiles. Smart Docs tools allow you to send quotes, proposals, and contracts, as well as create eSignatures from within the CRM. Sales teams can also send invoices and collect payments through outside integrations.
While Pipedrive is a strong platform for sales activities, its revenue forecasting capabilities are only available on the higher-priced Professional and Enterprise plans. Small businesses looking for sales forecasting tools at a lower price should look to Zoho CRM, which offers forecasting on its Enterprise plan for $99 per user, per month, billed annually.
- Smart Docs: Built-in document management tools for monitoring quotes, proposals, and electronic signature gathering
- Built-in appointment booking tool: Sends calendar links to leads via live chat, then syncs meetings to the sales rep’s calendar through Pipedrive Scheduler
- Smart contact data feature: Provides valuable insights on leads
- AI sales assistant: Gives sales representatives tips for improving performance based on past customer behavior and data within the CRM
- Integrations: Xero, QuickBooks, Paycove, PayKickstart, and RoyPay for invoicing and processing payments
To learn more about this CRM, read our Pipedrive review to explore its rich feature set.
Do you want to check out other customizable CRMs? Take a look at our article on the best customizable CRMs.
Bitrix24: Best for Small Ecommerce Businesses
*Pricing above is based on monthly plans. You may also pay in full quarterly, annually, or biannually.
Bitrix24 is a unique platform that has ecommerce capabilities, enabling small businesses to create a website, process orders, and manage their inventory, all while integrating with the CRM. Online retail businesses have access to these tools for free, as well as the ability to process payments through integrations with popular applications, including PayPal, Stripe, and Authorize.net.
One of the most common issues found in Bitrix24 is its usability, specifically with navigating the interface, which can be intimidating with all of the functional buttons that might be displayed on a given page. Companies looking for an easy-to-navigate CRM software for small business would find HubSpot CRM or Freshsales more intuitive, both of which are featured in our article about the best simple CRM systems.
- Online store website builder: Create an ecommerce store that integrates with the CRM, takes online orders, processes payments, and manages inventory
- Contact center solutions: Built-in telephone, call back widgets, and call tracking tools
- Quotes and invoicing: Built-in tools for attaching quotes or invoices to lead profiles
- Project management features: Built-in project management tools for creating and tracking project tasks
- Human resource management features: Basic tools for absence management, work-time tracking, meeting brief generation, and compilation of employee directory
To discover how this CRM meets the needs of many small businesses, read our comprehensive Bitrix24 review.
Looking for more information on CRMs for retail businesses? Check out our review of the best retail CRM software.
HubSpot CRM: Best for CRM Scalability
*Pricing is based on an annual billing option. Monthly billing is also available at slightly higher rates, except for the Enterprise tier of each plan.
HubSpot is a great CRM option for small businesses that are growing or are interested in scaling their operations. It offers a free plan with basic tools for contact organization, communication with leads, scheduling appointments, and managing service tickets.
HubSpot’s plans are also structured for scalability, regardless of which plan is selected. For example, its Starter plan is priced starting at $45 (with two users included), with the ability to add more users at $23 per user. It also provides a unique supplemental tool that generates a marketing plan designed to help new businesses grow, or assist growing businesses with expansion.
Unfortunately, HubSpot does not provide users with project management features. Small businesses looking for ways to manage and monitor projects will want to check out Bitrix24, as it includes robust project management tools in its free plan.
HubSpot CRM Features
- Custom workflow automations: Create tasks based on lead-triggering activities
- Quotes: Easily generate professional quotes using click-to-quote tools
- Communication features: Built-in telephone and email communication tools
- Event management feature: Data from marketing events can be stored and managed through integrations with event planning and scheduling applications like Eventbrite, atEvent, and Attendease
- Appointment setting tools: Built-in meeting scheduling tools for leads to set appointments
Read our HubSpot CRM review to get more information on how this platform helps small businesses grow.
Check out how HubSpot CRM compares to another great CRM product in our comparison review of Insightly vs HubSpot.
Salesforce Essentials: Best Mobile Application
*Pricing is based on annual billing. Monthly billing is also available at a slightly higher rate.
Although Salesforce Essentials offers AI capabilities, robust email marketing tools, and excellent solutions for report customization, one of the most standout features of this CRM is its mobile application. The mobile app has the ability to perform nearly all of the functions that can be done on its web application, making it easy for you to monitor sales pipelines, manage leads, and communicate with other team members―all while on-the-go.
Salesforce Essentials lacks the availability of a free plan, something that is highly desired, especially by small businesses. For businesses looking for a free small business CRM, HubSpot CRM is a solid choice. We also recommend taking a look at our in-depth review of the best free CRM software.
Salesforce Essentials Features
- Customer service features: Tools for servicing customers through email, phone, live chat, social media, and a self-service help center
- Lightning App Builder: Build custom applications within the Salesforce platform using prebuilt templates and a drag-and-drop interface
- Email auto sync: Email data automatically syncs with CRM to create contact profiles
- Integrations: DocuSign, Dropbox, Zapier, and Active Campaign
- Deals and opportunities: Custom visualization options for deal and opportunity management
Read our Salesforce Essential review to discover if this is the right platform for your business.