Operational customer relationship management (CRM) systems focus on providing features that keep a sales team better organized and efficient. The best solutions will offer affordable and customizable data management features that can be tailored to any business and extensive workflow automation capabilities, such as task reminders or appointment scheduling tools.
Based on our evaluation, the seven best operational CRMs include:
- Best operational CRM with solid communication features: Freshsales
- Excellent RevOps CRM: HubSpot CRM
- Best operational tools for sales automation: Pipedrive
- Most customizable: ClickUp
- Best option for managing projects: Bitrix24
- Great for Gmail integration: Copper CRM
- Easiest to operate: monday Sales CRM
Best Operational CRM Systems Compared
*Based on annual billing on a per user, per month basis; monthly billing is also available for slightly higher rates.
Freshsales: Best for Communications Features
- Automated profile enrichment gets expensive
- Sales forecasting not available until Pro plan
- Email and Slack integration not available on Free plan
- You need an efficient way to manage communications: Freshsales is both a powerful CRM system and contact center. It’s great for engaging leads and customers and tracking conversations on a wide range of channels. These include a built-in phone system, text, email, live chat, and automated artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot. There are also integrations to use apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp in the CRM.
- You want to keep individual reps more productive: As an operational CRM system, Freshsales is especially useful as a sales productivity tool. It includes free data management for contacts, accounts, and deals with activity tracking and stored notes. Additionally, users can set and track individual tasks associated with CRM records and get access to a built-in appointment scheduler.
- You need more affordable data enrichment: Data enrichment is a vital operational CRM feature that ensures reps have an up-to-date database by auto-updating contact records based on online information. This tool, unfortunately, requires the Enterprise plan for $69 per user, per month.
- Alternative: Pipedrive offers its data enrichment capabilities for just $27.90 per user, per month.
- You want free Slack connectivity: Integrating a CRM with Slack keeps reps in the loop on recent sales activity by being able to send team members updates based on deal or lead changes. Freshsales requires a paid plan for these operational capabilities.
- Alternative: HubSpot CRM Suite includes third-party integrations, including Slack for deal updates and user notifications, on the Free plan.
Freshsales Monthly Pricing Plans*
*Pricing is based on annual billing on a per-user monthly breakdown. Monthly billing is available for a higher cost. Freshsales offers a 21-day free trial and optional paid add-ons for additional workflow automations and phone credits starting at $5. Pricing reflects pricing info available at the time of publishing. While we update pricing information regularly, we encourage our readers to check current pricing here.
Our Expert Opinion
Freshsales is one of the best small business CRMs thanks to its cost-scalability and robust sales features. In addition to vital operational capabilities like appointment scheduling, task management, and various reporting tools, this CRM is a full contact center. Between the phone system, email integrations, live chat functions, text message options, and chatbot capabilities, Freshsales is the ultimate solution to growing a business through omnichannel outreach.
HubSpot CRM: Best for Managing a Revenue Operation
- Not a scalable CRM; paid plans get expensive
- Forecasting not included until Professional plan
- No free automation features
- You are a revenue operation: Evolved from a traditional sales operation, revenue operations (RevOps) is becoming a popular structure that combines sales, marketing, and service functions into one business unit. HubSpot CRM is excellent for aligning strategies and sharing resources across these teams as it includes a Sales, Marketing, and Service Hub in its suite.
- You need a free operational CRM: HubSpot is considered the best free CRM that can fulfill many operational needs to manage the day-to-day and scale efficiently. For example, users get no-cost access to quote generation, document storage, email marketing, meeting scheduling, and a products library module. Additionally, the Free plan allows for third-party integrations, including Slack for collaboration and task updates.
- You want more affordable sales forecasting tools: For a sales manager, forecasting is crucial to properly planning rep capacity and a growth strategy. HubSpot, unfortunately, does not include forecasting tools until the Professional plan for $1,600 per month.
- Alternative: Freshsales offers much more cost-friendly forecasting that’s just $39 per user, per month.
- You need free workflow automation: There’s no better operational productivity hack than workflow automation that auto-creates or updates CRM records, assigns tasks, or sends communications based on triggers like elapsed time or deal status changes. While it has a great free-forever plan, HubSpot does not include any workflow automation other than email campaign triggers until the paid plans.
- Alternative: ClickUp is the best option for free automation as it allows up to 100 monthly automated workflows for free.
HubSpot CRM Monthly Pricing Plans*
*Pricing is based on annual billing on a per-month breakdown. Monthly billing is available for a higher cost. Each plan offers a 14-day free trial. Pricing reflects info available at the time of publishing. While we update pricing information regularly, we encourage our readers to check current pricing here.
**Pricing uses the monthly CRM Suite costs for individuals and small teams. The provider also offers Enterprise-level products for larger teams for a higher cost. The CRM Suite includes sales, marketing, customer service, content management system (CMS), and operations software in one product. Individual modules can be purchased for lower prices.
Our Expert Opinion
HubSpot CRM Suite offers a great solution for growing a business. As an all-in-one sales, marketing, and customer service management system, RevOps teams can stay aligned in terms of resources and strategy so they can scale efficiently. Many vital RevOps features, including quote generation, document management, email communications, and appointment scheduling, are even free.
Pipedrive: Best for Automating Sales Tasks
- Doesn’t offer a free plan
- Project management tools are expensive
- Important operations features like email integrations, appointment scheduling, and workflow automation require Advanced plan
- You want to automate much of your operation: Pipedrive is one of the best sales automation software products because of its end-to-end capabilities. Many pipeline stages and sales tasks can be put on auto-pilot, including lead generation, qualification, meeting scheduling, email nurturing, and contact enrichment. Additionally, the system comes with Smart Docs, which automates proposal generation by populating prestored documents with contact data.
- You need robust deal tracking tools: In a sales operation, closing and managing deals is the ultimate performance indicator. No CRM offers better deal tracking tools than Pipedrive. Teams can customize pipeline stages to meet their unique needs, create, track, and assign opportunities as they come in, and monitor deal activity. A rotten indicator feature even alerts users if a sales deal is turning cold.
- You need a free CRM system: Pipedrive, though not too expensive, does not come with a free-forever plan.
- You want more affordable project management features: Project management in a CRM system is convenient for managing sales deals and client deliverables in one interface. While Pipedrive recently started offering a project management module, it requires the Power plan for $64.90 per user, monthly.
- Alternative: Bitrix24 is the best alternative that comes with free project management capabilities.
Pipedrive Monthly Pricing Plans*
*Pricing is based on annual billing on a per-user monthly breakdown. Monthly billing is available for a higher cost. Paid plans include a 14-day free trial. Pricing reflects pricing info available at the time of publishing. While we update pricing information regularly, we encourage our readers to check current pricing here.
Our Expert Opinion
Pipedrive can convert a sales operation into an automated machine if you choose to deploy all it has to offer. The system stands out by providing specialized advanced tools such as Smart Docs, Smart Contact Data, and the artificial intelligence (AI) sales assistant in addition to traditional workflow automation features. Combine everything, and you can nearly put your entire sales process on auto-pilot.
ClickUp: Best for Customization
- Not a traditional CRM system; users must design their boards from scratch or through premade templates
- Lacks any true sales forecasting features; requires a lot of tailoring to get those metrics
- Lots of modules available; can get tricky to navigate the platform
- You need a highly customized system: ClickUp is designed to let teams oversee work or project requirements. That said, users can customize their boards or deploy premade templates to meet any business function, including sales, marketing campaigns, customer service, special projects, HR, or accounting. Regardless of how it’s used, data fields, lists, viewing options, and workflows can be tailored entirely to any operation.
- You want a robust free CRM for operations: While it’s not necessarily the best general free CRM, ClickUp is a standout pick if you specifically need operational features for free. Users get access to workflow automation, custom data fields, and task management, all at no cost. Additionally, integrations for Gmail and Outlook are available for teams to send emails from their CRM.
- You prefer a traditional CRM: Some users may prefer a CRM with already-built sales modules. In that case, they should look elsewhere since ClickUp is a custom work management system that requires hefty preconfiguration.
- You need true forecasting capabilities: ClickUp doesn’t offer dedicated forecasting tools for managers to obtain revenue estimates and plan out growth strategies. Users would need to customize their data fields and reporting metrics accordingly for those capabilities.
ClickUp Monthly Pricing Plans*
*Pricing is based on annual billing on a per-user monthly breakdown. Monthly billing is available for a higher cost. ClickUp comes with a 14-day free trial. Pricing reflects pricing info available at the time of publishing. While we update pricing information regularly, we encourage our readers to check current pricing here.
Our Expert Opinion
System customization is vital to overseeing a business operation. ClickUp lets you tailor your workspaces to meet any business module and data or process requirements for a sales operation. We also can’t overlook how uniquely equipped the Free plan is for optimizing operations, offering task management, workflow automation, and unlimited records—all at no cost.
Bitrix24: Best for Project-based Businesses
- High learning curve required to operate the features and navigate the interface
- Paid plans get expensive
- Mass text and email require the Standard plan
- You are a project-based business: Being able to track sales deals and projects in one system is convenient for keeping a sales operation in sync. Bitrix24 includes a built-in project management module on its free-forever plan. Once a deal is closed, teams can oversee milestones and tasks associated with a client project. These features are especially useful for content creation, consulting, and trade contracting businesses.
- You need robust data management tools: A clean customer database is vital to a smooth operation. Bitrix24 offers users a high storage capacity, including unlimited contacts and deals, on the Free plan. It also has the versatility to store different record types like clients, inventory, projects, products and services, and leads. Finally, Bitrix24 comes with excellent data management tools, like free automated duplicate detection, custom fields, and file editing within the CRM.
- You need a simpler CRM solution: While it comes with great features, Bitrix24 gets poor reviews in terms of product usability. Users find the interface difficult to navigate and the built-in tools require a steep learning curve.
- Alternative: monday Sales CRM takes the crown for best operational CRM for ease of use.
- You want lower-priced email marketing features: While users can access email integrations on the Basic plan, deploying bulk email campaigns is not included until the Standard plan for $99 per month.
- Alternative: HubSpot CRM can save sales reps and marketing teams a lot of time by being able to send bulk emails on its free-forever plan.
Bitrix24 Monthly Pricing Plans*
*Pricing is based on annual billing on a per-month breakdown. Monthly billing is available for a higher cost. Bitrix24 offers a 30-day free trial on paid plans. Pricing reflects pricing info available at the time of publishing. While we update pricing information regularly, we encourage our readers to check current pricing here.
Our Expert Opinion
Bitrix24 can offer an excellent free solution for optimizing a sales operation. It’s also great for aligning sales teams with those responsible for providing client services. The built-in project management tool provides a centralized system to oversee the sales process and client deliverables after a deal is closed.
Copper CRM: Best for Using in Gmail
- Only up to 10 data fields can be custom-tailored on Basic plan
- No free plan plus expensive paid options
- Mass email not available until the Professional plan
- You want to use your CRM in Gmail: Copper is a Google CRM system designed to look like and integrate with Google apps. As a productivity hack, users can access the Chrome extension, putting the CRM directly in their Gmail or Google Calendar interface, which are often the most commonly used apps for sales reps. From there, you can add or update records, manage tasks, and find files in one system.
- You need a simple team collaboration tool: Copper is a highly intuitive CRM that looks and feels like a Google app. It also comes with a great set of team collaboration features. Users can mention one another in CRM records, assign tasks, share files, and log activity—allowing sales teams to coordinate on opportunities and ensure nothing slips through the cracks.
- You want a more cost-friendly CRM for operations: Copper does not offer any free-forever plan, and the paid options start at $23 per user, monthly—a relatively high cost compared to other options.
- Alternative: Freshsales is the most scalable solution available—offering a free-forever plan and paid plans that start at $15 per user, per month.
- You need a lot of custom data fields: A key operational challenge with Copper is that you only get up to 10 different customizable data fields on the Basic plan. Unlimited custom fields require the Professional plan for $59 per user, monthly.
Copper Monthly Pricing Plans*
*Pricing is based on annual billing on a per user, per month breakdown. Monthly billing is also available for a higher cost. Copper also comes with a 14-day free trial. Pricing reflects pricing info available at the time of publishing. While we update pricing information regularly, we encourage our readers to check current pricing here.
Our Expert Opinion
Copper CRM can optimize productivity thanks primarily to its unique Chrome extension. Because so much work is done through an email or calendar app, it’s best for sales reps to be able to view and manage their CRM records from those systems. Copper’s extension gives you full CRM accessibility within Gmail and Google Calendar to stay better organized and help maintain work centralization.
monday Sales CRM: Best for Ease of Use
- No free plan
- Data duplicate management requires Enterprise plan
- Misleading cost of paid plans; three-user minimum required
- You need a simple operations CRM: monday Sales CRM is the best simple CRM software that new users can adopt that comes with a small learning curve. First, it uses a familiar spreadsheet-style format for data entry, updates, and while customizing fields. Once added, users can quickly toggle between different viewing options to evaluate their data. monday Sales CRM also has low-code automation options that let teams create if/then workflows with drop-down options.
- You want a dedicated operations management module: monday Sales CRM is unique in that it comes with dedicated tools for sales operations. These include rep headcount and capacity planning, employee onboarding tracking, sales collateral storage, and an internal knowledge base. There’s also a feature for obtaining approval from legal or security teams on contract terms.
- You need a free CRM for sales operations: monday Sales CRM no longer offers a free-forever plan to its users.
- You want lower-priced data deduplication: Data duplicate management allows you to keep a clean database by finding and merging redundant records automatically. While monday Sales CRM has this capability, it requires the Enterprise plan, which uses tailored pricing based on users and feature requirements.
- Alternative: Bitrix24 stands out as the best alternative—offering automated duplicate management on its Free plan.
monday Sales CRM Monthly Pricing Plans*
*Pricing is based on annual billing on a monthly per-user breakdown. Monthly billing is available for a higher cost. There is a 14-day free trial for the paid plans. Pricing reflects pricing info available at the time of publishing. While we update pricing information regularly, we encourage our readers to check current pricing here.
Our Expert Opinion
monday Sales CRM is the best option if your top priority is product usability. From an operations perspective, it offers a simple database for reps to access records—utilizing a spreadsheet format familiar to most software users. We also can’t tout the automation capabilities enough. The low-code designer tools allow any user, regardless of technical skill, to easily put sales tasks and pipeline stages on autopilot.
How We Evaluated the Best CRM for Operations
To determine the best operational CRM, we prioritized evaluating the features relevant to managing a day-to-day sales team and helping them improve efficiency. Forecasting, internal communication, and automation, for example, are vital in an operational CRM. We also looked at other critical product attributes, including price and user experience from an intuitive product and solid customer support.
The tabs below offer insight into our evaluation process of the operational CRM software:
25% of Overall Score
We first looked at features vital to any CRM system, regardless of industry, company size, or whether it’s primarily used for operations management. For example, a mobile app lets teams work while on the go, while a range of third-party integration options allows teams to connect with their favorite outside applicants. We also looked at system customization and the sophistication of the reporting and analytics tools.
20% of Overall Score
This criteria looked at the all-around affordability of each CRM and its operational features. Pricing considered the total costs of each of the paid subscriptions and whether there was a freemium option for users. We also evaluated billing flexibility, such as offering annual options to save on costs.
20% of Overall Score
We evaluated niche features specific to operations management and rep productivity. Extensive workflow automation, for instance, lets you put repetitive and mundane activity on auto-pilot. We also looked at the task management and internal communication features included in each CRM to help stay efficient and collaborate with team members. Finally, we evaluated features that can help scale a sales operation, such as forecasting and pipeline analysis tools.
20% of Overall Score
Extensive support enables the best possible user outcomes while using these CRM systems. We wanted the providers to be available either during extended business hours or on a 24/7 basis. We also considered the range of support channel options like phone, email, and live chat, as well as self-service resources, including a knowledge base and community forum.
15% of Overall Score
In addition to firsthand experience with these operational CRM systems, we wanted to take into account real user opinions by evaluating online reviews. This lets us gauge how users felt about the features, perceived value for price paid, and product usability while setting up, operating, and navigating the CRM system.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
An operational CRM system is a sales software with features for improving productivity, organization, and scalability. It will offer plenty of workflow automation to put specific tasks on auto-pilot, task tracking, internal communication tools for collaboration, and capacity planning capabilities, such as forecasting, which allows a manager to grow more efficiently.
Pipedrive is a great example of an operational CRM because of its robust sales automation features. These include Smart Docs, which can auto-create and send business proposals for signature. There’s also Smart Contact, which keeps contact profiles up to date with current information found online, auto-task creation and assignment based on deal status changes, and email tools to automatically nurture sales leads.
An operational CRM is one of three types of CRMs. There are also collaborative CRM systems that focus on aligning various departments, such as sales, support, and marketing teams, by sharing data resources and coordinating activity. Additionally, there are analytical CRMs that prioritize finding insights and trends on customer data, pipeline activity, and the sales funnel to help improve operations and product offerings.
Operational CRMs give sales teams data management, automation, forecasting, and collaboration tools to improve the day-to-day. Depending on your budget, feature priorities, and interface requirements, different CRMs will best serve your operation. For example, monday Sales CRM is great for ease of use, while ClickUp can let you customize data for any need. Freshsales, however, ranks high thanks to its omnichannel communication and outreach tools.