Software as a service (SaaS) customer relationship management (CRM) tools are applications delivered via the cloud. They are popular for small businesses because they are easy to implement, provide automatic updates and support, and offer tiered subscription plans and features. We considered dozens of options to put together the top six SaaS CRMs for 2019.
Top 6 SaaS CRM Providers for 2019
|SaaS CRMs||Best For|
|Freshsales||(Best Overall) Small businesses that need a customizable SaaS CRM with great price and functionality|
|HubSpot||Sales and marketing teams that want a free SaaS CRM with advanced lead generation tools|
|Salesforce||Sales teams that need cloud-based automated territory-based rule assignment|
|Zoho||Businesses looking for a SaaS CRM with an all-in-one office productivity suite|
|Zendesk Sell||Field sales teams that need mobile access to customer data and in-app calling|
|Pipedrive||Businesses that want a cloud-based visual pipeline tool to sell products and services|
How We Evaluated SaaS CRMs
We looked at dozens of options to identify the best software as a service CRMs. We evaluated the features unique to SaaS CRMs, and other more general CRM software, including the ease and speed of implementation, availability of regular updates, and ability to easily add and remove additional users. We also looked at the support and training available, especially compared to open-source and on-premise solutions, as well as reliability because no hardware has to be maintained.
To create our list of the six best, we looked at:
- Price & affordability: The cost of software subscription for small businesses and how much value you get, including any additional or add-on costs required for comparable functionality
- Contact & deal management: We compared how easy it is to create, edit, or search for contacts and deals, and how the software helps users manage their sales pipelines
- Ease of use: The best overall choice should be easy to implement and use by sales representatives, managers, and administrators
- Implementation: We looked at the amount of time and resources it takes to set up and implement a SaaS CRM compared to an on-premise or open-source solution
- Feature roadmap: We looked at how often the company develops and rolls out new features and how responsive they are to customer feedback
- Integrations: Each software’s integrations with third-party sales, marketing, and productivity tools were considered
- Mobile app: We evaluated which software had the best mobile apps for sales teams in the field with features that include contact management, built-in calling, and email
- Customization: We looked at the options to customize the software according to the needs of your specific organization including the sales process, contact information fields, and team members roles
- Customer support: We evaluated the level of support and training provided by each software provider, and how responsive they are to customer needs, along with overall reliability and server uptime for SaaS solutions
We recommend Freshsales as the best overall SaaS CRM for small businesses based on its ease of use, overall value, and robust feature set. In addition, Freshsales is a part of the Freshworks suite of SaaS productivity software that includes support ticketing and conversion rate optimization tools. You can go to its website to try Freshsales free for 14 days.
Best Overall SaaS CRM for Small Businesses: Freshsales
Freshsales is a fully featured SaaS CRM with robust contact and lead management tools you can start using for free. Its intuitive sales pipeline, modern interface, great mobile app, and ease of use make Freshsales CRM a great balance between pricing and features. However, its integrations with the complete Freshworks suite of software makes it especially ideal for growing business-to-business (B2B) businesses looking for a complete SaaS ecosystem with sales, support, human resources (HR) tracking, and marketing tools.
Freshsales offers a free-forever plan that includes unlimited users and unlimited contacts. Additional features like sales opportunity management, lead assignment, lead scoring, and advanced analytics are available in paid plans ranging from $12 per user, per month to $49 per user, per month, which is comparable to other options on this list.
Freshsales Tiered Features
Sprout is an entry-level free plan that provides an unlimited number of users with access to basic contact and deal management features. Compared to the free plans offered by other options on this list, Freshsales offers similar features for unlimited users. One of the biggest advantages is the lead scoring features as well as the built-in call and call tracking functionality within the mobile app. Only HubSpot offers a more extensive feature set in a free CRM.
The Sprout plan a great choice for smaller teams that primarily need a way to organize leads and contacts and want to stay on top of sales opportunities, but don’t need advanced features like Kanban-style deal stages and automated lead scoring. Freshsales also benefits from a growing ecosystem of software for helpdesk, live chat, marketing automation, and a robust library of third-party integrations, making it our pick for best overall CRM.
The Blossom plan costs $12 per user, per month, which is comparable to other entry-level paid plans, including that of Zoho and Pipedrive. In addition to the basic contact management tools found in the Sprout plan, users also get the ability to manage email communications better, using templates for common email responses, email tracking, and bulk email campaigns. The Blossom plan also adds the ability to manage your pipeline using a Kanban-style board view.
Compared to other entry-level plans, Freshsales adds a lot of functionality around tools that help you communicate and nurture leads. This makes the Blossom plan ideal for both freelancers and small sales teams looking for a reliable entry-level SaaS CRM that includes lead scoring and email tracking features.
The Garden plan begins at $25 per user, per month and adds team and territory management features. Users can assign leads based on geographic area or industry by creating rules that identify and route leads to the appropriate reps automatically. Additionally, the Garden plan makes it easy to manage and monitor your sales team performance with unlimited custom reports.
Only Salesforce Essentials offers similar lead assignment and lead routing features at this price point, which makes the Garden plan a good value compared to mid-level plans from other providers. It also includes it call forwarding and a call transfer feature that, along with the advanced reporting tools, makes it a powerful solution for multi-user sales teams that don’t need extensive customization but do want to implement a degree of territory management.
The Estate plan, costing $49 per user, per month, adds reporting dashboards and customized sales processes. In addition, users can incorporate the activity of your contacts on your website into lead scoring, which isn’t available on lower-level plans. Freshsales also offers profile enrichment in this plan, which auto-populates social media and publicly available information into your contact profiles, saving manual data entry time.
The Estate plan is slightly more expensive than the relatively comparable Zoho Enterprise plan. However, it includes features that are not available in Zoho in any plan, such as the app calling feature and email scheduling. Freshsales also benefits from deep integration from one of the most intuitive help desk tools in Freshdesk, which directly competes with Zoho’s Desk, Zendesk, and Salesforce’s Service module.
What Freshsales Is Missing
Freshsales doesn’t include some of the advance order management and invoicing tools found in other options. In addition, it does not include pricing books, which are available in Pipedrive, Salesforce, and Zoho and is missing inventory management tools as well as advanced features found in other CRMs. However, it does integrate with other tools like Freshdesk and Freshservice that provide many of these additional functions.
What Users Think About Freshsales
Freshsales users give it high marks for how intuitive and easy the software is to learn and use. They like how Freshsales displays the sales process and how easy it is to manage your sales pipeline. Users do mention that they wish there were more robust reporting features and additional customization to workflows and pipelines. You can read more in-depth reviews on our Freshsales review page.
Best Free SaaS CRM With Lead Generation Tools: HubSpot
HubSpot CRM is a free contact management application with advanced functionality like smart-form lead capture, a chat widget, and customer support ticketing as well as email tracking and deal management. It can also be integrated with the Sales and Marketing Hubs for additional automation features. Overall, HubSpot is a powerful SaaS CRM for service-based brands who use tactics like blogging, landing pages, and social media to generate leads.
HubSpot CRM is free and includes many common CRM features like contact management, deal management, and email marketing. HubSpot also offers additional sales and marketing functionality through the Sales Hub and Marketing Hub, which range from $50 per month to $800 per month depending on the specific features added.
HubSpot CRM includes features like lead capture, contact management, email templates, and tracking. It includes innovative features like a live chat widget on your website to capture leads. HubSpot also uses a tracking code on your website to both track visitor activity as well as identify the networks of prospects who visit your site, even if they don’t fill out a form, providing you a list of organizations your sales team can contact.
Form-Based Lead Capture
HubSpot CRM includes the ability to embed forms on your website or capture data entered into existing website forms using a tracking code. While this feature can be found in other CRMs, most do not offer them in their free versions. Contacts captured as leads can then be entered into automated marketing campaigns, making HubSpot economical option for businesses that use landing pages to generate leads.
HubSpot CRM includes the ability to organize contacts by company and provides insights such as a newly added contact’s recent activity on your website. As a cloud-based CRM, HubSpot also auto-enriches profiles based on information it pulls from social profiles and information it knows about companies. HubSpot also scores leads based on both profile information and website activity which is something other free options offer only in a limited manner.
Lead & Task Management
HubSpot CRM gives you the ability to schedule tasks for later follow-up and allows you to create workflows to handle regular marketing tasks. Compared to other free plans available from options on this list, these tools are more intuitive in moving leads through the sales process. HubSpot also includes free embeddable chat tool that allows you to use conversational bots to prequalify leads that engage on your website, similar to the FreshChat feature.
What HubSpot Is Missing
HubSpot does not include some of the more robust features found in the paid plans for CRMs on this list. Features like workflow management or marketing automation are missing unless you also subscribe to either Sales Hub or Marketing Hub. In addition, HubSpot also offers only limited customer support on the free plan.
What Users Think About HubSpot
HubSpot CRM users especially like how easy it is to use, and like the extent of the features available to free users. HubSpot CRM users also like the extensive library of sales and marketing educational tools available to customers. Some users do mention that they wish the product offered more reports and customization. You can read more on our HubSpot CRM review page.
Best SaaS CRM for Territory-based Teams: Salesforce Essentials
Salesforce Essentials is a powerful SaaS CRM with features like contact management, sales opportunities, mass emails, and customer service ticketing starting at $25 per user, per month. The Salesforce SaaS ecosystem offers an extensive suite of software, including support, marketing automation, ecommerce, and analytics apps. However, its rules-based territory assignment makes it particularly ideal for small businesses with territory-based sales teams.
Salesforce Essentials Pricing
Salesforce Essentials is $25 per user, per month for up to 10 users, which includes both the sales and service modules. Salesforce also offers the Professional edition for $75 per user, per month, which includes advanced features like lead scoring, forecasting tools, and campaigns. Salesforce offers a 14-day free trial of the Essentials plan.
Salesforce Essentials Tiered Features
|Customer Support Cases|
|Customizable Sales Process|
|24/7 Phone Support|
|Permissions & Roles|
Sales Essentials is $25 per user, per month and includes contact management, sales pipelines, deal management and mass email features for up to 10 users. Essentials is built on Salesforce’s Lightning platform, which is a much more intuitive and user-friendly interface than the Classic version. In addition, the Essentials plan includes the Service module, allowing small businesses to manage both the sales process as well as customer support cases.
Salesforce’s entry-level plan is more expensive than other options on the list. However, it includes a comprehensive set of advanced CRM features, including territory management and automated lead assignment. While Salesforce does not offer a free plan, Essentials is ideal for businesses but need a robust set of CRM features to manage sales leads across different geographic territories or industries.
Salesforce Professional is $75 per user, per month and offers more of the advanced SaaS features people associate with Salesforce and is the SaaS CRM platform used by more businesses than any other option. Its advanced features include lead scoring, sales forecasting, and advanced reporting and permission features.
This plan includes more functionality than any of the other options we reviewed, although it is also the most expensive option we considered. As a result, the Professional plan is best for larger sales teams, especially those with territory- or industry-specific sales representatives or established B2B sales teams who manage high-level sales opportunities needing a reliable cloud-based application.
What Salesforce Essentials Is Missing
The Salesforce Essentials plan does not allow you to add more than 10 users to your account, requiring an expensive upgrade to the Professional Edition for larger teams. Salesforce Essentials also lacks rules-based lead scoring, or product and invoicing features, both of which are found in other CRMs on this list.
What Users Think About Salesforce Essentials
Users give Essentials high marks for the Lightning user interface, saying it is far more intuitive than the legacy Salesforce Classic interface, and rate it highly for advanced features and customization options. However, users note that Salesforce often requires extensive setup and training, making it less accessible for teams without dedicated tech or administrative support. Visit our complete Salesforce review page for more user reviews.
Best CRM With an Integrated Productivity Suite: Zoho CRM
Zoho CRM is a robust contact management tool that makes it easy to move leads and deals through your sales pipeline and is a part of a SaaS suite that includes business email, HR, bookkeeping, order and inventory management, and office tools like word processing software. With a free-forever plan in addition to paid plans starting at $12 per user, per month, Zoho CRM is an affordable option for any small business looking for an integrated productivity suite.
Zoho CRM Pricing
Zoho CRM offers a free plan with core contact management features for up to three users. Paid plans range from $12 to $35 per user, per month and add advanced customization, reporting, and lead generation functionality, including social media lead capture.
Zoho CRM Tiered Features
|Advanced CRM Customization|
|Task, Events, Call Log & Notes|
|Web-to-Lead and Web-to-Contact Forms|
|Social Media Integration|
|Website Visitor Tracking|
|Quotes, Orders & Invoice Management|
|Social Media Lead Capture|
Zoho CRM’s free-forever plan includes contact and deal management for up to three users, web forms, and basic reporting you can access from anywhere via the cloud. Users on the free plan can also integrate their social media accounts, a feature not available on the other free options on this list, other than HubSpot. While the free plan does allow users to create a single workflow automation, the customization options are more limited than on Freshsales’ free-forever plan.
The Free version also integrates with the overall Zoho ecosystem. One Zoho account gives users free access to additional productivity tools like document creation and storage, email, and document signing. The free plan is a good fit for individuals and freelancers that want to manage contacts and consolidate their productivity tools into one SaaS solution.
The Standard plan is $12 per user, per month and includes the contact management tools found in the Free plan while adding the ability to create custom fields, performance dashboards, bulk email sending ― up to 250 per user per day ― and website visitor tracking. The social media integration allows you to create custom lead generation filters based on comments, mentions, or other engagements, features which aren’t available in the other options on this list.
This plan also includes both sales forecasting and email insights, features that provide sales teams with valuable analytics about their sales process and lead engagement. All of these features make the Standard plan a good choice for small businesses who market and generate leads through social media and are looking for a robust tool to manage their sales process.
The Professional plan costs $20 per user, per month and adds advanced features like unlimited custom reporting, Sales Signals, and lead assignment rules. The Sales Signals feature is unique to Zoho in that it sends real-time notifications of various customer activity like opening emails, social media interactions, and website activity. The Professional plan also includes unlimited customized dashboards for quick access to important information.
In addition, the Professional plan includes product catalogs, sales quotes, order management, and invoicing, features which make it a great choice for business-to-consumer (B2C) businesses; contractors; heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) installers; and landscape maintenance firms. Plus, the integration with Zoho Books means that businesses can keep all of their sales quotes, purchase orders, and invoicing within one software ecosystem, and streamline their order management process.
What Zoho CRM Is Missing
Zoho CRM lacks a built-in dialing feature like what is found in Zendesk Sell and Freshsales. Zoho also lacks the sales pipeline customization found in Salesforce, Freshsales, and Pipedrive, and lacks two-way integrations with third-party tools like Mailchimp and Shopify, especially in lower-priced plans.
What Users Think About Zoho
Zoho CRM users give it positive reviews for its overall software ecosystem, especially productivity software, as well as the fact that there are no annual commitments like some SaaS providers require. They also appreciate that the integrations make it easy to streamline processes and common tasks. One area that reviewers expressed frustration is with Zoho CRM’s customer service response times. You can read more on our Zoho review page.
Best SaaS CRM With Built-in Mobile Calling Features: Zendesk Sell
Zendesk Sell, formerly known as BaseCRM, is a fully featured CRM that includes contact and deal management features as well as a great mobile app with built-in calling functionality with plans starting at $19 per user, per month. Zendesk Sell is also part of the overall Zendesk suite, which includes a help desk, chat, analytics, and information technology management. The mobile app makes it the best choice for field sales teams who need built-in mobile calling and call recording.
Zendesk Sell Tiered Pricing
Zendesk Sell plans begin at a comparable $19 per user, per month, which includes contact management, deals, and mobile CRM app featuring click-to-dial calling and call recording. Plans which include tools like bulk emailing, sales forecasting, and lead scoring are available at $49 per user, per month and $99 per user, per month.
Zendesk Sell Tiered Features
|Client Project Workspace|
|Products & Order Invoicing|
|Email Integration (Includes Gmail)|
|Bulk Email Sends & Templates|
|Sales Goals & Forecasting|
|Multiple Sales Pipelines|
|Unlimited Activity Reports|
|Lead & Deal Scoring|
The Team plan from costs $19 per user, per month and includes contact management, deals, and one of the best mobile CRM apps of all the options we’ve looked at. It features built-in voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) calling and call recording. Other mobile CRM apps allow click-to-call but use the phones dialer and carrier services, where Zendesk Sell uses its own VoIP service.
Zendesk Sell is also a part of the overall Zendesk ecosystem of apps that include helpdesk, chat, knowledge base, and now a CRM. As a result, users can integrate their sales process and contacts within a robust suite of applications that help users manage the entire customer relationship. The Team plan specifically is ideal for small teams like consultants or service-based businesses.
The Professional plan is $49 per user, per month, and includes advanced features like sales forecasting, sales goals, and advanced analytics. Zendesk Sell also includes email features like mass emailing and unlimited email templates, While the Professional plan is one of the more expensive options on this list, the user interface and setup are more intuitive and updated than many of its competitors, making it much easier to configure reporting and dashboards.
Zendesk acquired BaseCRM to specifically target larger business customers with a complete SaaS service, competing directly with both Salesforce and Zoho. The Professional plan is a good choice for larger teams who want in-app calling and a powerful and well-designed mobile app for their field sales reps and want to integrate their entire customer relationship within one software ecosystem.
The Enterprise plan provides users with the ability to add additional sales pipelines, a product catalog, and lead and deal scoring, for $99 per user, per month. It also includes the ability to create customized call scripts for sales reps to use as they interact with prospects and leads. The Enterprise plan offers some of the most advanced CRM options we looked at and more directly competes with Salesforce Professional than the other CRMs on this list.
Field sales teams will find that the mobile app calling and call scripts are valuable tools for connecting with a large number of prospects, and the overall integration with Zendesk makes this a good fit for mid-sized and larger business to business sales teams, especially if they currently use Zendesk software for other aspects of managing customer experiences.
What Zendesk Sell Is Missing
Zendesk Sell does not offer a free-forever plan and lacks additional features like bookkeeping, social media management, marketing automation, and productivity apps that are found in options like Zoho. It also lacks some of the more robust automation tools including ongoing email campaigns, requiring third-party solutions instead.
What Customers Think About Zendesk Sell
Zendesk Sell customers give it high praise for its intuitive interface and easy-to-use mobile app, especially the in-app calling and call recording features. Users also like the highly intuitive reporting and sales pipeline features. Some users give it negative marks that the software isn’t updated with new features as quickly as other options, however, that is likely to change now that it is a part of the Zendesk software family.
Best SaaS CRM for Visual Pipeline Management: Pipedrive
Pipedrive is a simple-to-use CRM with a highly intuitive pipeline management tool that helps you quickly visualize deals in your sales process with plans starting at $12.50 per user, per month. Unlike other options on this list, which include extensive all-in-one feature sets, Pipedrive is primarily focused on moving deals through your sales pipeline, making it an ideal solution for businesses who only want an intuitive cloud-based tool to keep track of sales opportunities.
Pipedrive offers plans that range between a competitive $12.50 per user, per month and $49.17 per user, per month, which is comparable to other options on this list. Pipedrive does not offer a free-forever plan but does allow users to try out any plan for 14 days before you buy.
Pipedrive Tiered Features
|Sales Pipeline Tracking|
|Customized Sales Processes|
|Configurable Dashboards & Reports|
|Meeting & Task Scheduler|
The Silver plan costs $12.50 per user, per month and includes contact management tools, visual pipeline, and configurable reporting. Pipedrive is intuitive and customized easily, even at the entry-level, which makes it an ideal choice for businesses focused on moving sales opportunities through their sales pipeline.
One area that Pipedrive excels compared to other comparable plans is the ability to set both individual and company sales goals in the entry-level plan and monitor your progress. You can also set user permissions, which is something only available higher priced plans in other CRMs. Pipedrive also has a much more intuitive sales pipeline tool making it much easier to get set up and running.
The Gold Plan is $24.20 per user, per month and is one of the best values of all the options listed here. This plan adds features that include the meeting scheduler, which allows users to send their availability for prospects to pick a time to meet. It also includes the task scheduler and products catalog, which make it a great alternative for businesses that manage product sales.
This plan is ideal for businesses who sell both products and services and want insight into their sales including margins, discounts, and splits. The analytics tools give you the information you need to better focus your sales efforts on the opportunities most likely to buy, and on the products that make you the most money.
The Platinum plan is $49.17 per user, per month, and includes many of the same features as the Gold plan but adds additional sales forecasting and advanced reporting features. The Platinum plan also includes the ability to set specific permissions for different team member roles, which is similar to other higher-end plans on competing products.
The Platinum plan is one of the pricier options we reviewed. However, the intuitive pipeline tool, scheduling, and role-based permissions make it an ideal choice especially for hierarchical teams and teams that want product catalog management without the complexity and setup of Salesforce or Zoho.
What Pipedrive Is Missing
Pipedrive lacks some of the more robust CRM features found in other options we reviewed, like lead assignment and order management. In addition, as a standalone app, Pipedrive does not offer other customer or productivity software like help desk, chat, or bookkeeping. Finally, it does not offer mass email marketing features that some of the other options offer.
What Users Think About Pipedrive
Pipedrive users give it good reviews for the visual pipeline and intuitive interface. They also like that Pipedrive requires little onboarding support and is easy to set up and integrates with other third-party software like marketing automation and email marketing tools. Users do wish it had more advanced search and filtering capabilities. Learn more about what users are saying on our Pipedrive review page.
The Bottom Line
There are many advantages to CRM SaaS solutions compared to on-premise solutions, including reliability, product updates, server security, and ease of use. In addition, most of the common CRMs available for small businesses are cloud-based subscription services, making on-premise CRM solutions harder to find.
After reviewing dozens of options, We find that Freshsales offers the best value and overall user experience as well as regular product updates, intuitive features like in-app calling and chat, and top-notch customer support. Visit Freshsales today to start a 30-day free trial, or sign up for your account on the free-forever Sprout Plan.