Build better customer relationship and increase illustrated as cover image for the best CRM software reviews, comparison and guide on how to choose a customer relationship management software tools & systems for your business

Best CRM Software, Including Free CRM Tools for Businesses of all sizes (Compared & Rated)

Want to jump straight to the answer? The best CRM software for most businesses and people is Zoho CRM or Salesforce.

In this CRM guide and software review, we reveal the top “trusted and proven” best CRM software tools to use for building better customer relationships.

Know this: Good CRM tools help businesses manage and organize their relationships with customers. But the best CRM software (the ones we recommend) will help you track contacts, effectively nurture them to build customer loyalty, turn leads into paying customers and repeat sales.

Build better customer relationship and increase illustrated as cover image for the best CRM software reviews, comparison and guide on how to choose a customer relationship management software tools & systems for your business

After spending 7 days doing intensive research, our experts determined that out of the 20 CRM software tools and systems they examined, these were the 5 best CRM software you can truly trust to effectively build better customer relationships.

Top 5 CRM Software Tools & Systems

Here’s a quick summary and list of the top-rated CRM tools and software platforms in 2022.

Show summary

According to our test results and analyzed data, the best Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is:

  • Pipedrive CRM for driving sales and growing your business revenue.
  • Monday.com CRM tools for being very easy to use with robust tools at an affordable price for small businesses.
  • HubSpot CRM Platform for SMBs and all-in-one customer relationship management solutions.
  • Zoho CRM for small businesses on a budget.
  • Salesforce for sales teams and big businesses that like to customize their workflow.

Why should you trust us? because we don’t just make false claims that can’t be backed up like most sites do.

All of the information we present here is based on the opinions of real-life business analysts and experts, intensive research, and measurable data.

What is CRM Software?

CRM stands for “Customer Relationship Management”. Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a software system that automates, tracks and manages the customer life cycle of an organization. It is usually used by the sales team of businesses, sales reps, and call center reps to maintain communication with customers, quickly respond to their needs and nurture them to build customer loyalty. This loyalty ultimately means more sales and money to your business.

The best CRM software will help you build better relationship with your customer by providing a complete picture of all customer interactions, keeping track of your sales with valuable insights into how your customers behave and what they need from you to help prioritize your opportunities, and facilitate collaboration between various teams to drive sales.

CRM Comparison: Compare the best Customer Relationship Management Software and find the right tool for your business

There are hundreds of CRM tools to choose from, but it all comes down to knowing which platform is best suited for your business. Compare the top CRM platforms below and choose the best customer relationship management software solution for your business.

CRM SoftwareUse CaseIntegrationsPrice (Per user, Per month)
SalesforceBest for sales and big businessesOver 4,000 pre-integrated$25-$300*
Zoho CRMBest for small businesses180$12-$100
SugarCRMBest for mid-sized businessesOver 270$40-$150

We evaluated the top CRM systems on the market and compared them based on pricing, functionality and usability. Some of the best CRM software platforms today include: Pipedrive, Monday, HubSpot, Zoho CRM, Salesforce and SugarCRM.

Based on our experience with CRM apps, here are the top best CRMs.

Top Rated CRM Software in 2022

  • Zoho CRM: Best CRM software for small business
  • Salesforce: Best sales CRM software for big businesses
  • SugarCRM: Best CRM platform for mid-sized businesses

This is the most comprehensive CRM software review and analysis in 2022, regardless of your business size.

Our top picks cater to various business sizes, and they’re excellent starting points as you begin your search.

What we cover in this review

In this CRM software review, ratings and buying guide, you will know which CRM software is best after rigorous testing, and learn how to choose the best crm software solution for your business.

Best CRM software for small business

Zoho CRM

ZOHOCRM test results and summarized performance rating with its standout features - pros and cons
Performance report of zoho crm and expert scoring

Zoho is the best CRM software for small businesses in need of a top performing customer relationship management software solution because of how it balances quality performance and ease of use at an affordable and cheap price.

Aside from the fact that Zoho CRM is an entry level and beginner friendly CRM platform (all thanks to its affordable pricing and ease of use), it also boasts of a free CRM tool that functions for up to 10 users, plus a simple interface for the needs of a small business.

Top features that make Zoho CRM stand out:

  • Email integration for instant overview
  • SalesIQ for visitor Tracking and sales intelligence
  • Campaigns for email marketing services
  • Social for Social Media marketing

Zoho CRM Price: Free for 3 users; from $12/month/user (standard plan)

Why we picked it as the best CRM software for small business

It’s easy to use.

Zoho stood out to us as the best crm software in our testing as an excellent option for solopreneurs and very small or growing businesses — particularly for those who want to dip their toes into CRM with a free or low-priced subscription but still grow over time. This is all thanks to the intuitive nature of the zoho platform.

Zoho kicks off with a Getting Started landing page that links to tasks essential for setup such as: migration, inviting colleagues, personalizing the CRM, and workflow automation. You can access that page anytime through the navigation, and it’s a nice home base as you get more and more comfortable.

We particularly liked the fact that Zoho consolidates its operating system to give you an all-in-one option, known as Zoho One. This way, you can run your entire business in one place with around 40 integrated applications. However, if you don’t like the all-in-one option and want to pick and choose, Zoho gives you that choice, too.

Cost-effective with entry level pricing.

Zoho is undoubtedly one of the most affordable CRM software platforms out there. It topped the charts on CRM Magazine’s 2017 Market Leaders for small business CRM suites. Brent Leary, co-founder and partner at CRM Essentials, stated in the report that Zoho “has a breadth of products and offerings with a good depth of functionality at such low-price points that it delivers great value, even to the smallest of SMBs.”

Free CRM option available.

For those looking for a free CRM, Zoho even offers an edition that lets three users have access to all of Zoho’s basics at no charge: accounts, leads, feeds, documents, mobile apps, and macros.

The next tier ($12 per user per month) adds functionality like sales forecasting, roles, and call center connectors. Even though there are only around 180 integrations for Zoho CRM on the Zoho Marketplace, it has some pretty important ones, like Google Drive and Microsoft Office.

Possible drawbacks: What you should know and points to consider

Inconsistent user experience (you pay for what you get).

When we checked consumer ratings of Zoho, we noticed that the CRM platform didn’t have an overly super excited user ratings and report card among the public. It appears to be a case of you pay for what you get. A quick view of online user ratings reveals that users have cited technical and customer support issues, as well as the fact that workflow automation is only available to those who purchase the Professional (or most expensive) edition.

Granted, the negative feedback could simply be the nature of the market itself. Salesforce doesn’t shine when it comes to customer reviews, either; like Zoho, a lot of the complaints deal with customer service. We take online reviews with a grain of salt, but know that choosing a site as budget-friendly as Zoho and opting for the cheapest plan may come with a few headaches.

Best for sales teams and big businesses

Salesforce

Salesforce CRM test results with performance rating and review report including pros and cons
performance reports of salesforce and crm specialist rating

Salesforce is the most popular and best CRM software for businesses of all sizes. With over 1 million users worldwide, Salesforce is a reliable solution when it comes to anything and everything CRM related.

If you want to get more leads, close more sales, increase repeat sales and build good customer relationships with your audience, Salesforce is the best CRM software solution right now. It’s a cloud-based CRM platform that caters to important aspects of a business, including sales, marketing, service, analytics, and more.

Why we chose salesforce as the best sales CRM software tool

Extensive integration and customizability.

If you can dream up a feature, there’s likely a way to do it within Salesforce itself or via one of its integrated apps. Do you want to use it to streamline your hiring process? Track your MailChimp campaigns? Gamify your employees into increased productivity? There are apps (both paid and free) for all of these functions and many, many more.

Salesforce’s AppExchange third-party app marketplace is one of the largest available, giving businesses access to over 4,000 applications and integrations.

These are broken down into categories, like Sales and IT, and industry, like Education and Real Estate. It’s by far the most customizable CRM we investigated. And because Salesforce is in the cloud (more on that in our FAQ), you can add applications without going through costly infrastructure.

Efficient for sales teams.

For sales teams or sales users in particular, Salesforce surpasses the competition by allowing users to interact more with the customer than the computer.

I’d say that sales users generally warm up more to Salesforce than [Microsoft] Dynamics.

Steve Chipman, a partner at CRM Switch

It takes more clicks to get things done in Microsoft Dynamics than Salesforce, and this means less time with customers and tending to your business and more time working (manually) through the kinks in the software. While Salesforce’s interface is occasionally complicated, Dynamics’ is even more so.

It’s Reliable.

Don’t take our word for it, though; Salesforce is steadily growing in popularity thanks to the depth of its functionality. In fact, CRM Magazine gave Salesforce the top spot for the second year in a row for its 2017 CRM Market Leaders: Enterprise CRM Suite category. This rating system is designed by analysts to evaluate customer satisfaction, depth of functionality, company direction, and cost, making it a solid choice for enterprises.

Drawback: What you should know and points to consider

Steep learning curve.

Mastering a CRM suite as robust and flexible as Salesforce is not easy. One superuser we chatted with agreed: Salesforce is a “migration of steps,” requiring you to ease in employees slowly. And the leadership needs to be fully invested in migrating to the CRM, because it will likely take at least a couple of years.

If you’re opting for a top-of-the-line enterprise CRM, expect to dedicate some staff to it. Training an employee to do nothing but manage Salesforce for the company was essential for our testers — despite the extensive help and training available on the website, someone without a background in information technology would struggle to set up and maintain a CRM with so many capabilities and integrations.

It felt a little like Google Analytics to one of our testers: She could tell it was an amazing tool, and she could figure out a few things on her own, but there was no way she could tap into its full functionality. Our superuser said that, after hiring consultants and an administrator, Salesforce was customized for the company so that each employee only saw the functionality they used in the system. Very cool — but definitely not what a small business or solopreneur might be interested in or likely capable of operating.

Best CRM system for mid-sized businesses

SugarCRM

SugarCRM

SugarCRM is an intuitive program that straddles the line between small-business CRM and enterprise.

Why we picked it

Variety of functions.

SugarCRM offers a vast array of functions and bridges the gap between small business and enterprise CRMs. It’s shy of Salesforce’s 4,000+ integrations, offering a more modest 270, but that is more than enough if you’re running a mid-sized business. And those 270 are diverse enough to customize your experience and take steps to grow your business: They enable you to monitor customer interactions, gauge data, and draw insights.

Intuitive and simple navigation.

Sugar felt more accessible than our enterprise-suite experience, with intuitive drag-and-drop modules to customize the dashboard and navigation. We were also impressed by its simple navigation bar across the top of the home screen; users are always one click away from accounts, contracts, opportunities, and leads.

It didn’t take us long to learn how to get around. While having a consultant or systems admin set up software like Sugar would make the process more seamless, its learning curve is much gentler than that of Salesforce. It also offers simple on-site deployment, so you can easily make the transition from any previous software.

Flexible business needs

SugarCRM was designed with small businesses in mind, but it can also expand into a full-fledged enterprise suite. CRM Magazine named it one of the top contenders for the 2017 CRM Market Awards for small business CRM suites, but it was also named one of the 2016 enterprise leaders.

In the same year, SugarCRM became the CRM choice for Virgin Mobile USA. Because it’s made its name in both small business and enterprise arenas, it’s a reputable option for many different business needs.

What you should know and points to consider

While it’s great for small business. It’s too robust for extremely small businesses.

Although 270+ applications may not seem like a lot in comparison to Salesforce’s 4,000, there’s still a good chance this is more than you need, especially if you’re running a very small business. Analysts from CRM Magazine agree: In the small-business suite report, Kate Leggett, vice president and a principal analyst at Forrester, commented that a full-featured CRM like Salesforce, Dynamics, and even Sugar “may offer a depth of capabilities that is more than what a small business requires.”

That said, keep in mind that a ceiling on your CRM’s capabilities could be limiting if your small business becomes not-so-small — which could be the case with a true small-business CRM like Zoho.

Fewer integrations than the competitors.

On the flip side, if you do have an extremely large business, SugarCRM’s lack of integration may hinder you. Its 270 integrations are suited for true mid-range businesses, but it can’t compete with Salesforce’s 4,000 for a business that has more extensive needs.


Free CRM software and tools for small business

  • ZOHO free CRM for small business.
  • Hubspot free CRM software.
  • Monday.
  • Bitrix24.

Here is a video review, analyzing the top 5 free CRM tools and software for small business.


A Beginner’s Guide to Customer Relationship Management

What is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software?

CRM software, also known as “customer relationship management software” or “CRM tool”, is a software tool that’s designed to help business owners or your organization offer your customers a unique and seamless experience across the entire customer lifecycle by providing an easy way to keep track of all communications and data including your sales, organizing and prioritizing your opportunities to build better business relationships, drive and ultimately close sales and grow your business.

What does a CRM System do?

A CRM system is the platform that connects your different business departments, from marketing to sales to customer service, and organizes all of their notes, activities, and metrics into one cohesive system.

A CRM system essentially provides a central platform where businesses can store customer and prospect data to track customer interactions, and be able to share this information with colleagues or team members. The benefit of this is that it helps your team and various business departments stay organized and coordinated

In a good CRM system, every user has easy, direct access to the real-time client data they need, which makes it possible for your businesses to provide your customers with unique and personalized services.


How to choose CRM Software for your business

In this comprehensive guide to Choosing CRM software for your business, we show you all the things and factors you need to consider when choosing a CRM solution if you truly want to find the best CRM software for your business.

Identify your business needs

The best way to find CRM software that works for you is to identify the insights your business needs. Do you need to track how long it takes a digital suspect to become a qualified prospect? Do you need to hyper-focus on the usage of your website by current clients?

Marie Hale, co-founder and marketing visionary of atrevenue

We suggest speaking with customer service representatives to make sure that the service aligns with your current needs — while offering room to grow, if that’s in your future.

Look at the CRM software features and check for compatibility with other apps you currently use

When it comes to finding the right CRM tools, efficiency and connectivity are key.

It’s really hard to have a CRM tool that exists in its own environment. You end up copying data from tool to tool, which is inefficient and complicated. What makes a good CRM is when it’s all integrated and it’s connected to the other tools that make a business a success. That integration is really critical. – .

Valerie Youman, a CRM marketing consultant.

A good approach to this is to double-check the apps you currently use against those offered by your potential software before buying.

Consider the price

It’s especially important to look at the fine print and investigate any hidden costs. You definitely don’t want to overpay for integrations that you never use — and if you do end up with unwanted apps, you should be able to easily switch them.

Again, the simpler the product, the less you’ll pay: More functionality usually means higher initial prices and maintenance resourcing (e.g., finding IT support to help you set it up).


Methodology: How we researched, tested and compared top CRM software, tools & systems to find the best for every use circumstances

To help you make a guided decision when choosing a CRM software for your business, we took real CRM user reviews, examined CRM software ratings before comparing the top 10 CRM software’s including top rated CRM platforms for small business, sales, startups, ecommerce and tools for big businesses.

We tested the most popular platforms to see for ourselves which are the most robust, easy to use, and best for various use circumstances.

Then we consulted CRM superusers and consultants to tell us how to start gauging which one is the best for various types of businesses and use circumstances.

We then compared each Software to see how they perform across key decision-making factors for customer relationship management systems such as: cost, ease of use, important integrations with other business marketing software, convenience, reporting features, and support.

The key factors considered and what you should look out for when choosing CRM software

We looked at a variety of business needs across different categories of performance

To find the best customer relationship management (CRM) software, we homed in on the seven most popular, most widely available platforms — targeted at a variety of business sizes.

Why seek out this range? Usually, larger businesses with greater resources will benefit from a program with a wealth of options, whereas small businesses don’t have the infrastructure to handle the more complex integrations.

Salesforce, for example, was designed with enterprise businesses in mind; however, Zoho’s smaller feature kit may better suit a business with only a handful of users looking for how to scale.

Customer interaction is always evolving, and most businesses are hungry for ways to manage advertising, marketing, and social media strategies all in one place to efficiently drive sales. The best programs are the most intuitive ones — but on the same token, the more intricate the program, the more resources and money you’ll expend to maintain it. We wanted to provide options for every business tier.

Functionality is key

The best CRM software lets you operate a variety of functions at once: store customer information, make calls, monitor leads, schedule appointments, and streamline communication. However, CRM functionality doesn’t stop at simply tracking and storing data — it can also be used for marketing and customer service reports to help you better understand your business and its needs.

Having all of these resources in one place is key to taking manual labor out of growing your business. We looked for software that provided robust functionality for all users.

However, as with everything else, you should consider the number of resources you have to set up and maintain the software. Some, like Salesforce, offer deep, intricate functions that might not be as easily navigated without the initial help of an IT team. In fact, to fully tap into Salesforce, most of the experts we spoke with suggested having dedicated IT and system admins to manage it.

Integrations

Adjacent to functionality is the option to add integrations to your package. These are applications designed by third parties and offered in addition to the features already present in your CRM software — think Outlook, Zendesk, and QuickBooks. We preferred software with plenty of available integrations, since these integrations help customize and streamline your experience.

Ease of use

The main point of CRM software is to provide a hands-free way to manage sales leads and customer relations; if it’s as difficult to use as a spreadsheet, you probably shouldn’t be dealing with it. The more intuitive the software, the better. Streamlined menus, functional search features, and uncluttered layouts all caught our eye in the best software.

Reliability

While we analyzed each software and tested ease of use for ourselves, we also consulted third-party opinions to obtain a well-rounded view. We looked at CRM Magazine, CRM and marketing experts, and online reviews to gauge user-friendliness, reliability, and customer satisfaction.

CRM Software FAQ

Conclusion

CRM stands for “Customer Relationship Management”. CRM software helps business owners or sales teams track contacts or communications, and nurture them to build customer loyalty. Good CRM software helps you keep track and manage all your company relationships and interactions with customers and potential clients to grow your business and repeat sales to improve profitability.

Know this: Any customer relationship management platform can manage customers data, but the best CRM software gives you a reliable and secure way to manage customers data and leads from the first marketing touch, to ensure a closed sale and repeat sales, with integration and ability to connect to the other tools that make a business a success.

For any business to succeed today, it needs to establish trust and connections with its new, existing and potential customers. To do this, you need the best CRM software to automate the whole process of utilizing customers data to maximize sales and build good customer relationships.

4.6/5 - (32 votes)
Craig Macaulay
Craig Macaulay

Craig Macaulay is an experienced prof. in business and human resource management. His area of expertise and interest includes business strategy, planning, Fintech and corporate social responsibility. Over the last decade, Craig has mentored several students, tried lots of software and served as a business technology analyst, operation, and marketing consultant for numerous businesses. In his words "I like to help small business owners grow their business and make money online, it doesn't hurt if we all just grow, you know".