What other CRM guides don't tell you [last guide for 2020]

There are many reasons why you are searching for letters C R M. You could be a freelancer, and you could be looking for ways to automate things. You could be a new business owner, and you want to bring some fresh air into the old ways. Or maybe your boss asked you to find the CRM for your team. There are thousands upon thousands of cases that could bring us here.


Welcome to the sum up of the whole article. I strongly recommend reading it. CRM is not only for Sales Teams of Marketing agencies. Based on my own experience, I stress the importance of you, your channels, and your process above everything else. If a company has issues with implementing CRM, it is because nobody thought about the company. That is why I show you the power of process modeling. When you have your model ready, use the table right here () to look at which CRM seems most promising. And try them. If they don't work for you, try the next one that seems promising. Time spent on this is valuable time that will increase your effectiveness, your growth and will usually bring your more profits. Do you want to know how to do this in detail? Read further right now to learn what other CRM guides don't tell you. 

 I have been through the same thing. Three years ago, a new company and mystical words CRM that sparked an interest. What is this CRM? How can I understand it better than others? And most importantly, how could we use this CRM to rise above our competitors?

 

I have read many articles like the ultimate CRM guide. Pick the best CRM for you. I have gone through extensive testing. And all I did was wrong. Cause nobody told me this info.

 

At least, at the start. Allow me to give you the last CRM guide that you will ever read* (DIsclaimer: you will probably read a training manual for your CRM of choice, but other than that - this is the last text).


So, say goodbye to all the hours of reading, to all the “FINAL” and “BEST” guides.

What does CRM mean?

Customer Relationship Management is older than we think. I even found the baseline in a book from 1915 about entrepreneurship (How to deal with Human nature in business by Sherwin Cody).

 

So, are you now an expert on this? Not at all, the expertise will come later in this article. Feel free to scan through it, dive into it, download it, and print it. Cause I would "kill" for this info. And I am going to share it with you in this article.

 

Today, we use the CRM as a synonym for some software, that allows us to keep tabs on our customers. But if this were as simple as this, there would not be over hundreds of CRM providers, solutions, or online tools. 

 

Maybe you are asking: Isn't CRM just something for sales teams? Why should I, as ___ (fill your occupation) care about this? What is the benefit for me? The answer is growth and profit. (more on this in the Why should also You use the CRM part)

 

But how? We will get into it. Before that, there is the most crucial question.

 

So, what is CRM really about?

YOU

This part is showing you why you should pick CRM based on your needs and not try to force CRM upon yourself.

 

A CRM is about you, about your customers and your business. And I know this because the company I work for has created its own CRM. I will share the insight from this with you, but if you want the sum-up info -> jump to the Why should I use the CRM section.

 

Greet my experience, which others don't have. They were not building their CRMs from scratch. We were.

 

We were a company of 5-10 people working on many software projects. They had different ranges and scopes. My position within the team used to be the head of customer care. I was there for any potential problem and to translate things from customer's English to our coder's English. 

 

Our Marketing team had a plan on a marketing campaign that was aimed at both potential customers and already existing leads.  

 

And we had our CRM that one of our developers created for us. Quick tip -> Think twice about this. The basic functionalities and setting everything up was about 20 man-days. That is 20 days (almost the whole month) that your team is smaller by one person (and more significantly, nearly all projects were affected by this). It is also much money (depends on your dev team salaries). I hear you asking, what was the ROI (return of investment) of this project? Well, yesterday we approximated it to 30 %. (This doesn't count the increase in cooperation in our teams and improved customer support, this approximation is based on marketing outreach only.)

 

All of this to have software where we stored info about our customers: things like David is a guy that does extra things with a vision of a free upgrade. Or that Tatiana disappeared for a month, and this case needs careful communication. Moreover, we used it to store info about our outreach attempts, project campaigns, and more. For this, it was priceless. 

 

Our CRM was right for our needs at the time. But not everybody has the luxury of an IT team that creates just the proper functionalities for you.

And we also made mistakes. Our CRM did not have direct email integration (we used different software to handle them after some time). Assignments were hard to do, so we started doing them in different ways. It took us a lot of energy to improve our CRM to solve this.

Our team learned the most important lesson on this CRM, which is that CRM is about the US. CRM needs to suit our needs, not the other way around. 

 

And I am here to share all of it with you. The struggles, the mindset, the tricks, everything I have found out. Don't repeat some of our mistakes. Learn and be our successor. 

But that is not all. The most common cause of CRM failing is when nobody cares about it. When you just pick some CRM for the sake of it. Join the majority that uses CRM wisely. 

Many online guides seems to overlook the most important aspect of CRM which is you. CRM works for you and your business, not the other way around


Name Pricing variant Price Platform Languages Email Integration Communicational integration Marketing integration Has Zapier Integration? Resources Phone App Contact Stars Web
Hubspot logo Hubspot Freemium up from $50/m online Dutch, English, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish Gmail, Office 365, IMAP Facebook messenger, custom form builders, chatbot Ads, email campaings True demo, webinars and many free resources iOS, Android [email protected]
Visit web More information
Pipedrive logo Pipedrive Freemium up from €15/m online Portuguese (BR), Dutch, English, German, Estonian, Finnish, Italian, French, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Korean (한국어), Japanese (日本語) Gmail, Office 365, IMAP Thulium integration and Autopilot for most channels email campaigns via Mailchimp, Ads, True webinars, knowledgebase iOS, Android [email protected]
Visit web More information
Zoho Crm logo Zoho Crm Freemium up from €18/m online English, Hebrew, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Swedish, Bulgarian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Polish, Hungarian, Turkish, Vietnamese, Hindi, Croatian, Czech Zoho, Gmail, Yahoo, Office 365, IMAP Webforms, Live chats, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn Google Ads, Zoho email campaign True demo, training, webinars iOS, Android [email protected]
Visit web More information
Podio logo Podio Freemium up from $9/m/user online English, Danish, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Dutch, Japanese, and Swedish Gmail, yahoo and Outlook need additional integration to work, IMAP using special tool webforms, via external tools can import Facebook chats, live chats and email campaigns Mailchimp, Facebook and Google ads via Zapier True demo, tutorials, webinars iOS, Android [email protected] [email protected] https://support.citrix.com/cscase#/podio
Visit web More information
Streak logo Streak Freemium up from $59/m/user online English Gmail Only Gmail None True Youtube Tutorials, Articles on Forum via Addon into Gmail app [email protected]
Visit web More information
Capsule logo Capsule Freemium up from £12/m/user online English Gmail, IMAP and others via Zapier livechat, Webforms, VoiP, Social Sites via Zapier Mailchimp True Blog articles iOS, Android [email protected]
Visit web More information
Redtail logo Redtail Premium (with a free 30 days trial) $ 99 /m (for whole database) online English IMAP4 via their email solution None "Webinars,Mailchimp and many other services (industry-oriented) True Demo, training materilas, tutorials and videos iOS, Android [email protected]
Visit web More information
Nutshell logo Nutshell Premium (with a free 14 days trial) up from $22/m/user online English Gmail, Office 365, IMAP Livechat, Voice calls Mailchimp True tutorials, guides iOS, Android https://support.nutshell.com/hc/en-us/requests/new
Visit web More information
Monday.Com logo Monday.Com Freemium up from $25/m (5 users) online English, Spanish,Portuguese,French,German,Russian,Japanese,Dutch,Italian Gmail, Office 365 None Facebook ads, Twilio, Mailchimp True demos, webinars, trainings and tutorials iOS, Android https://monday.com/sales/contact-us?from=help&source=Website%20-%20Contact%20Sales
Visit web More information
Salesforce Crm logo Salesforce Crm Freemium up from €25/m/user online Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish,Swedish, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese Gmail, Office 365 Webforms, Live chats, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn almost everything you can think of True guides, training, webinars iOS, Android https://monday.com/sales/contact-us
Visit web More information
Agile Crm logo Agile Crm Freemium up from $14.99/m/more than 10 online English, Spanish Gmail, Office 365, IMAP Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Livechat, webforms, landing pages, VOIP None True tutorials, guides iOS, Android [email protected]
Visit web More information
Freshsales logo Freshsales Premium (with a free 21 days trial) up from $19/m/user online Arabic, German, Russian, Catalan, Slovak, Chinese, Slovenian, Chinese, Spanish, Czech, Spanish, Danish, Swedish, Dutch, Thai, English, Norwegian, Turkish, Estonian, Ukranian, Finnish, Portuguese, Vietnamese, French, Portuguese, Hebrew, Romanian Gmail, Office 365, SMTP Live chat, forms, calls, Facebook ads, Mailchimp, True tutorials, guides, videos iOS, Android https://support.freshsales.io/support/tickets/new
Visit web More information
Vcita logo Vcita Freemium up from €29/m (1 user) online Dutch, English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish None live chats, calls Email campaings True Demo, training materilas, tutorials iOS, Android [email protected]
Visit web More information
Apptivo logo Apptivo Freemium up from $10/m/user online English Gmail, Office 365, Yahoo, AOL,Godaddy, IMAP live chats, calls through Zapier True demo, tutorials, webinars iOS, Android https://www.apptivo.com/contact-us/
Visit web More information
Pipelinedeals logo Pipelinedeals Premium (with a free 14 days trial) up from €29/m/user online English Gmail, Office 365 and via [email protected] Live chats, webforms, calls Twilio, Mailchimp, Adroll True guides, training, webinars iOS, Android [email protected]
Visit web More information
Salesflare logo Salesflare Premium (with a free 14 days trial) $35/m/user online English Gmail, Office 365 Livechat, Forms, calls Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, Mailchimp, Visitors True tutorials, guides iOS, Android https://salesflare.com/contactus.html
Visit web More information
Pipeliner logo Pipeliner Premium (with a free 14 days trial) up from €25/m/user online English Gmail, Office 365, IMAP Email, Twitter, Facebook, Forms Mailchimp, Outreach True Demo, training materilas, tutorials,videos iOS, Android [email protected]
Visit web More information
Engagebay logo Engagebay Freemium up from $14.99/m/user online English Gmail, Office 365 None email campaings via SendGrid or Mailgun True Demo, tutorials, guides responsive design [email protected]
Visit web More information

Why should also YOU use the CRM

This part is helping you to understand why CRM helps your success

The answer is simple -> profit and growth. CRM is one of the single most essential foundations of your business's success. 

 

I know that you can be doubtful about CRM helping that much. Let me ask you this. What does make your profit, and how does your company grow?

 

EXACTLY, customers buying your services, skill, or your product. Your customer base is the key. So, being able to sell more equals more money. 

 

But how does one sell more? You could improve your product to be the best out there.

 

In the case of the Flower shop, you can sell the rarest poppies. A special bread of blue roses. A freelance writer can write the best copies, and a marketing agency can be the top in its field with the greatest marketing campaigns out there.

 

Or you can invest more money into content marketing and outreach to tell more people about your shop.

 

These are all valid tips, but I will give you the "secret" and obvious one. Use good CRM. A right CRM allows you to gather your customer's info. More info means generally better relationships. You can personalize your attempts. Personalization creates connections. These prospects mean profit. 

 

And not only that. CRM makes your company more organized. It gathers your information in one place. It is crucial if you work in a team (even if you are looking at solutions for small businesses). Say goodbye to hours of searching for that single comment about Sarah's preference.

 

Its ability to delegate work and keep everybody on the same page is something I can not stress enough. It is a considerable time and money saver. 

 

Not only that, but its automation (marketing automation or sales automation is the most common) will improve your workflows. The tactics of process modeling (on which I talk later) will lead to better lead generation and cooperation in your workplace. 

CRM software is the foundation on which your business will grow in the next years

This is because the right CRM helps you four main purposes of CRM:

1. Data gathering (getting data on your customers ) 2. Data storing (the main point of the CRM database) 3. Analysis (through Reports and KPIs) 4. Action on data (share it with the sales team, inform marketing how they are doing, and more). I hear you asking how you can also use CRM to increase your success and to build better relationships with your customers. Join me on this journey, because I am here to tell you all the secrets.

Secrets of CRM craft

If you jump right now into researching CRMs, you will have many struggles. Too many possibilities that you can select. The testing issues ( Imagine learning how to do a simple thing like adding notes in more than 30 CRMthat's's just a waste of time). But, I have promised you that thís is the last text you are reading on this topic. And I am sure of it.

 

Before you storm out, asking if Hubspot or Salesforce is the one for you, you need to remember the most important thing. YOU. CRM is about your business.

 

And it would help if you started from fully understanding yourself. Look at how you lead. Look and write down how you work.

 

I suggest doing something called process modeling. This buzzword stands to write how your processes work. Look at this picture of my blog writing.

 


This model is not perfect, it doesn't count the research I do on blog posts, but for the sake of example, I decided to include it in this article.

I use Draw.io because it is free and straightforward. There are three general methods that I recommend considering (but there are many more):

  • The Recorder technique: Imagine that you are making a movie about your business. What is step one? What does follow? What are your IF moments (when you need to decide between multiple possible outcomes)? Write them down like a script. Be as on point as possible (the picture above is way, way simplified. Otherwise, it would look like this). The time you are using right now will save you hours later.

  • Algorithm technique: This works better for people that write code. Imagine you would replace yourself with software. How would you “code” it? What are the inputs and factors? What are your conditions, and how do you act on them? Please write it down. You will understand your business better (and you can start to optimize it). Moreover, you will also be ready for software solutions.

  • Funnel technique: Draw a funnel. At the point of it, write down profit. Split it into a few pieces. I recommend the model of Awareness, Research, Transaction intent, Action, Conversion, and Profit. However, you can just use the Awareness, Research, and Conversion model if you want. I recommend this funnel from Nichole Elizabeth DeMere (here), or you can alternatively download this simplified version to fill in. This represents the steps that the customer needs to take in order to make your profit. Think about the process and understand each stage. Write down what exactly happens.

    Secret tip: While you are at it, turn these models into KPI's models. Write down how you can measure the success of each of these steps. For example, how do you know if your email communication is better than your phone one when you don't track the info about it? If you want to go deeper into KPI's, I recommend this Google article which focuses on B2C Marketing teams (however, works for B2B as well). 

 

 

But back to CRM.

 

Let me remind you how much you will benefit from this. Just look at these case studies:

I have picked only four random ones. There are many more case studies on CRM effectivity.

 

As I already mentioned, most CRM attempts fail on entirely preventable things, which is a lack of communication and thus the bad user experience. Some people don't look at their needs and instead search for "magic" tricks. These people then quit CRMs at all and hate them with a full heart.

 

However, there are more of the ones that think one step further. And these find the software just for them and grow. Look at the case studies above. The smart users are the group in which you want to take part.

 

So, does it mean you should use Hubspot only? Not at all. Instead, take some time to look at these steps. You can look at them as a small analysis helper (if you want, you can download this handout and print it). Analyze your business, write down your goals, and finally look at the possibilities of tomorrow. Be as honest as possible.

 

What does it mean? Look at these case examples on our three different subjects:

There is nothing wrong with having a limited budget. Don't hide it.

 

There is nothing wrong with your communication channels. But always think about tomorrow.

Build your foundation with a seamlessly integrated CRM. 

 

Maybe you will start improving marketing efforts with email marketing. And then, you need a tool that can do lead generation from email. Or you want to start with e-commerce.

 

I did a small calculation. Imagine that you will have around 1000 contacts in your primitive CRM. For each, you have a first name, last name, address, occupation, email, phone, and details on your shared history (what the person ordered and how it went). That is around 1 thousand "cells" of information. Let's say you will copy and paste them within 30 seconds from old CRM to a new one. The time to check if you are pasting correct values, the speed of your computer, and time browsing within the contacts all play a role here. That is 500 minutes or 8 hours and 20 minutes wasted on something doable within one click.

 

See? Thinking about the future can save you much work. Does this mean your CRM must have an export function? No, if you are not planning on changing it or you will only have a few key clients, it's fine not to have an export function. 

 

For example, If you are a lecturer/teacher that works by yourself, then it's impossible to expect numbers this large, which means you don't need to worry about this function.

 

But having optimized relationship management improves the way you act with your existing customers or how you are generating new leads. Your communication is part of the customer experience. 

Thinking now will save you in the future.

Look at the example that I have given you. Budget, Goals, Current CRM, and Processes are your start. You don't want to spend hours and hours on a system that works against you.  

 

But you and I are in the group that will shine because you know this info. Take your process model. You are your business. You understand it better than anyone else. What do you need based on this model?


83x38g5yb8

Hubspot logo

Hubspot

14

Hubspot is a multiplatform CRM software with a wide selection of functionalities. They group them into three main categories: marketing, sales, and service (customer support). You can use all tools…

Show more
Pipedrive logo

Pipedrive

23

When it comes to CRMs that are trying to help your business, Pipedrive is one of them. Not only do they have various tutorials on how to use their software to its fullest potential, but they also…

Show more
Zoho Crm logo

Zoho Crm

7

Zoho CRM is part of the Zoho enterprise solution for businesses of all sizes. Their strengths are in robust reporting tools that can track even your expected revenue based on leads and lead stages.…

Show more
Podio logo

Podio

12

Podio is CRM software that aims at collaboration between team members and has support for custom workflows and pipelines. It is a business platform with its calendar that makes teamwork more…

Show more
Streak logo

Streak

20

Streak is a minimalistic browser extension that can improve your Gmain into a working CRM. It works in Google Chrome and Safari; one day, it could work in Firefox or other browsers as well. Using…

Show more
Show all


What are YOUR options? 

 

This is the next logical question. When you have your needs, you have a few things that you need to consider before you continue with this guide. Look at the handout and look if you can pair your needs. For example, imagine you want to store data about communication with your clients. You are using email as a primary communication channel. Then email integration is a must.

 

Look at the hardware you have. Do you use computers? Are you using a phone for all contacts? This will help you decide if you want Online or On-premise (some app that is in one computer and doesn't sync with others). 

 Be true to yourself and honest about your current resources. Without honesty, you won't thrive

This will help you with the informed decision. Do you need phone integration? Is the mobile app important for you? 

 

Well, I will just go for the software that has it all. Cause it doesn't hurt, right?

 

Even though more options can seem beneficial, you also need to think about your team. Each additional feature will take some time to learn and more time to master. 

 

Let's look at an example to demonstrate this. Imagine you have a team of 10 people. It takes them 1 hour to learn one feature (to use it automatically without thinking). If you decide to take a CRM solution that has just 3 features more, you are spending an extra 30 hours just on training your staff. On something that you don't need right now. 

 

That is $310,2 (with UK minimum wage) spent on training which would be a great thing if you are not just taking useless features (for you right now).  

 

Money spent on training is not the only issue. Look at this comparison of two possible Marketing CRMS. Which of these brings a better user experience? Which would you rather use?

There is no definitive general tool that works for every big, middle, or small business. It is not hard to see why sales and marketing have different needs. Or why the sales funnel (with possible automation or increased sales/marketing efforts to convert customers and generate more leads) seems too abstract for a flower shop. Or how different customer experiences and various communication channels need different things.  Manage your own experience.

his means that even though your friends are using Hubspot or Agile CRM, you could be more satisfied with Salesforce. Does it mean that you need to test every CRM that is out there systematically? 

 

Not really. I have gone through extensive lengths to test them on your behalf. You can see the features of each one of them in this table.

 

Take your needs and put them against this table. The team behind Alternative.app has scouted the web and researched each CRM provider.

What to consider? 

This part helps you with the decision by asking you the most traditional cleavages (lines of consideration).

Compatibility + Secret part that others miss. 

The most important thing to consider. In which degree is your business compatible with this CRM? How much training will your teams, workers, colleagues need to use it? Does it suit your needs (that you have in your models)? If this solution is not compatible, don't bother. Not even thousands of integrations or cool functions can save a tool that is not for you.

The secret part of compatibility is your motivation for this change. If your company doesn't want to use CRM and there is no energy in it, people won't be motivated to learn and use it. Send this article to your boss. Show the case studies to your coworkers. Explain what you will gain with this CRM.  Talk about your models together and work as a team on this. I believe you can do this.

On-premise vs Online

This is a common question. On-premise means that the CRM is hosted locally, either in your computer or work servers. The other party servers host online solutions. Question what is better can not be generally answered. I tend to think that online software is better because of its accessibility, support, and user-friendliness. It is usually easier to set up for teams and doesn't stress your IT department (if you have one) that much. 


But there are also cons of the online version. First is that you need to trust the company you selected. That is why I usually recommend one of the bigger CRM solutions out there. You are giving them your data. It's your customer data. That is why I typically distrust unknown solutions.


The other con is that you are dependent on the online tool you chose. If their servers don't work, you will have an uneasy time. Again, that is why I recommend solutions from ventures that are more known and popular. They generally are more reliable and can have the support that is there for you all the time.


On-premise CRM software actively asks you to do a lot more than the online one. You need to take care of the software, about the hardware infrastructure, and more. That is why I genuinely see online as better for everyone except more prominent companies that have an IT department that can take care of the in house CRM. 

Free or Paid (Cost)

I understand that cutting costs on CRM seems like a good idea. However,  the fact that CRM is the foundation of your company should make you consider it a valuable tool.


Free is not always better. In the case of smaller and lesser-known CRM,  you need to ask how they make a profit? Can you trust them with your data? Unfortunately, this is another puzzle piece why I lean more towards the more prominent competitors, which is reliability. Your CRM must work all the time. Popular solutions generally are reliable (better server infrastructure, customer support, and more).  For example, Hubspot has the basic CRM free; however, if you want to use it to the fullest potential, it costs something. And that is better than just some random free online tool that can do anything with my data. The right CRM protects your customers as you would. 

Scalability 

This is a question about your future. Do you plan to increase the number of people in your teams? Expand your outreach? Use automatizations and more? Then it would help if you considered looking for tools that can scale with you. (and if they can not, they should be at least able to export your data). Look at the calculation above and think about how much struggle you can avoid right now. 


There are a fraction of consultants who ignore this part. Instead, they will talk for hours about inbound marketing, Webinar functions, and how this CRM generated landing page creates three times more conversions. I don't want to undervalue these parts, but it should not overcome the scalability. Because when your company grows, your CRM needs to be ready for it. 

Flexibility, Integrations, or Industry-specific. 

The baseline for CRM can seem simple. Just a Database, right? However, you will not see the world the same when your email automatically attaches to contact. And when you are only one button away from all data you have on your contact.


Flexibility means the scope of this CRM. Usually, it covers the plethora of devices that you can use with CRM. Remember the Flower shop case and their need to have a phone app or phone support.  However, I also count here the training manuals and user-friendliness of the CRM.


Integrations are the tools within CRM that you can use. Email marketings, Campaigns, eCommerce integration, product management, Segmentation, or Streamline reporting, to name a few. Look at the importance of them and decide if you should pick them or not. 


Industry-specific CRM aims to provide the "best" experience for specific companies. For example, Elead Crm is for car selling. But the fact they are industry-specific doesn't give them the title of the ultimate answer. Always look at the compatibility.


Take your future in your hands 

Maybe you are asking what steps to take right now. I suggest these:


  1. Print this article or send it to your coworkers. Talk about CRM with your boss.

  2. Do a processing model (the handout or funnel picture can help you, otherwise go back to the modeling part)

  3. Take time to go through them, fill them, or go back to this article. Fill your needs. Understand your business better than ever. 

  4. Look at the table above. Compare it and select the top 3 CRMS for you based on your needs. 

  5. Look at the details of these top CRMS. Read their pages.

  6. If they don't have a free demo (or they ask for contact), use the contact button. Be honest with them. 

  7. Try the first one. If you don't like it, try the next one. If none of the three picks works, go back to step 4. If you want it, start using it. And look back after one year of using it. The difference is striking. 

Additional materials

It wouldn't be me without giving you some extra information on top of this whole article. The "CRM for X" parts are some recommendations that could be in your top 3 CRMs. The sum up infographic goes through the essentials of this article. The "read more" is a collection of additional sources you can dig through (however, they are not guides like this, but they are beneficial). Our team is also reviewing and adjusting this article to be updated.

CRM for the individual (freelancer, remote worker or one-man company)

If you are an individual looking for a CRM, you have two key advantages over others. That is team size (just you) and motivation for change. These two advantages make your task easier. However, in most cases, the con is the budget. That is why I have selected 3 + 1 solutions that care about this. I rank them as Gold, Silver, Bronze, and a Secret trick. 

  • Gold: Hubspot. It has flexibility, free tier, training academy with many free courses or webinars. Also, it is beginner-friendly.


  • Silver: Zoho CRM. It is part of a bigger platform, has more integrations, works with free email, and a free calendar. Overall, a reliable choice. 


  • Bronze: Salesflare. Their tutorial is lovely, and the whole tool aims to be as easy to use as possible. 


  • Secret Trick: Google Sheets (which are better than Excel) can work for simple CRM. There are some great templates out there, or you can use ours, which is here. If you also use Streak CRM to improve your Gmail capabilities, you have almost full-fledged CRM for zero costs. 

CRM for non-profit

Non-profits are usually at a tighter spot than small businesses. However, there are still great options for you. 


  • Gold: I would go with Zoho as the first option. Not only do you get CRM, but also email for up to 5 people, shared calendars, and other tools that help with functioning.


  • Silver: Hubspot, because of the academy training (plus free resources aimed for NGOs), the baseline CRM is excellent.


  • Bronze: SalesForce. It has an exclusive pack for NGOs that helps you grow. The bonus is that it's free for up to 10 users.


  • Secret trick: Greenrope.com, which is a CRM built on various automatizations, is now free for NGOs. Try it.


CRM for Small business

Your industry heavily influences this category. That is why looking at the table will be the most beneficial. However, I have a gold, silver, and a secret trick for you as well. 


  • Gold: Hubspot. The reasons are very similar to the ones in NGO and Individual tier.


  • Silver: Salesflare, It is suitable for team management and easy to learn.


  • Secret Trick: If you can, ask for a trial. Write the pick of your choice that you consider trying them and if they can help you out. Writing them will help you to know if the customer support is ok (if they can not answer some basic questions, do you want them to help you in darker times?) and maybe will get you a discount. That's a lot with one email. 

CRM for middle or big business

This category is even harder than the rest of the previous. The range of resources and support you have is too big for this guide. You are also a category that can think about on-premise vs. online dilemma. 


However, there are some things that I see as crucial for companies like yours. More than the previous categories, you care about team management. Segmentation (not only user/customer segmentation but the team segmentation as well) can be another critical tool for you. You also care more about staff training and reporting than others. Based on this generalization, I can do orientational tips.


  • Gold: SalesForce, it is recommended mainly for its ability of team control. It allows cross-team contributions and has an impressive range of reporting tools.

  • Silver: Hubspot, their Growth suite, is excellent for running customer-oriented software. It ties the sales team, the marketing team, and the service team, which works significantly for online-based companies. And their marketing options are a great plus for you.

  • Bronze: Nutshell, it has a great variety of reporting tools, and it's surprisingly powerful.

  • Secret trick: Consider SAP CRM. Their on-premise solution is a powerful tool (if you have a sales and tech team to put behind it). Their reporting is from another world (even has custom KPI's, your boss will love them). Recently, their (cloud-based) CRM has started catching up on competitors. Give it a try if you are interested in it.

Sum up Infographic:

Read more: 

Funnels (https://blog.taboola.com/funnel-analysis/)

Case studies (https://www.featuredcustomers.com)