CRM Reviews for Small Business Sales Teams
The CRMs we’ve chosen for our CRM Reviews were selected because we believe they can help your salespeople sell more while providing useful information for you to manage more effectively. There are hundreds of systems you can choose from. I can’t make the claim the choices I’m recommending are the best, but I can say they work well and if you put in the time to fully implement them they’ll work for you.
I try to keep an open mind when learning or using CRM’s to see what they offer to help with unique client environments. Every now and then I find one with a little niche and they’ll find their way into our CRM Reviews. I’ll also revisit some of the companies I don’t use regularly to see if they’ve adapted to technology or added useful features. I’m not an expert on each platform, but most reviewers aren’t either. What I do have is a personal experience with most of those I’ve included.
Feel free to give us a call if you want to discuss your application and what our thoughts would be on a CRM for your business. Our focus will be directed toward what will help your salespeople sell more while providing an owner or manager information to manage in less time and be sales supportive.
The Big Three Are Not Alone
I included SalesForce, Sugar CRM and Microsoft Dynamics 365 as they seem to be the most recognized and can easily be selected because of the comfort that comes with name recognition. For that reason, I want to make you aware of what to be watching for if you are leaning this way.
I don’t often use these three for my small business clients because their core client market is enterprise organizations and their small business packages leave you wanting for more. You can get in for $25-$45 per user per month, but the more you get into using the system, it’s easy to increase that to $100 per user/month. When a client has SalesForce and Microsoft Dynamics, I choose to not take the lead with customization because I find myself working too hard to create what I want or hiring a consultant to get it done. I have not used Sugar so I can’t say much about it. The systems will get the job done and they can be customized and integrated with just about any platform with an API.
Once you commit to a CRM it’s hard to change because you really don’t want to go through the learning curve again. Because of this, I have seen companies stay with the higher cost of these systems for very little or no added value than other CRMs I’ll be highlighting next. For this reason, I started looking for other systems to meet the needs of my client sales teams. For quick reference here are the price and edition sheets for the big three if you want to take peek.
Zoho – My favorite for most businesses
I was first introduced to Zoho in 2012. They were ahead of the competition with integrating with Google, which made the email and CRM experience very easy. They weren’t great, but they were good. Fast forward to 2018. They are becoming recognized by the business world due to their suite of apps that integrate with a sales CRM. Imagine integrations of your accounting program, inventory, email marketing, website intelligence, email, HR systems and more, all easily talking together. Think of their apps like the Apple family of devices. They have a common language and can easily integrate and share info, but they are not as proprietary as Apple. The apps easily find each other, integrate and work. If you want your invoices, sales orders, and purchase orders from accounting visible in your CRM, you can click integrations, map some fields and they show up. Why don’t you toss in inventory so sales and shipping can know what’s available? Just click the Inventory app into CRM. Managing unsubscribes or opt-outs with email no longer need to be in a separate program. Click and sync the Zoho email app into CRM contacts. If you only want the CRM, that’s just fine, but they’ve priced the total ZohoOne package so competitively for small business you have to take a look before not considering a change.
The CRM has everything a business needs to manage sales and more. Most customization can be done in-house with your tech person and the only thing I’ve needed a consultant for is migrating some systems over or integrating non-Zoho apps into Zoho CRM.
Integrating with Office 365 or Google Suite works just fine or you can be bold and move your email domain directly to Zoho and be all in with an email platform that is fully integrated with your CRM. If you choose ZohoOne you don’t have to use all the apps, but it provides small businesses with a real shot at an integrated business system.
Pipeliner – Visually powerful and easy for teams to learn
Pipeliner’s strength is their preloaded visuals to help manage and provide accountability with a layout that is easy to move around in. They provide two platforms; a hybrid that operates through apps on your devices and syncs in the cloud and a traditional browser-based cloud system. The hybrid allows you to work with your CRM when not connected to the internet. It’s great for air travel when you don’t want to deal with a slow connection. Their development strategy is to make the system easy and enjoyable for sales teams to use, and that has been true for the teams I’ve seen using Pipeliner. Cost is good.
Streak – Never leaving Gmail
If you are looking to never leave Gmail, this is where you want to go. From my perspective Streak’s original purpose was to manage the process through a pipeline. Moving the project along to different stages easily and relating emails, contacts, and tasks to each project Streak labels as boxes. This approach easily translated to a sales pipeline. Last time I used Streak it lacked being a true contact database in itself. Its strength is being in Gmail, managing projects and its ease of use. Generating custom reports and leveraging contacts in groups for communication is a weakness. They are open to feedback and even asked that I speak with the CEO to help them continue development. I thought that was a sign that they will continue to improve and I should keep my eye on them.
Insightly – A solid contender, well rounded
I’ve never used Insightly but I go back often to see if they are a fit for new clients. They have all you need to be effective and their integrations are solid. I think it’s only the visual layout that keeps me from jumping in because it looks a little older. That should not keep you from going for it as what is most important are the results it produces. One strength is the ability to attach emails to people, projects or opportunities even if that person is not currently related. When working with third-party vendors, quotes or consultants, these emails can be very handy connected to your current work. They have lots of learning videos and continue to make improvements. They are a solid choice and I hope one day I can throw them some business.
Nimble and Cloze – Best for relationship management more than pipeline management
If you care most about staying on top of as many details about an individual as possible with the least amount of research and input, Nimble and Cloze might be for you. I’ve tried both and they have strong search and collect applications. In other words, they find information related to your contacts on the web and bring it into your CRM. Reporting breath and the customization capabilities are limited compared to Zoho, SalesForce, Sugar or Dynamics but they have some basics. Cloze will allow you to set up your desired stay in touch intervals with your contacts and when you stray outside the interval. Interaction timelines are forefront on these two systems. The amount of information was a little overwhelming for me, but I’m sure some of you would relish it. The systems do have deal and pipeline areas, but not as robust as true sales CRMs. Still, for the right application, it could be just what you need.
And there are more
I have looked into Base, Agile and Pipedrive but have not had a chance to work with them. I view them as reputable and committed to continuous improvement.