Best CRMs For Small Businesses (2024 Guide)

24 Min Read
Customer Management

As a small business owner, it’s vital to keep your finger on the pulse of industry trends, specifically in the realm of customer relationship management (CRM) solutions. A robust CRM system can serve as a lifeline, allowing you to manage interactions and relationships with your customers, streamline processes, and boost profitability. In this article, we will delve into the top CRM solutions for small businesses and explore their unique features, benefits, and pricing structures.

What to Look for in a CRM

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Before we delve into our top CRM picks, it’s crucial to understand what makes a CRM effective for small businesses. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • User Experience: The CRM should be intuitive and easy to navigate, reducing the learning curve for your team.
  • Sales Features: The solution should offer robust sales features, such as lead and deal tracking, visual sales pipeline, and activity tracking.
  • Reporting and Analytics: Comprehensive reporting and analytics tools are crucial for tracking performance and identifying areas of improvement.
  • Integrations: The CRM should seamlessly integrate with other apps you use in your business for increased functionality and automation.
  • Value for Money: The solution should offer a fair balance between its cost and the features it provides, accounting for scalability as your business grows.

Small Business CRM Versus Enterprise CRM

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It’s important to understand the distinction between small business and enterprise CRM solutions. Enterprise CRMs are designed for large organizations with complex business processes and vast amounts of data. They tend to come with a hefty price tag and may be less accessible for smaller businesses with limited budgets.

On the other hand, small business CRMs are specifically designed to cater to the needs of smaller organizations. They are more affordable, offer user-friendly interfaces, and customizable features to suit the unique needs of small businesses.

Top 10 CRM Solutions for Small Businesses

Here are our top picks for CRM solutions that cater specifically to the needs of small businesses.

1. Sales CRM

Best for: Small businesses seeking a robust, single-source solution for all customer activities. Sales CRM offers a user-friendly interface and customizable boards to organize projects and track customer activities. It provides a high degree of scalability, allowing small businesses to manage any workflow.

Key Features:

  • Built-in AI assistant for quick customer email drafting.
  • Easy pipeline management.
  • Dashboards for viewing sales forecasts, performance, and team goals.


  • Customizable templates for quick start.
  • Easy-build automations.
  • Straightforward and intuitive, with virtually no learning curve.


  • No free forever plan.
  • You’ll need to upgrade your plan for a higher automation/integration limit.

Pricing: From $7 per user/month with an annual plan. Free trial available.

2. Pipedrive

Best for: Small businesses looking for a strong visual sales pipeline.

Pipedrive offers an intuitive CRM solution with drag-and-drop functionality, quickly acting on essential tasks and customizable fields to optimize existing systems.

Key Features:

  • Automatic call logging.
  • Contacts map.
  • Shareable dashboard links.


  • Helpful mobile CRM apps.
  • 24/7 email and chat support.


  • No free forever plan.
  • Functionality is limited for the price.

Pricing: From $14.90 per user/month with an annual plan. Free trial available.

3. Salesforce

Best for: Small businesses seeking an advanced CRM with extensive customization options.

Salesforce is a well-known name in the CRM industry, renowned for its robust features and extensive customization options.

Key Features:

  • Pop-up wizard for personalized user experience.
  • Einstein Activity Capture for seamless data syncing.
  • Intuitive app layout.



  • High starting price without a free plan.
  • Steeper learning curve than other CRMs.

Pricing: From $25 per user/month with an annual plan.

4. Zoho CRM

Best for: Small businesses looking for a long-term free CRM solution.

Zoho CRM offers a robust platform that increases leads, accelerates sales, and accurately measures performance.

Key Features:

  • Built-in AI assistant, Zia, for lead and deal predictions.
  • Trophy features for fostering camaraderie in distributed teams.
  • Charts for displaying customer reports.


  • Conduct meetings and presentations from within the CRM.
  • Set alerts for remote workers.


  • Customer support is only available 24/5 on the free plan.
  • A lot of features are reserved for more expensive plans.

Pricing: Free forever plan available.

5. FreshSales

Best for: Small businesses that need to make data-focused decisions.

FreshSales CRM software offers a variety of tools to enhance customer communication. It also has an AI assistant, Freddy, to help gain insights into the customer base by analyzing historical sales data.

Key Features:


  • Free forever plan available.
  • Built-in VOIP phone service.


  • Customer support only available 24/5 on the free plan.
  • A lot of features reserved for more expensive plans.

Pricing: Free plan available.

6. HubSpot CRM

Best for: B2B and B2C businesses looking for a scalable, all-in-one solution.

HubSpot CRM grows with small businesses to offer additional features like marketing automation and customer service.

Key Features:

  • Ad management for tracking promotions.
  • Predictive lead scoring.
  • List segmentation for personalized emails.


  • Foundational tools are available for free.
  • Breadth of features allow room for growth.


  • Free CRM features are limited in capability.
  • Paid plans are more expensive than competitors in the market.

Pricing: Free plan available.

7. SugarCRM

Best for: Small businesses looking for a more complex CRM solution.

SugarCRM is a long-established platform offering advanced features embraced by small businesses with decent in-house technical skills.

Key Features:

  • Guided selling tools.
  • Mail and calendar integration.
  • Geo-mapping.


  • Supports 30+ languages.
  • Offers cloud and on-premise solutions.


  • Significantly more expensive than other CRM solutions.
  • To access the CRM for free, users can watch a 3-minute demo.

Pricing: From $49 per user/month with an annual plan.

8. Zendesk Sell

Best for: Small businesses focused on sales automation.

Zendesk Sell is a web and mobile-based CRM system that helps small businesses manage customer relationships and sales processes.

Key Features:

  • Built-in dialer and call recording.
  • API access.
  • Mobile app.


  • User-friendly interface.
  • Native integrations with other Zendesk products.


  • Limited sales pipelines.
  • No free plan.

Pricing: From $19 per user/month. Free trial available.

9. Keap

Best for: Fast-moving small businesses that plan to scale.

Keap offers startup and CRM automation software that saves time on repetitive tasks. The platform offers visibility into leads and opportunities and the ability to send personalized emails and follow-up tasks.

Key Features:

  • Automated appointment booking.
  • Automated lead capture.
  • Mobile and desktop app.


  • Designed specifically for busy startups and entrepreneurs.
  • Visualize workflows on a canvas as you build them.


  • Significantly more expensive than other CRMs on the list.
  • No freemium version available beyond the trial.

Pricing: From $159 per month with an annual plan. Free trial available.

10. Less Annoying CRM

Best for: Teams requiring simplicity and ease of use.

Less Annoying CRM is an uncomplicated software with only one price plan and no annual contract required. Contact, calendar, task details, and more are accessible from a single location.

Key Features:

  • Simple search feature.
  • Mobile access.
  • Lead and pipeline management.



  • The potential to pay for more features than you need.
  • Reporting features are basic.

Pricing: From $15 per user/month plus tax. Free trial available.

The Benefits of Using a CRM for Small Business

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CRM software can afford small businesses a competitive advantage by reducing production costs and boosting sales revenue. Here are some key benefits that a good CRM offers:

  • Single Source of Truth: A CRM provides a centralized platform for all your customer activities, sales data, and interactions, creating a single source of truth for your small business.
  • Enhanced Data and Reporting: A CRM aggregates all your sales and customer data into an easily accessible dashboard, offering valuable insights into your performance and areas of improvement.
  • Increased Efficiency and Productivity: With centralized, accurate data, your team can increase their productivity and work more efficiently.
  • Lower Business Expenses: When your team works more efficiently, business expenses decrease. You’ll close deals faster, generate more revenue, and create more room for business growth.
  • Better Customer Experience: When your sales, marketing, and customer service activities are more efficient, they deliver a better customer experience, ultimately leading to increased customer loyalty.

CRM Implementation Strategies for Small Businesses

Implementing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a strategic move for small businesses aiming to enhance customer relationships and streamline operations. However, the process requires careful planning and execution to ensure success and maximize ROI. Here are key strategies for effectively implementing a CRM system in a small business environment:

1. Define Your CRM Objectives and Requirements

Before selecting a CRM, define clear objectives based on your business needs. Identify the problems you want the CRM to solve, whether it’s improving customer service, increasing sales, or streamlining communication within your team. Determine the features you need, such as contact management, lead tracking, or reporting capabilities. Setting clear goals and requirements will guide your CRM selection and ensure the system aligns with your business strategy.

2. Select the Right CRM Platform

Choose a CRM platform that fits your business size, needs, and budget. Consider factors like ease of use, customization options, integration capabilities, and scalability. It’s essential to select a system that your team will actually use and that can grow with your business. Take advantage of free trials to test the CRM’s functionality and user-friendliness before making a commitment.

3. Plan for Data Migration

If you’re transitioning from another system or consolidating various data sources, plan for the migration of existing customer data into the new CRM. This process involves cleaning and organizing data, mapping fields correctly, and importing data securely. Ensure that data privacy and integrity are maintained during the migration process. It might be beneficial to seek assistance from CRM providers or IT professionals to ensure a smooth transition.

4. Customize and Configure the CRM

Customize the CRM to fit your business processes and workflows. This could involve setting up custom fields, creating sales pipelines, and configuring settings to match your operational needs. A well-customized CRM will enhance productivity and ensure that your team can easily navigate and utilize the system.

5. Provide Comprehensive Training

Successful CRM implementation requires buy-in from your team. Provide comprehensive training to ensure that all users understand how to use the CRM effectively. Focus on how the CRM can simplify their tasks and contribute to the business’s goals. Offer different training formats, such as live sessions, online tutorials, and user manuals, to accommodate different learning styles.

6. Integrate with Other Business Tools

Maximize the value of your CRM by integrating it with other tools your business uses, such as email platforms, marketing automation software, or accounting systems. Integration streamlines operations, reduces manual data entry, and provides a more holistic view of customer interactions.

7. Monitor, Evaluate, and Iterate

After implementation, continuously monitor the CRM’s performance and user adoption. Gather feedback from your team to identify any challenges or areas for improvement. Evaluate whether the CRM is helping you meet your business objectives and make necessary adjustments. Regularly review and update your CRM strategy to ensure it remains aligned with your business needs and goals.

Implementing a CRM system is not a one-time task but an ongoing process that requires attention to detail, strategic planning, and continuous improvement. By following these strategies, small businesses can successfully implement a CRM system that supports their growth, enhances customer relationships, and improves operational efficiency.

CRM Training and Support for Small Businesses

Effective CRM training and support are vital components for small businesses aiming to maximize the benefits of their new system. Proper training ensures that all team members are comfortable and proficient with the CRM, leading to higher adoption rates and more efficient use. Meanwhile, reliable support helps to resolve any issues quickly, minimizing downtime and maintaining productivity. Here’s how small businesses can approach CRM training and support:

Develop a Comprehensive Training Plan: Start by developing a training plan that addresses the different needs and learning styles of your team members. Break down the CRM features into manageable segments, focusing first on the essentials that your team will use daily. Schedule training sessions well in advance, and ensure they are interactive, allowing team members to ask questions and practice using the system. Consider different formats such as live workshops, webinars, video tutorials, and written guides to cater to various preferences.

Leverage Resources from Your CRM Provider: Most CRM providers offer a range of training resources and tools. These can include online tutorials, user manuals, knowledge bases, and customer forums. Make full use of these resources, guiding your team on where to find them and encouraging self-learning. Some providers also offer personalized training sessions — consider investing in these if your budget allows, especially for more complex CRM systems.

Appoint CRM Champions: Identify or appoint a few ‘CRM champions’ within your team — individuals who grasp the system quickly and can provide peer support. These champions can be the first point of contact for internal questions, helping to resolve minor issues and promote best practices. They can also provide feedback to management about any challenges the team is facing, contributing to continuous improvement of CRM usage.

Ensure Ongoing Support and Learning: Learning doesn’t stop after the initial training sessions. Provide ongoing support to help your team navigate any challenges as they become more familiar with the CRM. This might include regular check-in meetings, refresher courses, and advanced training as needed. Encourage an environment where team members feel comfortable seeking help when they encounter difficulties.

Utilize Customer Support and Technical Assistance: Familiarize yourself and your team with the CRM provider’s customer support options. Know how to contact support, what kind of help is available, and the expected response times. Whether it’s technical issues, feature requests, or general queries, having a clear understanding of how to access support ensures that you can quickly resolve any challenges that arise.

Gather Feedback and Adapt Training Accordingly: Regularly solicit feedback from your team regarding both the CRM system and the training process. Understand what’s working well and what could be improved. Use this feedback to adapt and evolve your training approach, making sure it remains relevant and effective as your team’s needs and the CRM capabilities change.

Document Best Practices and Success Stories: As your team becomes more proficient with the CRM, document best practices, tips, and success stories. Create an internal knowledge base where these insights can be shared and referenced. Highlighting positive outcomes and efficient workflows can motivate the team and demonstrate the tangible benefits of the CRM system.

Effective training and robust support are the backbones of successful CRM implementation in small businesses. By investing time and resources into these areas, businesses can ensure higher user adoption rates, more efficient operations, and ultimately, a greater return on their CRM investment. Remember, the goal of CRM training and support is not just to teach the team how to use the software but to empower them to use it effectively to enhance customer relationships and drive business growth.


Navigating the world of CRM solutions can be daunting, particularly for small businesses. However, by understanding your specific needs and budget, you can find a CRM solution that not only meets your current requirements but also scales with your business growth. Whether you require a robust all-in-one system, a simple and easy-to-use solution, or a free CRM to get you started, there is a CRM solution out there that’s perfect for your small business.

Remember, the key to finding the right CRM is understanding your business needs, assessing the available options, and making an informed decision based on these factors. With the right CRM, you can streamline your processes, enhance your customer relationships, and ultimately drive your small business towards greater success.

FAQ: CRM Tools for Small Business

What is the best CRM tool for small business?

The best CRM tool for a small business depends on specific needs, industry, and budget. Popular options include HubSpot for its comprehensive free plan and scalability, Salesforce for its extensive features and customization, and Zoho CRM for affordability and ease of use. Evaluate your business needs, such as sales automation, customer service, and marketing integration, before choosing a CRM.

How much does CRM cost for small business?

CRM costs can vary widely based on features, number of users, and level of customization. Some CRMs offer free plans suitable for small businesses, while others may start from $10 to $50 per user per month. Premium plans with advanced features can cost over $100 per user per month. Always check for hidden costs like setup fees or additional charges for support and updates.

Does Google have a free CRM?

Google does not offer a dedicated free CRM tool. However, small businesses can leverage Google’s suite of tools, such as Google Contacts, Sheets, and Calendar, to create a basic CRM system. Additionally, third-party CRMs like Streak can integrate directly with Gmail and offer free limited versions.

How do I set up a CRM for my small business?

Setting up a CRM for your small business involves several steps:

  1. Identify your CRM goals and requirements.
  2. Choose a CRM software that fits your business size, industry, and budget.
  3. Import existing customer data into the CRM system.
  4. Customize the CRM to match your sales processes, reporting needs, and customer segmentation.
  5. Train your team on how to use the CRM effectively.
  6. Regularly update and maintain the CRM system.

What is the most commonly used CRM?

Salesforce is often cited as the most commonly used CRM due to its wide range of features, scalability, and market presence. However, other CRMs like HubSpot, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Zoho CRM are also widely used, especially among small to medium-sized businesses.

Should a small business use a CRM?

Yes, a small business should use a CRM to organize customer information, streamline sales processes, improve customer service, and enhance marketing strategies. A CRM can help small businesses build better customer relationships, increase sales, and improve overall efficiency, even with limited resources.

Does Microsoft have a free CRM?

Microsoft does not offer a completely free CRM. However, Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers a variety of CRM modules that small businesses can purchase based on their specific needs. Microsoft also provides a free trial period to test out its CRM features before committing to a purchase.

Is HubSpot CRM really free?

Yes, HubSpot offers a completely free CRM version that provides basic features suitable for small businesses, including contact management, deal tracking, and task assignments. While advanced features require upgrading to paid plans, the free version remains free indefinitely without user or time limits.

Does Gmail offer a CRM?

Gmail itself is not a CRM, but it can be integrated with CRM tools like Streak, Copper, and HubSpot, which can turn your Gmail account into a functional CRM system. These integrations allow you to manage customer relationships directly within your Gmail interface, although the depth of features depends on the specific CRM tool used.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by bruce mars; Unsplash – Thank you!

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Becca Williams is a writer, editor, and small business owner. She writes a column for and many more major media outlets.