Contact Management Software Review
Why Purchase Contact Management Software?
Contact management software started as a simple, interactive address book for the storing of contact information across multiple departments, along with notes useful to employees needing to contact the person. Now, it’s grown in feature set to rival customer relationship management software, so much so that it’s often referred to as CRM software.
The best sales contact management programs may be simpler than a full-blown contact management solution, but they include lead generation features, email marketing or sales management tools, and even inventory tracking for online stores. Further, many integrate with fuller-featured marketing and sales systems, making it easy to get all the tasks done without inputting the same information into different programs. Below, we discuss what makes the best contact management system and how to determine which is right for you. For more information about making the most of your contact management systems, check out our articles on contact management, marketing and sales.
Verdict & Recommendations
When it comes to business products and services, we do a lot of research, including requesting product demos and conducting independent testing. We’ve been reviewing contact management systems for over seven years, having evaluated dozens of products to find the 10 best for the current market.
Of course, while we found OnContact, Salesforce and SalesNexus to be the overall best, that doesn’t mean they are the best for your business. Each product has its standout utility. Therefore, we recommend the following not only for their excellence but as being the best contact management software in particular areas.
Best Contact Managers for Small Business
When you’re running a small business, a full-service, out-of-the-box solution that incorporates your primary contact management needs and works with other software is important. We recommend contact management systems that include the additional features for handling sales, marketing (including newsletters and lead generation campaigns), and employee contact and evaluation. As always, a program that is easy to use and lets your employees collaborate on a project or contact sales pipeline is a must. This is why OnContact earns our recommendation for the best overall contact manager for small businesses. It’s one of the easiest systems to use and has a comprehensive feature set all in one out-of-the-box solution, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money buying multiple programs.
Best Contact Management System for Startups
When you’re starting out, you need simple and dependable software that can handle a multitude of tasks, but as you grow, your needs will grow with you. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to have integration with several programs that do the same tasks, as you will want to find the one that best works for your business. The best contact management software for startups is intuitive, relatively inexpensive and proven, and offers a multitude of integrations to help you grow. SugarCRM is our recommendation for a startup company looking for a contact management system, as it integrates with accounting and resource planning programs and other well-reputed business software.
Best Contact Managers for Sales
The best contact managers for sales do more than keep track of contact information and notes. They make it easy to classify contacts for willingness to buy, let the sales team interact so that people in charge of different aspects of the deal can know what’s going on with a lead, and keep an accurate history so that it’s easy to see what’s happened in the past. If you’re looking for contact management software to help boost sales by keeping track of and organizing a variety of information, we recommend Salesforce, which is well-known for its reporting and data tracking.
Best Contact Management Software for a Budget
Not every business has large contact management needs, so why pay a large price for features you don’t need? The programs on our lineup range from $10 to $100 a month for software as a service (SaaS) and $200 to $1,000 to purchase the software outright. A couple of the SaaS programs can also be purchased for a one-time fee. The most economical choice, however, might not be the cheapest. When considering price, be sure the software has the features you need and is intuitive to work with.
We recommend SalesNexus as the best software for companies on a relatively tight budget. While it is not the cheapest on our lineup by itself, it’s a smart move for your wallet because of its extra features that help your ROI in regards to sales and marketing.
What Are the Benefits of Contact Management Software?
Contact management software does more than make it easy to find someone’s email address or phone number. When you use its features to the fullest, it can help you do the following:
Categorize new or potential customers. With contact managers, you can target groups for specific notifications. This can be as simple as knowing which group you should send a second notice to about an offer due to expire soon, or contacting only those people affected by a big storm about your sale on winter gear.
Increase customer loyalty. Contact manager software lets you take notes and share information across departments. This is a big help with customer service, letting you keep notes for situations like someone calling back with the same problem, but it can also help you bring back customers by noting their buying habits and offering an incentive on something they really want.
Increase efficiency. With your entire company working with a single program, instead of one for sales, one for marketing, one for customer service, etc., everyone can have access to the information they need and add information that might benefit another department. For example, if customer service receives numerous complaints about a specific product, the development department might decide to improve the design. Once the new release is out, the sales department can alert those specific customers who complained, offering the improved version at a discount. Later, marketing can check who took the offer and contact them with a survey for feedback.
Save time and money. In addition to making it simple to share information, having a single program can save you time and money on training and on dealing with integration issues between departments.
What Systems Work With Contact Management Software?
There’s no point in having a list of contacts if you don’t put that list to use growing your business. In the past, we’ve rated systems on the breadth of features they offered as much as how well they were used. As programs become more sophisticated, we’ve focused on the customer management aspects, as we believe these features are the driving reason to purchase contact management software. Of course, we gave some consideration to marketing and sales management, as well as inventory, since having accurate contact information for vendors can make all the difference if your supplies run unexpectedly short.
Even the best contact management system can’t compare to a program especially suited for a specific marketing purpose. For that reason, you may want to invest in other software designed specifically for different tasks, such as marketing automation, email marketing and lead generation services.
If you use Microsoft’s Office suite, then you should look for programs that integrate with it. Many will export to Excel as a CVS file, for example, but a few, such as Maximizer CRM, directly integrate with the program as well as with Word.
Contact Management Software: What We Tested, What We Found
Ease of Use
In a small business, you don’t want to spend a lot of time learning a new system or dealing with unneeded complexities. Therefore, we tested heavily for ease of use.
We took advantage of the trial periods these different contact managers offer and ran them through the paces, using a mock company and trying out the most important tasks: importing or adding customers, adding notes, calling contacts, pulling up reports, creating emails, and designing campaigns. Where applicable, we tried out the employee and inventory features as well.
We looked for a clean design that didn’t clutter the view screen with images or text, as we found that this made it more difficult to navigate the interface and find the links we needed. We also rewarded the programs that were flexible enough that we could modify or create custom text fields based on the needs of our test company.
We looked for programs that did not make us consult the help tabs or customer support lines for the most important tasks. Programs that include tips and how-to advice within the program itself received higher marks, however.
When it came to ease of use, Salesforce stood out from its peers. This cloud-based system is intuitive, with the information you need easily available and the most common tools ready with the least amount of clicking around.
Storage & Other Requirements
Regardless of how easy a contact manager is to use, it’s an investment of time as well as money. Therefore, you don’t want to have to change it just because your business grows. Fortunately, nearly all the contact managers on our lineup offer unlimited storage as well as authorized users. Prices and plan types vary depending on how many users you need to include in your software. Depending on your type of business, you might want to differentiate between departments, which several companies on our lineup allow you to do. You also want to look for software that allows all of the contacts your business needs. We looked for software with high volumes, such as 10,000, or an unlimited number of contacts.
Contact management software can help your business make and keep good relationships with your current clients, turn leads into customers, and even communicate smoothly with vendors and employees. The best contact management software offers a wide range of lead generation and marketing tools, but always look for the programs that are easy to use while having the features you really need.
Contributing Reviewer: Karina Fabian