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The Best CRM Software of 2017

We’ve reviewed dozens of CRM systems for more than seven years to bring you the 10 best CRM software options for small businesses.

The Best CRM Software of 2017
Our Ranking CRM Software
1 OnContact
2 Salesforce
3 SalesNexus
4 NetSuite
5 TeamWox
6 Workbooks.com
7 SugarCRM
8 Maximizer CRM
9 Infusionsoft
10 Act

CRM Software Review

Why CRM Software?

CRM software began as easy-to-use and interactive address books to store a business’s contact lists from various departments, with useful notes the staff might need to have an effective conversation with a contact. Nowadays, CRM systems include features like lead generation and nurturing, sales management, email, and other marketing or inventory tracking. Several programs have the ability to integrate with other sales and marketing systems with fuller features, which makes it easier for you to accomplish tasks without redundantly entering information into different systems.

In this article, we reveal what makes the 10 choices for CRM software in our review the best, and we give suggestions on how to decide what’s best for you. For more details on CRM software and other valuable tools your small business might need, check out our articles.

Verdict & Recommendations

To give you the best information available on business services and software, Top Ten Reviews has done hundreds of hours of research, which includes performing independent testing and creating proprietary scores and watching or interacting with product demos. We have reviewed CRM software for more than seven years and frequently refine our review so we can show you the top 10 products currently available.

In our testing and research, we found that OnContact, Salesforce and SalesNexus are, overall, the best CRM options on the market. However, this does not necessarily mean that one of these is best for your business. Every system in our review shines as quality software and specializes in different features. With this in mind, we recommend these programs, depending on the needs of your business and your team.

Best CRM for Small Business

An out-of-the-box, full-service CRM solution may be your best option when you’re heading a small business, especially if it can integrate with software you already own and use. You should look for a system that is equipped to handle sales, marketing (e.g., lead nurturing or newsletters) and employee evaluation. It’ll be especially helpful if you don’t have to spend extensive time or money training your employees to use the software; an easy-to-use system is imperative.

For all of these reasons, we recommend OnContact as the best CRM software for small business, as we found it to be one of the easiest systems we tested for our review. It also includes nearly every feature we looked for in this category in the out-of-the-box solution, which saves you the expense of buying extra programs or the time of setting up a custom system.

Recommendation: OnContact

Best CRM Software for Startups

As a startup company, your goal is to build a strong foundation and then grow. As such, you need dependable but simple software that can work with you as your business expands, or integrate with various software as you purchase more systems. For the best CRM software for startup companies, we looked for an intuitive system that offers multiple integrations to allow you to grow. SugarCRM meets all of these conditions, and it is our recommendation for startup companies thanks to its available integrations with well-reputed business software.

Recommendation: SugarCRM

Best CRM for Sales Teams

If you’re specifically looking for CRM software to fit the needs of a sales team, you’ll need it to do more than store notes and contact information. Your CRM software needs to have the tools to classify contacts according to their willingness to buy, as well as allow your sales team to interact with your customers and record their conversations. This helps your staff from different departments see what’s happening in real time and the history with each customer. For a CRM system to drive your sales team, we recommend Salesforce, which is well-known for its thorough and comprehensive data-tracking features and reports.

Recommendation: Salesforce

Best Budget-Friendly CRM Software

You shouldn’t have to pay for more than what you use. If you’re working with a strict budget and only need some of the features of CRM software, it may be in your best interest to explore some of the less expensive options in our review. Keep in mind that the cheapest choice might not be the most economical, and be sure the software has everything you need as well as a good price.

Our recommendation for CRM software for a tight budget is SalesNexus. It is not the least expensive system in our review, but when you combine its extra features with its price, it stands out as one of the programs with the highest ROI for marketing and sales.

Recommendation: SalesNexus

How Can CRM Software Benefit Your Business?

The best CRM software offers various tools to help you with your business. These tools can help you do the following:

Sort potential customers. CRM software lets you target groups for notifications according to the contacts’ interests. After categorizing your groups, you can use the program to send notices to each group. These notices can include offers that are expiring soon, or customers who might be affected by a storm and could use a special sale on your winter gear.

Secure customer loyalty. Using CRM software, you can share notes about interactions you’ve had with customers across departments. This can help you avoid uncomfortable situations that might occur without proper communication between your staff. For example, your employees can see notes from previous conversations, which can be especially helpful if a customer calls in with the same problem more than once. By improving your customer service with this technique and noting customers’ buying habits, you can increase your customers’ loyalty.

Increase efficiency. CRM software can increase efficiency by combining the functions of various programs. This can save your staff from having to learn additional programs. By having your sales, marketing, customer service and other departments all using the same software, you can increase efficiency across your business.

Save money and time. By combining several functions in one program, you save money by only purchasing a single system. You also have to spend less time learning new programs.

What Systems Work With CRM Software?

A list of contacts isn’t very helpful if you can’t use that list to help your business expand and grow. In previous reviews, we’ve rated CRM programs on the number of features and how well they work. As these systems have become more sophisticated over time, we’ve refocused specifically on customer management functions of the software. We also considered other management aspects, such as sales, marketing and employee management.

Even with all of the functions available in CRM software, it’s important for it to be able to integrate with software specifically used for other purposes, such as marketing. You may want to look into marketing automation software, lead generation and email marketing services. You should also look for systems that integrate with the Microsoft Office suite, particularly with Excel so that you can use CSV files. Maximizer CRM also integrates with Microsoft Word, which may be valuable.

CRM Software: What We Tested, What We Found

Ease of Use
In our review, we tested each program heavily for its ease of use, since we know that, as a small business, you don’t want to spend copious amounts of time learning a new system or attempting to fix difficult and unnecessary problems.

Using trial periods on each CRM system, we created a mock company and completed the most important tasks with each program: adding and importing contacts, creating notes, calling contacts, and designing, creating and sending emails. Where available, we also tested inventory and employee features.

For our evaluation, we looked for systems intuitive enough that we weren’t required to call a customer support line or peruse the help tabs for the most common and important tasks. Software with in-program tips received higher scores.

Salesforce is the easiest to use out of the software we reviewed. Its cloud-based system is intuitive and took the least amount of clicking around. Helpful information is easily available in the software as well.

Storage & Other Requirements
Even while being useful and easy to use, CRM software is an investment of both money and time. As such, you don’t want to be required to change your software as your business expands. Thankfully, almost all of the CRM programs on our lineup offer unlimited storage and unlimited authorized users. Plan types and corresponding prices vary according to what you need, and depending on your business type, you may wish to differentiate users between departments, which most programs in our evaluation allow you to do. We looked for software with high volumes or unlimited numbers of contacts available.

CRM software can help your business create and maintain good relationships with your contacts and turn them into customers. It can also help you communicate effectively with vendors and employees. The best CRM software offers a range of marketing tools, such as lead generation services. You should also look at the programs that are easy to use but also have all of the features that you need.

Contributing Reviewer: Karina Fabian