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Infusionsoft logo
 
Infusionsoft is a cloud-based sales and marketing solution that offers Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Marketing Automation and E-Commerce functionalities in one suite that helps small businesses across various industries deliver... Read More
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503
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Infusionsoft is a cloud-based sales and marketing solution that offers Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Marketing Automation and E-Commerce functionalities in one suite that helps small businesses across various industries deliver... Read More
 
HubSpot CRM logo
 
With its cloud-based, customer relationship management platform, HubSpot helps companies of all sizes track and nurture leads and analyze business metrics. HubSpot is suitable for any B2B or B2C business in a variety of segments, including... Read More
Rating:            (897)
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400
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With its cloud-based, customer relationship management platform, HubSpot helps companies of all sizes track and nurture leads and analyze business metrics. HubSpot is suitable for any B2B or B2C business in a variety of segments, including... Read More
 
FreeAgent CRM logo
 
FreeAgent CRM is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution for sales and marketing teams in small and midsize businesses. The solution enables users to manage leads, contacts, emails and calls, accounts and deals,... Read More
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231
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FreeAgent CRM is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution for sales and marketing teams in small and midsize businesses. The solution enables users to manage leads, contacts, emails and calls, accounts and deals,... Read More
 
ProsperWorks CRM logo
 
ProsperWorks is a cloud-based customer relationship management tool that gives users complete views of their customers. The program is applicable to any industry, including advertising, distribution and real estate. The ProsperWorks... Read More
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220
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ProsperWorks is a cloud-based customer relationship management tool that gives users complete views of their customers. The program is applicable to any industry, including advertising, distribution and real estate. The ProsperWorks... Read More
 
NetSuite logo
 
NetSuite CRM+ is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution for small and midsize organizations. NetSuite caters to thousands of customers across a wide range of industries including wholesale distribution, manufacturing,... Read More
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154
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NetSuite CRM+ is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution for small and midsize organizations. NetSuite caters to thousands of customers across a wide range of industries including wholesale distribution, manufacturing,... Read More

Call us for a free FastStart Consultation: +61 3 8899 7476


 
Chime logo
 
Chime is a marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) suite designed for small and midsize real estate businesses. Chime provides team management features, lead and customer management and content management. Chime sends... Read More
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143
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Chime is a marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) suite designed for small and midsize real estate businesses. Chime provides team management features, lead and customer management and content management. Chime sends... Read More
 
ResultsCRM logo
 
ResultsCRM is a software solution designed for small and midsize enterprise customers. It offers sales automation, project management, service orders and billing management within the suite. It is available for both Web-based and on-premise... Read More
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113
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ResultsCRM is a software solution designed for small and midsize enterprise customers. It offers sales automation, project management, service orders and billing management within the suite. It is available for both Web-based and on-premise... Read More
 
Base logo
 
Base CRM is the web and mobile-based customer relationship management (CRM) application that allows B2B and B2C sales professionals to manage sales, track leads and engage proactively with customers from anywhere. Base CRM features... Read More
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109
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Base CRM is the web and mobile-based customer relationship management (CRM) application that allows B2B and B2C sales professionals to manage sales, track leads and engage proactively with customers from anywhere. Base CRM features... Read More
 
amoCRM logo
 
AmoCRM is a cloud-based customer relationship management solution that helps users manage the sales pipeline. Users can receive feedback and reports about the performance of salespersons. The solution offers lead scoring and nurturing,... Read More
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AmoCRM is a cloud-based customer relationship management solution that helps users manage the sales pipeline. Users can receive feedback and reports about the performance of salespersons. The solution offers lead scoring and nurturing,... Read More
 
Less Annoying CRM logo
 
Less Annoying CRM is a customer relationship management solution that caters to the needs of small businesses. It offers cloud-based deployment, various configuration options and a dashboard that provides an overview of contact information,... Read More
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Less Annoying CRM is a customer relationship management solution that caters to the needs of small businesses. It offers cloud-based deployment, various configuration options and a dashboard that provides an overview of contact information,... Read More

Call us for a free FastStart Consultation: +61 3 8899 7476


 
Claritysoft logo
 
Claritysoft is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution designed for midsize and large enterprise businesses. It offers sales automation, customer service and support, marketing automation and social CRM within... Read More
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Claritysoft is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution designed for midsize and large enterprise businesses. It offers sales automation, customer service and support, marketing automation and social CRM within... Read More
 
Firepoint logo
 
Firepoint is a cloud-based lead generation and business management solution that caters to small and midsize businesses in the real estate industry. It helps users manage leads, track team activities and report key metrics. Firepoint... Read More
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38
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Firepoint is a cloud-based lead generation and business management solution that caters to small and midsize businesses in the real estate industry. It helps users manage leads, track team activities and report key metrics. Firepoint... Read More
 
Shape logo
 
Shape is a cloud-based business management solution designed to manage online marketing and promotions, capture leads from online sources, organize sales pipelines and connect with customers. The solution caters to multiple industry... Read More
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Shape is a cloud-based business management solution designed to manage online marketing and promotions, capture leads from online sources, organize sales pipelines and connect with customers. The solution caters to multiple industry... Read More
 
BoomTown logo
 
Boomtown provides marketing and sales automation solutions for the real estate industry. Through Boomtown, brokers can select and customize a lead generation website, track and nurture leads, and monitor team success and sales. The... Read More
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Boomtown provides marketing and sales automation solutions for the real estate industry. Through Boomtown, brokers can select and customize a lead generation website, track and nurture leads, and monitor team success and sales. The... Read More
 
LeadMaster logo
 
LeadMaster is a SaaS-based all-in-one lead management solution that offers capabilities to capture, track and follow up with leads. The solution comprises of integrated modules for sales force automation, customer relationship management,... Read More
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LeadMaster is a SaaS-based all-in-one lead management solution that offers capabilities to capture, track and follow up with leads. The solution comprises of integrated modules for sales force automation, customer relationship management,... Read More

Call us for a free FastStart Consultation: +61 3 8899 7476


 
BNTouch Mortgage CRM logo
 
BNTouch Mortgage CRM is a mortgage-specific CRM system that offers mortgage brokers and bankers alike a solution featuring marketing automation capabilities. The software offers features for each step of the mortgage process, from... Read More
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BNTouch Mortgage CRM is a mortgage-specific CRM system that offers mortgage brokers and bankers alike a solution featuring marketing automation capabilities. The software offers features for each step of the mortgage process, from... Read More
 
Pipeliner CRM logo
 
Pipeliner CRM is an end-to-end customer management system that provides better visibility and transparency into the entire sales process. It is a web-based system that is both Mac and Windows compatible, as well as offering an app... Read More
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Pipeliner CRM is an end-to-end customer management system that provides better visibility and transparency into the entire sales process. It is a web-based system that is both Mac and Windows compatible, as well as offering an app... Read More
 
Hatchbuck logo
 
Hatchbuck is a sales and marketing solution designed for small to midsize businesses. The integrated solution offers combined sales automation, marketing automation and email marketing features. Hatchbuck is a good fit for a wide range... Read More
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Hatchbuck is a sales and marketing solution designed for small to midsize businesses. The integrated solution offers combined sales automation, marketing automation and email marketing features. Hatchbuck is a good fit for a wide range... Read More
 
SalesNOW logo
 
SalesNOW by Interchange Solutions Inc. is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) and sales force automation solution that allows sales teams, management and executives to manage aspects of sales cycle including contact,... Read More
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SalesNOW by Interchange Solutions Inc. is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) and sales force automation solution that allows sales teams, management and executives to manage aspects of sales cycle including contact,... Read More
 
SmartFunnel.com logo
 
SmartFunnel is a cloud-hosted Sales Engagement solution. Its architecture distributes most user functions to the client system, removing web latency delays. Contact email chains and Notes are captured, creating interaction histories.... Read More
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SmartFunnel is a cloud-hosted Sales Engagement solution. Its architecture distributes most user functions to the client system, removing web latency delays. Contact email chains and Notes are captured, creating interaction histories.... Read More
 

FrontRunners® for Customer Relationship Management, February 2018

Powered by Gartner Methodology

What Is the FrontRunners Quadrant?


A Graphic of the Top-Performing Customer Relationship Management Management Products

FrontRunners quadrants highlight the top software products for North American small businesses. All products in the quadrant are top performers. Small businesses can use FrontRunners to make more informed decisions about what software is right for them.

To create this quadrant, we evaluated over 1,050 Customer Relationship Management Management products. Those with the top scores for their capability and value made the quadrant.

Scores are based largely on reviews from real software users, along with other product performance details (e.g., what features they offer, how many customers they have).

Is One Quadrant Better Than the Others?


Nope, Products in Any Quadrant May Fit Your Needs

Every product in this quadrant offers a balance of capability (how much the products can do) and value (whether they’re worth their price/cost) that makes them stand out in the race for small business software success.

FrontRunners has four sub-quadrants:

  • Upper Right = Leaders: Leaders are all-around strong products. They offer a wide range of functionality to a wide range of customers. These products are considered highly valuable by customers.
  •  
  • Upper Left = Masters: Masters may focus more heavily on certain key features or market segments than Leaders do. If you need a more specialized set of functionality without bells and whistles, then a product in the Masters quadrant might be right for you.
  •  
  • Lower Right = Pacesetters: Pacesetters may offer a strong set of features, but are not rated as highly on value. For example, a Pacesetter might offer greater functionality, but cost more.
  •  
  • Lower Left = Contenders: Contenders may focus on a more specialized set of capabilities that are priced at a higher point. This makes them ideal for companies willing to pay more for specific features that meet their unique needs.

Depending on the specific needs of a software buyer, a product in any of these sub-quadrants could be a good fit.

Why? To even be considered for this FrontRunners, a product had to meet a minimum user rating score of 4.1 for both capability and value. This means that all products that qualify as FrontRunners are top-performing products in their market. They appear in the quadrant in relation to how their peers performed.

For some buyers, a specific FrontRunners sub-quadrant might be best. For example, a CRM product in the Leaders quadrant may feature a robust set of contact management functions that will be applicable to a broad array of businesses, while a product in the Contenders quadrant might focus more specifically on one capability, such as interaction tracking.

You can download the full FrontRunners for Customer Relationship Management report here. It contains individual scorecards for each product on the Frontrunners quadrant.

How Are FrontRunners Products Selected?


Products Are Scored Based on User Reviews and Other Data

You can find the full FrontRunners methodology here, but the gist is that products are scored in two areas, Capability and Value.

To be considered at all, products must have at least 20 reviews and meet minimum user rating scores. They also have to offer a core set of functionality—for example, all CRM products must feature contact management, interaction tracking and lead management capability, as well as some combination of email campaign support, workflow automation, forecasting/reporting, call center management and/or customer support.

From there, user reviews and other product performance details, such as the product's customer base and the features it offers, dictate the Capability and Value scores. Capability is plotted on the x-axis, and Value is plotted on the y-axis.

Got It. But What if I Have More Questions?


Check Out Our Additional Resources!

For more information about FrontRunners, check out the following:

Have questions about how to choose the right product for you? You’re in luck! Every day, our team of advisors provides (free) customized shortlists of products to hundreds of small businesses.

  • Simply take this short questionnaire to help us match you with products that meet your specific needs.
  •  
  • Or, talk to one of our experienced software advisors about your needs—it’s quick, free, and there’s no-obligation—by calling (844) 687-6771.

One Last Thing—How Do I Reference FrontRunners?


Just Follow Our External Usage Guidelines

Check out the FrontRunners External Usage Guidelines when referencing FrontRunners content. Except in digital media with character limitations, the following disclaimer MUST appear with any/all FrontRunners reference(s) and graphic use:

FrontRunners scores and graphics are derived from individual end-user reviews based on their own experiences, vendor-supplied information and publicly available product information; they do not represent the views of Gartner or its affiliates.

Runners Up

Providers listed as Runners Up were considered for inclusion in the quadrant, but were ultimately not included for one or more reasons: they did not have enough reviews; they did not meet the reviews score minimum; they did not meet the ultimate Value and Capability minimum scores; or they did not meet our functionality requirements for the market.

1Channel
1CRM
360 Campaigner
360 Enterprise Suite
360 WiFi Marketing
360Alumni
3CLogic - CRM
8x8
90degree Team Task
Aavaz
Accelo CRM
Accelo Prof Service
Act-On
ActiveCampaign
ActiveConversion
ActiveDEMAND
AcuityCRM
Acumatica Cloud ERP
ADAPTcrm
AddressTwo
ADIOS Business Suite
Adobe Marketing Cloud
Adomi CRM
AdRoll
Advisor
Adxstudio Portals
AeroLeads
AGENCY EXPERT
AgencyBloc
Agendize
Agent Manager
AgentCubed
Agiloft
AgoraPulse
Aicon CRM
AireContact
Airtable
Akkroo
Akruto Sync
Akti
Allbound
AllProWebTools
Altify
Ameyo
Amity
Amphis Customer
Amplify
Anaplan
Answerbase Q&A Platform
AnswerHub
Aplicor 3C
AppShore
Apptivo Suite
APTEAN CRM
Apttus CPQ
AquaCRM
Artesian
Ascend - Physician Relationship Management System
Ascente
AsisteClick
Aspect Unified IP
Aspect Zipwire
Asset Panda
AssetStudio
Assimilate
Assyst System
Atemis CRM
atEvent
Atlas CRM
Aurea CRM
Auric Prospector
Autofy
Automated Lead Funnel Service
Automational - CRM
Autopilot
AutoRaptor CRM
Auvik for MSPs
Avature Suite
AvayaLive Connect
Avention for Sales
AWeber
Axiom Sales Manager
Azalead
Azurepath
BarCloud Assets
Batchbook
Bella FSM
Big River
BigContacts
BigWave
billage
Billing System
Bitochon CRM
Bitrix24
BizAutomation
Bizible
Bizns CRM
Bizom
Bizzy
Black ICE CRM
Blitz Sales Software
Bloomerang
Bloomfire
BlueCamroo
BlueFolder
Bluwave CRM
BNTouch
boberdoo
Boomset
BoomTown
Boomtrain
Borneosoft Online Forms & CRM
Boston Logic Platform
Boulevard
Boxxstep BRM
Brand Embassy
BrandMaker
Brandwatch
Bright Pattern Contact Center
Bronto Marketing Platform
Buffer
Bullhorn CRM
Business Card Reader
BusinessMan CRM/ERP
BuzzBoard
BuzzFlow CRM
bxp software
C2 ATOM
C2CRM
CA Service Desk Manager
Call Center CRM
Callbox Pipeline
CallidusCloud CPQ
CallidusCloud Marketing Automation
CallPro CRM
CallProof
CallTaker
Campaign Monitor
Campaigner
CampaignerCRM
Canary AMS
Capsule
Casengo
Caspio
Cayzu
CentralStationCRM
CG Service Desk
ChangeGear
ChannelOnline
Channelplace
CharityEngine
ChaseData Call Center
ChatbotsBuilder
Chatra
Chatwee Social Chat Widget
Cherwell Service Management
Child Care CRM
Chime CRM
Cincom CPQ
Cincom Synchrony
CircleBack
Cirrus Insight
CiviCRM
Clari
Claritysoft CRM
Classe365
CleanCRM
Clearbit
ClearSlide
CleverTap
Clevertim
Click & Pledge
Click2Coach
ClickDesk
ClickDimensions
ClickHook
Clicktools
Cliently
ClientSpace
ClinchPad
Cloud Predictive Dialer by SafeSoft Solutions
Cloud9
CloudCherry
CloudYogi CRM
CMNTY (Community) Platform
Cobblestone
Colabo
CollabSpot
ComAround Knowledge
Comidor
Comm100 Live Chat
CommuniGator
CompanyHub
COMPLETExRM
Composity CRM
ConEst IntelliBid
Configio
ConnectWise Automate
ConnectWise Control
ConnectWise Manage
ConnectWise Sell
Conrep
Consected
Constant Contact
Contactability
ContactChamp
ContactOffice Online Collaboration Suite
contactSPACE
Contactually
Contactzilla
Contivio Contact Center
Contract Logix
Contractor's Cloud
ConvergeHub
Conversica automated sales assistant
Conversocial
Cool Life CRM
Core Commissions
Cosential
Cosmos CRM
Cosmos Integrated Marketing Portal
Costpoint 7
Covve
Cratio CRM
Crazy Call
CRM by AutoVu Solutions
Crm on clouds
CRMlet
CRMnext
CRMPRO
CRMsoftwares.com
Crowdskout
Cruzata CRM
Cugic
CustomAnswers
CVenture
CX Social
CXM
Cydec
Cygneto Field Sales
dapulse
Data.com Contacts
Data2CRM.Migration
Databowl
Dataforma
Datanyze
Daxko Engage
DealCloud
Delivra
Deltek Vision
Demandforce
Desk.com
Deskera CRM
Deskera ERP
Deskero
Deskgod
Desktop Sales Manager
devContact
Diamond Relations CRM
digioh
DirectIQ
DiscoverOrg
Docsify
Doctorbase
Dolibarr ERP & CRM
Donor Tools
DonorPerfect Fundraising Software
DonorPro
dotmailer
DOTS Lead Validation
Doxim CRM
Driftrock
Drip
DSS
DupeCatcher
DYL Lead Manager
EasyGrouper
Ebsta
EBSuite
eClincher
Ecount ERP
Ecquire
Efficient Address Book Network
Efficy CRM
ELEAD1ONE
eLEADS
elevio
Email List Verify
eMail-Lead Grabber
eMaximation
Emergic CleanMail
Emma
Enablement
Engage121 Enterprise
Enterprise Service Desk
EnterpriseLead
Envoke
eOrder Sales App
Epicor ERP Customer Relationship Management Suite
Erpisto
eSalesTrack
eServiceIntelligenceCRM
eSpatial
EspoCRM
eStudio
eTapestry
eTrigue DemandCenter
Event Ready
EventBank
Evercontact
Everest
Evergage
EverThere
everything HelpDesk
eWay-CRM
Experiture
Experlogix CPQ
Exponea
Exsalerate CRM
ExxpertApps
eZnet CRM
EZOfficeInventory
ezyVet - Cloud Vet Software
FACS (Field Automated Communication Systems )
Falcon Social
Faveo Helpdesk
FieldAware
Fieldbook
FieldLocate
FieldOne
FieldPower
FieldService360
FileInvite
FileMaker Pro App for CRM
Finaeo
FindThatLead
Firefish
FirstHive
FIT | IssueTrack
Five9 Virtual Contact Center
Fleetmatics Work
Float Cash Flow
Flowlu
FocalScope
Focus Contact Center
Focus Ministry
Followup CRM
ForceManager
Form.com
FranConnect Franchise Software
Freshchat
Freshdesk
Freshdesk Hotline
FreshOffice
Freshsales
Freshservice
Frontapp
FrontSpin
FullContact
Function Point
Futurelabs CRM
Genoo
Geos CRM
Get Satisfaction
GetScorecard
GigaTrak Asset Tracking System
Gigya
GleanView
GlobiMail for Podio
GoCRM
GoldMine Premium
Google Contacts
Gopher Leads
GoSquared
GoToAssist
GrayFOS
GreenRope
Gro CRM
Grow in Cloud
Growlabs
Handshake
HappyFox
Harmony PSA
Haystack
HaystackCRM
Healthcare CRM
Heap CRM
Hearsay Social
HEAT ITSM
Help Desk Premier
Help Scout
Help.com Chat
HelpCrunch
HelpdeskEddy
Helpjuice
Helprace
HelpSpot
Hey Oliver
Heymarket
Honcho CRM
Honeybee
Horizon HQ
HP Service Manager
HTS Monkey CRM
Hub by Pancentric Digital
HubSpot Marketing Hub
HyperOffice Atlas
HyperTeam CRM for Office 365
i-linked
iAdvize
icomplete CRM
If No Reply
IFS Applications
iGlobe CRM Suite
iLeads
IloveLeasing
Impact 360 Quality Monitoring
Inbenta
InBoundio
IncidentMonitor
inContact Cloud Contact Center
iNexus
Influx MD
InfoFlo
Infor CRM
Infor Customer Experience Suite
Infor Service Management
InfoServ
Infusionsoft
InGenius
Inside Sales Box
InsideSales.com
InsideView
Insightly
InsightSquared
InStream
Integrate
Integrated Customer Engagement (ICE)
Interakt
InTouch CRM
InvGate Service Desk
InviteManager
Inzant Sales
ipercepts iCRM
iPresso
iSEEit
Issuetrak
Item8
Iterable
iTouchVision HR Helpdesk
itracEMS
iuvoDesk Help Desk
IXACT Contact
JDisc Discovery
Jeal Suite
JIRA Service Desk
JitBit Help Desk
Jive-n
Jobber
JobFLEX
JobNimbus
Jumplead
Junxure Cloud
Justuno
KANA Express
Kapost
karmaCRM
Kaseya BMS
Kaseya VSA
Kayako
KEA
Kenshoo Social
Kickserv
kintone
KiteDesk
Kixie
KronoDesk
KulaHub
Kustomer
LANDESK Service Desk
Lansweeper
Lasso CRM
Launchpad Marketing Cloud
Lead Assign
Lead Capsule
Lead Follow-Up
Lead Forensics
Lead Guerrilla
Lead Liaison
Lead Wrench
Lead Zeppelin
Lead2Account
Leadberry
LeadBoxer
LeadByte
LeadCARE
LeadDolphin
LeadDyno
LeadExec
Leadfeeder
LeadFox
LeadFuze
LeadGibbon
LeadIQ
LeadLander
LeadMaster
LeaDNA
LeadPages
LeadPro Lead Management
LEADR
Leads 365
Leads2Me
LeadSift
LeadsLite
LeadSparrow
LeadSquared
LeadTrac
LEADTRACK Software
LeadWorx
Legrand CRM
Lexicata
Libra OnDemand Hospitality Management System
LIID for Salesforce
Lime Light CRM
LinkedIn
LinkPoint Connect
LinkTrust
List Master CRM
Lithium
Live Chat
LiveAgent
LiveEngage
LiveHelpNow Suite
LiveHive
Livespace
Livestorm
LogicBox CRM
LogiNext Force
Lucep
Lumo Flow
Lunar CRM
Lynkos
M2Advisor
Magentrix Customer and Partner Portals
MagHub
Magna Timeshare Software
Magpie Property Management
MailChimp
Mailigen
ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus
ManageEngine SupportCenter Plus
MangoApps
ManyContacts
Map Business Online
Map My Customers
Marketing 360
Marketing Essentials
Marketing Optimizer
Marketo
MarketSharp
Maropost Marketing Cloud
Masterdigm CRM
Mautic
Maximizer CRM
Membrain
MeraCRM
Metaphor Contact Center
Method CRM
mHelpDesk
Mi9 Retail Suite
Mia
Microcat CRM
MICROS iCare
Microsoft Dynamics NAV
Microsoft Office 365
Mila
Mindmatrix
MLeads
Mobilize
Mogo CRM
Mojo Help Desk
Mortgage Quest
Mothernode CRM
Movegistics CRM
My eToolbox
MyBusiness
MyConversionBrain
myphoner
MySalesDialerPro|FieldWorkMobility
NABD System
Nagios Network Analyzer
Nagios XI
nanoRep
NapoleonCat
NationBuilder
Naverisk
NeonCRM
Nerdio
Net-Results
NetHelpDesk
NetHunt CRM
NetSuite
Network Leads LMS
NewVoiceMedia
Nextiva Call Center
Nickelled
Noda Contact Center
Novatus Contracts
NOWTIS
Nutshell
OASIS
Octiv
Odoo
Odyssee Service Software
Oempro
OfficeBooks
OfficeClip Contact Management
Okout CRM
Olark
Omniprise
OMNITRACKER
OnContact CRM
One Tap Check-In
ONE UP
OnePageCRM
OneSource
ONLYOFFICE
Onsight
ONYX CRM
openCRX
Opphound
Oprius
OptifiNow
Optify
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Buyer's Guide

by Craig Borowski,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: April 26, 2018


Customer relationship management (CRM) is the process of managing an organization’s interactions throughout the entire customer life cycle. CRM software applications support the automation of these processes and best practices. Watch the 60-second video below to see CRM software functions and benefits in action.

 

Note: This page focuses on general CRM systems. If you're looking for customer service-oriented software, check out our guide here.

An Overview of CRM Software

CRM systems vary widely in capabilities, pricing and underlying technology, from basic contact management to sophisticated enterprise suites for sales, service and marketing, to platforms that foster customer connections. Moreover, the market includes industry-specific CRM solutions (e.g., real estate or pharmaceutical sales) and best-of-breed solutions for specific CRM functions (e.g., field service or help desk).

We developed this guide to complement our CRM reviews. The following sections will help potential purchasers find the best customer relationship management software package for their business:

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is CRM Software?
A Comparison of Top CRM Solutions
CRM in Action: A Use Case
Common Functionality of CRM Software
Market Trends to Understand
Pricing: Web-Based vs. On-Premise
Recent Events You Should Know About

What Is CRM Software?

The primary purpose of CRM software, sometimes known as contact management software, is to consolidate customer information into one repository, so users can better organize and manage relationships. Additionally, these applications automate common processes and provide tools for monitoring performance and productivity. Systems vary, but the best CRM software will include at least the following four core functions:

Customer data management. Most products provide a searchable database to store customer information (such as contact information) and relevant documents (such as sales proposals and contracts). While most general CRMs offer this functionality, it can also be incorporated into other industry-specific systems. For example, customer management is a core component of salon management software, which is described in more detail here

Interaction tracking. These systems document conversations held by phone, in person, through live chat, email or other channels. These interactions can be logged manually, or automated with phone and email system integrations. Depending on the product, some systems can also track interactions on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms.

Workflow automation. This standardizes business processes, usually through a combination of task lists, calendars, alerts and templates. Once a task is checked off as complete, for example, the system might automatically set a task for the next step in the process.

Reporting. Management can use these CRM tools to track performance and productivity based on activities logged in the CRM system—for instance, how many new contacts were added to the database that day, or how much revenue was generated. These tools can also be used for forecasting, such as for the next-quarter sales pipeline.

A Comparison of Top CRM Solutions

There are many popular CRM solutions on the market, and it can be hard to understand what distinguishes one product from another and which is right for you. To help you better understand how the top CRM systems stack up against one another, we created a series of side-by-side product comparison pages that break down the details of what each solution offers in terms of pricing, applications, ease of use, support and more:

Top Salesforce Comparisons Top HubSpot Comparisons
Base vs. Salesforce
HubSpot vs. Salesforce
Salesforce vs. Oracle Siebel CRM
Salesforce vs. SAP CRM
HubSpot vs. Oracle Marketing Cloud (Eloqua)
HubSpot vs. Salesforce

CRM in Action: A Use Case

Let’s say you currently store customer contact information in Excel spreadsheets, appointments in a calendar and files in Dropbox, Google Drive or another document management tool. When someone calls, you have to toggle between each of these tools to figure out whether they’re a prospect or existing customer. Worse, you don’t immediately know if they’ve spoken to anyone else in your company. Past interactions might be trapped in someone’s inbox, paper notes or only in employees' memories.

Depending on where this caller is in the customer life cycle, not having this information in one place can lengthen their time to conversion, limit return sale possibilities or slow issue resolution.

If you had automation software in this scenario, you could simply pull up that account and see every meeting, phone or email conversation you or your team has ever had with that person, as well as past agreements and marketing materials sent. You might also see, for example, a contract attached to that opportunity that’s awaiting signature and a task for one of your sales reps to follow up. So you transfer the call.

Swiftpage_Act_Dashboard

A contact profile in Swiftpage ACT!

After the sales rep hangs up with the contact, he might close the task to follow up, then pick the next step in the process from a dropdown menu: “Did they return the contract?” The due date for this task is set for the next day, when the rep will receive an alert to follow up if the agreement isn’t returned.

You can see how this alternative scenario increases efficiency and productivity. And it prevents important activities from falling through the cracks. Managers benefit, too, by having ready access to reports that show key performance metrics and progress toward goals.

Infor CRM Welcome

Reporting dashboard in Infor CRM

This scenario described core functionality, but these technologies are also widely used in a broad range of CRM applications. Below is a brief explanation of each of these application types.

Common Functionality of CRM Software

When comparing CRM software solutions, it’s important to understand the functionality included in each. The most common functions in this type of software are listed in the table below:

Marketing Integration Lead management (including tools for lead generation, scoring and nurturing), email and event marketing, landing pages, Web and marketing analytics tools and campaign management.
Sales force automation Contact and opportunity management, workflow automation, territory management, sales forecasting, pipeline analysis and reporting.
Customer service & support Trouble ticketing, knowledge management and knowledge base systems, self-service solutions, case management, customer experience platforms, live chat and surveys.
Field service management Dispatching, scheduling, invoicing, inventory management and order management.
Call center automation Call routing, recording and monitoring; load balancing, call list management, autodialing, scripting, computer telephony integration (CTI) and interactive voice response (IVR).
Help desk automation Trouble ticketing, knowledge management, self-service, IT asset management, network management, service level agreement (SLA) management and remote control.
Channel management Lead and contact management, partner portals, partner relationship management and market development funds management.

Market Trends to Understand

As you compare CRM software, it’s important you keep the following industry trends in mind. 

Social CRM. The biggest trend is the convergence of customer relationship management and social networking technologies, loosely referred to as “Social CRM.” In fact, five top industry analysts have predicted this trend as having the biggest impact on how customer tracking software programs evolves.

Today, this intersection of social and client management software can be as simple as adding Facebook data to customer profiles. Or it can be more complex, with niche social media analytics products that tap into social APIs and generate leads, mine for customer sentiment or traffic and prioritize social customer service requests.

Radian6_Social_Dashboard

An example of a social media stream with contact details from Radian6

Mobile CRM. Mobile applications for customer relationship management are becoming increasingly sophisticated and popular. These tools don’t just port functions to a mobile interface—top CRM software vendors will offer apps that leverage the unique capabilities of mobile devices, such as GPS and voice (click here for a more detailed description of common iPad CRM features).

An outside sales rep could, for example, pull up a map of their current location and see pinpoints for accounts in that area. Or, a customer service rep might have the ability to speak a query into their mobile app, rather than try and type everything out on a tiny smartphone keyboard.

Pricing: Web-Based vs. On-Premise

In 1999, Salesforce.com entered the market as the first major player in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) CRM space. Today, a majority of CRM products—particularly those built for small businesses—are now SaaS solutions, though on-premise options still exist. The deployment method you choose should be a key consideration when conducting your CRM software comparison. Pricing between these two models usually (but not always) differs in the following ways:

  • Cloud-based software, also called Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), is typically priced on a subscription basis determined by the number of “seats” (sales reps, support agents, field technicians etc. who need to access the software). This type of software is housed off-site on servers managed by the software company. Because the software is delivered in a Web-browser, it can be a great option for Mac-based offices. For additional details on Mac CRM options, visit this guide.
  • On-premise customer management systems usually require purchasing a perpetual license upfront, with no recurring subscription cost. But users might also pay additionally for upgrades, customizations or maintenance. This software is housed on the buyers’ servers.

Recent Events You Should Know About

Everstone acquires C3. In October 2016, Indian equity fund Everstone Capital, along with co-investor Sunrise BPO, acquired US-based CRM solutions provider C3 (Customer Contact Channels) in a deal worth USD 150 million.

Freshdesk acquires Pipemonk. In January 2017, major CRM vendor Freshdesk bought Bangalore-based startup Pipemonk (which helps companies move data between cloud platforms) for an undisclosed amount.

Gartner notes CRM software market grew 12.3 percent. In May 2016, Julian Pouter, research director at Gartner, noted that the greater than 30 notable CRM acquisitions from 2015 had led to a 12.3 percent growth in the market.

Free Download:
CRM Software Pricing Guide

Free Download:
How to Assess CRM Vendors' Viability

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