CRM Software

Software Advice has helped thousands of businesses choose the right CRM software to better manage and monetize their customer relationships.

The Salesforce cloud is an on-demand customer relationship management (CRM) suite offering applications for small, midsize and enterprise organizations, with a focus on sales and support. The Salesforce app has capabilities that... Read more

412 recommendations
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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 a suite. It helps small businesses across various industries deliver... Read more

361 recommendations
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HubSpot CRM

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

300 recommendations
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ActiveCampaign is an integrated marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) suite with a foundation in email marketing. Targeted towards small-to-midsize businesses, the software is designed to help organizations build their... Read more

234 recommendations
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FreeAgent CRM

FreeAgent CRM is a cloud-based sales, marketing and customer service platform that helps small businesses nurture quality customer relationships. The system works automatically by pairing with the user's email to create and classify... Read more

165 recommendations
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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

159 recommendations
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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

133 recommendations
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Thryv is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution designed for small businesses across various industry verticals. Features include appointment scheduling, billing and invoicing, contact management, reputation... Read more

127 recommendations
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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

85 recommendations
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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

58 recommendations
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Market Leader

Market Leader is a cloud-based marketing solution designed to manage customer relationships. The solution caters specifically to real estate industry vertical. Key features include a dashboard, multi-channel campaigns, content library,... Read more

50 recommendations
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Copper CRM (formerly ProsperWorks)

Copper 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 Copper solution... Read more

48 recommendations
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Funnel CRM

Funnel CRM is a cloud-based customer relationship management solution that caters to midsize and large businesses across various industries such as banking, advertising, technology, outsourcing and more. Key features include contact... Read more

40 recommendations
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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

31 recommendations
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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

27 recommendations
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Pipeliner CRM

Pipeliner CRM delivers dynamic visualization of the pipeline, sales process and sales activities. Its visual contact management allows users to gain a comprehensive view of their customers and prospects and even map out how they are... Read more

25 recommendations
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BNTouch Mortgage CRM

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

24 recommendations
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SAM is a cloud-based, fully integrated sales and marketing system. The main features of the system include email marketing, social marketing, content marketing, direct marketing, SEO, visibility, marketing intelligence and marketing... Read more

23 recommendations
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OnContact CRM

OnContact CRM is a mid-market customer relationship management (CRM) solution that can be deployed on-premise or in the cloud. OnContact includes complete sales automation, marketing automation, customer service and contact center... Read more

20 recommendations
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Freshsales is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution that helps businesses across different industry verticals to manage their interactions with existing and potential customers. Key features include one-click... Read more

19 recommendations
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Buyer's guide

Last Updated:

CRM Quick Summary

Customer relationship management (CRM) software helps automate and manage the customer life cycle of an organization. It is usually used by the customer-focused side of businesses to maintain contact with those customers and quickly respond to their needs.

Benefits of CRM Software

CRM software provides your business with several tangible benefits, including:

  • 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 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.

  • 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 software. Management can use 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.

Competitive Advantages of Using CRM Software

Whatever business you’re in, chances are you frequently have to deal with customers, prospects or other important contacts. When dealings with those contacts, CRM software gives you advantages over your competitors by helping you:

  • Scale your business. If you only have 100 contacts to deal with, then you might be able to keep all of their information straight using a simple Excel spreadsheet, or even pen and paper. Larger companies, however, deal with thousands or potentially millions of contacts and customers, which requires CRM software in order to keep that information well-organized and accessible.

  • Operate more efficiently. When everyone in your company has access to your customer and contact data, you can deal with those customers more efficiently and avoid the dangers of reaching out to contacts either too much or too little. You can also track those interactions and analyze that data for more efficient resource planning.

  • Compete with superior customer service. Staying in touch with your customers in just the right amount, and using the communication method they prefer, lets you stay on top of their needs and concerns in a way that stands out. Superior customer service, focused on providing the best possible customer experience, will allow you to seriously compete against other businesses.

Size of Businesses Using CRM Software

CRM systems are used by many businesses, across a variety of industries, so there’s no “typical” buyer, as it varies by industry. In general, though, you’ll fall into one of the following categories:

  • Single User. The smallest businesses consist of only one owner/employer, such as real estate agents, freelancers or independent contractors.

  • Small Business Buyer. These are companies with 2-100 employees that make under $50 million a year and have no IT department.

  • Mid-sized Business Buyer. These are also companies that have 2-100 employees and make under $50 million a year, but they do have an IT department.

  • Enterprise Business Buyer. These are large companies that have more than 100 employees, make more than $50 million a year, and have a dedicated IT department.

Software Related to CRM

CRM can be divided into several related subcategories of software, all of which focus on improving your relationship with your customers:

  • Sales Force Automation Software: helps companies manage their sales team’s activities, and helps the sales team to close more deals by keeping thorough, accurate records of their interactions with all sales prospects.

  • Marketing Automation Software: provides tools that helps marketers reach out to potential customers through a variety of channels, especially email, and tailor messages to them.

  • Customer Experience Software: combines frontline customer service applications, such as live chat and tools for self-service knowledge bases, with tools that connect departments in order to oversee individual customer experiences.

  • Help Desk Software: stores customer information in a searchable database, tracks interactions and automates the issue resolution process using an issue tracking system, for either external customers (consumers or businesses that have purchased goods or services from your company) or internal customers (employees).

  • Live Chat Software: allows companies to have real-time conversations with website visitors in order to improve customer service, help increase online sales and encourage repeat business by providing customers with precisely what they want.

What a Common CRM Software Feature List Looks Like

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

Sales force automation
Contact and opportunity management, sales forecasting, pipeline analysis and reporting.
Marketing integration
Lead management, email and event marketing, marketing analytics and campaign management.
Customer service & support
Trouble ticketing, self-service solutions, case management, customer experience platforms, live chat and surveys.
Help desk automation
Trouble ticketing, knowledge management, self-service and IT asset management.

Feature Details and Examples

Sales force automation: Sales force automation (SFA) provides you with the tools to streamline and manage your sales team’s performance, and gives your salespeople the ability to more efficiently track their prospects and customers with functions including contact management, lead management, opportunity management, pipeline management, forecasting and territory management.

Opportunity tracking in Salesforce.

Marketing integration: This feature allows you to automate your marketing campaigns through the CRM system. It enables you to attract new visitors and customers, score customers as leads that can be nurtured along the sales pipeline, deliver marketing and promotional materials through various channels (e.g., via email marketing, social media, etc.), obtain analytics about customers to improve marketing efforts and automate repetitive, time-consuming manual tasks.

InfusionSoft’s campaign builder page.

Customer service & support: Customer service & support functionality consists of a set of tools that enables you to cater to your customers’ needs by tracking their various interactions with your company in order to focus on creating the best possible customer experience for each individual. Specifically, it allows customer service representatives to document, route, track, resolve and report on customer issues via a trouble ticketing system, using tools such as live chat, customer self service, and multichannel management.

TeamSupport’s customer management page.

Help desk automation: Help desk automation is similar to customer service & support, in that it focuses on creating the best possible individual customer experience. However, it is more focused on resolving information technology (IT) issues, and the “customer” may be either external or internal (i.e. employees needing help with IT issues). Help desk automation involves the creation of an electronic ticket that customer service representatives track and associate with customer profiles that include contact information and, potentially, purchase history or assets.

Freshdesk’s ticket summary page.

Buyers’ Top-Requested CRM Features

The buyers we’ve helped at Software Advice tend to be looking for some of the more basic aspects of CRM systems. Their top-requested features, by far, are contact management, interaction tracking, and scheduling/reminders, all defining features of CRM software.

The more specialized a feature gets, the less buyers tend to request them.

Most Desired CRM Software Features

What CRM Software Features You Really Need

Certain CRM features are more critical depending upon your business’ stage of growth. Here are some of the most crucial features for different business sizes (see “Types of Businesses Using CRM Software” for definition of business sizes):

Single User
Contact Database This helps you manage and track your interactions with clients and customers, saving time by eliminating the need for complex spreadsheets or track your contacts through pen and pencil.
Small Business Buyer
Sales Force Automation This helps you manage sales activities down to individual sales reps. It can also generate forecasts and provide insight into your sales pipeline.
Mid-sized Business Buyer
Marketing Automation This helps automate your lead generation and nurturing funnels, as well as providing you insights and help with targeted marketing campaigns.
Enterprise Business Buyer
Customer Service Functionality This will allow your customer service representatives to fully track and manage the customer journey and make sure they’re being met with the proper amount of care and individuality along the way.

Pricing Guide

How CRM Software is Priced and Hosted

CRM software is typically hosted online and licensed out to companies on a “per user, per month” basis, alongside one-time implementation costs. Some vendors may have a flat monthly fee, regardless of the number of users, though it varies between different market segments (for example, sales force automation is almost universally sold per user/month, while marketing automation often is sold via a flat monthly fee) and is increasingly uncommon.

The per user/month costs across the market average from around $50-$90 per user/month, depending upon required functionality, though it can also be much cheaper ($25 per user/month) and much more expensive ($200-$300 per user/month) amongst varying vendors.

The flat monthly fees for more specialized systems tend to be more more expensive, starting at around $200/month, but can scale up to around $3000-$4000/month for more robust systems.

What Businesses Typically Budget for CRM

Based on an analysis of the CRM software buyers we speak to here at Software Advice, business budgets for CRM systems vary widely. The highest percentage of buyers, about a quarter, budget for $100-195 per user, per month, while only 3%, are willing to budget more than $300/user/month.

Please note that these prices do not include any potential up-front fees, such as installation and training.

Budget for CRM Software

Hidden Costs of CRM Software

Because it is such a staple of so many industries and businesses, CRM software vendors make their money more through volume than through nickel-and-diming customers. As such, there are few hidden costs, with one notable exception: implementation.

The majority of CRM systems can run without dedicated IT support, either internally or from the vendor, so extra costs come out of paying the vendor to install the software and provide training sessions for key users. Depending on the vendor and the system, this cost can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.


What are the key functions of CRM software?

As discussed in “Benefits of CRM Software” above, CRM software provides several key functions for your business, including:

  • Contact management. Manage and store customer, client and prospect data so you can contact them at the right time using their preferred method of outreach.

  • Interaction tracking. Keep detailed notes on each employee’s interaction with customers, clients and prospects for the future use of all people at your company.

  • Workflow automation. Create task lists, reminders, calendars, alerts and templates that will help streamline your dealings with customers.

  • Reporting and Analytics. Generate reports that track and analyze the performance and productivity of your company and employees based on the data in the CRM system.

What should I ask vendors when evaluating CRM products?

When evaluating CRM vendors, don’t just rely on the information they provide. Request a demo, where a representative walks you through the software and its various features.

However, don’t let this demo just be a sales pitch. Be sure to ask important questions, such as:

  • What parts of the software do users most frequently report problems with?

    • Don’t just focus on functions vendors rave about, but ask what tends to be challenging for users. This will also enable you to gauge just how frank the representative is willing to be with you about their product.

  • What are the set-up costs for the software?

    • Most vendors will price CRM software based on a “per user, per month” model, but there are frequently up-front costs that come with implementation.

  • How likely are we to require tech support in order to set up, implement and/or use the software?

    • If you have a small or no IT department, it will be important to know whether or not you’ll require (potentially costly) tech support in order to implement and maintain the software.

  • How easy will it be to add features at a later date?

    • As you become more familiar with a given system, you may want to add more complex functions, like marketing integration or reporting and analytics. Check to see whether there are any hidden costs or challenges in adding features later on.

What’s the difference between Marketing Automation and Salesforce Automation?

CRM vendors offer a lot of applications with their products, and jargon is common to describe them. We’ve demystified much of this in our article, The ABCs of CRM: A CRM Terminology Primer.

What if my company doesn’t differentiate between sales and marketing?

Many companies these days have sales and marketing teams that communicate with such frequency that they often function as one unit, an alignment called “smarketing.” You can find out how this influences software choice in our article, How “Smarketing” Paired With Software Can Help Align Sales and Marketing.

How do I get my team to Adopt CRM Software?

One of the biggest challenges of purchasing CRM software is getting your team to use it, especially sales teams who are often attached to practices they don’t want to interrupt with new technology.

To help with this, we created a series of articles all about CRM implementation. You can link to individual articles here:

What Are Some Drawbacks I Should Watch Out For?

CRM software isn’t a magic cure-all for companies that have problems due to their own dysfunctional work processes or poor corporate hygiene. Some businesses think that buying software will fix a disorganized sales team or inexperienced marketing department, but in reality the software may just scale up and exacerbate those already-existent problems.

For CRM software to work for your company, you need to make sure that the teams and individuals who will use that software are equipped to deal with the increased customer base that the software has the potential to bring on board.

Tips & Tools

Build a Business Case for CRM Software

Purchasing CRM software will have a solid return-on-investment (ROI) for your business. You can use this ROI as a selling point when trying to justify the purchase price, as we outline in detail in our article How to Build a Business Case for CRM Software.

Relevant Articles

Here are some recent articles you should check out about CRM software:

Popular CRM System Comparisons

Recent Events in the CRM Market

Here are some important recent events concerning CRM vendors and the world of CRM software:

  • 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.

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

FrontRunners® for Customer Relationship Management, August 2018

FrontRunners Vendors Defined

Take this short survey so we can help you identify the products that best fit your needs.

What Is the FrontRunners Quadrant?

A Graphic of the Top-Rated Customer Relationship Management Products

FrontRunners uses real reviews from real software users to highlight the top software products for North American small businesses.

Our goal is to help small businesses to make more informed decisions about what software is right for them. That’s why we engineered FrontRunners.

To create this report, we evaluated over 315 Customer Relationship Management (CRM) products. Only those with the top scores for Usability and User Recommended made the cut as FrontRunners.


Scores are based on reviews from real software users.

What’s the Difference Between the “Small Vendor” and “Enterprise Vendor” Views?

The Different Graphics Show Different Sizes of Vendors

Small and Enterprise refer to the size of the software vendor company—not necessarily the size of customers they serve.

We break vendors into two groups for two reasons: It’s a more equal comparison of products, and software buyers have told us it’s helpful.

To determine who’s Small and who’s Enterprise, we look at how many employees the vendors have. All products in FrontRunners, whether Enterprise or Small, are evaluated using the same process.

Each graphic shows the top 10-15 performers for each the Enterprise and Small vendor categories. You can switch views simply by clicking on the version you’d like to see (above the graphic). You can read more in the full FrontRunners methodology here.

How Are FrontRunners Products Selected?

Products Are Scored Based on User Reviews

The gist is that products are scored in two areas—Usability and User Recommended—based on actual user ratings.

To be considered at all, products must have at least 20 reviews published within the previous 18 months, and meet minimum user rating scores. They also have to offer a core set of functionality—for example, contact management, interaction tracking and lead management, to enable companies to better keep track of and manage their customers.

From there, user reviews dictate the Usability and User Recommended scores. Usability is plotted on the x-axis and User Recommended on the y-axis.

You can download the full FrontRunners for CRM Software report here. It contains individual scorecards for each product on the Frontrunners quadrant.

Got It. But What if I Have More Questions?

Check Out Our Additional Resources!

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 by calling (844) 687-6771—it’s quick, free, and there’s no obligation.

For more information about FrontRunners, check out the following:

  • The “FrontRunners FAQs for Technology Providers,” linked at the top of this page, for detailed answers to commonly-asked questions. 
  • The complete FrontRunners methodology to understand the scoring.
  • For information on how to reference FrontRunners, check out the FrontRunners External Usage Guidelines. Except in digital media with character limitations, the following disclaimer MUST appear with any/all FrontRunners reference(s) and graphic use: 

FrontRunners constitute the subjective opinions of individual end-user reviews, ratings, and data applied against a documented methodology; they neither represent the views of, nor constitute an endorsement by, Software Advice or its affiliates.