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Insightly CRM provides businesses with a way to manage projects and track contacts, communications, sales, projects, tasks and documents in a single platform. It is available via the Web and on mobile devices. Designed to integrate... Read More
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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
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ProsperWorks CRM

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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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
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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
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Pipedrive is a web-based Sales CRM and pipeline management solution that enables businesses to plan their sales activities and monitor deals. Built using activity-based selling methodology, Pipedrive streamlines every action involved... Read More
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Freshsales is a sales automation solution offering multi-platform capabilities including a native app for iPhone and iPad.  Included in the system is a one-click phone; no additional hardware or software is needed to use this feature.... Read More
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Zoho CRM

Zoho offers a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution tailored to the needs of small and midsized businesses. Its interface includes CRM tools such as sales and marketing automation, customer support and a help... Read More
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Nutshell is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) software for small businesses. The Nutshell platform offers sales process and collaboration tools, email sync with Gmail and Outlook, reporting and more to outbound sales... Read More
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Accelo is a web-based Service Operations Automation (ServOps) solution that allows users to manage all client-related activities. This system is suitable for organization of all sizes. Accelo automatically sends template emails, creates... Read More
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Gold-Vision CRM

Gold-Vision is a customer relationship management (CRM) solution that includes modules for sales, marketing, support, projects and events. Suitable for organizations of all sizes, it can be installed both on-premise and in the cloud. The... Read More
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Really Simple Systems

Really Simple Systems CRM is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) system designed for small and midsize organizations. The solution comes in both free and paid editions. The free edition offers only sales force automation... Read More
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Established in 1993, SalesAchiever has since grown to offer one of the leading CRM solutions for the construction industry. Typically used by contractors, architects, property developers and building products manufacturers and suppliers,... Read More
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Teamgate CRM

Teamgate is an inbound sales customer relationship management (CRM) solution for startups and small to midsize businesses. It helps users research, present and manage sales. Teamgate offers lead sourcing, and also enables users to... Read More
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Act! Premium

Act! Premium offers growing businesses a solution that brings together contacts, account history, notes, and activities into a single, centralized location. Instead of relying on multiple systems, spreadsheets, or documents, users... Read More
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Logicbox CRM

Logicbox is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution that is suitable for small to midsize businesses in a variety of industries. It offers a suite of standard CRM functions that can be configured to incorporate... Read More
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Less Annoying CRM

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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Claritysoft is a 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 a single solution. Claritysoft... 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
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Daylite from Marketcircle, Inc. enables users to manage many business aspects from a single application. It prioritizes projects and opportunities to provide visibility over short and long-term goals of the company, then organizes... Read More
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Blitz is a customer relationship management solution for small to mid-sized businesses. Professionals in a variety of industries use Blitz, including real estate agents, mortgage brokers, and non-profits. In addition to its standalone... Read More
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AgentCubed provides lead management and CRM solutions specific to those in the insurance industry. It helps users automate workflows, manage the relationship and generate leads by skills-based routing. The solution is cloud-based... Read More
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AddressTwo is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution developed by small business owners. It helps teams manage their contacts, leads, follow-up tasks and other sales and marketing activities. Applications included... Read More
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Auric Prospector

Auric Prospector is a customer relationship management (CRM) platform that can be deployed either in the cloud or on-premise. It is suitable for small and midsized businesses across a wide range of industries. The solution allows... Read More
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InfoFlo is an integrated CRM solution that can be accessed online or installed on-premise. The system provides contact management, computer telephony integration, marketing and sales automation, and customer support. Users also have... Read More
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Capsule is a Web-based CRM application that enables small and midsize organizations to keep track of the people and organizations they do business with, along with their interactions and opportunities in the sales pipeline. Capsule... Read More
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Infusionsoft is a cloud-based sales and marketing platform that brings Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Marketing Automation, and E-Commerce together in one centralized system, so small businesses can deliver personalized sales... Read More
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NICE inContact Hosted Call Center

NICE inContact is a SaaS-based call center software that helps businesses to maximizes the quality of leads and minimizes the cost of client interaction. The solution comprises of many features required to process inbound support requests... Read More
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Maximizer CRM

Maximizer CRM is an integrated customer relationship management (CRM) solution suitable for organizations of all sizes across various industries. This solution can be deployed on both on-premise and in the cloud. Maximizer CRM features... 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
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Cosential is a cloud-based CRM and proposal automation tool that allows business developers, marketers and principles to access and act upon the information specific to their role that compliments cross-functional workflows. The solution... Read More
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PlanPlus Online

PlanPlus Online uses the Franklin Covey business planning methodology to help organizations and professionals in real estate, insurance and finance sectors manage both time and customers. The system provides an all-in-one solution... Read More
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Mothernode CRM

Mothernode CRM is a SaaS-based CRM solution designed to help small and midsized businesses manage customer relationships and create effective sales process. With Mothernode CRM, individuals and sales teams alike have a system that... Read More
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Lasso CRM

Designed to support the unique needs of the homebuilding industry, Lasso CRM is a complete customer relationship management solution that helps developers, new home sales agencies and builders market and sell their developments. This... Read More
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Ascend - Physician Relationship Management System

Ascend is a physician relationship management application that helps healthcare organizations grow and discover new referral volume opportunities. The application combines physician profiles with business intelligence data and offers... Read More
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Web+Center is a suite of open source, customizable help desk solutions for IT organizations in almost any industry. The web-based help desk application can be run on-site or in the cloud. With access to 100% of the source code, organizations... Read More
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Offering multi-channel customer support, Freshdesk brings together every customer conversation into a centralized interface, helping customer support agents address and resolve trouble tickets. Whether the interaction occurs over... Read More
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Five9 Cloud Contact Center

Five9 Call Center software enables agents to manage inbound, outbound, blended or multi-channel contact centers.  The smart dialer features help agents handle their live prospects. An intelligent routing tool routes calls to agents... Read More
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Prophet CRM

Prophet CRM from Avidian is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) application that can be integrated with Microsoft Outlook for extending Outlook's functionalities. The solution enables multiple sales teams to unify... Read More
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Soffront CRM

Soffront CRM is a Customer Relationship Management solution for small to mid-size companies. Soffront CRM helps businesses streamline and optimize all customer-related activity across the enterprise: marketing automation, sales force... Read More
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Built on cutting-edge technology, SmartSupport by Safeharbor is a comprehensive, plug-and-play knowledge base platform that is scalable to companies of all sizes. Safeharbor has more than a decade of experience as a leader in knowledge... Read More
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JobNimbus is a cloud-based integrated CRM and project management solution suitable for small and midsize businesses. The solution allows companies to manage their contacts, tasks and projects along with detailed reporting capabilities. With... Read More
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Socious Online Community

Socious is a leading provider of private online community software, and is perfect for mid-sized and enterprise-level businesses, user groups, and nonprofit organizations. Founded in 2002, Socious began by primarily serving technology... Read More
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TeamSupport is a B2B customer support software that helps teams collaborate together by eliminating miscommunications, improving customer communication and swiftly addressing client issues. TeamSupport has several key features that... Read More
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SalesOutlook CRM

SalesOutlook CRM is a comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) and email marketing system that embeds into Microsoft Outlook. SalesOutlook CRM automatically syncs all customer data at one place. All files and email correspondence... Read More
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CallProof is a sophisticated CRM system with a host of features that effectively organizes all facets of the sales process, from lead tracking to reporting. This system is fully web-based, and is optimized for companies that utilize... Read More
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amoCRM’s sales management service is a web based platform available anywhere with an Internet connection. Users of the system can manage their pipeline, sales team and receive analytic feedback and reports. In addition, users can... Read More
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Contractor's Cloud

Contractor's Cloud is an online sales and lead management software for contractors, providing a variety of features including lead management, estimating, work order scheduling, material order scheduling, commission tracking, invoicing,... Read More
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Canary AMS

Catering to insurance agencies and agents, TechCanary delivers advanced software solutions that address the industry’s specific needs. Their core product, Canary AMS, is more than an Agency Management System (AMS), it also has a... Read More
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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
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Buyer's Guide

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.

Top Products - August 2017 FrontRunners

Our FrontRunners™ Quadrant

To create this quadrant, we evaluated over 1,000 CRM products. Only the top 25 to 30 products made the quadrant because they scored highest in capability (x axis) and value (y axis). Those 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). You can download the full FrontRunners for Customer Relationship Management report here.

Small businesses should use FrontRunners to make more informed decisions about which software is right for them. See our About FrontRunners page for more information.