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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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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
 
 
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
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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
 
 
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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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
 
 
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
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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
 
 
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
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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

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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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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
 
 
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
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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
 
 
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
 
 
Zendesk Sell (formerly Base) 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.... Read More
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Zendesk Sell (formerly Base) 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.... Read More
 
 
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

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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
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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
 
 
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
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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
 
 
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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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
 
 
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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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
 
 

SAM

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
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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

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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
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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
 
 
Bpm'online is a process-driven customer relationship management (CRM) solution for marketing, sales and service automation. The solution allows companies to manage the customer lifecycle from lead to sales and to ongoing customer service. The... Read More
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Bpm'online is a process-driven customer relationship management (CRM) solution for marketing, sales and service automation. The solution allows companies to manage the customer lifecycle from lead to sales and to ongoing customer service. The... Read More
 
 
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
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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
 
 
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
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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
 
 
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
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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
 

FrontRunners® for Customer Relationship Management, January 2017

Powered by Gartner Methodology

What Is the FrontRunners Quadrant?


A Graphic of the Top-Performing CRM 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 750 CRM 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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 4.0 for capability and 4.0 for 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, Salesforce is considered a Leader because it features a huge array of functionality, which can provide users with whatever aspect of CRM that will aid their business, from sales automation to marketing to customer service and help desk, and users rate its value to be very high. Bpm’online, on the other hand, is considered a Pacesetter because it focuses more intently on aligning marketing, sales and service functionality, but is not rated as highly by users in terms of value.

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 10 reviews and meet minimum user rating scores. They also have to offer a core set of functionality—for example, in CRM, they must offer a contact database that allows users to manage their list of customers, prospects and other contacts for purposes including customer service and sales and marketing automation.

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 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.

Buyer's Guide

by ,


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.
Ecommerce support Customer history storage and tracking, shipping preferences, related purchase suggestions, and functions related to the digital sales landscape.

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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