Finding software can be overwhelming. Software Advice has helped hundreds of startups select the right CRM software to increase growth while improving customer relationships.

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Zendesk Sell

Zendesk Sell (formerly Base) is the web and mobile-based customer relationship management application that allows B2B and B2C sales professionals to manage sales, track leads and engage proactively with customers from anywhere. The... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 128 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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NetSuite CRM

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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Recent recommendations: 88 recommendations

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Deployments: Cloud
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HubSpot Sales Hub

HubSpot Sales is a cloud-based sales automation software designed to build, automate and accelerate the sales process. The solution allows sales personnel to connect with promising leads and convert them into successful deals. HubSpot... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 83 recommendations

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Deployments: Cloud
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FreeAgent CRM

FreeAgent CRM delivers a next-gen work experience on a customizable cloud-based platform help teams unlock productivity and grow sales effortlessly.  Stay in the zone, with AI-guided selling. See only what you need when you need... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 60 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Salesforce Sales Cloud

The Salesforce Sales Cloud is an on-demand CRM platform offering applications for small, midsize, and enterprise organizations, with a focus on sales and customer relationships. This Salesforce platform has CRM capabilities that include... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 46 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Thryv

Thryv is an all-in-one business management solution designed to help small businesses with essential business functions. With Thryv, business owners can expand their online presence, improve any customer relationship, and streamline... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 38 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Top Producer Systems

Top Producer is a web-based CRM system suited for agents or brokerages in the Real Estate industry. The system helps agents personalize follow up and manage clients from initial contact, to long-term repeat and referrals. Build your... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 33 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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SalesNOW

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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Recent recommendations: 33 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
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Zoho

Zoho CRM is a cloud-based business management platform that caters to businesses of all sizes. It offers sales and marketing automation tools with helpdesk, analytics and customer support functions. Zoho CRM helps users respond to... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 29 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Claritysoft

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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Recent recommendations: 22 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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iHomefinder

iHomefinder is a CRM and marketing solution designed for real estate agents, teams, and brokerages. With marketing automation tools, this solution enables real estate agents to save time while generating business leads. iHomefinder... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 21 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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LeadMaster

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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Recent recommendations: 18 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Shape

Shape's cloud-based solution offers tools designed to manage online marketing and promotions, capture leads from online sources, organize sales pipelines, connect with customers and automate everyday tasks. Shape is suitable for businesses... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 17 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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BenchmarkONE

BenchmarkONE (formerly 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. BenchmarkONE... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 16 recommendations

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Deployments: Cloud
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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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Recent recommendations: 13 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
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OpPlan

OpPlan is a SaaS solution that enables businesses of all sizes to streamline processes related to sales, benchmarking, forecasting, team collaboration, customer relationship management and more. Salespersons can utilize the platform... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 12 recommendations

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Nutshell

Nutshell is a sneaky powerful cloud-based CRM and sales automation tool for small businesses. The Nutshell platform offers sales process and collaboration tools, email sync with Gmail and Outlook, fully customizable reporting, and... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 11 recommendations

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kvCORE

KvCORE is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) platform designed for modern brokerage companies in the real estate industry. Upcoming and leading independent brokerage firms can utilize KvCore's platform to close the... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 11 recommendations

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Sales Creatio

Creatio (formerly bpm’online) is a unique synergy of unified CRM and intelligent BPM platform for marketing, sales and service automation. The solution allows midsize and large companies to manage the customer lifecycle from lead... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 10 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
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BNTouch Mortgage CRM

Grow your mortgage business, free up time, automate your marketing and put together a digital mortgage experience for your borrowers, all from one central hub. With BNTouch Mortgage CRM you can build a website, utilize a digital 1003,... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 10 recommendations

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Buyers guide


Last Updated: July 3, 2020

Startups—they're not just the youngest members of the business world. Their new ideas and limitless potential draw a lot of attention. And while it's easy to poke fun at their button-down cultures, the truth is: startups regularly face some of the business world's toughest and most high-stakes decisions. Fortune 500 companies rarely encounter make-or-break decisions. For a startup, every decision can be make or break.

The selection of a CRM system is one of the most important decisions a startup can make. It's also one of the most challenging. This Buyer's Guide helps startups meet these challenges by answering and explaining the following:

What Is CRM for Startups?
A Comparison of Top CRM for Startups Solutions
Common Features of CRM for Startups
Deployment and Purchasing Options for CRM for Startups

What Is CRM for Startups?

CRM software comes in more shapes and sizes than probably any other genre of enterprise software. Aside from all-purpose CRM, there's CRM for small businesses, CRM specifically for retail establishments, for banks, insurance agencies and even casinos. That's a lot to consider!

But what about startups? That's where things get complicated. It's easy to see how banks, insurance agencies and casinos would have different requirements for CRM. After all, their Cs (customers) are different, and their Rs (relationship with their customers) are different, so it's no surprise that they'd be managed differently as well.

Collage of CRM vendor logos

A handful of vendors representing the tip of the CRM iceberg

But "startup" is a stage of growth, not an industry vertical. So unlike with banking and insurance, there's no way to generalize about the typical startup customer or a startup's typical relationship with a customer. Those things don't exist.

Instead, CRM for startups is software that caters to the particular needs of companies in the early stages of growth. Those particular needs can be generalized, so let's do that! Startups generally do best with CRM software that:

  • Prioritizes usability with intuitive UIs and workflows, allowing staff to get up to speed with minimal training or interruption
  • Is highly scalable, working equally well with a dozen or a thousand customers
  • Is flexible enough (through customizations, modules or add-ons) to pivot when the startup pivots and support changes in company strategy and policy (rather than hinder them)

With those priorities in mind, let's look now at some specific functionality.

A Comparison of Top CRM for Startups Solutions

Top Infusionsoft Comparisons Top Marketo Comparisons Top Pipedrive Comparisons
Infusionsoft vs. Ontraport
Infusionsoft vs. HubSpot
Infusionsoft vs. Salesforce
Marketo vs. Eloqua Pipedrive vs. Zoho
Pipedrive vs. Base
Pipedrive vs. Salesforce

Common Features of CRM for Startups

Despite the great variation among CRM products, most will include some or all of the following core applications:

Customer database Central repository that stores customer information, such as contact details and any records (e.g., purchase orders, RFPs) associated with that customer's account.
Interaction tracking Tracks customer interactions (usually across multiple channels) providing records of past interactions and reminders (scheduled or triggered) for following up.
Workflow automation Reduces the number of steps required for specific and commonly repeated processes, saving employees time and reducing errors and omissions.
Reporting and analytics CRM platforms typically provide many basic data visualization tools, such as graphic reports (for example, of sales activity) and real-time dashboards to monitor KPIs and metrics.

Generally speaking, CRM software is used by any and all of a company's customer-facing departments, mainly sales, marketing and customer service. So, in addition to the core functions listed above, here are some other applications that can be included with CRM, organized by department:

  • Marketing: Including email marketing, event marketing, campaign management. Can also include tools for lead management, such as lead scoring and lead nurturing.
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  • Sales: Including contact and opportunity management, workflow automation, territory management, sales forecasting, pipeline analysis and reporting.
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  • Customer service: Including tools for trouble ticketing, knowledge management and knowledge base systems, self-service solutions, customer experience, live chat and opinion and feedback surveys.

Startups rely on CRM software to provide the customer experiences that improve metrics such as customer acquisition and churn rates. If those metrics don't turn heads, then the startup risks losing financial backing. A startup's success with a CRM implementation comes down to how well it can select and use the tools listed above to improve their key metrics.

Deployment and Purchasing Options for CRM for Startups

Software as a Service, or SaaS, is cloud-based software, meaning the software is hosted remotely. Compared to the traditional model of on-premise deployment—in which the software is installed on the business's own servers—SaaS is the more popular choice for most startups. It offers several benefits, including:

  • Much lower initial cost. SaaS CRM is typically priced on a per user basis. So if your startup is young and small and will only have two employees using the CRM, then the company only pays for two licenses, and more can be added as the company grows.
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  • Simpler IT infrastructure. On-premise CRM installations can require a company to purchase additional hardware (servers, networking equipment). With SaaS, the software can be used from any computer with internet access.
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  • Easier maintenance and security. On-premise software needs to be manually updated, while SaaS gets updated by the vendor behind the scenes. SaaS CRM platforms usually have cutting-edge IT security protocols built into the platform, but the IT security for on-premise software is the responsibility of the business itself.

Aside from those deployment options, CRM for startups usually offers several different purchasing choices. As mentioned above, SaaS is usually priced on a per user basis. There are also various freemium, free and open source and free trial options:

Freemium vs. open source vs. free trial software

A CRM purchase is one of the most important decisions a company can make—it affects many of the most important moving pieces of business in the modern world. It not only helps determine how customers perceive a particular company (i.e., the customer experience), it also determines how efficiently and effectively customer-facing employees carry out their roles.

With all this in mind, startups are encouraged to choose their CRM carefully. Take advantage of the online demonstrations vendors offer, talk to the employees who will use it and consider trying the free trials offered by the vendors on your shortlist.

Of course if you need any help starting your search, completing your shortlist or setting up demonstrations or free trials, give our advisors a call at: (844) 852-3639.