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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Keap

Keap (formerly Infusionsoft) is a cloud-based sales and marketing solution that offers customer relationship management (CRM), marketing automation, and e-commerce functionalities in one suite. Keap helps small businesses across v... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 184 recommendations

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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. Th... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 168 recommendations

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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 streamli... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 90 recommendations

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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, manu... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 78 recommendations

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HubSpot Sales Hub

Supercharge your sales process with Sales Hub, a powerful and easy to use sales CRM that includes sales engagement tools, configure-price-quote (CPQ) functionality, and robust sales analytics and reporting for growing teams. Optim... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 49 recommendations

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FreeAgent CRM

FreeAgent CRM is a customer relationship management platform with robust work management capabilities. It helps teams get everything on a unified platform, collaborate on various projects and track and improve operational performa... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 41 recommendations

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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 conta... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 38 recommendations

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Skynamo

Designed for manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors, Skynamo is an all-in-one mobile-friendly field sales platform that allows field teams to easily capture orders and access accurate product and pricing information from any... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 34 recommendations

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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 tha... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 33 recommendations

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TOP PRODUCER

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. Bui... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 30 recommendations

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Ontraport

Ontraport provides a customer relationship management (CRM) system for small and growing businesses looking to automate marketing and sales efforts. The solution includes tools for email marketing, lead scoring, lead nurturing, le... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 21 recommendations

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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 CR... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 15 recommendations

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Copper

Copper is an easy-to-use CRM for small- and medium-sized businesses that need a better way to manage leads & grow customer relationships. If you don't have time for data entry, tedious admin tasks, or overly complex tools, Copper ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 13 recommendations

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BNTouch Mortgage CRM

BNTouch Mortgage CRM is a fully integrated digital mortgage system, CRM, marketing, and POS tool offering a comprehensive mortgage business growth platform for loan officers and mortgage companies. BNTouch Mortgage CRM includ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 13 recommendations

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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. iHomefinde... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 11 recommendations

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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 man... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 10 recommendations

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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. BenchmarkON... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 9 recommendations

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SugarCRM

SugarCRM is a cloud-based application for handling sales automation, marketing automation, account management and customer relationship management needs. SugarCRM offers features such as customizable home pages, a new-user "wizard... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 8 recommendations

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CreamSoda

CreamSoda is a CRM tool built for B2B sellers and buyers. This solution provides tracking and notification tools to streamline the shipping process for sellers. Product buyers can also use CreamSoda to identify the best prices, qu... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 8 recommendations

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Quickbase

Quick Base is a low-code application development platform that enables organizations to unite information, people, and workflows within distribution in a single, cloud-based platform. Unlike traditional software solutions, Quick B... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 7 recommendations

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Buyers guide


Last Updated: April 20, 2021

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.