What Is The Best Crm For Small Business?

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are not just tools for enterprises; they are equally essential for small businesses and they can give you a competitive edge to boost productivity, sales, and growth.

For small business owners, harnessing the power of a CRM system means having a comprehensive view of customer interactions, tracking every sale and service request, and implementing strategic data-driven decisions.

With a potential 700% return on offer, there’s little to lose and a lot to gain from exploring small business CRMs and what they might offer.

Table of Contents


  • CRMs benefit all small businesses, offering solutions from customer data management to full-scale automation of marketing campaigns.
  • Eliminating manual spreadsheets and automating workflows and marketing activities, CRMs free up staff, tighten sales activities and give instant access to business performance.
  • With free options up to feature-rich enterprise plans, CRMs are accessible to all businesses.

What is a CRM?

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is designed to help businesses understand, connect with, and support customers. It centralizes, streamlines, and automates the various interactions between the business and each customer.

Here’s a breakdown of a CRM systems functions:

  1. Central repository: A CRM organizes all customer information—names, contact details, purchase history, and preferences—in one place. This centralization makes information easily accessible to everyone on the team.
  2. Sales management: The system enables the sales team to track new leads, prospects, and opportunities, providing a detailed map of the sales terrain.
  3. Customer support: The CRM assists the support team by logging customer interactions, requests, and complaints. It then acts like a support agent’s playbook, ensuring consistent and efficient responses.
  4. Marketing integration: With a CRM, marketing efforts can be more targeted and effective. It introduces functions that would otherwise require a seasoned marketing strategist, such as analyzing patterns and suggesting optimal approaches.
  5. Analytics and insights: It offers a lens to see the big picture through detailed reports and analytics, acting like a business analyst identifying trends, measuring performance, and offering insights.
  6. Collaboration and efficiency: A CRM ensures that different teams work together smoothly, having access to the same up-to-date information. Insights and activities from one department inform and complement another. All efforts are aligned, and departments are de-siloed.
  7. Customizable and scalable: As a business grows, the CRM can adapt to specific needs and industry requirements. It’s a flexible system that fits both present and future needs.

How a Small Business CRM Addresses Small Business Needs

Small businesses face unique challenges that can impact their growth and success, including:

  • Limited resources 
  • Customer engagement 
  • Sales and marketing alignment 
  • Data management 
  • Compliance and security 

A CRM system is designed to minimize or eliminate these challenges by introducing the following capabilities.

  1. Efficient resource management: CRM systems save time and effort by centralizing information and automating tasks, making the most of limited resources.
  2. Enhanced customer engagement: These platforms also provide tools to understand customer needs and preferences, so you can personalized interactions that foster loyalty.
  3. Coordinated sales and marketing: CRM tools help align sales and marketing strategies. This means you can promote seamless lead generation, conversion, and efficient collaboration.
  4. Consistent data management: A CRM creates a unified platform for all customer data, reducing inconsistencies and improving communication within the team.
  5. Streamlined compliance and security: Need to keep your legal ducks in a row? Many CRMs include features to assist with regulatory compliance and secure data handling, simplifying these complex aspects.

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Tailoring a CRM to meet these specific business needs

Not all small businesses are the same, and their challenges may vary based on industry, size, and specific goals. CRM companies understand this and, as a result, offer solutions that let businesses fit their CRM to their needs. Consider the following.

  1. Customizable features: Many CRM systems offer customizable modules that can be adapted to suit particular business processes or industry needs.
  2. Scalability: As the business grows, the CRM must grow with it. Businesses expecting expansion must seek a system that will scale without unnecessary complexity or cost.
  3. Third-party integrations: Other essential business tools, such as accounting software, email marketing platforms like Mailchimp, or eCommerce systems, can be integrated with certain CRMs to create a seamless workflow.
  4. User-friendly design: A CRM should be easy to use for all team members, regardless of their technical expertise. A user-friendly design ensures everyone can benefit from the system without extensive training.

Features to Consider in a CRM

Now that we’ve covered the basics of CRM software, you may be asking: which platform is right for your business? Before we discuss the top providers in the market, let’s first cover the key capabilities to look for in your CRM solution. 

Contact management

One of the foundational elements of a CRM is contact management. It allows for easy access to customer contact details, preferences, and purchase history, allowing businesses to create informed and personalized interactions.

Sales tracking

Sales tracking in a CRM is like having a bird’s eye view of the sales pipeline. It enables you to monitor leads, prospects, and opportunities at every stage, allowing for more accurate sales forecasting. Sales teams can focus their efforts efficiently, nurturing leads to conversion and maximizing sales opportunities.

Customer support integration

Company reputations thrive or die by their customer service. CRM systems integrating customer support allow seamless handling of customer inquiries, complaints, or feedback. By logging all interactions, your support team can provide consistent and timely responses, and this feedback can be used to inform better customer support solutions.

Marketing automation

Automating marketing efforts can be a game-changer for a small business. Marketing automation can send targeted email campaigns, schedule social media posts, and manage campaigns based on customer segmentation.

Reporting and analytics

Insights drive informed decisions. A CRM with robust reporting and analytics capabilities provides a comprehensive view of customer behavior, sales trends, and marketing effectiveness. Through visual dashboards and detailed reports, businesses can identify patterns, measure performance, and make data-driven decisions that align with their goals.

Mobile accessibility

In a world where business happens on the go, cloud-based mobile accessibility is a must. It empowers teams to be responsive and agile, adapting to fast-paced demands while on the road. 

10 Best Small Business CRM Solutions

HubSpot CRM

Known for its robust free version, HubSpot CRM offers a comprehensive set of tools with dedicated sales CRM, marketing CRM, and customer service CRM.


  • Excellent integration with other HubSpot products
  • User-friendly interface
  • Generous free tier
  • Robust marketing capabilities in its enterprise plan


  • Limited customization
  • Advanced features require paid plans

Best for:

Startups and small businesses looking for free entry-level CRM. Or enterprise companies seeking one of the most robust marketing CRM solutions.


Bigin by Zoho is designed specifically for small businesses, focusing on simplicity and easy navigation.


  • Intuitive user interface
  • Affordable pricing
  • Customizable dashboards


  • Limited advanced features
  • Fewer integration options

Best for:

Small businesses needing basic CRM functionality without complexity.

Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM is Zoho’s original product, offering a complete customer engagement platform with an impressive range of features, making it suitable for both small and medium-sized businesses.


  • Extensive customization options
  • Artificial intelligence features
  • Integrates well with other Zoho products


  • Interface may seem less modern
  • Some features may require a learning curve

Best for:

Businesses looking for AI-driven insights and integration with a broad suite of tools.


Salesforce is a leading name in CRM, providing a highly customizable platform with a vast array of features.


  • Extensive functionality
  • Highly customizable
  • Large Android & iOS mobile app marketplace


  • Can be overwhelming for small businesses
  • Expensive for full-feature access

Best for:

Growing businesses that need scalability and in-depth CRM capabilities.


Pipedrive emphasizes sales management and is known for its visual pipeline management tool.


  • Excellent sales tracking
  • User-friendly design
  • Customizable pipeline stages with activity notifications
  • Email templates


  • Limited customer support options
  • Fewer features for marketing

Best for:

Sales teams needing clear visualization of sales processes.

FreshSales (formerly Freshworks CRM)

Part of the Freshworks family, FreshSales emphasizes sales automation and customer segmentation.


  • Powerful analytics
  • Email tracking capabilities with Outlook and Gmail
  • Integration with Freshchat chatbot


  • Steeper learning curve
  • Pricing can get expensive with add-ons

Best for:

Sales-focused small businesses that require advanced tracking and reporting.


Insightly is known for its strong focus on relationship linking and project management, making it ideal for businesses that want to combine CRM with project tracking.


  • Relationship tracking
  • Integrated project management
  • Ease of use


  • Limited reporting features
  • Fewer automation options

Best for:

Small businesses that require CRM to integrate with project management.


Nimble excels in social media integration and contact management, offering an easy way to connect with customers on different platforms.


  • Strong social media integration
  • Simplified contact management
  • User-friendly interface


  • Limited advanced features
  • Some integration limitations

Best for:

Businesses focusing on social media engagement and streamlined contact management.

Agile CRM

Agile CRM is designed to offer a fully integrated sales, marketing, and service suite. Its affordability and features make it appealing to small businesses.


  • Comprehensive feature set
  • Marketing automation capabilities
  • Affordable pricing


  • Customer support could be improved
  • Some limitations in customization

Best for:

Small businesses looking for a cost-effective, all-in-one CRM solution.

Streak CRM

Streak CRM is unique in its approach, as it’s designed to work directly within Gmail. It allows businesses to manage customer relationships without leaving their email inbox, making it a favorite among small businesses that rely heavily on email communications.


  • Seamlessly integrates with Gmail
  • Simplifies email tracking and follow-ups
  • Affordable and offers a free tier for basic use


  • Limited functionality compared to full-fledged CRM systems
  • Integration primarily with Google Workspace, fewer options for other platforms

Best for:

Small businesses or freelancers using Gmail extensively and looking for a lightweight CRM solution that won’t disrupt their current workflow.

Comparison of the Best CRM Software: Pricing, Features & User-Friendliness

CRM Solution




HubSpot CRM Free to Premium Sales, marketing, service integration Highly user-friendly
Bigin Affordable Basic CRM functionalities, customization Intuitive interface
Zoho CRM Varying Extensive features, AI-driven insights Moderate learning curve
Salesforce Premium  Highly customizable, vast array of tools Can be complex
Pipedrive  Varying  Sales tracking, visual pipeline User-friendly design
FreshSales Varying Sales automation, powerful analytics  Steeper learning curve
Insightly  Varying Relationship tracking, project management Ease of use
Nimble Moderate Social media integration, contact management User-friendly interface
Agile CRM Affordable All-in-one CRM, marketing automation Moderate ease of use
Streak CRM Free to Moderate Gmail integration, email tracking Highly user-friendly

Best Free CRM System

CRM Solution

Free CRM Option Available

HubSpot CRM  Yes
Bigin No (but it is budget friendly)
Zoho CRM Limited free plan option
Salesforce No
Pipedrive No
FreshSales No
Insightly No
Nimble No
Agile CRM Limited free plan option
Streak CRM Yes

How to Implement a CRM Solution

Implementing a CRM solution is not just a technological shift. It’s an organizational transformation that impacts the way a business manages its relationships and interactions with customers. 

A successful CRM implementation is about aligning technology with business goals, and it requires careful planning, execution, and continuous evaluation. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help businesses choose and implement a CRM solution:

Identify business needs 

Assess and outline the specific needs, objectives, and challenges that the CRM system will address. Then, identify the key stakeholders and involve them in defining the requirements.

Evaluate and select a CRM 

Consider aspects such as pricing, features, and user-friendliness (refer to the comparison table above). Look for solutions that offer customization to align with your specific business processes and ensure compatibility with existing systems and tools.

Plan implementation 

Develop a clear implementation timeline, including milestones and deadlines. Then, assign roles and responsibilities to ensure accountability.

Customize and configure

Tailor the CRM to the business processes, ensuring it aligns with the needs and workflows. Integrate it with other essential business tools and systems.

Train and onboard staff 

Training is crucial for user adoption and success. Conduct comprehensive training sessions for users at different levels and implement ongoing support and resources to help staff adapt to the new system.

Deploy and monitor 

Roll out the CRM system in phases or across your organization, as appropriate. Monitor the system’s performance, and gather feedback from users to make necessary adjustments.

Measure success and ROI 

Define success metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate the CRM’s effectiveness. Monitor and analyze ROI to understand the value it brings to the organization.

Security and Compliance Considerations

Data security, privacy, and compliance are all extremely serious and must be factored into any activity involving customer data. Considering customer relationship management software is exclusively designed to hold and manage customer data, businesses must take comprehensive measures to protect this information and comply with relevant laws and regulations.

Here’s an overview of essential considerations:

Data privacy and protection

  • Encryption: Encrypting data both in transit and at rest helps protect sensitive information from unauthorized access.
  • Access controls: Implementing strict access controls ensures that only authorized personnel can view or modify customer data.
  • Regular audits: Regular security audits help in identifying potential vulnerabilities and assessing the effectiveness of current security measures.
  • Data backup: Regular data backups ensure that essential information can be restored in the event of accidental deletion or a malicious attack.

Compliance with relevant laws and regulations

  • Understanding applicable regulations: Different regions have varying regulations concerning data privacy, such as GDPR in Europe or CCPA in California. Understanding and complying with these laws is crucial.
  • Documentation and transparency: Maintaining clear records of data handling processes, including collection, storage, and usage, is essential for compliance.
  • Customer consent: Where required, obtaining explicit consent from customers for collecting and using their information is a legal necessity.
  • Vendor compliance: If the CRM provider hosts data externally, ensuring that they comply with relevant laws and standards is vital. They must provide assurances regarding the safety and handling of data.

Ongoing monitoring and assessment

  • Continuous monitoring: Implementing continuous monitoring helps detect and respond to any suspicious activities or potential breaches promptly.
  • Regular training: Ensuring that employees are regularly trained and updated on security protocols and compliance requirements fosters a culture of awareness.


CRMs benefit all businesses—enterprises and SMBs alike. From customer data management to full-scale automation of marketing campaigns, a CRM eliminates messy spreadsheets, tightens sales activities and lead management, and allows you to track performance in real-time.

They also reduce manual data entry and give staff the ability to instead focus on revenue-generating strategies and activities, like building the sales funnel and working on user experience initiatives.

With free options up to feature-rich enterprise plans, every business can benefit from a CRM system.

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FAQs about CRM

Q: What is CRM for small businesses?

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) for small businesses is a system designed to centralize and streamline interactions between a business and its customers. Using this system, businesses can efficiently manage customer information, track sales and service requests, and facilitate strategic, data-driven decisions.

Q: How does CRM benefit small businesses?

CRM systems offer several benefits for small businesses, such as centralizing customer information, tracking sales, assisting customer support, integrating marketing operations, providing business analytic insights, facilitating efficient collaboration, and offering adaptable features to match growing business needs.

Q: What features should I consider when selecting a CRM for my small business?

Features to consider when selecting a CRM include contact management, sales tracking, customer support integration, marketing automation, and robust reporting and analytics. Also, consider mobile accessibility for business on the go, and ensure the CRM can integrate with other essential business tools seamlessly.

Q: What are some of the best CRM solutions for small businesses?

Some of the top CRM solutions for small businesses include HubSpot CRM, Bigin, Zoho CRM, Salesforce, Pipedrive, FreshSales, Insightly, Nimble, Agile CRM, and Streak CRM. They vary in terms of pricing, features, and suitability to specific business needs.

Q: Which CRM systems offer free versions suitable for small businesses?

HubSpot CRM and Streak CRM offer a free version suitable for small businesses. Zoho CRM and Agile CRM also provide limited free plan options.

Q: How can I implement a CRM solution in my small business?

The implementation of a CRM solution begins with identifying your business needs. Then, evaluate and select a suitable CRM. Plan your implementation process with clear timelines, roles, and responsibilities. Customize the CRM to your business processes and integrate it with other tools. Train your staff to use the CRM and gradually deploy it across your organization. Measure your success and return on investment (ROI).

Q: What are the necessary security and compliance considerations when using a CRM?

Businesses must ensure that their CRM complies with data privacy and protection regulations. This involves understanding applicable laws, maintaining clear records of data handling processes, ensuring customer consent where required, and ensuring vendor compliance. Other vital security considerations include the encryption of data, implementing strict access controls, conducting regular security audits, and maintaining regular data backups.

Q: Why is it essential to consider compatibility with existing systems while selecting a CRM for small businesses?

Compatibility with existing systems is crucial because it ensures seamless integration with other essential business tools, creating a unified workflow. This prevents data inconsistencies and improves intra-team communication.

Q: Why is user-friendliness a critical feature to consider in a CRM system?

A user-friendly CRM ensures all team members can easily use the system, regardless of their technical expertise. This feature minimizes the need for extensive training and enhances the adoption of the system within the team.

Q: How does a CRM system ensure enhanced customer engagement for small businesses?

CRM systems provide tools to understand customer needs and preferences, enabling businesses to have personalized interactions that foster customer loyalty. They centralize customer information, making it accessible for personalized marketing and customer support.