Customer Relationship Management platforms, also known as CRMs, are the cornerstone for all business-to-customer interactions. Businesses of all sizes, from restaurants to e-commerce companies, can benefit greatly from using a well-designed CRM, even small or micro-businesses with just a few employees.

Nearly every business’s success hinges on the customer experience, how smoothly the sales process goes, and how readily a company is able to provide specific goods and services. CRMs are a necessary pipeline management tool to streamline processes to deliver goods and services.

Shopping around for a new CRM can be daunting. With hundreds of these platforms available, it is difficult for the average business owner to assess value, compare systems, and explore CRM features. Luckily, some of these platforms do have stand-out features. In this post, we’re not only going to review the top-rated CRM platforms, but we will also teach you how to evaluate CRMs to find the right fit for your business needs.

What is a CRM?

A CRM helps businesses manage and organize all data related to their customer base. The goal of these platforms is to help you keep track and analyze all of your customer data – this includes sales data, past customer conversations, quotes, and more. Many of these systems additionally include project management software that helps team members manage the customer journey from end to end.

CRM differs from marketing automation software platforms like Mailchimp in that it is primarily sales management-focused and not used to automate email marketing campaigns. Marketing automation software fulfills a different niche, helping businesses plagued by an insufficient number of customers, or an inability to deliver their content to potential customers, with lead generation and scoring. On the other hand, CRM systems help to optimize existing relationships between sales teams and customers.

What are the benefits of a CRM?

Implementing the right CRM system for your business into your company’s existing business model has many potential benefits. These help desk systems serve to provide companies with a bird’s eye view of how a business and its employees interact with their customer network. Let’s consider some of the more specific ways that a CRM system can benefit your business:

  • Offers a “hands-on” approach to customer management
  • You get instant access to customer information and sales metrics, as well as projects, tasks, and more
  • Contact management: all customer data compile to create a customer profile detailing all communication history into a single page
  • More effective notifications between salespeople and the customers
  • Day-to-day business processes like sending emails can be automated, saving your business valuable time.
  • Integration modules allow CRM systems to connect to third-party integrations and apps .
  • Reporting tools give you an overview of all customer data instantly, allowing you to follow up with all the necessary info on-hand
  • AI systems built into CRM platforms give sales forecasts and suggestions that make it easier to close sales.

CRM platforms for small businesses

SMBs (small to mid-sized businesses), regardless of the industry, can greatly benefit from integrating the right CRM solution. Businesses deal with people on a daily basis no matter how small or big. With a CRM you can leverage lead management tools so sales reps can nurture new and existing customers. All the data related to these clients can be organized into a larger database that provides quick and easy access to individual customer profiles with just the click of a button. SMBs can also gain insight from CRM reports to help identify any existing weak points in the sales pipeline. Having a function CRM helps businesses consistently learn from their mistakes and improve customer relations exponentially over time.

CRM platforms for super small businesses

A staggering 92% of all businesses in the U.S. constitute micro-businesses, which are defined as having five or fewer employees. These super small businesses can often overlook the importance of having a CRM platform. They might think they are too small to benefit from using one, but actually implementing a sales CRM is what they need to help them grow. There are many CRM platforms designed to accommodate super small businesses – some even come with a free plan, which is perfect for freelancers and the micro-business budget.

Best CRM platforms for developers

Developers often work as freelancers and can face juggling a significant number of customers throughout their careers. Sometimes a customer will use them for just one single project, while others become long-standing repeat customers that frequently return with more work. Having a CRM would help improve how developers deliver effective services to their customers, while also providing them with insight into customer behavioral patterns.

Developers should find a CRM system that collects all data related to a specific customer – this includes emails and phone calls, conversations through live chatbots, invoices, and estimates, as well as files and other important information. Additionally, they should use the CRM to track sales activities and time spent on each project to more effectively bid on projects in the future. With these tools at a developer’s disposal, they can always be up to speed on client needs, how a project is progressing, and find ways to improve their customer relations in the future.

Best low-cost and free CRM platforms

A lot of the CRM systems on the market at the moment cost hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of dollars. This can be unfortunate for a smaller business, a startup company that has just been founded, as well as for freelancers looking for a more cost-effective way to manage their customers, projects, and sales. While it may seem there are only bigger more expensive CRMs on the market, there are a few affordable smaller-scale options. Some platforms even come with free plans.

However, lower-end plans and the majority of free CRM platforms tend to exclude some of the crucial components. If you look hard enough, there are a couple of options that do come with all the necessary modules that a small business would need to manage their customers as they grow. With many CRMs, you can subscribe to a basic plan initially and then upgrade over time as you expand your clientele.

How to choose the best CRM platform

Look for a good CRM for your company? Thinking about getting a CRM platform set up for your business is one of the best steps you can take if you really want to take control of how you manage your customers.  But in order to do so, you need to ensure you choose the best CRM software for your purposes. There are a few factors that you can take into consideration when looking at the different CRM platforms available. Ask yourself these questions to help you properly evaluate and decide which option will best suit your business:

  • Do I only need one or two user accounts, or something substantially more?
  • How much can I afford to spend?
  • What features are am I looking for specifically? Do I need a system that allows me to manage opportunities and deals?  Or do I need something more robust, that I can use to send estimates and invoices?
  • Do I need integration with certain apps like Gmail? If so, what specific integrations am I looking for?
  • Ease of use: Is there a steep learning curve to using the platform?

Apart from considering these factors, you should also know whether you want to opt for a cloud-based solution, or prefer to use a CRM that can be hosted on your company’s local server. Both of these options have pros and cons that need to be taken into consideration. Many businesses are moving towards the cloud as data then becomes available on multiple devices, even when employees are not at the office. Cloud-based solutions also eliminate the need for a local server.

Once you have answers to these questions, you can start comparing your needs with the features offered by the top CRM systems.

It is usually a good idea to first request a demo of a CRM platform before you commit to buying. Some of these platforms will also give you a chance to test the system with a trial offer – be sure to take full advantage. Sign up and test the CRM out – add your contacts, register a couple of employees, and work with the system for a couple of days. This is one of the best ways to find out if a specific CRM tool can offer you what your business needs.


Quickbase logo

This comprehensive digital tool for managing business workflow is more than just customer relationship management software. It creates and maintains databases and encourages collaborations between staff members, all while streamlining existing business operations. Other software requires coding skills to customize business applications and databases, but Quickbase is a platform that can eliminate the need for coding with its easy-to-use interface.

As a CRM, Quickbase is versatile and highly customizable. Although it is not the best CRM in the market, it is more versatile with an extended list of features and still does what you expect in a great CRM. In addition to its great onboard functions, it seamlessly integrates with the most popular business tools for a better workflow, ultimately improving customer relations.

How it’s different

What makes Quickbase different from other CRMs is its drag-and-drop features, extensive library of professionally created templates, and wide range of built-in features. These functions are easy to learn, even by average users, which is a huge plus if you have a small team with no coding experience.

Who it’s best for

Quickbase is made specifically for small to mid-sized businesses looking to improve customer management. With its highly-effective CRM tools combined with a plethora of other management features, Quickbase is considered a jack of all trades for new businesses with scalability in mind. However, if you are looking for a more CRM-focused application, there are many more options that can do a better job, especially for more established companies with a larger customer base.


  • Comes with a ton of management tools
  • You don’t need coding or development experience to maximize its features
  • It is highly customizable
  • Comes with a 30-day free trial
  • It comes with a functional mobile app that works for iOS and Android


  • The wide range of features can be overwhelming
  • Pricing can be confusing because you need a custom quote

See the full review of Quickbase here.

HubSpot CRM

HubSpot CRM is one of the best CRM options to date. But it is no surprise since HubSpot is widely popular for its app suite, making customer relations much easier for managers, customer service agents, and business owners.

One of its best additions to the suite lineup is the HubSpot CRM. Many users claim to be the most robust customer management software, which is good for small to medium-sized businesses adapting to customer relation needs.

It is a CRM application that combines ease of use with effective communication to increase customer satisfaction through highly-effective customer service. It boasts a myriad of marketing tools on top of its top-notch sales-focused features. In addition, it provides business owners with high-quality email templates for launching email campaigns, generating new leads, and building professionally-made websites and landing pages.

How it’s different

The best thing about this CRM is that it is fully equipped to handle anything customer related. It has tons of built-in features, such as the pipeline system. This system allows managers and staff members to manage and have a bird’s eye view of anything related to managing customers. It allows them to create various roles to meet specific sales needs making messages more personalized for each type of customer. These tools are specifically made to improve customer relations and help retain your most loyal patrons.

Who it’s best for

HubSpot CRM is made for businesses of any size. Because it allows you to manage up to 1,000,000 customers all at once, businesses of any size can easily manage a maximum number of customers. And The dashboard gives you an instant overview of all customers and pulls out all the information you need with just one click.


  • The entire platform is free to use
  • Excellent organization of customer profiles
  • It has integrated chat features allowing you to communicate with customers in real-time
  • Access to a customer support team


  • Integrations are smooth, but they are limited
  • A  bulk email feature is not available, nor is email tracking

See the full review of HubSpot CRM here.

Insightly CRM


Insightly CRM is created to help your business accelerate sales, help build better customer relations, and ensure that you can meet all customer expectations. If you want to try Insightly without risks, it offers a free trial and affordable pricing plans. Its flexible pricing plans make it an excellent CRM for businesses of any size.

Although it has many features, they are quite easy to learn. The interface is neat and highly organized, and each function is easy to navigate because they are all in one place. Plus, the dashboards are customizable, allowing you to add or remove widgets displaying the needed data.

With Insightly, you can organize customer data, sales, the latest deals, and customer statistics. Plus, it has a mobile app, so you can easily capture client data from anywhere.

How it’s different

Sure there are many CRMs with a lot of added features, but Insightly stands out because of its smooth integrations with the Google G Suite, Microsoft Outlook, and LinkedIn. With its integrations with the most popular business software, you get a better workflow and productivity.

With these integrations, you can quickly move mail to folders and link them to client accounts, making it easy to track conversations with all your contacts. This function gives you a clear overview of all interactions, allowing you to review the best ways to close a sale.

Who it’s best for

Insightly is best for businesses who are looking for a CRM that focuses more on sales and customer relations. Other options will throw you off with features you might not need, but Insightly is more straightforward. Most of all, it gets the job done without overwhelming you with many features that might be just for show.


  • Allows you to create multiple customizable dashboards
  • Integration with the G Suite, QuickBooks, LinkedIn, and more
  • Excellent customer support
  • Integrated project management system


  • Customer form customization is limited
  • It does not allow phone call tracking

See the full review of Insightly CRM here.

Zoho CRM

zohocrm logo

Whether a company needs a CRM for the first time or is looking for a new option, Zoho CRM is a name they will hear. As part of the larger Zoho suite of products, Zoho CRM offers options that range from a free and basic plan to advanced enterprise options. Depending on which features are needed, there is likely a Zoho CRM plan that meets the needs of each business.

How it’s different

One of the biggest options with Zoho CRM that sets them apart from competitors is the availability of a completely free plan. While this plan has limited functionality, it does include all basic CRM tools for managing sales, leads, and deals.

At higher tiers, Zoho CRM has a number of advanced features that make it stand out as well. Advanced sales automation and the ability to filter on custom reports are examples, as well as a mobile app that is built with sales representatives in mind. The app even calculates the best route for a traveling rep to meet their prospects.

Who it’s best for

Zoho CRM is particularly effective for companies who are implementing a CRM for the first time, especially small businesses and medium businesses. There is no specific industry that Zoho CRM targets, but integrations with tools like inventory management make retail a large market for the provider.

Because there are free plans and very affordable plans available, Zoho CRM may be a good fit for small teams on a budget or teams that aren’t sure a CRM is right for them.


  • Simple to set up
  • Intuitive user interface with high ease-of-use
  • Free plan and low-cost paid plans
  • Mobile app with add-on features
  • Integrations with Zoho and third-party tools like Salesforce, Pipedrive, Hubspot, and Microsoft
  • Many options for sales automation


  • Customer service is difficult to reach
  • AI and other tools are not available at lower levels
  • Free version has very limited features

See the full review of Zoho CRM here.

Bottom line: What’s the best CRM platform for your business?

While there are hundreds of different CRM systems to choose from, only a few truly deliver. Quickbase, HubSpot, Insightly, and Zoho offer advanced features coupled with a cost-effective way for any business to integrate CRM into their operations. Start managing customers more effectively today.