Best CRM for small businesses in 2020
Want to grow your small business? Or just find a new way of managing it? Whatever your goals, happy customers are key to your success
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, and as an acronym it refers to both a strategy, and a type of popular business software.
As a strategy, it refers to how you manage and engage with your customer base. But as a software, it's so much more.
CRM software is the ultimate database for managing all your contact information; leads, deals, clients, prospects – the lot. CRM software ties up all your sales, marketing, and customer service efforts into a single, intuitive interface. Powered by drag-and-drop functionality, it's a simple way of staying on top of your pipeline, handling customer service issues, and creating stunning marketing emails… that work.
Deciding whether or not to use a CRM system for your business is the easy bit. What's slightly harder is choosing the software that's best-suited to your startup's unique requirements. But that's where we can help.
Read on as we break down the top CRM systems for small businesses in the UK. Price? Ease of use? Pure, unadulterated functionality? Whatever features or attributes you're after in a CRM system, we can help you find the one that will help your business scale.
Jump into the list to navigate straight to a CRM provider… or try another way of getting quotes. Simply provide us with some details about your CRM software requirements (mainly the features and number of users you'll need), and we'll do the rest. We use your responses to match you with leading CRM suppliers, who'll be in touch with quotes tailored to your specific needs. It takes 30 seconds, and is completely free.
The best CRM systems for small businesses
So without further ado, here they are: the seven best CRM systems for UK businesses, compared.
We looked at the wide range of CRM software for small businesses in the UK, weighing them up on metrics such as price point, usability, scalability, and customisability. With all this in mind, we found the best small business CRM tools to come from Insightly, Salesforce, Zoho, SugarCRM, Pipedrive, HubSpot, and Apptivo.
Dive into the table below to view prices, or read on for our expert reviews.
Our picks for the best CRM for small business:
|CRM system name||Best for||Not so great||Price range||Conversion||Learn more|
|Insightly||Ease of use||Customisability||$0 – $99/ user per month||£0 – £76.45||Insightly review|
|Salesforce||In-depth reporting||Ease of use||£20 – £240/ user per month||n/a||Salesforce review|
|Zoho||Low budget||Customer support||$0 – $99/ user per month||£0 – £76.45||Zoho review|
|SugarCRM||Customisability||Platform integration||$40 – $150/ user per month||£30.89 – £115.83||SugarCRM review|
|Pipedrive||Sales focus||Intuitive features||£12 – £63/ user per month||n/a||Pipedrive review|
|HubSpot||Simple set-up||Feature variety||£0 – £41/ user per month||n/a||Hubspot review|
|Apptivo||Small business growth||Simple set-up||$0 – $20/ user per month||£15.44||Apptivo review|
Interested in CRM, but not fussed about sifting through pages of pricing plans, or crunching the numbers of how much a system catering to the exact size of your team will cost?
We get it. If this is you, then don't fret; there is an easier way to compare providers and get tailored quotes, and it takes less than a minute. Simply provide us with a few details about your business and the kind of CRM solution you're looking for, and we'll match you with suppliers handpicked for your business' size and industry. They'll sort you out with tailored quotes in no time, for free.
With over 1.5 million users worldwide, Insightly is one of the most popular CRM systems around. It’s known as a user-friendly option and is often a favourite for small businesses.
You can access it online, or even on your mobile via its app, and it will integrate well with other online applications like Gmail, MailChimp, and Evernote. Its dashboard provides real-time information and a range of reports, but there is also the option of customising your own.
Overall, Insightly is a solid entry point into the world of CRM.
What can Insightly do?
- Building customer relationships – Discover new connections, plan your sales process, track organisations and partnerships.
- Connecting to apps – Monitor all tools and manage them from one database with email and software integration.
- Accelerating sales – Automate lead capture and generation to streamline and improve processes. Close deals faster and more efficiently.
- Delivering projects – Manage assignments and projects, set schedules and share goals and objectives across teams.
- Being enterprise ready – Safeguard with encryption and backups to ensure that your vital information is protected.
What will Insightly cost me?
Insightly offer CRM plans to match different budgets. In the table below we have included information about each plan, with prices and some specific features.
|$0||$29/user per month||$49/user per month||$99/user per month|
|Introductory package, ideal for a one or two person company||Segment, communicate and monitor outreach efforts||Add workflow automation and team security||Scale your CRM to fit your business needs|
Salesforce is the biggest player in CRM, and is still considered one of the finest choices for small businesses.
As you would expect, the tools are slick, and integrate nicely with any platforms you are already using. It has a jaw-dropping range of features, giving you the most in-depth insights into your customers.
But even for those who are just finding their feet with CRM, there is also great customer support, an intuitive interface and tutorials to help you make the most of their impressive tools.
And because Salesforce caters for businesses of all sizes, you can be sure it will scale as you do.
What can Salesforce do?
- Sales – Improve, centralise and automate your sales process to save time and money, and get key insights into your customers.
- Service – Keep your customers happy and coming back with its intuitive and customisable solutions.
- Marketing – Understand your customer journeys better to create personalised marketing communications across all your different channels.
- Apps Builder – Build your own apps with point-and-click tools. Its unified platform means everything scales and integrates well.
What will Salesforce cost me?
|Lightning essentials||Lightning professional||Lightning enterprise||Lightning unlimited|
|£20/user per month||£60/user per month||£120/user per month||£240/user per month|
|Out-of-the-box CRM for up to five users||Complete CRM for any size team||Deeply customisable sales CRM for your business||Unlimited CRM power and support|
Salesforce CRM products
Salesforce’s CRM product range is expansive and varied to adapt to different customer needs. With everything included – from speciality sales functions to marketing features – it truly can be a one-stop-shop for small to large businesses looking to improve their operations.
Salesforce is able to offer a huge number of plans, with various services designed to match different requirements. Included in their plans are:
- Cloud services – offers expertise, data and innovation.
- Success plans – offers a range of services to suit different goals and objectives.
- Advisory services – provides consultation services to help your small business grow.
Zoho is a great option for start-ups who want to be up and running in CRM quickly, and are looking for an option that’s simple and affordable.
Most users pick Zoho because it’s reasonably priced, easy to use and very customisable. Plus, 2018 brought Zoho CRM a makeover, so it is now more user-friendly and powerful than ever.
Rather than struggling with a series of how-to videos, Zoho users have access to a conversational AI assistant, so you can ask it (in everyday language) to find whatever information you need for you.
Zoho gives a lot of bang for a few bucks and is one of the best low-budget CRM providers out there.
What can Zoho CRM do?
- Channels – Merge multiple channels for quick and streamlined conversations with customers.
- Performance – Make things easier for your staff, and improve sales figures with help from advanced platforms.
- Platforms – Use software that can be customised to suit your needs and goals.
- Scale – Zoho’s CRM solution can be scaled as you grow.
What will Zoho CRM cost me?
Zoho offers a range of CRM plans to match different budgets. These plans are designed with different features included, allowing most businesses – including small businesses – to find a plan to suit their requirements.
The table below includes a small side-by-side comparison of the plans that are available from Zoho.
|$0/user per month||$12/user per month||$29/user per month||$49/user per month||$99/user per month|
|Basic CRM, all you need to start your small business||Standard CRM, including sales forecasting and KPIs||Standard CRM, with integration and workflow||Advanced CRM, with custom modules||Full package, with customisable and tracking options|
Some of Zoho’s central offerings are listed below:
- Channels – merge multiple channels, allowing for quick and streamlined conversations with customers.
- Performance – drive your teams forward and improve sales figures with help from advanced platforms.
- Platforms – use software that can be customised to suit your needs and goals.
- Scale – perfect for small businesses, Zoho’s CRM can be scaled as your operations grows.
As well as traditional CRM, Zoho have also continued to introduce high-value technical functions into their company, with new features like Zia – an AI sales assistant – among their latest developments.
Small businesses love SugarCRM for its low cost. It has a simple user interface, and a range of services to suit many sectors. This makes it ideal for companies with fairly straightforward sales processes, and little need for more complex processes (features like customisation are possible, but come with a learning curve and limited support).
Growth is at the heart of SugarCRM, so it will be difficult for businesses not to grow with this tool. But because it’s open source, you don’t have the support services offered by some of the larger providers.
What can SugarCRM do?
- Enterprise – Adaptable software and systems that can be scaled to suit your small business.
- Sales – Schedule your system, and approach every sale with expertise.
- Customer service – Handle all customer relationships, complaints and workflow efficiently.
- Marketing – Market effectively by integrating systems into one central dashboard.
- Mobile – Mobile CRM from SugarCRM lets you get to work, wherever you are.
What will SugarCRM cost me?
The table below includes some information about SugarCRM's various plans.
|Sugar Professional||Sugar Enterprise||Sugar Ultimate|
|$40/user per month||$65/user per month||$150/user per month|
|Basic CRM, ideal for growing your small business (15GB storage)||More CRM capabilities, best value for larger businesses (60GB storage)||Most complete CRM, plus highest level of support (250GB storage)|
The five main areas covered by SugarCRM’s products are:
- Enterprise – providing adaptable software and systems that can be scaled to ensure the success of small and large businesses alike.
- Sales – get the most out of each client, and provide them what they need too. Schedule with your system and approach every sale with expertise and resource.
- Customer service – handle all customer relationships with expertise and efficiency. Handle complaints and sales quickly and easily, by optimising workflow with a quality system.
- Marketing – market effectively by integrating systems into one central dashboard. Launch campaigns with confidence.
- Mobile – mobile CRM from SugarCRM lets you monitor and track, wherever you are. Stay connected and ensure quality, from top to bottom.
Pipedrive is a leader in managing sales opportunities and is designed around activity-based selling. It is a great starter CRM, and its customisable and easy-to-use interface will appeal to small businesses looking to grow.
Don't be fooled by its modest price tag – this is a powerful sales tool, and takes the pain out of managing sales and related activities. There are also a number of out-of-the-box integrations available, making it as easy as possible to adapt the software to your sales and marketing strategies.
What can Pipedrive do?
- Pipeline management – Stay on top of all your deals with a clear visual interface.
- Email integration – Start sending and receiving emails from their platform to keep everything in one place.
- Activities and goals – Reminders, notifications and alerts help to stop things falling through the cracks.
- Sales reporting – See where you’re losing sales, and spot ways of tweaking your approach.
- Sales forecasting – Forecast revenue, and pick the deals that are most likely to close.
- Mobile apps – Work from anywhere with Android and iPhone apps.
What will Pipedrive cost me?
The table below includes some information about Pipedrive's various plans.
|£12/user per month||£24/user per month||£63/user per month|
|Everything you need to create a clear sales process and get your team organised||Optimise your sales process to spend less time on admin and have more sales conversations||Manage teams, track performance, and adjust course when needed|
It isn't easy to find a great all-in-one provider that is absolutely free, but HubSpot is one of the best here.
CRM Free is not a trial – it's free forever, but there are add-on services for when your business grows: Marketing Hub (£0-£655 / month) and Sales Hub (£0-£333 / month).
HubSpot is ideal for small businesses with limited business development and marketing resources, whereas fast-growing companies might find they soon outgrow its capabilities.
HubSpot is known as a one-stop platform for organising, tracking and nurturing your customers and potential customers, and a great option for businesses looking to target specific persona groups with their sales and marketing campaigns.
What can HubSpot do?
- Marketing automation – Integrate all the data you have on your current and potential customers into a workflow which helps you take the best care of them.
- Email marketing – Create templated and customised emails, with automatic shifting, scheduling and robust reporting.
- Social media marketing – Get basic social media contact and tracking capabilities.
- Lead management – Market more efficiently with communications tailored to your customers.
- Reporting and metrics – Understand your customers better with customised reports.
- Site keyword tool – Help your pages rank better on search engines, by comparing you with your competition, and suggesting ways to improve.
What will HubSpot cost me?
The table below includes some information about HubSpot's various plans.
|£0/user per month||£27/user per month||£41/user per month|
|Out-of-the-box CRM for up to five users||Complete CRM for any size team||Deeply customisable sales CRM for your business|
Apptivo is a cloud-based system of applications, specifically aimed at small businesses. It is also one of the most affordable CRM options on the market.
Unlike some other CRM suppliers, with Apptivo you get access to its entire platform of 40 apps (covering key areas like CRM, Project Management, and Invoicing) included in the monthly price.
It uses a graphic-heavy dashboard, which makes data management less intimidating for the less tech-savvy user, and they specialise in a range of fields, from financials to human resources and supply chain management.
What can Apptivo do?
- Marketing – Create targeted lists of contacts, build email marketing campaigns, and track analytics.
- Sales – Complete CRM capability with robust contact management, sales pipeline, automation, and reporting.
- Help Desk – A powerful ticketing system with email integration, web portal, and time tracking.
- Project Management – Manage project schedules via gantt charts, track time and milestones, and invoice for effort spent.
- Field Service – Work order assignment and dispatching, mobile photo, time, and materials capture, and billing.
- Quoting and Billing – Build professional quotes and email them to customers with integrated billing and recurring invoice capabilities.
- Order Management – Turn quotes into orders, track inventory and shipments, and bill your customers for products purchased.
- Procurement and Supply Chain – Manage vendors, track purchase orders and invoicing, and manage inventory.
What will Apptivo cost me?
The table below includes some information about Apptivo's various plans.
|$0/user per month||$8/user per month||$20/user per month||$2 Flexible|
|Out-of-the-box CRM for up to five users||Complete CRM for any size team||Deeply customisable sales CRM for your business||Perfect for growing businesses with unique requests|
How can CRM help you?
CRM systems act as a central hub for all your business' client, lead, and deal information. CRM software typically comes as a cloud-based solution. That means there's no hefty downloads to install or maintain, and allows your entire team – no matter their physical location – to access documents, make calls, and do deals in real time.
A CRM does more than just store that data, though. It empowers your entire team to actually use that data to produce accurate forecasts, and fuel better, tailored sales and marketing activities.
That means email subject lines that work, and content that people will actually open, probably read, and – hopefully – convert on, too. It means using demographic data and previous buying habits to understand your customers and personalise content. It means more productivity with less effort, and more deals closed in less time.
CRM software also helps you introduce workflows that automate the drudgery of administration, freeing up your time to grow – rather than just run – your business.
Forget the days of having to open a hundred different tabs to understand the impact of your marketing and engagement activities. CRM pulls data from your website, social media, and email campaigns into a series of neat, effective, and eye-catching dashboards, for a 360-degree of everything you need to know.
But back to that question again… just how do you choose the right CRM software for your startup?
5 top tips for choosing the best crm for your small business
Your CRM needs will be as unique as your business, and there is no one-size-fits-all provider. But to help you decide which CRM tool is best for you, here are some key questions you’ll want to ask yourself:
- How easy is the software to use?
You don’t have much time to spare. All our picks are easy to learn and use, and we’ve highlighted which ones keep it simple, and which ones have more bells and whistles.
- Is it a team player?
You want to know the CRM system you choose will get on well with the software you are already using. We’ve selected the top options for integration, so the process will be as hassle-free as possible.
- How mobile is it?
You are mobile, and you need your software to be too. Everything on this page is cloud-based (meaning everything can be stored online, and accessed wherever and whenever your staff need it), and comes with a mobile app (to make using CRM easier than ever).
- What’s my budget?
Price is always a big factor when choosing the right CRM provider, especially for start-ups. Below you’ll find the most cost-effective options for all price points to help you get the most out of your budget, and all come with a free trial. Or you can head over to our page on CRM system costs, for the full rundown.
- Will it scale with my business?
However small your business may be now, you’ll want to think about where your CRM system will take you as you grow. To help you avoid starting all over again after a growth spurt, we’ve tracked down the CRM plans which will scale best in the long term.
CRM system for small business: Compare quotes
The information on this page should help you to understand what benefit a small business CRM system can offer, and which one you should pick.
To summarise, our choices for the best CRM system for small businesses are:
- Insightly – great for ease of use (simplicity) as well as affordability and integration with other software
- Salesforce – great for businesses wanting their CRM system to scale with them and who need in-depth, advanced reporting
- Zoho – great for startups on a budget and want to be up-and-running fast, but who still need a decent-quality CRM product
- SugarCRM – great for businesses that want to balance budget-consciousness with ambitions to scale and grow
- Pipedrive – great for businesses who want a CRM system for an ambitious sales team, and need high-level sales reporting
- HubSpot – great for now/slow-growth businesses that can operate well despite the limitations of a free system
- Apptivo – great for small businesses that need something affordable at first, but are looking to grow in the future
On a budget? Go for Zoho. Want to tinker? Pick SugarCRM. For the simplest of solutions, Insightly is your best bet – while at the opposite end of the scale, Salesforce's advanced reporting is a highly scalable CRM pick for ambitious businesses.
The most efficient way to find the best CRM system for you, though, is to speak to suppliers.
Simply provide us with a few details about your business, and your specific CRM requirements. We'll then match you with up to four small business CRM providers, who'll provide you with quotes and plans tailored to your startup. It's free, takes less than a minute, and is your shortcut to productivity.