7 Best CRM systems for small businesses in 2023 Today's poor economy is making it harder for businesses to scale. Here are the top CRM software tools on the market that will keep you driving sales in 2023. Written by Helena Young Updated on 26 October 2023 Our Research Our team of writers and researchers review CRM software by rating each product against the key features businesses care about: ease of use; value for money; the ability to scale, plus the depth of functionality and advanced options. Written and reviewed by: Helena Young Lead Writer Robyn Summers-Emler Digital Growth Editor Our independent reviews are funded in part by affiliate commissions, at no extra cost to our readers. Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward BEST OVERALL BEST FOR DASHBOARDS BEST FOR USABILITY BEST FOR FEATURES BEST FOR CONTACT MANAGEMENT BEST FOR ORGANISATION BEST FOR CUSTOMER OUTREACH HubSpot monday.com Freshsales Zoho CRM Pipedrive Zendesk Salesforce CRM Price per month (billed annually): Free Plan, or from £18 (flat rate) Price per month (billed annually): £7 per seat Price per month (billed annually): Free plan, or £12 per user Price per month (billed annually): £12 per user Price per month (billed annually): £14.90 per user Price per month (billed annually): £15 per user Price per month (billed annually): £20 per user Free trial? ✓ Free trial? ✓ Free trial? ✓ Free trial? ✓ Free trial? ✓ Free trial? ✓ Free trial? ✓ Features: Send 2,000 emails per month5 active contact lists for outreachThorough 12-step onboarding processChatbots, campaigns, and webforms Features: Huge range of CRM board templatesMessage board for dashboard collaborationWidgets available for bespoke metricsUnlimited contacts and dashboards Features: Freddy AI tool gives you insights ready-madeCommunication, ecommerce, and accounting integrationsBig library of preset templates Features: 21 features available on free planAutomated reports included on free planUser permissions available for larger teams Features: Unlimited contacts permittedCommunication, ecommerce, and accounting integrationsAllows unlimited custom fields Features: Communication integration for team workingFast-loading dashboard for large datasets2 million contact limit Features: Automatic data captureMobile access and administrationSalesforce Inbox10 user limit Get started: Try HubSpot Get started: Try monday.com Get started: Try Freshsales Get started: Try Zoho Get started: Try Pipedrive Get started: Try Zendesk Get started: Try Salesforce Finding the best CRM system for your small business depends on your specific priorities. You might want to focus on value for money, functionality, ease of use or the ability to scale as you grow.Our latest round of research, carried out at the end of last year with an independent analyst, takes into account all of these factors to find the top CRM software options for small businesses.Overall, we recommend HubSpot as the best CRM software for small businesses. Today's bad economy is causing SMEs to look at their bottom line as never before. HubSpot is a slick, modern tool that has a near unbeatable free tier. It's also our top choice for email marketing and management, and a great affordable option to adopt as the cost of living crisis continues. Best Small Business CRM Software for 2023 Hubspot CRM – best for email marketing-focused SMEs in the early-stages of growth, with an amazingly-competitive free plan.monday.com – best small business CRM for building customised dashboards. As an affordable and visual Work OS, it's also great to display a catch-all breakdown of information.Freshsales – our top CRM for usability. It guides new users through setup, and has lots of handy tools to simplify steps. For example, a lead-scoring algorithim which provides automatic scoring for new contacts.Zoho CRM – best range of marketing and sales features to choose from, which also means it's excellent for value for money.Pipedrive – best for contact management. According to our research, it takes just over one minute to set up email lists which are also simple to use and view.Zendesk – best for customer service and support funnels, with an excellent sales-focused CRM tool as wellSalesforce – best for depth of features and an excellent choice for larger businesses, but potentially complex for smaller ones No two small businesses are the same. We've been working with SMEs for more than two decades, and we know that every firm has a unique process when it comes to engaging new customers and retaining existing ones.To help you find the best solution you can compare these most popular CRM tools for SMEs on pricing and key features in the guide below. Looking for a bespoke recommendation? If you’re new to CRM systems then our expert team has built a quick and easy comparison tool to match you with the best provider for your specific needs. It's completely free of charge, and designed to give you personalised quotes from the top CRM solutions on the market. Click to jump to our deep-dive reviews: What is a CRM system? HubSpot: best CRM for email marketing monday.com: best CRM for customisable dashboards Freshsales Suite: best CRM for usability Zoho: best CRM for features Pipedrive: best CRM for contact management Zendesk: best CRM for organisation Salesforce: best CRM for customer outreach How did we select the 7 best CRM systems? Best CRM systems cost comparison Summary: Which is the best CRM system? CRM software FAQs What is a CRM System?Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are a type of software that stores, organises, and manages data about your customers – and how they interact with your business. A CRM system is an integral tool for modern sales or marketing teams, or for customer support and IT services.At its most basic level, CRM software is a digital version of an address book – a place to securely store all contact information. Your CRM database stores all of the valuable data you have about your customers, which is produced through every action and interaction. This data includes:Name, title, and email addressDate and nature of last interactionVisits to your website and engagement with your brandTheir previous orders and spendEven personal information such as their interests and hobbies, or the name of their dog (for the sake of small talk)A CRM database is your foundation for success. And yet, for teams focused on crunching the numbers to analyse performance, increase revenue, and drive growth, it’s so much more – it's the building blocks of scalability and sustainable success.That's because CRM software allows you to not only store your business' crucial client, lead, and prospect data, but to use it, too.For sales teams, that means:Convert more leads – benefit from complete lifecycle management, from a customer's first interaction, all the way to a purchaseGet a 360-degree view of your pipeline – easily monitor and track targets with drag-and-drop pipeline managementDon't miss out on a deal – review historic, current, and projected deals, and engage lapsed prospectsPlan for the future – engage with the data that matters most to your business to produce accurate sales forecasts and reportsFor marketing teams, CRM will help you:Create effective emails – use templates to craft communications that get resultsBoss your campaign management – document ideas and delivery methods, and target the right audience with the best messageCoordinate events and projects – advertise for, register, and manage attendees for events, and push projects forward more effectivelyUnderstand the customer journey – chart customers’ interactions with your business, and engagement with your emails and phone callsFor customer services teams, CRM allows you to:Manage customer interactions – store all conversations with your clients in a central, easily-accessible locationUnify your communication channels – pull info from email, social media, phone calls, SMS, and live chat into a single, digestible streamDetail preferred communication methods – record how and when customers like to be contacted, and catch them at the right timeGet better at handling complaints – receive a notification whenever someone mentions you on social media or complains, so you can deal with it instantlyHow to choose the best CRM solution for your small businessHaving a smooth and efficient CRM system is becoming an increasingly important way to drive sales. However, with a recession looming, small business owners also have to contend with rising costs.Our team of researchers – including independent CRM expert, James Macey – has worked with SMEs for over two decades; and we've been carrying out extensive research into the CRM market for five of those. Our most recent round of testing was in late 2022.In this guide, we'll outline our results to show you the seven best CRM platforms available for small businesses, including their costs (up-front and hidden) and how well each app performs against specific priorities for small businesses. CRM trends for 2024 According to a recent Insightly survey, 79% of companies are dissatisfied with their current CRM software. Firm owners are seeking ways to upgrade their CRM systems to match changing customer expectations.With that in mind, here are three CRM trends that we expect to see in 2023:1. AI in CRM – AI has revolutionised the world in a very short space of time – but its CRM applications are only just beginning. Brands like HubSpot have been quick off the mark to upgrade their software with new AI tools.Thanks to these changes, users can now use machine learning to analyse large customer datasets in seconds for intelligent recommendations about a customer or prospect. This will not only improve sales numbers and revenue – it will also improve the customer experience.2. Personalisation – modern CRM systems have evolved to the point that they can explore and analyse a customer's purchase history to identify other, relevant products or services that the business could upsell.In today's market, with people expecting unique and niche products that cater to their every demand, this is a particularly helpful feature of a CRM. It will also improve conversion rate. Smarter targeting means you'll capture more high quality leads than you would by blindly firing off email campaigns into the ether.3. Self-service – today's customers are impatient. Just like with the self-service checkouts in big supermarkets, customers want to be able to serve themselves.Modern CRM systems should offer users instant access to knowledge bases, user forums, and other resources like chatbots, that will help a customer to avoid the time-consuming process of contacting a helpdesk. HubSpotBest CRM for new startups wanting to onboard customers with email marketing Hubspot CRM 4.2 An innovative marketing solution that's completely free. Try HubSpot Free trial? Yes Intuitive user interface Brilliant email marketing features that make it easy to attract new business Summary Aimed at SMEs, HubSpot Free is an innovative CRM solution that offers lots of add-ons to supplement its core focus on email and marketing outreach. Because of this, it doesn't have as much feature depth as other products. However, advanced UX-focused tools like its live and historical data sync mean it's an intuitive and affordable CRM choice. Show moreless Gold medallist HubSpot tops our research as an excellent choice for budget-conscious small businesses in the early-stages of growth. It has an competitive free plan, short setup time, and impressive functionality – particularly for email marketing, for which we scored it 5/5.HubSpot Contact FileWhat type of small business is HubSpot best suited for?As we mentioned in our full guide to the HubSpot platform, HubSpot’s humble origins are as an inbound marketing company. Even if a business is operating at a very small scale, the HubSpot free plan makes sourcing leads and onboarding new customers painless.Marketing automation is available to handle all of those repetitive, lead generation tasks, such as emailing customers. Users even get access to a chatbot tool to help stretch out resources and handle requests at scale. For £0 per month, you'll also get:500 emails per day1 million contactsLead reports for sales teamsPaid ad trackingSocial media integrationTask remindersWebsite visitor trackingHubSpot's weak points aren't many, but they are significant. Unlike more customisable options like monday.com and Zoho, the app doesn't have a lot of tailorable features (it comes in last place for this category in our ranking). Your sales process might need changing to fit with your business operations, rather than the other way around. James Macey, independent CRM analyst and tester, says: ``HubSpot's biggest highlight is the tidy user-interface where you view all the information related to a contact. That said, I was disappointed that Hubspot Free doesn't allow you to create your own reports to populate the dashboard.`` HubSpot pricingIn terms of paid-for plans, HubSpot has three. These are all strategy-specific: Marketing, Sales, and Service. Compared to HubSpot Free, they offer users more control over what they want to prioritise. Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward HubSpot Free HubSpot Marketing Hub (Starter plan) HubSpot Sales Hub (Starter plan) HubSpot Service Hub (Starter plan) Price per month (billed annually) £0 Price per month (billed annually) £18 (flat rate) Price per month (billed annually) £18 (flat rate) Price per month (billed annually) £18 (flat rate) Price per month (billed monthly) £0 Price per month (billed monthly) £18 (flat rate) Price per month (billed monthly) £18 (flat rate) Price per month (billed monthly) £18 (flat rate) Users Unlimited Users Unlimited Users Two free users Users Two free users Trial HubSpot for free for 14 days Try HubSpot for free Want to find the best free CRM software? Read our full guide to the top freemium CRM systems for small business. Best free CRM software monday.comBest CRM for client-focused industries, like marketing, and building customisable dashboards monday.com (CRM) 4.3 monday sales CRM is an all-in-one platform that enables business owners and sales teams to manage all their CRM functions in one central location. Try monday Free trial? Yes Ecommerce integrations offered - rare for a CRM tool Excellent customisation means you won't have to redesign your existing CRM process Summary Monday.com offers well-designed creative tools that make it an endlessly customisable CRM system, perfect for tailoring to clients’ needs. The app also uses a visually appealing traffic light system to help you track customers throughout the pipeline, and has over 200 dashboard templates, making it a particularly stylish tool to use. Show moreless monday.com is a Work OS which means it can be used to enact lots of different work tasks thanks to its fantastically customisable interface and a wealth of creative tools – perfect for building bespoke dashboards to measure different CRM metrics.monday.com Kanban board viewWhat type of small business is monday.com best suited for?Our research team identified monday as an incredibly flexible system (it achieved 4.7 out of 5 in our research, compared to HubSpot's score of 2.2) that is also very wallet-friendly. We recommend it to teams with a lot of account managers, like PR agencies, as a way to build informative dashboards that meet specific client needs.The app is organised around a simple traffic-light system that categorises your workflow as either green (it’s completed), orange (I’m working on it), or red (I’m stuck), helping you to design a system that personalises the status of every customer relationship.During sign up, we were prompted to fill out a user-profile. This includes identifying an area you’d like to focus on with each client (contact management, sales pipeline etc.). Other customisable elements, include:Custom fields200+ dashboard templatesFull mobile CRMDocument managementCustom appsUnlimited contactsUnlimited users James Macey, independent CRM analyst and tester, says: ``What makes monday really stand out is its customisation. Many platforms require users to dig through settings menus, but monday lets you edit most things by the click of a mouse. It's just missing some sophisticated tools offered by rivals, like spam protection.`` monday.com pricingmonday.com has a distinctive payment structure which is based on a set number of seats, starting at £7 per user and rising to £14 per seat. Depending on your team size, this can end up saving or costing you money. For more information, read our monday.com pricing guide. Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward monday.com Basic monday.com Standard monday.com Pro monday.com Enterprise Price per month (billed annually) £7 per seat Price per month (billed annually) £9 per seat Price per month (billed annually) £14 per seat Price per month (billed annually) Contact sales Price per month (billed monthly) £9 per seat Price per month (billed monthly) £11 per seat Price per month (billed monthly) £18 per seat Price per month (billed monthly) Contact sales Users Unlimited Users Unlimited Users Unlimited Users Unlimited Get started with a free monday.com dashboard Try monday.com Already tried monday.com? Want something similar, but different? Read our top 5 monday.com alternatives for CRM. Best monday.com alternatives Freshsales SuiteBest CRM for offline industries that need something easy for staff to train on, like retail Freshsales Suite 4.5 Freshsales' huge list of features means you'll never be caught short when it comes to CRM. Try Freshworks Free trial? Yes Brilliant customer support Automated workflows make managing work easy Summary Freshsales (formerly Freshworks CRM) organises your customer and sales processes into one easy-to-use platform – from sales and marketing to data management. It boasts a genuinely impressive list of features, including an advanced AI tool, and is unparalleled in terms of the number of capabilities. Show moreless Freshsales combines both sales and marketing strategies to make one easy-to-use platform for small businesses. As a result, we gave it a usability score of 4.7 out of 5 for usability (compared to Salesforce which scores 3.8 out of 5).Freshsales dashboard viewWhat type of small business is Freshsales Suite best suited for?Firms that are new to CRM software and maybe not as logged-on as other sectors, such as retail, will appreciate Freshsales intuitive backend that takes care of the most complicated CRM tasks for you.Set up is near instant as the platform guides users with tutorials on everything from making a template to building automations. Because you’re effectively signposted and given step-by-step direction, other tasks like email connection, adding users, and customising the pipeline, also become a quick process.For example, data import takes just 6 and a half minutes (during our testing, HubSpot took almost 18 minutes). This excellent usability is also helped along by an impressive list of convenient and smartly-designed features: Drag-and-drop journey builder 20 workflows 5 sales sequences Custom reports and dashboards Freshworks marketplace for add-ons Automatic lead scoring for new customers James Macey, independent CRM analyst, says: ``Freshsales guide their users through the main set up. This includes the data import, email connection, adding users, and customising the pipeline. Because you’re effectively signposted and given step by step direction, it becomes a quick process.`` Freshsales pricingFreshsales Suite is competitively-priced. It offers a free version suitable for solo users, but only 100 contacts are permitted. One tier up is the Growth plan which, at £12 per user, per month when billed annually, gives you access to a wide array of sophisticated tools.You get what you pay for with the platform's long list of features, but we would recommend you try the free version before committing to Freshsales CRM long-term. Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward Freshsales Free Freshsales Growth Freshsales Pro Freshsales Enterprise Price per month (billed annually) £0 Price per month (billed annually) £12 per user Price per month (billed annually) £29 per user Price per month (billed annually) £55 per user Price per month (billed monthly) £0 Price per month (billed monthly) £15 per user Price per month (billed monthly) £35 per user Price per month (billed monthly) £66 per user Users Unlimited Users Unlimited Users Unlimited Users Unlimited Trial Freshsales Growth for free for 14 days Try for free ZohoBest CRM for sectors with complex reporting and analytics requirements, like accountancy Zoho CRM 4.5 Zoho CRM holds a huge range of data that means it's best for small businesses wanting strong analytics and reporting tools. Try Zoho Free trial? Yes Excellent onboarding and support functions Huge range of report types Clever social media workflow function Summary Intelligent design is the best descriptor for Zoho CRM - every one of its features focuses on user experience first, which also means you have excellent customisation options to tailor the software to your business' unique processes. It also permits customer service queries at its free tier, which is a generous oddity compared to its rivals. Show moreless Our latest round of research shows that Zoho CRM is the best CRM system for features. Surprisingly for its low-cost, Zoho boasts lots of sophisticated sales, service, and marketing tools for you to create a bespoke CRM solution for your firm, gaining a massive score of 4.7 out of 5 for features (HubSpot gets just 3.7 out of 5 in comparison).Zoho CRM leads dashboard viewWhat type of small business is Zoho CRM best suited for?We recommend the Zoho CRM system to those operating in a niche industry, for example, those with specialist reporting requirements like finance. Zoho also took the crown specifically for sales features, achieving 4 out of 5 in this area.Using Zoho, your sales representatives can create separate workflows to function independently – handy if you're a business that needs to protect sensitive data to comply with GDPR. Similarly, Zoho also has custom fields to create unique task lists for each customer. Most impressively, all of these are available with the free plan.There's really not much that Zoho can't do, which makes it good for those wanting lots of functionality without needing to splash out on budget. On Zoho's lowest-priced tier, Zoho Standard, you'll get:Visual sales pipelineAutomated lead scoringCalendarRemindersMeeting schedulingActivity, lead, custom, and deal reports250 emails per day (half the amount of HubSpot) James Macey, independent CRM researcher and tester, says: ``Zoho's onboarding tour was limited and could be improved by including an actual tour of the interface. But there are lots of sophisticated tools here. Social media workflows - to automatically add a lead based on their interaction with your social media account - are especially clever.`` Zoho CRM pricingIn terms of pricing, Zoho CRM is a very scalable option with five plans available overall ranging from £12 to £42.There is a free plan available. However, this is fairly generous for features, and includes a calendar view. However, you'll miss out on a few attractive CRM functions, including workflows and the ability to have multiple pipelines. Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward Zoho CRM Free Zoho CRM Standard Zoho CRM Professional Zoho CRM Enterprise Price per month (billed annually) Free Price per month (billed annually) £12 per user Price per month (billed annually) £18 per user Price per month (billed annually) £35 per user Price per month (billed monthly) Free Price per month (billed monthly) £16 per user Price per month (billed monthly) £28 per user Price per month (billed monthly) £40 per user Users 3 Max Users Unlimited Users Unlimited Users Unlimited Compare free quotes on the top CRM providers now Compare PipedriveBest CRM for telemarketing firms with long client books Pipedrive 4.3 Functional CRM platform that's competitively priced. Try Pipedrive Free trial 14-day Price from £14.90 per user Integrates with tons of third-party apps Intuitive interface focuses on user experience Summary We think Pipedrive stands out for its huge list of third-party add-ons and integrations – which makes this software a smart choice for small firms with lots of existing resources. The platform’s lowest-tiered plan costs £12.50 per user, per month, and gives you powerful features such as email integration, goal tracking, reporting, and forecasting. Show moreless Pipedrive is an excellent CRM system for usability – its highest-scoring category in our research. Pipedrive is not got quite as many handy tools as Freshsales (why it scores 0.3 lower than the latter). But during our testing, we found the app's clean interface supports a tidy contact database, making it our top platform for contact management.Pipedrive dashboard viewWhat type of small business is Pipedrive best suited for?Thanks to its huge list of integrations, Pipedrive users can install almost any add-on to the system to customise your CRM process to your teams’ specific client base. This makes Pipedrive an excellent choice for a variety of small firms, but we'd most recommend it to teleamarketing teams with long client books.Contact management is not just kept to an ugly list format. Viewable from the ‘deals’ screen, every lead has an easy-to-build dashboard for you to quickly edit their name, add, or remove them to create a custom pipeline that accurately reflects your unique customer relationships.And, thanks to its user-focussed design, you won't have to suffer through complicated set up processes for new functions. When researching for our review of Pipedrive, it took our testing team just over 1 minute to set up a chatbot, and 2 minutes to design a webform to attract new client sign-ups.Other features include:150+ integrations, including Google Meet, Zapier, Slack, and Microsoft TeamsPipeline management Email integrationCalendar integration Activities and goals Data import and exportSales forecasting James Macey, independent CRM researcher and tester, says: ``Pipedrive's chatbot was the most impressive that I’ve tested. Very easy to set up and is supplied with a range of templates for different uses. Other processes, like inputting data, can be a bit more complicated than they need to be.`` Pipedrive pricingPipedrive does not have a free option, although there is a 14-day free trial available for newcomers. Its lowest paid-for plan is Pipedrive Essential, which costs £14.90 per user when billed annually and is the most affordable plan for small business users. Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward Pipedrive Essential Pipedrive Advanced Pipedrive Professional Price per month (billed annually) £14.90 per user Price per month (billed annually) £27.90 per user Price per month (billed annually) £49.90 per user Price per month (billed monthly) £21.90 per user Price per month (billed monthly) £32.90 per user Price per month (billed monthly) £59.90 per user Users Unlimited Users Unlimited Users Unlimited Try Pipedrive free for 14 days Try for free ZendeskBest CRM for those organising tickets and/or customer support, such as IT helpdesks Zendesk 4.1 Strong business support tools and high-performing features make Zendesk a good option for SMEs providing specialist services Try Zendesk Free trial 30-day Price from £15 per month Long list of integrations Excellent analytics tools Unparalleled support services Summary Zendesk is a powerful name in the business software market and it has a fantastic array of integrations, spanning across a huge range of categories including analytics and reporting, e-commerce, email and social Media, IT and project management, and tons more. Perhaps Zendesk’s best known feature however, is its excellent support tools. New users at any payment tier can utilise a vast library of handy materials including onboarding and adoption resources, guided learning paths, and on-demand training courses. Show moreless Zendesk Service is our top choice for organisation (achieving a score of 5/5 in our testing) which makes it excellent for helpdesks. It's an all-in-one solution that monitors client bugs, and also analyses your performance fixing them, helping you keep on top of demand and keep clients happy.Zendesk Service messaging toolWhat type of small business is Zendesk Service best suited for?If your business provides a specialist service, such as software engineering, Zendesk Service is the smart way to manage customer issues and requests in one database. The platform’s ticketing system allows users to record, organise, and track these in one dashboard accessible to the entire team for a clear and up-to-date ticket pipeline.Making your database is also simple with Zendesk. HubSpot, which gets just 3.3 out of 5 for organisation, makes data import needlessly complicated. Zendesk Service's robust import process enables you to first check whether the fields in your data match the system’s to ensure the data import is accurate before it even takes place.Other features include:Triggers and automationsStaff managementPre-built analytics dashboardsGoogle Analytics for help centresData exportsMessaging tool James Macey, independent CRM researcher and tester, says: ``Zendesk doesn’t provide a whole lot of guidance for the onboarding process. There’s no list of things given or signposting. However, Zendesk has a sleek and responsive interface which is easy to navigate, helping to make all the steps for setup straightforward.`` Zendesk Service pricingBelow, we’ve outlined the pricing information for Zendesk Service. It's worth noting that the platform also has a 30-day free trial available if you want to try before you buy.The Suite Growth plan, which costs around £26 more per month than Suite Team, does offer more advanced features, including the ability to create multiple ticket forms. We think if you're looking to grow your customer list then Suite Growth is the best plan to purchase. Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward Suite Team Suite Growth Suite Professional Price per month (billed annually) £45 per user Price per month (billed annually) £75 per user Price per month (billed annually) £89 per user Users Unlimited Users Unlimited Users Unlimited Try Zendesk for Service free for up to 30 days Try for free SalesforceBest CRM for larger firms with 20+ sales representatives and a long sales pipeline Salesforce 3.8 Best-suited to larger sales teams, Salesforce Essentials is a high-performing three-in-one CRM product - that comes at a high price. Try Salesforce Free trial? Yes Hundreds of prebuilt charts and template options for a quick overview of your sales pipeline Our highest-scoring CRM software for organisational tools and contact management Summary Salesforce Essentials is like a box of neopolitan ice cream. It mixes three small versions of its main CRM products: Marketing, Sales, and Service into one tempting combo, offering SMEs an all-in-one customer management solution. Costing £20 per month, per user, it's not the most wallet-friendly option. But our expert researchers give it 3.8 out of 5 overall thanks to its impressive usability and long feature list. Show moreless For speciality sales functions, Salesforce can truly serve as a one-stop-shop for small to large businesses looking to improve their customer outreach. This makes it an excellent choice for scaling businesses – as we highlighted in our full guide to the Salesforce platform.Salesforce customer cardWhat type of small business is Salesforce best suited for?Recording sales opportunities is a big responsibility for today's businesses and Salesforce makes this incredibly simple to monitor. We gave the platform 5/5 across categories like organisation, email, and contact management, while Pipedrive gets just 3.7/5.Onboarding is also super easy with Salesforce. The ‘chatter' function on the sales opportunity information screens is an excellent feature for collaborating with other departments to move leads down the sales pipeline.SMEs that are looking to expand their company will want a system that can develop alongside them. Salesforce comes in three cloud-based editions: Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, or Marketing Cloud. Salesforce Essentials is the most basic paid-for tier in each of these products and gives you:Account and contact management Opportunity tracking Lead management Task and event tracking Customizable reports and dashboards Mobile accessEmail integrationNaturally, more sophisticated capabilities equals a longer setup time. Some users have reported that Salesforce can lag when used with bad broadband connections. If you don't think Salesforce is for your small business, you can always read our guide to the top Salesforce alternatives. James Macey, independent CRM researcher and tester, says: ``Salesforce has a very clunky interface which made the onboarding process time-consuming. One highlight though is that Salesforce provides a variety of options for displaying data. You can use multiple widgets or select charts like donut, funnel, line, and bar.`` Salesforce pricingSalesforce is a splurge compared to budget-friendly CRM systems like HubSpot. However, you can purchase extra features as an add-on at any point in your plan (such as PRM – Partner Relationship Management for an additional £30 per user, per month) which means that Salesforce can be excellent value for money if used wisely. Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward CHEAPEST PLAN Salesforce Essential Salesforce Professional Salesforce Enterprise Salesforce Unlimited Price per month (billed annually) £20 per user Price per month (billed annually) £64 per user Price per month (billed annually) £132 per user Price per month (billed annually) £264 per user Users Up to 10 Users Unlimited Users Unlimited Users Unlimited Compare plans or start a free trial Try Salesforce How did we choose the 7 best CRM systems for small businesses?Having worked with SMEs for over twenty years, we know they have to contend with different issues compared to larger or mid-sized companies. Today's small business owners also have less time and money to spend on CRM due to the current economic challenges.With this in mind, we’ve picked out the top CRM systems on the market, and compared them using five specific metrics that small businesses need to think about when purchasing a CRM system:Pricing – what are the best low-budget CRM system?Functionality – what features will you get for your budget?Usability – is it something you can easily learn how to use?Customisation – will you have more creative control over your CRM system?Help and Support – will you get guidance on setting up your CRM system? How do the CRM costs compare?Budget is always an important factor for SMEs looking to purchase new technology. To help our small business readers find the best CRM deal, we've designed a specialist Startups' online comparison tool, that matches you with the most suitable provider based on your business's specific ways of working. Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward HubSpot monday.com Freshsales Zoho CRM Pipedrive Zendesk Salesforce CRM Price per month (billed annually): Free Plan, or from £18 (flat rate) Price per month (billed annually): £7 per seat Price per month (billed annually): Free plan, or £12 per user Price per month (billed annually): £12 per user Price per month (billed annually): £14.90 per user Price per month (billed annually): £15 per user Price per month (billed annually): £20 per user Price per month (billed monthly): £18 (flat rate) Price per month (billed monthly): £9 per seat Price per month (billed monthly): £14 per user Price per month (billed monthly): £15 per user Price per month (billed monthly): £19.90 per user Price per month (billed monthly): Contact sales team Price per month (billed monthly): Contact sales team Free trial? ✓ Free trial? ✓ Free trial? ✓ Free trial? ✓ Free trial? ✓ Free trial? ✓ Free trial? ✓ Get started: Try HubSpot Get started: Try monday.com Get started: Try Freshsales Get started: Try Zoho Get started: Try Pipedrive Get started: Try Zendesk Get started: Try Salesforce Unsurprisingly, HubSpot is our top budget option as it's completely free to use. monday.com is the most affordable paid-for option on this list at £8.50 per seat, per month. At the higher end of the list is Salesforce at £20 per user, due to its capability for mid-sized businesses. Which is the best CRM for small businesses?Based on months of exhaustive research examining tens of CRM solutions, we’ve picked out the seven best CRM systems for today’s SMEs and reviewed them against five common small business priorities to produce our final ranking.Some are more expensive than others (Salesforce costs £20 per month compared to the freemium HubSpot) but all boast a unique specialism that will make it worth the cost depending on your specific business needs.Hubspot CRM specialises in email marketing and is the best tool for growing your customer base. Plus, it's 100% free.monday.com is our top-rated CRM system for dashboards as a fantastic colour-coded method for organising activities, projects, and information.Freshsales is best for usability. Its clever automation features do half the work for you so that setup and data input is quick and cost-efficient.Zoho CRM is best for features. An endless amount of CRM tools will manage your business’ unique needs – handy for specialist industries, like insurance.Pipedrive is best for contact management. Its strong list of integrations means it can be easily tailored to create bespoke lead dashboards.Zendesk is best for helpdesks thanks to its unrivalled organisational capabilities that makes data importing and management quick and controllable.Salesforce is geared towards managing large sales volumes, so it's perfect for SMEs with ambitious growth targets wanting to engage in a lot of new customer outreach.Our recommendation is based on thorough research carried out with an independent analyst. For a more personalised approach, fill out our free Startups' online comparison tool to be matched with provider quotes and plans tailored to your small business. Frequently Asked Questions What CRM software is best for a small startup? HubSpot is the best CRM option for growing startups that need to consider budget alongside their growth ambitions. As a completely free platform it has great value for money, but is also unrivalled for email marketing, which makes generating new customer leads effortless. What is the easiest CRM to use for small business? Our researchers spent months examining the top CRM solutions for usability. Top of our rankings is Freshsales. It has a very quick setup time and also automates many repetitive CRM tasks like data entry for a gentle learning curve. What is the most used CRM? HubSpot Free is the most popular choice amongst small business CRM users. It acts as an 'all-in-one' CRM solution, whilst being available for zero charge, which means it is great value for money although lacking more specialist functionalities. What are the emerging trends in CRM? As with every area of tech, artificial intelligence (AI) is a massive growing trend for CRM in 2023. Using AI, businesses can automate many time-consuming CRM processes. Dull admin tasks like organising customer information, responding to inquiries, and forecasting sales figures can be taken care of, freeing up time for staff to concentrate on growing the business. How much does CRM cost? A customer relationship management (CRM) system can be free, such as monday.com, or cost anything from £10 to upwards of £1,000 pounds per month. Most CRM providers will charge a fixed monthly rate, although some may also charge per user, which can rack up the cost. For example, Salesforce charges £20 per month per user on its lowest tier, which means that if you have 5 users the cost per month will be £100. What is the best low cost CRM? Hubspot’s free plan is the most popular low cost option for small businesses because it does not compromise on functionality. If you choose to upgrade, its paid plans start at £38 per month, with no additional cost per user. Other suppliers also offer free plans, such as Freshsales, Zoho CRM, or HubSpot. However, free plans don’t always offer the best value for money, and you may find that they are lacking the functions you need. Do I need a CRM system as a small business? A CRM system can help you better understand and interact with your customers by gathering data and providing you with reports and analysis. It can also increase efficiency, by allowing you to organise and automate your work, giving you more time to focus on growth. CRM suits multiple types of businesses as it can be used in multiple ways, from sales to marketing, to customer service. Is Hubspot really free? Yes, Hubspot’s free plan really is free, and it allows an unlimited number of users, unlike most of its competitors. It’s also functional, unlike other free plans, and includes all the core CRM tools like forms, reporting dashboards, email marketing, and a shared inbox. It’s worth noting, however, that these tools advertise Hubspot. Startups.co.uk is reader-supported. If you make a purchase through the links on our site, we may earn a commission from the retailers of the products we have reviewed. This helps Startups.co.uk to provide free reviews for our readers. It has no additional cost to you, and never affects the editorial independence of our reviews. Share this post facebook twitter linkedin Tags Brand-building Guides Written by: Helena Young Lead Writer Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.