Best free CRM software for small businesses

Free CRM software proves you don’t have to splash the cash to attract consumers. But how does each platform differ? And which is the best overall?

Our experts

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Often, when you’re a small business, you have to pick and choose the best CRM system depending on what’s most important to your team. Is it lead generation, customer service, or ease of use?

Thankfully, there are some brilliant CRM options that can satisfy all of these needs for zero charge:

We think Freshsales is the best free CRM option as it has tons of features and capabilities for small businesses to take advantage of, even for zero charge.
Zoho CRM is another strong choice for budget-conscious SMEs, thanks to its strong reporting tools.
We recommend HubSpot Free for marketing and outreach – two key areas for generating new business.

0 out of 0
Best for
Price per month (billed annually)
Score out of 5
Verdict

Agile CRM

Number of features, and a free plan

Reporting and analytics tools

Marketing

Sales

Free plan, or £25 per user

£6.70 per user

3.7

4

4

3.8

Freshsales’ huge list of features means there’s no end to its capabilities. Great for teams with complicated sales pipelines.

Zoho CRM’s free platform has generous reporting tools that beat even some paid tiers.

Hubspot is a comprehensive CRM tool that’s great for marketing and outreach – two areas that are important for business growth.

Strong data tools let you track customers and sales across multiple digital channels. Best for ecommerce firms.

For SMEs, your relationship with your customers can be the maker – or breaker – of your success. Managed properly, these relationships can enable you to identify areas for improvement and generate new opportunities to develop and target your audience.

But when you’re just starting out, you likely don’t have the money to invest in a customer relationship manager role. Free CRM software is a great solution because it allows you to access a huge number of CRM functions without breaking the bank.

So which is the best free software choice for a UK small business? At Startups.co.uk, we’ve asked ourselves this question and many others over the past two decades, to learn all there is to know about business software and tools.

We’ve tested dozens of free CRM products to pick out the top four options and rank them in the list below, so you can find the best budget-friendly solution for growing your own business.

Short on time? If you’d rather skip straight to finding the best CRM quotes for your business, we’ve done half the work for you by designing a simple online tool that will give you bespoke recommendations from the top CRM providers for zero charge.

The top four free CRM software options for small businesses

Freshsales Suite
Best for: Number of features

Freshsales
4.3
Freshsales' huge list of features means you'll never be caught short when it comes to CRM.
  • 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.
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Freshsales screenshot

What do you get with the free tier?

Freshsales is one of the most robust freemium platforms currently available for CRM software. Lots of popular CRM brands claim they’re free, but they tend to have caveats and limitations that mean you’re not getting good value for money when you buy.

Freshsales permits an unlimited number of users on its account, meaning you won’t be fined for having larger teams. You’ll also have free support guides and advice over phone, email, and online chat, available 24 hours a day, 5 days a week.

In terms of features, there are so many available we’re not sure where to begin. Here’s a full list of Freshsales’ capabilities:

  • Unlimited users
  • Account management
  • Contact management
  • Contact lifestyle changes
  • Activity timeline
  • Data import
  • Data export
  • Migration from other CRMs
  • Phone app
  • Voice notes
  • Chat widget
  • Topics
  • Classic and smart webforms
  • Integrations with 28 Freshsuite apps

Security options are also available, as you can limit access to different areas of the product based on your employees’ hierarchy and job roles.

Paid plans:

Where Freshsales’ free plan doesn’t score well is in accounting and ecommerce integrations – these are key areas for small businesses if you’re planning to sell to or attract customers online. They also typically require larger investments of time and money.

Freshsales Growth is the lowest-priced payment tier and gives you access to both of these areas. Costing just £8.91 per user, it’s a good investment idea once you have inevitably outgrown the platform’s free tier.

0 out of 0
Price per month (billed annually)
Users

Freshsales Free

Freshsales Growth

Freshsales Pro

Freshsales Enterprise

£0

£12 per user

£29 per user

£55 per user

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Verdict

Thanks to its generous feature list, we recommend Freshsales for firms that are new to CRM and want to tailor their customer management solution by taking advantage of Freshsales’ many capabilities.

Want to know more about CRM costs? Read our full guide to find out about the tricks, discounts and deals that the top CRM providers have to offer.

Zoho CRM
Best for: Reporting tools

Zoho CRM
4
Zoho CRM holds a huge range of data that means it's best for small businesses wanting strong analytics and reporting tools.
  • 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.
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Zoho CRM screenshot

What do you get with the free tier?

Reporting tools are Zoho CRM’s main export, as this software offers users expert insight into customer and sales processes by analysing sales, marketing, and support across one digital tool.

But its functions aren’t all analytic. Zoho CRM also helps users respond to customers across channels in real time. Zia, an AI-powered sales assistant, can predict an appropriate time to contact customers. It scans emails to detect their level of urgency and can instantly display relevant statistics or documents when performing searches.

Zoho also makes dashboards and reports highly customisable, which can support pipeline decision-making. For example, you can view all ‘deals’ (sales) on one panoramic Kanban board, should you wish.

In terms of features, the Zoho CRM free tier gives you:

  • Deal reports
  • Analytics reports
  • Lead reports
  • Recurring revenue reports
  • Customisable sales pipeline
  • Calendar view
  • Web forms
  • Integration with Zoho Suite

Paid plans:

There are downsides to Zoho CRM Free. Given its more complex functions, Zoho CRM has a much steeper learning curve than most of the other platforms on this list. Plus, only three users are permitted, which means you won’t be able to share CRM duties across your company – a major problem for small businesses, which often need to share out resources.

0 out of 0
Price per month (billed annually)
Users

Zoho CRM Free

Zoho CRM Standard

Zoho CRM Professional

Zoho CRM Enterprise

Free

£12 per user

£18 per user

£35 per user

3 Max

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Because of this, we’d recommend small businesses view the freemium version as a trial, rather than a long-term software solution. Zoho CRM Standard is only £12 per user which is competitively priced and, thanks to its many benefits, likely to generate excess returns.

Verdict

Thanks to its reporting functions, we recommend Zoho CRM for growing, sales-driven companies with more than 10 employees that want to concentrate on cultivating a strong customer base.

HubSpot Free
Best for: Email marketing

Hubspot CRM
4
An innovative marketing solution that's completely free.
  • Free trial? Yes
  • Intuitive user interace
  • 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.
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HubSpot Free

What do you get with the free tier?

HubSpot is often touted as having one of the most generous free tiers on the market. Whilst HubSpot’s features don’t beat Freshsales’ in terms of scale, it outperforms the latter in lead generation and marketing.

Did you know? According to HubSpot’s State of Marketing report 2021, 64% of small businesses now use email marketing to reach customers, thanks to its guerilla lead gen tactics that are easily accessible and cheap to use.

With HubSpot Free, an unlimited number of users can access tons of powerful features and manage up to one million contacts without ever paying a penny. There’s also email integration and inbox management, as well as auto responses.

In terms of marketing and lead generation, users can also access chatbots and an email design editor – so you can personalise your outreach messages with company branding.

Other features include:

  • Website visitor tracking
  • Social media integration
  • Visual sales pipeline
  • Custom dashboard
  • Data import/export
  • List segmentation
  • Accounting software integration

Paid plans:

HubSpot Free is really only designed for marketing CRM, so it should be used by small businesses in conjunction with other HubSpot products to cover all areas of customer management.

These are:

0 out of 0
Price per month (billed annually)
Users

HubSpot Free

HubSpot Marketing Hub

HubSpot Sales Hub

HubSpot Service Hub

HubSpot Growth Suite (all products).

£0

£37.21 per user

£37.21 per user

£37.21 per user

£37.21 per user

Unlimited

Unlimited

One free user

One free user

One free user

Verdict

Thanks to its focus on email marketing, we recommend HubSpot for small PR or social media management firms that need to engage in lots of lead generation and outreach to gain business.

Agile CRM
Best for: Sales

Agile CRM
3.8
Agile is a CRM tool with all-in-one automation that’s focused on tracking, marketing, sales, and service.
  • Free trial? Yes
  • Helpfully automated features
  • Quick and easy to import contacts
Summary Agile is an excellent option for sales-driven SMEs, thanks to its impressive free tier which focusses on tracking and following up with clients through the sales, marketing and implementation phases of the customer relationship. Because of this, we think it's a strong choice for ecommerce companies.
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Agile CRM screenshot

What do you get with the free tier?

All of the core CRM features are covered by Agile’s free tier, and there’s also an astonishingly generous number of contacts permitted (50,000).

In terms of a specialism, Agile works best for sales. It’s a sprint-based software, so you can capture information and data to manage clients throughout the entire pipeline. You’ll also be able to empower sales representatives with advanced features like email tracking.

Other features include:

  • Custom data fields
  • Lead scoring
  • Unlimited deals, tasks and documents
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Custom deal milestones
  • Email tracking
  • Two-way email integration
  • Two-way telephone

Paid plans:

Like Zoho CRM, a drawback to Agile’s free plan is that it has a 10-person user limit – which means it’s a great choice for smaller teams, but you’ll need to invest in a paid-for plan if you’re looking to grow your workforce.

The Agile CRM Starter plan costs just £6.65 per user and unlocks marketing functions including SMS campaigns and web engagement, allowing you to track website traffic and view personalised behaviour reports.

0 out of 0
Price per month (billed annually)
Users

Agile CRM Free

Agile CRM Starter

Agile CRM Regular

Agile CRM Enterprise

Free

£6.69 per user

£22.33 per user

£35.72 per user

Max 10

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Verdict

Agile CRM is best suited to ecommerce companies with 10 or fewer employees, as its lead scoring features make it a top choice for sales-based companies.

Want to know more about the best CRM tools for small businesses overall? Read our full guide to find out more about the benefits this software can offer you.

Is a free CRM software enough?

When you’re just starting out as a business, it makes sense to keep your expenses low to ensure you are in a stable financial position before investing in the areas you’d like to grow. Choosing a freemium tier of business software is a great way to do this.

However, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the free versions of business tools aren’t sufficient for long-term use, as you’ll find you struggle to grow your consumer base due to feature limitations.

Here are some CRM features that a free tier generally won’t give you:

  1. Accounting capabilities

All your customer information should be available from your CRM system, including accountancy statistics.

Accounting data is an essential part of monitoring your customers and sales. Invoice tracking, budgeting, automated billing, and flexible ledgers are just some of the benefits that accounting and CRM integrations can give you. However, due to how important this area is, most CRM platforms only offer it on their paid tiers.

  1. No user restrictions

Unless you’re using Freshsales, most freemium tiers place limitations on the number of users you’re permitted per account. This is essentially a cap on your employees, and is done to ensure that as your company scales and depends more on CRM software, you are investing more in your providers.

To make sure your recruitment plans aren’t being curbed by unfair user limitations, invest in a paid-for plan.

  1. Social media integration

Where would today’s marketing teams be without social media? It’s the cheap and cheerful method for attracting consumers and targeting your specific audience – allowing your teams to leverage social information to understand and engage customers, gain market insights, and provide better customer service.

  1. Customer service

We don’t just mean tickets or a help desk – as this list proves, brands like Freshsales have plenty of different customer service options for zero charge.

However, desirable functions like case management and support tickets aren’t easily accessible when it comes to freemium plans, as most platforms tend to keep their free customer service tools to the bare minimum.

Which is the best CRM software with a free trial?

monday.com
4.3
An all-in-one platform capable of hosting CRM functions alongside other business needs, such as HR
  • 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.
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Zendesk
4.1
Strong business support tools and high-performing features make Zendesk a good option for SMEs providing specialist services
  • Free trial 30-day
  • Price from £19 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.
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Pipedrive
4.1
Functional CRM platform that's competitively priced.
  • Free trial 14-day
  • Price from £12.50 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.
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How did we choose the top four CRM software for small businesses?

After working with SMEs for twenty years, we know that you have to contend with different issues than you would with larger or mid-sized companies. Budget is one of the biggest concerns, and can often lead to you missing out on software features that are important to managing your business.

We’ve picked out the top CRM systems on the market, and compared them using four areas that small businesses need to prioritise when purchasing a CRM system.

These are:

  • Overall features
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Marketing
  • Sales

Next steps

We’ve taken you through the top four free CRM tools for economical small business owners, examining what their freemium plans can give you, as well as what the pros and cons to each product are.

If you want a free CRM tool that doesn’t scrimp on features, try the Freshsales Suite.
If you’re looking to track and understand your customers better, use Zoho CRM
If it’s sales and marketing that you want to prioritise, HubSpot is the best choice for small businesses.
If you’re a sales-led company and need plenty of deal tracking tools, choose Agile CRM.

But while a freemium plan is great for startups or sole traders who are just starting out, you should be aware that managing your customers is an important aspect of running a company and requires proper investment if you want to see real, long-term growth and success.

With this in mind, we’ve also told you about the best free trials available, so you can test the top brands without jeopardising your budget.

Still not sure? You might know you need a CRM tool, but if you’re still not positive about which is the best fit for your business, you can use our simple online comparison tool to get bespoke quotes from the best providers in the industry.

CRM software FAQs

What are the best free CRM systems?

Our research shows that the best free CRM systems are Freshsales, Zoho CRM, HubSpot CRM, and Agile CRM, as they are all generously full-featured and permit specialist software that matches even the paid tiers for functions like reporting and marketing.

Monday.com is the best CRM tool available with a free trial, and it also offers a free tier for sole traders.

Does Google have a free CRM?

Google does not currently offer a CRM product as part of its software suite, G Suite. There are some tools that integrate closely with Google, but their functions are limited and they can end up slowing you down rather than aiding you in customer management.

Is Zoho still free?

Unless you’re choosing the free Zoho CRM plan, you’ll pay £12 per user for Zoho’s cheapest paid-for CRM plan, Zoho Standard.

However, there is also a free 30-day trial available for Zoho Standard if you’re looking to test out the added benefits that money can buy.

Is Google Drive a CRM?

Most small businesses, when they’re starting out, tend to rely on free apps like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets and other basic apps in Google Drive. However, Google Drive is not a CRM. If you are using basic Google apps, then these are severely limited in comparison to specialist CRM software and, simply put, only work well as a customer database.

You might be able to use these platforms to store customer information, but you won’t be able to track or analyse the data you find without significant workarounds, which can be difficult to design and often lead to mistakes.

Does Google have a CRM app?

Friday CRM is probably the best performing, completely free tool that was built for the G Suite. It offers simple task management and calendar tools but is lacking in more advanced CRM functions, meaning it can limit company growth.

Compare quotes to find the top CRM provider. Do you own CRM software already? It only takes a minute to get the best deal for your business.

Helena is from Yorkshire and joined Startups in 2021 from a background in B2B communications. She has previously written for a popular fintech startup covering everything from money-saving tips to cultural reviews.

She is particularly interested in project management software and the films of Peter Jackson.

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