Posted: Mon 22nd Nov 2021
There are a number of low-cost customer relationship management (CRM) software programs developed with small business owners in mind. Each either has a free trial or remains free while your company has fewer than a certain number of employees.
Here, we’ve chosen some top CRM software examples, with the help of our Enterprise Nation community of small business owners, entrepreneurs and business advisers.
From the recommendations we received, we compiled this list. We hope you find it useful when deciding on a CRM for your small business or start-up.
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This is a condensed, streamlined version of the full Salesforce platform, designed purposely as CRM software for small business.
Starting at £20 ($25) per user per month, it caters to the typical small business budget, recognising that most businesses of this smaller size don’t need a vast and daunting range of functions.
It’s simple to implement, with an online learning platform, Trailhead, built in to guide users through the set-up process. Great for people with limited IT skills or technical knowhow.
Once up and running, Salesforce Essentials has many (but not all) of the features you’ll find in the full version. This includes tools for:
storing and managing contact information
capturing data from customer emails
customising the sales process
receiving and answering customer questions, and managing customer feedback
providing customer support via email, phone, live chat and social media
integrating with other programs such as Dropbox, Zapier, DocuSign and data import tools such as Apsona
a smartphone app, with the same functions as the Essentials desktop version
the AppExchange, a third-party app marketplace offering more than 5,000 apps and solutions to help businesses grow
“It meets many needs, as it’s able to fulfil the requirements of multiple departments,” Mary says. “This is ideal for small organisations, who can use it not only for things like HR and marketing but for tracking customers/service users as well.
“If you’re a charity, Salesforce is totally free. You get 10 free user licenses, which are renewed every year. Just don’t fall into the trap that because it’s free CRM software, you don’t need to allocate any budget to your CRM in future. There are fees for any apps you buy, and there may be times when you need paid consultancy support.
“For other businesses, the flexibility of being able to customise and automate a lot of things, and the ability to add apps via the AppExchange, is invaluable.”
Aimed specifically at small businesses, HubSpot CRM provides free access to its core features from the outset, while offering optional paid add-ons. This unique pricing model means it can be very attractive to those businesses that operate on a limited budget.
With access to the main CRM functions at the moment of sign-up, businesses can take advantage of free features that include the following:
A user-friendly interface
Setting up HubSpot CRM is simple. The software integrates easily with e-mail programs like Outlook and Gmail, while installing template add-ons is done via the click of a mouse button.
The platform makes initial tasks such as importing contacts and configuring users really straightforward.
This area of the platform is for training and knowledge, providing a wide range of learning materials, technical documents, courses and community forums.
You can find free, time-saving templates for things like landing pages, blogs, e-mails and more in the HubSpot Marketplace.
Click-to-call and call recording
You can call clients directly from HubSpot and record the conversation. The system saves the call for future reference.
Optional add-ons – which carry a cost – include the Marketing Hub. Paying for this service gives you access to marketing features such as:
an analytics dashboard
creating blogs and other content
Jade Brindley, founder and managing director of Koa Consulting, says: “HubSpot CRM is our favourite CRM here at Koa Consulting and is the system we use. It offers a free version and has a lot of free add-ons which, from a marketing perspective, is always nice.
“With HubSpot, you can log and track deals and set reminders and tasks for people, as well as integrate the platform with Microsoft Outlook. And it has an Android and iOS app, so you can access it on your smartphone or tablet on the go.
“All in all, it’s a fantastic, free CRM system that integrates with lots of other systems to allow you to seamlessly generate leads and track proposals.”
Capsule CRM is designed to meet the needs of smaller teams while, at the same time, enabling their businesses to become more organised, efficient and sales-driven. It’s also been created with business growth in mind.
The platform is free for up to two users. That free access lets you use the basic version of the service and manage up to 250 contacts. After that, prices start at around £14 ($18) per user per month, for the Professional tier of subscription, which should meet the needs of most small businesses.
Capsule CRM’s functionality includes tools for:
generating reports and data to help with decision-making
integrating with accounting software programs such as QuickBooks, Freshbooks, Xero and Sage, as well as other programs like MailChimp, Zapier, Google Contacts and many more
customising your dashboards and features
“Capsule CRM is very user-friendly, with a lot of brilliant functionality. It’s extremely cost-effective and the process of setting it up is very easy,” says Mary Butlin of Tonica CRM & Insight.
“Personally, I love the fact that the business is based in the UK. It’s great to support a ‘local’ software supplier when so many other software suppliers are based in the US.”
Jade Brindley of Koa Consulting says: “Capsule is a good entry-level option for businesses that haven’t used a CRM before. It’s easy to use, has a good range of features and is free for up to two users.
“It’s limited to 250 contacts, which may not be a problem initially but could cause issues further down the line. It includes plenty of free integrations and customisations, including syncing with Outlook.”
A sales-focused CRM that also works as an account management and marketing tool. Straightforward to set up and use, it provides a visual representation of the sales process from beginning to end.
A very useful CRM for setting tasks and reminders, logging details and viewing dashboards, but particularly project management. It’s free of charge for up to two users, and has an app you can install on your phone or tablet.
A simple CRM that offers a basic free edition for up to three users. After that, there are flexible, month-to-month contracts with tiered pricing plans depending on the depth of features you need.
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