As a small business, the time will come where you have researched the market, understood your customers’ needs, and piqued their interest. Enquiries start flooding in and you now need to start managing your sales process and pipeline, to turn prospects into paying customers.

Investing in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is the simplest approach to managing your pipeline. There are many options available, so take the time to assess your needs. Your system must be flexible to your demands, mirror your sales process, and work intuitively for your team. This ease-of-use must spread throughout the company, so that other departments such as marketing and finance will be able to easily access and utilise the valuable data CRM can provide.

In this article, we look at six different examples of leading CRM software, examining the benefits of each.

Hubspot – Best free software

It’s hard to fault this CRM – for no cost at all, an unlimited amount of users can get unlimited access to the software with no data cap! You also have the option of Hubspot Sales that integrates with the CRM free of charge. This will give you Gmail/Outlook integration, CRM integration, email scheduling, and email tracking history. Hubspot CRM is great for companies who don’t have a CRM currently and who don’t require fancy functionality. However, it may not meet the needs of larger companies.

Key Features:
– Connected to your website, emails, phone calls, social media
– Works in the background to automatically log emails and calls
– Very simple and sleek interface
– Customize fields, filter records, select and organise columns
– View deals and tasks in table view or an intuitive board view, drag deals from stage to stage

Insightly – Best for small businesses
“Easy. Powerful. Affordable.”

Insightly is a tool for managing your contacts and related organisations, partners, vendors and suppliers. It has a project management system built right in, hosts an easy-to-use website, as well as offering email tracking and templates. It is available in 5 price tiers; the free plan offers limited functionality for two users and the Basic package ($15 per user per month, or $12 per user per month with an annual contract) offers unlimited users, lead management, 25,000 records, 1GB of storage, and more. Overall, Insightly is a beautiful and powerful CRM tool that is not only affordable for the sole proprietor, but is also loaded with team-friendly features.

Key Features:
– Keep track of communications, tasks, notes, emails and milestones
– Connect with customers via email, phone, chat and social media
– Can create pipelines and activity sets
– Add tags to track multiple projects

Microsoft Dynamics – Best integration with Microsoft software
“Energize and empower customer engagement”

Microsoft Dynamics CRM boasts an attractive interface, automation and excellent reporting. It is ideal for larger organisations with complex CRM requirements. The pricing model is quite complex with companies having to sign up for a minimum subscription of 5 users at approximately £240.

Key Features:
– Sales force automation
– Marketing planning, social listening and engagement
– Offline Access
– Works seamlessly with Office 365, Yammer, Skype and others
– Simple Interface

Pipedrive – Best for pipeline management
“The leading sales management tool that small sales teams love to use”

If you’re looking for a CRM that is quick to set up, easy to understand, intuitive and sales focused, Pipedrive is for you. It will set you back $12 per user per month. It is a great tool to manage and view your sales pipeline, but it lacks functionality that is very standard of other CRMs that focus more on customer relationships.

Key Features:
– Very simple and sleek interface
– Extremely easy to use, drag and drop
– Can log communication and add tasks
– Filters and customisation
– Sales reporting

Salesforce – Best for larger businesses
“Step into the future with the World’s #1 CRM System”

Salesforce is one of the best known and most established CRM systems out there. It provides an extensive list of advanced features and a highly customisable platform if you are prepared to pay for it. It’s quite an expensive solution (£60/month per user for the complete CRM) and small businesses wouldn’t necessarily need all of the functionality that it provides.

Key Features:
– Data is automatically captured and synced from inbound and outbound emails, your calendar and your smartphone calls
– Sales management and marketing automation
– Contact management – complete view of customers including activity history, communications, gain insights from social media
– Opportunity management – details on your team’s deals (stage, competition, quotes)
– Engage and connect your sales force to customers in just one click with personalised sales campaigns

Zoho – Best value for money
“The operating system for business”

Zoho is an advanced and customisable CRM system for small and medium-sized businesses. Whilst customisable, it doesn’t offer the most intuitive interface. This CRM is feature-rich, and provides a powerful option for small and medium-size businesses. There is a free version for up to 10 users and plans starting at $12/user/month.

Key Features:
– Automate day-to-day business activity
– Connect with customers via email, phone, chat and social media
– Prioritise activities and prospects
– Track sales activities
– Google integration
– Capture leads from your website
– Email marketing and advanced reporting