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Best contact management software of 2019: manage customers and sales

Best contact management software
(Image credit: Pixabay)
Best contact management software

1. Insightly

2. Maximizer

3. Nutshell

4. NetSuite CRM

5. Zoho CRM

Read on for our detailed analysis of each service

Relationships are key to business, not least for leads, sales, development, and general connectivity. As the old saying goes, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." Yet managing your contacts can be a challenge, especially when you find yourself returning from business events or trade shows with a pocket full of business cards. 

Having an app to scan them or a dedicated email folder can help, but it's not the best way to organize your new and old contacts. This is where business contact management software comes into play.

The aim of contact management software is simple: to make it easier not to just organize your contacts, but to leverage them according to your needs and interests. At a basic level this means the software will make it far easier to organize all your contacts and communications in one place.

Additional features are also available, such as visualizations of company hierarchies, so you can see at a glance which person is responsible for which department, making it easier to send an email or make a call to the right person. Sometimes everything will be done by clicking through options, but increasingly virtual assistants and AI now play a role in organizing your information.

However, do note that the term contact management software is sometimes used interchangeably by some vendors with Customer Relationship Management (CRM), although others believe that CRM solutions are more advanced than the closely related but simpler contact management software. For the purpose of this article we consider both to be the same category of software, although technically there are some nuanced differences here.

With so many ways to contact folks these days, good contact management software can simplify this process, and integrate all these conversations into one unified place. In picking out the best offerings here, we’ve considered features, cost, professional reviews and user experiences.

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(Image credit: Insightly)

1. Insightly

Build business relationships with this popular choice

App integration
Available educational content
Limited free tier

Insightly is a popular contact management program, boasting 1.5 million users at 25,000 companies in a variety of industries including Bloomberg, the Mayo Clinic and the University of California. It can connect to 40 different apps to aggregate data, including Slack, Box, and Evernote.

Insightly also focuses on business relationships, and can assist in discovering hierarchies at organizations, and build relationship maps which can help to increase sales via tools such as automated lead management and automatic tracked emails. For new users of the platform, there is a series of tutorials and webinars to get you up to speed quickly.  

Insightly offers free trials, and also a free tier which has a limit of two users. The paid plans start with the Plus Plan, which costs $29 (£23) per user per month (billed annually) and is appropriate for smaller organizations as it has limits such as only letting you scan 15 business cards from a mobile device.


(Image credit: Maximizer)

2. Maximizer

Contact management as part of a larger business program

Multi-level security
Searchable shared address book
No free tier or trial

Maximizer is a business software solution with a robust feature set to cover contact management duties; it is trusted by 120,000+ corporations including Hallmark and National Bank.

Features include a shared address book that can perform searches by a case number or company affiliation and even save them, processes can be automated easily, multi-level security for hierarchical access to control who has access to what data, and integrated with a mobile friendly calendar. Data entry can also be simplified with form field validation that can specify which fields are mandatory, and check for duplicate entries.  

The price for Maximizer is steep, and starts at $40 (£31), with a minimum of 5 users, billed annually and hosted on your own server. There is no free tier or trial available other than a 60-day money back guarantee. It also offers a solution whereby the firm hosts the software in the cloud, and this increases the cost to $60 (£47) per user monthly, billed annually with a 2 user minimum.


(Image credit: Nutshell)

3. Nutshell

A focus on ease of setup and use

Ease of implementation
Free trial
Mobile app support
No free tier

Nutshell is a customer management solution, with claims that companies have closed over 1.1 million worth of deals using their software. It has also won multiple awards.

This software can organize contacts and conversations, track leads, automate sales processes, and track it all with easily understandable performance reports. Its raison d'être is ease of use, and the idea is that this is the tool the sales team will actually use.

Towards that end, they offer features such as on-boarding assistance to be up and running in under 24 hours, and accessible support available for no extra charge via phone, email and chat. Nutshell has both iOS and Android apps available to support use on the go.  

A 14-day free trial is offered without a credit card. The paid plans begin with the Starter tier, which costs $19 (£15) per user per month when billed annually. It can support a single sales pipeline, standard sales reporting, and offers team collaboration capabilities. There is also the Pro midrange tier priced at $35 (£28) monthly, and the top-level plan is Pro Plus which is suitable for more complex needs.


(Image credit: NetSuite)

4. NetSuite CRM

The cloud-based solution for your company’s growth

Integrates sales performance management
Detailed records of all comms interactions
Opaque pricing

The internet titan Oracle brings us its cloud-based business software offering, NetSuite, covering the full gamut of business needs. The component that deals with contact management is Netsuite CRM.

NetSuite CRM endeavors to “drive the complete customer lifecycle.” This includes automation of the sales force including marketing, e-commerce, and customer support, all with the option for customization. Also included is sales performance management, order management and partner management, with integration to other products. It also provides mobile apps for both the Android and iOS platforms.

Contacts get managed through sales portals, and sales managers get provided with “a complete view of all leads and opportunities in the pipeline,” and records that include full details of all interactions.  

While NetSuite CRM is a robust offering, there is no indication of pricing on its website, or any mention of a free trial. 

Zoho CRM

(Image credit: Zoho)

5. Zoho CRM

The CRM with Zia, the conversational AI

Ease of use with a conversant AI
Choice of plans
Annual billing
Zia Voice not on lower tiers

With digital assistants gaining prominence in our lives, Zoho CRM takes this approach with its customer management software solution. No, you won’t be chatting with Cortana, Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant, but rather a new virtual buddy, named Zia Voice.

Ease of use is paramount here, and instead of having to generate performance reports as with rival products, the Zia chatbot can be queried for the desired info.

Zia is also useful when mobile as she can be accessed from an app on the smartphone, and can perform a variety of activities including updating accounts and retrieving information, avoiding the need to manually update info on a smaller device. Zia can also analyze records, and indicate which leads are more likely to close, and which are slipping away.

There is a free trial, but no free tier. Subscription plans begin at the Standard level of $12 (£10) monthly per user billed annually, but Zia Voice is not included unless you step up to the Enterprise plan for $35 (£30) per user per month, billed annually.

CRM options for sales

One key purpose of contact management isn't just to record and log customer interactions, but also to support sales channels to create new ones. Here we'll look at CRM's that have a particular focus on sales:

Pipedrive advertises itself as a CRM developed by sales people for sales people. It's designed as a sales management tool to help teams work with more advanced sales projects, and it's both simple to set up and easy to use. It provides a visual display of the sales process, alerting you to various actions and goals that need to be covered by the team at different stages.

Keap is the new brand names for InfusionSoft's successful CRM, which aims to simplify the sales process through a series of clear visual representations as well as a visual builder for creating automated workflows. This makes it easy to connect different campaigns in different ways from a single dashboard, as well as track appointments, quotes, invoices, and payments.

Freshsales is the sales-based CRM from the popular Freshworks stable of apps. It uses built-in phone and email features to find the best sales leads, engage in relevant conversations, and manage the sales pipeline better. It can run as a standalone platform, but it also integrates with Freshworks other products for sales, customer management, calls, and marketing, among other things.

Bitrix24 also offers a CRM as part of it's hugely inclusive platform of services, which includes a contact center and communications, project and customer management, as well as document management and even HR tools. The CRM itself is sales-focused for working with your sales funnels and pipelines, with a range of automation features including for connecting with marketing actions.