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Best CRM software of 2021

Best CRM software
(Image credit: Image Credit: Pixabay)

The best customer relationship management (CRM) software makes it simpler and easier to manage customer communications, support, and sales, from a single platform.

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This is especially important as customer relations has become an essential part of business operations, especially in a social media world where reputations can make or break according to your customer experiences. 

That means needing to be able to clearly communicate with customers through different channels, whether by phone, email, text, or social posts directly. Additionally, there's also a need to record all interactions to be clear on a customer's history.

It's not just about keeping customers happy, though, but also about ensuring that agent workflows remain efficient and KPI's are met, all of which can be monitored through in-built analytics and data reporting for project management.

Freshworks CRM is the best CRM

Freshworks offers a CRM that combines phone, email, and messaging, while also using AI to help with organizing and lead scoring. Get the best that works, get Freshworks CRM.View Deal

Yet for all this, CRM software doesn't have to be complex or expensive, and there are software providers out there who can provide some limited form of CRM for free, to help you try out their system and make sure it works for you.

Here then are the best CRM software platforms currently on the market.

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CRM software mini reviews

(Image credit: Freshworks)

1. Freshworks CRM

The affordable and easy-to-use CRM

Reasons to buy
+Intuitive interface and mobile app+Built-in phone with automatic call recording+Two-way email sync and bulk emails
Reasons to avoid
-Limited tools for lead generation-Limited project management integrations

Freshworks CRM is a user-friendly platform that focuses on maximizing the productivity of your sales team. It includes a number of tools and features, such as a softphone with email integration, lead scoring, and workflow automation. There are also a number of integrations for marketing and communications you can add with it.

Even the most basic plan includes lead, contact, deal, and account management, as well as a visual sales pipeline, automated lead scoring, SMS integration, and API access.

More advanced plans offer multiple sales pipelines, bulk emails, multiple sequences, automated workflow processes, teams, lead assignments, smart matches, custom roles, and advanced reports. 

Enterprise-level features include advanced CRM customization, auto-profiles, smartforms and event tracking, sales goals, IP whitelisting, and audit logs, among other things.

Overall, despite having a wide range of features, Freshworks CRM manages to keep everything simple and easy to use, reducing the need for training that can impact over platforms. Additionally, the sales-focus is a real strength here, if that's what you need it for.


(Image credit: Insightly)

2. Insightly

CRM software with project management focus

Reasons to buy
+Powerful commercial offerings+Project and sales management capabilities
Reasons to avoid
-Limited free account

Insightly is a powerful CRM with a strong focus on project management. As well as managing sales pipelines, you're able to set milestones, set and assign tasks, attach files and notes, define a schedule, produce reports, and more.

If you're more interested in sales management, that's not a worry – there are plenty of supporting features. Insightly offers good contacts management, with social networking integration and mass email support. You get tools to collect leads and track sales opportunities, and the system can be viewed and administered from a mobile app.

A capable set of apps enables integrating most of the tools you use already, including Google Workspace, Outlook, MailChimp, QuickBooks, Slack, Dropbox, Evernote and more.

Insightly offers a range of powerful commercial plans charged on a per user per month basis, and a free trial is also available.


(Image credit: Hubspot)

3. HubSpot CRM

The best free CRM software platform

Reasons to buy
+Core CRM is completely free+Handles all the basics nicely
Reasons to avoid
-Limited reporting

HubSpot CRM stands out immediately for its pricing model. There are no unusably limited 'free' plans, no vast matrix of other accounts to browse – instead the core CRM is entirely free, and you only pay if you need to add extra sales or marketing modules.

That's an appealing prospect when budgets are tight, and HubSpot handles the CRM basics reasonably well. You're able to build contact and company databases, log emails, assign tasks and track deals, and the system supports as many users and as much storage space as you need (up to a limit of 1 million contacts and companies.)

It's not all good news, though. HubSpot's reporting tools are only average and you may need to integrate with the free version of HubSpot Sales to begin to get the functionality you'll find elsewhere. But there's also a lot to like about the service, and it's certainly the best free CRM software platform around.


(Image credit: Apptivo)

4. Apptivo

A comprehensive CRM system

Reasons to buy
+Impressively configurable+Plenty of valuable extras
Reasons to avoid
-Steep learning curve

Apptivo is a comprehensive CRM which provides an easy way to manage your contacts, schedules, notes, communications, tasks and more. That's not all: even the free account gets project management tools, invoicing, estimates, basic purchase order tracking, field service management and a helpdesk, although it only supports a maximum of three users.

The Premium account offers much more storage and plenty of valuable extras: bulk email, e-commerce integration, standalone business apps and Google Drive, Calendar, Tasks, PayPal and Dropbox integration. Crank it up to the Ultimate plan for for even more data and campaign emails, as well as priority support.

This kind of power comes with a little complexity, especially if you're new to this type of package. It doesn't take long to master the basics, though, and the system is so configurable that you'll soon have it set up to suit your requirements.


(Image credit: Zoho)

5. Zoho CRM

The flexible CRM solution

Reasons to buy
+Tons of neat features+Integration with other Zoho products
Reasons to avoid
-Free plan has restrictions

Zoho CRM is a flexible solution with a lengthy feature list: leads, contact management, social media integration, tasks, marketing and sales automation, web forms and more.

If that's still not enough, the system can be integrated with many other Zoho products, including customer support, project management and web forms.

Zoho's mobile apps give access to this data, and help you collect it. There are tools to locate leads on maps, log calls, take voice notes, record your customer visits, and more.

Zoho's free plan is appealing, with handy Google Calendar integration and support for up to 3 users, but be sure to read the full product comparison. There are lots of limitations, and to really compete with the other products here you'll need to spend more for the Professional plan.

More CRM software reviews

Check out some of the other CRM platforms we've reviewed here: