The 6 Best CRM Software for Your Business in 2018

Posted on March 5, 2018 by in Resources | 55 comments

The 6 Best CRM Software for Your Business in 2018

Online marketing can be a pretty cutthroat world. There are just so many data points, metrics, analytics, and hard numbers that you have to deal with that it’s hard to keep them all straight and remember that data isn’t just data. It represents people. Real people. Your customers, in fact. When you were just a mom-and-pop, bootstrapped business you could remember people’s names, what they did for a living, and their kids’ birthdays. Your relationships with your customers were based on good-ole human interaction. Your refund policy may have varied from person to person, but it was fair to everyone.

Sadly, that isn’t sustainable. As your number of customers grows, the individualized relationship that you are able to manage with each one diminishes. Once you reach a certain point, if you don’t have a tool to help manage those relationships. In the Good Old Days, that might have been your Rolodex. In 2018, though, it’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.

What is CRM Software, and Why Do You Need It?

Okay, so in its most basic, most fundamental, most simplistic form, CRM software is an address book with detailed fields about each entry. In practice, however, it’s a whole lot more than that. The best CRM software has contact storage, lead tracking, email templating, lead generation, message coordination, team integrations, and ways to keep them all separate-but-connected.

Basically, CRM software gives you a cheat-sheet for everyone your business has ever run into. Let’s say you get an email from Jimmy Whizbang asking about your cheapest web design packages. You go into your nifty CRM dashboard, type in his name, and you get a complete rundown of everything you know about him, from the time he called your team about how his WordPress installation wasn’t working right, down to the notes on the account that say “give him what he wants just to get him off the phone.”

And then there’s the automation tools that come with the best CRM software suites, where you can track folks who halfway complete purchases and send out reminder emails their shopping cart is still full and waiting on them. You can also use conditional logic workflows for internal task delegation, and your team can track entire histories of their interactions with clients or with potential customers of certain products. You can also generally funnel leads using variable split testing.

Basically, if you’re running a business online today, you need this to help organize your stuff. But there are a lot of options out there for different business models, so I’ve sorted through a bunch of them to help you figure out which is the best CRM software for you. You’re welcome.

1. Salesforce

best crm software salesforce

Salesforce is the grandpappy of all CRM software. Launched in 1999, it’s hard to go wrong with a product that has nearly twenty years of history, updates, and satisfied customers. Now, nearly two decades later, Salesforce has so many options that it’s really impossible to list every one of them here. Their services are split across different individualize products, rather than trying to be the best CRM software for everyone all the time.

If you’re in Sales, you get B2B marketing integration, price configuration tools, and personalized customer quoting software. Marketers get customer journey tracking, messaging across multiple platforms (social, mobile, email), and data analytics and sharing platforms. And the Service a knowledge base, live chat, video calling, and remote issue monitoring.

Pricing will differ depending on what plan you use, but it is reasonable for different sized companies. Prices range from $25 per user/month to upwards of $100 per user/month. You can get a 30-Day Free Trial, too. And Salesforce is free for non-profits, which is extra cool.


hubspot best crm software

HubSpot is just about as ubiquitous in the CRM world as Salesforce. There’s a reason for that, too. It’s good stuff. Not to mention that it’s free. Well, the base CRM is totally free. You have to pay for additional tools and features, but you do get a pretty good set of features to start with.

hubspot best crm software

More than anything, the free integration extensions are a great way to see if something like HubSpot is the best CRM software for you and your business. You can connect everything from Eventbrite to Zapier to WordPress to even Salesforce itself to your account. While the free tier doesn’t give you access to any of the automation tools that really make HubSpot shine, but you do get all the cross-indexed lead generation and user tracking that can really set your business up for success.

If you look to move past the free tier, HubSpot can be a little pricey: you get a basic package for $50 USD/month, and you can keep adding features you need until you top out at a whopping $2,4o0 USD/month for the whole shebang. There’s a package for everyone here, just depending on what you need.

3. Highrise

highrise best crm software

If you like Basecamp, you will really like Highrise. Originally designed by 37Signals (which is now just called Basecamp, after their now-eponymous product), Highrise broke away from its parent company years ago and has flourished on its own ever since. Taking on the Basecamp philosophy of be simple and do a lot, Highrise really succeeds at it. It’s not as flashy as HubSpot or as specialized as Salesforce, but it’s good at what it does.

You get a team inbox for managing your leads, email templates that you can use to respond to them, reporting and analytics, task management, and contact filtering through custom fields and case management. And you can extend Highrise a bunch, too, which can lead to some really neat automations that rival the bigger products.

In terms of pricing, Highrise is one of the cheapest options out there. There’s a free trial, and after that, it’s only $12 USD/month for a team of 3. The plans scale up from there.

4. Zoho

zoho best crm software

Not only does Zoho have a logo that makes you happier when you see it, the CRM has pretty much that effect on you when you use it. Zoho stands out for a number of reasons, but primarily for the Zia AI that powers its data processing. It is unique among CRMs, really. Zia will point out data anomalies to you that you might miss on your own or take some time to see, such as sales spikes or slumps that are not within your company’s typical flow (if you get a Black Friday-style bump on a Sunday afternoon, for instance).

There are also automations within Zoho CRM that keep the sales pipeline clear, email and phone tracking through telephony, and honestly what I think is a huge feature, social media tracking for campaign analytics (plus in-CRM interaction with leads). These automations are pre-setup through the Zia feature. You can always set your own.

Pricing is actually pretty affordable, depending on your tier. There is a totally free option (not just a trial) like HubSpot. The varied tiers range from $12 per user/month to $100 per user/month.

5. Infusionsoft

infusionsoft best crm software 2018

Infusionsoft is designed specifically around email marketing for small businesses. That means it handles segmentation, contact organization, lead generation, and managing/reporting on our data. One of the more notable features that makes Infusionsoft one of the best CRM software choices is what they call lead scoring. The feature takes a look at all the leads you get, and it rates them for you based on behavior, demographics, and interactions (with your team and your site) to give you a score on the likelihood of you being able to close a deal with them. It’s a really nice way to help you and your team prioritize where to focus your efforts.

The perks come with a cost, however, and Infusionsoft is not the most affordable CRM choice. You get 30% off for the first 3 months; however, after that the price goes from $99 per month at the lowest up to $497 per month, depending on the number of contacts you want to track. The cost also covers only 1 user account. That makes it not quite as cost-effective as some of the other CRMs out there.

6. SuiteCRM

open source crm soft ware - Suite CRM

And rounding out our list is SuiteCRM, the open-source option I’m sure some of y’all crave. (Here’s the GitHub page for ya, too.) First off, the product is completely free. It’s open-source, after all. SalesAgility, the company who maintains the project, does offer premium support and on-boarding for it. There is a store for add-ons if you find that you need just a little extra functionality.

You should know, however, that SuiteCRM is not cloud-based. You will need to download it and install it locally before sending your data around and connecting all your services. That’s a big difference from other CRMs, and it could be a deal-breaker for some people. Also, because it’s free, open-source software, you can set up an unlimited number of folks on your team. That’s awesome.

Because it’s open-source, too, the CRM is ridiculously extensible, and it does pretty much everything that the biggest CRMs do — track leads, provide customer support, automate your data tracking and workflow delegation. And if it’s not built in to the primary software, there’s a module or add-on for it (or you can write your own). If you’re not sure if this is the best CRM software to integrate with your company or workflow, you can’t go wrong with trying it since it’s totally free.

Which is the Best CRM Software for You?

As you can see, there are a lot of options out there to choose from. Honestly, this list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the various CRMs that you really can choose from — there are literally dozens of them out there. But I really believe these are the best options you’ve got. Each piece of software has its main focus set a little differently — such as Zoho using AI for tracking,  Infusionsoft demystifying email, or Highrise simplifying team collaboration. When looking at choosing the best CRM software, you have to consider your business’s individual needs. Regardless of what that may be, one of these 6 will most likely be a fit for you.

Let us know which CRM software you use and why in the comments!

Article featured image by TaErma /


  1. You left out Dubsado….which beats them all in my opinion.

    • B.J. Keeton

      I’ve never run across Dubsado, Nancy. I am certainly looking into it now, though. 🙂 What makes it your go-to?

  2. My company is just getting started with SugarCRM and I was wondering how that stacks up against these recommendations.

    • Sugar is the paid version of the open source, suiteCRM

      • B.J. Keeton

        Did not know that! Awesome. So I think it stacks up well, Fred, haha.

  3. We just started using Prosper Works.
    Super easy to use and integrated with G-Suite

    • B.J. Keeton

      Oh, that’s a new one on me. There are so many quality options out there, it’s hard to keep up! And native integration with G-Suite is a major boon, too. I like that over proprietary systems.

    • +1 on ProsperWorks. None of the CRMs posted here even compare. A “free” CRM is a terrible solution for any business that has more than a couple employees. Deep G Suite integration is stellar. Quick-moving CRM companies need revenue to gain investors, grow, and reinvest in their platform. I’d rather support the company that I am looking to utilize for the next 5-20 years.

  4. I’ve had a lot of success with Agile CRM. They have a great platform, offer a lot for free, and their API, WP plugin and Zapier integration make it a powerful tool.

    • B.J. Keeton

      I am just learning to get the hang of Zapier. I’ve been a passive IFTTT user for years, but I can see Zapier having a lot of really good stuff there, too. I love the idea of task automation, but it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around what I should be setting up and what’s extraneous.

    • I’m struggling with Agile CRM. There optin forms are limited, as are the landing pages. Are you going beyond starter package?

    • I’ve been on AgileCRM for almost a year now. I haven’t fully integrated everything yet, but am integrating as I can. I really like it so far. And it seems to offer a LOT more for the money than other CRMs I compared it to. So I feel like I’m getting more value out of it. Great tool. Definitely recommend it to others.

  5. For anyone looking into SugarCRM, I would highly recommend checking out [open-source] SuiteCRM. There is even an online demo … just Google search it.

    SugarCRM used to have an open-source (“community”) version, but they decided to abandon the free version sometime back.

    SugarCRM is good software, but when you start adding pieces (functionality) or users, the costs add up very quickly!

    • B.J. Keeton

      Is Sugar a cloud-based app? That was one thing about SuiteCRM that was off-putting — having to download it and run it locally.

      • Hi! SuiteCRM here. Thank you for including us in this list B.J, and thank you for your nice comment, Mark! 🙂 Just wanted to let you know there is a hosted edition of SuiteCRM, called SuiteCRM:OnDemand. We’ve made sure to include it in the services menu, so that it’s easier found. 🙂

  6. I use streak in my Gmail and use to set up pipelines

    • B.J. Keeton

      Is that a browser extension for Chrome? I am not familiar with that one. Anything that works with Gmail is okay by me. 😉

      • I can second Streak, we’ve used it for 2 years now and it works v. well – we were looking for something which wouldn’t require us to leave our browser, and was relatively simple to use but customisable for our needs. Highly recommend

        • PS: yes, it’s something you use via a browser extension and can only be used on Chrome and within Gmail

          • B.J. Keeton

            Nathan also put me onto something called Supermetrics recenty, which acts as dashboard integration for Google Sheets. It seems pretty powerful, too, like Streak.

  7. We’re using the free CRM from Hubspot for some customers and I have to say that besides the fact that it is free, it may be a good solution for some. The integration with wordpress is very good. The only issue as the article has mentioned is that upgrades are very costly. So I guess the free version is just a functional demo to sell the whole package.

    • B.J. Keeton

      I tend to like software like that personally. As long as there is a demographic that _can_ use the software fully, I am great with the upsells. It’s when the functionality is so limited that it is only for evaluation that I get really irritated.

  8. We use Insightly. It has the same structure as Hubspots CRM but going to a higher plan isn’t that costly.

    • B.J. Keeton

      I have looked at Insightly just a bit. I totally get kind of future-proofing yourself for growth like that. Smart one, you. 😉

  9. Very informative and covers all the main 6 CRMs. Many thanks

  10. Nice post-B.J – Heres my take on it. As you quite rightly pointed there are a whole bunch of CRM platforms to choose from, most of which are filled with a list of features as long as your arm, most of which you may never use. So choosing the right CRM is crucial.

    Ultimately, the purpose of a CRM is to instill centricity across your business processes to help harmonize workflow, increase productivity and results, save time and money, and, improve the quality your brand.

    One of the easiest ways to choose a CRM that is right for your business is to first understand its purpose, goals, and objectives. Then create a thorough list of all the processes that will help you move in the right direction.

    It’s important to remember that implementing a successful CRM solution takes time; it does not happen overnight and it will occasionally bring some disruption to your business – but its all worth it in the end.

    Once you have your list of processes break them down into associated process groups – a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. This will act as your implementation strategy. Implement one process group at a time, once a process group is bedded in and working, implement the next group and so on.

    If you intend to role out your CRM platform across a team of employees it’s extremely important that you have 100% buy-in from everyone involved. Buy-in will help the implementation process and increase the accuracy, efficiency, and performance of your CRM strategy.

    Holding weekly or monthly CRM Development meetings with everyone involved will play a significant role when it comes to every aspect of implementation and how it’s respected and used from an operational perspective

    Operating the right CRM in your business will bring centricity to your whole operation saving you money and time while increasing revenue and improving your brand.

    B.J I would like to add another to your list Bitrix24 lots of nice features. affordable and very easy to use.

    • B.J. Keeton

      I haven’t seen Bitrix24 in action, myself. I’ve noticed it around the web some, but never dug into it.

      This is a really good point:

      It’s important to remember that implementing a successful CRM solution takes time; it does not happen overnight and it will occasionally bring some disruption to your business – but its all worth it in the end.

      I think a lot of folks tend to avoid fully integrating a CRM because of the crazy setup time that comes with it. In the end, it can really increase productivity and revenue, but it’s incredibly daunting to get working at first.

  11. Excellent Post. I use Dolibar a CRM and ERP software the bad thing is that it has very almost no integration with WordPress.

    • B.J. Keeton

      That’s one thing I’ve noticed some of them have–I love native interactions without having to hack together something.

  12. I hope now that you have posted this you are considering linking to Zoho CRM and Zoho Campaigns. Myself and my clients use it. It is a very popular program.

    • B.J. Keeton

      Oh, no! Totally missed that I didn’t put a link in there to Zoho. Absolutely meant to! Thanks for the heads up Joe!

  13. I used Sugar Community edition but now Suite CRM seems better.

  14. Good job on the reviews. Very helpful.

    Was Daylite by Marketcircle for Macs considered?

    Or what about Act? I think it’s been around in some form or another much longer than any of these other CRMs.

    • B.J. Keeton

      I haven’t used either of those myself, Scott. But having looked at Act, I was really impressed by their use of Alexa for the software. That’s a really unique take on the way we could interact with a piece of CRM software — making it more of a teammember than tool. And that’s a whole different set of articles, haha 😉

    • Hi This is a great and really timely article. I had forgotten about Highrise ( which has now managed to get to the top of a clients short list along with Hubspot)

      With regard to ACT! Unless their attitude to the customer has changed I could only say “run”. After being a loyal user since the mid 90’sthey just threw me under a bus unless I paid an extortionant amount for one of their “qualified” professinals to address my problem that magically wasn’t covered by the guarantee.

      I took my last good backup and exported everything to a spreadsheet and went elsewhere. Let the buyer beware.

  15. This article is rediculous. First off you act like an expert in the industry but clearly lack knowledge of it. As a CRM consultant of just shy of a decade I find your the lack of Dynamics CRM (D365) here is clearly proof of your ignorance. I guess since your product doesn’t integrate with it it isn’t a valid option.

    • Keep calm and don’t be so agressive with the author please.
      There are plenty of other solutions on the market.

      • I bet your customers just love you. Dude, take a valium. His opinion is his opinion. He never claimed to be an expert. Bottom line, if you don’t like what he has to say in HIS post, LEAVE! People today just plain SUCK!

  16. I have used pancakeapp until I switched to perfexcrm which are both one time purchases and self hosted. Both are great, but I’m going with perfex now. Ridiculous value for money if any of them fit your business.

    • B.J. Keeton

      How do the self-hosted apps work for you? I know that’s a detriment to some folks, and they prefer cloud-apps for ease and access. Have you had any issues being solely local?

      • Both of these apps have been easy to manage. Both have built in update systems and have very reasonable requirements.

  17. Why MS Dynamics CRM is not considered here?

  18. Holy Smokes… I didn’t realize there was so many out there! I’ve been looking at 17hats and Honeybook. The one thing I love about the Honeybook CRM is that it has an area to hook up with other creatives and work together on projects by collaborating together on the same page. I think that’s the biggest draw for me.

  19. We’re using Hubspot CRM for basic needs and it works pretty well. We love cloud apps because installing and maintaining an app on our server requires some continuous resource that sometimes out of our ability.

    • B.J. Keeton

      I know quite a few people who use the HubSpot free plan for their stuff. 🙂 Glad to hear another vote for it.

  20. I’m a yuge, YUGE fan of Pipedrive. If you’re a small sales team or an individual who needs something feature rich and cost effective, you can’t go wrong with Pipedrive.

  21. Microsoft Dynamics has served us well for the past 7 years.

  22. I used for more than 25 years Maximizer CRM. But noted that nobody mentioned it. What’s your opinion about the Canadian Company?

  23. Good article. Hey what about Microsoft’s CRM? Have you worked with it?

  24. What about Microsoft Dynamics Crm ?

  25. We use Hubspot CRM (free) and really like it. Not only for typical CRM stuff but also Tasks, Deals and more. And the iOS app is really cool as well!

    • B.J. Keeton

      I haven’t tried the app yet! I really should — as much as I use my phone for Slack, I can see how having HubSpot there, too, would be awesome. 🙂

  26. You should also checkout Bitrix24. It has been my go to CRM for the past 2 years and it’s awesome! It’s free version is complete.

  27. Wow..Great article.

    As a owner of growing web development company this post is very helpful as we have to satisfy our enterprise as well as business clients regarding their requirements for their custom software development.

    My mind is completely change after reading this awesome post.

    Thanks for sharing.

  28. We use as CRM Consulting Company several product, but in the last time (as open-source solution) we begin to implement project with Yetiforce. We reccomend it

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