12 Best CRM Software for Startups and Small Businesses

best CRM for Startups

Table of Contents

By reading this blog, you will be able to –

  • Get an understanding of CRM
  • Demonstrate its working with real-time examples 
  • Have the ability to find the best CRM software by knowing its features and integrations
  • Find how a particular CRM is vital to your needs
  • Get the list of best CRM for startups and small business

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is an essential tool for any startup as it helps them maintain a good relationship with their customers.

A good CRM system with all the necessary features can help a startup improve its sales, brand image, and retention rate, and streamline its business operations. However, with so many CRM platforms to choose from, it has become harder for startups to choose the one that’ll be best for their business. For doing so, you’ll need a guide, and that’s what we are here with today.

In this guide, we’ll learn about the best CRM for startups, including some information on the importance, types, and key features of a CRM.

Let’s begin.

What is CRM?

Now that we are trying to get some research on the best CRM for startups, we need to first understand what exactly a CRM is.

Here you go:

CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, is the strategy, tool, or technique, used by a business to maintain and analyze customer data. It is a system that keeps track of all the necessary customer data such as customer interactions, communication history, purchase history, preferences, and so on. 

Maintaining such data helps a business improve the customer experience and meet all their needs, which in turn increases the retention rate.

Importance and benefits of CRM

The business that understands and meets its customers needs is the business that lives longer. CRM helps businesses achieve those goals, which clearly makes it crucially important for business. However, we are still going to discuss some other benefits of CRM to understand if it’s worth it for our business. 

1. Improved customer relationship

A Customer Relationship Management system does what its name suggests, it improves and manages the customer relationship. 

A CRM comes with a wealth of customer data that provides businesses with insights into what their customers like, their history, their interaction with the business, their behavior, and so on. This information is then used to personalize the customers’ experience and provide better satisfaction, which improves their relationship with the business. 

Furthermore, with a CRM system, businesses can also understand the customer’s pain points and address them to meet their needs. 

This overall ensures a long-lasting customer relationship.

2. Increased efficiency

A CRM system takes on a modern way of maintaining the customers’ data and running business operations, which increases productivity. 

It comes with the ability to create and maintain data in such a way that can be easily shared among teams and departments when needed. This increases their efficiency as teams would not have to put in a lot of time searching for the information they need.

A CRM’s ability to maintain a centralized database that can be accessed by any team makes it extremely easy and useful for each department to take action accordingly.

For example, customer data can be used by the customer service department to manage customer queries and provide support. On the other hand, the same data can be used by the marketing department to understand the customer’s problems and address them using a marketing campaign.

3. Improved brand image

By analyzing and understanding the customers’ preferences and needs, a company gets strong data on what their customers need. Addressing those problems and improving the customer’s experience improves the brand’s perception in the eyes of the customers. 

By providing better customer satisfaction a company also increases its chances of retaining more customers as customers stay loyal to a brand with a good image.

Furthermore, a CRM helps a business respond to customers’ queries quickly and resolve their issues effectively. This improves their brand image and makes the customers feel good about the company. 

4. Increase sales and profitability

CRM provides businesses with data and insights to better understand their customers and improve their sales processes.

The CRM system provides businesses with data on the needs and preferences of their customers to tailor their processes according to their customers’ needs. In meeting those needs, businesses improve their chances of acquiring more customers and retaining the existing ones. 

This overall increases the sales and profit generated by the business.

Types of CRM

There are majorly four types of CRM systems: operational, analytical, collaborative, and strategic, with each designed to meet specific business goals. Let us discuss each CRM system in detail.

1. Operational CRM system

An operational CRM system is a type of CRM system that is used by businesses to streamline and automate their business processes. It takes care of all the customer-facing business processes such as sales, marketing, and customer service. 

The main goal of such a CRM system is to understand, acquire and retain as many customers as possible. 

It includes various modules such as contact management, lead management, and so on, to manage customer interactions effectively. 

Therefore, an operational CRM system helps businesses understand and manage all customer-related operations, to satisfy and retain customers effectively.

2. Analytical CRM system

Analytical CRM system does what its name suggests, it analyzes. 

An analytical CRM system is a type of CRM system that focuses on analyzing all customer-related data and gaining insights into customer behavior and preferences. This allows your business to assess the effectiveness of your sales, marketing, and customer service strategies, and adjust them accordingly. 

It enables businesses to run research on past performances to help them understand their areas of improvement and develop a strategy accordingly. 

This overall improves their decision making which helps them improve their strategies.

3. Collaborative CRM system

Companies with a large customer database may often find it difficult to collaborate among departments. That’s when a collaborative CRM system comes in, helping companies to share customer-related information among departments with ease, to increase efficiency.

These kinds of CRM systems are designed to facilitate the easy sharing of information among teams helping each department to access required information effectively.

By using collaborative CRM systems companies can streamline their business processes and provide a better and more personalized customer experience. 

Furthermore, it also improves communication and collaboration among employees allowing them to work productively.

4. Strategic CRM system

A Strategic CRM system is a technology-enabled CRM system that allows a business to manage customer interactions to improve long-term customer relationships and customer loyalty. 

It includes features and functions the same as a collaborative CRM system, with one difference, which is that a collaborative CRM system focuses on immediate improvements, while a strategic CRM system focuses on long-term improvements. 

It understands and provides data on customer needs and preferences to help the business meet those needs and increase the retention rate. 

Overall, it is a crucial tool for businesses looking to improve their long-term customer relationship.

Key features of CRM

There are a few key features every CRM software must include. Here they are:

1. Workflow automation

One of the key features every CRM must include is the ability to automate your workflow. It involves the process of using technology to automate repeating business processes to complete the work quickly.

Look for software that allows you to set up your custom rules to enable your team to work productively. 

2. Customer service

Customers are the key point in every business. Your CRM software must include all the features that are required to track all the data about your customers. It must include features to provide better customer service such as an automatic reply to queries, using the customer’s first name to personalize messaging, and so on.

This enables the business to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

3. Customization

Each business has different operations with different ways of performing them. Therefore, your CRM must include the feature to customize basic areas of functions. 

Some CRM software provides you with the ability to choose your package and the features to include, while some provide only the basic features.

4. Third-party integration

An effective CRM system can be connected with other third-party tools such as marketing automation, email marketing, and so on, to provide a complete set of functions and help a business provide better service. 

These third-party integrations enable your business to streamline your workflow and enhance your productivity. 

5. Analytics and reporting

Another essential feature that you must look for in your CRM is the analytics and reporting feature. 

Your CRM software must enable your business to track customer data and provide insights into their behaviors, interactions, and measure the effectiveness of your sales and marketing campaigns. 

The number of leads that came in, the number of sales generated, the effectiveness of your emails, and so on, must be tracked and reported.

6. Lead management

Lead management is an essential feature in any CRM software that involves the process of identifying, tracking, and nurturing potential customers to convert them into actual customers. 

Your CRM software must be able to identify and capture leads from various sources, track their recordings, nurture them, and provide a report on the results produced.

7. Contact management

Contact management is a feature in CRM that enables a business to organize and track all of its customer interactions and data. This helps businesses to better cater to customers based on their groups.

It provides data for all customers including their names, email addresses, phone numbers, and every other relevant information. Furthermore, it also includes information related to their demographics, behaviors, interests, and other characteristics.

8. Mobile CRM

The CRM software you choose must also be accessible from mobile and have the ability to provide all the key features on smartphones. 

This makes it easier for everyone to access the technology through their smartphones and receive relevant data and information when required. 

9. Collaboration and communication

Your CRM software must enable you to collaborate customer data among teams and departments with ease to make effective decisions.

This enhances smooth communication between teams and sharing of information about customers and actions to be taken to improve overall performance.

10. Security

Every CRM software must have the ability to provide the best security to protect sensitive customer information and data, such as two-factor authentication. It must restrict access to customers’ sensitive information.

Furthermore, it must also provide the feature to back up customer data and restore them.

12 best CRM for startups & small businesses

Here are some of the best CRM for startups that you can use:

1. HubSpot CRM

HubSpot - Best Free CRM Software for Businesses

HubSpot CRM is one of the best CRM for small businesses and startups that can be used for free. The CRM tool will help you streamline your sales processes and get effective insights, regardless of the size of your business. 

It comes with a set of individual features that can be used for different business purposes such as marketing and sales. The tool allows you to choose your features and package them separately or stack them altogether for an all-in-one CRM solution. 

One reason why I feel HubSpot can be the best CRM for your startup is because of the HubSpot for startup programs. The program provides startup-friendly onboarding and tailored training, plus big discounts of up to 90% for eligible ventures in the first year.

The free plan includes basic features like contact management, dashboard reporting, email marketing, and many others. And once you are ready to get more, you can go for the paid plan and get access to advanced features.


  • Contact management
  • Deal tracking
  • Sales and marketing automation
  • Email management
  • Customized dashboard
  • Analytics and Reporting

Pricing: Starts at $50/month

Free plan: Yes

Trial: 14 days

Pros and cons:

Free-forever planLimited customizing
Discount for startupsFree plan features are too basic
Easy Integrations

2. Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM - Top-rated Sales CRM Software by Customers

Zoho is one of the best Customer Relationship Management tools out there used by businesses across the world. The CRM platform includes various features and functions like lead generation, workflow automation, analytics and reporting, and so on. 

The best thing about Zoho CRM is its ability to provide users the freedom to customize the CRM the way they want. The canvas allows any user to customize and adapt the interface using the drag-and-drop feature.

The tool can also be integrated with other Zoho apps like Zoho Books, Zoho Projects, and Zoho Campaigns, so you can manage all aspects of your business in one place.

It also provides you with the feature to automate your tasks like sending emails to free up your time.


  • Sales Pipeline Management
  • Social media integration
  • Sales forecasting
  • Contact management
  • Workflow automation
  • Email integration

Pricing: Starts at $12/month billed annually

Free plan: Yes

Trial: 15 days

Pros and cons:

Fully customizableNo individual email tracking and lead notifications
Startup-friendly free planHigher-end plans are expensive
Easy Integrations

3. Salesforce

CRM Software_ Cloud Computing Solutions For Every Business

Salesforce is one of the most popular Customer Relationship Management tools used by various businesses all around the world.

Regardless of the size of your business, this CRM platform is suitable and can be adapted for any business of any size.

The platform is majorly used by salespeople for their sales purposes making it easier for businesses to grow using this CRM. However, the full version of Salesforce can be too pricey for your business. That’s when we can go for a startup-friendly tool, Salesforce essentials.

Salesforce essentials is an effective tool that’ll help you organize your customer data, manage sales, and maintain all the tasks from your dashboard. 


  • Reports and dashboard
  • Workflow automation
  • Integrations
  • Landing pages/web forms
  • Social media integration

Pricing: Starts at $25/month

Free plan: No

Trial: 14 days

Pros and cons:

Easy to scale up with SalesforceLimited to 10 users
AffordableLimited integrations
All CRM features included

4. Agile CRM

Agile CRM

Agile CRM is a Customer Relationship Management tool that helps businesses of all sizes manage their sales, marketing, and customer services tasks all in one from the platform. It is one of the best platforms widely used by over 15000 businesses to generate more sales and grow their revenue. 

The tool is fast and easy to use with all the essential features available. It enables you to track and analyze all the data related to your customers and their interactions, preferences, behavior, and so on. 

The platform also comes with a free plan where it provides all the basic sales CRM functions limited to a maximum of 10 users. 

You can also stick your appointment calendar online and the CRM will automate all your upcoming voice calls and follow-ups. 


  • Contact management
  • Sales Pipeline Management
  • Email integration
  • Web analytics
  • Customizable workflows

Pricing: Starts at $8.99/month

Free plan: Yes

Trial: No

Pros and cons:

Easy IntegrationsHigh-level plans are too expensive
Automate schedulingLesser customization options
Contact customers with one click

5. Insightly

Insightly - The Best CRM to Build Customer Relationships

If your startup is looking for a CRM tool that is good for project management purposes, then Insightly is the one for you. With Insightly, you get the function to easily manage your projects by setting up milestones, scheduling tasks, assigning tasks to teams, and tracking them all in one place.

CRM software comes with the ability to automate the workflow allowing businesses to streamline their business processes and work more effectively.

You can store and organize all the data related to your customers such as personal information and their interactions all in one place. This helps you keep track of customer data and make required changes to your sales and marketing efforts.

Furthermore, Insightly CRM also offers a range of marketing automation features, including email marketing, lead scoring, and web-to-lead forms.


  • Lead qualification
  • Social media integration
  • Web-to-Lead Forms
  • Project management
  • Email integration

Pricing: $29/month per user

Free plan: Yes

Trial: 14 days

Pros and cons:

Two-way sync with Google CalendarSteep learning curve
Chrome extension and mobile appCustom fields for contact are limited

6. Pipedrive

Sales CRM & Pipeline Management Software

Pipedrive is one of the best CRM for startups that are designed to help businesses manage their sales pipeline and increase their revenue. 

Though it is a newcomer in the market, it has quickly gained the spot to be known as one of the best CRM for startups. The software provides all kinds of flexible CRM features a startup can need and is result-oriented.

In the sales pipeline, the software lets you get a clear visual view of what is happening, and the stages they occupy. This helps businesses to understand their sales processes and make changes to increase their chances of generating more sales.

The simple and easy-to-use platform is without a doubt one of the best options for startups.


  • Sales pipeline
  • Predictive analysis
  • Performance metrics
  • Visual dashboard and custom reports
  • Customer segmentation

Pricing: $9.90/month per user

Free plan: No

Trial: 14 days

Pros and cons:

Built specifically for startupsNo built-in email marketing tools
Easy-to-useNo free plan
Expertise in the sales pipeline

7. SugarCRM


SugarCRM is one of the most popular Customer Relationship Management software that offers businesses of all sizes the freedom to easily manage their sales, marketing, and customer service.

The software allows you to track all your customer’s journey and their interactions to understand what they want and their preferences. 

The software provides both on-premise and cloud-based CRM solutions. 

It provides the best service to automate its messaging and give customers the best experience to increase customer loyalty. 

The CRM features include contact management, sales pipeline management, marketing automation, customer service management, and reporting and analytics tools.

The AI engine by SugarCRM can make accurate predictions even with incomplete CRM data.


  • Contact and lead management
  • Collaboration
  • Calendar/reminder system
  • Source tracking
  • Prospecting tools

Pricing: Starts at $49/month

Free plan: No

Trial: 7 days

Pros and cons:

All CRM features in one placeNot appropriate for early age startups
Automate processesSteep learning curve
Excellent customer support

8. Bitrix24


Bitrix24 is a cloud-based CRM built for businesses of all sizes. It is an all-in-one platform that provides multiple features like sales management, marketing campaigns, team collaboration, and so on. 

Its contact management feature allows businesses to create and organize personalized contact information of their customers and prospects, and track their interactions and other related data. 

The businesses using this software can effectively automate their sales processes, track the performance of their sales team, and analyze deals and opportunities, all in one platform. 

Furthermore, you can also create a targeted marketing campaign that’ll help you generate leads and convert customers more effectively.

The customer service department can also get the best out of this platform and provide the best experience to retain more customers.


  • Contact management
  • Sales management
  • Collaboration
  • Integrations
  • Marketing automation

Pricing: Starts at $19/month

Free plan: Yes

Trial: No

Pros and cons:

All-in-one softwareUI is not very minimalist
Free version includedSteep learning curve

9. Freshsales 

Freshworks - Modern and Easy Customer and Employee Experience

Freshsales CRM is a popular Customer Relationship Management that is designed to help businesses streamline their processes, manage tasks, track leads, and take care of their sales processes.

It is a CRM platform that performs its best to shorten its sales cycle and help businesses grow quickly. 

One of the best things about this CRM platform is its ability to provide startups using Freshsales the opportunity to get access to the mentorship program helping people throughout their early stage of using CRM.

The lead management feature enables startups to capture leads from various sources such as social media, website forms, and email campaigns. Users can also set up automated follow-up sequences to nurture leads and convert them into paying customers. 

Furthermore, users can create their sales pipeline and track deals through various stages of the sales cycle, as well as sales forecasting. The users can also get insight into the sales team’s performance and make changes accordingly.

Freshsales can also be connected with other third-party tools such as Google and Workplace making it easier for businesses to have an effective workflow.


  • Live chat
  • Activity dashboard
  • Campaign management
  • Reporting and analytics

Pricing: Starts at $12/month

Free plan: Yes

Trial: 21 days

Pros and cons:

Easy to useSome features are not effective
Best for startupsSteep learning curve
Free version included

10. Keap


Keep is one of the best CRM for startups and small businesses that need software that can help them streamline their business processes and manage their sales, marketing, and customer service efforts. 

With Keap, businesses can easily create marketing campaigns and automate follow-up messages to leads. This helps them effectively nurture leads and convert them into paying customers.

It also includes a sales pipeline that enables businesses to track sales processes and analyze their effectiveness. The automation tools for sales and marketing come with a drag-and-drop interface helping businesses to customize them easily.

With Keap, you can easily import contact information from web pages, spreadsheets, custom forms, and business card scans.

Finally, Keap is a comprehensive CRM tool best suitable for startups and small businesses that helps them manage their customer interactions and manage other business processes.


  • Appointment scheduling
  • Marketing automation
  • Sales pipeline
  • Contact management

Pricing: Starts at $149/month

Free plan: No

Trial: 14 days

Pros and cons:

Built specifically for startups and small businessesToo pricey for some businesses
Drag-and-drop interface
Easily import contact lists

11. Salesflare


Salesflare is software designed for small and medium-sized businesses. With Salesflare businesses can get a range of features to manage their customer interactions and automate other business processes to work effectively. 

Salesflare makes it easy for any business to manage its sales activities and sales pipeline helping them provide better results. 

With this software, you can easily automate your workflow and eliminate the time being invested in repetitive tasks such as data entry and so on.

The contact management feature allows businesses to manage their customer data and other interactions to help them better understand their preferences and provide results. 

Furthermore, the software can also be integrated with other third-party tools making it easier for businesses to access even more advanced tools.


  • Lead management
  • Automated workflow
  • Sales pipeline management
  • Task management
  • Integrations

Pricing: $29/month per user

Free plan: No

Trial: 14 days

Pros and cons:

Easy to manage salesSteep learning curve
Full-featured CRM
Easy automation

12. Close CRM

Close CRM

Close CRM is a sales productivity software helping businesses automate and manage their sales processes and other customer interactions.

With this software, you can easily automate your workflow and access a range of features to increase your daily efficiency.

The customizable sales pipeline management allows businesses to manage their sales processes and track the progress through each stage. It includes automatic messaging and notifications to keep the process moving forward. 

Furthermore, the software can also be integrated with other third-party tools making it easier for businesses to access advanced features effectively. 

It also includes lead capturing and lead scoring allowing businesses to capture leads and nurture them to convert into paying customers.


  • Automatic email sending
  • Leaderboard feature to track team performance
  • Sales pipeline management
  • Communication tools
  • Lead management

Pricing: Starts at $25/month per user

Free plan: No

Trial: 14 days

Pros and cons:

Startup-friendly CRMSome features may not be to the point
Useful integrations
Provides all the features required

  • Do startups and small businesses need CRM?

    Yes. The biggest reason why startups and small businesses need CRM is that it helps them maintain a good relationship with their customers and ensure customer satisfaction. It also manages its sales and marketing efforts.

  • What is the best CRM for SaaS startups?

    Here are a few best CRM for SaaS startups:

    1. Zoho CRM
    2. HubSpot CRM
    3. Pipedrive
    4. Close CRM
    5. Salesforce

  • What is the best free CRM for startups?

    HubSpot CRM is the best free CRM for startups

  • Which is the highest-rated CRM?

    Here are some of the highest rated CRM:

    1. Salesforce
    2. Zoho
    3. HubSpot
    4. Pipedrive


So there you have it! The complete guide on CRM with a detailed list of the best CRM for startups. 

Now it is your turn to analyze and understand which CRM is going to be the best choice for your startup and how you are going to use it. 

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