The 10 best cloud CRMs for SMBs

When you were just starting out, you likely handled all of your sales and customer service emails from your inbox. As your company grows and you start adding team members, this approach can become problematic.

You need a system where you can track sales, follow up with prospects, and manage customer relationships. Enter customer relationship management (CRM) software.

There are hundreds of CRM tools out there. Many are cloud CRMs, meaning that all of the organization’s prospect and customer data resides in the cloud so that it’s easily access it from any laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

The background on cloud-based CRMs

A cloud-based CRM is a form of CRM software that stores information in the cloud (i.e., online) instead of on physical hardware, allowing access from any device and enabling users to view the same information simultaneously.

Unlike traditional “in-house” CRM systems, cloud-based CRMs are hosted on either the CRM provider’s or a third party’s servers in a data center. These servers are accessible through any internet browser. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies “lease out” their CRM infrastructure to businesses of all sizes.

Cloud-based CRM software offers many unique advantages. For one thing, these programs don’t require any physical space for servers or for storing the massive amounts of sales data you collect. They’re also accessible to sales teams from any location, making it easy to quickly pull up information. 

Most important, the SaaS model is cost-effective — with a subscription-style payment plan, small businesses can better plan their finances, and they can often cancel whenever they need to or easily switch to a new provider.

In this post, we’re looking at 10 of the best cloud-based CRM software tools.

1. HubSpot CRM

One of the biggest draws for HubSpot CRM is the fact that it’s completely free to use. You can have unlimited users, store up to 1 million contacts, and track deals and your sales pipeline. HubSpot CRM also integrates with Gmail and Outlook. You can schedule meetings through a custom calendar link, enable live chat, and set up limited conversational bots.

HubSpot also integrates with hundreds of apps so you can connect your CRM to other software that your business is using.

2. Zoho

Zoho wants to be the main operating system for your business. It has a full suite of products, including a robust CRM, Books (accounting), Campaigns (email marketing), and Creator (apps). Some stand-out features of its CRM tool include real-time sales notifications, built-in calls, live-chat integration, social media updates, and Zia, its AI sales assistant chatbot.

Some Zoho CRM clients include Amazon, Suzuki, and Bose. Zoho’s plans range from $14 per user, per month to $52 per user, per month. Zoho also offers a 15-day free trial.

3. Zendesk Sell

A major product of the popular customer service platform, Zendesk Sell uses Zendesk as a secret weapon. By connecting directly to Zendesk, it helps small businesses convert customer service conversations into sales opportunities and leads. Beyond that, Sell offers numerous external integrations, data analytics, and real-time features like Smart Lists to easily manage client sets.

Zendesk Sell supports thousands of customers, including Groupon, Staples, and Intermind. Paid plans start at $19 per user, per month, with advanced features at $49 and $99 per user, per month. It offers a free trial.

4. Freshworks

Similar to Zoho, Freshworks wants to be the system that powers your entire business. While best known for its customer support product — Freshdesk — its CRM product, Freshsales, is quickly gaining in popularity. Some stand-out features include AI-based lead scoring, built-in phone calls, and activity capture.

Freshworks has more than 150,000 customers, including Dyson, Klarna, and Opteon. It offers a free version of the CRM with some solid but limited features. From there, plans range from $15 per user, per month to $69 per user, per month. Freshworks also offers a 21-day free trial.

5. Salesforce

Salesforce is the most well-known CRM solution, as the company pioneered SaaS cloud CRMs. Salesforce has more than 3,000 custom apps on its app exchange as well as a platform to build your own apps. In addition, it gives users access to a large marketplace of third-party, specialized Salesforce developers and agencies to help you integrate and customize the platform.

While the functionality is robust, this platform has a steeper learning curve than other CRMs on this list and can take longer to set up and configure to your specifications. Plans start at $25 per user, per month, but you’ll likely pay more than that for developer costs and access to additional products.

6. Less Annoying CRM

Less Annoying CRM is specifically designed for small businesses. It was even rated one of 2022’s top CRMs for small business and customer service by G2 Crowd. Everything about this platform is designed for ease of use. Some stand-out features include simple but powerful lead customization, daily agenda emails, and easy one-click exports.

This CRM offers a 30-day free trial. After that, the system costs $15 per user, per month. Less Annoying CRM doesn’t reserve special features for additional tiers at higher prices.

7. Insightly

Insightly is a top choice for Gmail and G Suite users, but it really stands out for its reporting and analytics capabilities. You can use the complex data visualization tools and calculated fields within reports, cards, and dashboards to get additional insights into territory coverage, overall sales pipeline, and even specific deals. Another cool feature is the ability to deliver custom quotes as well as price products from within the CRM.

More than 25,000 companies use Insightly, including Bloomberg, AT&T, and Bosch. It offers a free version of the software for up to two users. Paid plans range from $29 to $99 per user, per month.

8. Pipedrive

Pipedrive has a minimal and clean user interface. Like Less Annoying CRM, it’s also easy to set up and requires almost no training to use. Some additional features are built-in proposals, e-signatures, and automatic lead scoring. Pipedrive integrates with more than 300 apps.

More than 100,000 companies use Pipedrive, including Amazon, Skyscanner, Vimeo, Remax, and TDW. Users can take advantage of the 14-day trial. Paid plans range from $14.90 to $99 per user, per month.

9. Apptivo

Apptivo aims to be a one-stop shop for your business’s CRM, project management, invoicing, customer support, field service, and email marketing needs. It’s particularly well suited for companies in the travel and hospitality, real estate, retail, manufacturing, nonprofit, and utility and energy industries. They even won Capterra’s best customer support award in 2017.

To date, more than 200,000 companies use Apptivo. There’s a limited free version — one of the most robust aside from HubSpot’s — as well as plans starting as low as $8 per user, per month.

10. EngageBay

EngageBay is an affordable, all-in-one platform for sales, marketing, and customer service — with a particularly accessible cloud CRM for small businesses. With easy usability and a clean user interface, its wide variety of integration capabilities boosts the user experience.

EngageBay’s baseline platform offers this CRM alongside marketing automation. It also delivers help desk and live chat software for up to 15 users totally free. Beyond that, pricing starts at $11.99 per user, per month and increases to $79.99 per user, per month for complete software and feature access.

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If your business is growing, now is the time to look into a CRM system. These 10 popular cloud-based CRMs are worth checking out.

Just so you know…

Another tool that SMBs can benefit from is Jotform, an online form builder that integrates with major CRM systems.

This article is originally published on Jun 11, 2019, and updated on Nov 25, 2022.

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