9 Cheap Salesforce Alternatives that Make CRM as Simple as Amazon.com
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Update 9/22/15: This post has been updated with additional CRMs based off the great suggestions and feedback in the comments. The pre-existing solutions on this list have also been updated so their information is current.
CRM software has been helping sales teams manage their contacts and communication since the 1980s. However, most sales people use a fraction of the capabilities of their CRM and many still hate using it altogether. Additionally, with starting price points often north of $50/user/month, affordability remains an issue particularly for startups and small businesses where the benefits of CRM are untested.
Salesforce.com (now just Salesforce) was a huge step forward when it came on the scene in the early 2000s to dethrone vendors like Siebel and Act, and a number of CRM alternatives have taken their lead and focused on two things in their CRM offerings: ease of use and low price.
The nine CRM software products listed below all have two things in common:
- First, they all have offerings priced at less than $25/user – even when you grow beyond a handful of users – which makes CRM affordable for everyone from freelancers and startups to growing companies.
- Second, they all place a very high priority on being dead-simple to use so that salespeople and account managers actually don’t mind using them – which apparently is not all that common.
After an exhaustive search in our database of over 400 CRM software products, here are my favorite CRMs that match the above two criteria and do a great job of serving the needs of small to midsize businesses. All of them happen to be Web-based.
I love how Base describes their software as the CRM that your sales team “will actually use,” and that they make the bold claim that it will make you 10x more productive. Launched in 2009, Base’s most popular features are call tracking and recording, as well as their impressive sales analytics. Base can even analyze recorded calls! Additionally, Base’s mobile app is one of the most beloved on this list if Android reviews are anything to go by.
- $25/user/month for up to 5 users gets you 2 GB of storage per user, a built-in dialer, task management, email automation, geolocation, and integration with MailChimp, Xero, and others.
- $75/user/month gets you all that plus 5 GB of storage per user, document management, task automation, and sales forecasting.
- $125/user/month gets you all of the above plus 10 GB of storage per user, lead scoring, sales intelligence, call analytics, autodialer, product catalog, and multilevel permissions.
All of these include unlimited contacts, leads, deals, and tasks.
Highrise was launched in 2007 and then later spun off by 37signals, which is widely known for simplicity of software design. They also are the developer of the renowned project management software application, Basecamp, so if you are an avid Basecamp user then you should seriously consider Highrise for your contact management needs. Highrise’s biggest sell is that they are very easy to use for small businesses just starting out with CRM. Their pricing is very flexible for small businesses and they’re very light, so there are no fancy features to confuse a CRM beginner. It also integrates with Zendesk, Freshdesk, MailChimp, FreshBooks, Hubspot, Constant Contact, and many others.
- $0 for up to 2 users, no files, 250 contacts
- $24/month for up to 6 users gets you 5,000 contacts, 10 deals, and 5GB of storage
- $29/month for 1 user, 20,000 contacts, unlimited deals, and 5 GB of storage
- $49/month for up to 15 users gets you 20,000 contacts, unlimited deals, and 15 GB of storage
- $99/month for up to 40 users gets you 30,000 contacts, unlimited deals, and 30 GB of storage
- $149/month for unlimited users, 50,000 contacts, unlimited deals, and 75 GB of storage
Launched in 2010 to better serve small sales teams, Pipedrive claims to be “so easy to use that salespeople love it.” Pipedrive has some great features: it’s multilingual; it works in all major currencies; it offers seamless integration with the Google apps suite (Maps, Docs, Gmail, etc.). It shines best though, with its pipeline features. Pipedrive offers an elegant timeline view that allows salespeople to look out and see all their future events, and estimated dates of sales. A sales manager can access a master timeline that integrates all their salespeople’s timelines into a single view in order to easily manage the team and make sales forecasts.
One reviewer notes that Pipedrive is very focused on closing deals, and offers few features continuing a relationship after the close of the (first) deal. As a result, Pipedrive may be best suited for companies who focus on their sales efforts and do very little customer follow-up after the deal, like real-estate companies.
- $12/user/month regardless of how many users you have and has no limits on the number of contacts or storage
Nimble was launched in 2009 as a social CRM, meaning that it not only connects with your email but also your social media accounts, recognizing the growing role of LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook as forums for engaging with prospects. What really makes Nimble special, though, is its inbox feature. Nimble creates an in-CRM message inbox that collects not only your emails with clients, but all your interactions with them on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. You can also send messages from directly within the CRM. Furthermore, you can set up an activity stream that allows you to see everything your client or prospect has recently posted on social media. This kind of impressive integration really helps make Nimble a one-stop sales shop, which is fairly unusual, even for a CRM.
- $15/user/month, and you get 5GB of storage and 30,000 contacts.
Insightly was launched in 2009 and is a fantastic option for small businesses. One thing that sets them apart is that they have integrated project management functionality into the software so you can stay on top of customers in relation to your projects all-in-one. They also integrate with MailChimp.
It should be noted that Insightly is really targeted at small businesses, which is reflected in their lightweight style and pricing options.
- $0 for 2 users, 10 emails/day, 10 custom fields, 2,500 records, 200 Mb of storage, online community support
- $12/user/month gives you 500 emails/day, 50 custom fields, 25,000 records, 1 GB of storage, email support, mobile app business card scanner, and onboarding sessions
- $29/user/month gives you 2,500 emails/day, 250 custom fields, 100,000 records, 10 GB of storage, priority email support, mobile app business card scanner, and onboarding sessions
- $49/user/month gives you 5,000 emails/day, 500 custom fields, 250,000 records, 100 GB of storage, priority email support, mobile app business card scanner, and onboarding sessions
- $99/user/month gives you 10,000 emails/day, 1000 custom fields, 500,000 records, 250 GB of storage, priority email support, mobile app business card scanner, and onboarding sessions
Launched in 2006, PipelineDeals touts its software as “so fast and easy you’ll actually want to use it.” PipelineDeals has several special features that make it worth checking out.
- They have a “morning coffee report” feature that sends out an email to each sales person with yesterday’s numbers, upcoming events, and other important analytics.
- As well, PipelineDeals has a built-in lightweight email marketing system, with templates and automation to the point that, while they integrate with MailChimp, small businesses with little to no email marketing efforts can handle everything from the PipelineDeals system. Not only do they have email templates and can send out batch emails, but PipelineDeals can automate full email campaigns and report on the success of your communications.
- $24/user/month gets you unlimited contacts, storage, deals and tasks, customer support, and saved searches
- $48/user/month gets you all that plus email automation, trackable email campaigns, email templates and analytics, unlimited customizable fields, and sales process automations
Nutshell was launched in 2010 as an intuitive and elegant CRM solution. It’s an interesting solution because it’s extremely customizable. It’s possible to pare this solution down to no more than a contact manager, but a large business could also use it as a very advanced CRM, loaded with features. Some of these include:
- Nutshell’s UI is reportedly very intuitive and, some would even say, beautiful, with enough complexity for the most expert user, and enough simplicity for the most inexperienced user.
- It can be configured so only certain users can see certain information.
- It can send out real time push notifications through email or the app to keep people updated on what to focus on.
- $20/user/month gets you everything
Launched by the Zestia in 2008 and based in the UK, Capsule is a wonderful option for small businesses. Its best feature may be its ability to integrate with 33+ other software programs including Xero, FreshBooks, MailChimp, Zendesk, and a bunch of others. Capsule has all the features of a standard CRM, though it is simplified. It’s perhaps best for a company that’s brand new to CRM, but it will treat that company very well. In many ways, Capsule is like getting a Honda as a starter car. It will give you great gas mileage and cheap repairs, and bravely get you through your first job out of college. But one day, you may need to upgrade, maybe to a minivan, or a sports car.
- $0 for up to 2 users, 10 MB of storage, 250 contacts, unlimited opportunities and cases
- $12/user/month, 2 GB of storage/user, 50,000 contacts, unlimited opportunities and cases, premium integrations
All the aforementioned products are less than ten years old, but OnePageCRM feels the most like a startup. Launched in 2010 and based in Ireland, they are focused on delivering a “superior user experience” for small sales teams. This focus is really visible throughout the design of the CRM, as all their standout features are clearly intended to help salespeople vs. sales managers. Their best features:
- A lead clipper that allows you to collect a lead’s information from LinkedIn or Gmail with a single click.
- Their app provides reminders of not only when things are due, but also when things need to be started, so that salespeople can prioritize projects and not save them until the last minute.
- As one action is finished in the CRM, it prompts you to set the next action so that you are encouraged to follow-up with all your clients.
- $12/user/month for everything*
*If you pay annually, they’ll bring that price down to a cool $11/user/month, making it one of the better bargains we have seen.
Really Simple Systems was founded in 2006, and is popular because, like the name says, it’s actually a really simple system. It’s perfect for small to medium size businesses, and they even boast a few larger customers with over 600 employees. Its flexible pricing is among its best features. They start with a free offering, and can grow with your business, adding on extra features for monthly fees if and when you need them.
As well, and similar to PipelineDeals, Really Simple Systems has a built-in full-blown email marketing system that may be all your marketing team needs.
- $0 for up to 2 users gets you 100 accounts and unlimited contacts, tasks, activities, and opportunities
- $8/month for up to 2 users with 200 accounts, with an additional $15 per user after that (up to 5 users)
- $50/user/month for unlimited accounts and advanced features
With all of these tiers, you can add on different features that may not come standard for a monthly price.
Less Annoying CRM was founded in 2009 with the purpose of helping small businesses succeed. To do this, they have focused on removing features that small businesses don’t need, taking out buzzwords and just staying simple. Their mission shows throughout the software. For instance, all of a lead’s information—from phone number to contact notes—can be found on one simple page. They automatically place all events and tasks on a calendar, and a sales manager can see all their employees’ tasks and events integrated onto one view. Also, they have a special view where salespeople can see a prioritized lead list, with each lead’s most pertinent information visible in abbreviated form.
- $10/user/month gets you everything
It is worth noting that I did come across other inexpensive CRMs that also focus on simplicity, but only have a few employees. While every software company starts this small, and I am cheering them on, I’d like to see them gain more traction before wholeheartedly recommending that they make your short list. Examples include Stride, Batchbook, Tactile CRM, Clevertim, and AlbertCRM.
According to our own research, Salesforce remains the CRM market leader, but its starting price point for teams greater than five people is $65/user/month. That includes functionality that many smaller teams don’t need at the outset.
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I do still think they deserve to make your short list and, depending on the complexity of your needs, they may be the best solution for many companies. But for those of you that are new to CRM or have been burned by poor user adoption in the past, these nine solutions are worth a serious look!