Contact management · CRM

What are the best CRM systems for a small startup or business?

Zachary Weinberger Global Total Rewards Advisor and Consultant at Remuneration Resources

October 28th, 2014

I need to choose a CRM system. This is for a small and growing consulting business. I need client/contact management including the ability to track contacts and deliver email newsletters and materials. Any ideas or recommendations?

Earle Jr. CEO of Earle & Co. Consulting

October 28th, 2014

Zachary, I had a client with your exact question and I found a great resource with a comprehensive comparison of CRM tools on the market and their available features.

Take a look at this Google Sheet and pick out the CRM tool that best fits the needs for your business.

I also agree with Eric that you may need to consider investing in two systems: a CRM tool to track contacts and a marketing automation tool to send out marketing materials to your contacts.

Good luck and let me know if you have any follow-up questions. Cheers.

Oscar

October 28th, 2014

Stay lean. I used Salesforce for 1.000 employees and for 8. It suck for 8 people. Use something simple like Pipedrive. And if you want to email people use a simple email program like mailchimp. You can always invest in better email later. Most CRM systems can sync automatically or export the contacts. 

Danny Schreiber Marketer at Zapier

October 28th, 2014

Hey Zachary - We get this question quite a bit at Zapier, so we gave the 35+ CRMs that we integrate with a deep look. From what it sounds like, you'd be best to go with a CRM that has built-in marketing automation. For that, check out these 10 - https://zapier.com/blog/marketing-automation-crm/. Or if you'd rather split up the two apps, here's a list of 25 CRMs, organized by focus (contacts, conversations or leads and deals) - https://zapier.com/blog/best-crm-app/.

Hope that helps! :)

Sam Colwill Owner/Chairman at BathroomsByDesign Retail Ltd and Owner/CEO at KADware Ltd

August 2nd, 2017

Check out Odoo. Been using it for 3 years and has transformed by business. Does much more than CRM, we use it for sales, purchasing, accounts, HR and project management. But there are lots of other modules that can be added and customised. You can also have their eCommerce module integrated, not sure it would be entirely relevant to consulting but I've seen firms monetise their expertise with sessions, videos and programmes you can buy.

Would be very cheap to get started and you effectively pay for what you use so CRM would be cheap, and would give you the scope to gradually build it into a full scale ERP system to rival SAP when you're turning over tens of millions!

Steve Owens Startup Expert

October 29th, 2014

Try Zoho - we used many, and it is the simplest and best suited for start-ups and small companies

Chris Heuer

October 28th, 2014

I use Nimble connected to Mailchimp and it works great. You can also use Zapier to do some even cooler integration on the backend pretty easily. Nimble is super robust, but also easy to use. With all systems, remember you need to invest time in understanding the system, designing your own, setting it up and integrating the data and ultimately in creating a new behaviour pattern that will lead to regular usage.... Chris Heuer Catalyst, AdHocnium Blog: http://chrisheuer.com/ Strategy: http://AdHocnium.com/ Thoughts: http://twitter.com/chrisheuer 'Resume': http://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisheuer m.408.834.0884

Ryan Rigterink Midwest Manager at Hematogenix Laboratory

October 28th, 2014

I have use Salesforce and Zoho.  I recommend Zoho.  It is useful for both CRM and marketing.  They have been and continue to develop more apps and services.  They have good customer service and you can customize it for your purposes at very affordable prices.  Definitely worth a look.

Marko Tiosavljevic CEO at Cloud Industry

July 31st, 2017

Try Zoho CRM

Jason Green SVP Global Operations at Gravity4, Visionary Entreprenuer, Open Source Enthusiast, and Gamification Pioneer

October 28th, 2014

Being the co-founder at Zurmo, i am a little biased :)  Zurmo is sales, marketing automation, and project management CRM software. Since Zurmo is also open source, you can always download and try the community edition for free.

Since you are a consulting business, you need to choose a CRM that does well handling service based businesses not just products.  Something to keep in mind.

Faun deHenry Strategist and Innovator

October 28th, 2014

Over the years, I've seen companies use Zoho, Nimble, and Salesforce. We use Salesforce. For newsletters, we've used Constant Contact, Vertical Response, and Mailchimp. 

However, salespeople track their pipelines in Excel. It doesn't matter which CRM tool is implemented. Sales holds this data "close to the vest." The response I've received most often when letting salespeople know about the capabilities of a particular CRM tool, "That's great! I'll load everything into the CRM system when I'm certain that the opportunities are real."

Think of your CRM tool as a management solution. The tool you select should be the one that provides you with solid insight from that perspective -- reporting and analytics capabilities are key.