The Top 10 CRMs for Small Businesses & Solopreneurs On a Budget: Free and Cheap Solutions for Customer Relationship Management without Compromise

Elizabeth Lockwood

The modern small business has long been at a disadvantage when it comes to integrating technology and adapting to advances in the available tools and resources, often put on the back burner as solutions are catered to larger brands and enterprise-level organizations. That, however, is no longer the case. As the small business and solopreneur industry continues to grow, so do the available solutions. Brands are stepping back and scaling down, providing a host of software and tech solutions for those who once couldn’t afford such “luxuries”. 

Of course, this still leaves many small business owners and entrepreneurs who aren’t familiar with the software or how to choose and integrate the ideal solution. Despite the growing number of available products, several people know virtually nothing about these platforms and what they have to offer. So, if you’re ready to invest in customer relationship management (CRM) software, where do you start?

Well, when you’re on a budget, “free” is a big selling point—but it can’t be your focus. Yes, finding a cheap or free platform is ideal, but it also needs to be scalable and provide the features and solutions that you need. It needs to integrate with your existing technology and software, and it needs to provide the robust features of a proper CRM for maximum benefit. 

What features are you looking for? While the various platforms do have their differences, they all offer some similar components that will improve your business by helping improve your customer relationships: dynamic, integrated customer databases and the tools necessary to foster the best relationships with customers to increase retention and drive sales. (If you want to take relationships a step further, consider enlisting the dedicated messaging solutions from Smith.ai to reach customers in their space and on their time.)

The good news is that you’re not alone. We have done all the research for you already, sorting through a selection of the leading CRM platforms to find the best of the best. The top 10 list below covers CRMs that are geared specifically toward small businesses and solopreneurs, and that offer more affordable solutions for the budget-conscious brand. 

Plus, you can integrate your CRM with the after-hours and overflow answering services offered by our dedicated team of virtual receptionists, or simply outsource all of your communication needs and enjoy the benefits of dedicated, experienced 24/7 customer support

Zoho logo


1. Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM is a leading CRM solution for budget-minded brands and business owners. The Zoho platform offers cloud deployment options along with native Android and iOS apps to provide easy access to customer information in the field and on the go. 

Zoho CRM also offers standard plans that are less than most, with robust features that include industry-leading AI technology and sales forecasting tools. There are machine learning algorithms designed to help improve CRM and other areas of your business, as well. 

Zoho CRM can be integrated with several other software solutions and platforms. It fits seamlessly into any tech stack and offers an affordable, scalable solution. 

The features of Zoho that set it apart include:

  • Free option? No, but there is a trial offered
  • Price: Starting at $15 per month
  • Custom application development tools available
  • AI and automation tools to improve operations 
  • Unified platforms for easy collaboration
  • Plans available in all sizes for smaller brands on a budget
Agile CRM logo

2. Agile CRM

Agile CRM is a platform that is designed to offer cloud-based scalability and agility for solopreneurs and small businesses. The CRM features real-time analytics along with native apps for Android and iOS, as well. 

Agile CRM offers a robust selection of features and tools for the price, including things like an integrated calendar, a helpdesk, and detailed customer database tools that make compiling and accessing customer information easier than ever before. 

This CRM platform is available to be deployed via a web browser, cloud, or SaaS. It also includes 24/7 online support, webinars and training, and other tools and resources. Plus, it’s one of the most affordable solutions available today. 

The best features for small brands include:

  • Free option? No, but a trial is offered
  • Price: Starting at $8.99 per user per month
  • Powerful CRM that is still affordable
  • Integrates with other software and technology
  • Dedicated support from the Agile family 
Salesforce logo

3. Salesforce Essentials

Salesforce is the leading enterprise CRM and actually the #1 CRM in the world overall. For the small business and solo owner, the brand has released Salesforce Essentials, a scaled-down version of the enterprise suite that still offers the same functionality on an SMB scale. 

Salesforce Essentials includes robust analytics and detailed customer segmentation resources so that you can get all of the information that you need about your customers in one place. The cloud-based platform is also available for web deployment or SaaS access, giving you options that fit your budget and your tech needs. 

Salesforce Essentials integrates seamlessly with programs like Google Calendar, QuickBooks, and others. It’s also designed to grow with your business and upgrade easily as needed. 

The key features of Salesforce Essentials include:

  • Free option? No, but a free trial is available
  • Price: Starting at $25 per month
  • Native Android and iOS apps
  • Out-of-the-box design can also be customized
  • Integrates with other software, calendars and email tools, and more
  • Essentials platform specifically designed for small business needs
HubSpot logo

4. HubSpot CRM

HubSpot is a free CRM tool that is among the best options, no matter which version you choose. This platform does offer upgradable plans and memberships for brands who want premium services.

The HubSpot dashboard is intuitive and the platform is completely scalable in the cloud. It also offers rich customer management tools and a real-time reporting tool that makes tracking easy. The customer segmentation features are really impressive for a free tool, too. 

Plus, the HubSpot community is available to all members, where you’ll be able to connect with HubSpot staff, other members, and more. Custom content and user-generated forms are provided, as well. 

The key highlights of HubSpot CRM are:

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: Free, with paid plans available for advanced features or services
  • Contract-free with no obligations
  • Great for new businesses and solopreneurs 
  • Out-of-the-box design makes getting started easy
  • Customer experience tracking tools
BenchmarkONE logo

5. BenchmarkONE

BenchmarkONE offers a CRM platform that is designed to provide just what small brands need without the big price tag. This platform includes email marketing automation and other tools. 

The BenchmarkONE platform offers social profiles, API integrations, data importing and exporting, and eCommerce tools. It also has lead lifecycle workflows, behavior tracking tools, and a marketing lead database. 

This platform is a bit pricier than most on this list, but it offers a comprehensive solution for small businesses that need a total CRM and marketing management tool. 

The highlights of BenchmarkONE are:

  • Free option? No, but a trial is offered
  • Price: $79 per month
  • Premium consulting and integration services offered
  • Automated sales alerts
  • Dashboards and reporting
  • Customized infrastructure available
Salesmate logo

6. Salesmate

Salesmate is a simple CRM platform that focuses on delivering just the tools you need with no extra frills. The unique CRM is intuitive and uses AI to help create better customer information cultivation and help improve your business in other ways. 

Salesmate offers a personalized experience for teams and customers alike, offering the personal touch that customers want for better leads all around. Automated marketing tools are available, along with a rich customer database and reporting tools.

The Salesmate platform can be scaled to the size of your business, allowing you to fit it perfectly even into a startup or budding brand. 

Some of the highlights of this CRM include:

  • Free option? No
  • Price: $12 per month, per user
  • Activity automation
  • Customer behavior tracking
  • Valuable business insights
  • Dedicated customer management tools and reports
Keap logo

7. Keap

Keap, formerly Infusionsoft, is one of the most well-designed and detailed CRMs for small businesses that exists today. The platform claims to eliminate the chaos of business management and customer relationships, helping streamline things in a scalable way. 

The Keap CRM platform is designed to help you collect more leads and convert more clients, using automation and AI to improve processes and keep things running smoothly. The platform is ranked at the top for its ease of use and it has won several awards for being the best automation tool. 

Keap offers customer relationship management solutions along with marketing and sales automation tools to ensure that you maximize your technology investment. 

The features of note with Keap CRM include:

  • Free option? No, but there is a trial available 
  • Price: $79 per month
  • Create custom forms and embed them
  • Trigger automated actions
  • Native iOS and Android apps for easy mobile management
  • Email and SMS marketing
Method:CRM logo

8. Method:CRM

For the small business with a focus on activity tracking and contact management, Method:CRM delivers the ideal solution. This platform is rated as the best QuickBooks CRM and it offers plenty of other integrations, as well. 

Method:CRM helps close more sales by providing status reports, creating interaction records, assigning tasks automatically, and more. The lead forms are easy to use and ensure that data ends up in your customer database as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

With the Method:CRM platform, you get total lead management and customer management, for full lifecycle customer solutions. 

Check out the key features of Method:CRM: 

  • Free option? No, but there is a free trial
  • Price: $25 per month, per user
  • Specifically designed to offer a better solution for small businesses
  • Two-way QuickBooks integration
  • Integration with Gmail, Mailchimp, Outlook, and more
  • Automated lead capture tools
Drip logo

9. Drip 

Drip is known as an eCommerce CRM, but it’s actually a great tool for small businesses. It has a beautiful, user-friendly interface and is really simple to integrate. 

Drip makes it easy to combine email campaigns, build automation workflows, create segmented lists, customize content, and so much more. You can even track conversions and customer experiences, and find tools to improve lead generation

Drip CRM is designed to help manage contacts and turn leads into lifetime customers. It includes advanced contact management tools, marketing automation tools, user tracking features, and more. 

The key features of Drip include:

  • Free option? No, but there is a trial 
  • Price: Starts at $49 per month 
  • Integrates with third-party email and other software
  • Social media lead generation workflows
  • Actionable reports with real-time insights
  • Purchase intent marketing
Less Annoying CRM logo

10. Less Annoying CRM

The name might be a little obvious, but this CRM really does exactly what it claims—offers the interface and solutions that you need without the hassle. Less Annoying CRM is a simple tool that’s designed specifically for small businesses that need a better way to manage contacts.

This CRM is often rated as the leading CRM for small businesses, offering affordable solutions and leading customer service. It takes minutes to set up and the free trial period is a full 60 days, which is more than most platforms offer.  

Less Annoying CRM offers free support, live demos, and a mobile website implementation that’s seamless and streamlined. It’s flexible and scalable, with plenty of value for startups and solopreneurs of all kinds. 

The key highlights of this CRM include:

  • Free option? No, but there is a trial
  • Price: $15 per month, per user
  • Wide range of user support tools
  • Intuitive user interface
  • One of the most affordable options available
  • Easy integration with other software and tools

Smith.ai stretches your budget, and time, further with integrated solutions

At Smith.ai, our services can be integrated with several of the CRMs discussed above. We have a dedicated team that has years of experience in handling all kinds of customer support and service issues. The modern world of customer service is all about those relationships and creating personal connections with your audience. When you’re operating on a small business budget, it can be hard to reach everyone in the right way. 

With the services from Smith.ai, you can trust that your customers are taken care of 24 hours a day, while your time is spent building and growing your business. You will be able to provide your customers with the best resources for the ideal buying experience, and you will be able to streamline your own operations with any of the CRMs listed in this guide. 

If you’re ready to schedule your free consultation, the dedicated team at Smith.ai is ready to help. We’ll ensure that your new CRM solution is affordable without skimping on the features. Feel free to drop us a line at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. If you want to see how else we can help your small business or solo operation, visit our Solo Business Solutions page.

Elizabeth Lockwood

Elizabeth Lockwood is the content marketing associate at Smith.ai. She focuses specifically on writing and editing engaging articles, blog posts, and other forms of publication.

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