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

2024-01-02

What’s the most important thing for a small business owner or solopreneur to do? Many of you might say it’s delivering a high-quality product or service. Others might think it’s outperforming the competition.

Those are certainly critical, but they’re not the most important task before you. That honor goes to building strong relationships with leads and customers. Without those relationships, you’re rudderless and your business won’t flourish.

The challenge, of course, is finding time to build relationships with customers while simultaneously running a business. A customer relationship management (CRM) platform can simplify that process, but you’ll want to balance the cost with the features. And for small businesses with limited cash flow, many CRMs are out of reach.

The good news is that there are CRMs out there that don’t have massive price tags but also don’t stint when it comes to the features and capabilities offered. We’ll walk you through the top 10 CRMs for small businesses and solopreneurs on a budget.

Do customer relationships really matter today?

In an age where customers can jump from business to business as easily as conducting a Google search, it’s tempting to think that there’s no real need for strong relationships. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s the state of the world we live in when it comes to relationships with your customers:

  • 52% of customers will switch to a competing brand if they experience a negative interaction with a business.
  • 60% of consumers report buying from a brand because of the expected experience/relationship with that brand.
  • 88% of consumers say that their experience with a brand matters as much as the quality of the product or service they purchase.

As you can see, cultivating strong relationships and then being there for your customers is critical. The right CRM is invaluable in achieving those goals. Without further ado, let’s check out the top 10 CRMs for SMBs with budgetary constraints.

The top 10 CRMs for budget-conscious SMBs

1. Vtiger

“The real all-in-one CRM that makes working between apps easy”, promises Vtiger, and the CRM lives up to that claim. It provides you with a unified view of customer information across all touchpoints, helping to ensure that everyone the customer interacts with has the full picture. It also integrates with the apps you already use and provides robust analytics so you can dig as deep as you want.

To help you build relationships, Vtiger offers lots of features. That includes capturing leads from multiple sources, segmenting leads, measuring campaign performance, drilling down into profitability, and enhancing brand awareness and loyalty.

The features of note with Vtiger include:

  • Free option? No, but there is a trial available 
  • Price: $20 per month
  • Powerful tools to connect with leads
  • Robust analytics
  • An all-in-one that doesn’t sacrifice power for price

2. 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 $14 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

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 canget 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, email tools, and more
  • Essentials platform specifically designed for small business needs

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

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? Yes
  • Price: Pricing by quote for over 250 contacts
  • Premium consulting and integration services offered
  • Automated sales alerts
  • Dashboards and reporting
  • Customized infrastructure available

6. 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

7. 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 help desk, 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? Yes
  • 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 

8. Close

Close is a high-performance sales CRM built for teams of all sizes to better engage leads, close more deals, and manage all communication in one single platform. Close has built-in calling, email (2-way sync), SMS, sequences, and pipeline tracking to make your entire sales process run smoothly from start to finish. 

Built by and for salespeople, Close is designed to double the performance of every sales rep, by keeping the majority of your sales activity in one tool and giving you an easy-to-navigate UI that doesn’t get in your way. Close is the perfect tool for startups and SMBs looking to take their sales efforts and productivity to the next level.

Key highlights of the Close CRM include:

  • Free option? No (free 14-day trial, no credit card required)
  • Price: Starts at $49/mo/user 
  • Ideal for Startups and SMBs
  • Free Data Migration 
  • Engage leads and close deals on one platform
  • Out-of-the-box built-in global calling, emailing, SMS, sequences, and pipeline management
  • Bulk email sending, call recording, and power dialer feature
  • In-depth activity analytics and sales funnel reporting
  • Excellent for sales teams and success teams

9. 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 otherways. 

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: $23 per month, per user
  • Activity automation
  • Customer behavior tracking
  • Valuable business insights
  • Dedicated customer management tools and reports

10. Folk

You might not have heard of Folk and there’s a good reason for that: it’s pretty niche. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time and can’t provide you with plenty of bang for your buck. Built with an eye toward ultra-personalization, Folk delivers plenty of relationship-building capabilities. In fact, it’s an all-in-one CRM that helps you control and monitor your entire pipeline (the pipeline view is definitely a highlight here).

Folk offers lots to love, including contact syncing, pipeline management, custom email campaign creation and monitoring, and more. It also comes with lots of integrations, so you know it’ll play well with your tech stack. Finally, there’s a Chrome extension so you or your team can use it right in the browser.

The key features of Folk include:

  • Free option? No, but there is a trial 
  • Price: Starts at $18 per month 
  • Integrates with third-party email and other software
  • Import/export CSV
  • Group and views
  • Auto-merge contacts
  • Template library
  • Actionable reports with real-time insights

Bonus: Less Annoying CRM

Okay, we know this is a top ten list, but we just couldn't help ourselves. This one is just too good to not mention. 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

Once you have a CRM in place, you can begin delivering a seamless experience across all touchpoints. It’s much simpler to build strong relationships when customers can count on a consistent experience across channels, and they never need to worry that the person they’re speaking to doesn’t have the full story.

And remember – communication is a huge part of your customer experience. At Smith.ai, our 24/7 answering service ensures that your customers can speak to a human being no matter what time they call. We can also offer lead vetting, appointment booking, warm call transfers, and much more so that your team can focus on other tasks.

Go ahead and schedule your free consultation. You can also reach out to us at hello@smith.ai at (650) 709-2987.

 

Tags:
Solo Business
Small Business
Apps and Software
People and Project Management
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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