The Best CRM Tools to Consider in 2020

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Few things are more important for a business than to maintain relationships with its customers. No matter whether you cater to businesses or consumers, it’s important to stay in touch with each of your existing and potential customers in an effective way. CRM software makes this task much easier. But with the market flooded with hundreds of CRM tools that cater to different needs and have unique strengths, it’s difficult to find the right match. This article will help you understand what a CRM tool can do for your business and explore top products to start your solution evaluation with.

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Best CRM Tools

Before we delve into our list of top five CRM tools, let’s cover some CRM basics.

What is CRM?

Simply put, CRM is a technology that helps manage a company’s interactions with customers and prospects, with an aim to improve business relationships. CRM tools help in contact management, sales management, enhancing productivity, improving profitability and more.

With the right solution, you can focus on relationships with customers, partners, service users, suppliers and colleagues throughout their lifecycle. At the same time, it helps you identify and nurture new leads, convert those into customers, and provide support and services.

What Challenges Do Businesses Face Without a CRM Tool?

According to industry experts, the major challenges that businesses face while not using a CRM, include:

  • Difficulty following the pace of lead flow
  • Unorganized customer data
  • Lack of planning and unclear growth path
  • Time-consuming processes
  • Poor customer service
  • Inability to manage long-term accounts

If your business is facing any of these issues, it’s high time to invest in a CRM tool that will impact the bottom line of your business effectively and set you on a growth trajectory.

How Do CRM Tools Help Businesses?

The more attentive and personalized engagement you can ensure, the higher your chances of capturing new leads. A report published by PwC claims 63% of Americans share more personal information with companies that offer great experiences, while 80% of them highly value speed, friendly service, convenience and knowledgeable help.

It’s obvious – and should come as no surprise – that positive experiences are one of the key deciding factors while investing in a product or service. CRM tools are designed to help you stay in touch with your customers in every possible way, from managing leads and creating marketing campaigns to synchronizing customer communications and structuring pipelines.

Here are a couple specific ways a CRM tool helps achieve this:

  • Automated Tasks: A CRM tool helps automate mundane and repetitive everyday tasks like scheduling emails and creating reports, freeing up employees’ time so that they can focus on engaging with leads, resolving issues and closing deals
  • Improved Communication: With access to the same customer data, sales and support reps can offer the same high level of service to everyone. This ensures customers don’t have to start fresh and explain their unique issues and preferences all over again in case they are not communicating with the same agent each time.
  • Enhanced Lead Management: You can identify new leads quickly and easily, and categorize them based on multiple factors such as age, location or interest. Sales reps can prioritize leads based on closing likelihood, identify leads that need more nurturing and work towards improving their quality.
  • Increased Referrals: When you understand your customers better, upselling and cross-selling opportunities become clear and the chances of winning new business increase. Better services lead to happy customers who not only spend more but also refer your company to others.
  • Improved Analytical Reporting: CRM tools eliminate the chances of miscalculated data and miscommunications. With all information stored in one place, it becomes easier to analyze data and generate automatic reports. These help you make informed and effective decisions to increase credibility and long-term profitability.

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What are the Key Features of CRM Tools?

  • Contact Management: One of the most crucial features of a CRM, this helps gather all customer data in a central repository for better organization and data flow. It also helps improve the personalization of contacts, enriching customer satisfaction.
  • Dashboards and Reports: Most CRM tools are equipped with AI-powered engines that help generate customized analytical dashboards and reports, which you can use to view statistics in visual, user-friendly formats. Offering real-time notifications and data updates, these features enable you to make data-driven decisions.
  • Mobile CRM: This allows you to take the benefits of CRM with you anywhere — great for productivity and vital for on-the-go sales people. Respond to your customers’ concerns and queries at any time, and engage with them in the best way possible.
  • Integrations: Most CRM tools integrate with third party applications, ensuring streamlined operations. For instance, integration with email service providers allows internal cross-collaboration, as well as categorization and management of contact lists. Chat integration enables sales reps to offer customer support through live chat.
  • Sales Forecasting: This feature helps set a benchmark to judge whether or not you’re achieving your expected ROI. It not only allows you to drive efforts in a particular direction, but also determine where to direct future efforts.

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Best CRM Tools

Finding the right CRM tool for your company can be a headache, so we did the hard work for you and carefully chose five tools based on their usability, capabilities, features and other factors. Let’s take a look.

Salesforce Sales Cloud

Sales Cloud from Salesforce provides sales and customer support in both the B2B and B2C spaces. It’s suitable for businesses of any size, across industries like wealth management, nonprofit, manufacturing, travel and hospitality, government, communications, media, banking, healthcare and more.

It offers native apps for Android and iOS. Some of its capabilities are automation with visual workflows, contact management, marketing tools, integration, customization, file sync and share, and a drag-and-drop process builder.

Salesforce Sales Cloud Opportunities Pipeline

A pipeline of opportunities in Salesforce Sales Cloud.

Top Benefits

  • Effective Partner and Channel Management: By enabling partner recruitment, onboarding and training, Sales Cloud helps you share partner performance to incentivize them. You can co-create account plans, customize channel programs, and track KPIs with partner scorecards. The platform triggers pre-determined actions based on real-time events like training progress, logins and lead acceptance, and helps create cross-channel and personalized experiences for the partner lifecycle.
  • AI-Assisted Insights: Einstein AI provides insights from sales channels and helps you evaluate the effectiveness of campaigns by predicting outcomes and analyzing past deals. Natural language processing (NPL) enables sales reps to offer on-demand customer support using AI chatbots.
  • Thorough Customer Support: The Trailblazer community helps ensure self-service customer support. The platform offers online training resources and blog articles, along with virtual and in-person classes through Trailhead Academy.
  • Automatic Quote Generation: With built-in quoting capabilities, the system automatically populates quotes with appropriate customer data. Sales reps can generate PDFs using approved templates and email those to customers.
  • Better Salesforce Engagement: You can engage with customers in a more effective way with personalized messages from desktop clients or mobile apps, as well as marketing-approved templates for campaigns. Real-time alerts facilitate better prospect outreach, while a detailed history helps sales reps understand a contact’s unique interests. They can also monitor and track each campaign’s performance using an interactive graphical dashboard.

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Primary Features

  • Opportunity Management: With a 360-degree view of the most important deals and an activity timeline of customers, sales reps can focus on the most promising opportunities. They can track associated activities in real time, take actions based on updates and send emails with readily available templates.
  • Territory Management: This feature helps streamline the task of managing multiple sales territories. You can copy a territory model to explore alternative modeling options, arrange them into a flexible and logical structure, and match sales reps to customers. It also helps manage hierarchies, assignment rules and territory assignments, as well as identify collaborators, colleagues and other key resources
  • Analytical Reports and Dashboards: You can make informed business decisions with real-time forecasts, track team performance through dashboards and reporting tools, and view the entire lead pipeline. Drag-and-drop fields, charts, filters and groupings make it easy to customize reports and dashboards.
  • Sales Collaboration: This tool ensures smooth collaboration, as you can keep up with critical projects, teams and topics. It also offers useful recommendations about discovering relevant files, information and people, based on users’ interests and activities.
  • Lead Management: With updated contact information and industry best practices documents, sales reps can track leads, view lead sources, track emails and access activity timelines. They can follow up with leads using automatic lead scoring and routing, and manage marketing campaigns across channels.

Limitations

  • Duplicate management could be improved when integrating with other third-party software.
  • It doesn’t offer an on-premise solution.
  • It doesn’t provide pre-built email templates and native integration with email clients such as Gmail or Outlook.

Pricing Information

Sales Cloud is offered as a subscription-based pricing model. It offers four pricing options with the Essentials plan priced at $25 per user per month. The rest of the plans require a minimum commitment of one year.

Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

Dynamics 365 Sales

Built on the Common Data Service platform, Dynamics 365 Sales is a model-driven app that enables sales reps to track and close sales, nurture customer relationships, and take prompt actions based on insights. With a self-service knowledge base and integrated solutions, it allows businesses to automate field service, drive sales and improve operations. It can be deployed in a partner-hosted or private on-premise cloud, or on Microsoft’s cloud.

Some of its capabilities are automatic lead scoring, predictive forecasting, relationship analytics, lead management, power apps and sales playbook. Suitable for businesses of all sizes, it caters to different industries like retail, manufacturing, healthcare, government, financial services and automotive.

Dynamics 365 Sales Manager

The sales manager view in Dynamics 365 Sales.

Top Benefits

  • Actionable Insights: Access valuable insights about sales reps’ relationship with customers through email engagement, a relationship health score, a mobile assistant and predictive forecasting. The adaptive AI senses changes in buyer needs and trends, allowing agents to handle risks and opportunities efficiently. They receive notifications for things like opportunities nearing close date, inactive accounts and upcoming activities, and can monitor daily actions and communications closely.
  • Improved Relationship Management: Interactive organization charts help keep track of contacts and visualize relationships. It lets you build a hierarchy for existing accounts as well as add contacts to new accounts. It also offers access to LinkedIn Sales Navigator, an embedded widget that helps keep contacts up to date.
  • Mobility: A mobile app provides access to data on-the-go on all major platforms, with the ability to configure dashboards, forms and charts. Other capabilities include notes creation, offline sync, a relationship assistant and Excel export.
  • Access to Information: Using an integrated business card scanner, sales reps can scan the business cards of prospective customers to read basic information and populate data. This helps gather lead or contact records and upload those to Dynamics 365 Sales.
  • Engaging Experience: You can make informed business decisions using AI-driven insights and maximize customer lifetime value, while offering personalized experiences, thanks to a 360-degree view of customers. AI-based recommendations and machine learning aid with discovering new audience segments, automating workflows and resolving customer identities.

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Primary Features

  • Collaboration Tools: Sales teams can collaborate smoothly on deals across geography and functions, directly sharing documents and information from Microsoft Teams, which acts as a hub for chat, documents, meetings and business applications. The platform integrates with libraries on SharePoint and Microsoft Office suite, enabling RFPs, emails and quotes sharing.
  • Partner Relationship Management: Ensure better relationships with your partners by leveraging the native integration with Impartner PRM, which facilitates recruiting and onboarding to strengthen your channels. Partners can view interactions across opportunities, cases and other relevant information through the cloud-based platform.
  • Opportunity Management: Dynamics 365 Sales allows reps to learn how to create opportunities, maintain relationships with other records, and manage them throughout the customer lifecycle. They can identify scenarios to use opportunities and convert more leads.
  • Power BI Integration: You can view sales across metrics, analyze pipelines and identify opportunities on a single dashboard using Microsoft’s BI tool. The integration helps connect different data sources like cloud services, big data, Excel spreadsheets, streaming data and on-premise data.
  • Interactive Dashboards: Gather actionable business data from different sources including charts, views and lists. You can manipulate data with a time frame filter and a global filter. You can access interactive charts from multi-stream dashboards that can be entity-specific or serve as your homepage.

Limitations

  • It doesn’t provide native integration with Gmail.
  • Validation rules can’t be set in the platform and rely upon integration with Dynamics 365 Marketing to be achieved.

Pricing Information

The pricing of Dynamics 365 Sales is subscription-based and available in four plans. The starter plan is available at $65 per user per month for first purchase, and $20 per user per month for subsequent qualification.

Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

HubSpot CRM

HubSpot CRM is a cloud-based platform enabling businesses to organize contacts, monitor deals and get insights on leads. Alongside a free forever CRM offering, its Service Hub, Marketing Hub and Sales Hub modules provide basic functionality without charge. Companies can activate advanced tools by upgrading to premium plans. It is suitable for businesses of all sizes in e-commerce, financial services, consumer services, healthcare, real estate, manufacturing and more.

It provides dashboards for a complete view of sales pipelines, along with reports on productivity, individual performance and sales activities. Other capabilities include live chat, ad management, a chatbot builder and tools for marketers to convert visitors into qualified leads. It integrates with external applications through a marketplace to expand capabilities.

HubSpot Workflows

Example of a workflow created in HubSpot.

Top Benefits

  • Simultaneous Operations: Using this platform, members from different teams like sales, services and marketing can work in the same system of record and implement inbound marketing techniques.
  • Detailed Analytics and Insights: Insights into the sales pipeline help analyze and track toward quotas. The built-in analytics enable identifying pages, emails, traffic sources and offers that drive the most conversions.
  • Strong Connectivity: You can connect with prospects and customers through live chat on the website, and send personalized emails in bulk. The emails get automatically optimized for different devices.
  • Data Storage: HubSpot CRM allows you to store the details of up to one million contacts and companies.
  • Auto-Populated Information: Information about prospects and contacts are automatically populated from website activity and form data.

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Primary Features

  • Email Management: You can create email templates and convert repetitive emails into templates, aiding performance measurement. Prompt notifications about opens, clicks and downloads facilitate following up with the most promising leads. You can also deliver emails to prospects when they remain engaged by leveraging machine learning and scheduling emails.
  • Workflow Automation: HubSpot CRM automatically logs the contact information of every lead, email opens and clicks. Functions like lead rotation and task creation can also be automated.
  • Tracking, Reporting and Monitoring: Sales managers can track deals and analyze the best performing representatives. They can share analysis of granular business metrics with executives, using customizable reports and dashboards. The system also helps monitor website activity and identify new prospects.
  • Customer Filtering: Agents can sort prospects using criteria like company size, geography, number of visits and more, and create custom views for different sales teams using filters.
  • Free Version: The platform offers a free forever plan for unlimited users, which is especially beneficial for small businesses, as they don’t need to incur expenses for using the free version.

Limitations

  • It doesn’t provide a global activity feed for sales reps to view recent activities, share announcements, collateral and attachments, and create team groups.
  • It doesn’t provide a user-centric audit trail to track user activities and actions taken.

Pricing Information

HubSpot CRM is offered for free for unlimited users. It has three paid plans that are billed monthly and payable annually. The Starter plan starts from $35 per user per month.

Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

Pipedrive

Pipedrive is a web-based platform with features like leads and deals management, communication tracking, sales automation, insights and reports, and an app marketplace. It supports management and sales teams with detailed sales reporting, revenue projections, custom reports, cost catalogs and notes. Additionally, it offers native mobile applications for iOS and Android, and an open API to build custom integrations.

Pipedrive Dashboard

A dashboard view in Pipedrive.

Top Benefits

  • Enhanced Information on Deals: Sales reps can view deals in the visual pipeline, categorized by stages, and access statistics showing pipeline health. When needed, they can apply filters to enable in-depth and personalized pipeline analysis.
  • Improved Lead Management: The LeadBooster Chatbot helps qualify new leads and automate meeting bookings. You can set questions and instant responses for the chatbot and route leads automatically.
  • AI-Powered Recommendations: The platform provides users with personalized suggestions, automatic recommendations, behavior-based performance tips, report graphs and notifications based on AI sales recommendations.
  • Security Compliance: You can keep a track of account activity and user access through a security dashboard. The system offers proactive guidance on how to protect business data, and its security features include daily backups, GDPR compliance and data encryption, along with access to a data protection officer. It also has multiple certifications such as SOC2, SOC3, US-EU Privacy Shield and ISO/IEC 27001:2013.
  • Streamlined Operations: You can manage business functions better with live dashboards and revenue forecasting that help you view company performance. An in-app caller helps make calls directly from the web browser, automatically log calls, take audio notes and download call recordings as audio files. You can also see where contacts are located, and filter them by city, state and country thanks to Google Maps integration.

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Primary Features

  • Activity Calendar: You can track to-do lists and day-by-day tasks using this calendar and sync it with Outlook, Google and other calendar providers. It’s also possible to set notification reminders and schedule meetings, emails and calls.
  • Lead Qualification and Deal Probability: Sales reps can pre-qualify leads by retrieving contact information from email addresses, public data and social profiles like Google, LinkedIn and Twitter. It’s also possible to measure the chances of winning a deal and receive notifications when a deal remains idle.
  • Contact and Google Drive Sync: By turning on one-way sync, you can sync contacts from Outlook, Google, Microsoft Office 365, iCloud and Microsoft Exchange. Turning on two-way sync reflects any contact updates from Pipedrive on the connected contact list. You can add presentations and proposals to deals and contacts, or create new ones directly using the Google Drive sync.
  • Workflow Automation: This feature helps streamline repetitive tasks by setting triggers and actions. You can automate scheduling of personalized emails to be sent when deals are created or moved.
  • Connectivity and Data Import: Pipedrive enables importing or migrating data from spreadsheets and other CRMs like Salesforce, Zoho CRM and HubSpot. Developers can connect the system with other software, develop custom features with its open API, and create webhooks for pushing real-time updates. It’s also possible to add new deals, contacts, notes and activities from Gmail through a Chrome extension.

Limitations

  • It doesn’t offer lead scoring out of the box.
  • There’s no way to track bulk email opens and clicks.
  • It doesn’t support scheduling reports and dashboards.

Pricing Information

Monthly billing plans are available in four formats, and the Essential plan starts from $15 per user.

Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

Oracle CX Sales

Oracle CX Sales is a SaaS-based CRM tool that offers a set of AI and data-driven features to improve sales and customer satisfaction. Some of its capabilities are sales force automation, a partner portal, a responsive UI, a native mobile application and partner relationship management.

Suitable for B2B and B2C businesses of all sizes, it caters to industries like construction and engineering, automotive, consumer goods, communications, education and research, financial services, food and beverages, healthcare, hospitality and more.

Oracle CX Sales Coaching Scorecard

A sales performance management dashboard in Oracle CX Sales.

Top Benefits

  • Improved Performance: Instant access to key metrics, reports, and analytic dashboards offering real-time insights helps sales reps forecast, visualize, track, and act on trends. With detailed information about teams and business such as seasonality, recurring sales and overlay sales teams, they can perform better and drill down for more information to make adjustments when required. Predictive analytics help customize products and promotions according to customer needs. The platform also offers more than 500 prepackaged reports to surface actionable business insights, allowing users to leverage the built-in BI capabilities.
  • Intelligent Guidance: AI-driven solutions enable sales reps to identify and analyze opportunities with the highest win probabilities, stay in the loop with market signals and determine which accounts to prioritize. These also provide you with probability scores, AI-derived firmographic data, signals for account enrichment, automated recommendations for next-best actions, deal acceleration and account scoring for account prioritization.
  • Easy Integration: You can maximize productivity by accessing essential sales cloud data via integration with Microsoft Outlook. The prebuilt integration with Oracle ERP Cloud helps sales reps, business analysts, finance teams and order management teams work from a point of view that matches the customers’. This also ensures information flows to the productivity tools your sales force depends on.
  • Automated Data Collection: DataFox, Oracle’s AI data engine, helps you find and prioritize target companies. With features like filters, signals, firmographic data points, company scoring models and balanced territories, this tool can scan more than five million digital properties to create 68 types of real-time company signals and more than 70 firmographic data points.
  • Enhanced Customer Data Management: You can manage customer data more simply with functionalities like campaign segmentation, account-based marketing and effective targeting. The process includes deduping, integration into business intelligence views, and cleansing, which helps increase personalization, efficiency and cost savings.

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Primary Features

  • Sales Planning and Performance Management: Features like compensation dashboards, territory and quota management tools with what-if capabilities, and advanced incentive compensation help ensure better planning and performance. Data and AI work together to offer sales methodologies that sales reps can follow. You can assign leads, opportunities and accounts using territory management, while quota management lets you create sales goals and assign quotas to territories.
  • Sales Force Automation: Sales reps can perform better using contextual insights, predictive outcomes and intelligent recommendations. Processes can be automated with functions like sales-focused digital assistants, mobile access, integration to email applications, drill down dashboards and elastic search. The feature also helps manage accounts, assets, contacts, leads, activities, assessments and opportunities.
  • Oracle CPQ: The platform offers advanced tools for multiple price books, discretionary discounting, subscription orders, dynamic workflows and deal management intelligence. Other features include electronic signatures, a document designer and contract management. It integrates with CRM and ERP systems, web services, and B2B commerce platforms.
  • Subscription Lifecycle Management: A 360-degree view of customer subscriptions lets you manage the entire lifecycle efficiently, giving access to features like fixed and recurring order tools, consumption-based billing and revenue recognition. The system can track core KPIs – customer lifetime value, churn rate, average revenue per user and more. Additionally, it integrates front- and back-office processes.
  • B2B Service Center and Commerce: You can efficiently manage a range of service tasks while ensuring collaboration between multiple teams. The system delivers integrated sales and service capabilities with a combination of sales automation, service request management, knowledge management and digital customer service. It offers customized solutions using features like personalization, merchandising, guided search, promotions, native A/B testing and more.

Limitations

  • It doesn’t allow users to navigate to a sales object’s details page after selecting the sales object from a “Dynamic Choice List” for mobile pages.
  • It doesn’t support the display of a standard object subtab on a custom object mobile details page.
  • You can’t update “Unit of Measurement” for saved products.

Pricing Information

Price is available on request and in three formats, with the basic plan costing $65 per user per month.

Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

Compare CRM Pricing & Costs with our Pricing Guide

Conclusion

There you have it – a detailed study of the main strengths and capabilities of the best five CRM tools. For further analysis, grab our free CRM comparison report to see how even more products stack up based on your unique business needs.

With the right solution in place, you can streamline customer support and service while keeping your sales team closely coordinated with consolidated customer data, instant reporting, visual sales pipelines and more. And with an empowered sales team like that, you’ll be in a much stronger position to experience business growth and improved ROI.

Do you think there should be an addition or alteration to this list of top CRM tools? Based on your experience, which CRM tool is the most effective and why? Let us know in the comments below!

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