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3 Free Customer Relationship Management Software Options for SMBs

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My friend and colleague recently updated his really funny and informative post, “The 10 Best Free and Open Source CRM Software Solutions.” While it’s a great overview, I wanted to dive deeper into the three systems on his list I think are overall best for SMBs.

Each product on this list has something special about it that makes it especially perfect for SMBs, whether it’s great support, an especially intuitive UI, or lots of great features. Each is cloud-based, so you don’t have to worry about spending tons of time and money customizing the software, keeping it up to date, and hosting it.

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. CapsuleCRM: Reviewers rave

Why I picked it: CapsuleCRM is No. 13 on our top 20 most user-friendly CRM list and Capterra reviewers really love its ease of use and short learning curve.

What you get for free: Two users, 10 MB of storage, and 250 contacts

What it costs to upgrade: $12/user/month

What you get with the upgrade: 2 GB of storage, 50,000 contacts, and integration with such applications as MailChimp and FreshBooks.

Pros

CapsuleCRM is a great tool for a small or young company. It’s got a short learning curve and an intuitive UI. It’s also got integrations with other commonly used platforms, including Xero, MailChimp, and FreshBooks.

Cons

It offers a Gmail integration, which is nice, but CapsuleCRM doesn’t offer email marketing or marketing automation. Nor does it provide referral tracking or preset workflows, in contrast to HubSpot and Really Simple Systems, which both offer all of the above.

2. HubSpot CRM: Features galore

https://knowledge.hubspot.com/articles/kcs_article/contacts/overview-of-hubspot-crm

Why I picked it: It has tons of features, including email marketing capabilities, real-time email open, click, and email tracking notifications, and email templates. And it offers full support. It’s also fifth on our top 20 most popular CRM list.

What you get for free: Unlimited users and accounts, tracking of five documents per account, and 15 minutes per user per month of calling. You also get five email templates per account, unlimited email scheduling, and real-time email open notifications—if you combine HubSpot Sales with Google Apps. Up to 200 email tracking notifications per month.

What it costs to upgrade: $50/user/month

What you get with the upgrade: Tracking of 1,000 documents per user per month and 2,000 minutes of VoIP (up from 15 minutes of calls). In addition, the real-time email open, click, and email tracking notifications become unlimited. You also get 1,000 email templates per user per month and 1,000 automated follow-up emails. With the paid plan, HubSpot will also tell you which companies are visiting your website, and prospects can easily access your calendar to book time with you.

Pros

You’d think with all this functionality HubSpot CRM would be hard to use—but you’d be wrong. It’s No. 8 on our top 20 most user-friendly CRM list. Reviewers love it.

HubSpot’s CRM is a data gathering machine. Literally. HubSpot CRM scrapes the web and email engagement to get you more information on your prospects with less manual input.

And unlike Capsule and Really Simple Systems, HubSpot offers lead scoring.

Cons

A few reviewers complain about the reporting, saying the dashboard is hard to understand and the reports aren’t very useful.

3. Really Simple Systems CRM: Support and training superstar

Why I picked it: Like HubSpot, Really Simple Systems offers email marketing capabilities and full support. But unlike HubSpot, reviewers rave about the support, saying it’s what sets Really Simple Systems apart.

What you get for free: Two users, unlimited contacts, 100 accounts, and 100 MB of storage.

What it costs to upgrade: Upgrades start at $14/user/month. Really Simple Systems has three different paid plans for growing businesses.

What you get with the upgrade:

You can set permission levels to control who has access to what data. The settings become more customizable and the reporting more robust. They also offer an optional Marketing Module and Service Desk Module.

Pros

The biggest pro is the free, full customer support, along with webinars, tutorials, and step-by-step guides on all their features.

Unlike HubSpot CRM and CapsuleCRM, Really Simple Systems offers customer support functionality, workflows, and territory management. And unlike the others, you don’t need a third-party email provider such as Gmail for email marketing functionality.

Cons

Some people find the interface a little dated and confusing.

Next steps

CapsuleCRM, Hubspot CRM, and Really Simple Systems CRM are all great options for free customer relationship management software. Each has something unique to offer users, depending where your priorities lie.

For example:

  • If you want something that is incredibly easy to use, and support and email aren’t a big deal for you, CapsuleCRM is a great choice.
  • If email marketing and marketing automation are your bag, HubSpot CRM is the one for you.
  • If you really love great customer service and hands-on training, Really Simple Systems is your best bet.

And if you want to compare more options, check out our CRM directory, where we have more than 500 options to compare, with the ability to narrow down by feature.

Looking for Customer Service software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Customer Service software solutions.

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About the Author

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz helps B2B software companies with their sales and marketing at Capterra. Her writing has appeared in The Week, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, VICE Motherboard, Reason magazine, Talking Points Memo and other publications. She has been quoted by the New York Times Magazine and has been a columnist at Bitcoin Magazine. Her media appearances include Fox News and Al Jazeera America. If you're a B2B software company looking for more exposure, email Cathy at cathy@capterra.com . To read more of her thoughts, follow her on Twitter.

Comments

I went through a sales training program and was told to get Base CRM. I love it! However, it’s expensive, and it’s geared toward sales. For the marketing side, I chose ActiveCampaign. Because I only need the automation, and not the CRM side of it, I’m only paying a few bucks a month. Do you have any tips for streamlining data when you’re using more than one system? I hate having redundant contacts, some of which have incomplete information. So far, I’ve decided to make Base the home for everything, and am using the minimum with ActiveCampaign. In other words, I only use it for automation and only use the lead scoring, pipelines, etc., out of Base. Therefore, to reiterate, I feel like one of my greatest challenges is having multiples CRMs and email automation platforms. Am I alone on this? Any advice? Thanks for the great article.

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