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Top 7 Simple CRM Systems for Startups & SMBs in 2024

Sales teams with a tight budget and a small team need a simple CRM system to convert cold leads to closed conversions. While you may think spreadsheets are your best companion in the process, the reality is slightly different.

Developing a pipeline of leads, sales, and customers is much different than managing them in the long run. You need a software solution that is easy to use, requires no coding experience, and doesn’t have a steep learning curve.

“The more you engage with customers, the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing.” – John Russell

I’ve done the hard work for you by creating a list of the 7 most popular CRM software.

Here’s your first glance at them:

CRM Software Best For Pricing Starts From
BIGContacts Contact Management & Email Marketing Free for startups with up to 100 contacts. Paid starts at $9.99/user/month.
Zoho CRM Analytics & Forecast $23/user/month
Pipedrive Customizable Sales Pipeline $9.90/user/month
Freshsales Sales Intelligence $15/user/month
Bitrix24 Sales Funnel Automation $49/month (for 5 users)
Zendesk Sell Pipeline Visibility $19/agent/month
EngageBay Deal Management $11.95/user/month

List of Top 7 Simple CRM Solutions

The simple CRM software tools mentioned in the following list are primarily sourced from market leaders who consider them essential for daily operations. Additionally, I’ve extracted information from software review platforms and peer suggestions to provide a comprehensive view from various perspectives.

Finally, I’ve infused my own experiences and jotted down the pros and cons – aiming to help you make well-informed decisions. So, let’s begin.

1. BIGContacts – Best for Contact Management & Email Marketing

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I started using BIGContacts based on a recommendation from an industry peer. It’s one of the low-cost CRM solutions perfect for first-time users.

For contact management, BIGContacts slays with its simple interface. Adding new contacts is a breeze, and searching for existing ones is lightning-fast. Plus, the automatic contact enrichment feature pulls in valuable details from social media and other sources, saving me tons of time.

Email marketing is equally effortless. BIGContacts offers a drag-and-drop email builder with pre-designed templates. So, creating professional campaigns is possible without any coding. The built-in email tracking shows who opens emails and clicks on links – great to visualize what’s working and what’s not.

Here’s what Sennan Quigley, had to say about BIGContacts:

Managers views about BIGContacts

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What You’ll Like:

  • Easy capture and storage of all communications with contacts
  • Reports on sales activities, pipeline, and performance for the whole team
  • Captures leads from web forms, landing pages, and social media
  • Assigns and tracks tasks for team members and sets reminders and alerts
  • Drip email campaigns to nurture customer relationships

What You May Not Like:

  • The free trial period may not be enough to explore the software inside out
  • The search functionality could have been better

Pricing:

  • Forever free plan for startups with all premium features. Paid plan starts at $9.99/month.

2. Zoho CRM – Best for Analytics & Forecast

Zoho CRM - Best for Analytics & Forecast

Image Source: Zoho

I could easily crown Zoho as the easiest CRM to use. It does have a simple interface and useful features, including lead management, sales forecasting, and analytics.

The CRM’s analytics and forecasting tools are designed to help you make data-driven decisions. With its advanced analytics features, you can track and analyze every part of the sales process, including lead data, details about deals, activity statistics, and email information.

I used the tool for a few weeks and could create customized dashboards with analytical widgets for sales – charts, target meters, KPIs, and funnels. The platform also offers customizable reports, which provide actionable data intelligence to boost sales success.

What You’ll Like:

  • Insights into customer behavior and preferences with advanced analytics
  • Automates lead scoring by identifying leads that will convert
  • Personalizes customer interactions with a 360-degree view of every customer
  • Deal management to track what stage your deals are currently in
  • Workflows that reduce manual data entry and eliminate redundancies

What You May Not Like:

  • Lags and glitches in areas like lead uploads, account lists, and workflows
  • AI features are only available with top-tier plans

Pricing:

  • Starts at $23/user/month.

3. Pipedrive – Best for Customizable Sales Pipeline

Pipedrive - Best for Customizable Sales Pipeline

Image Source: Pipedrive

In my experience, Pipedrive is a simple CRM for individuals and small teams. I found the tool’s customizable sales pipeline feature to be particularly impressive.

It enables you to create and customize the sales pipeline according to business needs. This lets you track the sales process more efficiently and identify improvement areas. Furthermore, Pipedrive’s sales assistant, powered by machine learning, offers valuable suggestions and insights to assist sales teams in closing more deals.

But the magic lies in the customization. You can build your pipeline to perfectly match your sales process, adding, removing, or renaming stages as needed.

What You’ll Like:

  • Sales pipeline and deal management with customizable stages
  • Reporting capabilities for tracking sales performance
  • Recurring revenue tracking for managing subscriptions and repeat customers
  • Task management for organizing sales-related activities
  • Invoice and billing features for seamless financial transactions

What You May Not Like:

  • No separation between lists of new leads and contacts, which can cause confusion and duplication
  • Extra cost for web forms and chatbots that can help with lead capture

Pricing:

  • Starts at $9.90/user/month.

4. Freshsales – Best for Sales Intelligence

Freshsales - Best for Sales Intelligence

Image Source: Freshsales

Freshsales is one of the simplest CRM platforms I’ve tested. In my experience, it’s ideal for ambitious sales teams in SMBs looking to reach their prospects more strategically. The software’s intuitive and customizable UI makes it a good choice for those new to CRM tools.

The CRM offers features such as deep customer insights, behavior tracking, AI-powered lead scoring, and sales forecasting. Its best feature is its sales intelligence. It surfaces hidden patterns in customer data, revealing who’s most likely to convert and what products they’re craving. No more guesswork, just laser-focused targeting for maximum impact.

The software provides advanced AI-powered automation and insights at an affordable price, although app integrations are quite limited.

What You’ll Like:

  • Unified platform housing contacts, deals, activities, and communication history
  • Creates custom pipelines and stages to visualize and track deal progress
  • AI-powered segmentation and lead nurturing for higher conversion rates
  • Advanced reporting and analytics to optimize sales performance
  • Customization of fields, layouts, views, and dashboards to suit business needs

What You May Not Like:

  • Lead generation tools such as web forms and landing pages are only available with the Enterprise plan
  • The email tracking feature is not very accurate and sometimes fails to sync

Pricing:

  • A free plan is available for up to 3 users. Paid options start from $15/user/month.

5. Bitrix24 – Best for Sales Funnel Automation

Bitrix24 - Best for Sales Funnel Automation

Image Source: Bitrix24

Bitrix24 is a simple CRM program with a wide variety of lead management tools and some nice automation features that combine to make it excellent for SMBs. But, in my time with it, I was more intrigued by its sales automation capabilities.

The software offers a fully featured CRM system and custom sales funnels that instantly show you which stages should be improved and how many leads or clients you have in various deal stages. You can set up automated email sequences based on lead behavior, trigger workflows when deals hit specific stages, and even personalize website content for different segments.

In fact, it’s one of the cheapest CRM tools out there if you have a team of at least five people.

What You’ll Like:

  • Visual sales pipeline to track deals at every stage and close them faster
  • Converts website visitors, social media followers, and email leads into customers
  • Marketing automation to launch targeted email campaigns and score leads automatically
  • Customizable dashboards & reports for real-time insights into sales performance
  • Social media integration to manage interactions and convert followers into leads

What You May Not Like:

  • Some users reported slow performance and frequent glitches in the UI
  • No public file-sharing or file-access rights option in the free plan

Pricing:

  • A free plan is available with limited online storage space. Paid options start at $49/month (for 5 users).

6. Zendesk Sell – Best for Pipeline Visibility

Zendesk Sell - Best for Pipeline Visibility

Image Source: Zendesk

If you are looking for a basic CRM system, you may want to consider Zendesk Sell. I had the opportunity to use the software and was decently impressed with its pipeline visibility feature.

The tool allowed me to track deals throughout each stage of the pipeline, providing full visibility to plan, track, and analyze the sales process without heavy lifting. I find this feature especially useful for sales managers who must keep track of leads and ensure that deals don’t fall through the cracks.

The software is one of those easy CRM tools with a conversational interface built around everyday sales activities. It offers everything you need in one simple platform, including prospecting, engagement, lead generation, and communication capabilities.

What You’ll Like:

  • Prioritize leads based on predicted conversion potential with AI-powered lead scoring
  • Email and task sequences to automatically engage leads
  • Customized email sequences to follow up with leads automatically
  • Integrates with Zendesk Sell and Support to exchange key data and insights
  • Trigger-based actions to eliminate admin work, automate workflow, and ensure customers get full attention

What You May Not Like:

  • Advanced features like sales forecasting, task automation, etc., are only available in higher-priced plans
  • Allows only one sales pipeline per account, which can be inconvenient for businesses with multiple sales processes

Pricing:

  • Starts at $19/agent/month.

7. EngageBay – Best for Deal Management

EngageBay - Best for Deal Management

Image Source: EngageBay

EngageBay is a simple CRM app with an easy-to-use automation platform for emails, landing pages, and forms. I found the tool to be user-friendly and easy to set up.

The software’s deal management feature is a special mention. It lets you track the progress of sales deals and manage them. Adding deals, managing pipelines, and tracking progress is pretty simple.

EngageBay offers an exhaustive view of deals at every stage. You can track the number of deals in each stage, organize and filter them based on their expected close date, and make informed decisions. It gives you complete control to prioritize, track, monitor, and close deals like never before.

What You’ll Like:

  • Automated email sequences for lead nurturing
  • Proposal analytics to track and optimize sales proposals
  • Lead scoring and prioritization based on behavior and profile
  • Multiple deal pipelines with a drag-and-drop interface and custom stages
  • Email sequences and templates to create personalized and engaging emails

What You May Not Like:

  • No workflow automation or triggers in the free plan
  • Some users reported having limited customization options for email and landing page designs

Pricing:

  • A free plan is available for only up to 250 contacts/companies. Paid options start from $11.95/user/month.
Read More: 8 Best EngageBay CRM Alternatives [2024 Updated List]

Evaluation Criteria

The evaluation of products or tools chosen for this article follows an unbiased, systematic approach that ensures a fair, insightful, and well-rounded review. This method employs six key factors:

  1. User Reviews / Ratings: Direct experiences from users, including ratings and feedback from reputable sites, provide a ground-level perspective. This feedback is critical in understanding overall satisfaction and potential problems.
  2. Essential Features & Functionality: The value of a product is ascertained by its core features and overall functionality. Through an in-depth exploration of these aspects, the practical usefulness and effectiveness of the tools are carefully evaluated.
  3. Ease of Use: The user-friendliness of a product or service is assessed, focusing on the design, interface, and navigation. This ensures a positive experience for users of all levels of expertise.
  4. Customer Support: The quality of customer support is examined, taking into account its efficiency and how well it supports users in different phases – setting up, addressing concerns, and resolving operational issues.
  5. Value for Money: Value for money is evaluated by comparing the quality, performance, and features. The goal is to help the reader understand whether they would be getting their money’s worth.
  6. Personal Experience / Expert’s Opinion: This part of the evaluation criteria draws insightful observations from the personal experience of the writer and the opinions of industry experts.

Regardless of which software platform you adopt for your company, always remember to test it before investing. You may want to go for a free trial or try its free version (if available) to understand how it fares in real life.

Which of these Simple CRMs is the Best for You?

Having access to easy-to-use and good CRM systems means you’re always in a good position. It acts like a dependable tool for your sales team – handling tasks automatically, keeping all contact details in one place, and giving useful sales information.

To help you choose a simple CRM platform from the list below, you may peek a glance at my top three picks.

Option A: BIGContacts

BIGContacts is the most reasonably priced CRM solution on the list, with a user-friendly interface that simplifies contact management and saves time. Its drag-and-drop email builder with pre-designed templates and email tracking feature makes email marketing a breeze.

Option B: Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM has a simple interface and features like lead management and sales forecasting. Its advanced analytics help you make data-driven decisions by monitoring the entire sales cycle, from lead analytics to email stats.

Option C: Freshsales

Freshsales is a simple CRM platform – ideal for SMB sales teams. It offers deep customer insights, AI-powered lead scoring, and sales forecasting. While it provides advanced automation and insights at an affordable price, app integrations are limited.

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Learn More About Simple CRM Software

What does “simple CRM” mean?

A simple CRM tool is like a computer program that assists you in handling your relationships with customers and making your sales work smoother. It does many things, like organizing and keeping track of how you communicate with customers, handling potential sales opportunities, and automating sales tasks.

Read More: Understanding CRM Technology & Its Benefits

What are the top features of a simple CRM?

Some of the top features of simple CRM software are –

  • Contact management: Store and track customer information and history in a database.
  • Lead management: Analyze, qualify, and nurture leads from various sources.
  • Pipeline management: See and manage your sales process and stages visually.
  • Reporting and analytics: Get insights and data on your sales and marketing performance and customer behavior.
  • Integration: Connect your CRM with other tools and platforms that you use.

How can a simple CRM help my small business?

Here are some of the ways a basic CRM system can help your small business –

  • Improving customer relationships by storing and tracking customer information, history, and interactions.
  • Increasing sales by streamlining the sales process, qualifying and nurturing leads, and managing deals and pipelines.
  • Boosting productivity by automating tasks, workflows, and communications across different channels and platforms.
  • Enhancing teamwork by providing a shared dashboard, collaboration tools, and access to customer data for all team members.
  • Generating insights by creating reports and analytics on sales and marketing performance, customer behavior, and sales forecasting.
Read More: Benefits of CRM: Why CRM is Important for Your Business

How do I choose the simplest CRM for my business?

Choosing an easy-to-use CRM is pretty simple. Here are some factors that you should consider –

  • Ease of Use: Check if the software is easy to set up and use, with no additional downloads or installations and no training or coding required.
  • Core Features: The software should offer essential features such as contact management, sales pipeline, customizations, and automation.
  • Listed on Top Review Websites: Check if the CRM is listed on platforms like Capterra and G2 and has positive and genuine user reviews.
  • Favorable Pricing: Make sure the software aligns with your budget, has transparent pricing plans, and considers additional costs and scalability.
  • Free Trial: Always check whether the software vendor has a free trial to assess the tool’s usability, integration, and suitability before making a commitment.

Read this article to know more about “how to choose a CRM for your business“.

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About the author

The BIGContacts Editorial Team is a passionate group of CRM experts dedicated to improving your customer relationships with top-notch content. We stay ahead of the curve on trends, tackle technical hurdles, and provide practical tips to boost your business. With our commitment to quality and integrity, you can be confident you're getting the most reliable resources to enhance your contact management and business process automation initiatives.