SMBs

Free CRM small business tools that boost efficiency

Many CRM tools are way above the budget of most SMBs. These four solutions are at a price point your small business is sure to like -- free.

One of the most important aspects of business is customer relationships. After all, it's customers that keep your lights on.

If your small business is looking for a way to make its relationships with customers even better, take a look at these free Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools. Some of the tools are hosted in the cloud, and some of the tools require you to install them on your own hardware, but all four would do a great job of keeping your business running smoothly and more efficiently.

1: Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM (Figure A) is my go-to tool for managing customer relationships. With Zoho CRM you can handle all of your CRM needs, which includes:
  • customer management
  • day-to-day business automation
  • associate social profiles with customers
  • sales tracking
  • connecting using mobile apps
  • easily communicate with customers
  • integrate CRM with other Zoho tools

Many small businesses will appreciate that there is no installation -- Zoho is purely a cloud-based tool. This means you don't have to pay for hardware or server or software maintenance. As long as you have a browser or a mobile app, you can get to your Zoho CRM tool.

Caveat: The Zoho CRM Free account is limited to three users. For a very small shop, that's fine, and even some medium shops might be able to get away with only three users. But once you have any need above that user number, you need to start looking at the premium accounts. The Zoho CRM Standard account is $12 USD per month, and I think the benefits you gain from Zoho CRM are well worth that nominal cost. Get more details about Zoho CRM pricing and all four editions. Figure A

Zoho CRM (Click the image to enlarge.)

2: openCRX

openCRX (Figure B) is the free CRM tool if you need to manage enterprise-wide coordination of sales generation/fulfillment, marketing and service activities to customers/partners/suppliers/intermediaries. openCRX includes groupware, account management, product and price management, sales pipeline, advanced activity management, issue tracking, and more. But don't think openCRX is only designed for larger companies.

openCRX is a true open source, browser-based tool and is platform independent. Because of its open source nature, openCRX is ideal for SMBs. The only requirements are that your server runs Apache Tomcat and one of the major database management systems (MySQL, HSQLDB, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL, Oracle, or IBM DB2).

A very nice feature of the groupware component is that it features AirSync, a drop-in replacement for ActiveSync that allows you to connect with any ActiveSync client such as iPhone or Android devices. You can also purchase paid support using one of the openCRX affiliates.

Figure B

openCRX (Click the image to enlarge.)

3: CiviCRM

CiviCRM (Figure C) is one of the most powerful open source tools available for businesses that focus on civic, volunteer, or community-driven efforts. CiviCRM is especially ideal for event planning and management. This web-based tool offers: membership management (including member access and rules), customizable online signup and renewal, membership appeal campaigns, and more. Caveat: CiviCRM works on top of an existing CMS tool; you can install CiviCRM into your Drupal, Joomla!, or WordPress platform. CiviCRM requires PHP5.3.x and MySQL 5.1.x.

Test drive the CiviCRM demo, on top of various platforms, from the Demo Site.

Figure C
CiviCRM (Click the image to enlarge.)

4: Zurmo

Zurmo (Figure D) is touted as the gamified, social, and mobile CRM platform. "Gamified" means that Zurmo rewards end users with scores, badges, achievements, and statuses. This "gamification" can create a competitive environment that could drive up productivity within the CRM.

Zurmo offers a fairly standard feature set: contact/activity management, deal tracking, reporting, workflow, and campaign management, and it works with most mobile platforms.

The software requirements for a Zurmo installation are: Apache (>= 2.2.1 or IIS >= 5.0.0) and MySQL Server (>= 5.1). This software is recommended but optional: Apache mod_deflate and Memcached.

To get a better idea of what Zurmo CRM has to offer, try this Live Demo. Demo credentials are Administration panel: Username: super and Password: super. Standard user: Username: jim and Password: jim.

(Figure D)
Zurmo (Click the image to enlarge.)

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

17 comments
joestark15
joestark15

You forgot Snapforce CRM, they offer 4 editions one of which is absolutely free, albeit it is the scaled down version compared to the other CRM products they offer. 


My personal favorite free crm's are:


http://snapforce.com

http://zoho.com
Tabuloid
Tabuloid

Please see TabuloidCRM - Free CRM service. Millions of users have already boosted their business with TabuloidCRM! Try and sign up today!¨


http://tabuloid.com/

mmh337
mmh337

I would add PayPanther to the list. It's a relatively new cloud-based CRM software, which is also completely free. I like the ease of use and that I can do all my expenses, invoices, and time tracking in one place.

sandhyaramesh
sandhyaramesh

 To add another one to the list, I'd suggest Agile CRM. It's aimed at small businesses, and comes with an inbuilt marketing automation platform, along with social suite & analytics. It basically helps startups and SMBs market and sell like a Fortune 500 company. It's also priced quite reasonably, ranging from zero to a maximum of $99 per month. Definitely worth checking out!

davidkuehn8
davidkuehn8

For now I would like to mention my personal favorite i.e Talygen CRM (http://www.talygen.com). But I would checkout the rest of the CRMs for sure.

denis2eth
denis2eth

I think one is missed which is Infusionsoft. They have grown their customer base to more than 12,000 and some of the top marketers are their clients. You can see their demo here http://dess.me/InfSoft

KraigDIY
KraigDIY

To add another to the list (although not free, but it does have a 30 days free trial), I want to mention Quickbase, by Intuit. It's a very customizable platform that starts at just $299/month and it's fairly easy to use. I built a fairly robust, company wide CRM for a small business with it. I made some tutorials about how to use it at http://diysmallbusinesscrm.com.

ebsfrmr
ebsfrmr

Another suggestion is Bitrix24.

chriswakare
chriswakare

Any views on Social CRM's with the likes of nimble.

Tuscanycheftx
Tuscanycheftx

I appreciate the review. I have been a longtime user of ZOHO and like it. I have a new client that is using vTiger...so I am trying that one out...I will keep you updated.

PhilM
PhilM

When hosted locally, vtiger is also free

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