• Best overall offering a mix of pricing and advanced tools: Freshsales
  • Best for managing finances and cash flow: Pipedrive
  • Best for advanced sales and marketing tools: EngageBay
  • Best offering security and permissions: Capsule
  • Best offering a Starter Bundle for small business: HubSpot
  • Best for managing projects: monday sales CRM

Customer relationship management software that caters to small businesses helps organizations manage and track leads and customer interactions. While offering a mix of core and advanced CRM features for businesses to streamline their sales processes, these CRM tools are meant to be scalable to not only meet the business where it is currently but also grow with it.

CRM software like Freshsales, HubSpot and EngageBay have free plans, which is great for small businesses with a limited budget. But for small businesses that have the funds and personnel, tools like Pipedrive, Capsule and monday sales CRM are also worth considering.

Top CRM software for small businesses comparison

Small and midsize businesses investing in CRM software want a tool that is accessible throughout sales and marketing departments for visibility and collaboration between teams. This allows processes to be automated and deals to be brought in and closed faster.

CRM software that includes marketing tools or add-ons helps these small businesses house all of their customer relationships, from generation to nurturing, within one tool. Integrating any additional software in their tech stack, like calendars or email providers, is another important feature organizations should confirm before committing to a software solution.

Software
Pipeline management
Marketing tools
Lead nurturing
Integrations
Starting price*
Freshsales
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Free starting price
Pipedrive
Yes
Limited
Yes
Yes
$14 per user per month
EngageBay
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Free starting price
Capsule
Yes
Limited
Yes
Yes
Free starting price
HubSpot
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Free starting price
monday sales CRM
Yes
Yes
Limited
Yes
$12 per user per month
*Price when billed annually.

Freshsales: Best overall offering a mix of pricing and advanced tools

Freshsales logo.
Image: Freshsales

Our star rating: 4.4/5

Freshsales offers a free-for-life version of its software with an emphasis on growing pipelines, boosting conversions and power productivity. Its premium tiers start at a low rate compared to industry standards, making it an extremely affordable solution. One advantage of its Pro tier is access to Freddy AI. This AI assistant helps users generate leads and create personalized emails, and it provides detailed insights to help reps work more efficiently.

Pricing

  • Free CRM: Free for up to 3 users and offers email templates, a sales dashboard and more. Users access basic contact and account management, email templates and more.
  • Growth: $9 per user per month, billed annually, or $11 per user when billed monthly. This tier includes everything in the free level plus two-way email sync, parallel calling, SMS integrations and more.
  • Pro: $39 per user per month, billed annually, or $47 per user when billed monthly. Users get everything in the Growth level plus Freddy AI insights, 50 custom roles, territory management and more.
  • Enterprise: $59 per user per month, billed annually, or $71 per user when billed monthly. This plan includes all available features, including those mentioned above, in addition to audit logs, APIs and a dedicated account manager.

Features

  • Email templates: Create templates for sales reps to use and send to prospects quickly.
  • AI-powered contact scoring: Get scores on every contact based on demographic and buying behaviors.
  • Product catalog: Create a catalog of all products or services, set prices and add them to pipelines and deals.
Sample sales sequence page in Freshsales.
Caption: Example Freshsales sales sequence. Image: Freshsales

Freshsales pros and cons

Pros
Cons

  • 21-day free trial.

  • Powerful AI tools.

  • Software demo.


  • Territory management is only offered in the Pro and Enterprise tiers.

  • Advanced marketing tools require paid add-ons.

  • There is limited integration with Google Workspace.

Why we chose Freshsales

Freshsales is top CRM software that is secure and reliable and allows for robust collaboration between sales, marketing and support departments. It offers AI-powered sales automations that can score leads and then add insights into the pipeline on whether the deal is viable or cold. The deal management, sales sequence and workflow tools make housing all customer relationship data easy.

While Freshsales does offer a free version of its CRM platform, gaining access to more advanced features requires a subscription to one of the premium tiers. If you’re wanting a more robust free option with a larger cap of users allowed, I suggest looking into HubSpot first.

Read my Freshsales review for more insight into this CRM software.

Pipedrive: Best for managing finances and cash flow

Pipedrive logo.
Image: Pipedrive

Our star rating: 4.4/5

In addition to Pipedrive’s advanced pipeline management tools, users can automate and streamline their finances with AI and app integrations. Small and midsize companies rely on predictive analytics around finances and cash flow, and the good news is Pipedrive can integrate with different accounting systems and software to automate invoices, schedule payments and even forecast revenue.

Pricing

  • Essential: $14 per user per month, billed annually, or $24 per user when billed monthly. This tier comes with customizable pipelines, deal import and export, file attachments, calendar views and more.
  • Advanced: $29 per user per month, billed annually, or $39 per user when billed monthly. This plan offers all Essential features, plus email templates, group emailing, meeting scheduler and more.
  • Professional: $49 per user per month, billed annually, or $64 per user when billed monthly. All features mentioned are included in this plan, in addition to unlimited visual dashboards, custom permission sets, 24/5 live chat support and more.
  • Power: $64 per user per month, billed annually, or $79 per user when billed monthly. This tier offers all Professional functionality, plus phone support, 200,000 open deals and more.
  • Enterprise: $99 per user per month, billed annually, or $129 per user when billed monthly. This plan comes with all available features, including unlimited open deals, custom fields, reports and security alerts.

Features

  • Email campaigns: Personalize messages to customers that are scheduled to engage with them at the most ideal time.
  • Workflow automation: Spend less time working on administrative tasks and more time selling with automated emails, touchpoints and more.
  • Conversation tracking: View contact history with every contact, including calls, emails and in-person meetings.
Sample pipedrive dashboard showing deal forecasting
Caption: Business forecast dashboard in Pipedrive. Image: Pipedrive

Pipedrive pros and cons

Pros
Cons

  • 14-day free trial.

  • 24/7 customer support.

  • Mobile app available.


  • No free-for-life version.

  • Reports of limited reporting and analytics.

  • Limited marketing tools.

Why we chose Pipedrive

Pipedrive is a popular CRM solution for small businesses because of its intuitive pipeline building. Users can build out new or existing sales pipelines and then manage customers from beginning to end with helpful automations and reports. Pipedrive can also connect and integrate with a variety of other business tools in your tech stack, such as Slack, Zoom, Gmail, Trello, Microsoft Teams and more.

While Pipedrive’s premium plans are priced at average rates, I recognize that small businesses might prioritize a free CRM over a paid one to get started; in that case, I recommend looking into Freshsales or HubSpot.

For more information on this provider, check out our full Pipedrive review.

EngageBay: Best for advanced sales and marketing tools

Engagebay logo.
Image: Engagebay

Our star rating: 4.1/5

EngageBay is a single solution for small businesses looking for a CRM tool that bundles automation, helpdesk and live chat software in one. Businesses can house lead generation campaigns through email sequences or landing pages in the suite and then import those new leads into sales pipelines. EngageBay allows users to use marketing automations and not only target but also import and route high-quality leads for reps to nurture into clients.

Pricing

  • Free CRM: Free for up to 15 users and 250 contacts and companies, contact management, 360-degree contact view and more.
  • CRM Basic: $11.04 per user per month when billed biennially; $11.95 per user per month when billed yearly; and $12.99 per user per month when billed monthly. This includes everything in the free tier, plus email templates, landing pages, reports dashboard, custom deal milestones and more.
  • CRM Growth: $42.49 per user per month when billed biennially; $45.99 per user per month when billed yearly; and $49.99 per user per month when billed monthly. Users can access multi currency, email sequences, automations and workflows and more.
  • CRM Pro: $67.99 per user per month when billed biennially; $73.59 per user per month when billed yearly; and $79.99 per user per month when billed monthly. This paid tier includes proposal analytics, role management, call records and call scripts.

Features

  • Site messaging: Follow up with site visitors in real time by communicating with branded and personalized messages.
  • Multiple deal pipelines: Set up multiple deal pipelines to track different leads and projects efficiently.
  • Ticket management: Maintain and organize all support tickets and customer issues in one hub; that way, users can assign tickets quickly.
Sample engagebay sales dashboard.
Caption: EngageBay sales dashboard. Image: EngageBay

EngageBay pros and cons

Pros
Cons

  • Free-for-life version.

  • Unlimited pipelines.

  • Video tutorials for support.


  • Low-cost paid tiers require lengthy commitments.

  • Third-party integrations are only available for paid tiers.

  • Free tier is capped at only supporting 250 contacts.

Why we chose EngageBay

EngageBay offers a variety of unique solutions, including a CRM software, marketing platform, helpdesk software, live chat software and an all-in-one platform combining each of these. EngageBay’’s CRM and Sales bay pricing tiers are competitive and offer multiple billing options. All of this makes the platform extremely customizable for a small business to pick and choose the exact solution for their needs.

Depending on your industry or platform expertise, there might be other general options that can fit your needs. For example, if you are a law firm, recruitment agency or real estate company, Capsule offers specific industry solutions.

To learn more about this CRM provider, read our EngageBay review.

Capsule: Best offering security and permissions

Capsule Logo
Image: Capsule

Our star rating: 4.0/5

Capsule offers a variety of security and advanced permission features for users to feel secure and safe with their client information. User access to records is based not only on team membership but on one of three roles that can be assigned to users. Additionally, single sign-on can be enabled using Microsoft 365, QuickBooks or Google Workspace. Beyond this, Capsule can guarantee secure payments, data encryption, regular backups and uptime monitoring.

Pricing

  • Free tier: Free for up to 250 contacts and 50 MB of storage per account.
  • Starter: $18 per user per month when billed annually, or $21 per user when billed monthly. This includes everything in the free tier, plus 30,000 contacts, 1 sales pipeline, 1 project board, 50 custom fields and more.
  • Growth: $36 per user per month when billed annually, or $38 per user when billed monthly. This tier supports everything in Starter, plus 60,000 contacts, 5 sales pipelines, 5 project boards, advanced sales reporting and more.
  • Advanced: $54 per user per month when billed annually, or $60 per user when billed monthly. Features in this tier include everything in Growth and 120,000 contacts, 1,000 AI content assists and more.
  • Ultimate: $72 per user per month when billed annually, or $75 per user when billed monthly. This tier offers everything in the Advanced tier plus a dedicated account manager and unlimited custom fields.

Features

  • Contact management: Minimize data entry by syncing contacts in real time with apps to see lead’s latest tweets, invoice amounts and more.
  • Single sign-on: Log in to your dashboard only once by enabling SSO through Microsoft 365, QuickBooks or Google Workspace.
  • AI content assistant: Produce quickly written and relevant emails to send to clients with just a click.
 Capsule content assistant feature
Caption: Capsule’s AI content assistant and email prompt. Image: Capsule

Capsule pros and cons

Pros
Cons

  • 14-day free trial.

  • GDPR compliant.

  • Admins can add more two-factor authentication for mobile app access.


  • Free tier has limited reporting features.

  • Doesn’t provide a dedicated account manager.

  • Users report limited multi-language functions.

Why we chose Capsule

Capsule is a simple CRM solution that offers a mixed bag of sales and marketing features at competitive rates. With both a free plan and an industry-standard free trial in terms of it being 14 days, small businesses have little risk in implementing Capsule into their existing sales process to see how it works.

While Capsule offers all the core CRM features any organization would expect, it is a smaller and straightforward solution. If you’re wanting more advanced features and add-ons, I recommend Freshsales for its top AI tools and reporting capabilities.

Check out our Capsule review for more information on this provider.

HubSpot: Best offering a Starter Bundle for small business

HubSpot logo.
Image: HubSpot

Our star rating: 4.0/5

HubSpot offers a special Starter Bundle built for small businesses and startups. The bundle gives organizations access to every HubSpot starter product at a discounted price; this includes the Smart CRM starter, Marketing, Sales, CMS, Service, Operations and Commerce hubs. This suite gives users access to a variety of advanced tools for everything pre- and post-sale in one sales pipeline.

Pricing

  • Free CRM: Free for up to 5 users with contact management, quotes, live chat and more.
  • Sales Hub Starter: $15 per seat per month, billed annually, or $20 when billed monthly. The Starter plan includes all free features, plus simple automations, e-signature, conversation routing and more.
  • Sales Hub Professional: $90 per seat per month, billed annually, or $100 when billed monthly plus a $1,500 one-time onboarding fee. This plan includes all Starter features and prospecting workspace, platbooks, forecasting and more.
  • Sales Hub Enterprise: $150 per seat per month, with an annual commitment and one-time $3,500 onboarding fee. Users of this plan receive all Professional tools, plus advanced permissions, predictive lead scoring, conversation intelligence and lead form routing.

Features

  • Call tracking: Prioritize sales calls and then place and record calls directly within the browser.
  • Meeting scheduler: Send links internally or to clients that automatically sync with calendars to show dates and times that work for everyone.
  • Sales analytics and reporting: Get full visibility into sales processes and performances by tracking goals, activities and revenue.
HubSpot sales pipeline and deal tracker
Caption Sales Hub Starter sales pipeline. Image: HubSpot

HubSpot pros and cons

Pros
Cons

  • Robust free version.

  • More than 1,500 app integrations.

  • 24/7 customer support via chat and email.


  • No free trial.

  • No live customer support for free users.

  • Customers have reported limited reporting tools.

Why we chose HubSpot

HubSpot is another CRM provider popular for its robust free version. CRMs that offer a free tier typically have a maximum number of users, usually between two and three. Comparatively, HubSpot’s free CRM allows for up to 5 users. While this is much larger than a small business, they can still use the free access to CRM features and budget for add-ons.

While HubSpot’s free tier is impressive, the premium tiers can be considered costly compared to other CRM solutions on this list. I suggest considering Freshsales as a top alternative to HubSpot.

For more information, read the full HubSpot CRM review.

monday sales CRM: Best for managing projects

monday.com CRM logo.
Image: monday sales crm

Our star rating: 3.5/5

Small to mid-size businesses can completely customize their project management through monday sales CRM. Organizations can visualize projects and deliverables through the kanban-style boards and color-coded tags. Businesses can import their existing lead data into the software, and monday will merge duplicate data and begin capturing new leads.

Pricing

  • Free version: Basic CRM offerings that are only available for students and nonprofit organizations after submitting an application.
  • Basic CRM: $12 per user per month when billed annually, or $15 per user per month when billed monthly. This tier offers unlimited pipelines, boards and contacts, as well as templates for lead, contact and deal management.
  • Standard CRM: $17 per user per month when billed annually, or $20 per user per month when billed monthly. This includes advanced account, contact and deal management, two-way email integration with Gmail and Outlook, and an AI email generator.
  • Pro CRM: $28 per user per month when billed annually, or $33 per user per month when billed monthly. This tier includes sales forecasting, email templates with custom parameters, mass emails and added integrations.
  • Enterprise CRM: Contact monday.com for a quote. This level of support offers lead scoring, team goals and advanced analytics.

Features

  • Time tracker: Monitor employee time spent on tasks and log-in history.
  • Custom boards: Organize projects using a variety of column types, colors and premade templates.
  • Project scheduling: View and organize projects by due date and status in one hub.
Example of monday sales crm kandan pipeline
Caption: Data import into the monday sales CRM pipeline. Image: monday sales CRM

monday sales CRM pros and cons

Pros
Cons

  • iOS and Android mobile app available.

  • 14-day free trial.

  • Unlimited contacts.


  • Lead scoring is only available in the highest paid tier.

  • HIPAA compliance is only available in the highest paid tier.

  • Free-for-life option is only available for students or nonprofits.

Why we chose monday sales CRM

Monday sales CRM is a flexible solution. It can help small businesses manage pre- and post-sales processes for a variety of industries and business sizes. The platform also allows for reps, teams and entire departments to collaborate with streamlined communication tracking, tags, tasks and account histories.

Monday sales CRM is competitively priced, though its free CRM is only available for students or nonprofit organizations that apply for the discount. Additionally, monday sales CRM has limited lead nurturing features, so if that’s a priority for your business for a CRM to handle, look into HubSpot or Pipedrive.

Read our independent monday sales CRM review for more insight.

How do I choose the best CRM software for my small business?

Implementing top general CRM software can be a big investment for small to mid-sized companies. This means when choosing one, it’s best practice to research the software in depth to learn if it can provide real solutions for your organization. Starting with the providers on our list, consider signing up for their free trials or demos and mapping out their onboarding process with their internal sales teams.

Here are some questions to ask before committing to a paid subscription:

  • Does this CRM tool integrate with all of my existing tech tools, such as Outlook for email?
  • Does this CRM tool offer the marketing tools that my business needs?
  • Does this CRM offer a free version that comes with all the features I need?
  • Are the core sales features offered by this software equipped enough to streamline my sales process?
  • Do we want an open-source CRM to maximize developer-friendly customizations?
  • How quick is the onboarding process to get started using this tool?
  • Can the CRM software scale up to adapt to my growing business?
  • Does this CRM tool have any in-market specialization in my industry?

Review methodology

To evaluate each provider’s CRM offerings through the lens of a small or mid-sized business, I used an in-house rubric with outlined criteria for expected CRM industry standards. After running each CRM software through this rubric, an algorithm calculates an overall rating, scoring each out of 5 stars. I use those scores and major feature callouts to assign each software an ideal use case.

Here’s a breakdown of my defined scoring criteria:

  • Cost: Weighted 25% of the total score.
  • Core features: Weighted 25% of the total score.
  • Customizations: Weighted 15% of the total score.
  • Integrations: Weighted 15% of the total score.
  • Ease of use: Weighted 10% of the total score.
  • Customer support: Weighted 10% of the total score.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How much does CRM cost for a small business?

Understanding CRM pricing is critical for small businesses. Allocating a healthy budget to CRM software that includes base fees per user plus additional add-ons is key. Typically, CRM providers offer different tiers and monthly or annual billing cycles for businesses. Small businesses should expect to pay around $0–25 per user for CRM software.

What’s the best CRM for a small business?

I’ve found that the best CRM for a small business offers a mix of marketing and sales features that can help users manage their customers through the buyer journey, from lead generation to deal closing and ongoing support. Some of the top CRM providers that can do this include Freshsales, HubSpot, EngageBay, Pipedrive and Capsule.

Should a small business use a CRM?

Small businesses can greatly benefit from using CRM software. Factors such as budget or in-market expertise are to be considered, but even having a place that securely manages customer information and activity can be invaluable for a small business looking to grow. I strongly suggest following and implementing CRM best practices to ensure maximum efficiency.