** Updated 12/2014: After much use, and a slew of new features, a new CRM has jumped into the #1 position, and is now, by far, my CRM of choice **
CRM Review Methodology
I've spent a great deal of time demoing and going through CRMs for the past few months. This blog post is separated into two main sections. First, I did a short write-up of what I believe to be some Pros and Cons of each of the CRM systems. Next, I have developed a comparison table of each of the CRMs with a rating system for each feature being compared. Finally, I discuss the top two “winners” based on the highest score and my personal experience with them.
Agile CRM Website | Trial Available? Yes
AgileCRM was actually my CRM of choice before I started this quest to find the right CRM. It has a tremendous amount of features and it is a fantastic CRM…when it works.
- UI is fantastic
- Social integration feature is really useful
- Email automation engine is probably the best I’ve seen. The amount of features and options that you can set in the automation programs completely blows away the other CRMs
- Very buggy and does not always work as expected. This is my only negative remark because it applies to many other areas of the application, also. (To be fair, AgileCRM has made tremendous improvements and is getting better).
Base CRM Website | Trial Available? Yes
Base is an increasingly popular CRM which a lot of people swear behind. The interface and UI is elegant and Base seems to focus on just the critical items. It's worth checking out. Base is one of those programs that just grows on you. I personally hate that you can't customize the layout of the contacts or leads display, but everything else around it is stellar. Overall, it is a pretty fantastic CRM. WIth the recent addition of email tracking, it literally does everything you need. In my mind, the only other major drawback is lack of any type of social integration.
- Clean and modern UI
- Integration with a number of apps
- The overall application flow and usability is amazing
- Excellent collection of reports
- iPhone / iPad app is incredible. Exactly what I needed. I hope they add push notifications soon.
- Can not change main display of lead view. Plenty of wasted space. Displaying data in table data would be much easier to read.
- When working in the Lead or Contact views, there is no way to quickly see when see (or sort by) last action date, or to quickly add a task
- No social integration. Would love to be able to see someone's twitter feed
- Inline editing would be very useful.
- Should display more info on the main table.
- The process for adding notes or tasks is cumbersome and requires too many steps
Contactually Website | Trial Available? Yes
I have really high hopes for Contactually as the product continues to improve. In the meantime, I wrote a detailed review of Contactually here. Please check out that article for a complete review on Contactually.
- It has one of the best UI designs I have seen in a CRM. It is very polished.
- It has an incredible set of features including email tracking and automation.
- Contains an email template feature that is among the best.
- The recent contact implementation of having a colored line next to the contact is the best I’ve seen. It’s so obvious and simple, and I can’t believe it is not found on more CRMs.
- The inability to modify the fields and order in the table view turned out to be a deal breaker for me. I personally couldn’t get over why an app would display the Company Name as one of the last fields, forcing you to side scroll with every contact.
- It is missing very simple and common sense features, such as the aiblity to go to the NEXT or PREVIOUS contact in your list.
- Without being able to go back or forward between contacts, you have to go back to your contacts view, which resets your search. This is incredibly annoying.
- I would love to see notifications, or a dashboard of stats on email tracking; Toutapp has the best implementation of this. I’d love to see a dashbboard list of who i have recently emailed and whether or not they have opened to the message.
- The price is VERY expensive compared to other CRMs in its class.
- It needs inline editing of certain fields, specifically tag inline editing.
- It is very buggy. I often have issues with removing contacts from buckets or transferring them around. I can never actually seem to delete the ‘unbucketed’ contacts, or contacts from any other group.
Nimble Website | Trial Available? Yes
Nimble is probably one of the most popular CRM tools on the market. Nimble's social integration allow really powerful insights into your potential leads. The UI does not get in the way of the functionality and your workflow, and it even has some great reminder and reporting capabilities essential for staying on top of your pipeline.
- Excellent UI and overall user experience
- Social media integration is fantastic
- Application is very intuitive and easy to use
- I hate having all of my contacts and leads lumped together as a single list. Why lump ALL contacts together? I don't like the idea of tagging people as leads, customers, or regular contacts because it takes away from the effectiveness of the tags.
- There is no inline or batch editing. If you are working hard by making a bunch of calls, couldn’t you edit the Lead Status or Lead Type right from the table view?
- Can't assign a lead to a particular team member without creating a deal first. Creating a deal for every lead is a bit overkill and not a process I’m interested in doing.
- The iPhone app needs a lot of work. It is very limited because you can only view ‘All Contacts’ and not drill down into any of your saved searches or refine the view in any meaningful way.
OnePage CRM Website | Trial Available? Yes
OnePage CRM is exactly what the name implies: your entire CRM on a single page. I love the way OnePage has structured its interface. It's incredibly functional and useful, especially if you're not looking for something with too many features.
- I love the UI. It is so simple to use because everything is on a single page. There is something to be said for the simplicity.
- It is very easy to pick learn since everything is located in one area.
- I don’t like not having email integration, but the email links automatically open in GMAIL, which is great because I can use a service like Signals or Yeswaer to track my emails.
- There is no Email or Automation support
- Last Contacted? It would be extremely useful if you could edit the fields in the contact list to show information, like ‘Last Contacted Date’.
- It has spots for Social integration, but does not display feeds. It only takes you to the person’s social page. Also, there is no social lookup.
Pipeline Deals CRM Website | Trial Available? Yes
PipeLine deals is, in my opinion, one of the best CRM products on the market. The UI and user experience is excellent and the flow of the entire application could not be smoother. The biggest draw back at the moment is lack of features and integration, but that will come over time.
- UI is perfect. This is how a CRM should flow
- Separate Deals and contacts
- Inline editing with rapid assignments!
- LinkedIN scraper is excellent and one of my most used tools
- Customizable views
- Commission Rates for employees with Won deals
- It costs half as much as the competition.
- The biggest drawback for me is the lack of integration with anything. I need a way to track the emails that I send, see who opens them, and view the effectiveness of my email campaigns.
- Lack of social integration is a big draw back
- I want to be able to have email templates I need so that I can set automation to follow up with people I haven't heard from. At the very least, integration with an email marketing software would be awesome.
- There is also no easy way to see when you have last contacted someone. Contactually has the best implementation of this with a little color indicator.
- One final gripe is, there should be a way to rapidly enter an action. If you're going down the list to only make calls, you need a way to quickly log if you left a message, made a call, etc.
Salesforce CRM Website | Trial Available? Yes
Salesforce is probably the biggest name in the CRM industry. The price is expensive if you want the full suite of features, and if you're not afraid of a learning curve, it probably has every feature you're looking for. Given its size, Salesforce is priced similar to other industry CRMs and offers an enormous amount of plugins and extensions.
- The CRM pioneer / industry standard
- One of the only two CRM systems with LinkedIN integration
- Incredibly flexible and customizable
- Integrates with everything (like SideKick) and has plugins for features that it does not natively support.
- Social CRM capabilities
- Steep learning curve
- Confusing to learn and incredibly complicated to setup. Options can be very overwhelming
- UI and general experience is cumbersome and unintuitive
- Very weak marketing software and tracking capabilities
Toutapp is a terrific app, focused on email marketing and automation. If you're only doing email marketing, Toutapp can be a CRM by itself. It provides a lot of the same functionality that I love about Pipeline deals: being able to modify the table display and view the information that is important.
- The display of email statistics is the best on the market. You can quickly see who has responded and who has clicked on links in your email.
- Email template implemention is the best out of all CRMs. By seeing how many of a certain template were opened, you can see how well your emails are worded and refined your process along the way.
- Unfortunately, you can only have a maximum of 100 people per group on the “standard plan”. This becomes a problem when the app is centered around Groups. In order to have more than 150 prospects, for example, I need to pay at least $150/month. No thanks.
- There is no export! I quickly found that you can import your data, but you cannot export your data. This was a huge red flag for me.
- The other main drawback to Toutapp is, it isn't built to function like a full CRM (i.e. making and tracking calls). The main purpose of ToutApp is email, and so it becomes much harder to do things like log a call or add a quick note.
- The UI starts to break down once you view the contact information and make more detailed edits; It’s not as fluid and doesn’t work well.
Zoho CRM Website | Trial Available? Yes
Zoho CRM recently came out with its CRM'14 product line, which includes a number of interface enhancements and social integration features. Zoho CRM'14 is a MASSIVE upgrade to the previous Zoho Product, and has boosted Zoho CRM into a class of its own.
- Each page, setting, and layout can be tweaked to your own preferences.
- The administration page is incredibly simple to set up and getting started took a little amount of my time.
- Implementation of a social profile is great
- Price is very affordable & Free version available
- Workflow automation capabilities are among the best I have seen
- Inline editing would be a really nice to have
- Rapid task or event scehduling would be helpful from the table view
- It would be really helpful if they could implement some sort of color status indicator
- Sheer number of options can be incredibly overwhelming
- Can not import photo from social profile
- No support for LinkedIN accounts / scraping
CRM Comparison Table and Results
Product Feature Rating System
The way I developed the scoring system is pretty simple :I listed all of the features that I would like to see in a CRM and assigned a value of 0-6 for each feature within each CRM platform.
- 0: Feature not available
- 1: Does not work
- 2: Available, but barely working / very buggy
- 3: Partially available, but missing key elements
- 4: Implemented and working, but rough around the edges
- 5: Excellent implemention
- 6: Best implementation across all the CRM platforms (only one 6 is available per feature)
2015 CRM Comparison Table
|Agile CRM||Base||Contactually||Nimble||OnePage CRM||PipelineDeals||Salesforce||Toutapp||Zoho|
|Contact List Display Customization||3||0||0||2||0||6||5||3||5|
|Google Contacts Sync||5||5||5||5||3||5||5||5||5|
|Email Open tracking||4||5||5||0||1||0||0||6||0|
|Email Open Reports||3||4||4||0||0||0||0||6||0|
|Import / Export||5||5||5||5||5||5||5||0||5|
2015 Best Cloud CRM Winner: Base CRM
Base completely surprised me, but in the end, we ended up switching our CRM and have not looked back. Even though we have issues with the contact display, this CRM does everything we need and it is incredibly powerful at what it does. It was the total package for us.
Click here to try Base CRM free for 30 days!
Second Place: Zoho CRM
Zoho came in at a close second. In the end, I believe it turned out to be the fluidness and cleanness of the UI which made the difference. However, Zoho does have a number of very notifiable features such as complete customization and Social CRM integration. It's definitely worth checking out!
Third Place: Contactually
As much as I wish Contactually would implement some basic features, it still comes up as the winner in our CRM tests. The app is polished, functions well, and has quite a bit of functionality. The biggest draw back in my mind is the price — Contactually is considerably more expensive per user than the majority of other CRM tools in its class.
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