6 Best CRMs for Startups in 2022 & Beyond

Learn about the best CRMs for startups, as well as their rankings and primary use cases, in our independent editorial review.

CRMs for startups are CRM software that help early-stage companies attract and manage leads to grow their customer base and revenue. The best options typically provide workflow automation tools and third-party integrations to save time and reduce menial work so startup employees can focus on other crucial tasks to grow the business. To help you choose the right CRM, we’ve evaluated the top six that provide robust but affordable functionality for startups.

Here are the six best CRMs for startups:

  • Freshsales: Best startup CRM for features, price, and usability (free starting price)
  • HubSpot CRM: Best free startup CRM software (free starting price)
  • Pipedrive: Best startup CRM with add-on upgrades (14-day free trial)
  • Zoho CRM: Best startup CRM for multichannel marketing (free starting price)
  • Insightly: Best startup CRM for project management (free starting price)
  • Salesforce Essentials: Best for longer or more complex sales cyles (14-day free trial)

How We Evaluated the Best CRMs for Startups

Startups are typically budget-conscious but want their CRM software to provide a rich set of easy-to-use features. When determining the best startup CRM, We based our scoring criteria on six weighted categories, each of which contained subcriteria. After assigning scores for each subcriteria, we totaled the categories and gave each CRM a final score out of five to rank the top six and primary use cases for each.

Evaluation Criteria

We first evaluated cost, core features, and ease of use. Next, we looked at integrations and customization so startups can modify it to meet their unique needs. Finally, we measured the level of support provided, as most startups have a small, busy team that rely on the CRM’s customer service.

Cost:
25%
Core Features:
25%
Ease of Use:
20%
Integrations:
15%
Customization:
10%
Customer Support:
5%

Note: All per-user prices are with a one-year commitment unless noted.

All of the startup CRMs we evaluated are worthy options, and most scored well in one category or another. However, we found that the best CRM for startups is Freshsales, which tied or earned the top spot for cost, core features, ease of use, and integrations. Read on to see how each CRM performed in each category.

Freshsales: Best Overall CRM for Startups

Freshsales is powerful, lightweight, and affordable, appealing to both startups and enterprises that want to grow.

Price Range: Free to $69 per user, per month (21-day free trial)

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Cost star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Core Features star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Integrations star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customization star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customer Support star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full

Pros:

  • Inexpensive price points
  • Easy to use
  • AI-powered automation

Cons:

  • Free version limited
  • Missing some integrations
  • Missing some marketing features

Freshsales is a contact management platform with plenty of cutting-edge solutions for startups to grow their operations quickly. It balances affordability with a rich set of lead-focused features like personalized lead engagement, lead scoring, and other free and paid tools to find new potential customers and scale the business. Growing startups wanting an affordable CRM that provides powerful features will enjoy using Freshsales.

Freshsales Pricing

  • Free Version: Support for unlimited users
  • Growth: $15 per user, per month
  • Pro: $39 per user, per month
  • Enterprise: $69 per user, per month
  • Free Trial: 21 days for all paid plans

Freshsales Key Features

  • Customer Engagement: Freshsales’ customization allows you to nurture customer relationships with personalized engagement.
  • Lead Scoring: The lead scoring tool (available at Growth and above) allows you to rank leads based on level of engagement.
  • Versatile Across Different Industries: It’s one of the versatile CRMs and can be used in several industries.
  • Freshsales for Startups Support: Includes mentorship, $10,000 worth of Freshsales product credits, and other resources.
  • Event Tracking: Tracks the web pages that contacts are engaging, further segmenting the prospects based on behavior.

freshsales dashboard example

Visit Freshsales

HubSpot CRM: Best Free Startup CRM Software

HubSpot CRM offers a free tier with unlimited users that enables startups to easily engage with their audience through live chat.

Price Range: Free to $1,200 per month (Sales Hub)

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Cost star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Core Features star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Integrations star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customization star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Customer Support star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full

Pros:

  • Comprehensive free plan
  • Qualified startups get discounts
  • Lots of powerful features

Cons:

  • Free plan lacks community support
  • Paid plans can be pricey
  • Limited reporting

HubSpot CRM is an industry leader and one of the most innovative CRMs with a comprehensive free plan and premium upgrades. It provides a robust free pipeline tool as well as free features like live chat software that startups can use to connect with their online visitors in real time. Also included are seamless integrations with HubSpot's marketing and service platforms, giving you the ability to create landing pages, support tickets, and more for free.

HubSpot CRM Pricing

  • Free Plan: Support for unlimited users, up to 1 million contacts
  • HubSpot for Startups: Call for quote; must meet certain criteria
  • Sales Hub Starter: $45 for up to 2 paid users
  • Sales Hub Professional: $450 for up to 5 paid users
  • Sales Hub Enterprise: $1,200 for up to 10 paid users

HubSpot CRM Key Features

  • Free Live Chat Software: Provides free chat software that can be simply added to a website without integrations.
  • Innovative Marketing Solutions: HubSpot CRM is popular for its expertise in inbound marketing and sales.
  • From Freemium to Enterprise Pricing: Get the core features for free, with paid add-ons to extend functionality.
  • HubSpot for Startups Discounts: The startups tier offers eligible startups up to a 90% discount on HubSpot products.
  • Prospect Tracking: Track leads in real-time, and filter the most engaged prospects for efficient follow up.

HubSpot CRM dashboard

Visit Hubspot CRM

Pipedrive: Best CRM for Add-On Upgrades

Pipedrive is an accessible CRM with a visual pipeline and add-on upgrades you can purchase a la carte.

Price Range: $14.90 to $99 per user, per month (14-day trial)

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Cost star-fullstar-full star-fullstar-full Core Features star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Integrations star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customization star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customer Support star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full

Pros:

  • Great for tracking leads
  • A la carte upgrades available
  • Clean, simple UI

Cons:

  • Lacks some core features
  • Not ideal for big enterprises
  • Missing some marketing automations

Pipedrive is a deal-driven, easy-to-use CRM with a visual pipeline that helps startups see pipeline stages and keep close tabs on leads and potential deals. In addition to the core sales CRM features you'd expect, Pipedrive also offers add-on upgrades you can purchase separately so you only pay for what you need. These a la carte features include prospecting tools as well as marketing tools like email marketing and website visitor tracking.

Pipedrive Pricing

  • Essential: $14.90 per user, per month
  • Advanced: $24.90 per user, per month
  • Professional: $49.90 per user, per month
  • Enterprise: $99 per user, per month
  • Free Trial: 14 days

Pipedrive Key Features

  • Lead Management Visibility: View the progress stages for every deal, along with details of the next action item.
  • Sales Process Simplified: Move deals and contacts along the pipeline easily with just a click and drag movement.
  • Lead Generation Automation: Add customizable chatbots to capture new leads with preprogrammed questions.
  • Workflow Automation: Pipedrive allows you to automate repetitive tasks and standardized work processes to save time and effort.
  • Add-On Upgrades: Pay for a la carte features like sales prospecting and digital marketing tools that help with lead generation and nurturing.

Dashboard in Pipedrive

Visit Pipedrive

Zoho CRM: Best for Multichannel Marketing

Zoho CRM is a cloud-based CRM for startus that offers marketing features like social media management.

Price Range: Free to $52 per user, per month (15+ day trial)

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Cost star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Core Features star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Integrations star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customization star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customer Support star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full

Pros:

  • Abundant feature set
  • Great for customizations
  • Free tier available

Cons:

  • Tutorials need improvement
  • Requires customizations to start
  • No landing pages

Zoho CRM is a widely known, full-featured CRM that specializes in multichannel marketing. It integrates seamlessly with all social media channels, allowing startups to grow their following and collect leads through social campaigns. Zoho inputs these new contacts into the CRM so users can then market to them through automated or manual emails. Startups that want to generate online leads and build a sales pipeline will benefit from using Zoho CRM.

Zoho CRM Pricing

  • Free Plan: Support for 3 users
  • Standard: $14 per user, per month
  • Professional: $23 per user, per month
  • Enterprise: $40 per user, per month
  • Ultimate: $52 per user, per month
  • Free Trial: 15 to 30 days for all paid plans

Zoho CRM Key Features

  • Intelligent CRM: It comes with Zia, an AI assistant equipped with voice recognition to provide insightful sales and marketing metrics on command.
  • End-to-End Customer Lifecycle: Zoho CRM helps you effectively manage your customer’s journey through several stages of the sales process.
  • Consistent Omnichannel Impact: Showcase a uniform business presence across multiple channels.
  • Portal to Social Media Channels: The Social tab allows you to engage with leads and customers through social channels directly from the CRM.
  • Lead Generation: Zoho CRM provides effective lead generation across its multichannel touchpoints through conversations, sign-ups, and email marketing.

Zoho CRM - CRM for Startups

Visit Zoho CRM

Insightly: Best CRM for Project Management

Insightly is a SaaS-based CRM that effectively combines lead generation with project management tools.

Price Range: Free to $99 per user, per month (14-day free trial)

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Cost star-fullstar-full star-fullstar-full Core Features star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Integrations star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customization star-fullstar-full star-fullstar-full Customer Support star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full

Pros:

  • Visually attractive UI
  • Wide range of functionality
  • Built-in project management

Cons:

  • Lacks robust customization
  • Can be rigid and clunky
  • Free tier is limited

Insightly is a CRM that lets users manage post-sale project management processes. Once an opportunity is closed, it’s converted into a project without losing any data, notifying the appropriate sales reps regarding next steps and helping managers monitor all activity. Insightly is a great choice for startups that manage multiple ongoing projects for customers and want to ensure all steps are completed on time so they can build a great reputation.

Insightly Pricing

  • Free Tier: Supports up to 2 users
  • Plus: $25 per user, per month
  • Professional: $49 per user, per month
  • Enterprise: $99 per user, per month
  • Free Trial: 14 days for all paid plans

Insightly Key Features

  • Project Management: Insightly is equipped to help in complex marketing and sales campaigns with its data manipulation features.
  • Lead Management: Lead routing with workflow automation to execute business logic and close more deals.
  • Google Workspace Integration: Paid plans provide integration with popular Google Workspace products.
  • Sell Smarter: Record and relationship linking to sell smarter by centralizing, mapping, and personalizing customer data.
  • Opportunity Management: Grow the sales pipeline by tracking milestones and converting opportunities to on-time delivery projects.

Dashboard in Insightly

Visit Insightly

Salesforce Essentials: Best for Complex Sales

Salesforce Essentials provides startups with the power of the Salesforce platform built for small businesses.

Price Range: $25 per user, per month (14-day free trial)

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Cost star-fullstar-full star-fullstar-full Core Features star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Integrations star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customization star-fullstar-full star-fullstar-full Customer Support star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full

Pros:

  • Robust custom reporting
  • Lots of lead management tools
  • Integrated phone dialer

Cons:

  • UI may confuse novices
  • Lacks some marketing features
  • Upgrades can be pricey

Salesforce Essentials is the small business CRM product offered by Salesforce. Included in the CRM are two separate pipelines for managing leads and opportunities as well as robust custom reporting dashboards to stay on top of your sales process. Also included is a built in phone dialer to make business calls as well as internal communication and collaboration tools that help multiple reps work on the same account.

Salesforce Essentials Pricing

  • Essentials: $25 per user, per month (up to 10 users)
  • Free Trial: 14 days

Salesforce Sales Cloud Upgrade Pricing

  • Professional: $75 per user, per month
  • Enterprise: $150 per user, per month
  • Unlimited: $300 per user, per month
  • Free Trial: 30 days

Salesforce Essentials Key Features

  • Built in Phone Dialer: Make and receive calls directly from within the CRM as well as log call notes and other helpful information.
  • Multiple Pipelines: Separate leads and opportunities across two pipelines, each with unique stages for efficient management.
  • Internal Collaboration Tools: Collaborate with team members using internal communication tools like a built in chat function.
  • Robust Reporting Dashboards: Use prebuilt reports or create your own custom reporting and then include them in real-time sales dashboards.
  • Upgrade Options: As your startup grows you can upgrade into Salesforce's traditional Sales Cloud for advanced CRM features and functionalities.

Salesforce essentials dashboard example

Visit Salesforce Essentials

Bottom Line: Best CRM for Startups

Startups need to stay nimble and fast, so they need a cost-effective, industry-specific CRM that can adapt and change quickly in a competitive environment, always offering the features they need to grow. The top six CRMs we featured here are great options for startups, so choose the one that feels right for your new business’s focus.

Selling Signals
Actionable advice for sales professionals
Address
355 Lexington Ave,
18th Floor,
New York, NY, 10017
COPYRIGHT SELLING SIGNALS, LLC – 2022