8 Best CRMs for Startups in 2021

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 eight that provide robust but affordable functionality for startups.

Here are the eight best CRMs for startups:

  • Zoho CRM (Overall Winner): Best for multichannel marketing (free starting price)
  • HubSpot CRM: Best CRM for live chat (free starting price)
  • Pipedrive: Best CRM with a visual pipeline ($12.50 starting price)
  • Agile CRM: Best for customer service and sales (free starting price)
  • Insightly: Best CRM for project management ($25 starting price)
  • Bitrix24: Best free plan with advanced features (free starting price)
  • Freshsales: Most affordable CRM for scalability (free starting price)
  • SugarCRM: Most customizable CRM ($52 starting price)

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. For this reason, we first evaluated cost, core features, and ease of use. Next, we looked at integrations and customization so startups that choose one of these CRMs 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 must be able to rely on the CRM’s customer service.

Evaluation Criteria

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.

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 Zoho CRM, which also tied for the top spot in core features, ease of use, integrations, and customization. Read on to see how each CRM performed in each category.

Zoho CRM: Best for Multichannel Marketing

Zoho CRM is a cloud-based tool for small to midsize businesses that offers a range of channels and features to reach leads.

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

Overall Rating star-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-fullstar-full Integrations star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customization star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customer Support star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full

Pros:

  • Abundant feature set
  • Great for customizations
  • Easy to use

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 days

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

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HubSpot CRM: Best CRM for Live Chat

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)

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Pros:

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

Cons:

  • Free plan lacks community support
  • Price rises steeply with paid plans
  • 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 free live chat software that startups can use to connect with their online visitors in real time. Through this engagement, users can nurture leads, increasing the chances of converting those leads to customers. This makes HubSpot CRM great for startups focused on building trust and new relationships.

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 2 paid users
  • Sales Hub Professional: $450 for 5 paid users
  • Sales Hub Enterprise: $1,200 for 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.

HubSpot CRM - CRM for Startups

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Pipedrive: Best CRM With a Visual Pipeline

Pipedrive is an accessible CRM that shows the sales process in a visual pipeline that’s minimalistic and easy to understand.

Price Range: $12.50 to $99 per user, per month (14-day free trial)

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Pros:

  • Great for tracking leads
  • Emphasizes lead scoring
  • Clean, simple UI

Cons:

  • Lacks abundant features
  • Not ideal for big enterprises
  • Inadequate marketing automation

Pipedrive is a deal-driven, easy-to-use CRM. Its visual pipeline helps startups see pipeline stages and keep close tabs on leads and potential deals. As sales reps nurture leads, they can drag and drop them along various pipeline stages. That way, your entire team can see a full view of all contacts and their engagement with your brand as you grow. Pipedrive is right for startups that want a minimalistic, visual layout to monitor all leads and their activity.

Pipedrive Pricing

  • Essential: $12.50 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.

Pipedrive - CRM for Startups

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Agile CRM: Best for Customer Service & Sales

Agile CRM is an all-in-one SaaS solution with sales, marketing, and customer service modules within an integrated hub.

Price Range: Free to $64.99 per user, per month

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-fullstar-full Integrations star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customization star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customer Support star-fullstar-full star-fullstar-full

Pros:

  • Sales gamification process
  • Integrated helpdesk system
  • Single page management

Cons:

  • Lack of tutorials
  • Few customization options
  • UI could use updating

Agile CRM is a streamlined CRM with an integrated customer service and sales system. This integration gives startups a complete view of their sales pipeline and customer lifecycle on a single page, showing employees how best to support their leads and customers according to their role. Because internal communication is vital to a new company’s success, Agile works for startups wanting to establish strong sales and service via a transparent, centralized hub.

Agile CRM Pricing

  • Free Plan: Support for 10 users
  • Starter: $9.99 per user, per month
  • Regular: $39.99 per user, per month
  • Enterprise: $64.99 per user, per month

Agile CRM Key Features

  • Single Page Management: Gives businesses a 360-view of their lead’s communication and activities on a single page.
  • Lead Scoring: Rank leads based on behavior and data, then prioritize leads accordingly.
  • Marketing Automation: The CRM automates email, lead scoring, drip campaigns, and multi-channel campaigns.
  • Helpdesk System: Provides a ticketing system integrated directly into the CRM to reduce response times.
  • Unified Platform: Improves team communication and collaboration by allowing all employees to see lead and customer information easily.

Agile CRM - CRM for Startups

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Insightly: Best CRM for Project Management

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

Price Range: $25 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 too rigid and clunky
  • More sales function variety needed

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

  • Plus: $25 per user, per month
  • Professional: $49 per user, per month
  • Enterprise: $99 per user, per month
  • Free Trial: 14 days

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.

Insightly CRM - for Startups

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Bitrix24: Best Free Plan With Advanced Features

Bitrix24 is a free, cloud-based CRM that supports unlimited users and offers advanced features.

Price Range: Free to $159 per user, per month (30-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:

  • Abundant free features
  • Lots of lead management tools
  • Integrated call center

Cons:

  • UI may confuse novices
  • Limited social network functionality
  • Lacks some CRM features

Bitrix24 is a free contact manager that can be deployed on-premise or used as a cloud-based SaaS. Its free plan offers advanced features like expense tracking, mind mapping, group video calls, and the ability to convert emails into tasks so small startup teams can be as productive as possible. Bitrix24 also allows for unlimited tasks, documents, and deals, so it’s a great choice for startups looking for a CRM that offers plenty of robust tools at no cost.

Bitrix24 Pricing

  • Bitrix24 Free-for-Life: Support for unlimited users
  • Basic: $39 per user, per month; 5-seat max
  • Standard: $79 per user, per month; 50-seat max
  • Professional: $159 per user, per month
  • Free Trial: 30 days

Bitrix24 Key Features

  • Integrated Call Center: Make and receive calls from Bitrix24 CRM.
  • Wide Variety of Online Tools: Bitrix24 CRM incorporates most of the possible tools for lead management and online customer work.
  • Demand Generation: Log and manage customer interactions, and capture leads directly from your website into your CRM.
  • Effective Sales Dashboard: Provides an overview of sales transactions, with their respective stages of progress.

Bitrix24 CRM - CRM for Startups

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Freshsales: Most Affordable CRM for Scalability

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-full star-full Cost star-fullstar-full star-fullstar-full Core Features star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Integrations star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-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:

  • Limited functionality
  • Insufficient integrations
  • Needs more flexible reports

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

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.

Freshworks CRM - CRM for Startups

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SugarCRM: Most Customizable CRM

SugarCRM’s APIs and developer-centric focus makes it easily customizable for personalization and new opportunities.

Price Range: $52 to $1,000 per user, per month (7-day free trial)

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

Pros:

  • Supports 30+ languages
  • Lots of third-party integrations
  • Highly customizable

Cons:

  • Expensive pricing
  • Only a 7-day free trial
  • Steep learning curve

SugarCRM is software that grew out of an open-source project and is built for developers who can go “under the hood” to tweak the CRM to suit their needs. Its API gives tech-savvy startups a customizable platform, allowing them to customize layouts, fields, and relationships between different modules. As such, SugarCRM is best for startups that want a CRM they can make their own using its programmable framework.

SugarCRM Pricing

  • Sugar Professional: $52 per user, per month
  • Sugar Sell: $80 per user, per month
  • Sugar Serve: $80 per user, per month
  • Sugar Enterprise: $85 per user, per month
  • Sugar Market: $1,000 per month for unlimited users
  • Free Trial: 7 days for Sugar Sell

SugarCRM Key Features

  • Integrated Platform: Provides integrated services for sales, marketing, and service.
  • Extensive Language Support: Supports more than 30 languages out of the box, with built-in support to add more.
  • Open-Source Customization: Offers easy and in-depth customization due to its open-source nature that allows users to run SQL queries.
  • Open API Access: Through its REST API, SugarCRM’s open architecture provides unlimited access to customer data.

SugarCRM - CRM for Startups

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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 eight CRMs we featured here are great options for startups, so choose the one that feels right for your new business’s focus.

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