Looking for the best CRM for freelancers? Check out our list of the top six CRM solutions for freelancers in 2024 to get the best features for your business.
Operational CRMs are software programs that streamline day-to-day business operations across sales, marketing, customer service, and back office teams by automating administrative, non-revenue-generating tasks. The top options include automation for sales and marketing processes, lead nurturing features, project management, and team collaboration. To help you decide, we reviewed a range of options and determined the best ones and their use cases.
The top six operational CRM solutions include:
Per our evaluation, we found Freshsales to be the best operational CRM for its mix of pricing and features. All options on our list provide a solid blend of core CRM functionality with features specific to operational software. Continue reading for a deeper analysis of each option, including their primary use cases, pricing plans, and key features, or jump down to see our scoring logic.
Note: All per-user prices are with a one-year commitment unless otherwise noted.
Allows you to set up workflows that eliminate repetitive tasks through reasonably priced plans.
Price Range: Free to $69 per user, per month (21-day free trial)
Freshsales is an easy-to-navigate, powerful CRM with a free version and upgrades. Its workflow automation feature offered in paid tiers allows you to create rules that trigger activities such as updating contact records, sending emails, qualifying leads, and assigning tasks. Build more dynamic workflows with Freddy AI’s latest development on generative capabilities that help you personalize content for drip campaigns, provide faster replies to customer queries, and more.
Freshsales is a great option for sales-focused teams and is our top rated CRM in general, but its marketing features are lacking. If you're looking for an operational CRM that will provide workflow automations to your marketing team as well, check out Zoho CRM.
Helps you manage and automate financial tasks, as well as standardize related documents.
Price Range: Free to $52 per user, per month (15- to 30-day free trial)
Zoho CRM is a sales and marketing CRM that allows you to create invoices and automate your billing process. Set up triggers to generate an invoice when a deal closes, issue them to the right vendor, and send quotes to new customers or track inventory. You can also follow current customers' histories, invoices, and renewal dates to keep up with subscriptions. Sync with QuickBooks for more robust workflows, or set up schedules to follow up on late payments.
While Zoho CRM offers powerful invoicing and billing features, some people struggle with its user interface. For a more intuitive CRM with tools for invoicing and billing, try Freshsales, which is tied in the ease of use category and offers a configure, price, quote (CPQ) add-on.
Provides an easy-to-use, visual platform and the ability to add on advanced operational tools.
Price Range: $14.90 to $99 per user, per month (14-day trial)
Pipedrive is an intuitive sales CRM with a visual pipeline and tools to seamlessly progress leads through it. While each tier includes robust features, what makes Pipedrive unique is its option to pay for add-ons to streamline your operations. These advanced add-ons include LeadBooster for lead generation, Web Visitors for site visitor tracking, Campaigns for email marketing, Smart Docs for document management and esignatures, and Projects for managing post-sales tasks.
Although Pipedrive's affordable tiers and optional add-ons allow you to pay for what you need, it doesn't offer a free tier. If this is important to you, think about going with Freshsales for a free sales alternative, or HubSpot CRM for robust free marketing and sales features.
Helps you organize projects with task templates, workgroups, and extranet features.
Price Range: Free to $399 per month (15- to 30-day free trial)
Bitrix24 is an online workspace that allows teams to create unlimited tasks and collaborate with external stakeholders. Manage your deadlines with its task templates and analyze time spent on each team member with an employee workload manager. View the status of your projects via Gantt charts and checklists, as well as kanban boards with customizable milestones. Users can also add freelancers, partners, and clients to extranet groups for easier collaboration.
Although Bitrix24 is excellent for project management, its user interface can be complicated and difficult to learn. For a more intuitive CRM platform with project management tools, look into Freshsales, which offers this feature and is tied in the ease of use category.
Offers customizable, detailed reports and dashboards for day-to-day operations.
Price Range: $25 to $500 per user, per month (30-day trial)
Salesforce is a highly customizable CRM that lets you track detailed CRM metrics via its advanced reporting. Create daily reports from scratch or via templates, and customize them to reflect the most important data in your operations. Transform these real-time reports into visual, clear, and interactive graphs or charts and add them to specific dashboards for your team to access. Users can also leverage Einstein GPT’s generative AI feature for powerful insights.
While Salesforce offers advanced reporting features, you need to upgrade to higher tiers for premium sales tools. In this case, consider Freshsales instead, which offers a substantial amount of affordable sales features.
Provides free sales, marketing, service, and operations tools, plus the ability to upgrade.
Price Range: Free to $1,500+ per month (Sales Hub)
HubSpot CRM is a free CRM that supports up to 2,500 users and offers a solid amount of features to cut down on administrative tasks. You can set up the platform to autofill contact records with form data and website activity, personalize a command center that hosts your tasks, meetings, and lead details in one place, and more. Upgrade for advanced versions of these basic operational features plus access to more features like sales automations.
HubSpot's paid tiers include a specific number of users, so small teams might find them too pricey. In this case, consider Freshsales (for sales) or Zoho CRM (for sales and marketing) instead, which also have robust free versions but charge a per-user fee for upgrades.
The best CRM options offer the following operations-specific features below:
Save time on tedious, repetitive tasks by setting up trigger rules within the CRM. These rules tell the software to automatically perform an action when a specific thing happens (e.g., generate an invoice when a deal closes) or simply at a certain cadence (e.g., create a reminder to contact a lead one month before their subscription expires).
Perform lead nurturing tasks (e.g., conduct sales calls, give a live demo or presentation, draft a business proposal) and email or live chat with leads. Keeping in touch with leads in this way enables you to intentionally answer their questions, collect their information, and get them interested enough to buy.
Launch social media and/or email campaigns at specific times, then automatically score and route leads who engage with the campaign and show interest. You can also segment your audiences so only certain potential customers see the campaign.
During and after closing a deal, keep track of your promised project so you deliver your product or service on time. This feature is great for maintaining relationships with your new and existing customers alike.
We reviewed the best operational CRMs based on six primary weighted criteria consisting of specific subcriteria. We assigned criteria scores out of five for each CRM software tool and then totaled the scores, determining a winner in each category as well as the overall best operational CRM option. Finally, we assigned a primary use case to each CRM that made our list.
Operational CRMs are platforms that offer support for sales, marketing, and service processes through automation. This type of CRM primarily deals with daily operations and customer-facing activities such as nurturing leads across multiple channels, while also offering several general CRM features. However, unlike other types of CRM, it focuses on non-revenue-generating tasks, so teams have more time to interact with customers or close deals.
The top operational CRM options provide robust workflow automation, features for managing tasks and projects, tools for invoicing and billing, and several general CRM functions. Operational CRM platforms should also provide advanced features, including multiple pipelines, lead routing, and business optimization. Users should also be able to customize their CRM and integrate with third-party apps, as well as navigate through it with ease and ample support.
Before choosing the right operational CRM for your business, list the features that your team will actually use, considering the extent of your operations, the complexity of your sales and marketing processes, and your desire to scale up. Also assess the resources available to you, such as budget, workforce, and your technical knowledge, so you can find a CRM that offers the tools you need, is affordable, and is easy to set up and implement.
Operational CRMs take it one step further than more general CRM options by focusing on tasks and activities that drive day-to-day operations. Business processes like sales, marketing, and customer support are all fundamental aspects of operations, but it’s important to find a solution that meets your specific needs. If you’d like to learn more about other main CRM platforms and how they compare with operational CRMs, see our article on the different types of CRM software.