6 Best Operational CRM Software for Salespeople

Check out our evaluation of the best operational CRM software for sales, marketing, and service, with use cases for the top options.

Operational CRMs are software 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 features for automation as well as project management, lead nurturing, and general internal and external communications. To help you choose the right CRM, we reviewed a range of options and determined the best ones and their use cases.

The top six operational CRM solutions include:

  • Freshsales: Best overall option for features and pricing (free starting price)
  • Pipedrive: Best operational CRM with a la carte upgrades (14-day free trial)
  • Salesforce Essentials: Best CRM for advanced reporting (14-day free trial)
  • Zoho CRM: Best operational CRM for invoicing and billing (free starting price)
  • HubSpot CRM: Best free operational CRM with upgrades (free starting price)
  • Insightly CRM: Best option for project management (free starting price)

How We Evaluated the Best Operational CRM Software

We reviewed the best operational CRM solutions based on six primary weighted criteria consisting of specific subcriteria. We assigned criteria scores for each CRM 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.

Evaluation Criteria

Our evaluation began with key operational CRM capabilities for sales, marketing, and service. Ease of use came next, followed by the core sales features typically included in CRMs. We assigned an expert score based on our own experience with the platforms plus external reviews. Pricing and customization wrapped up our review.

Operational Features:
30%
Ease of Use:
20%
Sales Features:
15%
Expert Score:
15%
Pricing:
10%
Customization:
10%

Note: All per-user prices are based on an annual subscription unless otherwise noted.

Overall, 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 standard functionality with features specific to operational CRMs — for a deeper analysis of each CRM, read our case-by-case evaluations below.

Freshsales: Best for Workflow Automation

Sales-focused CRM offering the ability to set up workflows that eliminate repetitive tasks.

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

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Operational Features star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Sales Features star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Expert Score star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Pricing star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customization star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full

Pros:

  • Unlimited users in free version
  • Built-in phone, email, and chat
  • AI assistant in all paid tiers

Cons:

  • No workflows in free tier
  • Not many app integrations
  • Not great for marketing

Freshworks' Freshsales is an easy-to-navigate, powerful CRM with a free version and upgrades. Its best operational feature is its workflow automation — this is included in the paid tiers and allows you to create rules that trigger automated responses to certain actions and save you time on tedious, repetitive responsibilities. Via these workflows, you can automatically send emails, create and assign tasks, qualify leads, update contact records, 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.

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
  • Integration with Freshworks' free marketing and service platform tiers

Freshales Key Features

  • Freddy AI: AI assistant can predict revenue, score leads, and recommend tasks.
  • Telephony: Buy local and toll-free numbers and make calls within the CRM.
  • Mobile App: Access the CRM from your desktop or your phone when on the go.
  • Visual Pipeline: In paid tiers, choose from a kanban, timeline, or funnel pipeline.

Freshsales workflow automation

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Pipedrive: Best for a La Carte Upgrades

Easy-to-use, visual CRM with affordable levels and the ability to add on certain advanced operational features.

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

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Operational Features star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Sales Features star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Expert Score star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Pricing star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Customization star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full

Pros:

  • Hundreds of third-party apps
  • Easy-to-use visual interface
  • Affordable paid tiers

Cons:

  • Reporting lacks filter options
  • Missing certain customizations
  • Difficult to segment leads

Pipedrive is an intuitive sales CRM with a visual drag-and-drop pipeline plus tools to seamlessly progress leads through it. While each tier includes a strong set of features, what makes Pipedrive unique is its option to pay for custom 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, and Smart Docs for document management and e-signatures.

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.

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 (minimum 10 users)
  • Free Trial: 14 days for all plans
  • Pay for sales and marketing add-ons: LeadBooster, Web Visitors, Campaigns, or Smart Docs

Pipedrive Key Features

  • Zapier Integrations: Connect your favorite services, such as Gmail, Slack, and Zoom.
  • Product Catalog: Build a product/service catalog that includes pricing and notes.
  • Sales Assistant: Receive feedback and suggestions on past performance to improve sales.
  • A La Carte Features: Pay a low base price, then add on only the advanced tools you need.

Pipedrive CRM dashboard example

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Salesforce Essentials: Best for Advanced Reporting

Affordable version of the revered Salesforce CRM that still offers customizable, detailed reports and dashboards.

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

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Operational Features star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Sales Features star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Expert Score star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Pricing star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customization star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full

Pros:

  • Automate sales and marketing
  • Advanced records and analytics
  • Great reporting and customization

Cons:

  • Frequent bugs and glitches
  • Customer support could improve
  • UI is confusing at first

Salesforce Essentials is the most affordable tier within the well-known Salesforce Sales Cloud platform. With Essentials, you can track detailed CRM metrics via its advanced reporting — start with their template reports, then customize them to reflect the most important info to your business. Make these real-time reports highly visual by transforming them into clear, interactive graphs and charts and adding them to specific dashboards for your team to use on demand.

Because Salesforce Essentials is the lowest Sales Cloud tier, it might not include all the features you need. In this case, consider Freshsales instead, which offers a substantial amount of affordable sales features.

Salesforce Essentials Pricing

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

Salesforce Essentials Key Features

  • Lead Assignment and Routing: Auto-direct new leads to the appropriate sales rep.
  • Separate Pipelines: Create a pipeline for leads and another when they're opportunities.
  • Integrations: Integrate with Outlook or Google Apps to use these tools within the CRM.
  • Lightning App Builder: Design your own apps from custom components and features.

Salesforce Essentials reporting

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Zoho CRM: Best for Invoicing & Billing

Sales and marketing CRM with the ability to automate financial tasks and standardize related documents.

Price Range: Free to $52 per user, per month (15- to 30-day free trial)

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Operational Features star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Sales Features star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Expert Score star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Pricing star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customization star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full

Pros:

  • Strong social media integrations
  • Highly customizable platform
  • Solid lead and deal management

Cons:

  • Customer support can be slow
  • Too robust for some businesses
  • Some integrations are buggy

Zoho CRM is a sales and marketing CRM with a free version for small teams plus upgrades for growth. In terms of operations, it excels particularly with the invoicing and billing automations offered in its Professional tier. These allow you to automatically generate an invoice when a deal closes as well as manage vendors, create quotes, and track inventory. You can also easily follow current customers' history, invoices, and renewal dates to keep up with subscriptions.

Zoho CRM offers useful sales and marketing tools plus a QuickBooks CRM integration for even more billing features, but some people struggle with its user interface. For a more intuitive CRM that also focuses on both sales and marketing, check out HubSpot 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

  • Online Marketing Tools: Utilize tools like email marketing and social media management.
  • Lead Routing: Includes winning automated multichannel lead distribution software.
  • Social Media Management: Post and receive notifications directly within the platform.
  • AI Assistant: Zia AI supports data enrichment, sales analytics, task suggestions, and more.

Zoho CRM dashboard

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HubSpot CRM: Best Free CRM With Upgrades

Free CRM for sales, marketing, service, and operations that also offers the ability to upgrade for more features.

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

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Operational Features star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Sales Features star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Expert Score star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Pricing star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Customization star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full

Pros:

  • Robust free version
  • Integrate sales, service, & marketing
  • Useful knowledge base

Cons:

  • Upgrades get expensive
  • Reporting is limited
  • Not very customizable

HubSpot CRM is a free CRM that supports unlimited 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 to Sales Hub for advanced versions of these basic operational features plus access to more features like sales automations.

HubSpot's paid tiers include a specific amount of users, so small teams might find them to be 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 price for upgrades.

HubSpot CRM Pricing

  • Free Plan: Support for unlimited users
  • Sales Hub Starter: $45 per month for 2 users
  • Sales Hub Professional: $450 per month for 5 paid users
  • Sales Hub Enterprise: $1,200 per month for 10 paid users
  • Additional users can be purchased for extra
  • Integration with HubSpot's free marketing, service, and operation platform tiers

HubSpot CRM Key Features

  • Hub Integrations: Connect to Marketing, Service, and Operations Hubs.
  • Free Sales and Marketing Features: Free version includes most core features.
  • Highly Rated Support: Current users rave about the great customer support.
  • Communication Tools: Use live chat, a built-in dialer, and more with leads.

HubSpot CRM sales automation

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Insightly CRM: Best for Project Management

Sales CRM with strong project-related features helping you close deals and then deliver your product or service on time.

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

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Operational Features star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Sales Features star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Expert Score star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Pricing star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customization star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full

Pros:

  • Great for remote and BYOD teams
  • Over 250 app integrations
  • Record and play back digital notes

Cons:

  • Integrations are tricky
  • Free version is limited
  • Automated reporting could improve

Insightly is a leading sales-focused CRM with robust project management and delivery features. You can customize a pipeline with your sales process stages and move deals along, tracking tasks and milestones along the way. After winning a deal, seamlessly transfer it to a separate project pipeline to ensure you deliver on your promises. You can even track internal projects to ensure that everyone at your organization follows the same processes.

Insightly's sales and project management features make it an especially useful CRM, but it can seem clunky when compared to other options. If you're mostly interested in a CRM's sales tools, explore a more straightforward sales CRM like Freshsales.

Insightly CRM Pricing

  • Free Plan: Support for 2 users
  • Plus: $29 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 CRM Key Features

  • Mobile App: Connect with the team and change the status of deals remotely.
  • Business Card Scanner: Capture contact info from virtually anywhere in the world.
  • Digital Note-Taking: Take notes quickly, and play them back for reminders.
  • Security: Use two-factor authentication, data encryption, and single sign-on.

Insightly Operational CRM

Visit Insightly

Top 4 Operational CRM Features

The operations-specific features below are offered by the top operational CRMs:

Workflow Automation

Lead Nurturing

Automated Marketing Campaigns

Project Management

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.

Bottom Line: Best Operational CRM Software

Operational CRMs take it one step further than more general types of CRM software 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. Whether that’s integrating with social media, transitioning your business to the cloud, or anything in between, there’s a package that’s right for you.

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