The Best CRM for Midsize and Small Businesses: The 2020 CRM Industry Leader Awards

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The Market

With smaller businesses, there are usually fewer people who interact directly with customers, and most of those interactions are carried out by the sales and marketing departments. As such, CRM vendors catering to this market typically focus more on the needs of the salespeople with features like contact management and calendars. Their CRM solutions have more limited feature sets geared toward a single sales department and a small number of salespeople. Solutions are more often cloud-based, come with a relatively low cost (usually per seat), and allow businesses to add or remove seats as needed. Smaller editions of CRM also have typically come with limited interoperability with mobile devices and other business applications, but that is starting to change.

The Top Five

Bpm’online changed its name to Creatio in October 2019 to better reflect its goal of creating a world where any business idea could be automated in minutes. “New name, same commitment to quality, if not more,” notes Marshall Lager, an independent CRM analyst and consultant. Lager and others particularly like the company’s low-code/no-code stance, which makes process design, partner collaboration, integrations, and app extension much easier. But Creatio’s ease of use extends beyond that. “Creatio offers sales, marketing, and customer service applications that aim to be easy to implement, use, and change via configuration or customization,” says Kate Leggett, vice president and principal analyst for CRM and customer service at Forrester Research.

HubSpot’s main product, HubSpot CRM, is free, so it couldn’t be better suited for SMBs, but when bolstered by Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, Service Hub, and HubSpot’s newest offering, CMS Hub, it becomes a full suite that is very robust. Those modules can add up, of course, “but that isn’t exactly a hardship, seeing as each component is good enough to stand on its own,” Lager says. Jim Dickie, a partner at Sales Mastery, calls this business plan “an innovative play for midmarket firms.”

As with its enterprise play, Microsoft’s small-business and midmarket offerings are feature-rich and benefit from a giant collection of partnerships and integrations, both with its other business products and those from other vendors. But at the same time, its SMB products offer “a unified CRM on a single platform, single data model, and single user experience,” Leggett says. Rebecca Wettemann, CEO and principal of Valoir, agrees. “Microsoft continues to be a key player in the midmarket because of the high usability of its CRM tools,” she says.

Salesforce got its start in the midmarket and hasn’t forgotten that segment of the population as it grew. Just the opposite: Salesforce Essentials, which it launched in March 2018, is geared specifically for SMBs. Laurie McCabe, a partner at the SMB Group, calls Essentials “probably the best place for those that haven’t used CRM before to start, as it provides the basics that most small businesses need.” It’s a sentiment shared by Wettemann: “Salesforce has become much more effective in this market because of the investment it made in Salesforce Essentials, enabling SMBs to rapidly deploy based on what they need from a CRM with limited setup investment,” she says. And as he did for enterprise solutions, Dickie says that Salesforce is his top recommendation for SMBs.

Like HubSpot, Zoho CRM also provides a freemium offering called Zoho One for SMBs, but Zoho doesn’t require a lot of add-ons. And, like Salesforce, it launched an SMB-specific CRM named Bigin this past May. McCabe says that SMBs new to CRM will like Bigin “because it provides all the basics and is super-easy to use.”

Zoho is also Lager’s “go-to vendor…for sub-enterprise businesses. You want a CRM suite? Zoho One is a beast.” Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst of Constellation Research, agrees, calling its products “feature-rich,” making up “an all-in-one small-business operating suite.”

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