The Best CRM for Midsize and Small Businesses: The 2023 CRM Industry Leader Awards

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In the past, CRM software was targeted at enterprise-level companies. That’s no longer the case. Small and midmarket businesses are now able to implement CRM platforms and are doing so in great numbers.

In fact, research firm Global Industry Analysts expects small and midsize businesses to outpace larger enterprises in their adoption of CRM software over the next few years. It projects SMBs to record 15.3 percent compound annual growth, accounting for $92.9 billion of the total $181.9 billion CRM market by 2030, while larger enterprise adoption is expected to grow by only 9.5 percent per year over that time.

For companies in the SMB sector, customization is key, and price is an obvious make-or-break. CRM solutions tailored for SMBs tend to be cloud-based and available on a monthly per-user rate, allowing companies to add people to the contract as they scale. And ultimately, that appeals to the small companies and startups that don’t want to stay small forever.


HubSpot this year updated its entire portfolio with a slew of features, adding to what was already a pretty powerful set of applications. But, for analysts, HubSpot’s real benefit for SMBs is how easy it is to use and customize. “Several different editions cater to businesses up and down the size spectrum,” notes Laurie McCabe, a partner of the SMB Group. Kate Leggett, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, says HubSpot’s offerings are “well-rounded,” noting that the company “offers an easy-to-deploy, easy-to-use CRM that is easily configured and customized.”

Despite what some analysts have seen as decreased investment in its Dynamics CRM offering for SMBs, analysts still see Microsoft as a leader in the space. Ray Wang, founder and chairman of Constellation Research, has noticed that SMB customers find most Microsoft Dynamics CRM features to be “robust for their needs.” But, as has always been the case, Microsoft’s real appeal for SMBs is its tie-in to other business applications in the Microsoft stable. “Microsoft can never be counted out of the SMB market since any Windows-based business will have a relatively easy time with Dynamics,” says Marshall Lager, an independent CRM analyst and consultant.

Salesforce supplemented its traditional CRM products, and even its Essentials SMB-specific product line, with a new Starter package. Salesforce Starter is an entry-level CRM solution for SMBs with integrated sales, marketing, and service functionality. It has broad appeal, analysts say. Starter is “attractive to SMB customers that want Salesforce without the complex implementation or higher annual subscription cost,” observes Rebecca Wettemann, founder and CEO of Valoir. Salesforce also has huge scalability and extensibility benefits, according to Jim Dickie, a research fellow at Sales Mastery. Salesforce, he says, “has robust functionality, with a clear migration path into an enterprise CRM platform.”

SugarCRM had its roots in the open-source domain, making it an appealing option for smaller firms. Though open source is less of a focus now, the small and midmarket realm is still key to SugarCRM’s business. The company “performs very well at the bargaining table for midmarket businesses and small ones as well,” Lager says, noting that it is easy, extensible, and “often the wisest choice.” For Paul Greenberg, president of the 56 Group, SugarCRM’s real power “is in the flexibility and ease of use of its platform and the CRM applications built on that platform.” The company, he adds, “is almost always a solid choice for a midmarket company.”

Since launching Bigin, a full CRM suite geared specifically for SMBs, in 2020, Zoho has been the dominant player in the space. Greenberg names Zoho the clear market leader, noting that “its products are incredibly well-engineered, its product strategy is brilliant, and the engagement with its customer community is very high.” Lager agrees, noting that Zoho “continues to be all things to all SMBs.” And for Dickie, “Zoho Bigin is a robust, well-priced solution for SMBs, especially firms with no previous CRM experience that want to get off spreadsheets.”

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