The top performers in our review are Salesforce, the Gold Award winner; NetSuite, the Silver Award winner; and OnContact, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 systems.
Contact management software, also commonly referred to as CRM, was originally created as an interactive address book that allowed multiple departments and employees access to the contact information and simple notes lefts by others. Today, customer relation management systems have a plethora of tools and functions that makes taking care of your clients and prospective customers simplified. We tested dozens of solutions but chose the top ten based on the ease of use and the addition of other business software solutions, creating a powerful suite to help you with every possible customer interaction from support to sales to follow-up communication.
Each one of the solutions we placed on our top ten is a cloud-based solution, meaning it is hosted on the developer's secured server that you access through your web browser. Several of these products also have an on-premise solution that you can install on your own server. The program will work the same, although there may be limitations on whether or not you can connect with a mobile device with on premise solutions. These systems were designed for Windows users, though some can be access with Mac products. This is useful if you have both Mac and PCs in your office that will be used to access the contact manager. We do have a complete lineup of the best CRM for Mac users that include additional solutions, such as Daylight that is designed exclusively for Mac.
With the exception of NetSuite, we were able to find pricing for each of the solutions we reviewed on the developer's website. Each uses a monthly subscription pricing plan with a per-user fee. Some may offer discounts for multiple users, though most simply multiply the single user price times the number of employees that will have access to the system. NetSuite tailors your solution to your company and therefore the final price varies from company to company.
All contact management software will keep your contacts in order along with notes that can be accessed by multiple individuals. There are some solutions that have features that work a little bit better for certain industries or business situations. For example, Workbooks.com is a great CRM for companies with contacts or locations outside of the United States. This solution is developed in Europe, so it utilizes tools that meet the unique needs and technical requirements for that area, though it is also very dependable for U.S.-based companies. Another solution, Zurmo, is an open-end solution. While it didn't make it on our top ten, it is a great solution for companies that need a base program to work with and the IT knowledge to further develop it into customized CRM program.
While most customer relations systems are designed for multiple users, there are some solutions that are perfect for sole proprietors. Zoho is a free app that is great for keeping contacts together as well as employing other useful sales tools. We found that it is a good solution if it's just you without any other partners or employees that need access to the information.
If you are looking for something not as comprehensive as the contact management solutions we reviewed, there are solutions for sales and marketing, project management and employee tracking available, though each of these functions, in some way, are included in our top ten.
For more help in finding a CRM solution for your business, consider using the guide at the top of the page. Answering each question will help us match you with a solution that will work for your particular company needs. You can also read articles on contact management software for some more ideas.
While looking at CRM software, we first looked at how easy the program is to use without having to consult the help tabs or customer support lines. Solutions received higher marks for including helps within the program and for having functions and tools easy to find and clearly marked. We appreciated those solutions that are flexible enough to let us modify or create custom text fields based on the needs of our test company.
Those that have a clean design, without a lot of images or text crammed into the view screen, were given higher marks than those that put too much in one place. While we appreciate the innovative use of space, it was difficult to navigate through and find the links we needed when too much was presented at one time.
It was important for us to identify those solutions that incorporate real-time sharing capabilities. This allows multiple users to access, modify and see contact information simultaneously. This helps when different departments or employees need to collaborate. We also identified those contact management solutions that have dialing capabilities. Those that do have this feature require specialty equipment that integrates with that particular system. However, if you utilize this feature, the CRM software will be able to detect when you reach out via the dialer to a specific contact and record the interaction in the client's account.
While we were able to set up and utilize each CRM solution on our own, we took the time to contact customer support and ask common questions about the program in order to get a feel for how knowledgeable and friendly support personnel were. Some solutions, after purchasing a program, would take considerable time to walk us through and teach us every aspect of the program. Infusionsoft was especially attentive to your needs, setting aside a day each week for nearly six weeks to discuss questions and ensuring we had a handle on the program.
All CRM solutions keep track of your client information and provide a way for you to track each time someone from your office reaches out to them. For companies with more than one individual who will be accessing the program, it is important to ensure it has file-sharing capabilities so that more than one employee or department can access the contact information.
The best contact Management software includes our top-ranking solutions, Salesforce, NetSuite CRM and OnContact, which include an extensive number of tools for customer relations as well as for sales and marketing strategies and tracking employee performance.
Some solutions are a little more user friendly for specific industries, such as Infusionsoft and NetSuite for retail, and OnContact for legal offices. However, each of the programs on our CRM lineup is highly recommended as a good contact management solution for most small businesses.