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8 Best CRM Platforms for Fast-Growing Startups and Businesses for 2022

Choosing the right CRM is crucial for your overall sales and marketing efforts. As one of the crowded markets in the technology platform space, which are the best CRM platforms that are suitable for your startup or business? From my experience, these are some of my recommendations.

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Pipedrive

About: 
One of my personal favourite CRM's that focuses on the features you need to drive sales is Pipedrive.

Top Features:

Whilst many CRM's have many features available for any types of business, Piperive focuses on businesses and sales-focused personnel with core features that matter - including pipeline management, sales automation, sales reports, email automation and more.
The sales pipeline interface is the main view you would be using, and it's super easy to build your own custom pipeline with the drag-and-drop builder. Incorporate your own custom fields and automations when a particular action happens (i.e. replied to an email, signed contract, etc). Power automations even further thanks to over 250 available integrations.
What is awesome about Pipedrive is that it comes with really useful email specific tools, such as automation workflows and triggers, email tracking (see who opens, etc), and lots more. You can schedule emails for when they're sent, and even call your prospects if you feel you need to jump on a call.
sales
pipeline
email tracking
Pricing: 
Compared to many other CRM's on the market, pricing is fairly affordable. Plans begin from $18 per user, per month, with plans up to $119 per user, per month for Enterprise.
Web/App
Paid
$-$$$
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Hubspot

About: 
As the most recognisable CRM's on the market, Hubspot is one of the most popular solutions on the market for startups and fast-growing businesses.

Top Features:

I've always enjoyed my experience using Hubspot, and the capabilities of this platform is endless if you know what's possible. Of course, Hubspot really grew thanks to their free CRM offer (which is pretty good as a baseline). Then for more advanced features, depending on your needs, you can upgrade to the Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, Operations Hub, CMS Hub or Service Hub.
With my experience using the Marketing Hub, it's feature-rich with all the crucial marketing automation elements you expect from a CRM. Drive traffic and leads to your landing pages (which you can create within the platform), embed forms to drive leads and setup automated email sequences for nurturing. In addition to arming yourself for lead generation, you can use the blog CMS features, add a native live chat plugin, as well as connect the Facebook Ads Pixel, LinkedIn and Google Ads tracking for better analytics and remarketing.
For closing leads and nurturing overtime, you can setup all the automations I've mentioned, plus lead and contact management rules and workflows. One thing I really like about thois software is that the flow builder is quite easy to use and understand. You can also create detailed reports based on your campaigns, leads, etc.
good UX
Hubs
Pricing: 
The pricing varies depending on the 'Hub' you're looking for. Visit the pricing and plans page to find which is best for you and your business.
Web/App
Freemium
$-$$$$
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SugarCRM

About: 
A really nice CRM worth looking into for growing businesses is SugarCRM.

Top Features:

From the initial inbound lead, to nurturing through to close, SugarCRM has the rich sales and marketing capabilities you need to become more efficient when it comes to growth.
In the marketing suite, you can build landing page through the drag-and-drop interface, build high-converting emails, and forms. You can also setup lead scoring easily, helping you better segment leads, customers and stakeholders.
The analytics features are really good, where you can sync all your primary channels (social and ads), email marketing tools, as well as see AI predictive analytics. There are also AI features in the sales suite. Lots of other awesome features to explore there too.
Workflows
Pricing: 
There are are pricing options available depending on the requirements and product suites you need. Gte in touch with sales oto find out more.
Web/App
Demo
$-$$$$
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Keap CRM

About: 
I've been seeing a lot of ads for Keap over the past couple of years and can see why it's a popular choice for many entrepreneurs, small businesses and startups.

Top Features:

Firstly, what I love about Keap compared to many of the others is how well they've done with their UX. Really simple to navigate and go around key features of the application. As you may know with many CRM's, they can get clunky really quick - yes powerful, but end up sometimes becoming a headache more than a benefit.
Depending on the plan you get, you can have an easy-to-use CRM for all your contacts (and sales pipelines for closing new business), easy to advanced automation, automated email sequences, sales funnels, landing pages, sell products through ecommerce capabilities and loads, loads more.
For small businesses or solo entrepreneurs, this is a good platform that in many way can replace a lot of existing or potential costs with other SaaS tools. However, if you need more customisation around automation and workflows, then there's lots of potential integrations available (with a big thanks to Zapier).
sales funnels
lead scoring
Payments
Pricing: 
There are three primary plans avaialble - Lite, Pro and Max. Each have different levels of features. Pricing is then contact-based across each of the plans, with the Lite plan kicking off with 500 contacts at $40 per month. For more contacts across any of the plans, you need to upgrade.
Web/App
Paid
$-$$$$
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Zoho

About: 
Another feature-rich CRM platform used by many household brands and fast-growing organisations is Zoho.

Top Features:

Zoho in many ways is the 'all-in-one' suite for organisations, with the suite of products including CRM, emails, HR tools, legal, IT management, business intelligence, as well as project management.
As part of the sales and marketing features they have available, you can recieve bookings, build forms, integrate forms into your custom built landing pages, host webinars, run social media campaigns, email campaigns and loads more.
There's so many options and products that Zoho has it's quite amazing. There's also an extensive list of integrations on offer for more customisation. Each suite of products also have their own mobile app (i.e. Zoho webinars, Zoho connect, etc).
apps
Pricing: 
As part of Zoho, there are lots of products on offer. For the CRM option, there are four main plans depending on the features you require. Monthly pricing is per user, per month.
Web/App
Paid
$-$$$$
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Nimble

About: 
Nimble is an awesome CRM worth considering for startups and entrepreneurs which works great with Gmail and Outlook.

Top Features:

One of the best things about this platform is how you can easily unify your contact's social points and key information through the chrome extension. Using the extension, you can go through LinkedIn or other social profiles and pull into their information. The UX is really good and wish some other CRM's had this slick feature.
Of course like most other platforms, you can send emails through Nimble (or have it turned on in Gmail/Outlook) where you can track opens, who's responded, analytics, personalised emails and more. You can even have notifications for email tracking. You can sync all emails or any potential leads straight into your customised pipelines, so you can see potential value of deals in the pipeline.
UX around team activities, what action needs to be done, contacts you need to follow-up with (etc), is really good. Another nice feature I like is the ability to choose when to be reminded who to contact and how often, whether it be weekly, monthly or from a certain date you choose. Really handy.
reminders
great extension
Pricing: 
Compared to many of the other platforms, pricing is really good, starting from $19 per month (billed annually), per user.
Web/App + Chrome extension
Paid
$-$$$
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Streak

About: 
If you're a heavy Gmail user like me, then you need to check out Streak.

Top Features:

Turn your Gmail into your CRM, with pipline views tags, mail merge, track opens/views, create snippets for copy you usually write, and lots more.
I haven't used it in a team context before, but for personal use, I've found a lot of value using this tool. I'd recommend it for consultants, entrepreneurs or early-stage founders who want to save costs.
They also have a really good mobile app to keep on top of communications and calls. See tasks, upcoming meetings and more instantly on the go.
Mobile app
gmail
snippets
Pricing: 
There's a freemium version available for you to try. Then plans kick off from $19 per month.
Web/App + Chrome extension
Freemium
$-$$$
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AgileCRM

About: 
An affordable platform that should get a lot more attention in terms of value is Agile CRM.

Top Features:

Agile CRM has it all, with the ability to build landing pages, automated email campaigns, social media monitoring, website recording, building forms, and much more.
On top of some of the features I've already mentioned, there are loads of them across sales, marketing, service and productivity. If you just go to the menu bar or homepage alone, you can see all the potential apps and capabilities available. Pretty amazing.
In addition to all the built-in capabilities, there are also many 3rd-party integrations for custom workflows and requirements.
All-in-one
affordable
Pricing: 
The value of the free plan itself is awesome, which includes up to 50,000 contacts/companies. Then plans start from $14.99 per month (billed monthly). The highest plan with all the possible features and capabilities is only $79.99 per month.
Web/App + Chrome extension
Freemium
$-$$
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Updated on:
April 4, 2022
Note: Pricing, plans, and homepage images change overtime. Pricing recorded as of 3rd April, 2022. If you see any changes required, please let me know. If you suggest any tools to add, get in touch. 😊

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⚡ Frequently Asked Questions ⚡

What is your favourite CRM?
After many years working in marketing, I've seen and been exposed to a lot of CRM platforms. From enterprise, clunky and sophisticated platforms, to simplified, bare bone and focused (and many times just good ol' Google Sheets) CRM systems. Yep, I've seen it all, to say the least. I've mentioned a few of my favourite CRMs in this article, but these are my top 3 which I recommend to many; Pipedrive, Streak, Keap and Hubspot.
What is the best CRM for startups when they first get started?
I've been asked this question quite a bit. It's a tricky one to answer, as I believe in keeping things simple, but I also know from experience that once you commit to a CRM, it gets harder to change later on. It really comes down to what core features you really need, and the technical, plus marketing capabilities of your team and resources. For those who may have a smaller team of 5-10 people, I'd lean more towards platforms with friendly pricing plans and easy-to-use features that focus on doing 2-3 things really well. Additionally, for most startups, it's about growth and sales, so I'd suggest focusing more on sales-based platforms. These are my top 3 that I think fit the criteria for many early-stage startups and businesses; Pipedrive - good sales-first platform, Keap - has awesome marketing automation features, Streak - platform keeps things simple and focused on the inbox (which you spend a lot of time in when you're early-stage).
Are there any free CRMs?
There's a few on the market, but the best CRM that has a free plan is Hubspot. It's actually really, really good. It has a lot of the important features you need to get started including reporting, pipeline, live chat and lots more. Great value if you're on a lean budget.
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