Customers are the cornerstone of every business, the foundation needed to keep things stable. Using a CRM (customer relationship management) as the central hub to house prospects’ and current clients’ information can help you manage the building blocks required for the relationship. A CRM lets you gather and store essential information so you know what you’ve already done right with a client and what your next steps will be. Many even have integrated project management solutions built in so you can build bridges to stronger customer relationships.
Best CRM for Small Business: Insightly vs. Nimble vs. Zoho
Finding the Best CRM for Small Business
Choosing small business CRM software is not easy. There are literally hundreds of options, and what works for one business, may not work for others. In this article we outline what we feel are the top 3 CRM options for small businesses.
Below you will find a summary table of the features and functionality of the three options. Following the table, you will find an in depth analysis of each option based on ease of use, price, key features and integrations, and mobile capabilities.
Best CRM for Small Business Owners: Insightly
Best CRM for Social Media-Savvy Small Business Owners: Nimble
CRM for Small Business Summary Table
|Ease of Use||Easiest||Easy||Moderate|
|Price for Basic Business Package||Free for 3 users (limited functionality)
$7/user per month
(14 day free trial)
|Free for 1 user (limited functionality).
$15 USD/user per month
(14 day trial)
|Free for 3 users (limited functionality)
$12 USD/user per month
(15 day free trial)
|Key Features||Basic CRM features including the ability to input, manage and track leads/sales.
Basic reporting functionality.
Project management and team collaboration tools.
|Nimble takes a proactive approach to getting you and your sales team to interact with prospects.
“Today” is a series of actions for users to nurture leads and close deals, like connecting with 3 key contacts, visual sales cycle laid out with action steps to take to complete deal.
|Lead and opportunity management, sales forecasting, web forms for capturing leads, analytics and email marketing.
Comprehensive reporting and scalable features that grow with you.
|Number of Records||100,000 records||30,000 records||100,000 records|
|Integration with Other Systems||Deep integration with Google Apps. Also integrates with Mailchimp and Office 365 as well as all major social media networks.||Google Contacts, Mailchimp, Quickbooks and around 50 other products.||All Zoho products including project management, customer service, and email.
Also integrates with Google Apps, Mailchimp, and Quickbooks.
|Support||Unlimited email support
Insightly University videos, FAQ, amusing ticket form that requests emotional state (happy, panicked, angry…)
|User forums, FAQs, support tickets, weekly demos, email, solution partners (surcharge)||24/5 Phone and email support, Web conference demo, user guide, videos, webinars, blogs and forums.|
|Mobility||iOS, Android and Web||iOS||iOS, Android and Web|
|Learn more||Learn more||Learn more|
Before we get started with our in-depth overview, you might notice that there are some big names missing from the above table.
Why we did not include SalesForce and other big players:
The four largest players in the CRM space are: SalesForce, SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft. The majority of small businesses do not require the advanced integration, customization, and reporting capabilities that these companies offer. They also do not want to pay thousands, or even 10′s of thousands of dollars, to purchase and maintain their CRM. This is why we are focusing on companies that cater specifically to small businesses.
Why We Chose Insightly for Small Business Owners
Insightly can be set-up and used within minutes and you don’t need an IT person to use it. It offers all of the features a small company will need to streamline their sales process. At $7 a month per user, Insightly is the least expensive of the best CRM for small business options.
In addition to CRM, Insightly includes an integrated project management solution, at no extra cost. Since projects are generally done on behalf of customers, having your relationship and project management software together in one package is a natural fit.
The cons of Insightly are:
- It doesn’t offer the same level of reporting capabilities as a product like Zoho.
- It is not as proactive as Nimble at helping you mine your social networks for business.
Why We Chose Nimble for Social Media-Savvy Small Business Owners
Like Insightly, Nimble is easy to set-up and start using right away. Where Nimble really shines is with its social media integration. Nimble brings together all your salespeople’s social media accounts. The goal is to help them mine those networks for new customers and keep them on top of their contact’s social media activities.
Nimble is visual, intuitive, and fun. It reminded me of Facebook but felt more social. The snapshot of “today” helps you plan your time and ensures that important leads and marketing tasks are not neglected or forgotten.
Like Insightly, Nimble does not have the advanced reporting functionality offered by Zoho. At $14 per month per user, Nimble is twice the cost of Insightly and does not offer project management.
Insightly vs. Nimble vs. Zoho In-Depth Review
Ease of Use of the Best CRM for Small Business
I found this software to be incredibly intuitive. It was straightforward with meaningful categories and had an uncluttered, clean appearance with a lot of options.
The most engaging CRM software we have seen. It’s highly visual and presents customers as people instead of data with pictures and images that are not unlike a Twitter profile.
Nimble tells a visual story for each customer, bringing the data to life. When I entered in leads, I felt motivated to take the next step in the sales cycle and close deals. Nimble also made it easy to tap into relevant social media conversations that helped to convert qualified leads quickly.
This was the least intuitive of the three platforms. Still, Zoho was relatively easy to use for more basic functions, such as adding contacts. If you’re already used to using CRM software, this system would be easier to set up. Taking advantage of the advanced features requires an investment of time and training and, sometimes, change cultivation.
Pricing for the Best CRM for Small Business
All three options offer a free version, however, they are limited in functionality and the number of records you can input.
Free for up to three users. With the free plan you get up to 2,500 records. A record is a contact, note, email project, or basically anything else you would enter into the system. You do not get access to MailChimp or Gmail address book integration with the free plan.
Insightly is $84 per user per year for the basic business package, which gives you up to 100,000 records. For unlimited records you need to contact them to discuss custom pricing.
It does not offer detailed sales information, though it does offer savings on project management and team collaboration software.
Insightly is much more cost effective than Zoho or Nimble, but it doesn’t scale well should your business grow significantly. To keep things simple, they do not offer the additional add-ons that systems, like Zoho, do for larger businesses.
Free for one user; you get up to 3,000 contacts and the ability to track up to five deals. You can only see the communication history with your contacts for the last 90 days.
The paid version is $180 per user per year. You get access to all of Nimble’s features, up to 30,000 contacts, and 5 GB of data. Additional contacts (above 30,000) will run you an extra $10 per month per user. You can get an extra 25 GB of data storage for $25 per month per user. For most small businesses, 30,000 contacts and 5 GB of data should be sufficient. If you plan to grow beyond that it will significantly increase the cost.
Though Nimble is more than double the cost of Insightly, the automation of sales and the online relationships forged through social media will, if used consistently, likely result in significantly more business.
Zoho offers four different price points; the functionality differs substantially. They offer a free version for up to three users. This get’s you the ability to enter in and track up to 5,000 records and not much else.
Their standard edition is $144 per year per user. This get’s you up to 100,000 records, as well as their full reporting capabilities, which is a powerful feature of Zoho. The standard package also offers email marketing and the ability to send e-blasts with up to 250 emails a day.
Zoho can quickly become more expensive if you opt to add additional functionality. The comprehensive system will also cost money for set-up and training. Users may resist the system all together because of the added complexity.
With that being said, it’s most expensive version is still less than half the cost of SalesForce’s professional version and offers more functionality. You can learn more about Zoho’s advanced options here.
Key Features of the Best CRM for Small Business
Basic features are the key to Insightly’s success. Entering leads and tracking your sales opportunities is a breeze. If you win an opportunity, you can automatically convert that opportunity into a project. Having both your sales tracking and client project management integrated into one system is a great bonus of using Insightly.
Insightly offers social media integration with all the major platforms. However, they do not take the proactive approach of Nimble in identifying potential opportunities from those accounts.
Nimble organizes your email and social media contacts in one place, giving you a 360 degree view of all of your connections. Then they use this information to make recommendations on who you may want to mark as important contacts and encourage you to follow-up at specific times.
Keep in mind that if you and your sales team do not use social media, then much of Nimble’s usefulness will be lost.
Zoho is the most feature-rich of the options. With Zoho’s basic package, you are going to get access to more sophisticated reporting capabilities than Insightly and Nimble. This can be especially important for larger businesses, where senior management is more likely to rely on reports.
The Professional and Enterprise packages offer additional features, including inventory management and the ability to give different users access to different information.
Integration of the Best CRM for Small Business
Insightly strips out advanced integration in favor of simplicity. However, if you are a Google Apps user, you are in luck. Insightly offers deep integration with all things Google; Evernote, MailChimp, social media, and Office 365 integration are also available.
Like Insightly and Zoho, you can integrate your social media accounts with Nimble. Unlike those other packages, social media lies at the center of the Nimble CRM.
Nimble also offers integration with Google Contacts, Quickbooks, MailChimp, Hootsuite and around 50 other products. Learn more here.
One of the biggest advantages of Zoho is that they offer a whole host of other products besides CRM and they all integrate with each other. This includes project management, customer service, business email, marketing campaigns, and more.
They also offer integration with a wide variety of other applications including Google Apps, social media accounts, MailChimp, and QuickBooks. Learn more about their integration here.
Support for the Best CRM for Small Business
While you have unlimited access to support by email, you can help yourself through Insightly University videos, FAQ, and a service ticket system that’s bound to make you smirk, no matter what emotional state you select.
You can get help from other users on forums, through support tickets by email, by attending weekly webinars, or by connecting with a solutions partner.
Zoho offers 24-hour customer service Monday through Friday by phone and email. They also provide video webinars and user forums.
Mobility of the Best CRM for Small Business
Offers an iOS and Android app as well as a mobile website.
Offer an iOS app only.
Offers an iOS and Android app as well as a mobile website.
The Bottom Line
From our experience, the majority of small business owners are using CRM to keep track of and follow-up with clients. They do not need a lot of the advanced reporting and integration features. These extra features run up costs and make it less likely that the CRM software will be used.
If you are looking for the best CRM for small business; a simple and straightforward CRM system to help you keep track of your sales process, then you won’t go wrong with Insightly.