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Customer Relationship Management Software for Startups

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can help you manage customers, make more money, and keep up with leads, but it can also get expensive and cumbersome pretty quickly. Some of the best-known CRMs like Salesforce are great for enterprise settings, they can be overkill (and out of budget) for startups.

How Does a CRM Work?

Typically, a customer relationship manager stores names, email addresses, account notes, and reminders for a business’ sales leads. Some CRMs include email automation tools, some support team functions, and some offer analytics and tracking.

In large organizations, sales teams use a CRM to allow all their reps and operations people to share critical customer information. This facilitates handoffs between SDRs and account managers among other things.

Does Your Startup Need a CRM?

While some early-stage startups may not need a dedicated CRM tool (spreadsheets are okay if you just have a few customers), you need to have some sort of system if you plan on taking sales seriously. You might not be able to pay hundreds of dollars per month for Salesforce on day one, but there are some good options that won’t set you back too much.

In this post, I wanted to highlight some of the best, low-cost CRMs I’ve seen for startup founders to help keep up with their customers and sales conversations.

Best CRM Software for Startups

Airtable ($0) - Airtable is a database that’s as easy to use as a spreadsheet. I’ve been keeping my personal contacts in Airtable for the past few months and like it a lot, especially now that they’ve released more automation integrations recently.

Pigeon ($0) - I started using Pigeon earlier this year, and have really liked it so far. It’s not the most feature-complete on this list, but it covers all the basics and integrates with Gmail and Zapier.

Hubspot CRM ($0) - Hubspot’s free CRM is a great option for small businesses just starting out. If you use some of Hubspot’s other tools then this will integrate nicely.

Streak ($0) - Streak lets its users manage customers, sales, email support, bug tracking, and hiring via Gmail. Their free tier is pretty generous, but you’ll probably need to upgrade to a paid plan once you have multiple salespeople.

Pipedrive ($12.50) - Pipedrive is a great solution for improving automation, enhancing leads, and tracking your campaigns without spending a bundle.

Trello ($0) - It’s free, easy to use, and you can add upgrades for reminders, calendars, and more. While not exclusively a CRM, you can use integrations and automations to make it a passable option for low-volume.

Cloze ($17) - Cloze is a mobile app to track customers, clients, prospects and leads without the hassle of CRM.

Freshworks CRM ($29) - AI-based lead scoring, built-in phone, email, activity capture, and a unified tracking dashboard make Freshworks CRM a strong choice for a reasonable price.

Less Annoying CRM ($15) - A simple customer relationship manager made just for small businesses. Manage contact info, track leads, and never miss a follow-up.

Pickle CRM ($8) - Pickle is the dead-simple CRM tool for entrepreneurs, realtors, wedding planners, and small businesses. It prides itself in helping you manage your contacts with minimal tooling overhead.

Relenta ($39) - Relenta CRM is an email-based CRM. Relenta CRM works by automatically linking all sent and received email to contact timelines.

Did I miss the CRM you use at your startup? Email me to suggest additions to this list.

Karl Hughes

By Karl Hughes

Karl is a former startup CTO and the founder of Draft.dev. He writes about technical blogging and content management.