Looking for the best free CRM for startups? We’ve got you covered.
Building valuable customer relationships is how startups can make space for themselves in the market. A strong customer relationship means more sales, higher revenues, and repeat buyers, all of which a new company needs to find success.
However, achieving these goals is not an easy task. It requires handling extensive data, compiling reports, analyzing trends, and taking actions based on the hypothesis and conclusions extracted. Fortunately, there is software available to streamline a lot of these steps and provide several other benefits known as Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
As crucial as CRMs are to a new business, many people fail to recognize their value and worth. So, in this post, let’s learn how a CRM can help you grow and help you choose the best free CRM for startups.
What Is A CRM?
A CRM is software that provides a centralized database for storing all kinds of customer-related information and provides intelligible data for quick action and response. It appears in the form of a dashboard and displays metrics such as the number of successful orders, repeat buyers, customer requests, deliveries in progress, each type of product sold, customer information, sales activity, notes, etc. –in short, sales activities and performance indicators make up a general CRM system’s dashboard.
The information appearing on the dashboard is specific to the company using it. However, all CRM systems work to organize and process external data for different departments of the company, especially sales, marketing, and customer support.
Instead of handling requests and interactions across different social media platforms, a business can tie everything together at a CRM. Hence, a company builds a better reputation with the customers by taking actions based on dense, correctly processed, and organized data through a CRM.
Why Does A Startup Need A Free CRM?
For startups, handling business data manually requires a large task force and excellent skills. With less experience than the established competitors, decision-making becomes a little too complex, which is why automation tools like CRM are needed to simplify routine tasks.
Here’s why a startup should have a free CRM, even if they can’t afford a paid version:
- Centralized database –With a CRM, user interaction through multiple channels, including emails, online forms, phone calls, social media, etc., is tied to a single place, providing a consistent viewpoint to every individual in the business.
- Proper Segmentation –A free CRM lets businesses segment their contact list according to behavior, preferences, age, purchase history, or any other factor specified. This way, they can target only relevant offers, updates, and information to their customers, enhancing their engagements.
- Higher Responsiveness –Keeping track of customer communication across all social media outlets, emails, and online forums is impossible. A CRM provides a single platform for customer interaction, resulting in higher response times and a lower rate of missed opportunities and complaints for a company.
- Automatic Reports –A company does not need to compile raw information and generate trends; a CRM does this automatically, allowing them to focus on taking much-needed actions as early as possible.
- Proper Scheduling and Time Efficiency –CRM systems provide tools that allow companies to schedule meetings, send reminders, and follow up on essential customer requests. Resultantly, startups can handle tasks conveniently and efficiently.
- Successful forecasting –ACRM generate automatic sales reports and keeps them saved for future use. By extracting valuable metrics and trends, businesses can determine the prospective future of a specific product or service or their company in its entirety.
- Internal Communication –Whether it’s a free CRM for startups or its paid version, users can find integrated tools to streamline communication within a company. Employees can work on projects together, give each other reminders, handle communication and see how others are contacting the clients. This way, the whole process becomes transparent, and the entire company works together as a unified force.
How To Choose The Best Free CRM For Startups?
Choosing a CRM system for your newly launched business is a risky affair. Introducing it into your current system requires extensive changes, including employee satisfaction, training, re-organizing, and re-defining a few business processes. Therefore, this decision should be taken after thorough consideration.
Here are a few things companies should look for in a free CRM:
- Ease of setup:
Creating custom fields, migrating the company’s data, and creating a custom pipeline for the sales department should be quick and convenient through a CRM.
The longer it takes to get the system up and running, the more it disturbs the company’s normal flow of operation and rhythm. Also, if the setup process is too complex, a company would need to employ special technicians to handle the task.
Many startups cannot afford such delays and costs, so they should choose a CRM they can easily handle.
- Basic Functionality:
When choosing a CRM, a company should pay close attention to its basic functionality, i.e., the tools, integrations, visuals, dashboard metrics, the extent of automation, etc. It needs to be a simple out-of-the-box solution that employees of any company can adopt with ease.
If the employees have trouble performing tasks with the software, they will consider it a hindrance instead of a help. Resultantly, the CRM system will fail miserably. Therefore, a startup should use a CRM system that streamlines its current processes and provides a self-explanatory interface.
- Integration with the Current Stack:
A valuable free CRM provides automatic integrations with most mainstream business tools and resources, for instance, email and social media integrations.
If a business needs developers to make complex API calls and write several lines of code to connect all their tools together, the CRM can prove to be highly uneconomical. Every time an issue occurs in the manual integration, the company will have to contact multiple engineers and the CRM company.
A business must always consider the extent of external integration it provides and how it handles its current processes.
- Are you using DocuSign or PandaDoc for signatures and do you want to track that in the crm?
- Is there a marketing automation tool like ActiveCampaign or Zendesk that’s important to your team’s workflow?
- Will you be using sales engagement platform or dialer to help you increase your SDR activity?
- Affordable Pricing:
As a company grows, so do its needs and requirements. The services offered by a free CRM might be enough for a startup. However, data storage or contact list limitations can significantly damage a fast-growing business’ budget.
If the upgrades of a CRM are entirely out of budget, companies should not even opt for the free version. This is because they won’t be able to extend the services it offers and will need to shift to an entirely new system. Making this change can create another gap in the business’s dynamics and rhythm, leading to lags, inefficiency, loss of money, and dissatisfaction among the employees.
- Customizable Needs:
You cannot hope to find a CRM that checks all the boxes for your business. A one-size-fits-all solution can be more harmful to your company than the economic benefits it may provide. Therefore, a business should choose a CRM system with complete customization and flexibility.
By making a few changes here and there in the existing solutions, companies can create a system that can boost their revenues, relations, and reputation all at once!
Best Free CRMs for Startups
Here is a list of the best CRMs for startups:
|CRM Tool||Free Plan or Trial||Main Features|
|Copper||14 days Free Trial||Acts as Google Contact Manager Tracks sales data Gmail integration CRM app for mobiles|
|Pipedrive||Free Trial||Marketplace Integration Task Automation Privacy of data Help with Lead Generation|
|Keap||Free Trial||Intuitive Dashboards Marketing and Sales Automation Personalized Communication|
|HubSpot||Free Forever Plan||Unlimited Contacts and Users Dashboard Content Management Live chat support|
|Freshsales||21 days Free Trial||Automation of marketing efforts Controlled Accessibility to the data Activity Dashboard Third-Party Integrations|
|Monday||Free Trial||Mobile CRM App Interactive Tracking User-Friendly interface Open API|
|Zoho CRM||Free Forever Plan||Dashboard with advanced filters Basic Reports Essential Security Collaboration tools|
|Streak||Free Version Available||Basic API access Linked boxes Mobile access (iOS) Webhook API access|
|Insightly||Free Trial||Activity Dashboard Data Synchronization Email Tracking Marketing Automation Lead Generation|
|ClickUp||Free Forever plan||Email Centralization Forms and Automation Customer Database Building Mobile Application|
|Bitrix24||Free Version Available Free Plan for limited users||CRM App for Mobile Campaigns Automation High-Quality Solutions User-Friendly Interface|
|Asana||Free Basic Version||Mobile app for IOS and Android Efficient Interface Integration with other apps Easy Navigation|
|Airtable||Free Version||CRM & Sales Dashboards Lead Management Pipeline Management Interaction Tracking|
|Excel/Google Sheets||Free Forever||Manages sales pipeline Sales Tracking Customization of the sales process|
|Notion||Free Trial||Project and Content Management User-Friendly Interface Lead Tracking|
Best Free CRMs For Startups With 100% Free Plans
Startups have a limited budget, and spending hundreds of dollars on a system that might not be for them is not an option. Fortunately, many excellent systems are available online that offer all the services of a CRM without requiring a single penny. But not every free CRM system is worth your time.
Here’s a list of the best free CRMs for startups that offer 100% free plans:
Let’s look at their details:
HubSpot – Free Sales CRM
HubSpot offers a free CRM system with no time limit or trial deadline to its users. The company provides valuable sales and marketing tools without any hidden charges.
Like any other CRM, they offer an uncluttered and highly visual dashboard, with valuable metrics such as performance measures, successful deals, and scheduled appointments. The software also provides auto-logging of sales information and a tidy lead timeline so that small businesses can make the most out of their interaction with clients.
Features of HubSpot Free Sales CRM
HubSpot offers several useful features with its free CRM system. Some of these are:
- Up to 1 million contact storage on database
- Unlimited user access
- Content management
- Storing companies associated with contacts
- Deal tracking and success rate
- Customization of support forms
- Adding and targeting prospects
- Lead capture forms
- Live chat boxes for your website
- Email tracking, templates, and notifications
Integrations with HubSpot Free Sales CRM:
HubSpot offers integrations with a few valuable tools and third-party apps free of charge. These are:
- Gmail and Outlook Integration
- Microsoft Exchange Integration
- Facebook Messenger Integration
- Third-Party Integrations using App Marketplace
HubSpot Free Sales CRM Limitations:
HubSpot’s free sales and marketing-focused CRM may be a great place to start for startups. However, it does not provide any automation tools, which are crucial for growing companies.
It offers only five email templates, snippets, and documents each. All the documents have permanent HubSpot branding. There is a single link for scheduling meets, which means companies cannot customize it for each prospect. Email marketing and marketing automation tools are not available with the free version.
There is a single shared inbox, only three dashboards with ten reports per dashboard, and ten custom properties available.
Once a startup decides to scale up, staying with the free version of HubSpot becomes almost impossible. There are a lot of HubSpot competitors and alternatives worth considering if you’re past the free stage.
Freshsales – Free Sales CRM
The free version of Freshsales CRM (previously known as Freshworks) focuses on organization and lead engagements with little to no automation capabilities. However, unlike other CRMs, it offers five days a week of technical support with its free plan and opens access to employees based on their designation.
It is one of the best free CRMs for startups as it offers its free plan for an unlimited interval, and the costs to upgrade remain well within the budget of small businesses.
Features of Freshsales Free CRM:
Freshsales offers many sales and marketing features with the free version of its CRM. These are:
- No limitations on the number of users
- 360 dashboard with contact details, current deals, scheduled appointments, etc.
- Marketing emails, calls, and chat conversations from within the CRM
- Customizable prospect lifecycle stages
- Mobile apps for IOS and Android
- Toll-free numbers
- Classic web forms
You may want to upgrade from the free plan which means it’s important to know Freshsales pricing.
Integrations with the Free Freshsales CRM:
Freshsales offers a few limited integrations with its free version. However, most of the native integrations and advanced integrations are only available with the free trial versions of paid plans. These are:
- Uber Bookings from inside the CRM
- Native integrations, including Freshservice, Freshping, and Freshstatus.
Freshales Free CRM Limitations:
Although the free Freshsales CRM provides many valuable tools, it lacks in terms of predictability, automation, and external integrations. Also, the visual sales pipeline, AI-based predictions, bot sessions, WhatsApp support, and reports are only available with the paid version.
While it advertises itself as a sales and marketing tool, most of the features offered by Freshsales are strictly sales-focused.
Monday.com – Free CRM Software
Monday.com is a highly customizable CRM with a colorful interface and multiple dashboard columns to manage all types of leads and tasks separately. Users can also customize how they would like to view their progress, i.e., in numbers, timeline, text, etc.
Monday.com is a convenient drag-and-drop solution, with its individual plan completely free of cost. However, the services available in the plan are extremely limited.
Let’s look at that ahead.
Features of Monday.com Free CRM:
Although limited, Monday.com offers good features for an individual or single-person business. These are:
- Unlimited Projects/Boards
- 2 Users at a time
- 500 MB storage
- Basic support and help
- Mobile App for both IOS and Android
- Over 200 templates
- More than 20 different columns on the dashboard
Integrations Offered by the Free Version of Monday.com:
Although famous for its highly customizable interface and code-free third-party integrations, the free version of Monday.com CRM offers no integrations at all.
The free individual plan offered by Monday.com offers no automation, along with zero integration options.
Unlike some famous free CRMs, this tool is unavailable for unlimited use. Once the users run out of 200 free items, or the upper limit of 1000 items with referrals, they can never be re-stocked. Hence, companies should adopt it only if they plan to buy its paid version or use it for a short-term project.
Streak –A free CRM Extension
Streak might be the only well-known CRM that appears in the form of a chrome extension. Built with full G-suite support, Streak may the best free CRM for startups with its ability to deliver all of its functionality right into the Gmail inbox.
It offers an unlimited free plan, whose features are replenished daily, and three paid plans for growing businesses and enterprises.
Features of Streak Free CRM extension:
Streak offers many indispensable features with their free plan that CRM systems don’t even provide with their paid versions. Here are a few of them:
- Unlimited pipelines for individuals to track essential business processes
- 500 items allowed through a pipeline at a time
- 50 automatic emails and follow-ups per day
- Read receipts and email templates
- Unlimited contacts
- Automatic Email categorization
- Core features of a CRM, including tasks, reminders, searches, schedules, call logs, notes, and linked pipelines
Integrations offered by Streak Free CRM extension:
Since Streak supports Google products entirely, users will have complete G-suite integration with this CRM software, namely:
- Google Drive
- Google Calendar
- Google Sheets
Since Streak is an extension, it requires a login with a new device every time. It doesn’t offer technical support, added layers of security, team features, permission restriction, data validation, and extensive integrations with the free plan. For that, users must buy their solo, pro, or enterprise plans, each having charges more than the one before.
Bitrix24 – A Free Startup CRM
Bitrix24 is one of the few CRMs with native communication features, for instance, invoicing and telephony. Apart from traditional lead management, it offers valuable tools for marketing, internal communication, project management, and customer support.
Users can buy either the online cloud version or the self-hosted version of this tool. It quickly passes as one of the best free CRMs for startups due to its unlimited features in the free version.
Bitrix24 Free Plan Features:
Bitrix24 offers advanced communication and basic CRM features in its free plan. These are:
- Unlimited free users
- Unlimited records of deals, companies, and leads
- 5 GB online storage
- One-on-one and private chats
- Unlimited, encrypted calls with no restriction on duration
- One customizable pipeline
- 360 view with a dashboard
- Calendars, tasks, and project timelines
- Quotes and Invoices
- Mobile App with IOS and Android support
Bitrix24 Free Plan Integrations:
Bitrix24 calls itself a social CRM –naturally, it offers integration with all mainstream social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc. However, any other third-party integration through the App Market is only possible with the paid plan or its 15-day free trial version.
Bitrix 24 Limitations:
Besides the restrictions on third-party integrations, Bitrix24 also provides irreversibly branded web forms and live chats. The free plan has only a single pipeline, communication center, and knowledge base. Most automation tools, including segmentation and automatic bulk emailing, are only available with the premium plans.
Also, once the 5GB storage runs out, companies can do nothing with its free version and will be forced to upgrade. It’s an excellent free CRM for startups, but the free version does not support scaling up or growth.
Best Free CRM for Startups – Project Management Tools
Many tools offer data organization and management capabilities. However, by making a few tweaks, users can utilize their abilities and pre-made templates as CRM. Let’s look at a few of these:
Although Airtable is more of a data management tool, users can use its free templates to convert their workplace into a full-fledged CRM. It offers sales cycle templates, opportunities, and accounts with its unlimited and 100% free individual plan.
With the free version, users can have all the fundamental CRM features, 100 workflow automations, five users per plan, and 2-week revision history.
Airtable allows one sync integration and one extension to ease up the workflow. Some of the integrations available with the free plans are Google Calendar, Zendesk, Box, and Hootsuite, along with native Airtable extensions such as Pivot table, Vega-Lite, CSV import, etc.
The free version of Airtable does not allow customizations or unlimited integrations and has a 2GB attachment space per base. Once the space runs out, shifting to the paid plan becomes inevitable.
ClickUp is another project management tool that offers fully editable templates to set up a CRM. Users can customize their views in lists, tables, boards, and calendars. It has custom task fields for keeping information organized and lists to keep track of important leads and accounts.
ClickUp offers unlimited members, tasks, collaboration on documents, in-built email and chat support, video recording, and 24/7 technical support with its free plan.
It provides 50+ native integrations and free integration with Zapier, Time Tracking, and Integromat, which are unavailable with most full-fledged free CRMs.
ClickUp is the best free CRM for startups; however, the free version limits the users on customizations, mainstream integrations, and added layer of much-needed security. While users can invite unlimited guests, they will have full edit permissions, putting their work at risk, and there is only 100MB of storage available. Once you get past the free version, you may want to upgrade so be aware of ClickUp pricing.
Notion has pre-made templates to turn itself into a CRM. Users can keep company contacts, track emails and phone calls and manage leads, prospects and clients. If the users plan to shift to another system, it provides an easy export feature for data transferring.
Notion provides multiple dashboard views, 50+ templates, real-time collaboration, up to 5 guests, and versions of its tools for web, desktop, and mobile app with its free plan.
However, the feature that differentiates Notion is its offering of APIs and integrations on all plans. Users can connect with Zapier, Google Calendar, Gmail, Jira, Slack, and in-built Notion integrations to ease their activities and automate their tasks.
While Notion is an excellent free CRM, its personal plans allow only one user, 5MB of file uploads, no workspace collaboration, lesser security, and no technical support by the company. Eventually you’ll need to know Notion pricing if you’ll outgrow the free version.
Asana is a project management tool but has many features to convert it into a lightweight CRM. It provides pre-made sales templates and divides the workplace into tasks (for one member per customer) or projects (for multiple members per customer).
Asana has no limit on most of its free features, including unlimited tasks, projects, messages, activity logs, and file storage. With its multiple views (lists, tables, and board), collaborative environment, and in-built notes and tracking, it works excellently for startups and individual businessmen alike.
Users can enjoy time-tracking facilities with integrations such as Harvest Time Tracking and more than 100+ integrations with the free plan, including Slack, G-Suite, and Outlook, without paying a single penny.
However, users must upgrade to the paid plans for further customizations, a higher level of automations, increased security, and no limitations on the number of dashboards, projects, fields, and other customizations. Asana has a great free offering but if your company grows, you may not need that free startup crm anymore so it’s important to know the Asana pricing plans.
Best CRM for Startups When Starting Out – Excel or Google Sheets:
New startups not only have a limited budget but continuously change and grow. With so much uncertainty and unknown waters, connecting the business to a SaaS CRM is not wise.
Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel may be basic, but they can work as a powerful tools for newly launched businesses. Businesses can begin by tracking contacts, opportunities, valuable leads, and other relevant information. Initially, all a business needs is organization of deals and data instead of automation and AI. Users can do this quickly with these tools. Plus, they are entirely customizable; unlike most SaaS CRM systems, there is no limit on the number and types of fields and workbooks.
Using these tools initially gives businesses a feel of how their business works with a CRM and helps them determine the tools they will require. This way, they can make a good selection when scaling their CRM to paid software.
The Verdict On The Best Free CRM For Startups:
Startups can find many free CRM options in the market and use them for an unlimited amount of time. However, they would eventually need to upgrade to a paid version, which can be extremely costly. This is what you need to consider. Free CRMs for startups can be a trap because once you use the free CRM for your startup, you may be locked in without making some major changes and doing some significant work.
There are companies that will help you transfer your CRM content from one CRM to another. There is also the consideration of your tech stack. If you use tools like ZoomInfo or Salesloft, they may not integrate with the free versions of the tools. Down the road you need to keep your tech stack in mind because software integration is key to a manageable workflow for your salespeople.
If you’re very early stage, i.e. just an idea and some affordable sales tools like Apollo or SalesIntel for a single founder, Excel or Google sheets might be your best.
Startups should make their initial choice of a SaaS CRM carefully –in fact, starting out with Google Sheets or Excel to determine which tools might integrate well with their workflow can result in informed decision-making and zero resource losses.
If you’re in Investor relations you might want to check out our guide on the Best CRMs for Investor Relations and if you need a call center CRM: Best Call Center CRMs – And if you’re a Gmail user, check out The Best CRM for Gmail. Best CRM for Freelancers