The Software Report is pleased to announce The Top 25 CRM Software of 2020. Awardees were selected based on hundreds of nominations submitted through our site, which provided us with deep insight into each software solution's effectiveness, feature set, uniqueness and overall user satisfaction. In addition, The Software Report evaluated each software company's history and evolution, management team caliber and ability to draw in top tier customers as well as capital support from investors. Please join us in congratulation this year's awardees.
Founded in 1999 by former Oracle exec Marc Benioff, David Moellenhoff, Frank Dominguez, and Parker Harris, Salesforce started with a "No Software" sales pitch that caught attention and sparked a cloud computing revolution. With their SaaS-based automation software designed to help sales teams manage their customer relationships, the company is growing at an annual estimated rate of 25 percent year-over-year. In 2019, the company reported $15.8 billion in revenue, up from $13.3 billion in 2019.
As the world's most well-known CRM platform, the company's flagship product is its Salesforce Customer 360. Designed as a way for companies to integrate their marketing, sales, commerce, and IT teams, it provides users with a robust set of tools that automates functions, analyzes data, and offers insights. While big names like Southwest Airlines, Unilever, Adidas, AWS, and State Farm have signed on to streamline their processes, the company also offers options for start-ups and smaller businesses. Outfits like task manager Asana and positive workplace builder Humu are using Salesforce Essentials to run their businesses.
Co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shaw met while they were studying at MIT, and while other students might have been making plans for their weekend, Halligan and Shaw were planning out an online marketing platform. Hubspot was a labor of passion and emerged slowly out of the continued efforts of both founders. The first iteration of the Cambridge-based business was the HubSpot blog, something the founders used to spread the word about their upcoming inboard marketing solution. They’ve successfully grown their company into the kind of CRM platform that their customers can trust to help them close deals.
The HubSpot platform offers cloud-based, inbound marketing software that includes social media publishing, monitoring, blogging, SEO, website content management, email marketing, marketing automation, and reporting and analytics. According to Halligan, "inbound" marketing is a very intentional distinction: "It was founded on 'inbound', the notion that people don't want to be interrupted by marketers or harassed by salespeople – they want to be helped."
The company currently supports over 68,800 customers in about 100 countries, including DoorDash, Atlassian, VMware, and Subaru.
3. Freshsales (Freshworks)
Freshsales is an India-based CRM software solution that was originally intended as a way for its parent company, Freshworks, to manage the myriad of moving parts within their own sales process. The software serves as a single point of access for maintaining customer engagement and tracks thousands of leads without losing the user-friendly functionality.
Born in the temple town of Tiruchirapalli (Trichy) in South India, Girish Mathrubootham needed to overcome more than a few challenges in his early life before moving on to launch Freshworks in 2010. FreshWorks, and its Freshsales counterpart, became front-runners for India’s burgeoning SaaS market and a beacon of light to other budding tech entrepreneurs.
Despite having to compete against billion-dollar Silicon Valley CRM empires, Freshsales wins customer loyalty by maintaining an impeccable product and service reputation. It's a sleek, powerful system that never sacrifices on user experience, and that has paid off for Mathrubootham’s clients. Now, Freshsales serves over 15,000 customers, including Dyson, GardaWorld, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, and Joblift.
SugarCRM believes that emancipating their users from CRM data entry servitude is key to customer loyalty. They promise to deliver a personalized user experience for every individual that engages with their solutions, regardless of their employment role. Everyone from sellers, marketers, customer support agents, administrative staff, and executives will find that Sugar offers a streamlined service across any device.
The idea for SugarCRM originally came to California-based John Taylor while he was riding his all-terrain bike named Sugar through the Santa Cruz Mountains. Clint Oram and Jacob Taylor joined Taylor in 2004 and began working on their open-source project that April. Currently, over 2 million customers spanning 120 countries rely on the Cupertino-based company for sales force automation, marketing campaigns, customer support, collaboration, mobile CRM, social CRM, and reporting.
Some of their most notable clients include Tetley Tea, Sennheiser, and Google Play.
Canadian-based NexJ Systems is a market leader in cloud-based enterprise CRM solutions. Instead of trying to be all things to all customers, the customer relationship management company caters specifically to the financial services, insurance, and healthcare industries. NexJ strives to put people at the center of all their services while still ensuring their industry-specific offerings meet the needs of their niche markets.
NexJ was founded in 2003 by William Tatham after US-based Siebel Systems scooped up his business software startup Jana Systems in 2000. Touted as a pioneer of intelligent customer management, the firm supports a vast global community of customers spread across 60 countries. They leverage the new trend in providing specialized tools for what Forrester describes as "differentiated customer experiences." This advantage enables NexJ to better “align people, processes, and technology to enable organizations to better serve and support customers during their engagement journey.”
In 2015, NexJ spun out its healthcare CRM as a way to focus their efforts and drive more significant innovation within the industry. The new entity is now owned by a completely new corporation called NexJ Health Holdings. NexJ Systems would continue to operate as a finance and insurance software provider. Royal Bank of Canada, Wells Fargo Advisors, Credit Suisse and HSBC represent some of their higher-profile customers.
Sell boldly where no sale has gone before. That is what the San Francisco CRM provider wants to help their customers’ sales teams do with the help of Insightly platform. It’s a versatile platform that provides options for customization and feeds for tracking sales progress. According to techradar.com’s review of their cloud-based service, the Insightly platform offers an extensive array of tools for leads management, sales funnel, and reporting. While it might be overwhelming for the beginner user, there is a wealth of opportunity for users looking to customize their CRM experience.
Anthony Smith first came upon the idea for Insightly while reclining on a Bali beach. He was musing about what he wanted to do next after he sold his startup to his business partner. Smith thought that a CRM explicitly geared to small and medium-sized businesses would be just the thing. He launched Insightly in 2009 from his Australian hometown of Perth. He moved his family to Silicon Valley in 2012 after realizing he was tired of getting up at 3 am to speak with business partners like Google.
Today, Insightly has more than 25,000 companies and 1.5 million users worldwide. Organizations like Discount Rental Cars, Denver Public Schools, and Global Presence Alliance trust Insightly with their CRM needs.
Launched in 2009 as an online place that customers could call home, Apptivo is a cloud-based CRM suite designed to help users take their businesses to the next level. From their platform, clients can build contact lists, create email campaigns, and track analytics. The sales functionality allows for streamlined contact management, sales pipeline, automation, and reporting.
Apptivo offers a customer forward pricing structure. Instead of offering prices per tool or service, the Belmont-based company has chosen to make its entire platform available to users for a flat per-month rate. Customers can choose how to access several solutions possible without losing sleep about incurring additional costs. They deliver value to their customers without sacrificing flexibility.
Apptivo was initially intended as a small-to-medium business solution but includes customizable and scalable options for niche markets and larger organizations. They serve over 150,000 businesses from 193 countries.
As a CRM serving a rather specialized market, StayinFront is purpose-built for customers working within the life sciences and consumer goods sectors. Their mobile solutions are designed specifically for field reps on the go – incorporating advanced analytics and reporting, navigational capabilities, and real-time updates on new customer leads.
StayinFront is headquartered in Fairfield, New Jersey, with additional offices located in nine other countries. In 2000, Thomas Buckley started StayinFront with a mission to solve business problems through tech-innovation. Their software is deployed across six continents, 50 countries, and in 26 different languages. They are trusted by some of the biggest names in the consumer goods and life sciences sectors, including Loreal, Ferrero, General Mills, and Dare.
In addition to their strengths as a CRM provider, StayinFront was an early adopter of eco-friendly technology for use in its facilities. In 2010, Buckley announced the company’s intent to install technologically advanced solar panels at the corporate headquarters in Fairfield. The new system will power the CRM’s data center, the hub of its on-demand CRM platform. “Our business is built upon innovative technology, so our desire to have StayinFront be among the first CRM software providers powered by a renewable energy source was just a natural extension of our corporate philosophy,” Buckley added.
9. Zoho CRM
Only those living in the deepest recesses of a sub-Saharan jungle may have somehow missed out on what Zoho can offer to the CRM market sector. Founded by Chennai-born Sridhar Vembu in 1996, Zoho can be considered an elder statesman amongst the cloud-based customer relationship software set. Nevertheless, Zoho stays competitive with a robust, lead and contact management tool that is coupled with its well-known invoicing and billing application. They have created a rich and diverse ecosystem of applications so that customers can choose only the tools they need their business, ranging from their CRM suite, email marketing, social media management, and other offerings.
Zoho’s charismatic co-founder and CEO Sridhar Vembu is India’s answer to Salesforce’s Marc Benioff. He’s no stranger to challenging the Silicon Valley status quo – such as his outspoken criticism of so-called unicorn valuations – but he has his formula for success that's reflected in Zoho’s steady growth. The CRM provider drives customer value through their commitment to ongoing research & development, an understated marketing plan, reasonable pricing, and a lean financial strategy that keeps the coffers full.
Initially created for the SMB crowd, Zoho has since started attracting larger enterprise organizations. More than 50 million users access the CRM, including Amazon, Facebook, KPMG, and HP.
The problem that California-based Ontraport is trying to solve can be best summed up by its founder and CEO Landon Ray, “Typically, entrepreneurs and small businesses add technology in a piecemeal fashion as they grow and discover the need for it…slowly cobbling together an unwieldy collection of technologies that just don’t work together.”
In 2006, Ray gathered together with two friends to solve that small business problem. Against a backdrop of the Santa Barbara hills, they settled into a yurt, found a sketchy internet connection, and got to work on their Ontraport project. In the end, they created a solution that served a niche that fell somewhere between all the single service offerings and epic CRM suites available on the market. Ontraport provides its customers with an automation app that manages selling, marketing, and business operations all in one place.
Like some of Ontraport’s competitors, some users initially find the number of options overwhelming. Nevertheless, many customers agree that signing on with the CRM firm was a significant factor in increasing sales numbers.
11. Agile CRM
Run that business like the Fortune 500, says cloud-based provider AgileCRM. This CRM solution has it all for the tech-savvy entrepreneur, including capabilities for contact management, marketing automation, web analytics, telephony, 2-way emails, real-time alerts, and much more. Equipped with drag-and-drop options for automating workflows, composing emails, and generating reports, the India-based firm promises to make running a small business smooth. Also, AgileCRM integrates with many of the top SaaS solutions, like ClickDesk, Zendesk, Stripe, LinkedIn, Twitter, Freshbooks, and many more.
Manohar Chapalamadugu founded his SaaS-based marketing suite in 2013 after realizing there was something missing while he was trying to grow his online IT support business ClickDesk. He realized there was nothing available to the small business for streamlining the process of tracking leads and engaging customers. Chapalamadugu set out to create a system that would give the little guy a competitive edge without the hefty price tag. While they were beginning to scale up, the founder chose to buck convention and passed on setting up a US-based office.
“During our initial stage, we were advised to open in the US as it was assumed that that was where all the action was,” Chapalamadugu explained. “[B]ut we decided to run all the operations from India and first focus on the product and then plan global offices,” he said. It turned out to be the right decision, and the company opened up a Dallas location two years later when the time was right, and they were expanding. They now serve more than 15,000 customers worldwide, including Indeed, Fidelity Bank, and freelancer finder site PeoplePerHour.
12. Redtail Technology
Named for the founder’s russet-colored canine, Redtail Technology is a CRM provider that understands that success starts with their workers. "Our employees are our greatest asset," said CEO Brian McLaughlin. "We attribute our explosive growth to our warm company culture, unparalleled service, and offerings we provide to… [our customers]."
It all started in 2003 when co-founders Brian McLaughlin and Andy Hernandez realized there was a need for an online CRM tool that provided anytime, anywhere access to a financial advisor’s client and calendar information. They are proud to say that they were the first cloud-based CRM for financial advisors. Like many other customer relationship management offerings, Redtail allows users to track task assignments with automated workflows. The software integrates well with many other online products, including those specialized options used by advisors. They also offer a robust reporting tool with both standardized and customized functionality.
Because customer satisfaction is central to its business, the Cupertino-based company offers free IT support for their products. For those firms that are tired of fighting with tinny-voiced robot assistants, Redtail points to their 90 percent live call rate and 96.7 percent customer satisfaction as proof that they are there to make life easier for their clients. Redtail counts companies like New York-based Heron Wealth and other financial services firms as part of their family.
Rising software star ActiveCampaign is making an impression with both customers and investors as a recent $100 million funding round led by Susquehanna Growth Equity shows. With an expected strong annual growth rate, ActiveCampaign is blazing a trail in the CRM market with its customer experience automation platform. They have pledged themselves to help businesses automate all the behind the scenes work that ends up being the drudge work employees avoid at all costs.
Founded by Jason VandeBoom in 2003, ActiveCampaign empowers customers to manage their customer relationships and run campaigns. As the CEO explains, the platform leverages AI and machine learning to provide customized insights into the distinct experiences that each customer generates as they interact with the technology. To make information more accessible, ActiveCampaign offers a visual automation map so customers can stay informed. Interestingly, the CRM provider offers split-testing – a process where up to five emails with different content, images, and calls to action are sent out – and then track conversion rate, opens, and other statistics for better success.
The Chicago-based company is mostly focused on serving SMBs but offers options that would appeal to even the largest enterprises. Some of their small business clients include Morrow Audio, Venture Harbour, and Thinkific.
Data is driving business today, but without the right tools to break down the figures, most entrepreneurs are reduced to making guesses about their marketing strategies. But co-founder Jon Lee believes that CRM software can do better than organize information, “There’s this notion that software is primarily something you have to work for,” he said. Lee lists all tasks involved with traditional applications, like data entry, switching between screens, and navigating complex interfaces.
There is a new way of thinking about software, however. "The trend you're seeing today is that instead of working for my software, what if my software worked for me?" That's where Copper comes in, and it's the only CRM designed specifically for integrating with G Suite. By allowing users to work within their Gmail inbox, it offers an intuitive user experience that is easy for customers to understand.
The San Francisco-based CRM offers options for tracking leads, managing projects, building pipelines, tracing emails and tasks, and reporting/insights. They support over 10,000 teams and small businesses around the world.
CRMNext picks up where other customer relationship managers leave off with seamless integration between users and their digital interface. Founded by Nishant Singh, Manoj Kumar, and Bidhan Chowdhary in 2002, the company provides clients with a range of sales & service automation, operations management, digital applications, and reporting analytic tools bundled offered on one platform.
As the financial industry presents with a Byzantine system of rules and regulations, organizations working within the sector require a CRM that can meet the challenge of managing complex processes and integrations. According to Next, their cloud-based offering helps companies do this by reducing buying and service turnaround time by 90 percent. Additionally, it increases the efficiency of business operations by 60 percent without sacrificing flexibility or quality.
Designed with those working in the financial sector in mind, Next empowers its customers to "do instead of view" with the CRM's easy-to-use tools. They provide services to any business from start-ups to Fortune 500 and count Pfizer, ICICI Bank, National Bank of Oman, Banco de Oro Philippines as amongst their clients.
Spark451 is helping higher education recruit the best and brightest to their schools with the help of their intelligent admissions marketing and technology platform. Traditional CRMs focus on customer brand loyalty and judge success by products purchased, but academic institutions work differently, and so should their customer relationship software. Enter Spark451, the only cloud-based platform customized to reflect the long-term relationships of their customers – starting from high school up to alumni, and beyond. Another dimension comes from how relationships evolve with the students, parents, extended family, and branches out from there.
"It takes a CRM system to personalize communications to the student life cycle," said Cathy O'Bryan, associate vice president of client services and support at Indiana University. With that in mind, Spark is breaking the CRM mold with a system that communicates through the student's entire life cycle. Spark451 provides an integrated system that doesn't require handovers between recruitment, admissions, enrollment, and alumni/donor relations – thus providing rich and meaningful data for institutions. Post-secondary institutions are Spark’s primary buyers.
X marks the education spot with TargetX’s innovative CRM solutions designed specifically for those charged with building relationships and fostering communication both on and off-campus. Colleges are often prone to creating silos of information, duplication of efforts, and challenges with organizing, but TargetX’s CRM is here to help. “Many graduate schools are duplicating systems from department to department, which wastes time, money, and campus resources,” said CEO, Sasha Peterson.
Founded in 1998, TargetX's CRM is built on top of Salesforce's development platform and is the perfect solution for smaller colleges. To date, over 400 colleges and universities rely on TargetX to help build long-lasting relationships. Customers don't hesitate to trust the firm's top-flight customer service with all their needs. “We’re so pleased to provide the guidance and tools that can transform school’s productivity, response times, and application review – and help them focus on students,” Peterson added.
AtemisCloud is another seasoned veteran of the CRM market. Launched by Benoit Barrier in 1998, they offer both web and cloud-based management solutions that promise to cover any business need out there. Perhaps what's most impressive about the Delaware-based company is its commitment to the global community. They have 11 office locations on four continents and solutions available in 12 languages to serve 1,200 customers in 60 countries. They have a significant European presence that’s reflected in their customer list, which includes Renault, Bosch, Roche, Intercontinental, and KPMG.
Atemis delivers product offerings as modules so that clients can customize their services based on individual needs. In addition, Barrier's business has built many specialized solutions to serve different verticals, such as legal, consulting, real estate, healthcare, hospitality, and others.
According to founder Jon Ferrara, Mae West said it best with her famous quote: "Out of sight is out of mind and out of mind is out of money, honey." It's why CRM solutions are so important for… modern business and why Nimble is the right choice for those businesses. The Santa Monica-based firm is all about handing the routine tasks so companies can focus on being available to their customers.
With over 140,000 users on their platform, more than 10 million deals have been closed and hundreds of hours saved. Companies like Coldwell Banker, GoDaddy, UpWork, Tableau, and Crossfit trust Nimble to smooth out the complex business of managing customer relationships.
It’s the only CRM that builds itself, says Ferrara. The platform brings together the best solutions for relationship management, integrated communications, social media tools, and team collaboration to keep teams organized and efficient. Nimble also works well with businesses running G-suite and Microsoft Office 365 technology.
For those looking for a tech firm that has endured the trials and tribulations of decades in business, they need to look no further than Tigerpaw. As CEO James Foxall explains, they've been there and done that. "We understand the industry and the challenges that keep our customers up at night, and we're focused on helping them so they can build a better business."
In 1984, Doug Foxall started Tigerpaw as a computer consulting business that helped companies with anything ranging from networking systems to writing software. The big break came for the Nebraska-based IT firm when a telephone company contacted them about automating their entire operation. It's been the company’s ability to adapt and change that has led to its long-term success. In 2010, Doug Foxall passed the CEO torch to his son James Foxall, who has been running the company ever since.
Perhaps the best word to describe the CRM provider’s product offerings is comprehensive. Tigerpaw powers business for over 40,000 users, allowing them to manage, automate, and amalgamate their operations into one platform. They serve users from several industries, including IT services, voice & integrated communications, audio & visual installation, print providers, medical equipment, and security installation systems.
21. Less Annoying CRM
Less Annoying CRM (LAcrm) might not take themselves too seriously, but their love of small businesses is no laughing matter. They don't fuss with a fleet of features and avoid overly complicated interfaces that confuse more than clarify. It’s designed to flatten the learning curve and have their customers up and running in minutes. Less Annoying gives users a streamlined way to manage contacts, leads, notes, calendar, to-do’s, and other tasks.
What stands out about LAcrm is their commitment to customer service. According to their site, every person on the team from the newest hire to the company founders helps with responding to customer concerns. Brothers Bracken and Tyler King came to the idea for Less Annoying while Tyler was working for an insurance company. After fighting to get Salesforce adequately set up for the business, he built a mini-CRM their agents could use that caught the attention of the higher-ups. In 2009, he teamed up with his brother to create their CRM, and Less Annoying was born.
While there are many real estate movers and shakers, there is only one CRM that the successful broker needs. Powered by Salesforce, founder Vijay Mehra created Rethink as a CRM and deal management application that enhances the buying, selling, leasing, and managing property experience.
For a monthly fee, Clients can access Rethink's platform to streamline and automate many aspects of their business, so real estate professionals have more time for building authentic relationships. Rethink's markets to those working as commercial real estate brokers, but also provides solutions that benefit residential real estate agents.
The Texas-based firm believes that customers are at the heart of their business. When asked how Mehra ensures he’s providing a service his clients want, he said: “Constantly solicit feedback from your intended users/audience. And stay focused on executing against your vision.” Mehra’s proptech can count notable firms like CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield, NA Global, and Mohr Partners as amongst their client list.
According to Gartner, the CRM market segment is worth $40 billion, and it’s analytics, machine learning, and AI functionality that will separate the diamonds from the rough. In that spirit, Pipeline CRM stands ready to help companies reach their big, bold goals for the future. The software serves organizations of any size and is used by fast-growing businesses like Postmates, Fortumo, Blippar, and Falcon Social.
Pipedrive started in 2010 as a CRM for direct sales. As sales managers and trainers, the company's co-founders struggled with finding customer relationship software that fits with their needs. After hitting wall after wall, they teamed up with developers to create a sales-driven CRM, and Pipeline was born. The team must have tapped into a common pain point because Pipedrive now provides services to over 70,000 in 100+ countries.
In 2018, Pipeline launched an industry-specific CRM for financial services.
Headquartered in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, Workwise is committed to a "customer inspired" philosophy that helps them deliver a market-leading CRM that their users adore. Intended as a one-stop-shop for business operations, the cloud-based company ensures its offerings are both cost-effective and customizable.
Their flagship products, WorkWise ERP, and OnContact CRM, form the backbone of the tech firm’s solutions and are geared towards the discrete manufacturing industry. The customer relationship management portion of Workwise’s business was added after they acquired Wisconsin-based OnContact in 2012. The CRM addition provided a complementary array of services to the company's original offerings, and business has been booming ever since.
"Today's prospects are smarter and are doing their research prior to every talking with a salesperson," said Harry Mosesian, Workwise director of sales and market. “If you are not actively pursuing them with relevant content and an active CRM process, you are becoming invisible.”
Some of Workwise’s noteworthy clients include Toys R’Us, Vestcom, Pyramax bank, CBCInnovis.
Running a franchise system has never been more convenient with FranConnect Sky Sales - a CRM that delivers a complete solution that covers all the bases that franchisors rely on to be productive. It helps businesses keep potential franchisee partners involved through the entire development process and maximizes their close ration.
Like many CRMs that cater to a niche market, Sky Sales comes with features that matter most to their franchise executive clients. They optimize processes for tracking and reporting and simplify the electronic management of relevant information like the franchise disclosure documents. The platform also provides options for aligning sales and marketing strategies and streamlines early qualification tracking for franchisee candidates.
A recent statement reported that in 2019, FranConnect enjoyed its highest annual rate of growth in the company's 18-year history. With a 60 percent year-over-year increase in sales and the addition of 160 new brands, the firm now serves over 800 franchise brands and 148,000 franchisees.
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