Just so we’re all on the same page, a CRM system is a customer relationship management system. We make ourselves a system or strategy so we can manage our client interactions, future and current clients and make sure we maintain these relationships that help to keep us in business. We know life can be pretty hectic and the curve balls that sometimes get thrown at us can upset our daily routines. So it’s always preferable when we can use something that helps to make our lives a little easier, right? Enter CRM systems. They help to manage and analyse our client interactions and data throughout the relationship to help improve business relationships so we can keep loyal clients.

It’s really important to know though, what you want to achieve with your CRM system and what factors are key. They can help to improve customer relations, increase customer revenues, maximise up-selling and cross-selling, help improve internal communication and optimise marketing. So you’d be amiss to not at least consider using one for your business.

Our CRM System shortlist

We know it can be difficult making another decision that works well for your business but, since the beginning of the year we’ve looked at CRMs extensively and here’s a shortlist of ones we believe are worth looking at and the system we ultimately went with.  


pipedrive CRM system

Pipedrive is a web based CRM system. It’s ideal for small businesses to track sales activity and monitor leads. Visually I really like the way you can see the sales pipeline with leads in different stages and the mobile app for making notes on the go is good.

It is one of the most efficient and user-friendly systems that you can use because it allows you to see your teams progress to prioritise deals and what’s being offered to clients. Added bonus? It’s got a mobile app for on the go where you can take notes.

In terms of pricing, the basic option is less than £10 per user per month. One of the benefits is that there’s no contract tie in and you can try it for free first. Overall, there aren’t many negative comments to say. Some features can’t be changed and maybe some of the designs could be brighter but we wanted overall control and if we don’t need some features it takes up time and space having them there unfortunately.


Base CRM

base crm system

This CRM system is somewhat more expensive than Pipedrive, starting at about $45 per user per month. It is a little more intuitive with lots of bolt on features that you can add and upgrade at any time. But if they’ve got over 7000 happy customers globally it must be worth a look, right? You can request a free demo to see if it’s really going to work for your business for 14 days that provides access to training webinars and full-featured apps. As ever with these things, the more you pay the more you get out of it but it’s still a great option if you’re looking for a simple CRM solution. Customisation is limited though. If you want more detailed automation, reporting, intelligent analytics and permissions you’re going to have to pay for it.


Hubspot CRM

hubspot crm system

This CRM is free – that’s for unlimited number of users and contacts. It beautifully integrates with other systems such as Gmail, Google calendar and web forms (the others do to) and you can see all the notes for a lead in one place which is handy. There are separate sale and marketing pages which makes it easy to control interactions with potentials vs returning customers. You can have filters for your tasks such as status, time or type so you can focus on the ones that are most important to you. There are also a whole host of videos out there answering almost every question you might have about Hubspot. When you pay nothing for something so useful, it’s difficult to find the negatives!


Insightly CRM

insightly crm system

Starts off free for 2 users and goes up to about $29 per user per month after that. It’s pretty good, does everything a simple CRM would do. It doesn’t link with emails for organisations and individuals, which is a bit of a problem when this is often a main point of contact and project management and timelines seem a little difficult with this platform. I didn’t love the design of this so we went for a different option.



freshsales crm system

This is another system I liked, it was easy to use. There’s a basic free version and then for more features the prices start from $12 per month per user. Visually the sales pipeline was great, again you could see leads in each stage in one screen which I liked. There isn’t one specific reason Freshsales didn’t make the cut, as with anything it takes time to get to know how to best use these systems and make the most out of them, we just had another preference!


Which CRM System did we choose?

In summary, we went with Hubspot. Not just because it’s free (obviously they try up-sell you other products) but it works and there’s some tracking intelligence from the website so you can see what companies have visited your website and will tell you if a lead came from Google search, PPC and so on. For email marketing and newsletter sign ups, mass sending, we recommend MailChimp. There’s no better email provider for this.

The CRM to watch is definitely Base CRM. They are a fast growing company with big ambitions and will be interesting to see what they do, they are trying to disrupt the market and the big guys like Salesforce.

Another useful tool to own is Autopilot. This software integrates with mailchimp and does rely on you having a dataset of customers (although with the CRM this builds quickly). What is does is enable you to set up a customer journey from enquiry/ prospect to repeat customer. It takes the burden off having to constantly send follow up emails or feedback forms etc. You essentially group the customers and set up the journey and Autopilot does the rest. An example would be for a new enquiry as follows:

Contact form sent →thank you email/ text message→Brochure sent→travel tips ebook→phone call→call summary email→next steps/ ideas

You get to set the delays and time gaps between each interaction with your customers. It definitely works for us and there is always the option to upgrade without being pressured to do so which is pretty refreshing these days.

One final thing? Don’t forget about GDPR coming into place in May. Yes, these CRM systems are making our lives easier but it’s also storing people’s personal data. Just make sure they know you’re keeping their information stored and what you’re doing with it otherwise you could face a hefty fine. Stay tuned for our GDPR checklist in the next few weeks.