Can your sales team be fully effective with a free online CRM?

Free CRMs are never really free. Any money you save up front, you’ll lose in productivity and effectiveness.

As with all things in life, you get what you pay for. Free online CRMs can be helpful for companies new to CRM who want to learn the ropes, but offer limited features and low user caps, making them essentially useless for growing sales teams.

We took a look at six notable free CRM software platforms to see if they really have everything you’d need to make your sales team fully effective.

Agile CRM Free

Notable features: Lead scoring, appointment scheduling, two-way email integration
User limit: 10
Drawbacks: Reporting not included, email and phone support not included, no other integrations available besides email

HubSpot CRM

Notable features: Automatic data scouring, pipeline customization, up to 1,000,000 contacts/records
User limit: none
Drawbacks: No live customer support, full reporting features require a $200/month add-on charge, phone calls from the CRM are limited to 15 minutes per month. (Yeah, that’s…not enough.)

Insightly Free

Notable features: Lead capturing from email and web forms, custom reports, free integration with Quickbooks Online or Xero
User limit: 2
Drawbacks: No live customer support, no calendar or contact sync, only 200 MB of file storage

Really Simple Systems Free

Notable features: Custom reports, email and online chat support, API integration
User limit: 2
Drawbacks: Contact records limited to 100 company accounts, only 100 MB of file storage available, no phone support

Vtiger Open Source CRM

Notable features: Multiple dashboards, advanced tax calculations on quotes and invoices, the ability to view any dated record on your calendar
User limit: none
Drawbacks: The open source version of Vtiger comes completely unconfigured, and includes very little out of the box; support is limited to online user forums; migration assistance starts at $450 and team onboarding assistance starts at $690

Zoho Free

Notable features: Advanced filters, social media integrations, document attachments
User limit: 10
Drawbacks: No file storage for individual users, no live support, no dashboards

Which CRM has the features you need?

Our interactive worksheet compares the benefits offered by Nutshell, your existing contact management solution, and any other CRMs you’re currently evaluating.


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Six CRM benefits you can’t do without

CRMs are designed to increase sales effectiveness, which the Aberdeen Group defines as, “the ability of a company’s sales reps to ‘win’ at each stage of the buying process, and earn business on the right terms and in the right timeframe.”

Here are some essential CRM features that your sales team will need in order to be effective—and which you might not find in a free online CRM:

Unlimited users. Selecting a CRM with no user limit ensures that you’ll always have capacity for everyone in your company who needs access. This includes sales, service, management, and marketing. You don’t want to leave anyone out!

Unlimited contacts and data storage. Make sure you select a CRM that can grow along with your organization. CRM data usage can add up quickly. No data limits means you’ll never outgrow your CRM.

Sales reporting and analytics. CRM reports help sales managers make informed decisions about sales strategy as well as coach their teams more effectively. Make sure you choose a CRM that allows your sales team to understand the impact of their sales activities, as well as create custom reports so they can quickly find the numbers that matter most to them.

Fully customizable sales process. CRMs with a fully customizable sales process help reps know what needs to happen next on every deal, so they can focus more on closing instead of task management. Not only does this speed up onboarding of new reps, it simplifies sales management by providing greater insight into individual reps’ effectiveness.

Free, live customer support. You shouldn’t need to pay extra to have questions answered by real human beings. Your CRM’s customer support staff should be easily accessible by phone, email, or online chat. This will increase your team’s adoption of CRM and make everyone more comfortable with its use.

A wide range of integrations. Select a CRM that integrates with the business software you already use, so your sales reps won’t have to leave their CRM every time they need to send an email, view their appointment calendar, or make a phone call. Their productivity will improve when they can do everything in one place.

Does your free CRM provide all of that? If not, try Nutshell free for 14 days!

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