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Zoho CRM alternatives: 6 CRMs for sales and growth

When something seems too good to be true, it’s time to check the user reviews.

For those who haven’t heard of Zoho—well, you probably have and just weren’t aware of it. Zoho is a multinational technology company that provides web-based business solutions ranging from slide decks to recruitment to inventory management, and just about everything in between.

Zoho Corp does a lot of stuff

Zoho was founded in 1996 under the name AdventNet, back when the internet made your computer emit cartoon noises, and data was stored on things called floppy disks (which weren’t even floppy) that held a couple megabytes. Adobe Photoshop, for example, required over a dozen floppy disks to install on your computer.

So back then, in the days before Google Docs, it made sense to pay a company like Zoho for a web-based word processor: It meant fewer floppy disks to stuff into your computer. Or, for an enterprise, fewer floppy disks to stuff into 1,000 computers.

And Zoho’s growth continued. In 2005, it released Zoho CRM, followed by Projects and Sheets in 2006, and Zoho Meeting in 2007. The next year it reached one million users, and would reach 50 million users in 2020.

The purpose of this article is to outline Zoho CRM specifically, as it pertains to comparable CRMs in terms of pricing and features.

What’s with all the blocks?

Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM is Zoho’s magnum opus in the Saas world, and is relied on by over 150,000 businesses across 180 countries. It offers basic contact management functionality, including automation, like converting website visitors into leads automatically.

Its pipeline management features aren’t lackluster either, offering users a choice between a standard list view, or an easily-readable chart view as well. Its users also enjoy the ability to create multiple sales pipelines, customize reports, and integrate with third-party software through native integrations and Zaps where the integrations fall short.

But Zoho CRM also has its limitations. For instance, companies are only allowed 1GB of data for the entire organization, and additional data costs extra. The pipeline doesn’t feature a drag-and-drop board, which would make quick pipeline management much easier.

Additionally, personalized onboarding costs organizations a starting price of $600, which actually dissuades small-to-medium businesses from enrolling. For contrast, Nutshell’s live support, onboarding, personalized webinars, administrator demos, etc., are always free, because Nutshell wants its users to get the maximum value out of its CRM.

Starter: $14/mo

Full package: $52/mo

Notable features:

  • Integration with other Zoho apps
  • In-CRM emailing (limited #/users)
  • Dashboards and reporting
  • Integrates with Microsoft and Outlook
  • Workflow management

Watch out for: The resounding user complaint is that Zoho’s support is not very good. Due to this, users report purchasing the software and still not being up-and-running after weeks. Furthermore, getting full use out of the software “requires custom development,” even after enrolling employees in Zoho’s expensive training.

See also: Nutshell vs. Zoho, a head-to-head comparison

Zoho alternatives

When you need a replacement for Zoho, you have several options. Here are the top 6 Zoho alternatives:

1. Nutshell

The Nutshell Campaigns “hype trailer.” ^

Nutshell: $16/user/month (billed annually), $19/user/month (billed monthly)

Full package (Pro): $42/user/month (billed annually), $49/user/month (billed monthly)

Notable features:

  • Automated sales pipelines
  • Interactive map view and drag-and-drop lead board
  • Comprehensive contact filtering and sorting
  • Automated personal email sequences
  • Native email marketing suite (additional cost based on your number of contacts)
  • Embeddable webforms
  • Integrations with Gmail, Office 365, Outlook, QuickBooks Online, and Slack (among many others)
  • Free onboarding and live support
  • Get a full Nutshell vs Zoho comparison

Summary: Nutshell is an all-in-one sales and marketing platform that helps sales teams close more deals faster. Powerful enough to support any element of your business and simple enough to implement without a paid admin or IT department, Nutshell is favored among small to medium-sized companies who know better than to overpay for software they’ll never use.

Furthermore, Nutshell’s features often outshine the competitors’ in terms of both usability and comprehensiveness, according to customer reviews.

Nutshell also offers a fully-fledged email marketing suite that integrates directly with CRM data, meaning no copying and pasting email addresses back and forth. In Nutshell, email marketing recipients’ activity is displayed directly on their timeline, making communication between sales and marketing teams completely built-in.

Watch out for: Users indicate that the feel of the mobile application doesn’t match the PC interface with which they are familiar.

New in 2022: Nutshell Forms now allows users to create beautiful, custom forms to be hosted on any website or landing page. All information captured by Nutshell Forms is beamed directly into the CRM, completely hassle-free. How will you use forms?


Want to kick the tires a bit?

No problem. To see if Nutshell is the right choice for your sales team, start a 14-day free trial today!


2. Salesforce CRM

Starter: $25/mo

Full package: $300/mo

Notable features:

  • Workflow customization tools
  • Comprehensive analytics
  • Marketing leads management
  • Buyers’ journey mapping

Summary: Salesforce is a comprehensive software solution platform centered around its lead management and CRM functionality. With Salesforce CRM and its associated cloud applications it’s possible to do just about anything: Customer journey-related custom sales workflows, plugin application builders, and integrations with your existing systems, to name a few. Be warned that the basic setup fee starts around $5,000, but if you want the above-mentioned functionality, your setup will start at $50,000.

Watch out for: Salesforce charges double its enterprise price ($150/user) for the version with unlimited support. According to users, this is because the software is extremely difficult to use and requires constant interaction with Salesforce representatives. Furthermore, very few of the (costly) add-ons actually apply to small or medium-sized businesses.

Required reading: Salesforce contracts, explained: 7 things to know before signing

3. HubSpot

Starter: Free starter version

Full package: $120/mo (Sales Hub)

Notable features:

  • Website landing page builder
  • Customer journey-based workflows
  • Sales and marketing email template builder
  • Sales and marketing management tools

Summary: HubSpot is a CRM, marketing automation tool, and customer service hub all built into one. With HubSpot, you can create custom web pages, (not included with the CRM) forms, and emails, and tie them together into complicated, automated workflows. HubSpot works for sales and marketing teams who can afford it, but leaves the rest of its potential customers high and dry.

Watch out for: Don’t be fooled by the free version—it’s barely more functional than an excel workbook. If you want to use all of HubSpot’s features, it’s going to cost a small fortune, because HubSpot’s true functionality only occurs when two or more full suites are linked together. Furthermore, those who aren’t HTML pros will need HubSpot to design their marketing pages for them.

Read the deep dive: Why is HubSpot so expensive?

4. Copper CRM

Starter: $19

Full package: $119/mo

Notable features:

  • CRM that relies on Google apps
  • Google Hangouts-based chatbot
  • Chrome extension, Gmail inbox, Gsuite app support

Summary: Copper CRM is an interesting approach to CRMs entirely. Copper CRM advertises itself as a “relational CRM” as opposed to a “transactional CRM,” and its focus is to exist solely in the Gsuite space to facilitate faster and more effective use of the Google app suite.

Watch out for: Copper is designed for Google users only, so it won’t play nicely with any of your non-Google software. Also, Copper CRM’s onboarding is expensive and is only included in their most expensive version.

5. Insightly

Starter: $29/mo

Full package: $99/mo

Notable features:

  • Integrates with Gsuite, Microsoft, Mailchimp
  • Custom dashboards
  • Sales pipeline builder
  • Opportunity reports

Summary: Insightly is a CRM favored by companies with straightforward sales processes. Its simple user interface allows for the creation of custom sales pipelines and provides all the functionality needed to manage them. Insightly offers strong filtering that allows large lists to be sorted into manageable groups.

Watch out for: Insightly has extremely pricy onboarding and support plans, without which many of their customers wouldn’t be able to use the software. Users also report slow loading times and lackluster or unusable sales reports.

6. Monday CRM (Honorable mention)

Starter: Free

Full package: $16/mo

Notable features:

  • CRM sales dashboard
  • Multiple sales pipelines
  • Contact management

Summary: Monday CRM is a UI template that makes Monday’s project management software look like a CRM, but it’s not functional enough to support real sales teams. Monday CRM offers a novel way to view project management data as user interfaces that look like sales pipelines, contact lists, etc., but in most cases it’s only one click deep. However, Monday CRM is great for reporting and building custom dashboards—features that the existing project management suite supports inherently.

Watch out for: Users on review sites are quick to indicate that Monday CRM “isn’t a real CRM,” and at this stage in its development isn’t actually worth considering.

Check out the full Monday CRM review: A case of the Mondays: Comparing a CRM template to a real CRM


Turn website visitors into sales leads

Design and embed simple web forms, track their effectiveness, and quickly reach out to form-fillers, all out of Nutshell.



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