This is not an umpteenth article riddled with affiliate links with deceptively free CRM solutions, or with hidden costs that arrive as early as the second week of use.
We are confronted with the problem quite regularly on various sides-projects: we need a semblance of CRM to manage activities (especially remotely, with the current health crisis).
However, “real” CRM solutions are not only too expensive but also far too comprehensive for a project that is just beginning.
In this article, we recommend 7 * free CRMs. They have been classified by the simplicity of configuration, from around thirty minutes for the first to a few hours for the last.
Why talk about the last one then?
Solutions that are more complex to set up will also survive your evolution longer, and the time invested in the beginning is quickly worth it, especially if you are counting on longer sales cycles.
Also, remember to favor solutions that will integrate well with the tools you plan for the future, and if there are any, that you master or already use.
1. Google Spreadsheets: the basic free CRM template
The most advanced relational CRM software has a set of tables:
- Organizations (accounts)
Google Spreadsheet is very light, very efficient, and has a reporting dashboard (see photo above). You can format and analyze data with standard spreadsheet tools, extract data from the web, and automatically run complex workflows.
- Set up in less than 30 minutes.
- Efficient reporting system.
- Resists rather badly to the evolution of the team. We have tried adding an “owner” column or consolidating several individual spreadsheets into one, but it takes a bit of tinkering and is sometimes a bit too simple.
2. Free CRM – Pipeline by Trello
If you’re used to Trello, you know the power of the tool is in automation. You can assign, pre-fill, and move cards automatically, set up deadlines, etc. Here are the main features that you will be able to use for free:
- Create a prospect or inbound lead management pipeline, adaptable to your team’s needs for any type of contact or customer relationship management.
- Organize contact information and notes on each prospect’s card.
- Keep assets in a centralized location by attaching all relevant documents, such as emails and follow-up requests.
- Keep business development on track by assigning team members and due dates to tasks, then watch the map move through the process from “In” to “Done”.
- The free CRM template is well designed and allows you to quickly see the automation to be put in place (for example the pre-appointment checklist, or the automatic arrival of leads when a contact form is processed).
- No real reporting in Trello outside of the kanban view. It will be necessary to set up other automation & to show a little creativity to adapt it to your commercial processes.
3. the most advanced free Trello CRM by Crmble
If you’re looking for a simple CRM tool that’s powerful enough to manage your sales pipeline, try Crmble. It’s an easy tool to learn, and setting up your Trello board will only take a few minutes. Here are the different features that you can find:
- Instantly access your customers’ contact details using the “Crmble fields”. A key feature that helps you stay organized and offers consistent data collection and great integration possibilities with third-party services.
- A popular Trello feature is the ability to import a CSV file into Trello and turn your lines into cards on your Trello boards. Easily migrate your contact list to your board with Crmble!
- Whether you use Google Forms, Typeform, Facebook Lead Ads, etc., You can synchronize your leads directly on your board thanks to Crmble.
- Start syncing your Trello card data with your Google account. Create a Google contact on demand from any Trello card or save your card attachments to your Google Drive
- It is a much more advanced tool and makes it easy to add the right layers of automation.
- A significantly more complex solution, and quite rigid.
- A good solution to guide you, but it will take prior knowledge of some CRM solutions on the market like Pipedrive.
4. Free CRM (light version) by Notion
Notion provides you with the basics that will allow you to create your layouts and toolbox to work with. Many people refer to Notion as an “internal wiki” allowing teams and individuals to plan their projects and track their work and goals throughout the process. This workspace allows you to:
- Create your wiki (with endless layers of content),
- Plan using a Kanban view, calendar, or a simple list view
- Capture your workflows and save everything that creates spreadsheets and databases.
In addition, Notion offers features for real-time collaboration and allows teams to share, comment, and assign tasks and reminders.
The notion is an “all-in-one workspace”. It is a SaaS designed to concentrate all the information and documents that you need for your work. It works very simply like a pyramid system of pages that are all connected and which can take a wide variety of formats.
- It is a solution very similar to the free Google Spreadsheets CRM.
- The notion is therefore very simple and easy to configure, with the power of Notion and the interface significantly more pleasant.
- Quite limiting. The fact that there is only one table means that you quickly end up with a lot of columns that are not used much if you are not careful.
5. The £ 5 CRM (the fuller version) on Notion by Alex Sherwood
This version isn’t free, but paying £ 5 to get access to a much more complete (and multi-table) version is worth it.
- The multi-table allows to go much further & to limit the complexity of each table (and data filling operation, whether automatic or manual).
- It’s still £ 5. At the same time, it helps a guy who creates an incredible amount of things for the Notion ecosystem. Better than helping Salesforce right?
6. Streak CRM: The mini CRM on Gmail is very well put together
Streak CRM is an add-on to the Gmail suite that allows you to go very far.
In the free version, you benefit from unlimited pipelines, which you can adapt to all your processes: customer support, sales, pre-sales, etc. The tool also has quite a few cold mailing features.
The (big) limitation is that you can’t share anything as a team until the pro plan, which starts at $ 49 / month. If you’re going to be managing CRM on your own, this is a great tool, and the free version will take you pretty far.
On the other hand, if you plan to recruit in the short or medium term, it is rather more expensive & less good than market leaders like Pipedrive or Hubspot.
- Excellent interface & superb vision
- Gmail integration and working modes are excellent
- Very effective for simple processes and prospecting
- The free plan prevents sharing of information
- Pricing on paid plans is quite complicated to justify except in very specific cases …
- No support on the free plan, and no French support
7. Hubspot CRM: Free CRM, but beware
Hubspot is now very well established in the world of CRM. Marketing automation, social media campaign, reporting, very solid support, etc. Hubspot has all the necessary features of any good CRM. Hubspot CRM has a free version. If you want to take it up a notch, the $ 46 per month Starter version has all the features you’ll need. Here are some of them:
- Transaction pipeline,
- Simple automation,
- Live Chat,
- Appointment scheduling,
- Reports dashboard …
Note that, with the Starter plan, Hubspot CRM can be used by 2 users.
- It is a real CRM solution, with all the associated functionalities, and there are many of them.
- Hubspot lets you customize just about anything to suit your brand and sales process.
- Paradoxically, it is not sure that the free version of Hubspot CRM will last you longer than a 100% free CRM solution like Notion, Trello, or Google spreadsheets.
- The levels to push you to pay are frankly a little too well designed.
8. Agile CRM: an all-in-one CRM software, with a very large free plan
Agile CRM is SaaS software, and it is not open source. But it’s probably the CRM software that offers the most generous free plan.
In addition to quite a few functionalities on the commercial CRM side, the software also offers many functionalities closer to those of marketing automation software. These marketing features are however only accessible from the first paid plan. The software even goes so far as to offer customer support features, and it’s also real live chat software.
But back to the free plan: you can use the free plan with 10 users, up to 50,000 contacts & companies created. You will be able to take advantage of fairly advanced features such as lead scoring, appointment scheduling, tracking of your prospecting emails, and solid integrations for telephony (in both directions) and emails (read & write).
In our opinion, it is the most complete free solution on the market, but it is still significantly more complex to set up than Hubspot.
- Solid software, and excellent reputation
- Unmatched functional depth for a free version
- Possibility to extend to paid plans with excellent value for money
- A true current vision of enterprise software, far from the dusty ERP
- A little more complex than Hubspot or lighter tools
- No support in French, and no support on the free plan
9. Bitrix24: a (really) free CRM, but not simple
Bitrix24 is a software that we don’t talk about very much, but which allows us to go very far. The big disadvantage of the tool is that all the functionalities (which are very, very numerous) are rather poorly arranged.
It is difficult to know where to start and, in most cases, we end up with very partial use, on a much less clear and easy interface than much lighter solutions. On the other hand, if managing your customer data is at the heart of your business, and you know the subject fairly well, Bitrix24 will appeal to you very much.
- Lots of features available.
- Quite complex and difficult to access.
10. Dolibarr: a stronger CRM, in free software
We hesitated for a long time to include Dolibarr in this list, but since everyone is doing it, we said to ourselves that it was better to address the subject & explain why it is not a very good choice.
It’s all in the title of their home page: ERP & CRM.
In real life, a solution like Dolibarr may be free in terms of license costs, but it will quickly cost you dearly in installation, maintenance, training, and other costs associated with installing CRM software.
Arbitration is therefore very far from being an arbitration between free or not, and you have to be interested in the full cost of the installation over the first 2 years to make the right decision. The cost of licensing for such complete solutions is generally marginal compared to the rest.
- Free software
- Great functional depth, and good reputation in the market
- Old solution with a real network of partners
- Much too heavy has aged rather badly
- Dolibarr’s hosted solution has had very little success
Opinions about how vTiger is going are a bit mixed. We explain ourselves.
Version 7 of the software is available for download free of charge, like any open-source software. So far so good.
It is a very complete software, with a real “all-in-one” ambition: Marketing, Sales, and customer relations (helpdesk, etc.).
Where it gets complicated is that they released a version 9 that is just as complete, and with a free plan, a bit like that of Agile CRM: 10 users, but only 3000 “records”. There is therefore a very serious planned obsolescence of the free plan …
A bit of a shame, because version 9 is super promising, see for yourself, we are dealing with real all-in-one software
In summary, in the open-source version, vTiger is solid & robust software, but it is not clear to what extent the efforts of the company will be turned towards this deprecated version …
And in the new version, it’s very ambitious, but you can hardly call it free software. A bit unclassifiable in this comparison, but the software is worth the detour!
- an accessible and highly reputable open-source version
- Large community and strong network
- Version 9 is very promising, too bad it is only accessible in SaaS.
- The v9 free plan looks more like a free trial.
- The future of the open-source version is rather uncertain given the distribution strategy on v9.
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