Client relationship management (CRM) software is popular — it helps many businesses keep track of contacts and customer interaction history. Because there are so many CRMs available, it can be hard to differentiate between their various options and functions to determine which will be most helpful for your particular industry and suite of services.
We believe professional services firms, especially, should invest in a CRM to establish continuity between every client relationship stage and department, from to marketing and sales to customer success and billing.
Here, we’ll cover:
How CRMs Assist Marketing and Sales Teams
A CRM can serve as a vital tool to help your business improve workflows and reduce repetitive tasks. It’s especially critical software for sales and marketing teams.
However you choose to connect with potential customers, a CRM can serve as a valuable tool for executing your marketing efforts. Some of the most popular marketing functions of a CRM include:
- Segmenting contact lists to improve targeting
- Connecting your email client to avoid spamming contacts
- Automating custom follow-up to various lists by integrating with an email marketing tool
- Logging touch points via social media platforms to track a contact’s history
- Creating a custom audience for ad targeting
Since it focuses on building relationships, sales is an area with many needs that a CRM can fulfill. Many sales teams use a CRM to:
- Reduce time spent on data entry and reallocate it to prospecting
- Pull up accurate contact data in seconds during a call
- Generate quotes quickly using client data
- Increase communication between sales reps
- Enhance visibility over the complete sales process
If customization is available, a CRM can also be useful outside of marketing and sales: to track vendors, improve customer support or even house data about employee skills.
Customer Relationship Management Tools for Businesses
You have plenty of choices when searching for a CRM, but researching to find the one that’s going to make your team the most efficient can be time-consuming. We’ve done some of the hard work for you.
Below, we review ten of the top client relationship management tools, including notable features and pros and cons according to real user reviews.
1. Accelo: A Complete Client Work Management Solution
Accelo is an end-to-end cloud-based platform built to help services businesses automate tasks, improve visibility and increase profits. Accelo goes beyond customer relationship management to offer solutions for all of the stages of client work, including sales and quoting, project management, client support and tickets, billing and retainer management.
The Accelo platform streamlines all aspects of your client work into one centralized client record.
- A centralized client database to provide all employees with up-to-date client information
- Project management tools, including time tracking, resource management and project templates and triggers
- Retainers, including contract management and automation of recurring work and tasks
- Reporting and analytics, including revenue and sales forecasting, client profitability reports and team member performance
- Built for all aspects of client work beyond its robust CRM, including quote automation and project management
- Products can be purchased individually for unmatched customization
- Works best for teams of five or more, so may not be the best fit for smaller teams or freelance consultants
- No built-in marketing automation tools — but does have a range of seamless third-party integrations, including HubSpot and MailChimp
Start a free trial or schedule a demo to see why Accelo could be the solution you’ve been seeking for better client relationship management — and then some.
2. HubSpot CRM: An Automation-Driven Tool With Extensive Integrations
HubSpot CRM is a pipeline management tool that provides real-time visibility into your firm’s sales pipeline. The free tier offers additional tools to assist sales, marketing, customer service and operations professionals. HubSpot CRM is well-known for helping business owners and their teams nurture existing client relationships.
- Intuitive contact management with enriched data to save time on pre-sale research
- Lead management, including nurturing, scoring and automated sales alerts and tasks
- Option to send emails and make calls directly from the platform
- Thorough deal tracking, pipeline dashboard and performance reports
- Free subscription option with CRM essentials for new firms
- Option to upgrade to Marketing or Sales Hub for additional key features and expanded workflow tools
- Free plan does not include customer support and it’s very easy to max out its limitations
- Limited customization not ideal for companies with complex sales processes
3. Insightly: A Solid Option for Engaging With Existing Clients
Insightly is a CRM software that applies to a range of industries, including consulting, professional services, nonprofits, media and advertising and more. Insightly aims to help its users go beyond sales to better connect with customers and align teams to encourage longer-term relationships.
- Lead routing and workflow automation streamline the sales process
- Milestone tracking and process management
- Customer support and SLA management help improve customer satisfaction
- Build and deploy custom apps in minutes with no code using AppConnect
- Can handle complex automations that trigger task delegation, email sends and more
- Ticketing add-on to simplify interactions with customer service representatives
4. Keap: A Boosted CRM With Some Unique Features
Keap combines CRM, sales and marketing automation, contact management and eCommerce capabilities with the primary focus of helping small businesses manage client relationships. Its set of tools offers a wide range of features beyond the typical CRM, including appointment setting and landing page and email templates.
- Lead management including lead nurturing, lead scoring and automated sales alerts
- Social media marketing, including social profile integrations
- Campaign management, including calendars and event marketing
- Reporting and analytics
- Keap Lite pricing tier for solopreneurs and small teams.
- Marketing automation capabilities create a consistent customer experience
- No option to remove or hide existing tabs — even with customization
- Some features, including the mobile app and SMS messaging options, only available in limited regions
5. monday sales CRM: A Helpful Application for monday.com Users
monday.com’s sales CRM is a cloud-based CRM software that serves as an add-on to monday.com’s Work OS platform. It supports sales teams in all types of businesses in building workflows, managing leads and sending quotes and invoices. With custom dashboards and sales analytics, this CRM can help your team set the stage for better deals and stronger client relationships.
- Sales pipeline visibility
- Editable deal stages
- Manage post-sale activities
- Resource management tools for sales teams
- Email sync and notifications
- Performance tracking and goal management
READ NEXT: Accelo vs. monday.com
6. NetSuite CRM: An Add-On to an ERP Platform
NetSuite CRM is a cloud-based solution that integrates with the robust NetSuite ERP platform. It brings customer data, sales and marketing automation and support together to help businesses gain visibility into their work and continue to grow.
- Sales automation and forecasting, including pipeline visualization and revenue projections
- Partner relationship management with visibility into partner sales forecasting and options for joint marketing, orders and commissions
- Customer service and support featuring case management and online self-service options
- Reporting and analytics, including customer service metrics, lead-generation trends and customer acquisition costs
- Integration with the NetSuite ERP platform offers a robust combination of tools
- Sale performance and commission tracking
- Includes ERP-specific features that won’t fit for many service businesses
- Some users mention a complex UI and confusing fields
7. Nimble: A Good Choice for Increasing Visibility
Nimble is a CRM that merges details about business contacts from multiple platforms into one enriched database. This platform makes it possible for your entire team to draw insights about clients from other websites and platforms to develop more robust client records. Both interactions with potential customers and internal actions are tied to a contact record, lending visibility to the entire team.
- Data enrichment via social media and email signatures
- Task, event and call tracking tied to contact history
- Nimble Prospector sends templated group emails and displays contact details on social and email
- Pipeline visualization and deal management tools
- Natively integrates with Microsoft 365 to pull in communication history, calendar data and more about existing contacts
- Simplifies prospecting for those who frequently use social media
8. Pipedrive: A Sales-Focused CRM Ideal for Collaboration
Pipedrive is a CRM with additional sales-focused features, including lead segmentation and a customizable pipeline. Custom sales stages and activity reminders support smooth workflows and uninterrupted conversations with leads. Additional features include document management and email marketing.
- Specialized team management
- Detailed reports, including deal tracking, conversion rate by lead source and revenue forecasting
- Embeddable forms to manage inbound leads
- Tools for tracking team performance and setting goals
- Not as complex as some larger CRMs, so easier to implement and train users
- Sales automation and tips from AI-powered Sales Assistant
- One user notes that the platform lacks popular integrations
- Not connected to the full client journey via project management, billing or other essential work management features
9. Salesforce Sales Cloud: A Popular and Vigorous Platform
Salesforce Sales Cloud is a web-based CRM solution that helps companies manage their customers, partners and employees. The platform has multiple pricing levels and features that can scale with your business, making it a great choice for rapidly growing businesses that need a solution capable of expanding to meet their needs.
- Sales automation including customer data management, workflows and contract management
- Customer service and support, including case management and call center management
- Project management, including tasks, billing and reporting
- Reporting and analytics, including forecasting and pipeline visualization
- Ability to automate business processes, including simple tasks like creating automatic email alerts to more time-heavy tasks like filling out orders
- Fully customizable, with options to add custom fields and tabs, create email templates and build reporting dashboards
- Cost of is often higher than other CRM options, and increases with customizations and integrations
- Users note that customization may not be achievable for smaller businesses with limited training and resources
10. Scoro: A Process Automation Tool With Built-In CRM
Scoro is a CRM and systems-oriented project management platform that helps consulting firms, agencies and other professional service providers manage complex projects. It improves team productivity with customized project templates and ample integrations.
- KPI dashboard for simple goal tracking
- Task bundles to cut down on project creation time
- Multiple languages for invoices, quotes, contracts and more
- Customizable templates for unique workflows
- Useful for businesses that need the ability to automatically plan recurring projects
- Best for businesses that value clear KPI visibility
READ MORE: Accelo vs. Scoro
11. Zoho CRM: A Reliable Source of Core Business Intelligence
Zoho CRM is built to help businesses of all sizes manage their customer relationships. The platform helps companies engage with customers and build revenue via its workflow automation features, advanced analytics, customer segmentation and KPI tracking.
- Sales automation, including a contact database, quotes and contract management
- Customer service and support features
- Marketing automation, including lead management and email marketing
- Reporting and analytics
- A free version is available for three or fewer users
- Pay-as-you-go service allows customers to pay monthly or annually without a contract
- While the free and standard levels offer some solutions, many of the features available through Zoho are only available in their higher-priced plans.
- Users experience challenges with customer support being disjointed for each Zoho product
The Power of Software for Managing More Than Contact Data
You can see that many CRMs have similar features, but that doesn’t mean they can all equally accommodate your particular business processes. While there’s tremendous value in housing accurate data in a centralized space with custom fields, your business needs even more robust functionality to maximize efficiency and profitability.
Client relationship management doesn’t stop after you make a sale. If you run a professional services business, it makes sense to select a CRM that’s designed to support growing customer loyalty over time. The benefits of a CRM can extend far beyond contact management if the other parts of the client lifecycle are linked back to the client record.
A platform that’s not limited to the features of a CRM — like Accelo — makes it possible for everyone on your team, plus your clients themselves, to see the complete picture of each client relationship long after a contract has been signed.
Your project management team can:
- Easily transition new clients from sales by converting quotes into projects
- Auto-assign tasks based on team availability
- Manage workload by monitoring time-tracking data and a scheduling dashboard
Your customer success or technical support team can:
- Follow the entire journey of a given contact from the moment the record was created
- Keep track of the history of communication with both companies and individual contacts
- See existing projects and review their progress before engaging with a client
Your billing team can:
- Bill clients in bulk with detailed invoices created from billable time logs
- Review sent, paid and overdue invoices in automatically generated reports
- Manage retainers of various billing periods with a hands-off approach
Your operations team can:
- Optimize existing workflows and create new ones using trigger automations
- Review an auto-generated dashboard to see which projects and clients are profitable
- Improve new hire onboarding protocol using thorough platform documentation
Your clients can:
- Check on project progress at any time by logging in to a client portal
- View and pay invoices on their own time
- Understand adjustments to project plans based on accurate budget and time logs
#1 Pro Tip for Seamless CRM Adoption
Implementing a CRM may be just as intimidating as finding the right one. You’re not alone if you and your leadership team come up against some fears about adopting a new software platform.
The key to avoiding many potential frustrations is to make a clear plan to get your team ready and communicate that plan to your managers. Even if a platform provides lots of automation capabilities, your employees will be responsible for applying it to its full extent. They can’t do so unless they understand the reasons you’ve decided to go with this particular CRM and that it’s about more than simple data storage.
How To Know It’s Time to Trial Accelo
Chances are, your business is ready for more than a basic CRM. Here’s what you could be experiencing if this is the case.
- Your team is overwhelmed and you’re noticing rampant inefficiencies
- You know you need to set up better workflows but aren’t sure how to do so
- You need a CRM, plus project management, customer support, billing and more
- You’re unsure of exactly how profitable each client or type of project is
- You’d like to invest in deeper client connections and increase recurring work
Sound familiar? Your business is ready to experience the power of a dedicated client work management platform — and your clients are no doubt ready to engage with your team in a new way.
➡️ Find out why a CRO at one marketing technology consulting firm says “Accelo ranks as the best CRM view of all time” — and how the firm doubled in size and increased client commitments by 90% using the platform.
Your business can experience similar results when you sign up for a trial or schedule a demo.
Want to learn more?
Join the thousands of professionals that are running more successful businesses with Accelo
Chelsea Williams is Senior Copywriter at Accelo, where she shares unique insights with service professionals and tells user stories via blogs, eBooks, industry reports and more. She has over 15 years of B2B and B2C writing experience — primarily in tech, sales, education and healthcare. Chelsea is an AWAI-certified Master Copywriter trained in brand storytelling and microcopy.