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May 10, 2024
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How to Choose CRM Software: A Practical Buying Guide

Ever wonder how to choose CRM software the right way? You’ve come to the right place — here’s where you’ll find the secrets for selecting the tool that’ll meet your every need. 

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a solution many companies use to maintain strong relationships with their new, potential, and existing clients. 

With the CRM market projected to reach $88.19 billion by 2024, it’s now more important than ever to invest in such a solution. 

There’s one tiny problem: how do you choose the right software

You’d probably have a hard time doing this on your own.  But with this buyer’s guide, you can navigate the tumultuous sea of vendors and choose a tool that fits your requirements, use case, and budget. 

What Is CRM Software?

CRM is a system that has one goal: to manage all your company’s interactions and relationships with customers, leads, and suppliers. 

In a nutshell, it tracks and stores customer data, such as contact information, but also helps uncover new opportunities to grow your business and improve your profitability. 

Plus, CRM provides excellent customer support throughout the buyer’s lifecycle, helping you stay connected with your customer base at every touch point. 

Who is CRM for? Well, everyone! No matter your industry or department, you can use this tool to manage every aspect of the customer journey and have all information about them readily available. 

How exactly do you use CRM, though? Let’s find out. 

How Is CRM Software Used?

A good CRM tool harnesses the power of data to: 

  • Track customer behavior — CRM helps you uncover valuable insights about your customers, such as how they interact with your products and services, what their preferences are, etc. 
  • Automate feedback collection — Tired of always guessing what your clients think about your brand? CRM collects all customer feedback in a single place, which allows you to improve your services. 
  • Make data-driven decisions — The best way to drive business growth and create stronger customer relationships is through a CRM program. Through data analysis, this tool predicts user behavior and identifies patterns so you can make better business decisions. 
  • Personalize customer experiences — CRM knows how to make your customers feel seen and understood. With this tool, you can deliver tailored customer interactions that strengthen your bonds. 
  • Improve brand perception — It’s important to listen to what people say about your company on social media channels. This helps create customer loyalty and improve brand visibility. 

But these are only a few of the things it can do. 

The right CRM software streamlines your business processes by replacing cumbersome spreadsheets and complex databases and connecting your workflows into one place. 

Which brings us to the benefits of using CRM…

What Are the Benefits of Using CRM Software?

Like any other tool you have in your business, CRM software comes packed with tons of benefits: 

  • Better customer relationships: 85% of people cite improved customer experiences as one of the top three benefits of CRM software. It’s no wonder. Since this software makes customer information accessible to anyone who needs it, your team members can boost customer satisfaction. 
  • Increased sales processes: A good CRM tool automates your business operations and key tasks through marketing automation. This frees your employees’ time, so they can focus on more productive tasks. 
  • Better analytics and targeted marketing campaigns: You can have all the data you want. But if you don’t put it to good use, it’s useless. CRM software has built-in analytics that help companies break down silos of data into easily understood metrics and actionable insights. With this info, you can measure the success of your marketing efforts and work to improve them. 
  • Reduced costs: Many CRMs are flexible and scalable, meaning that they’re easy to implement and grow with your business. Plus, since most tools have a per-user pricing plan, you only have to pay for what you need, including features. As a result, you keep costs low and use CRM as you like.  

In conclusion? Well, since you gain visibility into all your operations, you can increase team productivity and streamline your sales pipeline. 

So, how do you choose the best CRM system for your needs? Let’s dive in. 

How to Choose the Right CRM System

The CRM software market will continue to grow, reaching a volume of $131.90 billion by 2028. With this huge increase, more and more CRM systems will sprout like mushrooms after rain. 

Which doesn’t make your decision easier. 

It’ll take hours to compare them all; plus, since each one has unique features (which sound good on paper, but do you really need them?) it’s even harder to wrap your head around which solution to choose.  

Luckily, choosing the right CRM provider can be a walk in the park if you follow these steps: 

Step #1: Identify specific goals and objectives

Every selection process begins with identifying your challenges and needs, aka what you’re trying to accomplish. 

For example, do you just wanna get rid of slow-loading spreadsheets? If you’re a small business, then you won’t need much out of your CRM tool. But what if you wanna overhaul your customer support service? 

To help, answer these questions: 

  • Is your current tool enough to meet business requirements?
  • What do you want to address with CRM? 
  • How many people will use the CRM system? 
  • What is the size of your budget? 
  • Will you integrate the CRM software with other existing tools? 

By mapping out your goals and expectations, you can focus on CRM software that actively works to improve your operations, not on things you don’t need. 

Step #2: Assess your budget

Curiosity got the better of you — a quick Google search showed you some options that caught your eye. You considered them and added them to your shortlist, only to find they’re waaay too expensive.

To avoid disappointment and wasted time, try to set your budget from the get-go. Talk with your team members to set your expectations, and rule out any CRM tool outside the price range.

Step #3: Make a list of features and functionalities

Budget: ✅

Needs: ✅

Features: Loading…

Now it’s time to make a list of your must-have features. CRM tools have plenty of exciting functionalities but maybe you don’t need all of them. Gather your sales team and talk about what they need (since they’ll be the ones who use the software).

Together, you can come up with a list of key capabilities. But if your budget allows it, by all means, add some nice-to-have features too, even if they’re not essential. 

Usually, CRM software should have the following features: 

  • Reporting capabilities 
  • Lead management
  • Sales forecasting
  • Project management software 
  • Marketing automation 
  • Contact management
  • Collaboration tools
  • Customer satisfaction polls and surveys

But we can talk in greater detail about these features later on — stay tuned. 

Step #4: Research CRM software vendors 

Put on a pot of coffee, ‘cause this step is gonna take a while. ☕

After you make a list of must-have features, you should start researching the options that fit your requirements best. You can start by checking buyer’s guides like ours. 

Or visit review sites like G2 or TrustRadius that usually have lists with the software you need. Looking at reviews will help you see a tool from all angles, so it’s easier to make an opinion based on what real users have to say about it. 

But you can also ask for recommendations from your network, like leaders, colleagues, and friends. They can give you valuable insight into which tool they use, why it’s a good option, and how easy it is to learn.  

Step #5: Request demos and trials

Before you try out the tools, however, there’s one more thing you have to do. 

And that is to trim your list of vendors to between three and five preferred options. Not only does this bring you closer to your final decision but it also helps you test tools more quickly. 

With that done, you can now request demos and trials from your top contenders. 

Most providers offer free 30-day trials that you can take advantage of by signing up. Some vendors even have free plans, which is highly useful especially if you don’t need much out of your CRM. 

Reach out to the vendors on your list and take the tool for a spin. Remember to invite your team members, too. Their feedback will be invaluable since they’re the ones who’ll use it most. Let them get a sense of the CRM software and try to narrow down your list even further. 

Step #6: Make your decision and implement

After going through all the above steps, you should be closer to making the final choice. 

For some, it’s clear right from the testing phase who’s the winner. But for others, testing several tools might only narrow down their options to two good ones. 

If you’re in the latter category, do some more research, test them further, and ask for opinions. Make your final decision and begin implementation.

Your chosen tool’s ease of use will determine how fast the onboarding process takes — and how easy it’ll blend with your existing workflows. 

We’ve promised that we’ll look closer at the features — and we’re ready to deliver on it. 

What CRM Features to Look for?

CRM software is more than just a marketing tool; it’s a good way to drive more sales and retain customers. But what features should you focus on when selecting a new system? 

Here are a few ideas: 

  • Contact management: At the center of any CRM program you should find contact management tools. These help organize your customer data, such as client interaction history and demographics. They are supposed to offer insight into what you can do to improve the user experience.
  • Lead scoring: This feature identifies quality leads and helps you filter them. Which means your team can stay on top of them and remove dead leads before they clog your workflows. 
  • Report analytics and dashboards: Your chosen CRM solution should provide a complete view of your operations. It should have reports, lead info, forecasts, etc., that are visually pleasing and easy to understand. And let you customize them however you want for better visibility. 
  • Integrations: Every CRM tool should have add-ons that allow it to integrate with your existing tools. According to Nucleus Research, access to key data shortens people’s sales cycle by 8–14%. The CRM should play nicely with project management, accounting, and email marketing platforms. But it can also integrate with automated knowledge base tools like Guru that give instant access to company files. 
  • Customer service tools: CRM is all about customers (it’s in the name, after all!) so it should have customer service capabilities like pre-made templates, automated sales histories, etc. 

So, after all this, the question remains: which is the best CRM software currently available?

Let’s see…


10 CRM Software Solutions to Consider

Maybe you don’t wanna spend hours checking lists on Capterra; a simple buyer’s guide is enough. And guess what? THIS is the only guide you need to make the correct decision. 

So, to aid your selection process, we’ve made a list of the best CRM vendors that you should definitely check out. 

HubSpot CRM

HubSpot is an AI-powered customer service tool with free CRM software for your teams.

With this handy tool, you can track and analyze your whole sales pipeline in real time on a visual dashboard. 

Source: G2

Moreover, you have detailed reports you can access to spot growth opportunities. 

In the words of a happy reviewer, “You don’t only have a CRM to track your tasks, but also … a place where you can literally do anything you need within your business.” 

HubSpot also notifies you when someone opens an email, so you can follow up instantly via live chat, email, or phone. 

And it integrates with Guru


Salesforce is a cloud-based CRM tool that analyzes your data to bring you valuable insights while helping you attract and retain loyal customers.

Source: G2

What does Salesforce do? Well, “It tracks leads, accounts, contacts, and opportunities and the screens are very similar, so it’s easy to learn.” 

In a nutshell, Salesforce unites your teams into a single source of truth; as a result, they’ll always have customer data and knowledge at their fingertips. Furthermore, it’s adaptive, scalable, secure, and flexible, meeting your business needs no matter the size. 

You can integrate Salesforce with almost any data source, such as MuleSoft, Tableau, Slack, and even Guru


Pipedrive offers a combo of sales CRM and pipeline management into one user-friendly solution. 

Source: G2

With this agile CRM software, you can automate your sales pipeline and save more time. It also lets you dive into real-time sales reports to get a good view of your sales funnel. With Pipedrive’s advanced analytics, team monitoring, and forecasting, you can make better data-driven decisions. 

It helps me a lot in maintaining fruitful partnerships and exceptional lead follow-up. The fact that Pipedrive can increase revenue through sales management is, in my opinion, its best feature.” 

Pipedrive connects with tons of apps, including Guru. 


Insightly provides sales and marketing teams of all sizes with an affordable CRM platform that helps them increase productivity and build lasting customer relationships. 

Source: G2

It has plenty of useful features, such as project management, lead tracking, and workflow automation. With these, you can increase sales efficiency and transparency, eliminating bottlenecks and inconsistencies. 

But Insightly also scales with your company, meaning that it’ll always work to elevate your customer experience and solve customer problems faster, regardless of your business’s size. 

Insightly is very user-friendly and customizable to fit your specific needs ... Overall, it massively improves the efficiency of my team.” 

Insightly integrates with Guru — see how here. 

Sugar Sell

Sugar Sell is an advanced CRM solution that connects your marketing, sales, and service teams so they can focus on accelerating sales, increasing productivity, and creating engaging customer experiences. 

Source: Capterra

This on-site CRM tool combines AI technology, marketing automation, and customer service to fuel growth and strengthen bonds with customers. 

... almost anything you can think [of] can be automated and you don’t need to be a tech wizard to achieve some really slick processes.” 

So, not only does it deliver the right leads, but Sugar Sell also puts your marketing campaigns on autopilot, resulting in better outcomes. 

It’s also renowned for its integrations, one of them being with Guru. 

Zendesk Sell

Zendesk Sell, a modern CRM platform, helps sales reps accelerate revenue and enhance customer experience.

Source: G2

Zendesk is easy to use and intuitive, meaning that your teams will have no problem learning it. 

Zendesk has truly simplified our customer support journey. The clean and straightforward interface made it a breeze to navigate through customer tickets.

No wonder — with features like advanced analytics, productivity tools, and dashboards, you have everything you need in one place. Moreover, you can unlock better team productivity and always meet customer expectations at all touchpoints. 

Among Zendesk Sell’s countless integrations is an integration with Guru. 

Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM is suitable for midsize to large organizations offering various useful features, such as workflow automation, contact management, and an AI-powered conversational assistant. 

Source: G2

What exactly does it do? Zoho CRM helps you close more deals, enjoy better visibility into your sales pipeline, and build stronger customer relationships.

Moreover, your business can harness the power of KPIs, predictive intelligence, and omni-channel to deliver tailored experiences that create loyal consumers. 

Zoho CRM plays well with others. Integrating with different business tools feels like a harmonious symphony rather than a tech battle.” 

And surprise! Zoho CRM integrates with Guru. 


Copper is an easy-to-use CRM software solution with a strong focus on growing your business. 

Source: Copper

How does it achieve that? Through simple workflow automation that gets rid of tedious tasks. And 360-degree visibility into sales activities across all your teams. This way, you avoid missing growth opportunities and losing leads. 

Moreover, “Copper CRM is a user-friendly and customizable CRM that seamlessly integrates with Google Workspace, making it an ideal choice for businesses that rely on Gmail, Calendar, and other Google apps.” 

And yes — Copper easily connects with other tools, including Guru. But it’s particularly ideal for those working with Google Workspace. 


Apptivo is more than just CRM software — it’s a SaaS business management tool for companies of all sizes. 

Source: G2

What people like most about Apptivo is its customer service. “The entire support team at Apptivo is helpful, easy to reach, and knowledgeable.” So, if you have a problem with the software, Apptivo can help you figure it out in a few minutes. 

Moreover, this tool has typical CRM features, like schedule reports, workflow automation, multiple sales cycles, etc. Apptivo also comes in various shapes and sizes, like mobile or integrated.

Speaking of integrations, Apptivo seamlessly blends with your current tools; and don’t forget about Guru!

A Monday you’ll definitely not hate, is a project management solution at heart. But it also has fully customizable CRM capabilities, such as automated task generation and formula building.  

Source: G2

You can personalize however you want, depending on your needs. It has building blocks like automations, integrations, and dashboards that help you create an intuitive workspace for your teams.

We can section staff into teams to ensure the right info is displayed to the right people — this keeps things clean and allows us to categorize the content that’s applicable for different teams.” integrates nicely with third-party apps — and yes, with Guru, too

Over to You

So, what do you think? Has this guide made your CRM selection process way easier? 

We sincerely hope so. With all the tips and tricks in this article on how to choose CRM software that meets your business needs, it’s super simple to make the final decision. 

But you know what goes well with your final CRM solution? Guru! 

Guru is a 3-in-1 knowledge management solution that connects with all your existing tools and workflows. Guru’s main mission is to bring your collective knowledge (customer data, interaction histories, etc.) right where you are. 

But testing it for yourself is the best course of action. So don’t hesitate to sign up for Guru for free

Key takeaways 🔑🥡🍕

How much does new CRM software cost?

It all depends on your business size, the type of CRM you need, its features, and the software provider. 

Most CRM platforms offer per-user, per-month subscription plans, varying from $0 to $1,000 per month. But it’s important to choose a plan suitable for your budget, size, and needs. 

What are the best CRMs?

We can’t say for sure which are the best CRMs as it depends on factors like organization size, user-friendliness, etc.

But here are some of the most popular CRM tools around: 

  • HubSpot
  • Salesforce
  • Pipedrive
  • Sugar Sell
  • Zoho CRM 
  • Zendesk Sell

Who uses CRM software?

Any business type, from small business owners to enterprises, can use a CRM tool. It’s highly popular in industries like: 

  • Real estate
  • Banking
  • Legal
  • E-commerce
  • Education

Written by
Christine Richardson
Search everything, get answers anywhere with Guru.

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