These days, many businesses have a plethora of business, sales, and customer contacts, and need a single repository to store and manage these relationships. This is what a CRM, or customer relationship management software, is used for. This software has many features, including relationship management, sales opportunity management, sales performance management, and integration with marketing automation and sales automation software such as Hubspot and Salesforce.

If this is something you have found your business may need, then you likely have looked at both the best free CRM and best paid CRM options available. Like anything that has free or paid options, paid CRMs come with more varied and extensive features. That being said, if you have a small business, or a business that is just starting to have the need for a CRM, then a free CRM might be the right choice for you. With that in mind, here’s how to choose between a free CRM and a paid one.

The Advantages of a Free CRM

Prior to using a CRM as a business solution, most companies manage things in digital spreadsheets, which can often be tricky once a company scales. This is particularly the case if you have a simple sales pipeline that you already have set milestones for. Integrating a free CRM, in this case, should be your first step, as you’ll be able to organize your business, customer, and sales contacts in a way that makes sense for your business. A free CRM will also allow you to gain access to basic reporting features, such as being able to forecast your pipeline, track your conversation rate, and recognize and identify both won and lost opportunities. In addition to this, most free CRM solutions allow you to integrate communication and project management software such as Gsuite, Slack, and Trello. This makes it so that you are still able to use the tools that make sense for you and don’t have to rely on your CRM for all of your business needs.

The Advantages of a Paid CRM

While a free CRM is usually a safe bet for businesses that do not yet have a CRM in place, a paid CRM is usually an updated version of a free CRM, and may make sense for a business that is scaling quickly. Unlike a free CRM, a paid CRM typically offers more features. These include a wider variety of software integrations, mobile access, the ability to create a higher amount of users, a larger amount of contacts that can be stored, and multi-channel support and campaign management features.

All said and done, a paid CRM is generally a superior solution to a free CRM. However, it is not always necessary to pay for something that you may or may not benefit your business. Before you decide on whether you need a free CRM or a paid CRM, you should make sure that you thoroughly review the features that each have to offer, and see what would work best for your business. As always, you can try a free version of a CRM, only to upgrade to a paid CRM later if you find that you need the additional features.