It is becoming increasingly difficult to function in the modern digital economy without some form of automated customer management. Not only has ecommerce turned even the smallest business into a global entity, but the sheer speed at which goods and services are bought and sold these days has made it all but impossible to conduct business as a manual process.
Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Kate Leggett writes that CRM now offers enterprises and smaller companies the opportunity to pursue a deep “customer-first” perspective alongside operational efficiency. And as the enterprise wants to provide more personalized, differentiated experiences to customers, the CRM industry is responding with “componentized” and vertical offerings.
CRM vendors have added artificial intelligence (AI) components, says Leggett, including virtual assistants, robotic process automation (RPA) and other sophisticated automation capabilities to benefit sales teams and customer support staff.
With that in mind, we have compiled a list of the leading customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, with additional guidance for key verticals like government and small businesses.
Unlike other forms of business software, CRM represents a new way of working — one that should result in higher performance with less overhead. But this change will be managed gradually, requiring organizations to commit to a platform over a substantial period of time.
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Also read: Advantages & Benefits of CRM
Best CRM for Small Business and Best CRM for Startups
HubSpot CRM stands out as a free solution, “100 percent, forever,” so it’s a great place for small businesses to start when looking to streamline their email marketing capabilities. Using the product alongside the company’s sales, marketing and customer service platforms can increase efficiency in generating leads and revenue and providing seamless, customized customer service.
Key Features: 
Best CRM for Government and Best CRM Cloud Solution
Salesforce has been the leader in CRM in the cloud for decades, with a highly integrated sales support platform. The company offers a large number of vertical solutions, for banking, government, health care, retail, consumer goods and more. 
Salesforce CRM consists of a number of cloud modules that users can mix-and-match for specific use cases. The portfolio consists of a sales cloud that handles leads and scoring, while the service cloud provides call-center and self-service support. There is also a commerce cloud that unifies mobile, social, web and stored data under a predictive intelligence analytics engine.
Key Features: 
Insightly’s CRM system features a connections discovery tool that tracks organizational hierarchies, partnerships and contacts of key customers, as well as sales pipeline management and workflow automation capabilities to help close deals quicker. It also employs open APIs to connect to legacy apps and mobile services. The platform also features enterprise-grade data visualization, including territory visualization.
Key Features: 
Dynamics 365 from Microsoft bundles a number of stand-alone applications into a cohesive platform overseeing sales, service, financing, operations and other processes, in a business applications suite encompassing CRM and ERP. It features an AI engine that supports predictive analytics and mixed reality applications, as well as a development workshop for customizable apps that support personalized customer experiences.
Key Features: 
Best Overall CRM Software
Pipedrive is visually intuitive and action-driven. The software uses a visually oriented display to highlight the actions that reps need to complete while analyzing performance to see what needs to be improved. Activity reminders, notifications and alerts are heavily used to keep activity moving forward. Users can try Pipedrive free to see if it is a good fit.
Key Features: 
Oracle NetSuite CRM claims it is the only cloud solution in market that offers a true, real-time, 360-degree customer view. Underlying the claim is a deep feature set and offerings tailored for 20 separate industry categories and eight business types, from startups and small businesses to midsized businesses and the enterprise. Global sales and services organizations will be particularly interested in this CRM solution. One stand-out feature is website search engine optimization, which creates more search-engine-friendly pages and higher rankings, to connect with customers and prospects more quickly.
Key Features: 
SAP CRM is a cloud-based solution of particular interest to enterprises that want to build and maintain a trust relationship with customers. Without sacrificing personalization or integrated data behind the customer experience, SAP CRM gives customers the data privacy that they require. Transparency and compliance are priorities.
Key Features: 
Zendesk’s Sell features an automated lead scoring system that pushes the most likely prospects to the forefront, while at the same time encouraging customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth marketing. It also includes features to help turn customers into advocates. Sell has a series of packages appropriate for small businesses through enterprise. 
Key Features: 
SugarCRM offers multichannel, end-to-end process automation, personalized dashboards and productivity tools, and deep-dive customer insight. The system can be deployed as a fully managed service or as a cloud or on-premises solution. SugarCRM for Enterprise focuses on organizations that want to create individualized experiences for customers. SugarCRM for Small Businesses focuses on flexibility with affordable, predictable pricing.
Key Features: 
Best CRM for Real Estate
Zoho CRM provides real-time customer connectivity across multiple channels, as well as sales pipeline blueprints to automate repetitive processes. It also offers a wealth of collaborative tools including an interactive calendar, a document library, and a centralized discussion portal. It features integration with third-party platforms like Google, DocuSign, and LinkedIn. With a free version, a free trial and attractive pricing, this is a good choice for smaller businesses and organizations new to CRM, as well as for larger businesses and enterprises.
Key Features: 
Creatio CRM offers a low-code, single platform to manage sales, marketing, and service with the goals of boosting lead generation, improving customer retention, managing complete sales cycles, automating sales processes, streamlining customer engagements, and accelerating service delivery.  
Key Features 
This article was updated by IT Business Edge’s Editor Llanor Alleyne in January 2022.  
Read next: Top 6 Trends Shaping Digital Transformation in 2022
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