Three affordable CRMs for sole traders and early-stage startups

As a sole trader or early-stage start-up, what plans do you have for keeping track of your contacts, leads and prospects?  

Up until now you may have managed to get by with a paper-based or very simple home-made system on your computer, but as your business begins to grow, this will need to be improved to ensure you can access vital information the second you need it.  

You may think that a CRM system is out of your league and much too expensive, but this is not always the case.  A CRM doesn’t have to cost a lot - there are plenty of affordable systems out there which will meet your basic needs and let you scale up as business booms.

Here are three budget CRMs that we have chosen, specifically for sole traders or early-stage start-ups:

For scalability: HubSpot CRM

HubSpot CRM is completely free, with no ‘trial period’ catch.

Easy to install, efficient and very fast, it has plenty of features that will help you to organize, track and grow your pipeline.

Lightweight and user friendly, it automates many processes, taking care of documentation and tasks in its stride.  Once you have downloaded, enter your first contact’s email address and the HubSpot software takes over.  You can add leads to the system from your inbox with just a click, eliminating the need for manual data entry and freeing up your team's time to chase more deals. 

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HubSpot CRM comes with free versions of HubSpot Sales’ tools - but at a limited capacity. This is great for testing out features you might not initially want to splash out on, and you can upgrade to the full version whenever you feel it’s right for your business.

For ease of use: Insightly

As a sole trader or new company, you’ll likely be very busy. This makes Insightly’s focus on providing intuitive and easy-to-use CRM particularly attractive.

Insightly cater specifically to small businesses, and as well as being affordable and easy to use, their software provides an all-in-one approach to sales and project management with many advanced features.

You’ll have access to a fully customizable interface, real-time analytics features and a full suite of project management tools.  This, coupled with simple admin tools and intuitive navigation, makes controlling your data a cinch.  It integrates with Gmail and Outlook, and even account packages like QuickBooks.

Once you get to 20 or more employees, then you might need to upgrade your package but until then, it will do a fantastic job of streamlining your sales processes and easing the administrative burden on your sales staff.

For top-notch pipelining tools: PipelineDeals

PipelineDeals excels at fast-tracking your sales pipeline, offering high quality sales acceleration, deal management and lead nurture features for its price point.  You’ll also get email integration, real-time reporting and native mobile functionality alongside this, making it a great choice for startups and sole traders looking for an affordable sales-focused CRM. 

Their CRM offering comes in three pricing packages - but unlike many of their competitors all of them include free support. It’s a feature that the company are proud of, and that reviewers frequently mention as a highlight of the software.

Another of PipelineDeals’ strong points is their transparent costing pricing structure. There are no additional payments for higher storage limits, and support is - as mentioned above - free. Unforecasted costs can hit early-stage companies hard, so knowing what comes out when is particularly important.

Plans start at three users - so this is one to consider if you’ve already got a small team, or are a sole trader looking to expand in the near future.

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Jane Tareen

About the author…

An MBA-qualified professional, Jane specializes in all kinds of copywriting and creative content production. With many years spent working in advertising and publishing, she is also skilled in editorial production and proof-reading. Whilst writing, she has a constant companion in the form of one very large Fox Red Labrador!

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Jane Tareen

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