CRM pricing: eight points of comparison


Just as difficult as choosing the right CRM is for your business, determining the average cost of CRM implementation is equally complex.  There are so many things to take into account that it can be confusing to navigate all the different costs. With vendor pricing varying so much and costs fluctuating according to the amount of users, optional add-ons and discounts, it is no wonder that many would-be purchasers find themselves getting into a mess.

To save you having to pick up the phone and have multiple lengthy conversations with a mix of vendors in order to establish prices, we’ve gathered some of the key details for you including some basic ideas of cost so that you can reduce the amount of time you need to invest when making calculations.

Understand different CRM system costs and features with this comprehensive CRM comparison guide

Below are our eight points of comparison to start you off in the right direction, so that you can estimate how much it costs to implement a CRM system.  Whilst we have tried to include as much information as possible, you will need to do a little of your own research. This will be necessary to provide you with a full picture as your outlay will vary dependent upon the size of your business and which system you opt for.

1. CRM license fee

Here we are going to look at the differences between CRM pricing and license fees as of August 2018. Costed per user on a monthly basis, you can expect to pay something in the region of these sums every month.  To calculate your business cost, multiply the monthly sum shown by the number of users that will need to access the CRM software:

 Average monthly cost per user Type of CRM







To provide you with further detail, here are the monthly costs per user from some of the top CRM brands.  Using these, you can establish a far more accurate CRM pricing comparison.

CRM pricing models

 CRM Provider Basic Mid-range Advanced
Zoho $18 $30 $45
Sugar $40 $65 $150
Microsoft Dynamics $115 $190 $210
Salesforce $25 $75 $150
Vtiger $12 $24 $36
Capsule Free >2 users £12 N/A

When it comes to free CRM software, whilst there are many of these to choose from, do remember that they will be very basic and likely only suitable for very small operations.  If you need something far more sophisticated, it is unlikely that they will be up to the job without the additional cost of adding extra functionalities.

2. Set-up fees

A lot of software vendors will make it sound very easy for you to set up their CRM, even saying that you can do it all yourself.  At the other end of the scale, you may be told that you will need to hire one of their consultants for a certain period of time so that they can configure things for you.

Whichever option you are given, always bear in mind that you are bringing new software into your business that will impact every CRM user in some way. Get it wrong and you may find yourself faced with chaos.  Disrupting the work of people within your employ is a big risk. In the past, even large companies have found themselves losing millions of pounds in terms of lost revenue, productivity, and reduced levels of customer service.  If you want to be sure to get it right, the least that you should allow is $1 of consulting time for every $1 spent on CRM annual subscription charges.

3. Associated hardware

Always take into account the vendor’s recommended specifications with regard to minimum hardware requirements.  Although this will show you the very least that you can get by with, sticking to it may result in much higher maintenance costs and poor system performance.  With your CRM being critical to your business operation, investing less will not save you more. Always include a cost for the best possible hardware spec that you can afford and if in doubt, discuss with the manufacturer of the CRM software.

4. CRM implementation

When working out the soft costs involved in the implementation of your new CRM, you need to include time taken for importing data as well as the cost of staff dedicated to deal with the process.  There will also be an impact on staff productivity during this stage whilst integration and customization is carried out. There is also a period of adjustment whilst employees get used to using the new system and dealing with any bugs. Without a doubt, enough time allocated towards this stage will be crucial.  Before going live, you will need to be sure that all CRM users are clear on what they are supposed to do and how their role may have changed. Work out how many labor hours may be taken up and then allocate a cost to this. It is only by factoring this cost in correctly that you can sufficiently allocate your CRM budget.  Many businesses make the error of including a cost for selecting and installing the CRM but nothing more.

5. CRM support

If your vendor tells you that your license includes support, you need to clarify exactly what this is as it may not be sufficient for your needs.  For example, a basic support package may not include for 24/7 phone assistance. For premium level support you may need to add in an additional annual fee or select a more expensive pricing plan.

Check out our free CRM software pricing guide for up to date costs of popular CRM systems

You can avoid being on the receiving end of an unpleasant budgeting surprise by asking vendors to outline, in writing, the type of support offered and the associated cost.  Forgetting to allow for sufficient support and maintenance is a common error, and if you try to cut costs it could impact badly upon your business. It is only by knowing exactly what you will get for your money that you can calculate an accurate budget.

6. CRM customization cost

Although this is crucial to the success of any CRM, many businesses forget to include it in the cost.   Your CRM as it comes, out of the box, will get you so far, but most of the time customization will be required.  It is only when your vendor understands exactly how your business works and how your staff use the CRM that they will be able to add in the essential additional features.  As you communicate with clients, the CRM needs to track and manage everything; if not, it will not do the job it is supposed to. Once you find a CRM that seems suitable, bring in the experts to talk to your team about objectives, automation, and core processes.  Whilst you don’t want the system to be too complex, it shouldn’t be so basic that is fails to meet your needs either. Too much sophistication will put users off, a potential fix for this is opting for a staged approach; whereby you add the most valuable features to begin with and then bring in more over a set period of time.

7. Training and support

You may be able to reduce training costs by putting forward a number of ‘key users’ to be trained by the vendor.  As new employees join the company they can then deal with the training instead of you having to employ the services of an instructor again.  Some vendors may include a certain amount of training for new users in the subscription fee, so make a point to check this out.

It is also a good idea to see whether any e-learning modules are offered by the vendor.  If these are included in the price then each user will have permanent access to training without any additional costs being involved.  This will allow you to save money. If you have staff that work remotely, you will also need to plan them into the training process, grouping them into sessions that fit with their role.

A good rule of thumb when it comes to working out training cost is to allow 8 hours of in-house labor time, one hour per user, and £1500 for a consultant to provide on-site training.

8. Upgrades

When working on your CRM pricing, don’t forget to allow a certain amount for upgrades. As your business grows and you add more staff, you will be able to upgrade through the levels of CRM available i.e. from basic to mid-range and advanced (refer to costs shown at the beginning of this article).  You should then be provided with all of the features that you require.  Whilst you will pay one sum of money to get the CRM installed, view it as a long-term project which will require investment at certain time periods.  This way, when the system needs to grow with you, you should have money set aside to take care of it.

So there you have it, our eight points of comparison to enable you to calculate an accurate CRM implementation cost breakdown. It is worth investing sufficient time at this stage to estimate prices correctly.  It is only by doing this that your CRM system will stand a good chance of success from the very start.

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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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