When you’re drowning in clients and menial tasks piling up, who do you call? Well, no one. There isn’t a hotline for managing business workloads. If there was, they would direct you to software designed to help manage your sales, clients, growth, and everything in between. One of those powerful software options is CRM. It can help even niche industries like business consultants.
What Is a CRM Software?
CRM stands for customer relationship management software. It can optimize workflows for most B2C (and even B2B) companies. They’re often used for future growth, and daily tasks all while bringing employees closer.
The software is often designed for marketers, salespeople, and customer support teams. Many CRMs have marketing features like email marketing automation or ad management. Other CRMs have features for sales teams like lead management. Most CRMs have some form of customer service functionality like live chat, chatbots, and ticketing across media channels.
If you have a business that requires building and maintaining client relationships a CRM will be a great asset. Companies that focus more on marketing or customer service will also be able to find a CRM that best fits their use case.
CRM software is incredibly diverse. They all won’t have the same services and many will be more niche than others, but that means you might find the perfect solution to your specific use case.
What Are The Benefits Of Using CRM Software For Consultants?
A CRM can help most commercial companies from startups to enterprises. Great CRM solutions for consultants would be affordable, especially for those just starting out. For a business that requires relationship building, client and service-focused features are ideal. If you want to grow your business and streamline tasks, you will greatly benefit from marketing automation tools as well.
Some general benefits a CRM will have for consultants include:
- Cost savings for tight budgets
- Marketing management features for growth
- Client retention features
- Task management tools to simplify workloads
- Automation of manual tasks
- Analytics for performance
- Communication tools like messaging and video conferencing
- Scheduling tools and calendar integrations
- Web content management for improving your online presence
- Ticketing across multiple platforms to stay on track of client responses
Features like these can both eliminate stress on one person or small teams and improve their everyday needs. You can take your company to the next level with a solution that can both alleviate your day-to-day tasks and meet your business goals.
What Is The Best CRM Software For Consultants?
Our list of consulting CRMS is based on affordability. A CRM solution can get very expensive very quickly so the list includes many options with freemium plans. Freelance and independent consultants will be able to find CRM platforms to fit their budget and consulting firms can even find solutions to fit the size of their team.
Not all the options in the list offer marketing, sales, and customer support tools. Many of them specialize more in project management or customer retention, but there are platforms with awesome marketing capabilities as well.
You will notice that the most common pricing for a CRM solution is per user per month. This can benefit individuals and small businesses consulting firms a lot more, but there are plans that cater to large teams as well. If you’re only interested in finding some free CRM plans then take advantage of this article on popular free CRMs here.
HubSpot CRM is one of the most popular CRM platforms for small businesses. They have an incredibly extensive free plan that independent consultants can benefit from and paid plans with more robust capabilities.
For this article, we’re just going over HubSpot Free CRM, and the Starter plan for the Marketing Hub, Hubspot has multiple different hubs with their own sets of subscriptions. We’re discussing the most affordable plans that single consultants can appreciate.
HubSpot has a substantial volume of positive reviews and a trScore of 8.4/10. General positive sentiment tends to be about functionality and usability such as contact management and task management. Negatives tend to be the desire for more customization and better deduplication for contacts.
The pricing model for HubSpot CRM paid versions is per volume of contacts with 1000 contacts as the default for the Starter plan. HubSpot Free CRM allows unlimited users and 1 million contacts.
|Hubspot Free CRM Plan||Hubspot Free CRM|
|HubSpot Marketing Subscription||Marketing Hub|
|Cost||Starter – $45 per month billed yearly|
The HubSpot Free CRM subscription is the perfect way to find out if HubSpot is the one. The subscription was created to give you access to a lite version of all their major hubs. Their products include hubs for marketing, sales, customer service, CMS, and operations.
With a freemium plan like this, it will take a while just to summarize all their features and functionality. They have features important for a good CRM such as email marketing, live chat, and ad management. Their less common capabilities include blog content and web platform features like analytics or automated site maps.
This plan is just as affordable to a freelance independent consultant as it is to a team because you have unlimited users. The bonus is that if you decide you want the paid version, you can keep team members that don’t need access to paid on the free plan. There’s nothing to lose with a stacked free plan; you can only increase profitability.
With the Marketing Hub, the first plan option they have is the Starter plan for $45/month. The next option is $800 per month billed upfront. We did our best to focus more on affordability for this list.
In the Starter tier, you have access to 10 reporting dashboards, 10 automated actions for email and forms as well as support via email and chat. You can also remove all HubSpot branding to look more professional to clients.
The Starter option and the freemium version are both worthwhile software for a startup or small company. You can manage a flexible volume of clients along with your web platform and daily tasks. They aren’t the right choice for a large firm with multiple blogs and websites.
If you want a sneak peek at HubSpot Free CRM, check out the full-length tutorial below.
Accelo offers the same capabilities as a CRM but is actually considered a professional service automation (PSA) software provider. Software like this one can be a life saver for a freelance consultant or consulting firm. They offer marketing, sales, and service capabilities like any other CRM, but it has a special focus on workflow management. One of their main use cases is consultants.
Accelo has fairly positive, but overall mixed end-user experiences. They have a trScore of 8.7/10. Most positive reviews show satisfaction for general capabilities like flexibility and customization, while negative reviews have issues with speed and usability.
The pricing for Accelo is not just per user per month but also per product per month. With the Accelo cloud, you can use multiple products for projects, billing, retainers, and more. If you have one user buying their Billing service with the Plus plan, then it’s $30 each month. With Accelo the minimum is 5 users so your month-to-month cost would be $150 before any fees or taxes.
|Accelo Cloud Plans||Plus||Premium|
|Cost per each user (with a 5 users minimum), per product||$30 per month, billed monthly|
$24 per month, billed annually
|$49 per month, billed monthly|
$39 per month, billed annually
Plus is great for task management. It offers a contacts database, custom fields, time tracking, and an activity to manage clients. It’s designed to help a team keep track of the daily workflow.
Premium allows teams templates, custom workflows, and a client portal so you can manage their customer experience easier. The plan also has the benefit of upgraded security and your own branding.
As a reminder, you can only see the product features on their respective pages. They have 6 different products with their own feature list that you can find at the bottom of their pricing page here.
Both tiers are great for task management, but if you’re unsure you can always start with their Plus plan. If you’re not impressed with Accelo, you can find more PSA software here.
For a deep dive into the software, watch the webinar for beginners below.
Bitrix24 is a powerful client-focused software for customer service providers. They have an extensive cloud with CRM and Contact Center services. This CRM system is also great for team collaboration with calling and messaging features.
The software is a highly rated CRM tool with a well-rounded amount of praise and criticism. The common positive feedback talks about productivity features like project management and group segmentation. Negative feedback is generally about software bugs or problems with the integrations or add-ons.
Their pricing model is based on the amount of user and storage you need. The free version offers unlimited users with 5 GB of storage. Bitrix24 has an incredibly long and detailed feature breakdown between each of their plans. We recommend you look at the full list at the bottom of their pricing page here.
|Costs||$0||$43 per month||$87 per month||$175 per month||$350 per month|
Free offers small groups pretty great capabilities and 5GB of data storage. It has team collaboration features like chat messaging and calling. It also has some task and project management features like status summary and time tracking.
The built-in CRM offers unlimited deals and contacts, but not much for automation. Their Contact Center tool allows you to connect social media accounts like Facebook, and communicate via live chat.
Free plans tend not to offer a lot of functionality, but similar to HubSpot, they give you an in-depth peek at the software. This freemium subscription even provides you with a fully functional website builder. It has a responsive design for mobile devices, templates, free hosting, and the option to add your own domain.
Each tier comes with even more functionality, so there is more that Bitrix24 can offer. For one, analytics can be stronger, and they can offer more for your web platform.
Basic is the next step up with more of the previous features and Online Store functionality. In this plan, you can access 24GB of storage, upgraded video calls, delegate tasks, and send unlimited voicemails.
It has workflow automation for sales, marketing, and documents. There is even analytics for your CRM and your website through Google Analytics. You can obviously get your own Google Analytics account but this way everything for your website is in the same place. The Online Store tool lets you manage clients with checkout scripts, offer unlimited products, and integrate with a payment processing provider.
This plan is great for your web platform as well as for managing client sales. What else could Bitrix24 provide teams? Upgrade email marketing and document collaboration capabilities are a highlight in the next plan.
For the Standard subscription, you get access to more storage at 100GB and unlimited leads. Unique features to this plan include online document management with features like group editing, shareable links, and password protection. You also can get segmented email marketing along with email templates.
The other subscriptions prior do not nearly have as many marketing features as this plan. If you need to focus heavily on growing your client base and need to improve communication and project collaboration in your team then this might be your best choice. The next tier has more sales, automation, and HR capabilities.
With Professional, your consulting firm can access 1,024GB of storage. It also includes all the features for bitrix24’s CRM, Contact Center, Website Builder, Online Store, and Marketing tools. On top of that new tools to optimize your team’s workflow and sales cycle are introduced.
For the Sales Intelligence features, you are able to track and automate social ads, as well as generate analytic reports for traffic and keyword analysis. The upgraded automation center on business processes offers you a processes designer and has a smart processes tool for things like hiring or event timelines.
These features can certainly organize your daily workflow and help you stay on track of sales performance. The plan still goes further and provides you with full HR support like employee reports or a company knowledge base.
Professional is definitely best for medium to large teams with a high volume of clients and employees to manage. You would want the next plan up if you are a complex enterprise with several branches and a wealth of data to handle.
When it comes to Enterprise, you get an outstanding 3TB of storage and are provided with tools tailored to the needs of bigger businesses. This means Bitrix24’s Scalability and Enterprise Pack tools.
With their collection of features for scalability, they have failover, automated backup, and data isolation. These can help protect your data as it grows. Enterprise Pack features include encryption and will soon offer audit trails for user actions.
Enterprise is again only worth it if you have a large company and endless operations, data, and projects to manage. If you’re unsure about anything, you can use the freemium version to get a hands-on experience of the software and consider whether you want more of it.
For a closer look at the software, see the demo video below.
ActiveCampaign is a super stacked CRM that is best suited for marketing and sales activities. They have a high volume of positive reviews from end-users, but they also have notable criticism that can provide you with a holistic perspective.
Positive feedback tends to be on the capabilities like the customization options and templates. On the other side, negative feedback tends to mention speed and learning curve as issues like with the onboarding process.
The pricing model has built-in caps for users in each plan so you aren’t paying per agent. Instead, it’s based on the number of contacts you want, billed annually.
You should also know that the features for each plan change depending on the type of business you are. For this article, we stayed with B2C as the business model, but know that you should change it to be accurate to your clients.
For the table below we did 1000 contacts, but the lowest you can go is 500 if you are a freelance consultant or small company. This type of pricing is ideal for large teams because it’s entirely dependent on your volume of clients.
|Costs||$29/month billed annually||$49/month billed annually||$149/month billed annually||Contact Sales|
The Lite plan is certainly not light on the features allotted to you. You have access to their marketing, sales, and service suites. This plan allows the fan favorites like marketing automation, email marketing, audience segmentation, and customer analytics. It even lets you use APIs, webhooks, and developer tools to enhance the software to meet your needs.
The only catch is Lite only allows one user. This is no problem for freelance, independent consultants. If you are a team then you will definitely need the next plan up but it will be worth it because Lite does not have all available features.
For the Plus, you have as many as 25 users, SMS marketing, sales process automation, and automated chatbot workflows. It can upgrade your customer service providers through SMS follow-up, customer success pipelines, and customer health scoring.
This plan has other helpful features like integrations with eCommerce sites like Shopify, account management, and performance reporting for future growth. You can do quite a bit with this plan, especially if you’re a small group. For bigger teams, you will want the next tier.
Professional teams can go up to 50 users and easily train new staff with a dedicated onboarding specialist. You get powerful features like website personalization, predictive content, and sales engagement automation. This plan is perfect for consulting firms with a fair volume of clients.
When it comes to Enterprise you get some exciting new features like unlimited users, HIPAA support, and custom reporting. Users are able to add custom branding, custom email server, and access limitless email design testing. This is the best choice for medium-sized companies with plenty of uses.
It may not be worth it if you have no need for unlimited users. The hard part is the cost needs to be calculated by sales so you can’t estimate the cost yourself.
If you want more insight into the software, check out the demo below.
Freshdesk is dedicated to the human element of customer relationship management. It’s designed more for customer service than it is for sales and marketing. This would be the best CRM for a team that is looking for a software solution to provide consistent customer support as well as maintain long-term client relationships.
This would be good for a consulting firm that didn’t need to focus on marketing (or already had great marketing software), but wanted to track service requests easily and affordably. Freshdesk has a very positive reviewer sentiment overall with some diverse experiences as well.
Positive reviews highlight the overall functionality and usability of the software with many noting the knowledge base, reporting, and analytics as benefits. One reviewer even commented that “The free tier is awesome and very useful for startup companies in the tech space.” This is great news for freelance consultants and small teams that want to save money.
Negative reviews tend to focus on the desire for more personalization, pricing, and functionality. One end-user that gave them a 10/10, reported a frustrating bug “when an out-of-office message is sent automatically from a customer, and we set the status to ‘waiting on customer’ the status still shows ‘customer responded’.” That can be a particularly confusing issue. If you want to look through the reviews you can go here.
The Freshdesk pricing model is nothing new for a CRM tool. Costs are per user a month, billed monthly or yearly. The free version is unique because it allows up to 10 agents. These costs are budget-friendly to independent consultants, startups, or even small consulting businesses. If you’re a large consulting firm then it can get costly for your client communications team.
|Costs||$0 for 10 users||$15 per user per month billed annually|
$18 per user a month billed Monthly
|$49 per user per month billed annually|
$59 per user a month billed Monthly
|$79 per user a month billed annually|
$95 per user a month billed Monthly
Free offers small teams of 10, basic functionality to manage customer experience. This includes ticketing for email and social media, ticket reporting, and knowledge base for self-service.
The plan is ideal for a small business or groups that only need to keep track of client requests. If you want to save money or try out the software, then Free is a great choice. It’s not worth it if you need automation, more reporting, and time tracking features.
Their Growth plan provides you with automation of tasks, custom SSL and email server, and time tracking with a timesheet summary report. It’s great for teams and offers the performance, reporting, and integrations to improve workflow.
This subscription has added security and privacy for you and your client data, and can help you grow by tracking performance. Time management is also essential for building effective client relationships.
For the Pro tier, you can expedite the optimization of your business with complex service functionality. With this plan you can create custom roles, customizable reports and dashboards, and even more tools to personalize your user experience.
For the optimization of your customer service management, you can utilize round-robin routing, and offer a multilingual knowledge base to meet your global client’s needs. You can even invite third parties like freelancers or partners to help with your client service workflow.
This subscription service works best for team collaboration and customization for business needs. What it won’t have is more technical service features like chatbots and sandboxes.
Enterprise comes with far more technical assistance to streamline your workloads. You can use sandbox environments to test tools for training, utilize assistant and email bots, and stay on top of events with the audit log of your helpdesk.
Teams can also manage service better with skill-based routing for hard scenarios, and shift management for your agents. This is the ideal CRM system for teams with a high volume of clients and who need more tools to simplify their real-time business processes. If you’re a small team then this plan may not be worth the cost, especially if your volume of clients is easily manageable as is.
For a better understanding of this software, see the tutorial below.
If you’re interested in more CRM systems or related software you’re in the right place. We have lists for lead management software, contact management software, CRM software, and even more PSA software. We also have an article on free CRM software you can check out here.
For those that have used any of the platforms discussed here, please leave a review to help other buyers make informed decisions.
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