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Deb Daniel

Should I choose a paid or free CRM?

In This Article

–  What is CRM?

–  Why is free CRM a good option?

– Why is paid CRM a good option?

– Should I choose a paid or free CRM- Conclusion

You might be wondering ‘should I choose a paid or free CRM?’

Don’t you worry, I will discuss whether you should use a paid or free CRM.  Why should you invest in a paid CRM when there are so many free options available. Read more to find out whether you should opt for a paid or free CRM system.


Credit: Gabriel Benois/Unsplash

What is CRM?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. It allows businesses to develop growing relationships with their customers through a software system that manages sales, customer service, marketing and more. For example, access to customer information and interaction history such as past purchases can help identify what services specific customers are interested in and so you can essentially match products to people. CRM collects customer data so businesses can gain insight and so sales can be more selective and personalised. Customer data is integral to CRM as it improves customer experience which ultimately leads to more sales. The goal of CRM is not only customer retention but to aid growth in sales. The growth of sales is dependent on organisations understanding their customers needs and building long-lasting relationships between customers.


Why is free CRM a good option?

Determining whether to invest in a paid CRM or to use a free option is a difficult process, especially as there are pros and cons to both. It is important to understand the benefits of a paid CRM versus free, so you can make an informed decision about what to go for. 

But why should you pay when you can get a service for free?

Free is great if you are a new startup or are needing to watch your budgets, but please be aware that it does not always save money in the mid/long term,does not always save money nor does it save time but if you have a full understanding of what you need in your business then free may or may not be the best option for you.

There is no cost for free (it’s free). HubSpot offers free CRM services that can do everything your business needs. However, you may find these wonderful features are quite complicated and expensive after the free trial period is over, since they are designed for larger organisations. In spite of that, they have all the key features you need in five core modules (Sales, Customer Service, Operations, CRM Marketing, CMS). Ultimately, Hubspot offers all the features you may need for free, but it always comes at a cost.

Setting up HubSpot CRM can take anywhere from 1.5 days to over 2 days as video- training is extensive. Systems for small businesses should only take a small amount of time, so before you commit to a free option be sure that you have the time commitment as you are paying with your time. 

Free is a good option for those that are ready to commit and there’s no shame in knowing that, just be aware that organisations like HubSpot though give you access to plenty of resources do also limit you to 1000 emails a month.  90% of Popcorn customers have found that their 4500 email package a month has been more than enough. For growing customers you might find yourself moving from the free options to paid (to direct sales, . HubSpot is great for growing customers but be mindful that if you do want to upgrade there will be a big jump from free to expensive as their 12 month contract adds up to £2,624 a month.  Therefore, free is a good option but it is not the only option for you as with paid options there are no hidden costs.

Another hidden cost that you don’t realise when using free CRM is that it limits the amount of customers you can interact with. For example, Hubspot allows you to use their system for as long as you need but they only allow up to 2000 customers, limiting the growth of your business.

Companies like HubSpot are great but the services that they offer are not designed for small businesses as they are corporate friendly. Simplicity is best when it comes to your business but only you will know what free or paid CRM is for you. What do you need in your small business? It’s all too easy to get distracted by complex features that are not so user-friendly when all you need for your small business is a place to store your customer data.

 But are paid options truly worth the investment?


Why is paid CRM a good option?

Approximately 70% of businesses fail when they use free CRM because the services tend not to be user-friendly, so if you want to start a successful business using free CRM, you will need another full-time job to operate it.

One advantage to using paid CRMs is that you are paying for good customer service, the support you truly need. Popcorn wishes to personalise and tailor its customer service for your needs. Paid CRM tends to be more guided and more interactive. You won’t have to wait hours to get through to someone when you have a query and need help with your business-related needs. 

We’ve all been in a position where we are desperate for answers but have to wait in a long line before we can get a representative to speak to us. As you already know time is money, but you as a business owner will know whether free or paid CRM suits your business best. However, paid CRM typically does not have phone support, so not only will you be using complex systems but with free CRM you will lose out on the additional support that is offered to paid CRM users.

Another factor to consider when wondering if you should invest in a paid CRM system is that there are no added costs, as discussed further up free CRM services are only free to an extent.

Simon Washbrook, Founder of Popcorn CRM warns against using free CRM.

He said : “Be aware of the hidden fees, nothing is ever free, building software is really expensive, the only reason you’re getting it for free is that they want you to be invested.”



Credit: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

He explained that paid CRM is a good option for small businesses because they are easy to navigate compared to more complex, free systems. 

Washbrook’s specialist CRM service has everything you need from website tracking to email marketing to foster sales.

“Popcorn gives small business owners the ability to manage , nurture and convert their prospects in a really simple way. There is no contract and no hidden fees, so you will always know where you stand and the support is great too. Our customers love the fact that it’s so easy to use, that it gives them clarity and they always know who they can pick up the phone to and speak to next.” 

Finally, free CRM systems might at first seem like the more attractive option but all in all paid CRM offers more for your time and money due to their simplicity, functionality and great customer service support. With a mid-range CRM like Popcorn you will learn, with the help of informative guides and a supportive team, how to track potential customers and to engage with them in ways that you can increase sales, therefore maximising profits.

You might also be interested in:

Thought Leadership Piece on how CRM helps Small Businesses Scale 

Managed CRM

Getting the Right language for Customer Communications

Enjoyed this post? Comment below or read through our blog for more lead management and CRM tips, especially for small businesses.

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