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Which is the best CRM platform to use in 2021?

If you’re anything like me, you will have spent the Christmas break thinking how you can improve your business and bring change that makes you more successful in the new year.

One of the things that I always struggled with was the best way to manage the data surrounding my agency and I have tried so many CRM platforms like Insightly, PipeDrive, SugarCRM, Salesforce and many more I will have long forgotten.

So, in our first blog of 2021 I wanted to take a closer look at the subject – I know it will help you if you’re making the choice of which way to turn.

What is CRM?

Which is the best CRM platform to use in 2021?CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, has become an integral tool for businesses of all sizes. Put simply, it’s a technology that’s used to manage interactions with customers and potential customers. CRM systems come in many forms, but in essence they help organisations build customer relationships and streamline processes so they can increase sales, improve customer service, and increase profitability. 

The key things to ensuring CRM works to its maximum potential are making sure it’s part of your everyday working life, keeping it well managed and up to date and integrating it into your website. Do those things properly and you’ll be able to segment your customers, build better marketing campaigns and ultimately drive sales.

If you think adopting a CRM system could be for you and you start your research, you’ll quickly find out that the choice on the market is overwhelming. There are literally hundreds of options out there so it’s vital to take your time and find one that meets the features and pricing that’s right for you.

Creating a shortlist of platforms is a mammoth task in itself, so we’ve spoken to some leading CRM experts, business people and influencers about what system they use and why…

What do I think the best CRM platform is?

On a personal level I like HubSpot. I’ve tried lots of different CRM platforms over the years – and I have to say, the first time I used it I knew it was the best CRM platform  It’s so simple to work with and it’s easy to integrate. Also, when you’re ready, the customisations and sequences you can set up are really powerful. The other great thing is that HubSpot has good price points for every business – it starts from free through to some basic packages before you get into the more expensive and advanced Enterprise Level packages.

If your business expects rapid growth, then it will certainly grow with you. The only negatives are the onboarding costs as it can be expensive when you start to look at the more expensive packages, and finding a good HubSpot partner to help you with this is essential to ensure you get good value for money.

Let’s hear what other people think about CRM platforms

Tom Cheesewright – one of the UK’s leading futurist speakers, commentators and consultants on technology and tomorrow.

I use Capsule CRM which is based in Manchester. If you just want to start capturing and using data about customers and prospects, it’s really easy to get into and very intuitive. It’s ideal for micro to small business, although obviously it depends on what you’re using it for and how many users there are in the organisation. While Capsule CRM has some great integrations, they are sometimes a bit shallow. Unless you’re keen to spend some time with things like Zapier getting things linked up exactly how you want them, you may look to something with a broader feature set – particularly if you’re using this at the core of a marketing campaign.”

Michael Stott – co-founder of JetpackCRM

The biggest benefit of Jetpack CRM is its ease of use. We’ve designed and built Jetpack CRM to be the easiest to use CRM out there. As soon as you install the plugin, you’re taken through a quick setup wizard and an easy welcome tour. Once completed, adding a new contact is only a few clicks away. There are loads of other benefits including hosting your own data which is very important from a GDPR standpoint, and having your CRM in WP Admin as that saves time jumping between apps.

We’re aimed at entrepreneurs (single person, to small teams) who would benefit from running elements of CRM alongside their business. That’s why we focused on ease of use as we know these people are busy running their business and they don’t have bundles of time to learn a complex CRM. We also have a Reseller bundle available for agencies who may want to offer the features and functionality of Jetpack CRM, but with their own brand.

I think the drawback of many CRMs, including ours, is even though we’ve designed it to be easy to use, it could always be that bit easier for new users to get started.  As our active user count grows, I fully expect us to cover new use cases where the “out the box” setup might not be quite right for them. This is an area we’ll always be on the lookout to get better. In order to help overcome this we have a welcome tour in the plugin, as well as our Learn area of the CRM website. 

Greg Ferguson – CRM Disruptor and Sales Leader


The real strategy behind any CRM solution should be about business growth. The key UPilot differentiator  is the inclusion of role-based access right out of the box. It allows every user to determine who sees what is in their pipeline. The way most CRM’s are structured without role-based access is a limiting growth factor. Role-based access in UPilot is vital as it delivers the structure and transparency to see the entire pipeline and reverse engineer growth.  Most CRM solutions ‘lock’ this feature into their enterprise versions. It’s also important to figure out the size a channel should be to achieve growth targets.

Other great reasons to consider UPilot include: simplicity and ease of use – users, learn faster and want to use ’their’ CRM; it’s full-featured with integrations; the user interface is visually stunning and intuitive; the email synchronisation is included and does not send data to API based solutions; the UPilot team are super responsive; and it’s sensational value for the included features with role-based access.

UPilot has been explicitly designed to scale for growth. It can be used from one to two users to 100 and beyond with no step pricing for ‘unlocking’ additional features. You just add new users as required. When you start with UPilot, you can continue to grow without the complexity and having to migrate to another solution.

It would be good if user workspace was available that delivered an individual summary on ALL of your CRM activities – the morning snapshot that helps you focus. But guess what… it is in development! I am passionate about the benefits a CRM brings to any business and just love ‘flying’ with UPilot. I have used several other solutions but none have come close to delivering what UPilot does consistently.

Chris Buckley – MD of Pixel Kicks, the Manchester based full-service digital agency

As an agency we’ve been using Zoho CRM for around four years, and as we’ve grown we’ve started to use more of the advanced features. What I love about it is that you can make it as simple or as complex as you wish. You can manage a list of leads, with no cluttered UI constantly trying to get you to do something else, or can you use it for lead management as it has a full contact database, intelligent email campaigns and marketing automation. I love how you can also create personalised customer journeys, assessing the performance at each process stage.  Zoho is highly customisable, so despite it not being one of the more trendy CRMs out there, I’d say it’s definitely one of the most powerful.

Russell Hope – MD of Plain Selling

Many businesses manage their sales pipeline in a spreadsheet… why when there are so many SaaS offerings available from as little as £10 per month? For the price of less than a round of drinks each month you can have a Pipedrive desktop CRM, a great mobile CRM Version of Pipedrive, some cool technology which tells you when your emails have been read and some other really helpful parts such as diary scheduling, and multiple pipeline management. More recently Pipedrive have introduced chat marketing for your website and they seem to be scaling the features without it become Frankenstein.

It’s essential for two users and above to use Pipedrive. As soon as a spreadsheet like Google Sheets or Excel is used regularly for sales by more than one person it starts to grow arms and legs and often becomes a MONSTER. Pipedrive can work perfectly well for sales teams of 10-15, more than that and I imagine you’ll be in a position to uplift to the next level.

In terms of improvements, it would be great to have some call recording in there as that may enable your sales people and sales management to extract more qualitative information; sales people could then share their calls and ask for peer assessment and help. There are some fantastic technologies out there specialising in this such as Refract, a UK based software company, but maybe Pipedrive are happy for others to do this and an integration to another system would be the most we could expect.

Now, it’s over to you!

Let us know which is the best CRM in your opinion – if you’re really passionate about the platform then let us know and we’ll add you to the list above.