It’s frustrating when you get software that everyone raves about, but it doesn’t do what you need it to do. Your business may have specific needs that aren’t addressed by a one-size-fits-all tool, so customization may be the only way to go.
An open-source customer relationship management (CRM) software option could be the solution. If you have the technical know-how, you can modify a free open-source CRM (or even a paid version) so it has the features your sales team needs.
The five best open-source CRM software options:
What to look for in a great open-source CRM
When shopping for a platform, you’ll need certain open-source CRM tools to get the job done. Look for platforms with the following CRM features.
1. Relationship management
Open-source customer and client management is key for any open-source CRM option. The goal of using the software is to make sure your customers have a good experience with you and want to develop a relationship with your company. Good relationship management not only earns new sales, but also guarantees future sales down the road as the customer looks to renew a subscription or buy an upgrade.
2. Contact list and database
At its most fundamental level, CRM software needs to be able to organize your contacts and leads. Any solution you consider should have an open-source lead management system and a CRM database you can use to be sure you've adequately tracked all of your potential customers. Ideally, it should allow you to customize the contact list and add extensive details about each customer.
3. Sales analytics
Your business won’t survive today’s competitive environment without analytics. If you’re not tracking data, you need to start by getting software that crunches the numbers and produces actionable reports. These reports will show trends and other insights that can help you make important decisions about the future of your company.
Our top 5 picks for open-source CRM
If you’re looking for the best of open-source CRMs, you can’t do much better than the following five options reviewed by The Blueprint.
1. Freshworks CRM
Our top-ranked open-source CRM is also our top-rated CRM software overall. Freshworks CRM, formerly known as Freshsales, strikes a good balance between a stripped-down CRM and a features-heavy enterprise solution. It also provides good customer service, and the software is impressively easy to use.
Freshworks boasts more than 1,200 apps in its marketplace. It has a thriving developer community with lots of discussion about how to tweak the software. Within the community, you can talk about app development, get assistance with product APIs (application programming interfaces), make feature requests, and find answers to commonly asked questions through a Wiki page.
Key feature: Freshworks CRM's lead scoring feature sets it apart from competitors. With this tool, you can score prospects based on their level of engagement, and, therefore, how likely they are to buy, making it easier to prioritize which customers you talk to.
- Blossom: $12/month per user ($19 billed monthly). This version includes standard lead and deal management, with marketplace apps, integrations, API access, and more.
- Garden: $25/month per user ($35 billed monthly). This version includes 250 bulk emails per user per day, workflow automations, advanced reports, and more.
- Estate: $49/month per user ($65 billed monthly). This version includes 1,000 bulk emails, more workflow automations, advanced customization options, and event tracking.
- Forest: $79/month per user (annual commitment only). This version includes 5,000 bulk emails, up to 50 teams, IP whitelisting, audit logs, and a dedicated account manager.
Insightly is another highly rated piece of software with excellent customer support. This cloud-based CRM will help you run your sales team better, and it also boasts a lot of marketing tools so you can incorporate that element of your operation as well. The software's automation features will save your team members time and allow them to focus more on selling.
For developers, there's Insightly API, which allows you to incorporate CRM into any system or application. For example, you can use the API to export data from Insightly into your reporting service to create customized reports for your business. Insightly also offers a weekly series on YouTube called DevTalk to keep you plugged in on the activities of the Insightly developer community.
Key feature: Insightly offers lead routing, which allows your team to better identify red-hot leads and the right time to contact them to maximize the chances of landing a sale. The software automatically sends leads to the right team member depending on where they are in the sales pipeline.
- Free plan: This version offers limited features.
- Plus: $29/month per user. This version lets you schedule emails and manage leads, and it gives you up to 100 email templates.
- Professional: $49/month per user. This version adds the lead assignment roles feature.
- Enterprise: $99/month per user. This version offers unlimited records, unlimited storage, and a dedicated specialist.
3. HubSpot CRM
HubSpot CRM shines in terms of ease of use, and it has one of the best free versions out there. HubSpot CRM offers powerful marketing and customer relations tools, in addition to its sales features. It also has great dashboards for detailed reports. The software offers marketing automation, although that’s limited to the more expensive plans.
HubSpot CRM invites users who want to play with the source code to create a developer account to create apps and websites. This enables you to build a custom solution specifically for your company. Or, you could build an app for the HubSpot App Marketplace, opening up new business opportunities.
Key feature: The pipeline dashboard in HubSpot is impressive, showing every detail about your sales funnel in real time in a centralized place. It’s visual and easy to understand, and it will keep your sales team on the same page.
- Marketing hub: $50-$3,200/month. This version includes advanced features for converting leads.
- Sales hub: $50-$1,200/month. This version includes advanced email marketing, as well as automation and call transcription features.
- Service hub: $50-$1,200/month. This version provides custom reporting, ticket reports, canned snippets, and more.
- HubSpot CMS: $300/month. This version helps with launching web pages, blogs, and landing pages.
4. Vtiger Sales CRM
Vtiger aims to streamline communication both with your employees and your customers, organizing sales and marketing efforts into one centralized hub, and automating various tasks. It's a good option for small businesses, and you can access it from anywhere, including from your smartphone. There's a lot of customization available with modules.
It's a free open-source CRM with a large community of businesses and developers. You can find hundreds of plugins developed by independent developers on Vtiger's extension marketplace.
Key feature: Vtiger's workflow automation feature allows a team to better prioritize tasks. The software streamlines processes so your team isn't wasting a lot of time on repetitive chores.
Pricing: Vtiger offers its software in three tiers, and a free trial is available. (Note that all prices are based on annual subscriptions.)
- Starter: $10/month per user. This version provides leads and contact management, deal management, and auto-assignment of leads.
- Professional: $20/month per user. This version includes team activity alerts, multiple pipelines, and sales insights.
- Enterprise: $30/month per user. This version includes sentiment tracking, quote and approval automation, and multiple currencies.
Bitrix24 is an excellent option for businesses looking for software with a wide range of features, tools, and customization. The software is mostly free and has free domain and website tools, making it a good option for small businesses that are tech-savvy but have a limited budget. It's not the easiest to use and support is lacking, but it is capable software at a good price.
Bitrix24 is also free open-source software. It’s available both via the cloud and on-premise, with open-source code access so your business can modify it to suit your needs.
Key feature: It's easy to stay connected, thanks to Bitrix24's communication tools, which allow chat via video, workspaces, chat rooms, and more. You can create individual workgroups so they can communicate on specific projects.
Pricing: Bitrix24's pricing scheme for paid versions is somewhat complicated, but here's a basic breakdown:
- First tier of paid plans:
- Start+: $24/month for two years.
- CRM+: $69/month for six users.
- Project+: $69/month for 24 users, but you get fewer features than with CRM+.
- Business plans:
- Standard: $99/month for 50 users.
- Professional: $199/month for unlimited users and offers all features in full.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew
Sometimes a feature or tool you think you need may not be all that necessary, or what you’re looking for could be done adequately on a straight-out-of-the-box software platform. As a result, think long and hard before you go the open-source CRM route. It may trap you and your team in an endless project that you weren’t prepared to take on, removing you from more important tasks.
Ask yourself if you need something perfect or something good enough. Once you settle on an answer, you can proceed with your choice with confidence.