contact management software

Small business basics

Best contact management softwares for small businesses in 2021

Learn all about contact management solutions, what to look for in a contact management system, and our top picks for the best contact management software.

May 04 · 9 min read

Properly managing the contact details of clients and prospects is integral to the success of any small business. Whether it’s for closing the sale or to follow up on a qualified lead, having the right contact information is half the battle. That’s why businesses use a variety of methods to obtain as many contact details as possible from visitors, including opt-in forms, social media contests, online events, and more.

A well-organized contact list doesn’t just streamline your sales process. With the right contact information at your disposal, you can also improve customer interactions and deliver a more personalized experience.

That’s why it is paramount that you not only have a system for keeping all your business contacts organized by details like names, addresses, and phone numbers but that you also keep track of where each of them stands in the sales process. Thankfully, several contact management tools are available today to help automate the process and streamline your efforts.

At the end of this guide, you’ll know all about contact management solutions, what to look for in a contact management system, and our top picks for the best contact management software. Let’s get started.

What is contact management?

Put simply, contact management is the practice of collecting, storing, organizing, and tracking relevant information about your prospects, leads, and clients.

At its most basic, managing contact data is as simple as using an address book to maintain up-to-date information about business contacts. You can also use an Excel or Google spreadsheet to manage your contact data if you want to avoid manually inputting entries in an address book.

However, many businesses prefer to use specialized contact management software to automate the process and save them precious time. This is extremely beneficial to organizations with many contacts to manage and have several people or teams requiring access to the contact information.

What is contact management software?

It’s exactly what you think it would be — a specialized program design to store and maintain contact information such as physical addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and so on. These programs have become so advanced that they can even automate how you collect this contact information. For instance, they can pull this information directly from emails and calendars and then collate the data into a centralized repository.

Some contact management software can also allow users to record notes and keep track of contact interaction. Others, still, can scour the web and automatically collect additional information, such as the location and job title of the contact. These features are particularly helpful to sales teams who need to automate various aspects of the sales process and track multiple steps of communication along the way.

A good contact management system also lets you quickly put together relevant sales data to match your contact information and provide a simple reporting and performance assessment functionality. While it is possible to use standalone contact management software, most small businesses use it as one of the many tools in their customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Many CRM platforms typically provide contact management functionality and additional features designed to simplify how businesses manage customer relationships.

Key difference between contact management software and customer relationship management systems

Clients and customers are at the heart of any successful business strategy. That’s why contact management software and CRMs are gaining more and more traction today. They allow your company to stay agile in a world of ever-changing client demands and interests. But how are they different from each other? More importantly, how do you know which one to implement for your small business?

For starters, contact management software is basically an elementary version of a CRM system. With CRMs, you get a robust platform that includes a host of customer data management tools, including contact management functionalities.

Web-based contact management softwares are not without their impressive features. These include:

  • Organize, store, update, and track infinite amounts of contact data. Eliminate tedious processes like data entry through information update automation.
  • Easy access to the platform using any device. Some programs even come with mobile app versions for easier access through smartphones and tablets.
  • Correspondence management functionality. To keep track of where your prospects are in the sales process, you can add records of all correspondences with each contact to their profile.
  • Quick search filter. You can pull up the contact information you need with a simple search.
  • Store customer information in a centralized repository. This makes it easier to update customer details in real-time.

Startups and small businesses often opt for contact management software over CRM since they don’t usually have many customer relationships to manage just yet. On the other hand, some business owners just go straight for a full-on CRM system, so they have access to a wider range of lead management tools as their business grows.

In any case, the right choice for you is the one that most aligns with your business vision relative to current circumstances. They’re both helpful tools to have, so which one you go for will ultimately come down to your budget and preferences.

What qualities make a great contact management software?

The right customer contact software will deliver a bit more than the standard services like storing and organizing customer data. With that in mind, here are the most essential features to look for when implementing an online contact management system for your small business:

Customizable fields

Some platforms just offer the basic fields for contact information — name, phone number, email, and address. But what if you wanted to include other relevant data about the client? For instance, the client may like certain features that your business offers. This can help improve the targeting of your marketing campaigns.

Customizable fields allow you to do just that. The more customer data you can acquire over time, the closer you are to relationship management.

User-friendly dashboard

Given all of the information a contact manager has to deal with, being able to navigate the platform easily and quickly get the exact details they need is paramount. Imagine if you had to sift through volumes of data and jump from one pop-up window to the next just to find some important piece of customer information.

The time wasted can never be regained, and worse, it can lead to lost sales. Perhaps you’re on a sales call with a prospect, and they’re on the fence on whether to convert and you need information on their unique needs and preferences to steer the discussion on the value of your solutions. This information could be the extra push they need to become paying customers.

Cloud-based

This just means that all the contact information you’re managing is stored online. It also means that any update made to customer data is reflected in real-time across the system. If you manage a team, this is a particularly useful feature since it allows your team members and other departments to access the customer data anytime they need to, from wherever they are in the world.

Now that remote working is fast becoming a norm, cloud-based tools are more important than ever. They help bridge communication gaps and enable business operations to run smoothly, even employees are working across multiple time zones.

Automation features

Why use an online tool if you can’t use it to automate a good measure of your manual processes? But it’s not just about automation. The software should also provide other important features like keeping track of customer interactions and even recording the meetings automatically.

Sales teams and customer contact managers benefit immensely from this because they can immediately see which prospects or customers they need to engage with again based on when the last interaction was recorded.

Seamless integrations

When setting up a targeted marketing campaign, you need more than the usual contact information of the prospect to build an accurate consumer profile. You’ll need to pull bits of info from different sources. To avoid manually sifting through multiple tools and platforms, your contact management system should easily integrate with other relevant customer management platforms. Once integrated, you don’t have to add new information manually when building a consumer profile.

The system will pull the relevant customer data automatically. For example, you can integrate your contact management software with your email client platform to pull information and add new contacts from your email correspondences. You could also integrate it with ecommerce sites and social media platforms to automatically add new contacts when you get a new sale or follower.

Our top 8 best contact management softwares for small businesses

Before we begin our rundown of top contact managers, the most important thing to keep in mind here is that the best sales contact management software for your small business is simply the one that matches how you work. If you run a startup or small business with just a few employees, your contact management software needs will vastly differ from those of a large corporation with branches across the globe.

Our list here includes the leading contact management software that small business owners can capitalize on to streamline their interdepartmental workflows and correspondences.

1. Copper

This cloud-based contact management software is made specifically for G Suite. It works as a contact manager for Google applications and can easily be integrated with various G Suite tools, including Google Calendar, Gmail, Google Docs, and more. This way, you can interchange between multiple platforms’ data seamlessly and make real-time adjustments as needed.

Copper has an intuitive dashboard with an extensive lineup of contact managing tools. Users can access relevant information, including company name, job title, phone number, email, and even communication history complete with notes and attached files.

Top features that we like

  • Perfect for capturing and managing contact information from email marketing since it integrates with Gmail so well.
  • Easy contact import and export functionality
  • User-friendly dashboard and simple yet robust contact database
  • Customer interaction tracking
  • Sales pipeline management
  • Customizable fields
  • Lead management tools

2. Bitrix24

Bitrix24 is a robust platform offering a comprehensive suite of CRM solutions. Top among them is its CRM contact management system, which contains a huge online database of contact information about your sales leads and customers.

Because it’s part of a much larger CRM system, Bitrix24’s contact management tool boasts the advantages offered by the other CRM features. For example, you can set it up to automatically log phone calls and emails between you and a contact. The Bitrix24 contact manager also enables you to capture new leads from different sources seamlessly.

Top features that we like

  • Easy to use system
  • Multiple automation features thanks to robust CRM platform
  • Contact management marketing
  • Create and nurture email marketing campaigns with selected contacts
  • Detailed sales analytics and marketing reports
  • The free version is packed with enough features for small businesses

3. Pipedrive

Another CRM software with an intuitive contact management function, Pipedrive can help streamline your marketing efforts and drive more leads to your sales pipeline. The contact management tools enable users to grow an infinite database of your business contacts, including full timelines of contact activity and communication history. This provides insight into recent calls, emails, and follow-up activities with any particular contact.

You’re also able to import contacts directly from spreadsheets and even sync contact data directly with your Google or Microsoft contacts The CRM platform also offers several useful add-ons like lead booster tools and web visitor tracking.

Top features that we like

  • Easily Import, add, and update contact information
  • Customization options to easily add notes and files
  • Available in mobile app (IOS and Android)
  • Open API with over 150 apps and integrations
  • 24/7 support (chat & email)
  • Google Maps integration allowing to see contact locations on the map

4. Freshworks CRM

This powerful sales CRM software offers great tools for high-growth and high-velocity sales reps who need quick access to customer data at each stage of the sales process. Freshworks CRM’s contact management software helps businesses manage and nurture their contacts by providing a 360-degree view of contact information, as well as tacking end-to-end sales activities.

As a sales force automation system, Freshworks CRM provides automated workflows so sales teams can better manage business leads and streamline the sales pipeline management process. However, what makes it really stand out is that it offers a ton of helpful features, such as behavior tracking automation, lead scoring, marketing automation integrations, and much more, all under one platform.

Top features that we like

  • Cloud-based contact database
  • Customer interaction tracking
  • Sales pipeline management
  • Easy import/export of contact data
  • Simple reporting features
  • Lead management and prospecting tools
  • Streamlined data entry

5. Zoho ContactManager

Zoho ContactManager is simply an online centralized address book that helps small businesses organize and manage all their business contacts in one place. It is also packed with great features like lead management, deal tracking, prospecting tools, easy collaboration, and sales pipeline management.

Zoho ContactManager will not be around for long as the company plans to shut it down on September 30, 2021. It will be replaced by Bigin, a more robust system offering a complete contact management experience and many additional features designed to help businesses plan and execute their day-to-day customer interactions better.

Top features that we like

  • Cloud-based contact database with simple import/export functionality
  • Affordable with pricing starting at $7 per user per month
  • Add and manage unlimited contact data
  • Simple search and filter functionality
  • Easy to use dashboard with no real learning curve

6. Insightly

Insightly advertises itself as the best CRM system with a host of features for marketing automation, customer relationship management, project management, and third-party integrations. The platform is great if you’re looking to promote easier collaboration and workflows by having teams access the information they need from a single source of customer data.

Its contact management goes beyond capturing and organizing contact information but also tracks interactions, history, relationships, and other important stuff to ensure a better customer experience. Capturing and managing customer data is also streamlined since everything is stored in a centralized online database.

Top features that we like

  • Unified CRM platform with robust features
  • Seamless third-party integrations and apps
  • Secure, centralized, and cloud-based contact management
  • Integrates with social media and email client for better email tracking and marketing automation
  • Layered pricing with distinct feature-rich plans
  • Customer relationship activity history
  • Dynamic relationship linking between tools

7. Hubspot CRM

Hubspot CRM claims to be the best CRM with free tools for small businesses. It features a powerful contact management tool that automates everything from data entry in real-time to interaction tracking and lead management. The CRM platform itself is designed to streamline the entire lead generation process, so sales reps and marketers have more flexibility to close deals.

Hubspot CRM is completely free in terms of pricing, but you can upgrade to a paid plan if you want more features to accommodate your growing business. This makes it a great choice for both SAAS and product-based companies in need of CRM solutions that scale alongside their businesses.

Top features that we like

  • Cloud-based software
  • Beginner-friendly with easy to navigate dashboard
  • Customizable fields to collect and manage rich customer data
  • Streamlined project management, pipeline management, deal tracking, meeting scheduling, and more
  • Easy email campaigns and tracking set up with notifications
  • The free version is packed with great features for small businesses

8. Salesforce

Salesforce is a powerful CRM platform with advanced contact management software that provides users with a complete view of their customers, including key contact information, activity history, and customer communications. The platform utilizes AI technology to provide more accurate sales and customer relationship insights.

Salesforce is also available as a mobile app, so business owners can easily run their business from their mobile devices. It is scalable and flexible, enabling teams to craft and deliver the perfect customer experience regardless of the size of the business.

Top features that we like

  • Integrated platform with various automation tools
  • Connect sales, service, procurement, marketing, and other functions under a single centralized database
  • Easy email marketing and tracking set-ups with customizable templates
  • Access critical customer data from any device
  • Pull in social data to gain a more complete view of customers
  • Seamless collaborations among teams

Our best tips for collecting customer contact information

Now that you understand the importance of properly managing contact data and choosing the best contact management software for your business let’s look at how to get this contact information. This is often a challenge for many small businesses. They may craft compelling email and ad messages, but their contact list is drier than the Sahara desert.

If you have this problem in your business, try these handy tips to start growing your customer lists:

  • Hold contests for your customers across multiple platforms — No matter the industry, people love to win. Utilize relevant platforms like your website, LinkedIn, Facebook, and online forums. When they participate and win in your contest, they’re less likely to object when you request their contact information.
  • Create a customer loyalty plan — When you give your prospects an incentive to sign up or opt-in, they are more willing to part with their contact details.
  • Build trust and credibility — Many online users are wary about disclosing their contact information, especially to new brands. Taking the time to build trust and credibility in your industry will always pay off when collecting customer data and converting prospects.
  • Host online events — Webinars and online workshops allow you to collect customer information effectively. Usually, people will need to enter their contact details and other relevant information before they can attend your online event.
  • Create social call-to-actions — If you already have an engaged audience on social media, you can drive them further down the sales funnel by asking them to join your email subscriber list. This way, your contact management software can just pull their contact information when they join your email list.

Wrapping up

Contact management tools are now classified under the essentials category for any small business looking to stay on top of their customer relationship management processes. But why stop there? Go a step further by implementing other important business management tools and automation features, such as bookings, scheduling, and online payments.

Sign up on B12 today to learn more about our suite of web solutions that provide you with everything you need to run your business in one convenient place.

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