CRM: What CRM should I choose in South Africa?


What CRM should I choose in South Africa?

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By Luke Marthinusen September 14, 2019 • 27 minutes to read

This guide is a high-level view of the top choices of CRM relevant to the South African market and influenced by South African factors like currency, average business size, and support.

CRM remains the largest and fastest growing enterprise software category globally.

  1. Gartner says worldwide spending on customer experience and relationship management (CRM) software grew 15.6% to reach $48.2B in 2018.
  2. 72.9% of CRM spending was on software as a service (SaaS) in 2018, which is expected to grow to 75% of total CRM software spending in 2019.

CRM or Customer Relationship Management is more than software, CRM is a strategy for managing the interactions your organisation has with customers and potential customers. A CRM's core purpose is to improve & maintain these relationships and ultimately increase company profitability.

factors to consider when choosing a CRM in SOuth Africa

  1. Affordability: The Rand can fluctuate wildly making sizeable $ payments a concern
  2. Popularity in South Africa: Sharing experiences and best use with peers is very important to successful implementation and usage. Upskilling new staff on popular platforms is often far quicker due to past experience.
  3. International Support: We have a 5 to 9 hour time difference to support centres in Asia and the USA.
  4. Local Support: To setup, consult and maintain if required.
  5. Most User-Friendly: A CRM really becomes valuable when it’s used by the whole team.
  6. Business Size: This guide will be of greatest use to SMBs with 1 - 1000 employees, it does offer some guidance for large business with 1000+ employees.

How to evaluate your CRM choice?

All of the CRM’s on our list are strong platforms, but each business is unique, and it is up to the evaluator to find the right balance between price, features and functionality required for the current business and further down the road as the business grows.
Hubspot crm

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Core features you need in a CRM:

  1. Email integration: Track and automatically log email communications in the CRM
  2. Calendar integration: Track meetings an automatically log in the CRM (Gmail & Outlook/Office 365)
  3. Dashboards & Reporting: Customisable dashboards and easy reporting
  4. Opportunity & Pipeline Management: Team and individual pipelines
  5. Task management: Create, manage and share tasks
  6. Contact property customisation: Configure lead types, industries, geographies, etc.
  7. Sale process customisation: Configure deal stages
  8. Mobile capabilities: Mobile app for users on the move
  9. Ease of use: Clean & uncomplicated user interface
  10. Value for money: Pricing suited to the South African market

Other CRM feature considerations:

  1. Marketing campaigns: Bulk email sends, website lead capture forms, social media integration, and marketing automation.
  2. Communication features: Chat, tag members, Slack and Google Drive integration
  3. Setup and maintenance: Does an external consultant or dedicate employee have to set it up and maintain it?
  4. Integration: Accounting, ERP, and other CRM systems integration - natively or by API

Why the size of your business matters:

Small and Medium Business CRM Platforms

  1. 1 - 1000 employees.
  2. Limited or finite budgets
  3. Enterprise features not required
  4. Integration with productivity tools. Eg. Slack and Google Drive.
  5. Work well out the box, or with minor customisation. 
  6. Examples: HubSpot CRM, Pipedrive, Salesforce Essentials.

Enterprise CRM Platforms

  1. 1000+ employees
  2. CRM platform must be designed for enterprise use
  3. CRM’s must serve large-scale business needs across a variety of departments.
  4. Numerous enterprise tool integration and add-on features
  5. Developer toolkits
  6. Examples: Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, Oracle, SAP.

Our top CRM's to choose in South Africa

  1. HubSpot CRM
  2. Salesforce
  3. Microsoft Dynamics 365
  4. Zoho CRM
  5. Insightly
  6. Pipedrive


hubspot crm south africaHubSpot CRM

Free trial: CRM is free forever, 30 day trial on advanced sales and marketing features.
Price range: Free. Starting at $0 p/month for HubSpot CRM, $0p/month for HubSpot Sales Free. $50p/month for HubSpot Sales Starter removes HubSpot branding, and give salespeople access to email automation sequences. $400p/month for HubSpot Sales Professional includes 5 x licences, $80/month per additional user. Professional gives access to more than one pipeline and automation for sales follow-up and reminders. HubSpot Sales Enterprise includes 10 x licences, and costs $1200p/month. $120/month per additional user. Enterprise offers all HubSpot's bells and whistles. 
Unlimited contacts and data storage in all plans: Yes. 1,000,000 contacts, unlimited users, free access to the CRM has no time limit.
Free live support in all plans: Yes, even of the free platform you get access to the same support
Top features: A fully functional CRM for free. Using free versions of Sales Hub, integration of Gmail and Outlook calendars and email. Customisable contact properties, deal stages, pipeline and opportunity tracking. Tasks, website chat and bots, email tracking, reporting, meeting scheduling link per user.
Things to be aware of: HubSpot wants you to upgrade to paid products. Upgrade required only if you want additional functionality, the fully functional CRM remains free. Upgrade to HubSpot Sales Starter to remove HubSpot branding. Upgrade to HubSpot Sales Professional if multiple pipelines required, deal visibility across teams needs to be limited. Integrating HubSpot Marketing to your CRM will add a cost of $20 p/month for every 1000 users in the CRM. HubSpot is far and away the leader in campaign management and marketing integration into CRM. HubSpot Marketing starts as $50 p/month.

salesforce crm south africa

Free trial: 30 days
Price range: Starting at $25 user/month for Salesforce Essentials (up to five users), $75 user/month for Salesforce Lightning Professional (Our opinion: The right plan to invest in to get full adoption and success with CRM), up to $300 user/month for Lightning Unlimited; all products require an annual contract.
Unlimited contacts and data storage in all plans: No
Free live support in all plans: No
Top features: Salesforce Essentials: Basic contact management features, along with task and event tracking, Outlook & Gmail integration, mobile app access, a content library, reporting, and Chatter (their internal chat tool). Features limited only by your budget.
Things to be aware of: Unbelievably confusing pricing, with hidden costs that are easy to miss. Don’t forget Salesforce implementation costs, this can range from R20,000 to a few hundred thousand Rands. Can be skipped for Salesforce Essentials. Campaign management requires licensing to Salesforce Pardot which will cost a minimum of $1250 p/month billed annually.

microsoft dynamics south africa
Microsoft Dynamics 365

Free trial: 30 days
Price range: Starting at $40 user/month (apparently...), $115 user/month for Customer Engagement Plan, which should suffice for most sales and customer relationship requirements, up to $210 user/month for Dynamics 365 Plan, which gives you all the apps.
Unlimited contacts and data storage in all plans: No
Free live support in all plans: No
Top features: Like Salesforce, this enterprise-grade platform offers features limited only by your budget.
Things to be aware of: Be prepared to download the 58-page licencing guide to figure out what you should be paying in licence fees. A dedicated person or support company to manage the platform is required. The marketing campaign app allows for 2,000 contacts included with 10 or more users of Customer Engagement and Dynamics 365 Plans. Be prepared for more costs as your database grows.

zoho crm south africa
Zoho CRM

Free trial: 15 days
Price range: Starting at $12 user/month for Zoho Standard, $20 user/month for Zoho Pro, $35 user/month for Zoho Enterprise, up to $100 user/month for Zoho Ultimate. (It’s not really for enterprise applications) Billed annually. Month by month price is higher.
Unlimited contacts and data storage in all plans: No
Free live support in all plans: Yes
Top features: Workflow automation, sales gamification, sales process builder (available only in Zoho Professional), Google AdWords integration (available only in Zoho Professional), AI sales assistant (available only in Zoho Enterprise),
Things to be aware of: Limited free support, expect to wait. 8-hour turnaround on support queries. Premium support costs 20% of licence fees, and only available for accounts with 10 or more users.

insightly crm south africaInsightly

Free trial: Yes.
Price range: Insightly has a free plan for up to two users and three paid plans. When billed annually, the Plus Plan costs $29/month, the Professional Plan costs $49/month, and the Enterprise Plan costs $99/month. (It’s not really for enterprise applications) Billed annually. Month by month price is higher.
Unlimited contacts and data storage in all plans: No
Free live support in all plans: No
Top features: Simple, but effective lead and pipeline management, email tracking, templates and bulk email. Workflow automation, project & task management, integrations with G Suite, Office 365, MailChimp, Quickbooks, and Xero.
Things to be aware of: Poor onboarding and setup instruction/documentation. The mobile app experience is a source of complaint.

pipedrive crm south africa

Free trial: Yes
Price range: Starting at $15 user/month for Silver, $29 user/month for Gold, and up to $75 user/month for Pipedrive Platinum. Billed annually. Month by month price is higher.
Unlimited contacts and data storage in all plans: No
Free live support in all plans: Yes. Telephonic support for Platinum plan.
Top features: Lightweight sales orientated CRM. Intuitive lead management that is well organised and easily customisable. Multiple pipelines.
Things to be aware of: The deal data filtering capabilities are limited. This can become a problem in larger sales teams. Suited to small sales teams of 1-5 people. The Gold plan allows the tracking of emails and logging of conversation history in the CRM.

What others think:

G2 Crowd: (CRM Software products based on user satisfaction)
Top 5: HubSpot CRM, Salesforce, Freshworks, Less Annoying CRM, Copper, (Pipedrive in 6th)

Software advice: (CRM software based on user rating, Software advice’s rating and price)
Top 5: HubSpot, Salesforce, amoCRM, Infusionsoft and Copper

Capterra: (CRM software with the highest combined score in affordability, user-friendliness, and popularity.)
Top 5: HubSpot, Pipedrive, Nimble, bpm’online, Zoho CRM

HubSpot is a very popular choice making all 3 lists

HubSpot CRM: 3/3
Salesforce: 2/3
Pipedrive: 2/3
Copper: 2/3

Let us know if you use Copper in South Africa, we’d love to hear your experience of it so we can include it here. Send your feedback via the form below. Please send us feedback if you think we’ve left a CRM off the list.

What are the benefits of CRM?

CRM enables a businesses to strengthen relationships with its customers, potential customers, partners and suppliers. In a world that's increasingly more competitive, how you manage and use your information will be the difference between success and failure, and CRM is core to that concept.

1) Increased sales metrics and productivity:

Using a  reputable CRM improve sales productivity. If you measure and track your performance - you know how to improve and hit targets more efficiently.

Excel is far from the best way to track sales performance...

2) Improved contact management:

Every call, email, meeting, and touchpoint with your contacts can be tracked - automatically.

3) Increased customer satisfaction and retention:

Your easiest customers to convert are your current customers. Acquiring new customers is expensive, and when you really know your customer (through constant communication) you are less likely to lose them.

4) Personalised customer interactions:

Most modern CRM’s come with lead tracking capabilities, so you know what pages of your website have been visited or emails opened. Using this information allows you to reach out with relevant information individually tailored to your customer or prospect.

5) Increased productivity:

Easily automate and track regular administrative tasks like follow up email, and ‘catch up’ meetings. 

6) Reporting and analytics:

Detailed analytics start to reveal star sales staff, client industries or geographies, and allow you to know where to focus your efforts.

The International CRM market

With the nature of business today, the level of touch points required and the competitive nature of our modern world, CRM’s are some of the most widely adopted solutions in business IT. According to Technology Advice, current adoption rates of CRM software hover around 60 percent for all business sizes, with another 20 percent hoping to adopt the technology within the next 12 months. The good news is that this rate of adoption has fast-tracked the development of the software, so the current set of vendors providing CRM software is extensive and competitive. This is great news for companies adopting CRM now, as a wide array of options and price points are available to suit every organisation and pocket.

The move to a cloud-based system or software as a service (SaaS), has fast-tracked the deployment of product improvements, and the major CRM providers are rolling out updates and enhancements on a monthly basis. This will be discussed in more detail below. Lastly, this rapid development has also given rise to a plethora of features and license options, which has made CRM systems somewhat hard to evaluate. In the ‘key features’ section below we’ll cover this in more detail.

Cloud-based CRM systems (Saas)

According to Gartner, 72.9% of CRM spending was on software as a service (SaaS) in 2018, which is expected to grow to 75% of total CRM software spending in 2019.

In the last 10 years, cloud-based CRM’s have changed the game. Gone are the days where you need an on-premise server to host your CRM, and an IT manager to manage the system updates. Cloud-based CRM means updates are automated for every user, and deploying the CRM to multiple desktop computers and mobile devices is far easier and affordable than it used to be. It keeps remote or traveling workforces connected with the right information always at their fingertips.

Key features of CRM

1) Lead management and contact management:

Most businesses are looking for a safe, easy-to-use & manage place to store contacts for the business, and CRM's deliver. The number of business still using spreadsheets to manage business contacts and leads is frightening. Your contacts are the lifeblood of the business.

2) Opportunity tracking and Sales pipeline:

Logging opportunities against stored contacts is key to closing more sales. Whether the opportunities are new customers that salespeople are working on or existing customers account managers are managing - if the opportunities can be logged and systematically moved through the stages in a sales pipeline - more deals will be closed and sales targets can be achieved.

3) Email and calendar integration:

Gmail, Outlook and Office 365 will integrate into any decent modern CRM. This is key because all communication via email and meetings logged in calendars are logged in the CRM. This removes the need to manually log these customer touch points manually. Manually logging of touch points was the bane of many a salesperson using the CRM’s of old.

4) Quoting:

Quotes are created inside the CRM and logged against the contacts and companies they are sent to. Some CRM’s offer very complex quoting functions and others are very simple but perfectly functional for most businesses. Depending on the CRM, creating a quote often automatically creates an opportunity for the sales teams to track and move through the pipeline to close.

5) Campaign management:

For most B2B companies marketing has gone digital. Leads are generated online and passed to the sales teams. CRM integration into the website, landing pages, email marketing, paid promotion on Google Ads and social media helps with ROI calculations and allocation of marketing budgets.

6) Email marketing:

At the base level of campaign management, it is critical to send out regular communications to your contact database. The customer-facing teams often can’t get to all of your contacts each month, so regular email marketing makes sure a business stays top-of-mind with all the contacts on your database.

7) Customer targeting:

By categorising the contacts in your CRM according to industry, position, and many more possible criteria - communications can be custom designed and targeted to be more relevant. This enables customer-facing staff to add more value with their outreach.

8) Customer service:

Managing an existing customer base requires knowing who customers are, managing support requests, and maintaining regular contact. If both problems and reports of good service can be tracked, this info. can be used to maintain and build better customer relationships.

9) Ticketing:

Ticketing allows clients to log support requests, and allows a business to manage the requests through to resolution. Issue turn around times can be tracked and customer experience can be better managed. Reporting will bring recurring issues to light, enabling efficient rectification and proactive, preventative measures to be employed for  better customer retention.

9) Reporting:

All the functions above are collated into dashboards that can be customised for particular functions eg. salesperson, sales manager, service manager, business unit manager and more. What is measured can be improved and customised reporting is one of the best means of improving the performance of a business.

10) Mobile CRM:

Most good CRM’s have a mobile app that allows on-the-move reporting and logging of communications, and tasks. A salesperson can be reminded of a call to a prospect, a sales manager can quickly see the status of a sales teams performance, and a business owner a birds-eye view of sales, service, and general business performance.

Enterprise vs. SMB CRM Platforms

Enterprise CRM Platforms

Enterprise CRM platforms offer a vast array of features and can integrate seamlessly with their existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. They often come with extensive developer toolkits, with which custom functions can be built. Due to this flexibility, these systems cost more to run from both a licensing and support perspective but they are far superior when dealing with large data sets and deliver unmatched functionality around augmented reporting and analytics. Popular enterprise systems include Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, SAP, and Oracle. These are suited to companies of 1000+ employees or companies with very specific CRM requirements.

SMB CRM Platforms

The market of enterprise vendors can be intimidating to small and medium businesses that have limited budgets and are looking to improve their contact management and processes from a low base (eg. the worst case scenario of contact management is by spreadsheet!). The good news is that this space is exploding and there are many vendors to choose from. Every day they are nipping at the heels of the functionality offered by the larger enterprise systems. Popular SMB CRM’s include, HubSpot CRM, Zoho CRM, Pipedrive and Insightly. Generally, these are suited to businesses up to 1000 employees.

Managing your CRM (Support)

Our top 6 CRM's all have great support in South Africa, but these are the considerations you need to apply to your decision when choosing you CRM. The move to cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) systems has definitely decreased the amount of admin required to deploy and maintain a CRM. That being said, enterprise-level systems definitely need an IT department to manage the system. Depending on the level of integration into other company systems the level of maintenance required will vary. Most SMB systems will not require too much management, however, they do need a champion in the business to manage rollout and continued usage. In terms of onboarding, enterprise systems require an outside implementer, whether the vendor themselves or a vendor partner to implement correctly. They have the experience and process knowledge that make a  CRM succeed from day one. An SMB can do it alone if the business is very small, but it is highly recommended to engage with a vendor partner for onboarding. Setting a CRM project off in the right direction is key to its long-term success. Generally, these vendor partners will offer a 60 or 90 day onboarding program to up-skill the business and its staff to use the CRM effectively.

Let us help you

We've helped countless SMB businesses implement CRM tools and marketing systems to drive business growth. We continue to work with many enterprise clients to improve their CRM processes as they relate to business development, marketing and lead generation. 

Give us a call we'd love to hear from you. 

If you're not ready to chat, you might find this eBook useful. 

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