Close CRM – Everything You Need to Know

If you’re in the market for a CRM with a built-in power dialer, or are looking for a full-featured sales management tool that’s easy for team members to learn and use, you’ve probably heard of Close. While it won’t meet the needs of every sales team, it is a solid CRM with several useful features.

Every customer relationship management (CRM) platform has strengths and weaknesses, and knowing the potential pros and cons of the CRM software you’re looking to purchase is an essential part of the research process. Read on to learn more about Close CRM.

Close CRM Strengths:

Close has great calling features

Close is surprisingly well equipped for making calls. Power dialers are the first step toward consistently making a high volume of sales calls, and Close has this feature natively. This is great since adding an efficient dialer onto most other CRMs is either impossible, expensive, or integrates poorly. With Close you get this feature right out of the box.

Close is easy to learn and use

A major strength of Close is its ease of use, which is partially because its features and options are so limited. That said, Close sticks to its core activities (namely calling and deal tracking) and does those well in a simple, easy-to-navigate format.

Close CRM Weaknesses:

Reporting is extremely limited

If you’re looking for solid reporting capabilities, you may want to consider HubSpot Sales CRM or Pipedrive CRM, as Close’s reporting functionality is extremely limited. While there have been a few improvements in recent years, Close still offers only a few basic reports. Enterprise users have slightly better options with custom graphs, but these remain unimpressive when compared to other CRMs.

Customization is limited

Close will look pretty much the same for any salespeople using it. You’re not able to change the user interface much, and while you can create custom fields on the dashboard and properties to record data, you can’t do much with them.

Other Close CRM Features Worth Noting:

Multichannel inbox – Communicate and follow up with prospects by email, phone, and text from one central inbox.

Dynamic template tags – Add tags to email templates to easily create automatically personalized emails in a bulk email campaign.

Call recording – Access recorded calls directly from the contact page.

Power dialer – Automatically call through your lead list without delays between each call.

Predictive dialer – Native software that lets you dial multiple numbers at once and automatically connect once someone picks up.

WorkflowsSales process automation that enables you to assign leads, create tasks, and reach out via email and SMS.

Bottom Line:

Close CRM has great calling features and is easy for sales reps to learn and use. It has integrations with Zapier, ChatGPT, Segment, HubSpot, Gmail, Google Calendar, and more. It’s one of the only CRMs at this price point that offers a full-fledged predictive dialer.

Close pricing plans include Startup, Professional, and Enterprise tiers. Monthly rates are $49 (one user), $299 (three users), and $699 (five users), respectively. Users on the Professional tier – for example, small businesses – can add extra users for $99.

This may be the best CRM for teams with a sales strategy that requires making lots of outbound calls, as long as the reps’ sales skills won’t be hindered by minimal customization and a lack of in-depth reporting tools.

Copper CRM – Everything You Need to Know

Copper is a niche but powerful CRM that lives entirely inside your Google Workspace. If you’re a Gmail and Google Calendar super-user, Copper CRM is definitely one to consider.

That said, every customer relationship management (CRM) platform has strengths and weaknesses, and Copper is no exception. Knowing the potential pros and cons of the CRM you’re looking to purchase is an essential part of the research process. Read on to learn more about Copper CRM.

Copper CRM features worth noting:

Customizable sales pipelines – Create visual drag-and-drop sales pipelines with as many pipeline stages as you need to represent your sales process.

Workflow automations – Make your sales process more efficient by using workflow automations to change deal stages, schedule follow-up tasks, update contact profiles, and more.

Custom reports – Leverage custom sales reporting and build your own sales reports using Copper data.

Activity insights – Create visibility into your team’s activities across any sales methodology for better transparency and accountability.

Lead scoring – To make the most of your team’s sales skills and optimize lead management, use lead scoring to easily identify the leads that are most likely to convert (requires Business tier).

Email templates – Make your email responses more consistent and improve sales rep efficiency with custom sales email templates.

Merge fields – Help automate sales processes by automatically personalizing emails using merge fields that pull from Copper data.

Email sequence & drip campaigns – Put your follow-up emails on autopilot by enrolling contacts in an email sequence or drip campaign.

Website tracking – Get insight into what your prospects are looking at on your website (Business tier only).

Mobile app – Access all contact activity while on the app. Calls and texts are logged automatically so every interaction is tracked and information is always up to date.

Copper CRM Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths of Copper CRM:

Seamless Google Workspace integration

Copper was designed for Google Workspace which in addition to Gmail and Calendar includes Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and other Google apps. It is unmatched in terms of its integration with Gmail and the rest of the Google ecosystem.

If this is what you value more than anything else, look no further. Copper is the only sales CRM recommended by Google, and they’re a Google-backed company. There’s really no competition when it comes to Google Workplace/G Suite integration.

Copper is a full-scale CRM

At first glance it’s tempting to write it off as a niche Chrome extension, but it has robust functionality and is capable of more than many other standard CRM platforms.

Copper CRM is easy to use and intuitive

CRM software is a critical sales tool for your team, and one of the most important things to look for is the combination of scalability and user experience. In other words, your sales CRM should be easy enough to use that your reps will like it and commit to using it.

Copper may be the easiest CRM solution to get employees to buy into using since it’s a familiar user interface and everything is a click away from their Gmail inbox. Plus, it eliminates manual data entry by automatically populating Google data into its records. Copper doesn’t score as high on scalability, but more on that later.

Weaknesses of Copper CRM:

Not everyone is a Google Workspace super-user

While this isn’t a weakness per se, it’s important to realize that if you’re not really into Google products, Copper CRM probably won’t be a good fit. Copper was created for a niche group of Google Workspace users, and there’s not a lot of value for people outside of that group.

Scalability is an issue for Copper

Copper lacks many of the advanced capabilities you’d find in an enterprise CRM. Unlike the HubSpot Sales CRM which will scale well with your sales team as it grows, if you’re using Copper CRM when it’s time to scale you’ll likely need to find a new CRM software.

While you can use integrations to add in other sales tools you need like calling, quotes and proposals, and in-depth automations, using multiple integrations to fill in for missing features is expensive and quite often a hassle.

Copper CRM pricing is expensive

Copper’s basic plan is extremely limited, so many users need to start with the Professional or Business tier plans. Subscriptions are per person (regardless of roles) so even a small team with just a couple of sales reps, a manager, and an operations rep can end up costing over $500/month when paid monthly. At this price it can be tough to justify Copper’s lack of scalability and enterprise-level tools.

Bottom line:

If you’re a diehard Google Workspace user searching for effective sales solutions and want a solid full-scale CRM inside of your Gmail inbox, Copper is worth considering. While it won’t be enough for those looking for advanced workflow automations or scalability, Copper’s seamless Google Workspace integration and familiar user interface make it a good option for teams that are fully committed to the Google ecosystem.

Pipedrive CRM – Everything You Need to Know

If you’re looking for a solid customer relationship management (CRM) platform that won’t break the bank, Pipedrive is a definite contender. While it’s not the best CRM for everyone, Pipedrive CRM packs a lot of value into a very affordable price point that makes it an appealing option for many users.

Pipedrive CRM Strengths & Weaknesses

Every CRM platform has strengths and weaknesses, and Pipedrive is no exception. Knowing the potential pros and cons of the CRM you’re looking to purchase is an essential part of the research process. Read on to learn what we’ve discovered as experienced Pipedrive users.

Pipedrive strengths:

Pipedrive offers the best value of any CRM

Pipedrive’s Advanced and Professional tiers provide significantly more value than other CRMs at that price point. Pipedrive’s Professional tier (~$60 user/month) includes workflow automations, webhooks, custom fields, quotes, e-signatures, email sequences, custom reporting, scheduling, a dialer, and more. The majority of these features are either not included with other CRMs or are priced upwards of $100 per user per month.

Pipedrive’s UI/UX is excellent

It’s tough to pack a lot of features in a CRM while keeping it streamlined and easy to navigate. Many people leave CRMs like Salesforce, Zoho, and ActiveCampaign because the user interface is too confusing and difficult for sales reps to navigate. Ease of use is important in a sales CRM solution. Pipedrive is user-friendly, visually appealing, and easy to learn, and it maintains the difficult balance of containing lots of data without being visually overwhelming.

Pipedrive Weaknesses:

Limited scalability

Because Pipedrive has many of the same features as enterprise CRMs, it’s easy to feel like you’ll never grow out of it, but features are different from capabilities. Anytime you see a feature advertised by Pipedrive, know that it will have fewer capabilities and be less customizable than the same feature in premium tiers of HubSpot or Salesforce.

This is a tradeoff many are willing to make, as the cost of Pipedrive is 10-20 times lower than a premium tier enterprise CRM software. However, changing CRMs is such a big job that ability to scale provides a lot of reassurance and not everyone will find that in Pipedrive.

Some key features require paid add-ons

There are features you’ll find in other full-suite CRMs that aren’t included with Pipedrive and must be purchased as add-ons. Depending on how you look at it, this could be a strength or a weakness, since a trimmed down core product helps keep the price down for those who don’t need these features.

However, many of these features are very basic and really shouldn’t be behind a paywall. For example, it’s an additional $32/month for a meeting scheduler, live chat, and web forms, which are all included in HubSpot’s completely free tier. Document library, document tracking, proposals and quotes, and e-signatures cost another $32/month. The list goes on.

Pipedrive Features for Sales Team Success

To be successful, sales reps must have a written, enforceable, transparent, and efficient sales process. The last two qualities, transparency and efficiency, are not possible without CRM functionality like the features we’ve listed below.

Pipedrive features that create efficiency:

Efficiency is the effort required from sales reps when moving deals through the sales process, from lead scoring to the moment you close deals. Too often, salespeople end up spending too much time on repetitive or even unnecessary tasks. By becoming more efficient, your reps will be able to spend more time actually selling. Time and time again, we’ve seen that increased sales team efficiency translates into increased revenue.

Pipedrive offers multiple sales tools to improve sales team efficiency. Below, we’ve listed a few of our favorites.

1. Workflow automation

Use workflow automations to email new leads, and set reminders for follow-ups and deal management. While Pipedrive’s workflow automations aren’t sophisticated, they’re enough to automate routine tasks. Also, Pipedrive integrates with many other software platforms, including third-party automation apps like Zapier for complex sales automation.

2. Smart contact data

Researching leads is an all too easy way for sales reps to waste time, but with Pipedrive’s Smart Contact Data there’s really no excuse for spending hours on inefficient lead research. Smart Contact Data uses publicly available information from the web and social sources, allowing reps to auto-populate lead information in just one click.

3. Two-way email sync

It’s important to log all communication in your CRM, and connecting your email inbox to Pipedrive via two-way email sync means you can put email logging on autopilot. Two-way email sync also enables transparency by providing visibility into conversations and negotiations in real time, making it easy to stay in the loop or quickly get up to speed as needed. Users who have synced their Gmail or other email accounts can also access email templates.

More Pipedrive features worth noting:

  • Sales forecasts – a comprehensive view of your predicted revenue.
  • Multiple sales pipelines – gives you the ability to separate your sales pipelines by product, team, or sales process for better visibility into each one.
  • Lead management – a complete overview of each lead and deal, with detailed communication and activity history.
  • Email open and click tracking – get notified when leads open your emails or click on a link you’ve sent them.
  • Native mobile apps – make changes to contacts, deals, and activities from your smartphone, whether on Android, iOS, Microsoft, or other operating systems.
  • Web-to-mobile calls – outgoing calls can be made from your desktop or you can send them to your phone.

Bottom line:

Pipedrive is a solid budget CRM that provides a lot of value for the price point. However, you may end up paying extra for basic features that are only available as add-ons. Still, it’s a great CRM platform, especially for small businesses that don’t need a lot of bells and whistles.

Zoho One CRM – Everything You Need to Know

Zoho One is customer relationship management software (otherwise known as a CRM) that gives you access to 40+ apps to manage nearly every sales and business operations need. With an appealing price point, and the ability to make a one-and-done purchase decision, Zoho One can be an attractive option. That said, there are a few things you should know before choosing Zoho CRM.

An important note: Zoho actually offers two CRM-related products: Zoho One, and Zoho CRM Plus. While Zoho CRM Plus sounds like a solid and affordable option, in reality you would need to upgrade (and pay significantly more) for multiple other Zoho “apps” just to get features that are standard in the minimum tier of almost every other CRM. Zoho One, on the other hand, includes all 40+ Zoho apps (including Zoho CRM), bundling nearly every feature you could ever need into a slightly higher subscription price.

This article is primarily focused on Zoho One.

Zoho One Strengths & Weaknesses

Even the best CRM platforms have strengths and weaknesses, and Zoho One is no exception. Knowing the potential pros and cons of the CRM tool you’re looking to purchase is an essential part of the research process. Read on to learn what we’ve discovered as experienced Zoho CRM users.

Strengths of Zoho One:

For the price, Zoho One is the more well-rounded of the two CRM-related Zoho products, especially for small businesses and startups with limited sales and marketing teams. It integrates with Salesforce, HubSpot, MailChimp, and other solutions. The Zoho CRM mobile app allows you to receive notifications anywhere and access and modify customer data even while offline.

Zoho One is affordable

Individual subscription costs can add up fast, and Zoho One’s bundle of 40+ sales, marketing, and other business operations apps is a compelling reason to consider Zoho One. Unfortunately, in our experience, this strength is also one of Zoho’s greatest weaknesses, but more on that later.

Zoho One is an all-in-one solution for business processes

Along with including a complete CRM, Zoho One markets itself as a business operating system. With sales, marketing, support, HR, accounting, and operations software bundled into one semi-integrated platform, Zoho One is a one-stop shop for business software needs.

For example, Zoho Analytics allows you to create custom reports and configure dashboards with varying layouts, and Zoho Campaigns allows you to manage your email marketing campaigns across customizable email templates.

While that’s all well and good, there are a few things you should know before settling on Zoho One for your CRM.

Weaknesses of Zoho One:

When choosing a CRM software, one of the most important things to look for is the combination of scalability and user experience. In other words, your sales CRM should be easy enough to use that your sales reps will like it and commit to using it, and it should be scalable enough to still be a good choice as your business grows.

Zoho One’s user interface is terrible

With a visually confusing user interface and perplexing navigation, Zoho One scores negative points in the user experience category. CRM software is supposed to be the lifeblood of your sales team, but when it’s difficult or impossible to learn and use, reps end up not using it properly or, even worse, not using it at all.

Customer support is available 24/7, but a dedicated help desk doesn’t make up for a negative customer experience.

Zoho One can do almost everything, but none of it well

While Zoho One provides a ton of functionality, none of the apps are truly good enough to stand on their own. Zoho Sites may give you a website, but it isn’t WordPress. Zoho’s combination of Zoho Books, Payroll, Invoice, and Expense apps doesn’t even come close to the functionality of QuickBooks. You may love the idea of a one-stop shop for your entire business needs but you’re in for a rude awakening if you try to replace your specialized platforms with Zoho apps.

Zoho One’s user experience is also terrible

A good portion of the “apps” included in Zoho One – forms, sales pipeline management, meeting scheduler, and document library – are standard features in almost any CRM solution, not add-ons. Splitting these features into apps (each with their own unique navigation) is not user-friendly and results in an experience that’s clunky, disjointed, and extremely frustrating.

While some CRM systems may charge extra for certain features, it’s insane to compartmentalize each one. Zoho One users need to constantly click to the main menu, find another app, open it, perform a task, click to the main menu, go back to the CRM, etc. And, since apps are separate modules, it’s often not possible to link tasks between two modules.

Zoho One features you might find helpful

  • CRM – basic, non-intuitive customer relationship and pipeline management.
  • Appointment scheduling – allows customers to book a meeting with you at a time that works for them.
  • Email marketing – create, send, and track email campaigns in real time.
  • Forms – build lead generation and customer engagement forms.
  • Chat – team instant messaging tool.
  • Shared inboxes – allow teams to manage shared email inboxes and turn emails into tasks.
  • Workflow automation – automate routine tasks and sales processes for your team members.

As we mentioned before, these features are usually included in most CRMs, rather than standalone apps, and the lack of true integration among everything makes the user experience subpar.

Bottom line:

Not recommended, unless you don’t care about the user experience, have a small team, and need a cheap all-in-one solution.

AI Meeting Assistant Reviews

I’ve been looking for the right meeting assistant for years. Excellent ones like Gong.io lead the industry but cost thousands per month and aren’t affordable for many startups or small businesses.

For the last month I’ve been testing out two new AI meeting assistants: Read.ai and tl;dv. Fully loaded, both cost $25 per month, per user (when billed monthly).

Here’s what both apps do:

  • Automatically record calls on Zoom and Google Meet by joining the meeting as an attendee.
  • Transcribe calls using GPT to make the transcriptions much more accurate than anything pre-AI.
  • Automatically save meetings with timestamps for takeaways, topics, or questions covered in the call. Click on what you’re interested in and it plays that portion of the call.

Here’s what you need to know about Read.ai:

  • Seems like it’s designed more for enterprise teams, or for managers reviewing rep performance en masse. Scores meeting performance and participation. Gives feedback on attendee engagement, talking pace, interruptions, non-inclusive terms, bias and more.
  • For each meeting it documents: summary, chapters & topics, action items, key questions. The chapters & topics are usually accurate and helpful, but nothing else.
  • Meetings often don’t record, or nothing besides the transcript is documented. Each time, support told me it was a bug they’re fixing.

Here’s what you need to know about tl;dv:

  • Simpler approach: meeting reports contain “takeaways” throughout the call. AI does a good job of recommending these, plus they place a button in your meeting client so you can manually set markers with one click during a call. Great for when you know in real-time that something is important.
  • Integrations for automatically logging calls and highlights in HubSpot, Salesforce or Slack.
  • Easily create clips of takeaways or other key moments and share them.

The Verdict

tl;dv is my new everyday meeting assistant. It’s reliable, accurate, and has already saved me hours of sifting through sales/client calls to find information.

Read.ai is good too but worked on less than 75% of my calls. It also seems like it’s made for monitoring employees. These features don’t take away from the experience, but the bugs do. I’ll try it out again in a few months to see if they’ve ironed out the issues and improved the quality of action items and key questions.

tl;dv is offering 30% off your first 6 months if you click this link.

Read.ai did not offer a discount for our subscribers.