woman on laptop alone in office
Even free software, when it's right for your business, can improve your sales process. — Getty Images/nortonrsx

Customers want solutions to their problems, not a hard sell. They also expect personalized offers and targeted messaging. Anything less, and small business owners risk losing a lead's trust and confidence. But monitoring customer interactions and pinpointing the right time for outreach is challenging. Indeed, small shifts in customer behavior or lifestyles can reduce the effectiveness of your sales pitch.

Additionally, it's hard to close more deals and boost sales productivity if you do not measure performance. Fortunately, the best sales tools support sales pipeline management, from lead generation to follow-up reminders. Options include sales prospecting tools, customer relationship management (CRM) software and project management platforms. If you're ready to explore how technology can help your small business, here are 10 free CRM and sales tools to try.

HubSpot CRM: free CRM software

HubSpot is a leader in effective sales and marketing tools, and the company's free CRM software is a great place for most small businesses to start. The free version comes with CRM, email scheduling, a reporting dashboard and more. You can also use Hubspot to monitor your website visitors and see what pages they view and spend the most time on.

HubSpot's free sales CRM tools work best for individual sales reps and support up to 100 contacts per engagement method. In comparison, business users can add up to two sales pipelines on paid plans, starting at $50 per month for two users.

No credit card is required to take advantage of the free HubSpot CRM features:

  • Contact management.
  • Email marketing templates.
  • Document library and sharing.
  • Task management.
  • Live chat.
  • Meeting scheduling.
  • Deal or opportunity management.
  • Gmail and Outlook integration.
  • Customer support ticket creation.
  • Ad management and retargeting.

If you're unsure about the benefits of CRM platforms like HubSpot, check out our guide to choosing CRM software.

Owler: sales prospects and company data

Owler is a go-to source for competitor research, sales prospecting data and relevant news. It offers free and paid plans suitable for solopreneurs, small businesses and sales teams. The difference between plans comes down to the number of companies you can track and the types of financial information you'll see. Whether you want to keep your fingers on the pulse of your competitors or vet business-to-business (B2B) prospects, Owler is an excellent tool.

The free version offers:

  • Unlimited company profile views, including trending news and funding history.
  • The top three competitors from over 13 million companies worldwide.
  • Ranges for the number of employees and business revenue.
  • News and alerts about five companies you're interested in.

Findthat: find and verify email addresses

Findthat is one of the best free sales tools for finding and verifying email addresses. It uses an email verifier engine to guarantee a 95% deliverability rate. The software comes with a dashboard, or users can install the free Chrome extension to locate a prospect's email address through company websites.

Paid versions begin at $29 per month and include the bulk find feature and social media support. Findthat integrates with HubSpot CRM, Pipedrive, MailChimp, Salesforce and other tools by using Zapier. These connections let small business owners develop prospect lists, find leads and share them with CRM software.

The free plan is for one user and includes:

  • 100 verify credits: Improve marketing campaign effectiveness and reduce your bounce rate by verifying current contact information.
  • 50 find credits: Find email addresses for prospects and leads to ensure you have the most up-to-date customer data.

Drift: sales and marketing software

Drift helps small businesses create personalized website experiences and engage prospects. It's designed for sales and marketing teams and is a great way to add live chat to your website without hiring a website developer. The free version supports unlimited contacts, whereas paid plans offer advanced integrations and custom branding.

The free plan comes with:

  • Live chat.
  • Website welcome message.
  • Desktop and mobile apps.
  • Calendar, Google Analytics and Slack integrations.
  • Basic reporting tools.

SalesHandy: email tracking

SalesHandy helps small business owners track email opens for email marketing campaigns and fits nicely into an existing sales process. Users can monitor their dashboard or receive a notification when someone opens an email. It provides a free forever plan, which includes a free 14-day trial of the SalesHandy Plus package.

The free version also supports email scheduling and up to five email templates. Email tracking works with Gmail, but paid plans include Microsoft Outlook integration as well. Paid packages integrate with CRM software, such as Salesforce, and lets users copy customer data to their CRM.

If your company uses Microsoft Outlook, consider HubSpot's email tracking tool. It's also free to use and works seamlessly within the HubSpot CRM.

Whether you want to keep your fingers on the pulse of your competitors or vet business-to-business (B2B) prospects, Owler is an excellent tool.

Calendly: sales tools for appointment scheduling

Calendly is appointment scheduling software that saves sales teams from wasting time on back-and-forth emails about meeting availability. Sales professionals simply send new leads a personalized booking link, and they pick the meeting time that works best for them.

Scheduling sales tools support your sales team by providing a level of marketing automation that helps employees save time and focus on selling.

The Calendly free forever plan includes:

  • Web, iOS and Android apps.
  • Unlimited scheduled meetings.
  • Integrations with Google, Outlook and iCloud calendars.
  • Ability to embed the tool on your website or as a pop-up.
  • Unlimited one-time event notifications for attendees.
  • Connections to Microsoft Teams, Zoom, GoToMeeting and Google Meet.
  • Self-serve help center and email support.

Paid sales tools start at $8 per month and come with features such as team booking pages and more than 700 app integrations with Zapier. Companies with over 10 users also receive live chat support with paid packages.

Dialpad Meetings: collaboration tools

Dialpad Meetings, formerly Uberconference, lets sales teams communicate in real time with leads or customers. It provides free unlimited video meetings for up to 10 participants. Video calls can last up to 45 minutes, and users can share their screens.

Other features found within the free version include:

  • Unlimited call recordings.
  • Google and Outlook calendar integrations.
  • In-meeting chat features.
  • High definition audio.
  • Salesforce, HubSpot and Slack integrations.
  • Connections to social media channels.

Dialpad offers a free trial of its business phone service, which includes unlimited video meetings, CRM integrations and one local phone number per user.

Canva: sales presentation software

Delight leads and prospects with a captivating slide deck or presentation using Canva's drag-and-drop features. Save your presentations and share them when on a call or by sharing your screen during a video call. However, Canva isn't only for your sales teams. Business users can create images for social media and email campaigns as well.

The free version of Canva comes with:

  • More than 250,000 free templates.
  • Over 100 design types.
  • More than 100,000 free photos and graphics.
  • 5GB of cloud storage.
  • Built-in presentation and social-sharing mode.
  • Collaboration tools, such as real-time commenting.
  • Ability to export designs as MP4 videos or animated GIFs.

The Canva platform offers two paid plans that provide additional features, including a premium stock image library and one-click photo background remover.

HelloSign: electronic signature software

HelloSign is electronic signature software with a free plan that allows one user to request up to three signatures per month. It's an excellent platform for sales teams wanting to close deals virtually and automate the sales process. With a tool like HelloSign, users can collaborate on changes and view an audit trail at any time. Plus, the software includes reminders and notifications to alert sales professionals as soon as customers sign.

HelloSign ensures that every electronic signature is legally binding, so you'll know your contracts are secure. Business owners can also take advantage of the free Chrome extension that connects to Google Drive. Paid packages offer unlimited signature requests, five document templates and several branding and team features.

Google Sheets: sales and contact management

Google Sheets is an excellent free tool for organizing your data. Sales teams may use it to monitor their sales pipeline and keep contacts updated. Marketing or customer support can also use Google Sheets for contact or project management.

Although it lacks features popular in free CRM software, such as marketing automation, Google tools are easy to use and integrate with many platforms and tools.

Meet your objectives using sales and marketing tools

Improve your sales process and lead generation efforts by using a free CRM platform alongside other free tools. Integrated technologies help small businesses discover new leads, design email campaigns and collaborate on projects. If you want to capture more details about your customers, check out our guide on relationship intelligence tools.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published July 23, 2021