Update from the author: we’ve updated the product information, software details and pricing to be current for 2023.
With ever-growing online networks and prospects, people are turning to a wide range of solutions to keep track of contacts. Nowadays, there is something for everyone, and with a little bit of research, whatever you’re looking for can be found among the plethora of options in software to manage contacts.
Whether you’re a power networker, freelancer, a social media user with a large network, or just someone who has a hard time keeping up with your friends and family, contact management software can help you maintain your relationships.
But what is contact management, and how do you set it up?
What is Contact Management?
Simply put, contact management is the storage of details about friends, clients, prospects, and other personal or professional relationships.
This can be done on a simple spreadsheet or address book when the networks are simple, or by more automated systems such as contact management software as the networks become more complex and larger.
Customer (or Contact) Relationship Management (CRM) software provides people with an automated management system to keep track of the relationships, schedules, interactions and helps the user maintain and develop personal and professional relationships.
This is usually managed by way of keeping track of all emails, calls, and other outgoings and reminding the user to follow-up leads or check-in where necessary.
Traditionally, this software has been used by sales and marketing departments of larger companies to manage prospects, customers, and external business networks. Recently though, people with very different requirements have been adopting them to manage the ever-growing networks.
Who can benefit from CRM?
Much of the benefit of standard CRM software to manage contacts goes to the sales departments of large companies are immediately available to start-up founders. While the business networks of start-ups are typically small enough for founders to manage manually, they will inevitably grow and become more detailed and complicated.
Utilizing CRM software enables founders to manage their networks effectively right from the beginning and integrate a dependable contact management system into their company right from the start.
Business students are another demographic that can benefit from CRM software to manage contacts. These are people whose entry into the business world is imminent, and it’s important for them to start networking early for the relationships that will carry them through their careers. In most master’s programs – even those not associated with businesses – CRM software could be a viable means to maintain academic and personal relationships.
Consultants and freelancers who wish to keep track of every call and email from and to clients or potential clients can also benefit from CRM software for the same reasons.
CRM software is also available as personal relationship managers. These typically integrate all social media correspondence over multiple platforms and bring together people from every branch of the network into a manageable database.
How to set up a CRM
When looking for CRM software, your specific needs will determine the best choice. If you’re a founder, there is a multitude of limited-functionality free packages from CRM products that want to lure you in and will cover most of the bases for your needs early on.
For students and freelancers, or personal relationships managers, you’ll also have access to these free trials, but you may benefit more from software that offers a free trial of the full range of functions. This will allow you more powerful contact management and help you choose the right package for your needs.
Fine-tuning your CRM will again depend on your needs, but in business, CRM software needs to take contacts and convert them from leads to customers.
For example, in the early stages, leads may be shopping around. Because of this, they’ll be actively exploring their options, figuring out what’s right for them and what they can afford. This is the time to provide education and inform the lead and provide education – this is not the time to try and push for a sale! As such, CRM software will automate the frequency of contact and remind you of this approach accordingly.
As your leads get closer to sale-ready, CRM software needs to be calibrated differently. Contact needs to be made more frequently and the content of these outreaches will be more tailored to suggesting distinct options to the potential customer. Thus, CRM software allows you to qualify leads and tailor your outreach.
These are the basics of how CRM helps businesses use software to manage contacts, but the principles can be extended to students, investors, consultants, and people with widespread personal networks. Using CRM to maintain a contact database is the start of the process of setting it up, and the difference then becomes the content of the outreach. Again, this will depend on the need of the user.
Setting up your CRM software is basic in principle, but the finer details will depend on exactly what you’re trying to do.
Ten Best Contact Manager Software Options
For combining elements of customer relations, personal relationships, and business networking, a CRM software option that covers a range of functions is useful. Here are a few good examples of CRM software to manage contacts with a wide range of applications.
Dex is a versatile professional relationship manager and personal CRM. It works by integrating data from databases such as your Google Calendar, Facebook, and LinkedIn. It offers functionality to professionals, business owners, founders, and students.
Categorizing your contacts by importance is the first step to qualifying. Further separating by pre-set or customizable groups simplified this. From here, you set how often you want to keep in touch, and when you do keep in touch, you can leave notes for next time.
This helps to maintain a database to keep track of contacts and their rate of communication across different types of networks. While Dex presents itself well as a personal/professional relationship manager, it has generalized functionality that will translate well into other forms of business and freelance networking.
Dex is an affordable personal CRM option and has a limited-functionality free tier and a $13.50 monthly subscription ($9/month for a year subscription) option. The premium version also has a 14-day free trial, and there are discounts for undergrads and business master’s students.
For small and medium-sized businesses (SMB), Zoho has it all covered. This is also a CRM software to manage contacts of founders and students alike. If you’re an educator, teacher, or student, it has a 50% discount, making it particularly appealing to those just starting out.
This CRM software now has so many features it’s suitable for almost any kind of network. For SMBs using some of the other Zoho software already, Zoho CRM provides an interoperable platform that will be very familiar.
Zoho fully integrates into the Google suite too and offers additional features leaning more towards customer relationships and sales details while integrating personal social media networks. This is a business-oriented CRM platform that will help blur the lines between personal and professional relationships to boost the productivity of both.
Zoho CRM has four tiers: $12, $20, $35, and $45 per month when billed annually. These correspond to Standard, Professional Ultimate, and Enterprise tiers, respectively; all of which have a free trial available. The higher tiers offer more in-depth functionality.
Apptivo is again more focussed on small businesses but applies to companies of all sizes as well as offering project, procurement, and order management. Its flexibility makes it a great all-rounder option for CRM software to manage contacts across various personal and professional requirements, though it lacks some of the attributes that someone looking for a personal relationships manager might want.
Using the apps, you can tailor Apptivo’s functionality to your needs. These apps offer a specific utility that you can further customize using the software’s ‘triggers’ which set rules to automate workflow. For example, the project management section comes with an inventory app, for which triggers can detect events and suggest automation rules.
Apptivo’s range of services makes it a very appealing all-rounder CRM software choice to manage contacts, but may not be quite as suitable for personal relationships as something like Dex of Zoho.
When billed annually, Apptivo offers an $8, a $12, and a $20 per month option, for Lite, Premium, and Ultimate, respectively. Each of these options has a free trial and offers more or less the same functionality, with higher tiers providing more apps, workflows, and custom fields per app.
Garden App is a little different than the other CRMs on this list. Of all the software to manage contacts, this little iOS app has relatively limited functionality but its simplicity and ease of use make it a very appealing prospect as a generalized CRM for individuals or small businesses.
While the Garden app isn’t going to be analyzing your lead generation data, it can still be useful for business owners as well as people looking for lightweight software to manage contacts; to keep track of friends without having to use social media.
The app was created by a start-up founder, after realizing that his work had taken up so much of his time, he had neglected his personal relationships. It focuses more on quality interaction, as opposed to just liking someone’s post on Facebook, and sets regular reminders and you do the rest.
For this reason, it’s a useful little CRM that can help you keep in touch with friends and relatives (and potential leads) while you’re busy in your education of business.
Garden App is free on iOS.
Students, particularly on MBA degrees, have excellent networking opportunities. Fellow students, academics, professors, and other teaching staff will all have links to the outside world that will no doubt be the start of your professional network as you begin on your career path.
The connections you make here will form your introduction into the business world, you’re your source of communications from the outside world. This can be the best time to start becoming familiar with software to manage contacts and we have two here to look at that are designed specifically for students.
Student-CRM contact manager provides a great entry-level CRM that’s designed to keep track of alumni contacts, teachers, employment leads, and suppliers alike.
It offers bulk email and SMS functions from the app and provides space for notes and a breakdown of the communications so far. You can search contacts in real-time through the app and keep track of outstanding tasks.
Tagging contacts make them more searchable, and setting tasks customize the CRM to remind you to make phone calls, send emails, or book meetings with people. This software is popular among universities that offer apprenticeships due to its ability to facilitate business relationships from the starting point of universities. It’s also popular among educators.
Student CRM contact manager is usually available only through educational institutions, so pricing isn’t publicly displayed, but private options are available on request via their pricing contact page
Uphabit offers another merger of personal and professional CRM, allowing students to make and maintain professional relationships, and to never lose touch with personal contacts.
This platform synchs with local calendars and some of the Google suite, and offers pre-set intervals for contact reminders, as well as custom options. One handy feature is merging duplicate contacts to tidy up your imported lists across different sources.
Personalized tags allow you to organize your contacts in as many ways as you like, and a timeline helps you keep track of their progress.
Available on MacOS, iOS, and Android, this app is very accessible to students and a simple but effective introduction to CRM software.
Uphabit’s Personal tier is free and allows you to manage up to 10 relationships out of the unlimited contacts. You also get 5 interaction options per day, for networking. The Professional and Super Connector tiers offer priority support and unlimited relationship management for $49.99 and $69.99 respectively, for a year’s membership.
Founders running a start-up tend to do a lot of the work themselves – at least to begin with – and this inevitably brings congestion to the process once the networks they’re dealing with become more complex. In fact, using software to manage contacts at the beginning stages of a business could be a great way to get an introduction to the CRM system, while there’s plenty of time to learn.
Using CRM software at the initial stages of a company will allow you to prepare for scalability and seamlessly integrate a much larger network as the company expands. With this in mind, here are a couple of CRM packages that are good for founders to try out.
HubSpot takes education seriously and provides a huge amount of consumable training content for its customers.
The CRM software can be accessed by all teams in your start-up and has enough of a range to be suitable for almost any kind of business. One of the biggest draws to founders, however, is their comprehensive free plan. This plan includes customer support and the option to manage up to one million contacts.
HubSpot’s CRM is simple to use and designed for scalability. For users looking for software to manage contacts that increases in versatility and utility, Hubspot modules are perfect. Modules are upgradable independently, meaning you can improve the functionality of the things you use as you scale your business.
Once the free tier becomes too limiting, Hubspot offers the following pre-set tiers:
- Starter, at $45 a month, Professional, at $1600 a month, and Enterprise, at $5000 a month.
However, they offer highly-customizable bundle packages, allowing users to pick and choose elements of their services that they need.
Insightly is another versatile sales contact manager software option, offering all the basics for start-up founders.
Lead generation and management, group emailing, automation, and strong integration are all strengths of this package, and linking everything from Gmail and other Google suite products makes for simple implementation.
Insightly’s visualizations satisfyingly render digestible graphs and projections so reports and charts are easy to understand.
In all, Insightly offers a straightforward and accessible CRM software package that’s easy to use and seamlessly integrates with other platforms, particularly in the Google suite.
The Plus, Professional, and Enterprise tiers are priced at $29, $49, and $99 per month, respectively when billed annually. The products have a free trial, and the higher tiers offer more functionality of the modules.
Consultants have a specialized need for network management. Sales-based CRM software might offer some solutions here, but many packages aren’t suitable for consultancy networking. Lead generation, tracking, and management are all elements of any good CRM, but for consultants, a package with a focus on creating and sending quotes, converting leads, and tracking opportunities is ideal.
Here are two options worth checking out if you’re in a consultancy role.
Veloxity is software that is designed to make all relevant information immediately accessible to consultants. Leads and opportunities are displayed in one place and reduce the need for digging through the apps looking for information.
Veloxity creates professional email marketing campaigns and then makes it easy to follow their progress.
Targeted searching makes lead generation more intelligently directed, and this can be easily automated. Creating and sending sales quotes to prospects is another useful focus of this product, with its available templates.
As with all the good contact manager software services, Veloxity integrates well with emails, phone calls, and calendars.
This service offers a free edition with limited communication and expandability options, and then offers Basic, Professional, and Enterprise tiers at $7, $54, and $94 per month, respectively, when billed annually. Each tier has a free trial available and increases the aforementioned functionality options with each tier.
One strong feature of Outfunnel is that it integrates with Hubspot, and this could be a useful progression for users familiar with that platform. Outfunnel might also be a more cost-effective progression than some of Hubspot’s expensive marketing packages.
Lead scoring in Outfunnel is automated and based on profiles built by a score-based system that analyses lead behavior. It uses email engagement and other metrics to score the leads, but these are somewhat customizable with weightings, depending on your needs.
These lead scores are synched over the CRM to show up on the customer profiles and allow the sales module to highlight the best potential leads for converting.
There is a free trial, after which the options are Starter, Growth, and Professional packages, priced at $19, $49, and $125 a month, respectively. Higher tiers offer increased functionality of already-present elements. For example, email marketing limits on Starter are 1000 and go up to 50,000 at the Professional tier.
There are plenty of options when it comes to software to manage contacts. CRM software has branched out from serving the needs of large businesses to catering for personal relationship managers and consultants, freelancers, and students.
Whatever your needs, there should now be a contact management software option available.