HubSpot Free CRM Review 2019 – The Perfect CRM for Freelance and Small Business

Best CRM for small business 2019

Why I chose HubSpot CRM

By Stuart Quate

Coming from a sales and marketing background I have used a wide variety of CRM software over the years, from industry standard to bespoke in-house and open source solutions.

But, that is not why I started using HubSpot. I was actually just after a half decent task scheduling tool to keep me on track and make more efficient use of time.  I know there are task tools within Outlook and within my Microsoft package and even built into my iPad as a standard iOS app, but none of them did what I wanted, the way I wanted.

I eventually found an app called Monday.com which is great. I used the trial and it did everything I needed, however it cost £22/month. As a small freelance consultancy every penny counts, and I am already spending a fortune on software, so I thought this was a bit much just for a task manager.  I decided to just copy all the column headings from Monday.com and recreate it for myself in a Google Sheet and this worked to a point and was still accessible on all devices.

Best Free CRM for business 2019

HubSpot task creation window.

However, the main issue I find with task lists is that you have to remember to look at them!  It is all very well spending an hour and compiling all your work into a nice to-do list, but you soon get bogged down with new emails and jobs coming through – meaning the list can easily get lost and fall out of memory.  One of the main benefits of apps like Monday.com and others, is that you can schedule the tasks to send you an email reminding you to do whatever it is needs doing.

Anyway, it came to mind that perhaps a free, open source CRM would actually serve my purposes perfectly.  I had used Salesforce throughout most of my career and I have to say it is a truly excellent CRM solution, especially once the mobile app came out. I was always given one of the more advanced Salesforce user packages for some reason, but generally only used a few basic, but powerful features to get me through the day.  The company profile info section (usual contact details and lead status), the comments section (containing any important client call/meeting notes) and the task scheduler.

There are a number of free CRM systems on the market. With most free software paid versions generally exist as an options – for additional users and functionality. However, it is quite possible that like me, all you need is the basics to get started, and with HubSpot CRM it genuinly is free, and although I have stated it is for freelance and small business you can actually have unlimited users and store up to 1 million contacts and companies!

In the end I chose HubSpot because I recognised the brand and didn’t know any of the others. I had visited the HubSpot offices for a presentation a couple of years ago in Dublin and was very impressed by the fact they had a bar on every floor. HubSpot staff can pour a pint and bring it back to their desk whenever they want! They also seem to have a BBQ every day to go with the beers (as well as a range of healthy options for those who prefer a carrot stick and some humus to a burger and a Guinness). As well as impressing me with their office they have a great digital marketing newsletter which has continued to arrive in my inbox, and which actually has some useful content and is well worth subscribing to.

So, they had kept themselves in my head and ended up on my computer – good long-term marketing on their part!  At some point when I need the functionality, I am sure I will be upgrading to one of their paid platforms and the circle will be complete.

Functionality

In terms of functionality the free HubSpot CRM provides me with all the tools I was using during my Salesforce days:

  • Companies & Contacts – A company/client profile to list client information, key contacts, contact details, lead status etc. I like this section in HubSpot as when you put in the company website, the CRM pulls data back such as their company logo and customises the profile for you. It is a nice touch.
  • Comments – Keep track of your conversations so you can do a quick check of what went on in your last meeting before calling someone J
  • Tasks – Create tasks to be completed for each company with end dates and email reminders!

All good useful stuff, and easy to create and access via your main desktop as well as your phone and tablet. There is also a number of other features within the free version which I don’t use, but which may be useful to your business.

For me the combination of the above 3 well-crafted tools for free is just perfect.

On top of this I have discovered some basic Facebook integration for creating ads around lead generation.  The ads are limited to what is essentially a boosted post in terms of targeting, but still another nice touch and I have used it for creating ads even though I mainly use Facebook Business Manager.

Cons?

It is hard to criticise anything when you are getting it for free. However, the one issue I had was around the sign-up process. On starting you have the option to create a new account or sign in with Google (Gmail). I chose that later as it seemed handy. The problem is that after creating the account with my Gmail, all my task notifications now go to my Gmail inbox and there does not seem to be any way for me to change this within HubSpot to my main work address (studio@abstractturtle.com).

The only way to change it is to set up a new account with my work address instead of Gmail.  This would have been too much hassle however – as by the time I figured out I couldn’t change the email setting, I had already entered a lot of data!

Instead, my work-around was to set up commands in my Gmail to redirect incoming HubSpot task emails to my Abstract Turtle account. So, while this is now sorted and working well, it took a bit of messing about to get it fixed and it would be great if HubSpot could provide an easier way to switch primary email accounts within the CRM. On the whole though, no big deal.

Conclusion

I have now been using the completely free HubSpot CRM for about a month. In that time, it has proven to be an excellent, easy to use, easy to access and valuable tool for my business.  There is already more than I need available to me right now, and if all goes well and my business grows to the point that I require more functionality, I will definitely be adding their paid Marketing and Sales Hubs to my ever expanding list of software subscriptions.

Get the HubSpot CRM for your business today – download for free.

2019-07-16T10:32:55+00:00