Top 13 CRMs for Agencies: A Guide to Features, Pros & Cons

Lucija Bakić

January 18, 2024

Screenshot of a top CRM for agencies featuring a resource plan with employee scheduling across projects and time periods.

With the right CRM for agencies, operational excellence doesn’t have to be a buzzword.

Find out all about how you can make your daily workflows effective and efficient with the right software solution for professional services. Learn more about the key benefits and features of CRM, and then browse the best currently available tools.

What Is CRM for Agencies?

Customer relationship management or CRM software for agencies refers to a software solution specifically designed to manage and support interactions with clients and potential customers. This type of CRM focuses on the unique needs of agencies, such as marketing agencies, advertising, PR, or consulting firms, by streamlining processes like client communication, project management, and sales tracking.

Related: 10 Best PSA Software Solutions: The Essential List for Modern Enterprises

The Importance of CRM Software for Agencies

A survey by Aberdeen Research & Strategy shows that companies increasing their investment in CRM software experience more benefits than those reducing their CRM spending.

These include:

  • 52% more proposals, quotes, or RFP responses delivered to prospects
  • 32% higher overall team attainment of sales quota
  • 24% more sales reps achieving individual quota
  • 23% higher lead conversion rate
  • 11% more quotes resulting in orders

This data highlights the importance of CRM software in enhancing your agency operations. By helping you organize your client information and interaction, CRM platforms can give you a deeper understanding of client needs, support effective communication, and, ultimately, ensure better service delivery. CRM software helps agencies retain existing clients and recognize new business opportunities.

Choosing the Right CRM Software for My Agency

CRM software can vary depending on their comprehensiveness. When we look at the range of features, we can distinguish more specialized software focusing only on CRM functionalities. Other types of tools might include marketing features with integrations or add-ons. Finally, the most extensive type is all-in-one software, which combines sales with multiple other functionalities.

The benefits of all-in-one solutions can be significant, as they help you streamline your processes and get accurate data across projects:

That was probably the single biggest thing—reducing the amount of tools, platforms, and systems, and using just one. Having a platform that considers everybody’s salaries, the operating expenses of the whole business, and feeding that into project budgets and looking at the internal time vs. client time gives us a much more real-time and accurate view of the profitability of actual, specific projects.

Brendon Nicholas,
Co-founder and Technical Director of DotDev

Here are some specific features to consider when researching vendors and their solutions:

  • Customization: The versatility of a tool is important for ensuring that the tool can support unique business processes. However, too much flexibility might make it confusing or impractical to use, so a healthy balance is often best.
  • User-Friendly Interface: Despite how experienced your sales leads or employees may be, an intuitive and user-friendly approach can go a long way toward ensuring software adoption.
  • Reporting and Analytics: Robust data analysis tools are critical for informed decision-making, allowing agencies to understand trends, measure performance, and strategize accordingly.
  • Scalability: A scalable CRM can adapt to an agency’s growing needs, ensuring that it remains a valuable asset as the business evolves and expands.

We’ll consider these key points in our overview of the best CRM for agencies. Keep reading to learn more about their benefits, downsides, key features, and user reviews.

Our List of the Best CRM for Agencies

1. Productive – The All-in-One Solution for Agency Software Management

Productive is an all-in-one software for professional services agencies of all shapes and sizes. It’s designed to optimize your business performance on many different levels, with features that support deal tracking, project planning, financial management, and capacity planning.

We used to have a project management tool, a time tracking tool, a support tool, a way we handled opportunities and sales-driven processes. Those were all separate tools that we had, and it wasn’t good. It also meant that all that data was being lost every time we switched between tools, or we had to find a way to normalize the data between them. And now, the fact that it’s all in one, it’s really a game changer.

Bryan Casler,
Vice President of Digital Strategy at 4Site Interactive Studios

Read the full story: How 4Site Interactive Studios Stays Profitable Serving Non-Profits

Productive provides project managers and agency leaders with the tools that they need to optimize their agency’s operations, while also streamlining repetitive tasks for daily use.

Check out how Productive does this by learning more about its key features.

Sales

Productive offers lightweight CRM capabilities in the form of a Sales Pipeline that works together with the rest of the platform.

Screenshot of a CRM for agencies displaying a 'Deals' section with categorized leads, prospects, and proposals. Each card represents a different project with associated values and progress percentages, summarizing potential revenue in a visual format


ALIGN YOUR SALES AND BUSINESS PROCESSES

Some key features include:

  • Customizable pipeline: Organize your pipeline stages according to what suits you best and define reasons for lost deals to identify your strong and weak points.
  • Managing communications: Set up to-do lists, assign sales representatives, and keep track of all of your information on a particular lead.
  • Sending quotes: Your service rates are already saved in your platform as part of the budgeting feature so that you can easily build estimates and export quotes as PDFs.
  • Creating projects: Once a deal is won, you can convert a quote into a project and continue managing it on the same platform. Project templates can be used to give you a quick start.
  • Sales forecasting: Get insights into key sales analytics like potential sales revenue, estimate your win probability, check your total revenue won or performance by a sales representative, and more.

Budgeting

When it’s time to proceed with executing the client project, Productive provides robust financial management support with its Budgeting, Budgeting, and Purchase Orders features.

Productive can adapt to various project budgets, whether fixed-price, hourly, retainer, or hybrid, and integrates with resource scheduling for real-time budget and profit margin insights. Additionally, Productive supports revenue recognition for both invoiced and recognized revenue, as well as forecasting.

Screenshot of a CRM for agencies displaying a rebranding campaign dashboard. The graph shows weekly progress in terms of hours worked against financial metrics, with a breakdown of time, budget, and invoicing details, including totals and amounts remaining for invoicing


MANAGE YOUR AGENCY’S FINANCES

When it comes to invoicing, Productive supports the creation of brand-friendly invoices. Pull your billable hours or the remaining amounts from fixed-price projects, attach timesheets, and send them directly from the platform. With Purchase Orders, you can track external expenses to ensure you have the full picture of your agency’s financial health.

Screenshot of a CRM for agencies featuring an invoice layout with detailed billing for marketing services. The invoice includes line items for branding and campaign launch, quantities, unit prices, applied discounts, and the total amount due, presented in a clear and structured format.


STREAMLINE YOUR BILLING

Productive also integrates with popular accounting platforms like QuickBooks and Xero.

See more: Project Accounting: A Complete Guide to Mastering Project Finances

Project Management

Productive’s Project Management feature supports agencies with a suite of integrated tools designed to optimize workflow and accountability. 

Screenshot of a CRM for agencies, displaying a task management interface for social media posts. It features options for list, board, calendar, and table views, and categorized tasks showing various stages of progress from 'Not Started' to 'Done' with prioritization labels.


SUPPORT YOUR TEAM COLLABORATION

This includes:

  • Various project views for managing progress, including Kanban, Gantt, Calendar, and more
  • Automatic alerts that are stored for later reference and can be adjusted for frequency
  • Customizable access permissions that support efficient communication and transparency
  • Streamlined task management with comment history, to-dos, milestones, and custom fields

Complementing these features is Productive’s Time Tracking capability. Time entries can be managed with a timer with a desktop widget for easy access, manual entry, and even automatic creation from resource bookings. Managers can approve and mark hours as billable and non-billable.

Productive performs time-tracking and invoicing at that perfect level where it’s out of your way most of the time, but has the option to drill down into the details if you need to fix mistakes.

Ezra Bowden,
Founder, The Stork

Additionally, Productive includes leave management, so you can define categories specific to your agency, approve requests, and view vacancies through platform status.

Reporting

Productive’s Reporting feature offers a template library with agency-focused reports that can be populated with data from all your platform activities. This includes sales insights, project management and time tracking, budgeting, and more. Organize your reports into visual dashboards and share them with project stakeholders within the platform or with scheduled emails.

Screenshot of a CRM for agencies illustrating a financial dashboard titled 'Profitability by months'. The bar graph compares profit, cost, and revenue for two consecutive months, with corresponding numerical data provided below the chart for a clear monthly financial overview.


GET KEY AGENCY INSIGHTS

Additional features: Resource Planning, Docs, Automations.

Integrations include: Xero QuickBooks, HubSpot, Breathe, Zapier, Slack, Jira, Google Calendar, and more.

Pricing

  • Plans start with the Essential plan at $9 per user per month, which includes essential features such as budgeting, project & task management, docs, time tracking, expense management, reporting, and time off management.
  • The Professional plan includes custom fields, recurring budgets, advanced reports, billable time approvals, and many more for $24 per user per month.
  • The Ultimate plan has everything that the Essential plan and Professional plan offer, along with the HubSpot integration, advanced forecasting, advanced custom fields, overhead calculations, and more for a custom price.
  • You can also check out the Enterprise Plan with custom pricing for companies that would include more than 50 active users per month.

Productive offers a 14-day free trial so you can decide if it’s the right CRM solution for your agency.

Invest in the Top CRM for Agencies

Align your sales processes with strategic agency goals with an all-in-one agency management tool.

Book a demo

2. HubSpot – A Good CRM for Managing a Marketing Agency

HubSpot Sales Hub is an extensive solution for deal tracking, managing your sales funnel, and optimizing email campaigns.

Key features:

  • Contact management
  • Sales automation
  • Analytics and forecasting
  • Email marketing tools
Screenshot of a CRM for agencies displaying analytics on contact creation over time with a bar graph, a breakdown of new contacts by source, and blog post total views with the corresponding increase percentage, providing a visual representation of engagement and growth metrics.


SOurce: hubspot

HubSpot Sales Hub is a robust tool for customer service teams and agencies of all shapes and sizes. It has various pricing points, making it suitable for mid-sized to enterprise agencies looking for robust support. However, it can be a less-than-ideal software solution for agencies that want to combine CRM functionalities with generalized agency project management capabilities. For this, you may consider an agency tool with a HubSpot integration, like Productive.

3. Apptivo – A Good CRM Tool for Smaller Agencies

Apptivo is a cloud-based customer relationship management software that supports your sales and marketing processes.

Key features:

  • Task management
  • Analytics dashboard
  • Workflow automation
  • Invoice creation
Screenshot of a CRM for agencies presenting a table view of 'Closure this Year' with summarized details including company names, contacts, deal amounts, assigned team members, business types, expected close dates, and sales stages for a variety of projects and clients.


Source: Apptivo

Multiple reviews note that Apptivo can be a great CRM solution for smaller agencies, as it offers affordable pricing points and all of the essential features you need to manage your business opportunities. However, as the main con of the software, users note that certain features, such as reporting, may lack the advanced functionalities needed to run a larger agency.

4. Monday.com – A CRM Solution With Task Management Capabilities

Monday Sales CRM is a software platform from Monday.com designed specifically to improve client engagement and manage deal progress.

Key features:

  • Task automation
  • Sales funnel customization
  • Customer conversations
  • Visual dashboards
Screenshot of a CRM for agencies showing a task tracking module for the current month. It lists tasks such as 'Finalize kickoff materials' and 'Refine objectives' with assigned owners and status indicators ranging from 'Done' to 'Stuck' and 'Working on it', organizing project management effectively.


source: MONDAY.COM

Monday Sales CRM is a well-rated CRM for agencies, and users usually praise it for its versatility and customization options. However, like HubSpot, certain reviewers noted that the features might be too comprehensive for smaller to mid-sized enterprises. Therefore, if you’re looking for essential sales team management, you might consider a more lightweight alternative from this list.

5. Insightly – A CRM Platform for Agencies of All Shapes

Insightly is a CRM software solution for businesses from various industries, including consulting, healthcare, finance, manufacturing, and more.

Key features:

  • Sales funnel management
  • Collaboration features
  • Process automation
  • Advanced user permissions
Screenshot of a CRM for agencies featuring sales performance dashboards. On the left is a gauge chart tracking total sales against a target, and on the right, a pie chart breaks down the total value by opportunity state, categorizing opportunities as won, open, suspended, or lost.


source: insightly

Insightly can be a good choice for users who are looking for a joint sales and project management process on a single platform. However, consider that some expanded capabilities for agencies are lacking compared to similar tools on the market, such as capacity planning or advanced utilization forecasting.

6. Podio – A Flexible CRM Database for Complex Workflows

Podio is described as a flexible, collaboration database that helps automate your processes and share information between key parties.

Key features:

  • File sharing
  • Team collaboration & communication
  • Customizable workspace with Podio Apps
  • Third-party integrations
Screenshot of a CRM for agencies displaying a project management calendar with scheduled meetings and deliverables. The interface includes tabs for activity, projects, and meetings, with a focus on a monthly view showing key dates and planning sessions for a team's collaborative efforts.


source: podio

Users note Podio’s potential to create flexible and versatile workflows, but they also add that technical knowledge might be required to get the most out of the tool. This also means the implementation may take longer than with more structured software, so keep this in mind if you have time-sensitive agency concerns.

7. Salesforce – A Popular Solution for Agency Customer Relationship Management

Salesforce Sales Cloud is a CRM solution with customizable dashboards and robust sales pipeline management.

Key features:

  • Sales performance management
  • Workflow automation
  • Visual dashboards
  • Apps and add-ons
Screenshot of a CRM for agencies displaying a 'Forecast by Quarter' chart. The graph segments revenue predictions into categories like pipeline, best case, most likely, commit, and closed for each quarter, offering a visual representation of expected financial performance over the fiscal year.


source: salesforce

Salesforce is an advanced tool that supports client prospecting and analyzing sales analytics. Figuring out which features are included in which pricing tier can be complex, and the user interface has been described as confusing at times. Like HubSpot or Monday Sales Cloud, it might not be the best option for smaller agencies or inexperienced teams. However, although it’s a challenging solution, it does provide a great range of features for sales management.

8. Nimble – An Essential Platform for Customer Relationship Tracking

Nimble is described as a CRM software solution focused on nurturing your relationships.

Key features:

  • Custom web forms
  • Deal management
  • Sales Intelligence
  • Third-party apps
Screenshot of a CRM for agencies featuring sections for overdue and upcoming activities. The interface includes a reminder for a past due amount with contact details, and a schedule of future meetings and tasks, along with links to relevant communications and social media integrations for efficient client management.


source: nimble

One of Nimble’s unique features is that it offers only one pricing tier: this can be a good thing, as it streamlines the decision-making process, but it also means that you may be getting more functionalities than you need at a higher price than necessary. Additionally, users enjoy most things about Nimble but underline that the user interface is slightly outdated.

9. EngageBay – A Comprehensive CRM for Advertising Agencies

EngageBay is a business operations platform that combines modules for marketing, CRM and sales, and customer service.

Key features:

  • Project management
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Contact management
  • Employee engagement features
Screenshot of a CRM for agencies displaying a contact management page with a list of individual client records. Each entry includes the contact's name, subscription date, location, and status, alongside options for sorting and filtering to streamline customer relationship operations.


source: engagebay

EngageBay provides a pricing tier that combines marketing and sales into one tool, making it a good pick for agencies that are looking to unify these workflows. The modules can also be purchased separately, which is suitable for smaller teams needing a specialized solution. However, some reviewers mention that certain features are less advanced than expected.

10. Pipedrive – A Good CRM for a Digital Marketing Agency

Pipedrive is a versatile CRM solution for marketing teams and agencies of all shapes and sizes.

Key features:

  • Lead management
  • Marketing automation
  • Sales & marketing analytics
  • Third-party apps
Screenshot of a CRM for agencies displaying a weekly activity calendar. The schedule is populated with various tasks including calls, emails, meetings, and other client engagement activities, each marked with specific times and completion status, facilitating organized client communication and management.


source: pipedrive

Users frequently praise Pipedrive as an intuitive solution for agencies: “Pipedrive’s user-friendly interface makes it easy for our teams to navigate and manage the pipeline” (Source: Caperra). However, multiple reviews mention issues with customer support when it comes to responsiveness, issue-solving, and onboarding.

11. Spiro – A Specialized Solution for Optimized Deal Tracking

Spiro is a CRM software tailored to sales teams in mid-sized and enterprise companies, with a particular focus on the supply chain industry.

Key features:

  • Customer database
  • Content generation
  • AI-powered analytics
  • Automatic alerts
Screenshot of a CRM for agencies presenting an order status report by month. The bar chart tracks the financial value of completed, delayed, in-process, and new orders for a specific time period, with aggregate counts of total open and delayed orders at the top, providing a clear visualization of order fulfillment over time.


source: SPIRO

Spiro is a complex CRM software solution that offers a wide range of features powered by AI. The pricing point is fairly high, similar to more extensive solutions like HubSpot. However, consider that Spiro provides solutions for distributors and manufacturers, and might not offer all of the capabilities necessary for daily agency operations.

12. Pipeline CRM – A Fine CRM for Digital Agency Needs

Pipeline CRM is a software solution that supports sales and marketing efforts in professional services and consulting agencies.

Key features:

  • Sales forecasting
  • Personalized emails
  • Deal management
  • User permissions
Screenshot of a CRM for agencies showing an overview of a sales pipeline dashboard. It details the total value of deals in various stages such as qualified, negotiation, and won, along with metrics like sales cycle time, win ratio, and average won deal size, offering a snapshot of sales performance and progress.


source: pipeline

Pipeline can be a good CRM solution for marketing automation and sales management when it comes to covering essential features. However, users have stated that some advanced features are missing, such as more robust integrations or invoicing.

See more: Best Software for Consultants: The Ultimate Guide to Tools & Features

13. Sage CRM – A Decent CRM Option for Agencies

Sage CRM is a tool designed to support sales efforts from the leading provider of agency solutions, Sage.

Key features:

Screenshot of a CRM for agencies showing a multi-widget dashboard that includes a list of open opportunities, contact information, a bar graph of opportunity status, company details, and a personal calendar. This comprehensive view allows for streamlined tracking and management of sales and client interactions.


source: sage CRM

Though Sage CRM features useful capabilities for managing your sales process, numerous reviews mention the downsides of the tool. Users often highlight that the tool is unintuitive: “there is WAY too much ‘technical jargon’ that the average employee doesn’t understand” (Source: Capterra). Secondly, some reviews mention that importing data can be difficult and that costs can ramp up depending on your usage.

Implementing a CRM System in Your Agency

Implementing any type of software can be a lengthy process. The first necessary step is to ensure that all key stakeholders are aligned on the benefits of implementing that particular solution. This includes everyone, from the C-level down to junior staff.

Otherwise, keep your strategic goals and agency needs in mind at all times. The key is to ensure the CRM aligns with your agency’s goals, culture, and client management processes.

Finally, organizing team training and allowing for open feedback can help you get the most out of your software. Vendors that provide responsive customer service can significantly alleviate this process for you.

I feel noticed and heard and features are constantly forthcoming that add value to what we are doing for our clients. You don’t get that from a lot of companies: a constantly improving, feature rich roadmap with high visibility and eager anticipation.

Orion Jensen,
CEO at Clear Launch

Determining the ROI of Your CRM Implementation

Determining the return on investment (ROI) of your CRM implementation involves assessing both tangible and intangible benefits. Tangible ROI is quantifiable, typically reflected in metrics like increased sales, reduced operational costs, and enhanced efficiency in client management processes. These are directly measurable impacts that contribute to the bottom line.

Intangible ROI, though not as easily quantifiable, is equally important. This includes improvements in customer satisfaction, a crucial factor in long-term business success. Satisfied customers are likelier to be loyal, provide referrals, and contribute to a positive brand reputation.

Another intangible benefit is enhanced employee engagement. A CRM system can simplify tasks, reduce manual workload, and provide clearer insights into customer needs, leading to a more motivated and productive workforce.

Consider both of these success metrics when gauging the effectiveness of your CRM implementation.

Takeaway: Finding the Best Agency CRM Software

Investing in a CRM for your professional services agency can simplify operations, improve client relationships, and increase productivity. The ideal choice depends on your agency’s specific needs, size, and goals.

Make sure to evaluate your strategic objectives carefully, as well as research essential considerations such as scalability, user-friendliness, and reporting capabilities, before deciding which tool to go with. Finally, consider the benefits of integrated solutions such as all-in-one software that can deliver support for all of your business processes.

If you’re interested in a comprehensive platform for sales and agency operations, consider booking a demo with Productive.

FAQ

What is the best CRM for an agency owner?

The best CRM for an agency owner depends on your specific industry, agency, and even type of typical client engagement. A good all-around choice is Productive, a comprehensive tool for agencies that is designed to provide sales, project planning, financial management, capacity planning, and more, on a single platform.

What is an agency CRM?

An agency CRM is a tool for managing customer relationships. It is specifically designed to help streamline communication, automate tasks, manage leads, and provide insights into sales performance.

What are the 3 types of CRM?

CRM solutions are often divided into three categories: operational, analytical, and collaborative. Operational CRM software helps automate tasks to streamline day-to-day operations. Analytical CRM software helps gather and analyze key agency data. Finally, collaborative CRM software focuses on centralizing information and supporting teamwork.

What is a realtor CRM?

A realtor CRM is a type of customer relationship software that helps real estate agencies manage client interactions. The essential features don’t differ much from agency CRM solutions. They include contact management, lead tracking, and workflow automation.

Connect With Agency Peers

Access agency-related Slack channels, exchange business insights, and join in on members-only live sessions.

Lucija Bakić

Content Specialist

Related articles