How much does a CRM cost? 8 drivers to evaluate the costs (and benefits)

How much does a CRM cost? 8 drivers to evaluate the costs (and benefits)
How much does a crm cost

How much would the new CRM cost?” There is always a bit of confusion around this question, especially in case of a software like a CRM that impacts different business areas, involving multiple departments and many people.

From our experience, we at Sellf found out that this confusion leads to two totally opposite approaches toward the CRM investment. Some sales managers are very worried, thinking that the cost will be enormous in terms of monthly licenses and wasted time before going steady, so they are reluctant to launch a new CRM project (or to replace the existing CRM that does not work). Others, on the other hand, are very optimistic, considering only the price of the license and forgetting that there are a number of necessary steps that have additional costs.

We cannot blame them: each CRM has its method of calculating the price, so it creates a considerable confusion! Each supplier, in fact, chooses to include some costs in the monthly fee, leaving others as additional and vice versa. These pricing choices is not random, of course, but dictated by years of experience with customers requests. For instance, we have set Sellf prices observing what functions and features are most important for our clients depending on the size of their teams, defining the pricing plans in the best possible way.

Nevertheless, these differences between the different pricing plans structure lead to considerable problems. For example, it could happen that when you evaluate the price as a key factor in the choice between more CRMs, you could end up with the wrong conclusion. You think you’ve chosen the cheapest option, but after some months you should face a number of additional costs which were included in the price of the apparently more expensive CRMs!

Or conversely, you do not change your CRM for years, even when it has become outdated and no longer reflects the characteristics of your sales team, for fear of incurring in exorbitant costs and in the risk of reducing the efficiency of the team during the period of change.

It is time to clarify the matter once and for all by identifying what are all the differebt cost associated with the purchase of a CRM, some of which are often not well understood.

1. Monthly license.

This is the easiest cost to see because it is obviously the first thing you look at in order to assess the price. However, it is important to pay attention to how the total cost rises with the increasing of the team members number, because the licensing plan can be more or less appropriate depending on your needs.

Most CRM calculates the monthly license fee on a single user bases. The total cost is then obtained by multiplying it with the number of users of your team. The pro is that you pay exactly for the number of people who use the software, but with the con of always having the same per-users price, even when the team members number increases or decreases.

Other CRM pricing plans, however, are designed at steps, fixing the price per user depending on the size of the team. In this way, small teams pay less per user than larger team that needs an higher service level, while there is a scale economy discounts on very large teams.

In Sellf we chose this second method because we are convinced that the plans should be calibrated according to the size of the team. The higher the number of people, the more complex the needs, that require a higher level of support, storage space, etc. . On the contrary, it makes no sense to pay for advanced features when you are only 3 or 4 persons! You can see how we have structured our plans clicking here.

Another important thing is to understand the differences between the monthly and the annual plans. It is true that the monthly plans are more flexible, because you can pay from month to month. However, the annual plan allows you to save considerably, giving you the security of having your CRM without surprises for a year. In addition, the CRM is not a software that you change every month, but a long-term investment! The monthly plan can be fine for the very first period of software testing, but then it is recommended to go to the annual plan to avoid paying unnecessary additional costs.

Last, let’s talk about free demos: we believe they are a great way to test freely the CRM before making a final decision, but of course without a full setup and training you may not totally appreciate the full potential of the tool. It should therefore be taken as an initial test drive, very useful to understand the feeling with the software, and not as an implementation in full swing. Speaking of which, you can try a customised demo of Sellf clicking on this link: Book a free demo of Sellf

2. Installation and setup.

After selecting the CRM, it is time to start using it! Depending on the complexity of the CRM you chose, this stage of implementation can be more or less complex and, consequently, may have a higher or less cost.

By choosing an on-premises solution, for example, where all the data is stored at your company, you must purchase and set the database for saving data. Cloud solutions like Sellf, on the contrary, are much more slender: just install the applications on smartphones and computer and log in to be ready to go.

After the installation, you will immediately step to the setup phase, which is crucial for the proper functioning of the CRM project. It is at this stage, in fact, that you create the accounts for all users, defining the structure of the team and assigning the privileges to access the company information. Then, you set the types of deals and the customer acquisition flow that reflect the real processes of your company, and decide which data to track, the tags to navigate more easily the data and so on.

In some cases, the setup can be done independently by the sales manager and the corporate IT department, but we have seen that as the size of the sales team grows, many customers prefer to be helped by the software vendor.

In fact, our customers started to ask if we could help them in the setup as well! For an additional fee (to be agreed depending on the complexity of the project), more and more companies wanted to have the new CRM already configured on their needs and ready to use from day one. A little as the difference between buying a fully mounted book-shelf for your living room, or one that need to be assembled!

In case of a CRM project, a well-done setup is the best way to start smoothly and avoid problems (and extra costs) in the future, such as the loss of crucial data and the need to re-set all the forwarded to project system.

3. Data import.

The data about your customers is one of the most valuable asset for your company. Whether you have collected them in your previous CRM or they are saved on Excel files, starting with a new CRM project can be a good time to rearrange them and use them even better.

During the import into the new software, in fact, all previous data are normalized and cleaned in order to adapt their structure to the new database and ensure that everything is working properly. So why not picking up the chance to merge duplicate contacts, complete the missing fields, tag all of the customers to find them more easily, and so on?

This work of data standardisation can be done with the help of the CRM vendor, whose sales experts can accomplish the daunting task very quickly and with excellent results.

Our customers tell us that the additional cost for this activity is more than repaid by the time saved (compared to the time it would have taken them to do it internally) and, above all, from the safety of finding all their data cleaned and arranged from the first access to the new CRM.

Note that the data input cost is more variable than the others, because it totally depends on how your data are stored at the moment. Therefore, the best way to evaluate this cost is to contact us sending an email to our address:

4. Training.

Once you’ve purchased and installed the CRM, you completed only the first step: now everyone in the company must learn how to use it! The new software will be their weapon for the next few years (hopefully), so they must perfectly assimiliate how to use it, even knowing the tricks to save time and take the most out of it.

This phase is very delicate and therefore it’s often better to rely on the CRM vendor, which certainly offers free and/or paid training courses. These costs could be already included in the monthly license or could be payed once at the beginning of the project.

In our opinion, this second mode is the best one, because it allows greater flexibility and customisation of the training. For example, in case of large companies with large sales team, we have been asked several times to organise training days directly in the company site, the cost of which varies depending on the duration and the number of people. For smaller teams, on che contrary, it may be enough some hours of web conference training or a video training package, or even the free resources available online.

Besides, remember that most CRMs are continually updated and improved, so you need an ongoing training system that follows the software developments over time. This periodic training is lighter than the initial one, so it may be covered by resources such as online guides, videos and monthly webinars. We at Sellf decided to offer them for free, to allow our users to stay current on the latest version. If you are interested in seeing an example of webinar, join Sellf newsletter to receive free invitation to our next live webinars: Click here to join free.

5. Support.

Even if you set the project at best from the beginning, unexpected occurencies are always around the corner! Precisely for this reason, most CRM vendors includes in their price plans the support at different levels (telephone, on-site, etc.), generally by providing a complete support for larger teams with higher plans, which need a higher level of service.

In fact, during the last years we have observed that the use of customer support services vary depending on the companies. For instance, some companies send requests and phone calls at least once every three days, while we don’t hear from others for month after the project kick-off. In general, though, the largest teams have the more urgent and complex needs, while the team made up by a few people prefer to just send some emails in case of problems.

That’s why we decided to offer a different level of support in Sellf monthly fees. The Starter plan (less than 10 users) offers email support, while the Performance plan includes telephone support and the Enterprise plan includes a dedicated specialist, who intervenes in case of problems and helps the team to optimise the use of the CRM.

6. Maintenance.

Over time, even software need maintenance, which is done through updates that solve problems and add features.

For cloud software the updating is an almost automatic procedure that slightly touches the users, if not because they are invited to discover what’s news in the latest version. The only thing to check from the costs point of view is whether the updates are included in your plane and for how long.Given the importance of the updates, in Sellf they are automatically included in all plans.

The situation becomes changes when you chose an on-premises solution or if you have asked for custom modules designed specifically for your company. In this case, since you will require dedicated updates and on-site maintenance, you can define the cost upfront with the software vendor, so that there is maximum transparency and in the future everything will flow easily.

7. Storage space.

This is a cost that almost no one considers in the project early stage, but that may occur later. If your plan includes a certain amount of storage space, when you reach the maximum you will receive a message from your provider: Do you prefer to export and delete the oldest data, or do you want to pay for the extra space?

We well know that it is difficult to estimate from the beginning how much space you will need, but before starting with the CRM project is good to have a clear idea on how the storage costs vary.

In Sellf, the storage space is clearly indicated in the price plan and is calculated as a quantity per user (i.e., 2 GB of space per person in the basic plan). It’s the best solution to minimise the need of purchasing additional space later, and at the same time to prevent you on paying for space you do not need.

8. Accessory Features.

It’s the last but most complicated point. What is included in your CRM plan? Definitely it would include the customer data collection and management basic functions.

But what about all the accessory functions such as the integration with email delivery services, calendars management, marketing automation, team collaboration applications, statistics reports, and so on?

Most CRMs are modular, that means you can initially decide which modules to purchase, and then gradually add other modules later when you need them, simply by increasing the cost of the license. The advantage is the ability to be very flexible, choosing only the features that you strictly need, and then grow over time according to your effective needs.

On the contrary, with the modular pricing the basic functionality of your CRM will be severely limited and you would need to pay more for any additional function. In addition, the accessory modules developed by the CRM vendor will not have the same quality of the software developed by companies who are focused on marketing automation, collaboration, data storage and so on.

For this reason, we at Sellf decided to have a different approach: our plans offer all the features required in a CRM, and the you can expand the features by integrating with other applications that are specific in their field. Some are directly integrated into Sellf, such as Slack for team collaboration, Evernote for managing notes and documents, Dropbox for file sharing, etc. Plus, thanks to the recent integration with Zapier, which connects different applications, you can integrate Sellf with email marketing software like MailChimp, Autopilot and MailUp, project management tools as Asana and so on. We chose this mode to let you have the best applications in their area as possible integrated with Sellf … while we can concentrate on what we do best: your CRM!


By now you would have understood that the answer to the question “How would a CRM cost me?” is a political “It depends!“, since it must take into account a number of aspects related to your team’s needs. The same software can have two totally different prices depending on the level of service you want!

However, the lesson we would like you to take out from this article is first of all that the best CRM pricing is the one that follows the growth of your team, your needs and your results.

Second, that it is not possible to assess the cost of a CRM just by looking at the monthly license and the additional costs. You have to think in terms of the overall costs and benefits that you will experience during all the years of use of the software. Some accessory costs such as setup and training, which may seem an annoying and unnecessary expense, are actually designed to help you bring out the best from your CRM, saving time, working better and even helping you sleep better, feeling that everything is under control.

Are you now wondering how much would it costs to launch a CRM project with Sellf, our software to accelerate sales?
Click the button below to try out our free demo!

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