SMILING MANThere are two CRM I recommend: Less Annoying CRM (LACRM) and Nutshell. I’ll cover what they have in common and then contrast the two.

LACRM and Nutshell are designed for small, medium and large businesses. Their target market is not enterprise-size companies, so you will not be stuck with overly-insistent defaults or a high number of fields you don’t need.

Both are available at half the cost of most other CRM (Less Annoying is the lowest) and the minimum number of users is one.

Both companies are located in the U.S. and provide excellent access to truly helpful humans. They each offer videos and other helpful resources, too, with a few differences I’ll cover below.

Both have personality – why buy boring?

Both allow you a bit of personality, too, in terms of changing the color scheme and a few other things.

Both are perfectly suited for selling B2B or B2C or both.

It’s easy to customize contact fields in both of these CRM. Also easy to enter human and company contacts, to link or delink the two, and easy to find what/who you’re looking for.

It’s easy to make and see notes, set tasks, to-do’s, etc. in both CRM. It’s also easy for managers versus reps to see what’s going on…or what should be going on.

This is important: Both let you set up and customize “pipelines” and both make it easy to use pipelines for almost anything: prospecting, selling, projects, recruiting, customer service, pre- and post-trade shows… If you have a process you’ll be able to capture and track it in Nutshell or Less Annoying.

Also important: Both provide ample support from humans to get help setting up pipelines, addressing changing needs over time, and so on.

Both include reporting functions you’ll probably find useful. Both upload and download, work well on mobile, tablet, and desktop. Both integrate with other tools, such as Mail Chimp and Google Calendar (a bit more on this below).

Both offer free trials and demos with human support to help you evaluate thoroughly.

That’s just a partial list of things they have in common. Now for a bit of contrast between the two CRM.

LACRM logoHooray for Less Annoying CRM (LACRM)

One of the best things about Less Annoying is ease of use. Basic features and functions are fully apparent and it doesn’t take long to find the more sophisticated features.

LACRM makes it extremely easy to set up various “pipelines” or processes with fully custom steps and names. You can have a pipeline that includes prospecting and selling, or one for prospecting alone and one for selling alone.

You can have different pipelines/processes for different types of sales, for various projects or workflow, for recruiting, onboarding, offboarding… you name it. Again: if you’ve identified a process you can capture and track it in this CRM. Though both CRM offer this kind of function, LACRM’s was faster to set up and edit.

Less Annoying CRM also lets you add a priority to pipelines. The default is low, medium or high but you can customize the options. One way to use this feature is to identify prospects with decision timing in the next month, two months, and so on. This is more effective than low, medium, high.

You may be aware I recommend rating prospects based on qualifying criteria, not where the sale is in a linear process. LACRM wins on this hands-down: it was easy to customize the rating elements, and to add a field to show each prospect’s rating in terms of points. I could clearly see what the rating was, and it was easy to generate reports based on rating/points or certain qualifying criteria.

The last contrast I’d like to make is about support resources. Less Annoying CRM has a bunch of brief videos walking you through everything from the basics to using collaboration. These are easy to understand and even enjoyable to watch. (Most of Nutshell’s videos are longer, requiring a bit of patience to find what you need.) For those of you who would rather read than watch a video, they’ve got written instructions, too.

Nutshell CRM logoHooray for Nutshell CRM

I’ve recommended this CRM for years and was at first disappointed when I fired up a fresh trial. Nutshell’s features and functions have nudged toward its famous competitors, including a more crowded screen and somewhat longer learning curve. Disappointment didn’t last long though, because if you need these features you’ll love Nutshell’s outstanding service and much lower cost.

Part of the change covers functions for customizing pipelines. Like LACRM, you can set these up for any type of process and customize the steps within any pipeline. However, doing this takes comparatively more thought and effort.

On the upside, Nutshell has a number of model pipelines you can use to get started, which may also include things you had not thought to include. Nutshell also offers straightforward explanations for each model, which can help you get past vague verbiage like “sales automation” to choose the right one.

Nutshell leans strongly toward a linear method for rating prospects, including offering the option to attach a percentage of “confidence” to each stage in the pipeline. As noted, you can customize the pipelines and stages. I recommend leaving “confidence” out of the picture entirely, but if you must include it set the percentage to 50% and leave it there.

Now for where Nutshell shines in comparison: it offers at least two terrific features that will outweigh the steeper customizing curve for many:

The first is the option to add customized “guidance” to each step in a pipeline. This can be used to provide tips or reminders. For example, this tip could be attached to the stage following a presentation: When you follow up after the presentation, ask for their ‘comments,’ not ‘feedback.’  You can also use this feature to define each stage. If you’ve ever spent 30 minutes arguing over “lead” versus “prospect” you’ll know why this is awesome.

The second is an integrated click-to-call using Ring Central. This is a nifty feature if your reps are making a high number of calls. (Nutshell generally offers more integrations than LACRM.)

Suggested Comparison

I highly recommend running a trial with both CRM and then deciding if one is right for you. I also suggest doing that in a certain order.

When to test-drive Less Annoying CRM first:

If you have not used a CRM on a regular basis, I recommend you do the first trial with Less Annoying CRM. You may find its streamlined look, easy customizing and key features are just what you need.

If you have one of the famous CRM (e.g., Zoho) but use half its functions and fields – or less – fire up a trial with Less Annoying CRM before you look at Nutshell.

When to test-drive Nutshell CRM first:

If you have and somewhat like one of the famous CRM (e.g., Salesforce) but you’re tired of it bossing you around, run the first trial with Nutshell.

If you look at the list of features and integrations on Nutshell’s website and think, “oooh, ah!” run this trial first.

To give the CRMs a meaningful test-drive:

Prepare a cheat-sheet of 5 prospect scenarios: company name, people in the company you’re prospecting/selling to, and which part of your pipeline they are in, and a change for at least 3 of these prospects. Use this cheat-sheet for each trial.

Set up and customize at least one pipeline in each CRM, using the associated features as much as possible. Pay attention to how easy or difficult this is. However, don’t hesitate to get help on it – that’s part of the test-drive, too – dive into the CRM’s online resources and call.

Enter info for the prospects into each CRM. Easy? A hassle? Now exit and come back in a day or so, and change the info. Easy? A hassle? Does the CRM show the info you need at a glance? Are there too many clicks?

If you’re shopping for CRM a team will use, pay added attention to any hassle-factor. If reps won’t enter data the CRM is useless.

If you’re shopping for yourself or a small team, remember to let your actual sales process and need for information drive the decision.


Want help preparing to test-drive or deciding which CRM is right for you? Give me a call.