3 CRM pricing tricks that you shouldn't fall for

Sometimes with CRM software, there's more to the price than meets the eye. Here are a few things to look out for.
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Anyone who has ever purchased a CRM knows how complicated the pricing can be. Between convoluted pricing grids, confusing buzzwords, and “contact us for a quote” websites, it can be really difficult to figure out what a CRM actually costs.

CRM companies use too many tricks to list them all in one article, but there are three in particular that I want to talk about so that you can avoid falling into these traps:

Showing monthly pricing but charging annually
This is my #1 biggest pet peeve when it comes to software pricing pages, because the companies are outright lying. What they’ll do is show a monthly price, like maybe $15/month. But it turns out you only get that price if you pay for a full year, so the real price is $180 up front, not $15. Sometimes they’ll charge you a higher price for a monthly plan, and sometimes they won’t even offer that option at all.

If a company is lying to you about their price, that’s should give you a pretty good sense of how they’re going to treat you throughout your relationship. So if you see a website that does this, enter at your own risk.

Avoid this trick by making sure that there isn’t any fine print on the pricing page saying that you only get that price if you pay annually.

Offering a cheap plan, and forcing you to upgrade after you’re committed
Most CRM companies have multiple different pricing tiers. Some (not all) of these companies try to pull you in with a very cheap (or even free) plan, but they put artificial limits on that plan knowing that you’ll have to upgrade. That allows them to advertise a low price knowing that most customers will actually have to pay extra. This is especially tricky if there’s an annual contract, because they’ll let you upgrade mid-contract, but not cancel, so you really don’t have a choice.

Avoid this trick by making the most of your free trial. Test out all of the features and make sure that you won’t be limited by the plan you choose.

Charging for extras (like customer service)
It’s not uncommon for software companies to nickle-and-dime you after you’ve signed up. There are all kinds of things that might cost extra (advanced features, integrations, API access, etc.) but the most common one is support. Most CRM companies will offer some kind of free support, but they might charge you extra for things like phone support.

Avoid this trick by testing the customer support during your trial. Try to schedule a phone demo, ask for help with an import, or do anything else that will put the support team to the test.

This certainly isn’t a comprehensive list of “gotchas” you might run into, but if you can avoid these three, you’ll be off to a great start. If you have any questions or comments, hit me up on Twitter (@TylerMKing)!


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