Today we’re going to be looking at a new CRM built on WordPress: Zero BS CRM.
This CRM plugin was first launched a year ago and has since garnered nine 5-star reviews on WordPress.org and 4,000+ downloads. We’ve seen it come up as one of the new WP-CRM options, and have been mildly impressed, but now the developers have released v2.0 and it’s a large degree better. And what’s more, this v2.0 is free. But is it the best free CRM system? Let’s find out.
Note: This review covers version 2.0 of ZBSCRM which is available from the WordPress repository here or direct from zerobscrm.com. There’s a lot of new features in this version, so be sure to download the latest one after reading this (older versions will not have these features).
If you’re reading this, the chances are you know what a CRM is. Customer Relationship Management software has become a staple for most businesses. Any entrepreneur who has more than a handful of clients will know that effectively managing the relationships becomes messy fast, and without a system in place, quickly becomes unprofitable.
CRM software lets you collect your customer data in one place, and helps you actively relate to your clientele.
Being that this is so central to business, there are now many solutions out there. Cloud CRM’s, SaaS CRM’s, desktop app CRM’s, there are even CRM systems that run on mobile phones or tablets. It’s a busy marketplace full of an overwhelming amount of options.
So why Zero BS CRM?
The developers suggest a few reasons:
- It’s a WordPress based CRM
- It won’t cost you anything (FREE core CRM)
- It’s extendible, familiar, quick, and works on phones/tablets too
Obviously, this is the developers selling their products, but we totally ‘get’ the idea. A CRM on WordPress does make sense to us – because we’re familiar with the platform, a plugin takes seconds to install, it’s FREE.
Oh, a word about free, while we’re here. Zero BS CRM is free – at least the core CRM is.
When you read things like this it’s easy to look for the “but”, to seek out the real cost. But they’ve made it super clear, thankfully, on their CRM power-ups page. You get a whole heap of good stuff for free: customer management, B2B mode, quote builder, invoicing, customer portal, and an API (and v2.0 is way better at all of this).
… and there are some “CRM extensions” that cost, but they’re totally underpriced for the marketplace. Currently, they’re doing a launch offer of 50% off (just this week, link below), and letting you have everything for $199. Considering Salesforce, Zoho, Capterra etc. can easily cost that per month! – Zero BS CRM really are keeping things simple.
So, then, why would we use Zero BS CRM? And would we?
Short answer: WordPress, Simplicity, and Yes.
There is a handful of WordPress CRM’s that are up to scratch. We’ve tried WP ERP, WP-CRM, UPi, WP-Invoice, and they aren’t all bad. What we love about Zero BS CRM, though, is their simple take on what can be over-complicated functionality. We’ll get into actual features below, but here are the bits we absolutely love about ZBS CRM:
- It’s free (a huge chunk of the functionality is in the Free CRM Core on WordPress.org)
- Great and how simple & intuitive it is to use
- It’s multi-user out-of-the-box
- There are extensions that do BIG things like mail campaigns and barometrics-style dashboards and that they’re affordable.
- You can turn off parts of the CRM you don’t use
- We love that they’re still developing this, week-in-week-out and that they use it themselves (supported by EpicThemes.com)
- We’re excited that they’ve just added an API & Zapier Integrations!
But before we get to the feature hit-list, we should balance this review with a few elements we didn’t totally like:
- The CRM “Extensions” look powerful, but their “bundles” start at $199 (steep for freelancers?) ** Note, Zero BS has responded to this and added a $99 freelancer bundle here.
- Code looks extendible, but there’s no developer documentation
- This works best on its own WordPress install (though if you go to settings and change the “menu type” to “slim”, it does sit okay in your main WordPress install).
- Only supports English & Spanish so far.
… but to be honest, for a free CRM system, we can’t really find much wrong with Zero BS. So, let’s close this and move on to looking at some of the v2.0 features.
We’re happy to review Zero BS CRM because the world needs more free, open-source software. CRM’s are good for everybody – the customer wins, the business wins, and the entrepreneur has far less headache. The ZBS CRM developers have kept this clean, and we’d certainly give it another 5 stars (like 100% of their WordPress.org reviews).
CRM V2.0 – Features we’re excited about in this new version
We were grateful that the ZBS developers let us have a look at their WordPress CRM plugin a few weeks before the release of v2.0 (and their one year birthday, congrats). Here are the parts of their new release that stood out to us:
Online Invoicing & Proposals
If you freelance or sell anything by the proposal (quotation or quote), then you’re familiar with the process that so many digital entrepreneurs have to slog through every day. First you find a lead, then you write and send them a proposal, hopefully, they accept. You do the work, then you bill them. But they didn’t pay a week later and you forget and then your bank manager phones you up, or fines you. Etc.
That whole process is made super easy in ZBS.
- Lead generation is dealt with via Gravity forms or their own embeddable forms
- Quote Builder lets you write a proposal right from your WordPress, then email it with 1 click
- … Leads can see the proposal online and accept digitally
- Itemized billing is easy, again right from your WordPress, you can even email them a PDF with 1 click
- Via the Client Portal (below), customers can pay you directly (PayPal or Stripe) (Note, this last step requires Invoicing PRO, a $27 extension)
… ZBS CRM ties it all together, you can do all this from within your WordPress, it’s all logged to a customer record, audited, and available anywhere you can log into WordPress from. You can keep all your business in one place, without the need for any double-entry or book-keeping.
(We love that you can do it all from your browser and WordPress!)
Perhaps the most under-rated element of the v2.0 of this WP-CRM (as discussed in their WP Entrepreneurs Slack channel), is the client portal.
If you’ve used WooCommerce or a similar e-commerce system, you’ll know the power of fully customizable client-side “portal’s”. ZBS supercharges that – it almost makes this like a fully extensible, free, user-management system (in fact you could use this for that!)
We’ve only seen invoicing put through the portal so far, and we’re impressed. Pay now buttons are just the start, we’ve heard, so this is definitely an area of ZBS to watch.
The CRM API + Zapier Integration
What good is all this juicy CRM power if we can’t develop on top of it? That’s a huge reason we love using WordPress, and it’s not to be understated that an API is an integral part of all modern software.
The Zero BS CRM API is clearly in its infancy, as it has only limited endpoints and (as of yet) no documentation – but the way we’ve seen it used in their Zapier integration shows us an ounce of its potential. It’s clear this will be big and is going to make this the WordPress CRM, unless rivaled (we’ve not seen any signs).
Zapier, unless you haven’t already heard, is an integration base that lets you connect hundreds of different systems together. From Google sheets to Stripe, (and now Zero BS CRM).
We’ve seen many big-name ($xxx.xx per month cost) CRM’s integrate with Zapier, but not a WordPress CRM plugin, so this is the first.
Mike from ZBS showed us how he’d wired ZBS into Stripe via Zapier so that all new Stripe customers automatically get added to ZBS. Another app he showed us shuttled specific customer segments out of ZBS into a Google sheet, and then emailed an admin person to act on these. These were clearly just a few of what looks to be tens or hundreds of integration setups. This will be seriously useful.
From ZBS CRM 2.0: Exclusive details about v2.0
… as if our pick of features wasn’t enough, the developers have given us a sneak-peak list of what you can expect from v2.0:
- Client Portal (as above)
- API & Integrations (as above)
- Stripe Integrations
- Improved Welcome Wizard (makes install quicker)
- CSV Importer included by default (for free)
- Global Search
- iPhone & Android App support
- Language Overrides (you can change any of the plugin’s text labels from the WP Menu!)
- Over 50 improvements/tweaks (from localization to performance boosts)
CRM Review: In summary
The features are coming thick-and-fast with this wp plugin. We’re confident that if these two developers keep going, that this CRM will rival the big cloud offerings fairly soon. Once their API and Client portal mature, this could be the WooCommerce of CRM’s.
Find out more & Get the plugin:
You can see their Free CRM core on WordPress.org here.
You can see their extensions (“power-ups”) here.
For launch week you can grab a 50% discount by visiting this page.
Roy McKenzie says
I would be very careful about working with Zero BS CRM (now owned by Automattic). The Mail module for building emails is not quite ready for prime time and is beta software, though it is described as being part of the main feature set during the purchase process. Beware of Automattic and their refund policy regarding this software. I asked for a refund because of this and because of tighter integration they claimed they had with WooCommerce that did not exist. I was under the impression it did. They refused to refund me twice now. I’ve submitted a dispute request with my bank. Hope to hear back soon.