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Sales | Aug 27
Jessica Malnik on March 29, 2021 (last modified on August 16, 2021) • 13 minute read
If you stumbled across this post, there is a good chance you are looking for customer relationship management (CRM) software.
The two dominant players in the CRM space are Salesforce and HubSpot.
However, that’s about all they have in common. Both Salesforce and HubSpot have different business models and product philosophies.
In this post, we’re taking a closer look to see how these two CRMs stack up:
Salesforce and HubSpot CRM will be compared and evaluated based on the following 6 key factors.
HubSpot has a free plan that has all of the features that a small business or early-stage startup might need.
“As a small company and with a tight budget, we are more comfortable with HubSpot than with Salesforce,” says Marko Wang of PCBMay. “The reason behind this is the external resources and company focus. In HubSpot, we get several powerful features such as CRM free help by their teams, automated sales and marketing processes. So, if you are a startup or SMB with a tight budget and very little experience, HubSpot is for you.”
In addition, as your business grows, you can upgrade and get additional features with their paid Sales Hub plans.
With their annual billing requirements, you can expect to pay around $14,400 per year for a team of 10 salespeople.
While ~$15k is far from cheap, it is a lot less expensive than Salesforce. The same level of features on Salesforce for 10 salespeople will cost you upwards of $36,000 per year.
Unlike HubSpot, which is easy enough to use and customize yourself, you’ll struggle to customize Salesforce to your company’s liking without a Salesforce developer or two. You are realistically looking at between $75,000 – $150,000 on the low-end to get up and running.
“Consider your priorities,” says Lauri Kinkar of Messente. “If you are after ease of use, HubSpot CRM is right for you because it is user-friendly and easy to set up. It has a free version, but it still comes with a huge list of features. It offers an intuitive sales pipeline dashboard that visualizes your leads’ flow to give you an idea of what to do next.
However, if you care about a more powerful range of features and support, Salesforce might be a better fit. Salesforce CRM offers top-of-the-line opportunity management, account management, sales automation, task management, and forecasting. What we found worked well for us was HubSpot, as it’s a powerful suite of tools with minimal fuss.”
According to our research, revenue earned or CRM cost doesn’t seem to be a huge factor that influences whether a certain company prefers HubSpot CRM over Salesforce. The results of our survey show that even companies with 10+ million USD of revenue are HubSpot users.
The edge: HubSpot
With a freemium tier, it is no surprise that HubSpot would invest a lot of time in their UX to make the platform easier to use. After all, if people aren’t using the free version, they are not going to stick around and upgrade to a paid plan.
“Personally, both CRMs are great for all businesses but I’ve found that it’s much easier and faster to set up HubSpot and have others learn its inner workings,” says Obaid Khan of Planet Content. “The ease-of-access and setup made me choose HubSpot over Salesforce. So, the best way to determine the best CRM is to check how easy it is to set up, learn, and help others get on board with it.”
Thorstein Nordby of Nettly says,“I think HubSpot should be the obvious choice for companies going forward. One of the big issues with Salesforce is that it is bloated with features that are not used by salespeople. This results in low usage of the platform. The HubSpot CRM has the power of enterprise software, but the ease of use you usually only find in consumer apps. Another big benefit is that all the tools you need for marketing, sales, service, and CMS is bundled together in the same platform. No need for hard to manage integrations between different systems.”
In fact, many startups use Salesforce and migrate to HubSpot because Salesforce was too expensive and cumbersome to customize to their needs.
“A lot of our customers have Salesforce and oftentimes make the switch to HubSpot,” says Adam Yaeger of Llama Lead Gen. ”Salesforce, generally, is better suited for large enterprise organizations. Typically, we see a lot of organizations using Salesforce as a legacy system in which they have had it for some time and so it’s hard to move away from it. Salesforce offers a bit more customization than HubSpot (think Android to iOS), but we usually recommend HubSpot due to its ease of use, great email nurture templates, and pricing.”
The fact that sales teams are willing to switch CRMs for ease of use speaks volumes since there are real switching costs (in terms of both time and money!)
Of course, if you are a big corporation with full-time Salesforce developers on staff, you can take advantage of the sheer flexibility and power. Not to mention, you can build custom workflows and integrations that make the CRM easier for your sales team to use.
Our research shows that the size of the team is marked as one of the major choice factors between HubSpot CRM and SalesForce. However, the majority of our respondents are HubSpot users, and even if their sales team has 10+ people, they still prefer to use HubSpot.
Max Whiteside of Barbend adds: “I am not a Salesforce guy. I have used it at multiple organizations and while I found some of the integrations with contracting documents helpful, the amount of manual data entry I found myself doing daily was frustrating.
I would recommend Salesforce for large, complex, organizations. I have also used HubSpot while working with several organizations. I find HubSpot easy to use in general, flexible with the number of users you can have on the application which is great for growing companies, and overall less cumbersome than Salesforce. If I had to choose.I am camp HubSpot.”
The edge: HubSpot
HubSpot is easier to set up and start using right away.
“Hubspot is much more agile, easier to configure, simpler to integrate with other tools and much more dynamic,” says Bob Sabra of Hovi. “It is completely free of technical bureaucracy. Whereas Salesforce can do so many things that Hubspot does and maybe even more, it is much heavier and harder to configure and implement or even adapt. So if you’re a fast-paced dynamic company, start-up or scale-up, i would highly recommend Hubspot CRM over Salesforce.”
While Salesforce will take you longer to start using, it makes up for it in sheer power and flexibility. It is a blank canvas.
Mariana Godsen of Remotish adds, “It’s very important to have clarity on your needs. Even though I think every business should have some CRM running, you need to evaluate your customer journey, how complex is your sales process, if you have multiple pipelines and products. That all impacts choosing between HubSpot and Salesforce.
Reporting is also something important to have in mind so you can choose which tool best fits your needs. Finally, how savvy is your team will also determine how quickly they can adopt and do the best use of either CRM. If your sales process is more straightforward and the team is medium-sized, HubSpot can be an easy and intuitive tool to use, for example, with tons of resources available on the HubSpot Academy and their support team.”
The edge: It is a tie!
Salesforce makes up for its steep learning curve with how customizable it is. If you have a complex sales process, multiple pipelines, extensive reporting needs, or simply a large team, you might find that Salesforce is a better fit.
Kate Rusakovich, Business Development Director at iTechArt starts off by sharing, “At iTechArt, we strive to be vendor-agnostic when it comes to helping the client choose the best-fit solution. However, considering the company’s long-term business goals, budget, and the project requirements, we come to the decision that Salesforce is a top choice in 99 percent of cases. This is largely due to its unmatched customization capacity that no other vendor could reach.”
Shriya Garg of ContentNinja says, “Salesforce CRM can be overly complex and expensive for smaller teams. Managing contacts and updating leads can take a lot of time on Salesforce, and it’s also difficult to get complete visibility on the pipeline. With Hubspot, we can see the complete lifecycle of each customer – from their first website visit to the final contract.”
Vahe Tirakyan of MD Logica Inc. adds, “Salesforce has the capability to be customized to a much further degree (even white-labeled) compared to HubSpot. You can even add custom UI overlays on top of a Salesforce instance to completely match your CRM to your company branding. (like changing button colors, page layouts, login screens, etc.) So if you want full customization, the point goes to Salesforce.
Integrations. Hands-down, Salesforce has as much a large marketplace of existing integrations through their App Marketplace as well as a much larger pool of certified professionals who can help you build out your own custom apps or integration.
By extension, I would also say Salesforce has a much larger support community compared to HubSpot. Process Complexity. For sales cycles that are more complex, requiring levels of approval and a custom CPQ process, Salesforce wins again.”
The edge: Salesforce
Both Salesforce and HubSpot have mature app ecosystems that make it easier to sync thousands of software your business is already using with your CRM.
In fact, if you are looking to supercharge your reporting, Databox integrates with both Salesforce and HubSpot CRM.
For example, this HubSpot CRM dashboard provides you with insights about deals and sales pipelines.
And, this Salesforce Expected Value of Sales Pipeline shows the value of your company’s sales pipeline with a laser focus on what has closed this quarter alongside all opportunities likely to close by end of quarter.
The edge: HubSpot
Salesforce was an early software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform pioneer. Their CRM product has been around since February 1999. A platform that is still around and thriving 22 years later has to have some unique features.
Now, it is a household name for anyone who works in enterprise software and basically owns half of the buildings in San Francisco (I’m half-joking). And, it takes over the entire city for a week each year with DreamForce. (Well, in pre-COVID times)
In contrast, HubSpot was founded 7 years later in 2006. At 15 years old, it is also pretty established. However, it is uniqueness stems from the fact that they coined the term – “inbound marketing.” They grew from a marketing software to an entire suite of products for marketing, sales, and support, that can compete toe-to-toe with Salesforce.
The edge: It is a tie!
When it comes to choosing a CRM, it boils down to your business, sales workflows and processes, and reporting needs.
“This will be a tough decision for companies with up to 5000 employees as both HubSpot and SFDC can do a great job and provide everything needed for these companies,” says Perry Nalevka of Penguin Strategies.
“SFDC advantages – Highly complex sales process – Major customization is needed – Most salespeople have used or are using it – More experienced system integrators available.
HubSpot advantages – Ease of implementation, use, and user experience – If you are using HubSpot marketing and service there is no integration as it works off one database – Cost-effective both cost of management and purchase Both can integrate with all of the leading sales tools.”
Brian Serocke of Beacons Point adds, “First, examine your current marketing, sales, and service operational processes. How are they currently using or planning to adopt a CRM platform? What are your real needs?
Any selection of a CRM tool, whether it’s HubSpot, Salesforce, or something else, requires buy-in and true adoption from your people for it to be successful.
Are you mostly looking for a marketing platform that plugs into some other sales and/or service tools you’re already using?
Are you trying to find a solid tool to support your sales reps and their complex sales cycles?
Are you lacking ways to serve your current customers, give them the ability to communicate with you, and provide them with knowledge about using your product or service?
Or do you have needs across all three and are searching for a platform to consolidate your customer’s entire lifecycle?
Understanding which parts of your business will adopt, integrate with, and continually use your CRM will determine whether HubSpot or Salesforce is best for you.
At a high-level, Salesforce performs better when requiring advanced customization and complex process support. The heavier price tag also translates into your business needing to invest a significant amount of resources into ensuring the platform will work for you (both at set-up and on an ongoing basis).
HubSpot is better for small- or mid-market companies who are looking for an intuitive ecosystem that works right out of the box. While it may lack some of the customization power Salesforce has, the platform does a great job of providing tools that most companies can weave into their existing processes.
On the marketing front, HubSpot is superior to Salesforce for its ability to conduct marketing campaigns across a variety of tools. Smart rules and the ability to dynamically display information or content on website pages or within emails make for a better-personalized experience for your leads and customers. And if you’re already using Salesforce, HubSpot’s native Salesforce integration provides an effective, complete way to keep leads, companies, and data in-sync across both platforms.
For sales, HubSpot’s sales tools work well for businesses that have a fairly straightforward sales process and might need a little bit of customization.
Salesforce is superior if you need more sophisticated sales process development and greater customization in your reporting.
On the service front, HubSpot jumps back into the lead with the ability to quickly deploy a full-featured knowledgebase, handle ticket pipelines for customer support, survey customers using NPS tools, and more.
Within the CRM itself, objects function mostly the same. HubSpot’s new custom object product release in October 2020 gives Enterprise customers more flexibility in supporting object types that don’t fit into the Contacts, Companies, Deals, or Ticket buckets. This feature allows it to compete more closely with Salesforce which has the ability to define and associate custom objects with its standard Lead, Contact, Account, and Opportunity object types.
Salesforce also has the ability to create more sophisticated custom fields allowing for more flexibility in capturing, storing, and referencing data.
However, HubSpot’s custom properties continue to grow in functionality and provide most businesses with more than a sufficient range of options.
Finally, if you’re looking for world-class support available 24/7, HubSpot appears to beat Salesforce. HubSpot’s support team, knowledgebase, partner community, and product documentation are always available to answer some of the most complex questions.”
In sum, our respondents agree that HubSpot is easier-to-use, more flexible, and more affordable than Salesforce.
Meanwhile, Salesforce has a steeper learning curve, but is considered to be more in-depth, powerful, and customizable.
However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. You should identify the key features your business needs, test out both platforms, and do your due diligence before signing an annual contract.
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