HubSpot vs Salesforce: Which CRM is Best in 2021?
Last Updated on January 5, 2021 by Adam Enfroy
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are must-have tools in any business’s repertoire, whether established or growing.
However, using a CRM is not just about increasing your bottom line; it’s more about improving and ensuring your business’s steady growth. And to do that, your business must incorporate and use an effective and efficient CRM software suite.
Without a doubt, this is easier to say than implement, for not every CRM solution suits every business. Still, when talking about CRMs, two names repeatedly come to the front: HubSpot vs. Salesforce.
And competition is cutthroat, to say the least.
That’s why today, I’m giving you a complete comparison of both HubSpot and Salesforce CRMs. I’ll compare the features of both to attempt to answer that all-important question:
Which is the better CRM?
Table of Contents
What is a CRM?
To compare advanced software solutions such as Salesforce and HubSpot, we should look at what a CRM actually is. This will help readers get a better sense of what to look for when comparing HubSpot and Salesforce.
In the simplest terms, a CRM suite represents software tools that help a business’s sales teams organize, manage, and utilize customer information. CRM tools also help manage client information and allow for better relationship development with current and prospective customers.
Using CRMs, you can create and maintain a strong relationship with all business contacts. These tools help your business find and group contacts, track essential messages, and keep track of customer contact points.
The above capabilities allow businesses to know exactly when and how to contact prospects and business partners. No wonder then that the CRM market is currently the fastest-growing software sector and is expected at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) at the rate of 14.2% from 2020 to 2027, according to Grand View Research.
Any well-structured CRM solution should:
- Help in the development of handoff procedures between sales and service.
- Automate the sales lifecycle.
- Help provide a bird’s-eye-view of your customer database.
- Enhance functionality and intelligence sharing across teams.
With the above in mind, now it’s time to dive headfirst into the HubSpot vs. Salesforce comparison.
The HubSpot CRM is a product that’s developed and distributed by a company of the same name. HubSpot provides several products apart from a CRM, such as systems for Content Management and Marketing Automation.
The HubSpot CRM was launched in 2014, and within the short time of six years, it has earned its place among the top CRM solutions on the market. From contact management, email, and lead management to sales-pipeline-data viewing, HubSpot lets you do it all.
The software comes with a free version that’s more than capable of tackling the CRM needs of small and medium businesses. As your business scales, you can upgrade to the complete HubSpot marketing suite, which offers an enterprise CRM to glean actionable insights and grow your business.
Salesforce, on the other hand, is a much older software; it started operations way back in 1999, and since then has cemented its place in the CRM industry. Historically, Salesforce is considered one of the first companies to adopt the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model.
What’s more, it’s also the first company that popularized the concept of Customer Relationship Management. With time, the software has steadily updated itself and has been able to keep pace with the current world order.
Salesforce offers several tools for marketing automation, powered by artificial intelligence-based insights and detailed customization. All the above qualities have succeeded in making Salesforce one of HubSpot’s notable competitors.
The primary difference between the two is that while HubSpot is more intuitive and geared towards businesses of all sizes, Salesforce is more suited for enterprise-level companies. However, that’s not the only point where the two can be compared, and in the next section, I’ll break things down further.
So, now that you’ve got a brief introduction to both HubSpot and Salesforce, it’s time to break down the features of each and compare them. To do that, I’m going to compare the capabilities of the two based on several key factors.
When comparing Salesforce and HubSpot, the one factor that takes center stage is the ease of use. After all, there’s no point in getting a fully powered CRM solution with all the bells-and-whistles, only to have your employees avoid using it due to the steep learning curve.
There’s no denying that Salesforce has been the industry standard when it comes to CRM software. However, notwithstanding its robust sophistication, it is a bit too technical for the average sales rep. In fact, to leverage the platform’s full features, you’d need someone who’s technically well-versed.
HubSpot, on the other hand, deserves the crown for intuitive CRM software. Built to cater to sales reps, HubSpot offers easy workflow optimization, along with fluid navigation facilities. Even if you’re using HubSpot CRM for the first time, you’ll easily be able to pick up on how to automate tasks, interact with prospects and customers, and visualize the entire pipeline.
With its simple and intuitive interface, HubSpot scores higher than Salesforce on the ease-of-use index. At the same time, if you have a full-fledged IT team that needs to be involved in complex sales processes, then Salesforce might have an edge.
Every modern business today is using third-party integrations as a means to increase productivity and effectiveness. These integrations help a CRM directly connect to and exchange data with third-party software, making for a smoother workflow.
Since it has been around longer, it’s easy to integrate Salesforce with a larger number of third-party add-ons. Salesforce data exchange features come as a standard with multiple HR, ERP, and SCM software such as SAP.
What’s more, Salesforce even has its own dedicated AppExchange that provides access to thousands of integrations. AppExchange is considered one of the largest (if not the largest) business app marketplace on the internet.
However, when it comes to sales-focused integrations, HubSpot CRM fares much better than Salesforce. Sales teams usually need to focus on marketing data, and HubSpot acts as the central database for all sales and marketing processes.
Ever since its roll-out in 2014, HubSpot has been increasing the number of integrations it offers. Currently, the CRM provides over 200 integrations and is still expanding. Along with that, businesses can also use OpenAPI to create customized integrations.
With AppExchange in its repertoire, Salesforce clearly comes out on top when it comes to the number of integrations on offer. But HubSpot is still going strong and offers integrations with many popular apps such as Jira, MailChimp, and Slack.
When it comes to feature sets, HubSpot and Salesforce both have their strengths. As I’ve already mentioned before, Salesforce is technically more feature-rich. This can, however, turn out to be its weakness when it comes to user-interface navigation.
When you open the Salesforce interface, you’ll immediately be facing more than 15 tabs. Among these, you’ll find options for managing leads, exploring opportunities, and handling files, contacts, and campaigns. Then, each tab branches out into several submenus, with more options to consider. This can be somewhat overwhelming for beginners.
Compare that to HubSpot’s intuitive UI, which displays only the most essential features and options. These allow you to focus on what’s necessary and provide a comprehensive view of your CRM system.
Another aspect where HubSpot excels over Salesforce is focus. Salesforce dashboards usually show a broad-based view of data, which is not suitable for the average sales rep. On the other hand, HubSpot allows reps to stay focused on their pipeline, thus allowing them to get their job done smoothly.
That, of course, doesn’t imply that HubSpot can’t offer a bird’s-eye-view of your business. It can; the only difference is that it’s more inclined towards streamlining sales workflows. And no one can deny that this is precisely what reps need to succeed.
With its focused approach and streamlined features, HubSpot comes out on top of Salesforce when it comes to user-interface usability. That said, in case you need a more feature-rich application whether you’ll use it or not, Salesforce is the way to go.
Now, let’s compare HubSpot and Salesforce from the point of view of the toolsets each offer. Here, Salesforce often comes out as the winner in different surveys purely because of its feature richness.
Salesforce has many tools such as Marketing Cloud, Social Studio, and Mobile Studio, which come with a comprehensive feature-set, and varied pricing. When used together, all these tools allow the marketing team to support the sales team with qualified leads. But that shouldn’t be your only reason for using it.
It’s true that Salesforce has a better toolset and offers greater customization, but it’s mostly suited for enterprise-level businesses that have the staff to make it work. As we’ve already seen, HubSpot focuses more on user-friendliness and can be used for businesses of all sizes.
Using HubSpot, your business can personalize messages for every level of your audience. The software offers a number of tools for marketing automation, such as lead flows and collection forms, which help keep the sales pipeline active.
At the same time, HubSpot marketing automation tools help streamline audiences and enable contact segmentation. The Marketing Hub in HubSpot also includes tools for content strategy, Split testing, and even integrates with Google Search Console.
While Salesforce has a more extensive toolset, HubSpot’s select set of marketing and sales tools is more usable and practical. With the ease of use that HubSpot offers, every business from an enterprise to SMBs can get their CRM strategy on track.
In today’s age of data-driven business strategies, you can’t afford to ignore Analytics and Reporting features. In this respect, Salesforce is immensely powerful and has robust analytics features that offer a high degree of customization.
All Salesforce tools incorporate analytics; for example, the Einstein Analytics Dashboard helps to monitor essential business metrics. It even provides charts and diagrams with great interactivity, all of which help with data visualization.
HubSpot also incorporates analytics and reporting features, but these are lesser in number and capability than that offered by Salesforce. This is primarily due to the limited data storage capabilities of HubSpot.
However, with recent improvements, HubSpot’s designers have succeeded in taking its analytics capabilities up several notches. At the same time, HubSpot’s reporting system is more intuitive and offers fast functionalities along with drag-and-drop features.
The Winner: Salesforce
Judging by the current state of things, Salesforce clearly takes the cake when it comes to analytics and reporting capabilities. However, HubSpot is catching up fast and might soon overtake the leader in this aspect of CRMs.
Just getting a stellar CRM software won’t do your business much good unless you can get it up and running. In this respect, the learnability and onboarding processes play a significant role and depend on many factors.
Take Salesforce, for instance. Just setting up the software can be pretty costly, which is compounded if your business is shifting from another CRM. Any such shift might entail additional tasks involving data scrubbing or customizing integrations.
In short, out-of-the-box usability is hardly available when it comes to Salesforce. For larger enterprises, the onboarding process itself could span months. Compared to that, HubSpot is much easier to set up and implement.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that there’s no work to be done. You might still need a significant amount of data scrubbing, along with the need to build custom integrations. Also, your team members will have to be trained in the intricacies of the new system.
However, you won’t have to spend extra hiring someone for onboarding with HubSpot. The HubSpot set-up process is more or less self-explanatory, and you can get things up and running with a bit of effort.
Due to its ease of use, all-in-one marketing capabilities, and stellar user experience, HubSpot takes the first place on the ease-of-onboarding front. Unless you’re a massive enterprise with multiple moving parts, setting up HubSpot shouldn’t be a very complicated process.
It’s easy to understand that of the two CRMs we’re comparing, Salesforce is more customizable. It offers greater control when customizing deal pipelines and process workflows, and provides a greater number of customization options.
Salesforce users have the option to customize workflows and processes without hiring dedicated developers. While it might take more time due to the massive number of features it offers, nonetheless, the task is not undoable.
Now, let’s take a look at HubSpot, which also offers a fair degree of customization, but not to Salesforce’s level. The number of customization options you get with HubSpot increases when you opt for the paid plans, but even then, it leaves a lot to be desired.
That said, HubSpot has recently added the option for custom objects, which further increases its customizability. Even if the user has limited technical knowledge, they can modify pipelines, deal stages, and views according to their needs.
Winner: Salesforce And HubSpot
Here, it’s more a matter of requirement than feature availability. In case you’re looking for a fast, simple, and easy solution that can be customized to fit your business processes, HubSpot is the best option. On the other hand, in case you’re looking for intense customizations that offer a greater degree of business flexibility, Salesforce is the one.
Ask any sales professional which customer relationship management software is the market leader, and they’ll answer Salesforce without any doubt. And considering that Salesforce has around 20% of the market in its bag, they’d be right in answering so.
But that doesn’t mean HubSpot is out of the game, far from it. Ever since its release in 2014, HubSpot’s market share has been steadily on the rise. And though it currently has around a 3.4% share of the CRM ecosystem, it’s undoubtedly a CRM platform to reckon with.
Another factor working in favor of HubSpot is its freemium pricing model, which helps many businesses make the initial transition to the platform. The freemium model gives it a distinct advantage over Salesforce, which is everything but free. So, the HubSpot vs. Salesforce battle is far from being decided.
Winner: Salesforce (As of now)
There’s no denying the fact that Salesforce is the present market leader. But HubSpot, being the new kid on the block, is fast rising in popularity. A time may come when we find it as one of the marketing tools with the largest market share.
On the customer support front, HubSpot is way ahead of Salesforce. Even without a paid plan, you get access to HubSpot’s rich online content library. The company also offers many courses on HubSpot Academy, its own e-learning hub where you can brush up on HubSpot tools.
In case you decide to become a paid customer, HubSpot also gives you access to around-the-clock on-phone support. You even get the option of contacting customer service via email and can take advantage of the live chat feature.
However, with Salesforce, you’ll have to shell out for a paid plan to get access to any form of customer service. With low-level licensing, the support you get is somewhat limited; once you get to the enterprise level, you’ll be given access to Salesforce’s host of resources on the Trailhead hub.
There’s no dispute about the fact that HubSpot is the clear winner when it comes to customer support. Its inbound marketing expertise, rich content library, and 24/7 customer support lead the way.
Finally, let’s compare the pricing of each. HubSpot CRM is available for free and offers useful sales, marketing, and customer service tools. Using this customer relationship management system, your business can have an unlimited number of users and store about a million contacts for free.
In case you’re an SMB, the free CRM features are sufficient. However, for larger, enterprise-level organizations, you can upgrade to the paid version of HubSpot’s CRM. The HubSpot Sales Hub offers multiple paid plans that you can opt for; these are as below:
- Starter, at $45/month
- Professional, at $450/month
- Enterprise, at $1200/month
Now, let’s explore Salesforce, which is an entirely paid CRM solution. For beginning your Salesforce journey, you can opt for any one of the following paid licensing plans:
- Essential, at $25/month
- Professional, at $75/month
- Enterprise, at $150/month
- Unlimited, at $300/month
Winner: HubSpot And Salesforce
As far as cost is concerned, Salesforce paid plans are more affordable than HubSpot’s. However, since HubSpot can be used for free, it is ultimately not a question of money but rather which plan best suits your business’s needs.
So, that’s all about the two top CRM contenders in the market. While making the final decision, however, you need to keep a number of things in mind. That’s why I’ve decided to collate all the pros and cons of HubSpot vs. Salesforce so that you can make a better-informed decision.
- Freemium payment model
- Simple and easy-to-use interface
- Suitable customer support
- Easy-to-use toolset
- Ideal for marketers as well as salespeople
- Lower number of integrations
- Lower (current) market share
- Advanced sales and pipeline management
- Easy marketing automation using Pardot
- A large number of integrations with Microsoft, Oracle, and Adobe
- Greater number of features
- Complicated onboarding process
- Tough-to-navigate user interface
So, that’s about it from my end on the HubSpot vs. Salesforce debate. While both are stellar choices, I believe the ultimate decision depends on your business needs and the level of functionality that you require.
All things considered, CRMs should work to decrease the workload of your organization, not increase it. Therefore, if you’re a small to medium business that needs faster CRM solutions, HubSpot is the one to go with.
However, for larger enterprises with more significant customization needs, Salesforce is the right choice. Also to be factored in are cost, usability, and onboarding time. Some organizations might even decide to integrate the two and reap the best of both worlds.
Last Updated on January 5, 2021 by Adam Enfroy