Sales CRMs are the heartbeat of established sales teams. CRM, or customer relationship management, platforms take the pressure off your in-house salespeople to manually keep track of conversations, to-dos and deals. Instead of having to monitor all this valuable information on their own (and potentially forget it) they can easily store it all in a centralized software tool.
Two of the biggest CRM platforms out there are HubSpot and Salesforce. Each is a giant in the industry, used by enterprise clients and small businesses alike. But which one is right for your team? I'm glad you asked because we're about to compare all the key features and benefits of the two. You'll be able to make an informed decision that gives your whole sales team the sudden urge to buy you lunch and hoist you up on their shoulders in victory.
⭐ Considering Hubspot? Work with a HubSpot Onboarding Accredited Partner.
📺 Also, check out this interview with John Pszenny for his insights after using both platforms.
When Salesforce was founded in 1999, the life-changing yet ambiguous cloud wasn't a thing quite yet. CRM software was run locally on the machines of each individual computer in a business. But Salesforce changed that when they become the first CRM tool available entirely online and one of the first software-as-a-service companies. The Salesforce CRM leverages its online connectivity to help businesses understand and communicate with existing customers, potential customers, and partners in a more efficient and convenient way.
Since its founding in the late nineties, Salesforce has helped tons of sales teams centralize their database and streamline their sales processes. Their Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud products are a 1-2 punch of brand awareness and conversion. But to save you some time, I'll just hit the high points today.
Preview of SalesForce's User Interface
An important thing to note is that Salesforce offers many similar features to HubSpot. The difference lies mainly in how the platform operates.
“One of the biggest things Salesforce has on HubSpot is customization,” Krista explains. “You can customize pretty much everything to a high degree, but you will have to hire or outsource that work to someone who can do it for you. You won’t be able to do it on your own.”
Other popular features include:
- Account and Contact Management — Gives you a complete view of your customer's contact information and a record of the conversations you've had with them.
- Lead Management — Salesforce's branded feature, called Opportunities, helps you track every stage of lead generation, from the first contact to the closing of the sale. It also shows you which channels are the most productive.
- Sales Data and Reporting — For users who know how to use Salesforce, the platform offers a lot of depth in their reporting capability. Krista notes this is a particularly powerful tool for businesses who want to utilize forecasting or are looking for insights into specific areas/aspects of their business.
- Activity Tracking — Salesforce tracks seller activity so management teams can gauge the number of calls, emails and meetings each seller does.
- Mobile — Krista says the Salesforce app is a great option for teams who work in the field or on the road. It makes it easy to manage sales and respond to leads even while on the go.
- Workflow and Approvals — This allows you to design and automate practically any business process to streamline workflows and save your team time.
- Files Sync and Share — Makes it easy to share files with coworkers or customers so communication happens more easily.
- Sales Forecasting — Keep your finger on the pulse of your sales performance. Using accurate algorithms to give you a better idea of what your business's financial health looks like.
- Complex team hierarchy — Salesforce allows for a very detailed set up of sellers, teams and managers for large enterprise sales organizations.
Tips for Using Salesforce
Because Salesforce is such a powerful tool, Krista urges users to “know what your ‘have to have’ data points are.”
“Really this goes for any CRM, but especially Salesforce. If you want to fully utilize its capabilities, then you need to know what data points will tell you what’s happening with a lead and how your team is keeping track of that data. All of that will depend on your business and sales goals.”
She adds that without clean, meaningful data, you’ll never get the most out of your CRM, no matter what platform it is.
Krista also notes that Salesforce can be tougher to adopt for teams who aren’t very comfortable with technology. She mentions that “it’s not a very intuitive platform,” which can lead to a longer learning curve and frustration if people weren’t excited about adopting it in the first place.
Be sure to gauge your team’s willingness to learn a new system and processes before diving fully into this CRM.
Salesforce’s pricing model is based on how many users will be on your account.
- Essentials — $25/month per user. Includes account, contact, lead, and opportunity management, email integration, and the Salesforce mobile app.
- Professional — $75/month per user. Includes everything in the Essentials package, plus lead registration and lead scoring as well as collaborative forecasting.
- Enterprise — $150/month per user. Includes everything from the Professional package, plus automation tools.
- Unlimited — $300/month per user. Includes everything from the previous packages, plus 24/7 support and configuration services.
“It’s important to remember that you can’t set up a Salesforce portal effectively on your own,” Krista reminds us. “So you have to consider the cost of outsourcing to an onboarding professional, which adds a pretty steep additional cost.”
HubSpot’s claim to fame is the introduction of inbound marketing — a philosophical shift in the way marketers engage with prospects. Where Salesforce is strictly a CRM, HubSpot has tools for marketing, sales, service and operations that include a powerful CRM and convenient CMS.
To help you compare apples to apples, we’ll focus on HubSpot’s CRM and Sales Hub, which are the tools that directly compete with Salesforce.
“Overall, HubSpot is a lot easier to use,” Krista says. “There’s a much shorter learning curve, you can reasonably set up and manage your portal yourself, plus it’s a lot cheaper to get help with onboarding and administration if you need it. It’s just a much more intuitive system.”
Preview of HubSpot's User Interface
Krista notes a major difference between the two platforms is that HubSpot has a much easier out-of-the-box setup. It’s designed to be user-friendly, so although you don’t have the same depth of functionality, you can get campaigns and processes up and running much quicker.
Some of the most valuable HubSpot features include:
- Sales Playbooks — Make your sales process more repeatable and efficient with sales playbooks that can be customized for your team. Krista says these are most helpful for businesses who want to streamline training and onboarding new sales team members or if you’re expanding to a different audience/product/service segment.
- Email Tools — Templates turn your best-performing emails into repeat performers and tracking tools let you know as soon as a contact has opened the email.
- Call Tracking and Recording — Sales calls are easily made and recorded through your web browser and automatically logged into the CRM.
- Appointment and Meeting Scheduler — Similar to Calendly, the HubSpot meetings tool lets prospects choose a time from your calendar through a simple link.
- Sales Automation — Salespeople can streamline their pipeline management by automating personalized emails and follow-up tasks with sales sequences. For example, HubSpot will automatically pull people out of sales sequences when they respond to your email and make it a 1:1 interaction. “The options are kind of limited on what steps can be taken,” Krista notes, “but it’s easy to manage yourself and you can go into workflow settings to create a super powerful tool.”
- Quotes — Quickly generate professional-looking quotes that match your branding and send them instantly to prospects.
- Sales Analytics — All your sales data is combined in one place that provides you with actionable insights and complete transparency over your business. “It’s a lot less customizable than Salesforce but easier to set up,” Krista says. “It’s also important to remember that reporting as a whole is a Marketing Hub tool. If you have just Sales Hub, then you’ll be limited to simple baseline reports.”
- Training — HubSpot has created a whole curriculum under the HubSpot Academy to get users up to speed on their tools through engaging and accessible training videos and certifications.
- Lead Attribution — HubSpot is great at tying marketing efforts and dollars back to actual closed deals.
As you can see, many of these features align closely with what Salesforce offers. However, Krista says there are three things that give HubSpot an edge over their competitor:
- Ease of use
- Lower set up costs
- Shorter time to implementation
Before we discuss the pricing tiers for HubSpot Sales Hub, it's important to note that they do offer a free version of their CRM. The pricing below is for additional sales features on top of the free CRM. There are also bundle pricing options if you choose to add Marketing Hub, as well.
HubSpot prices their platform similarly to Salesforce, but instead of paying per seat, you pay for a group of users.
- Starter — $45/month for up to 2 users. Includes quotes, simple automation, calling tools, meeting scheduler, live chat and simple reporting.
- Professional — $450/month for up to 5 users. Includes everything from the starter package plus enhanced customization tools, forecasting, analytics and reporting features and more.
- Enterprise — $1200/month for up to 10 users. Includes everything in the previous packages plus playbooks, call transcription, lead scoring and custom reporting.
Krista notes that the overall cost of HubSpot is lower and you can get set up much quicker and easier than in Salesforce. “It’s a powerful tool for what you’re paying. You get a lot of high level features for a good price.”
Which Is Right for You?
HubSpot and Salesforce are both powerful CRM options that offer a host of sales tools and add-ons. However, choosing the best CRM for you will depend on your business needs.
Krista recommends asking the following questions before making your decision:
- How complicated is your sales cycle? If the answer is very, then you’ll likely be happier with Salesforce.
- Do you have a complicated marketing tech stack that needs to connect to your CRM? If so, then again you should consider Salesforce.
- How big is your team? HubSpot can accommodate teams of all sizes, but Salesforce is built more for enterprise-size teams.
- Will you want to add to your portal in the future? This might be marketing tools, a content management system or even RevOps features. HubSpot gives you the option to grow your portal with your business and add other Hubs as needed.
- Are other portions of your company already using one of these tools? Depending on how closely you work with them, it might be easiest to jump on the bandwagon with them.
Sometimes, though, you just need someone to talk to. We’re happy to help you work through your business needs and decide if HubSpot or Salesforce is the better fit for your business.
Or if you want to learn more about other marketing automation tools, check out this blog.