Once you attract leads and get them in your supercharged machine, it’s time to drive them somewhere real’ nice. AKA: Once you have leads, it’s time to build (and nurture) a relationship with them.
This is where CRM (customer relationship management) software comes in. It streamlines relationship management, admin work, and much more. But not all CRM tools are alike.
Today, we’re looking at two CRM giants: Salesforce vs HubSpot.
Welcome to the shootout at the CRM Corral!
Let’s find out which tool works best for mid-market businesses and enterprises.
Have you ever tried to fit into a shoe two sizes too small? Pretty uncomfortable, right?
The same thing happens when you choose a CRM that doesn’t fit your needs.
Maybe you got advice from a friend whose company operates perfectly using Salesforce. But then again, their customers are different. Their team and their operations are different.
Should you take their advice blindly, or should you do your own research?
Think of it this way: customer experience is at the core of your business’ success. Now, everything is okay when you’ve got a handful of customers. But when you scale, that’s when problems occur.
According to CIO, more than a third of all CRM implementation projects fail.
Sales leads start saying things like:
When you choose the right CRM, your (work) life becomes much easier.
If the tool meets your needs perfectly, it will become a natural extension of your team’s operational processes. You can centralize your information, run customer service, sales, and outbound outreach as naturally as you run inbound communication.
Most importantly: a good CRM helps you scale, and retain the same customer satisfaction rate you’ve had when you only communicated with a handful of customers on a daily basis.
You’ll grow (without growing pains).
When we talk about CRMs, we normally talk about two giants: HubSpot and Salesforce.
They’re definitely the best two tools on the market right now, so let’s see what each is about:
HubSpot was founded in 2006 by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. They noticed that traditional outbound marketing was past its prime, and realized that the best way to grow a business would be through inbound marketing (making your customers come to you and nurturing your relationships with them).
The inbound marketing principle informed the rest of their work. Customer relationship management was a natural part of the process: keep your customers happy, maximize their lifetime value, and they’ll naturally refer others to you.
While HubSpot first started as a marketing automation tool, it currently offers plenty of tools to help companies grow their revenue:
Now, HubSpot offers its basic suite for free, and they’ve developed a reputation of being for small businesses (only).
Fortunately, that’s no longer true. HubSpot has made plenty of changes and with recent upgrades, HubSpot is a great fit for mid-market businesses and enterprises, as well.
In general, HubSpot is a great choice. It’s scalable, offers a variety of tools, and it’s easy to use and integrate.
But let’s see what its more mature brother, Salesforce, has to offer!
Salesforce, on the other hand, knew what it was about since day 1.
Founded in 1999 by Marc Benioff and Parker Harris, Salesforce wanted to streamline customer relationship management, allow businesses to get more leads, turn them into customers, and keep them happy throughout their lifetime.
In just five years, Salesforce was ready to launch a $110 million IPO. They kept going, developing new features as they went, and expanding their offer with new solutions.
Even today, when you mention sales management, the first thing that’ll spring to everyone’s minds will be Salesforce.
Salesforce offers plenty of features that streamline CRM; from contact management, to workflow automation.
But that was only innovative in 2010. And while Salesforce has plenty of pros, there are a few cons that might make it imperfect for your particular business.
Let’s see what happens when we pit Salesforce against HubSpot!
Every business is different. However, there are some pretty good guidelines you can use to make the final decision: do I choose HubSpot, or do I choose Salesforce?
The criteria we’ll be using include:
Let’s see how they compare!
Salesforce primarily focuses on all things related to sales.
From there, you can choose which products you need (e.g. sales and marketing), or pick your suite based on your industry (e.g. consumer goods, healthcare, and so on).
This is a great approach as it allows you to get started with the tools you need. As you scale, you might integrate even more tools.
One interesting thing is that Salesforce recently started offering Einstein - an AI tool that automatically generates suggestions for your next steps.
Other Salesforce features include:
If you’ve checked their site to learn more about their product, good luck.
Salesforce breaks down the core features into different product offers, so you’ll see headings such as “Customer 360” which essentially mean... well, they don’t mean anything more than your garden-variety customer relationship management. Don’t let the shiny name tags fool you.
HubSpot, on the other hand, makes it pretty clear what their tool offers.
Sales Hub offers:
There’s also Marketing Hub, geared towards all-in-one marketing automation with landing pages, email marketing, ads, and more.
If you need to scale your customer support, you should check out Service Hub. With features like ticketing, live chat, email and chat tickets, customer service automation, knowledge base creation and management, and more, it offers plenty of features to help you grow and scale.
Finally, CMS Hub is a relatively new addition geared towards smarter content management with dynamic content, lead generation tools, SEO, content marketing, and more.
All in all, where Salesforce only provides the basic CRM functionalities, HubSpot actually helps you scale across growth-driving departments.
Your total cost depends on the features you want to use and the number of team members you’ll be onboarding. And while it can seem simple to get started, it’s important to know exactly how much you’ll be paying as you grow.
We’ll be calculating your total cost of ownership on a basis of 50 monthly CRM platform users.
Salesforce total cost of ownership for Sales Cloud Enterprise:
And this is just the tip of the Salesforce add-on iceberg. So yes, you’ll get basic CRM features for the listed price. But if you really want to automate, streamline, and scale your CRM, you’ll pay a total of $174.875.
It’s a lot.
Personally, we’re not fans of all those add-ons. Not when most of them should be listed in the main price. Is it so exotic to want sales automation and shared inbox?
It feels complicated just to get started.
It feels even more complicated to onboard users and choose who gets access to which feature because it’s not rational to spend almost $200,000 per year on your CRM.
In the long term, this leads to data silos. And that’s never good news.
Now, onto the total cost of ownership for HubSpot Sales Hub Enterprise:
Even with plenty of add-ons, your total cost of HubSpot CRM ownership won’t exceed $75,000 per year.
All the basic CRM and sales functionalities are included in your plan. If you want to get even more out of your experience, you can upgrade at a relatively reasonable price.
HubSpot definitely wins in this category. If nothing else, at least you’ll be able to calculate your price accurately and get the most important features in your plan, instead of having to pay for them as add-ons.
It’s now 2021 and companies are still struggling to get their reps to enter data in the company’s CRM.
Because they’re not as easy to use as their landing pages promise.
So while costs and features are the main criteria, you should also think about ease of use. If your CRM is easy to use, your employees will enter their data, and you’ll be able to analyze it so you make smarter, data-driven decisions.
Salesforce’s main benefit is customization. There are so many add-ons, extra features, and extra support you can pay for.
But there’s a catch: customization breeds complexity.
If you want to integrate a new feature, you’ll have to pay for a Salesforce expert to get everything set up. Then, you’re going to need to train your employees so they know how to use the new features. There’s always a chance that the new changes won’t be intuitive. So you might be paying for a feature that your employees are struggling with and rarely use.
On average, it takes over 10 clicks to perform actions in Salesforce. Companies are paying for features without making the most of them, and reps are struggling to integrate them into their workflows.
Salesforce is definitely complex. This may be great for engineers, but it’s not easy for the average rep who has to use the CRM on a daily basis.
You’re going to lose a lot of value as your reps struggle to use the tool. And where your CRM tool should help you grow, it’s just going to become another obstacle on your way.
Salesforce is rated 7.2 for ease of use. HubSpot, on the other hand, is rated 8.6 for ease of use.
At a glance, this shows you that HubSpot is definitely easier to use.
If we dive into the details, we can spot two things: HubSpot’s interface is intuitive, and the tool is built to help your organization accomplish goals quickly by streamlining tasks.
It doesn’t take too many clicks to perform target actions. Reps can easily input data, and keep working. HubSpot also offers productivity and workflow management tools such as:
All of these are included in the CRM, so you don’t have to pay for add-ons just to make the software that shouldn’t be complicated in the first place easier on your reps.
HubSpot is also really proud of being intuitive. They make sure their processes and flows accomplish goals in as few clicks as possible.
Every new feature feeds into HubSpot’s general intuitiveness. Even if you add more features, they’re tightly integrated and easy to integrate in daily workflows.
The ultimate goal of a CRM tool is to stop your reps from keeping track of vital information outside of your tool. You want to centralize your information so you can analyze and apply it company-wide to enhance user experience.
But if your reps are keeping track of some things in Excel just because even that’s easier than your chosen CRM, you’re not going to get there.
When it comes to ease of use, HubSpot wins. It’s intuitive, it’s powerful, and reps have no problem with adoption.
Your needs constantly change when you’re growing and scaling. And we sure hope you keep on growing.
With that in mind, you need a CRM tool that can keep up with your growth.
Salesforce isn’t easy to maintain or upgrade.
Whenever you want to add a new feature or integrate Salesforce with a different app, you’re going to need professional help. This doesn’t just increase your cost of ownership; it also makes it much harder to hit the ground running.
Normally, companies either hire full-time Salesforce admins, or work with consultants.
Again, Salesforce is a complex tool. It gives you plenty of options for customization. But that makes it pretty complicated in the long term.
Let’s say you realize you need the High Velocity Sales add-on. (This includes lead scoring, sales sequences, and other similar features.)
You can’t just get in touch with a Salesforce rep and tell them: “Hey, buddy, we’re going to need this add-on.”
They can’t just click twice in their dashboard and get you set up.
Nope. Instead, you’ll request the upgrade, but then you’ll have to implement it. You’ll have to show your reps how to use it. And this is again just the tip of the complication-berg.
The more upgrades you get, the more leaks you have to deal with. This is what pushes companies into hiring full-time Salesforce admins. The problems go beyond the overhead cost. Your reps constantly have to learn new things and adapt. Processes and efficiency suffer.
And that’s what your CRM should be the antidote to.
HubSpot isn’t without its faults, but at least it doesn’t require you to hire full-time HubSpot admins.
If you need help, HubSpot has great support who will help you get everything set up.
The CRM ecosystem is tightly integrated so there are fewer leaks and problems. And while it may take some time for your reps to integrate new features into their workflows, it’s nothing when compared to Salesforce.
Even if you do bring a full-time HubSpot admin on board, they won’t be there to put out fires. They’ll focus on helping you get the most out of your CRM tool.
On the reps’ side of things, it’s much easier to adapt to new HubSpot features. Again, HubSpot is very simple to use so you’re not wasting valuable time trying to make your platform work for you.
HubSpot takes the cake in this category, too. Salesforce may be complex but it’s also very complicated. HubSpot, on the other hand, makes your sales system work the way you expect it to work.
If you get customer information from other sources and apps, or if your CRM is not the only place you store information in, you need to think about integrations.
The goal is to facilitate a seamless exchange of data between tools and departments. Even if data is entered in one app, it should be transferred to your CRM automatically so you don’t waste time on routine tasks.
Here’s how the two tools compare:
Salesforce has plenty of native products (some of which they acquired), as well as a huge app marketplace - AppExchange. You’ll definitely find every app you need. They’re normally very good, but you might need a Salesforce admin to help you integrate them.
If HubSpot’s diverse products don’t meet all your needs, you can check out HubSpot’s app marketplace. HubSpot has fewer integrations than Salesforce, but they’re all very good and easy to integrate.
If you have a huge app stack, Salesforce is better in terms of integrations. It offers more apps on the marketplace.
But if you want to integrate a few apps with your CRM (without contracting or hiring help), HubSpot is easier.
You need a CRM tool that has your back both when you have 100 customers and when you have millions of them.
Your tool has to grow with you.
Salesforce can help you scale if you’re ready to integrate a growing number of apps and hire someone who can maintain and integrate them so you get a relatively seamless workflow.
Salesforce is complex and it’s proud of being able to support enterprises.
But if you’re still growing, you might struggle to integrate different features and apps. This also increases your overhead costs.
HubSpot, on the other hand, offers a seamless, all-in-one solution. It can grow with you and it’s not hard to integrate new features, upgrades, and apps. HubSpot has plenty of features to make (and keep) your business processes effective as you acquire more customers.
And if you find you’re missing a few features, HubSpot has a great app marketplace.
Ultimately, it’s a tie. Salesforce is great for enterprises who already have thousands of employees and millions of customers. But if you’re still growing, HubSpot is much easier to integrate into your workflows.
Can you make your CRM truly your own? If you want it to truly simplify your processes, you’re going to need customization so that your tool works for you, and not the other way around.
Salesforce has a reputation for being (almost) infinitely customizable.
This is a double-edged sword.
When you’re scaling (and especially if you’re scaling fast), you want your CRM to practically read your mind. You don’t want to spend weeks and months integrating new features, paying consultants, or hiring full-time Salesforce admins.
You want the functionality, and you want it now. Unfortunately, that’s not possible with Salesforce. You’re going to need to bring a professional on board and it’ll take some time to get everyone set up.
HubSpot doesn’t offer as many customization options as Salesforce, but it’s much easier to implement them.
You can make moderate adjustments so that HubSpot works for your business. However, there’s a limit to what you can do. So if HubSpot’s current product suite (and third-party app integrations) are enough, and you think they’re going to be enough as you scale, it’s a much better option.
Ultimately, it’s a trade-off.
If you want to build complex systems that are going to feel tailor-made for your team, and you don’t mind paying specialists or taking the time needed to get everything set up, Salesforce works better.
But if all you want to do is make quick tweaks and adjust minor details so you can keep working, HubSpot will be easier to customize and implement.
No tool is without its faults. Accidents happen. But you need to know who you can rely on when you need help. The two tools approach support and service differently.
Your basic, 12/5, support package is free. But if you want 24/7 phone coverage, you’re going to have to pay extra. You’ll be charged extra 5% for U.S.-based support, as well.
If you need help with implementation and onboarding, Salesforce will charge you 20-30% based on your contract value. On average, this costs $5,000.
If you want an account manager to help you, you’re going to have to meet Salesforces’ minimum spend limits.
Finally, don’t forget that, with Salesforce, you’re definitely going to need an external consultant or a full-time Salesforce admin on your payroll.
HubSpot, on the other hand, offers excellent support.
They offer in-house, phone and email, 24/7 support to all their customers, and that’s included in the price.
If you want HubSpot experts to help you with onboarding, the maximum fee you would pay for that is $3,000.
You can schedule consultations with their customer success management team to help you achieve your goals. This is a service provided to all users. Additional consultations are available at an additional cost.
Finally, you won’t need to hire contractors or full-time employees to keep your HubSpot CRM running.
When it comes to support and service, HubSpot definitely wins. You can see their inbound principles shining through here.
Let’s take a look at what mid-market companies and enterprises have to say about Salesforce and HubSpot!
In general, customers are really happy with the level of customization and complexity that Salesforce provides. However, that’s not without its faults as there are bugs and glitches, especially when you need to sync data between different Salesforce products, or third-party apps.
Intuitiveness is definitely a huge problem.
The learning curve is high for reps. It takes them a long while to learn how to use Salesforce, and using it isn’t a two-click thing.
Training is pretty much required for every new feature, and so is hiring a developer or a Salesforce admin.
When looking at HubSpot reviews, we were most interested in what mid-market companies and enterprises had to say because HubSpot has a reputation for being great for SMBs, and not so hot for bigger companies.
Judging by reviews, this is 100% not true. HubSpot is used by a lot of mid-market companies and enterprises, and they love it!
The main thing that reviewers emphasize is ease of use and intuitiveness.
They also find it easy to integrate HubSpot with other tools in their stack. Upgrading and scaling is simple and doesn’t require hiring an employee or a consultant to help.
Reporting features are a bit limited. Users normally flock to third-party apps, and then integrate them with HubSpot. But they all emphasize how much HubSpot is growing and expanding its features for big and growing companies.
HubSpot’s current rating is 4.3 out of 5 stars. Salesforce is rated at 4.2 out of 5. Both are great CRM tools with plenty of useful features, but both also have flaws.
Our vote goes to HubSpot.
If you’re growing and want to retain the efficiency of your CRM processes, HubSpot is an excellent choice.
Salesforce does offer more customization options, but they come with plenty of caveats. It’s hard to get started - it’s much harder to scale and keep it going.
HubSpot, on the other hand, offers great support and plenty of native tools.
It’s easy to use, maintain, and leverage in order to achieve your goals.
If you want a seamless CRM tool that makes your team’s lives easier, HubSpot is the best choice.
March 16, 2023