The biggest name in the CRM world is Salesforce, which is about as close to a household name as a piece of specialized online business software can get. Still, Salesforce isn't the only game in town, and while the market leader might be the right choice for some, it does fall short in a couple of areas. It's a little bit pricey (not even offering a free tier), and it can be a bit difficult to use for newcomers. So which providers pick up the slack?
- Pipedrive is a far better value CRM than Salesforce for small businesses
- monday CRM is far easier to use than Salesforce, with a simple, modern design
- Freshworks CRM has a genuinely good free tier (something Salesforce can't offer)
- Zendesk is a better option than Salesforce for customer support and service teams
So, with all these great Salesforce alternatives on the market, would we ward you off choosing Salesforce entirely? No chance – Salesforce is a market leader for good reason, and between best-in-class features and some surprisingly competitive tailored pricing plans there are plenty of reasons to opt for Salesforce.
In this guide, we'll examine the merits of each of Salesforce's main competitors, and those of Salesforce itself, helping you to decide which is the best CRM software for your own business.
Social media integrations
Live chat support
Free Trial Version
Cheapest paid plan
Price quoted is per user, per month
Most expensive plan
Price quoted is per user, per month
EASIER TO USE
BEST FREE PLAN
BETTER FOR SUPPORT
A market leading CRM for good reason and a great all-rounder – with tailored pricing plans available, it should always be considered first.
Core CRM features in flexible pricing plans make this one of the best value CRM options for any small business
Popular option with a modern, easily customizable interface and a great Free Trial
A highly intuitive CRM that is packed with plenty of features and even has a free plan option
An inexpensive, simple CRM tool that offers the best service features available
Solid, albeit slightly more expensive, marketing platform that's ideal for email
A strong CRM system with an attractive free tier and great marketing features
A robust CRM platform that embeds brilliantly with Microsoft products
Flexible, friendly and effective, Zoho also starts at low price plans and has a great free trial
A great all-round CRM with a great, easy to understand dashboard
A decent choice for email marketing that falls behind in some other areas
Only for Enterprise plan
Choosing a CRM platform is all about finding the right fit – something that offers the features you need, and the customizability every business requires. Our advice is to always seek out a personalized quote for the needs and scale of your business – and you can do this using our simple, no-obligation CRM quotes form. That way, you can make sure you're investing in a CRM solution that's fit for your purposes and budget.
Customer Relationship Management is a key part of any business strategy. With the right CRM platform, companies can keep better track of their customers, convert leads into recurring customers, and retain current customers with the right attention. If you're having trouble deciding which CRM platform to use, this article will help by running through the highlights of the biggest competitors to Salesforce, as well as taking a brief look at Salesforce itself.
- Some of the cheapest pricing plans available
- Includes comprehensive security options
- 24/7 live support
- Not a great value for money
- Unable to create custom task types
- Restricts web form creation to add-on
Pipedrive is an easy to use CRM service that delivers the essential features at a fair price. It comes with a few fun perks, like a Sales Assistant AI tool across all plans, as well as 24/7 support (albeit only through chat, not phone).
The Pipedrive software offers a nice range of features across all plans, even the cheapest one. These include custom pipelines, API access, mobile apps on Android and iOS, automatic call logging, and an apps marketplace with over 150 integrations. There's also a Sales Assistant AI, for those who like a little machine-learning with their CRM.
Granted, some important features are saved for more advanced plans. A few annoying limitations are group emailing and custom reports, which aren't available until the Professional plan, and phone support, only available through the Enterprise plan.
Pipedrive comes with four service plans: Essential, which has basic tools and integrations for $12.50 per user per month; Advanced, with more automation and increased communication abilities for $24.90 per user per month; Professional, which expands reporting, security, and granular team roles for $49.90 per user per month; and, finally, Enterprise which adds phone support and some other perks, for $99 per user per month. The Professional option likely offers the best balance of features to total cost.
Per-user Pricing, billed annually
Per-user Pricing, billed monthly
Best value for money
$99/month (10-user minimum)
Why Pipedrive Is a Better Alternative
Pipedrive stands out for its well-priced plans, which start with the basics and add the exact tools a small business will start to need as it grows. Advanced has the team communication functionality that a larger team will begin to rely on, while Professional has the security and roles-based privacy that becomes most important in large, sprawling companies.
For the nitty-gritty on this CRM vendor, head over to our full Pipedrive pricing guide.
- Highly customizable platform
- A bit more affordable compared to other services
- Automation features save loads of time
- Missing more common project management features
- Limited third party integrations
- Higher tiers required for basic features
The monday.com solution offers a range of views — list, timeline, chart and the popular Kanban board — so different types of visual or textual learners can pick the interface format that works for them. That customizability continues in the service's other stand-out features: Moveable columns and rows, a drag-and-drop editor, and a beta program that lets developers create custom apps within the software.
monday.com CRM Features
All plans include unlimited boards, more than 20 column types, a mobile app option (Android and iOS), and embedded forms. Some perks are parcelled out under different plans. You won't get the Timeline and Gantt views unless you have the Standard plan or higher, and both private boards and time tracking aren't available unless you pay for the pricier Pro plan.
monday.com CRM Pricing
Of the service's five plans, one is a very limited free option and one is a custom-priced Enterprise option. The remaining three start at between $24 and $48 per month for three users, billed annually: The Basic plan is $24 per month for three users, plus $8 per additional user; the Standard plan is $30 per month for three users, plus $10 per additional user; and the Pro plan is $48 per month for three users, plus $16 per additional user.
Why monday.com CRM Is a Better Alternative
The monday.com CRM has been growing for a while now, and is a serious service at this point, used by over 100,000 organizations worldwide including brands like Uber, Adobe, and Hulu. And, if you're looking for a specific interface configuration, its range of options makes it one of the most adapatable.
See our review of the monday.com CRM for more
- Packed with a great catalogue of features
- Highly intuitive user interface, easy for beginners
- Free tier available
- Reporting tools are a bit limited
- Some key features exclusive to expensive plans
Freshworks CRM is a Customer Relationship Management software by Freshworks that makes it easy for businesses of all sizes to attract, manage, close, and nurture their leads. With a highly intuitive UI and a powerful feature set including built-in phone and email, AI-based lead scoring, visual deal pipeline, intelligent workflow automation, and customizable visual reports and dashboards, it gives businesses everything they need to manage their sales without having to juggle multiple tools.
Freshworks CRM Features
An advanced ticketing system is central to Freshworks CRM's system, so while it might not be the best fit for sales and marketing functions, it's perfect for customer support teams. Freshworks CRM utilizes AI to predict what sort of support a customer might need with canned responses, and even proactively spot frustrated customers.
Freshworks CRM Pricing
Freshworks CRM offers five different pricing plans: Sprout, Blossom, Garden, Estate, and Forest. The cutely-named plans increase in price, starting with Sprout as the free plan. Blossom comes in at $15 per agent per month, Garden at $35 per agent per month, Estate at $49 per agent per month, and the Forest plan rounding it out at $99 per agent per month.
Why Freshworks CRM Is a Better Alternative
You just can't beat Freshworks CRM when it comes to support. The platform is built to excel at managing tickets, which is where it really shines. Admittedly, it's lacking a bit in sales and marketing functionality, but if you're looking for a CRM to build out your customer support, Freshworks CRM is the way to go.
- Open API for unlimited customizability
- 24/7 live support options
- Unlimited data with basic plan
- Highest tiers are expensive
- A bit more complicated to use
- Few enterprise-level features
Zendesk is well known for its customer support ticket software, which is used on many popular websites. While Zendesk wasn't initially a full CRM solution, the company now offers a flexible, CRM-centric developer platform, Zendesk Sunshine, which operates with an open API that welcomes third-party or custom integrations. While Salesforce has argued that Zendesk is an ‘incomplete CRM solution,‘ this is no longer the case, plus any missing abilities can be supplemented thanks to its flexible API. If you need a full CRM and Zendesk is already a big part of your workflow, you have two options: integrate Zendesk with a dedicated CRM, such as Agile CRM, Zoho, or even Salesforce itself; or subscribe to Zendesk's Enterprise tier, and make sure it offers all the CRM features you'll need.
Zendesk's features include a customer database view, and support tickets that are flexible enough to be used for tasks or for other CRM-like features, such as opportunities or leads. Each support ticket is a flexible space for taking notes, assigning responsible agents, and sharing that data with others within the organization.
Zendesk offers three different pricing plans for its platform CRM: Lite, Professional, and Enterprise. The Lite plan is offered for free and comes with bare-bones style CRM for starters. The Professional plan is $19 per agent per month, while the Enterprise plan jumps up to $59 per agent per month.
Why Zendesk Is a Better Alternative
Zendesk is a better alternative to Salesforce because of its inherent flexibility. Between the open API, the many third-party integrations, and the unlimited data throughout every plan, Zendesk is perfect for experts that know how to get the most out of a flexible platform. Rookies to CRM software, on the other hand, might want to try an easier to use platform.
To learn more about Zendesk, read our Zendesk CRM review
- Free plan available
- Provides sales, marketing, and service functionality
- Tidy, easy to navigate interface
- Limited customization
- Basically no customer support
- File storage limit to 5 documents
The key appeal of HubSpot is also its biggest differentiation from Salesforce: it starts by offering the basic HubSpot CRM for free, with virtually no limits on users or features for the basic CRM for following up on leads, opportunities, and tracking your customer database. The company prides itself on offering a product that takes “minutes to learn,” and provides a dashboard with an at-a-glance view for all ongoing deals. It also integrates with Gmail and Outlook to easily pull in email data, for better visibility of customer interactions within your organization.
For any business that needs to go beyond the basic CRM, HubSpot offers additional CRM-related platforms called ‘hubs' for one-to-one marketing, sales (beyond the basic CRM), and customer service. All of these hubs have free tiers; however, the added features that most businesses would want require a monthly subscription.
HubSpot pricing varies pretty dramatically based on which hubs you're interested in taking advantage of, with each adhering to three pricing plans: Starter, Professional, and Enterprise. If you're interested in marketing, sales, and service hubs, the price is going to be pretty hefty, particularly for the enterprise-level plans. That's the benefit of HubSpot, though: you can mix and match depending on your needs to save a bit of money.
Starter Standout Features
Professional Standout Features
Enterprise Standout Features
$45 per month
$45 per month
$45 per month
$68 per month
$800 per month
$450 per month
$360 per month
$1,600 per month
$3,200 per month
$1,200 per month
$1,200 per month
$4,000 per month
Why HubSpot Is a Better Alternative
HubSpot is a better alternative to Salesforce because of the marketing features available. In fact, Hubspot is the best CRM available for marketing features, according to our research. HubSpot's marketing hub offers ad management and retargeting, conversational chatbots, and landing pages, and that's all found in the Starter plan. Simpy put, if you're looking for a CRM with marketing capabilities, HubSpot is your absolute best bet.
- Integrates with Microsoft products
- Features on par with Salesforce catalog
- Robust, 24/5 support options
- Decidedly expensive
- Limited API, particularly compared to Salesforce
- No free plan
Microsoft's newest mission is to bring its software to every platform with seamless integration between its various products, and the company's CRM, Microsoft Dynamics, is no exception. If your company already lives and breathes the Microsoft platform, with products such as Office 365 and Outlook for email, then the Dynamics CRM can make a lot of sense. Dynamics is also a good platform if you've been wanting to try out Microsoft HoloLens as a business tool, since it integrates with that as well. Dynamics feels very much like a tool that is ideal for large enterprises and active medium-sized businesses, but may be overkill for smaller companies.
Microsoft Dynamics Features
Microsoft offers some unique tools that go beyond the CRM within the Dynamics umbrella of services. These include platforms for finance, operations, and talent recruiting, as well as services we've seen elsewhere, such as customer service and marketing platforms. It's incredibly robust as far as features are concerned, which is why its such a great option.
Microsoft Dynamics Pricing
The Microsoft Dynamics pricing scheme is certainly different than what you might be used to. Like HubSpot, it offers a wide range of specific options, so that you can mix and match exactly what you're looking for. It can get pretty expensive if you're looking to add every piece of it, which includes field service, customer service, marketing, sales, finances, operations, commerce, and human resources, but hopefully you're only looking for a few of these.
Why Microsoft Dynamics Is a Better Alternative
Microsoft Dynamics is similarly robust when it comes to comparisons with Salesforce, but the biggest edge it has over everyone's favorite CRM is that it's from Microsoft. This means that it integrates flawlessly with Office, Outlook, and many other Microsoft systems. So if your company is already set up with Microsoft, then the Dynamics platform is the way to go.
Interested in Microsoft Dynamics? Head to our Microsoft Dynamics review
- Free 15-day trial
- Fully customizable dashboard and interface
- Includes sales, marketing, and service functionality
- Potentially not suitable if you have simple needs
- No spam prevention on web forms
Anyone looking for a platform with the breadth of services of Salesforce without being Salesforce should take a hard look at Zoho CRM. Zoho doesn't offer quite the number of services that Salesforce does. Nevertheless, it still offers great functionality beyond a basic CRM, including one-to-one marketing and e-commerce. Zoho offers a free service with fewer features for up to three users, and then the prices go up from there based on your company's needs.
Zoho CRM Features
Zoho CRM's mid-range pricing tiers include an artificial intelligence feature called Zia, which can “offer predictions on trends, anomalies, conversions and deals closing.” It can also analyze your emails for tone, offer suggestions for speeding up workflows, and search your records for data via voice commands.
Zoho CRM Pricing
Zoho CRM offers five different pricing plans: Free, Standard, Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate. Zoho's free plan is pretty limited, allowing only three total users, but it's a great way to test out the platform before purchasing. Each additional plan increases in price $12 per user per month, $20 per user per month, $35 per user per month, and $45 per user per month, respectively so you can find one that works for your budget.
Why Zoho CRM Is a Better Alternative
Zoho CRM is an incredibly robust platform in terms of features, so much so that it typically rivals Salesforce when it comes to how thorough you can be. Plus, with the vast network of Zoho products, you can integrate widely across your business.
To learn more, read our Zoho pricing guide
- Very simple pricing plans
- A strong email marketing choice
- Offers SMS marketing support
- Not the best for customer support functions
- Lacks some features
Sendinblue has an almost laser-focus on email marketing. It allows businesses to create campaigns quickly and easily, as well as having generous email send limits for maximum impact. It's not the best option if you're looking for an all-in-one CRM to manage customer complaints, marketing, sales, and so on but if you need an email marketing solution above all else, it's not a bad option.
As we mentioned, Sendinblue is very focused around email marketing. It has all the features you'd expect for an email marketing platform including an email builder, advanced reporting tools, and a plethora of automation functions.
Sendinblue has four pricing plans, including a completely free plan which allows you to send up to 300 emails per day. The Lite plan costs $25 per month and allows you to send 100,000 emails per day, as well as adding some of the more advanced features businesses expect when it comes tracking their email performance. The Premium plan is $65 per month and would be a great fit for any business with an active email marketing presence. The Enterprise plan is only available with custom pricing and, as a result, custom benefits.
Why Sendinblue is a Better Alternative
Is Sendinblue a better all-round CRM than Salesforce? Not at all. But, if you're a small business whose main requirement is a platform for email marketing, then Sendinblue will be less complicated and far better value than Salesforce.
Simply put, if you need a platform to send emails to customers above everything else, Sendinblue is well-worth looking at. It has all the features you need to start creating business, simply by pressing send.
- Incredibly customizable for specific needs
- On-premise installations available
- No hidden fees
- No free plan available
- A bit expensive compared to the rest of the industry
- Less well-known brand
SugarCRM isn't the biggest name in the business, but it prides itself on being able to hang with the big boys. It has a simple, easy to understand interface, with deep customization options — making it incredibly flexible and adaptable. Sugar also has no hidden fees, offering three standard pricing plans ranging from $40 to $150 per user, per month.
SugarCRM has a range of tools to facilitate collaboration between different business functions, and works seamlessly across mobiles and tablets making it great for mobile workers. SugarCRM is easy to integrate with your existing IT infrastructure, offering SaaS and on-premise installations.
SugarCRM's pricing model is similar to that of HubSpot, with different options for service, marketing, and sales. Additionally, you can combine all of them in two different plans, Professional and Enterprise, which cater to small and large companies depending on your needs.
Why SugarCRM Is a Better Alternative
Customizability is the name of the game when it comes to SugarCRM. With a widely flexible platform designed for particular needs, this platform can be molded to suit whatever metrics and functionality you need. Plus, with a stylish, easy to use interface, you can't go wrong with SugarCRM when it comes to customizability.
- Tailored pricing plans
- Provides sales and service functionality
- Lots of analytics and data provided
- Lacks basic marketing features
- Limited help and support functionality
- Busy interface can be hard to use
Reasons to Choose Salesforce
And then there's Salesforce, a popular choice among businesses of many different sizes. The key with Salesforce is the absolute breadth of its services beyond the basic CRM platform, including services for running ecommerce, one-to-one marketing, customer service, and many others.
While we've stated that Pipedrive, Freshworks, and Zoho are all cheaper than Salesforce, that doesn't mean it's expensive by any means. In fact, compared to contemporaries like HubSpot and Zendesk, Salesforce is extremely affordable.
Salesforce also has a robust application programming interface (API), allowing developers to create custom apps for Salesforce and integrate your Salesforce data with programs you might already be using.
While Salesforce might have more services than a small or medium-sized business might need, it can still be a useful platform for companies of any size. Plus, as the CRM platform in widest use, it's much easier to find support and tutorials on how to get the most from your subscription.
BEST CRM FOR SALES
Salesforce Sales Cloud
Salesforce Service Cloud
Salesforce Sales and Service Cloud
Salesforce Marketing Cloud
$25 per user, per mo
$25 per user, per mo
$25 per user, per mo
$400 per mo
$75 per user, per mo
$75 per user, per mo
$100 per user, per mo
$1,250 per mo
$150 per user, per mo
$150 per user, per mo
$175 per user, per mo
$3,750 per mo
$300 per user, per mo
$300 per user, per mo
$325 per user, per mo
Salesforce also offers a wide range of great add-ons that can really improve your growing business if you can afford them. Salesforce Anywhere, for example, is perfect for a newly remote business due to the pandemic, as it allows for team collaboration, real-time chat, and document sharing. Plus, with Tableau, the platform's new analytics tool, you'll get all the data you need about your customers to make the best decisions every time.
How We Rate CRM Software
Finding the best CRM software is about more than just looking at the logo. We at Tech.co take the ranking of business software like CRM very seriously, which is why we spend our time thoroughly researching each provider. This data is designed to help you get the most objective information about CRM providers, so you can make the right decision for your business.
There are a lot of aspects of CRM software to consider when it comes to our rankings, and that's why we take it so seriously. Our rankings take into consideration a wide range of metrics, including support options, key functionalities, depth of features, and of course, price. Additionally, we assign each provider a customer score, which is an aggregate of online reviews, competitor scores, and our own, independent research.
Choosing business software can be stressful. A simple installation could be the difference between a successful business and a fun memory, which is why we want to make sure you have all the information necessary to make the best decision for your company.
Conclusion – Should You Use Salesforce, or a Rival CRM Platform?
If you wanted to opt for Salesforce, you really couldn't be faulted. It's got one of the most comprehensive list of features out there, and it's not absurdly expensive. However, if you find it a bit too pricey, you could try the more affordable Pipedrive, or even Freshworks CRM's free tier.
A great way to find the CRM that's right for you is to use our helpful form to get a bespoke quote from multiple CRM platforms. This process takes into account your business' needs, and lets you compare the different services first. Click below to get started.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you're still confused, check out our guide to Salesforce pricing — we've spent an entire article explaining how it all works.
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