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Hubspot vs Salesforce – Which Is Best?

September 27, 2018

9:44 am

Salesforce is a global giant in CRM, with thousands of companies happily paying for its services. Hubspot, meanwhile, lets you get up and running for free. So, is it worth paying for Salesforce, or for the paid-for features Hubspot offers? Both CRM platforms are very capable with a lot of features available for your team. The big question isn’t so much which one is the best overall, but which CRM platform is the best for your company.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is an essential tool for businesses in order to keep track of client and potential client needs – so the competition doesn’t. There are numerous CRM platforms to choose from, but there are a few names you will come across time and again during your research.

The big one is, of course, Salesforce. This is the most popular CRM option for many businesses worldwide. It has rich third-party integrations, great developer tools for deep customization, and a wide range of products from CRM management to enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools.

Another important name is Hubspot. This is a CRM specifically aimed at small businesses. Crucially, it runs on a freemium model – the basic CRM is free and then the company encourages you to pay for additional upgrades and services as your needs grow.

We’ll take a look at Salesforce and Hubspot to give you a better idea of the strengths and advantages of each.

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Hubspot vs Salesforce: Which Is Best?

As CRM platforms go, Hubspot and Salesforce may initially look a long way apart. Hubspot’s freemium model and relatively fewer features contrasts sharply with the sprawling, feature-rich Salesforce CRM. That doesn’t make either one CRM the “best,” but it does mean different businesses will prefer one over the other.

Can you achieve great results with a freemium CRM platform like Hubspot? Absolutely. Plus, it’s a slick, modern platform to use – nothing about it feels like costs are being cut. However, to get the best out of Hubspot, you’ll want to pay for some of the premium features and plugins. At that point, it’s worth pausing to consider a fully paid-for platform such as Salesforce, too.

To get a better idea of which CRM system is best for your company, let’s take a look at the main pros and cons for both Hubspot and Salesforce:

Hubspot CRM

Read our Hubspot CRM Review

 Pros

  • Starts with a free plan
  • Lets you add extra paid services
  • Simple user interface

 Cons

  • Limitations of free plan may be reached quickly
  • Training is mainly by online resources

Salesforce Logo

Read our full Salesforce Review

 Pros

  • The biggest name in CRM
  • Huge app store for third-party integrations
  • Modern ‘Lightning’ Interface

 Cons

  • Large array of tools and services can feel overwhelming at first

Hubspot Free vs Salesforce: Head-to-Head

Comparing Hubspot free and Salesforce comes down to one essential question: what does the paid Salesforce offer in its standard CRM that the free Hubspot doesn’t?

CRM Salesforce logoHubspot Logo
Free TrialYesYes
Monthly plans start at:$50/userFree
Most popular monthly plans: $100/user$400/5 users
Key Benefit Feature-richIntuitive interface
Main DrawbackSteep learning curveTraining largely online
24/7 SupportFor an additional chargeYes

In Hubspot’s own page about the Hubspot company story, the company proudly proclaims its service is “free, forever.” And that’s true, up to a point.

The basic, free Hubspot CRM offers the ability to manage your contacts with key lead designations such as “unqualified” and “in progress,” as well as group people by companies and deals. You can integrate Gmail or Outlook email, create email templates, canned snippets to drop into email messages, deal tracking, tasks, ticketing, and there’s a reporting dashboard.

That’s pretty good already and might be serviceable for “solopreneurs” or particularly small teams, but the seams of this free version show up if you want anything more advanced.

If you need to save sales documents in Hubspot, for example, the free version allows only five documents per account. Activities on a contact record (such as notes from another team member or past scheduled meetings) are also restricted to the first seven days after the contact was created.

If you already have a Salesforce account up and running, it’s not particularly straightforward to import data from Salesforce in order to migrate to Hubspot at the free level.

Salesforce Clouds Explained

Salesforce’s basic CRM is called Sales Cloud and offers all the features we’ve already discussed with Hubspot including managing contacts and designating leads with “qualified”, “unqualified”, and  so on.

Salesforce Sales Cloud Predictive Lead Scoring

You can also integrate Gmail and Outlook, create email templates, track deals, manage tasks, and get a snapshot of current business with the dashboard on the Home tab. Salesforce also lets you upload sales documents, but offers a healthier 2GB of storage per user compared to Hubspot’s harder limit at the free tier.

Hubspot Paid Tools

Once you get into paid versions on Hubspot some other advantages come to the fore. Hubspot offers blog creation tools that include search engine optimization, the ability to schedule social media posts, unlimited sales documents, and enhanced revenue tracking.

Hubspot and Salesforce Interfaces

Looking at the interface for both services, you have two very different approaches. Both offer modern interfaces with their menus at the top as either drop-down (Hubspot) or tabs (Salesforce).

Overall, Hubspot offers a cleaner-looking interface with less items getting in the way, though Salesforce’s busier look certainly offers a lot more information.

Email Integration

Email integration is always a key consideration when looking at a CRM where message tracking is critical. Both services easily integrate with Gmail and Outlook, but Hubspot can also integrate with any email service that supports IMAP–and almost all do.

Salesforce, meanwhile, has an interesting feature called “email to Salesforce,” which is activated by default but can be turned off by an account administrator. This feature uses an original email address that is a long string of letters and numbers assigned to each user account. When someone puts this address in the BCC field, the email is sent directly to their Salesforce account where it can be associated with a lead or contact. Of course, any replies to that message won’t end up in the CRM unless the client or lead hits the “Reply All” button when responding. Still, it is a relatively easy way to get key emails that aren’t from Gmail or Outlook into Salesforce.

Hubspot vs Salesforce Pricing

If you decide to pay for additional features and services with Hubspot the first option is to subscribe to the Sales Hub. Prices start at $50 per user per month, with the Professional and and Enterprise adding features and cost from there.

Hubspot Typical Pricing

Basic Starter Professional Enterprise
Base Monthly Cost Free $50 $400 $1,200
Number of Users Included Unlimited 1 5 10
Cost per Extra User None $50 $80 $120

Hubspot Professional costs $400 per month and includes five users, and additional users beyond that cost $80 per month.

Hubspot Enterprise is priced at $1,200 per month with 10 free users and additional users are $120 per month.

Salesforce’s pricing is a little more “traditional”.

The bottom rung is Salesforce Essentials, which offers Sales Cloud or Service  Cloud for $25 per user per month for up to five users.

From there the pricing has three tiers: Professional, Enterprise, and Unlimited priced at $74, $150, and $300 per user per month respectively for either Sales or Service Cloud.

To get both clouds costs $100, $175, or $325 per user per month for each respective tier. Each tier offers increased features and customizability.

Salesforce Typical Pricing

Essentials Professional Enterprise Unlimited
Sales OR Service Cloud $25 $75 $150 $300
Sales AND Service Cloud $100 $175 $325

Remember, pricing can change depending on your needs. The best way to find the right fit is to get a customized price by clicking our simple Quotes Form.

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Hubspot Salesforce Integration

Hubspot has a peculiar feature that allows you to sync information from Salesforce into Hubspot and then back again. This is very different from the usual features that let you import data from Salesforce in order to migrate to a new platform. It seems curious to offer deep integration with a competitor, but there are situations where this integration could become useful. If you already use Hubspot’s Marketing Hub, for example, but the sales team is on Salesforce then this integration could help bridge the gap between the data held by the two teams.

Hubspot’s integration is bi-directional, which means you can send information to Salesforce as well as pull information from it. There are limits to how much data you can pull from Salesforce on any given day depending on how many API calls your contract with Salesforce allows.

This feature is nice enough if you need it, though having both teams on the same platform would be much easier and offer more seamless data sharing. Salesforce integration is not available on the free or Starter tiers requiring at least Sales Hub Professional.

Hubspot or Salesforce – Which CRM System Should You Choose?

If price is an issue and Hubspot’s basic CRM is all you need then you might get by with that, and if you need Hubspot’s added features the CRM’s pricing is pretty good. Though for smaller teams with five or less Hubspot doesn’t beat Salesforce Essentials pricing.

As far as features go they both offer the key tools you need from a CRM, and both have third-party integrations and deep online support pages. If you don’t have Gmail or Outlook as your corporate email of choice then Hubspot is probably easier to deal with. In terms of interface, Hubspot is a little simpler compared to Salesforce making the learning curve a little steeper with the latter.

That’s a basic look at Hubspot and Salesforce, but the best way to find the CRM that’s right for your team is to get a customized quote based on your company’s needs. Click the Get Quote button below to get started and find the CRM that’s right for you.

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Ian is an independent writer based in Israel who has worked as a technology industry reporter and critic for more than ten years. He’s written for PCWorld, Macworld, TechHive, Yahoo, Lifewire, and The Huffington Post. He primarily covers Windows, PC and gaming hardware, video and music streaming services, security software, and browsers.

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