Top 3 CRM Solutions: Comparison of HubSpot, Pipedrive and Freshsales

HubSpot: No. 1 CRM Software


CRM solutions can differ in many ways depending on target users, focus, and other value propositions. The obvious disparities are usually easy to spot, for example one is an expensive enterprise solution while the other is a freemium. However, it is the subtle difference that’s hard to figure out. In this article we analyze three top CRM software solutions of 2018 to see which one is the best and which one can meet the specific needs and budget of your company.

As it is usually the case with market leaders some of their key benefits will overlap, and this is where you want to focus, so you know you’re getting the better end of the deal. Considering that CRM is predicted to be a $36.5B market this year, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from and the details and differences will be crucial in picking the optimal solution.

To save you some time we thoroughly tested what we think are the best CRM solutions out there and below we’ll compare all their strengths and weaknesses to give you a solid overview of what each of them is capable of. We tested the following market leaders:

  1. HubSpot CRM[ Get for free ]
  2. Freshsales[ Free trial ]
  3. Pipedrive[ Free trial ]

1. HubSpot CRM

HubSpot CRM is our top choice for being one of the most robust freemiums not only in CRM market, but in the entire SaaS industry. It has the impressive combination of being friendly to companies on a tight budget, while at the same time need a topnotch CRM with really great features. 

Because it doesn’t cost a dime, HubSpot CRM is popular among freelance and small business, but as it’s part of the HubSpot inbound marketing suite it is also a powerful lead-generation tool for larger enterprises.

HubSpot CRM won our Best CRM Software Award for 2017

This rare combination of value for money and rich features in a freemium was one of the many reasons for distinguishing HubSpot CRM with a high rating. The software is available for free. If you want to try it out you can easily get HubSpot CRM for free here.

Key features that really impressed us are:

  • Intuitive deal and task board
  • Reliable drag and drop communicator
  • Great website integration
  • Smooth Sidekick integration
  • Templates, tracking, and scheduling features

2. Freshsales

Freshsales easily belongs to the top 3 CRM solutions with its AI-powered lead scoring system. Leads are rated based on overall prospects’ interactions with you. The algorithm ranks leads using 360-degree profiling that includes touchpoints, appointments, conversations, tasks and transactions. As prospects engage you more, Freshsales lead scoring learns more, too, about their behavior and can calculate spot on their chances of converting. The CRM also alerts you of emails waiting for replies, so you prioritize the most promising leads

Freshsales won our Expert's Choice Award for 2017

Another key advantage of this CRM is its native integration with Freshdesk, one of the most popular help desk apps. Freshsales plus Freshdesk lends to your sales,marketing and support the collaboration platform they need to respond to customers fast, accurately and efficiently. Freshsales also works seamlessly with other key apps like Google Calendar and Segment event tracking, while its open API allows developers to integrate the CRM with third-party apps.

You can easily sign up for a Freshsales free trial here to find out more about winning features we discovered in this CRM:

  • Native app for iOS devices
  • One-click phone that requires no extra hardware or software
  • Personalized bulk emails sent right inside Freshsales with open/click tracker
  • Activity capture

3. Pipedrive

Pipedrive is a visually appealing CRM software that focuses primarily on the sales pipeline. Its UI design is built around giving you graphical ticklers to help you keep tabs on the deals from top to bottom of your sales funnel. Its streamlined workflow approach makes this software a really efficient solution for freelance, small business, and medium enterprises.

In our test we immediately noticed an intuitive dashboard, easy-to-grasp navigation, and efficient lead management features of this software. If you want to try out the software first the vendor offers a great free trial plan. You can easily sign up for Pipedrive free trial here.

Pipedrive won our Expert's Choice Award for 2017

Aside from the visual pipeline, the key features to appreciate about this CRM software include:

  • Solid email integration
  • Roles & organizational hierarchy
  • Useful timeline view
  • Multilanguage and multicurrency support
  • Detailed sales reporting
  • Powerful API

Comparison of CRM Features

All three CRM solutions offer solid mobile access, scalable plans, and reliable cloud security. HubSpot CRM and Pipedrive have consistent 4 to 5-star rating for customer support, while Freshsales is a close contender. Hubspot CRM and Freshsalescan also leverage their customer base in other products to boost their CRM space.

Below we review six key functions where each CRM solution excels in their own right. Check the disparities carefully, but also focus on the subtle differences, which can impact on your purchase decision down the line.

1. Ease of use

It’s a close fight among the three. HubSpot CRM and Pipedrive battle it out in terms of visual simplicity, while Freshsales has a slight advantage on ease of navigation. HubSpot CRM has an intuitive and tighter integration of contact and lead management compared to the two, while Pipedrive focuses on presenting the sales pipeline in a visual way. For lead scoring, Freshsales has a unique advantage.

All solutions have lower learning curves than older CRMs, for instance, Salesforce CRM, which is much more complex with its multi-tiered modules and separately charged functions.

HubSpot CRM is very smooth to use and you can set it up in a few minutes. To start a sales pipeline, you can make a quick mailing list import or organize email contacts with just a few clicks. Once installed, the app works in the background and will only be prompted if you need to add a task, update, contacts, or check the dashboard.

Pipedrive is just as easy to navigate using a visual framework to present the sales pipeline. This lends to the interface a clean look with easy-to-grasp ticklers like color coding and symbols. Like with HubSpot, using Pipedrive makes it quick to understand what’s being presented, including elements such as lead status, pipeline stage, and associated objects.

Pipedrive Timeline View.

As for Freshsales, its one-click phone makes it a lot easier to follow up calls or cold call prospects. This tool doesn’t require any hardware or software installation, it’s that simple.

2. Contact management

What’s the worth of one million contacts? A lot—and nothing.

HubSpot CRM can accommodate this much database capacity at no cost. That’s hard to beat, even if you’re an industry veteran. HubSpot CRM connects to myriad customer-facing channels, such as emails, social media, phone, and website. You can easily consolidate names of people or companies and their contact details, too.

HubSpot CRM contact management.

On the other hand, Pipedrive allows for bulk export (Mailchimp) and email forwarding so you can share high-value messages with others.

3. Lead management

CRM is all about the sales pipeline. All other functions revolve around helping you to move leads to conversions which equal profits. A good lead management process should enable you to calculate your cost of customer acquisition (CAC). If you don’t know how to compute CAC, Kissmetrics gives a clear step-by-step process.

In this respect, we find HubSpot CRM to have the most efficient and simplified lead management that can easily be adopted by sales teams. For small businesses, the software will be a powerful tool to sort contacts, make appointments, send emails, place and record phone calls, and log updates.

It offers a neat workflow that allows you to structure a straightforward pipeline from start to sales. You can also use HubSpot CRM’s Tasks to organize related contacts, companies, and deals.

HubSpot CRM is a great free tool if you have a limited budget

On the other hand, Pipedrive’s visual interface makes it easy to track leads across your sales pipeline. You start with a standard pipeline upon setup, then you populate it with tasks, deals, and statuses and move prospects down the funnel where applicable. Their CRM software also has graphical reporting that shows you staff performance and win-loss rate.

Moreover, if most of your leads come from online sources, you’ll like Pipedrive’s customizable Web Forms. With minimal coding you can embed it on your website or newsletter to capture leads. You can also modify the form’s text and fields to suit your requirements.

Pipedrive sales tracking UI.

As for Freshsales, we like its clutter-free lead management that links to 360-degree customer profiles. Likewise, it features automation where you need it most: manual entries and lead assignments. The CRM automatically updates the social and photo data of new leads. Similarly, you can set up auto assign leads to handpicked sales agents. For example, high-value prospects are given to star sales performers for assurance.

4. Customization

HubSpot CRM and Pipedrive allow for flexible customization right out of the box, while Freshsales offers standard features like custom fields for contacts, leads, accounts and deals.

Sales managers, business owners, and tech support will be vertically prompted to sets of tools relevant to their work. This is great for organizations with clearly defined employee roles. For startups, small business, or organizations with a more agile structure the prompts can be limiting.

On the other hand, HubSpot CRM and Pipedrive can be customized horizontally by whoever has user permission. Tweaking lists is easy in the with bulk editing tools. You can also change settings in Pipedrive to modify how you click and drag deals across the pipeline.

Likewise, you can associate contacts, deals, and company data however you deem fit with HubSpot CRM. You can edit each record or filter their groupings by clicking and tweaking Properties.

Meanwhile, Pipedrive dashboard can be configured with public or private filters. This lets you share information with the team without compromising sensitive data.

5. Reporting and metrics

All three top CRM solutions can generate multiple reports. They can display data in different standard ways, such as by sales activity, product family or recent deals.

HubSpot CRM and Pipedrive are a better fit for companies with straightforward reporting needs. HubSpot CRM has the most simplified reporting, which is a plus, as it increases user adoption. Data revolves around dashboards for ease of retrieval or quick lookups. You get to view various report highlights, sales performance, deal forecasts, and productivity details. You can filter reports based on agents, accounts, teams, or other objects.

Likewise, you can add up to 200 dashboards (plan) using a library of templates accessible via the app’s custom report builder.

Hubspot CRM reporting interface.

On the other hand, Pipedrive dashboard lets you see, among others:

  • The worth of new deals
  • Win-vs-loss deals
  • Star sales performers.

It also gives you an overview of activities.

Pipedrive reporting UI.

As for Freshsales, it can generate four report categories that are essential to managing a growing sales team. Email reports give you an overview of opened emails and the number of merited clicks and responses. Phone call reports show the number of outgoing calls by each rep. Task and appointment reports display created/completed/overdue tasks and scheduled and accomplished appointments.

6. Integration

HubSpot CRM and Freshsales have the advantage of native integration based on their ecosystems. HubSpot is a suite of inbound marketing tools. Its CRM app works smoothly with the vendor’s other popular apps for email marketing, social media, and SEO.

Similarly, Freshsales is native to Freshdesk and Freshservice, two popular apps for help desk and I.T. service desk management, respectively. All top CRM solutions integrate well with Google Apps and other popular business solutions. For example, Pipedrive works smoothly with MailChimp, Outlook, and Zapier.

Alternative Worth Mentioning: Salesforce CRM

HubSpot CRM, Pipedrive and Freshsales are good alternatives to Salesforce CRM, the pioneering and the dominant CRM software in this space.  Our top three CRMs are more agile, user-friendly and budget-friendly compared to the old man of cloud CRM.

Still, Salesforce CRM is an established SaaS product worth your attention, if only to benchmark newer players. Salesforce CRM is designed for small and medium business with enough money to burn for its rich features set.

But its robustness can sometimes drag down the software’s main features, and the software often has to play catch-up with more streamlined upstarts like our three CRM stalwarts. But when it comes to key features, this software is not lacking anything. Among many advanced options it offers workflow and approval automation, report history tracking, custom app development, and web services API.


HubSpot CRM, given its highly intuitive core CRM functionalities, ease of setup and, not the least it’s free, has an advantage over the two solutions. Pipedrive is a close second given its visual interface. When you use either of these top two CRM solutions, you will realize you don’t have trouble with user adoption. Meantime, Freshsales has unique tools like lead scoring and automated lead management workflows that give our top two CRMs tough competition.

Salesforce is a rich CRM platform with features and analytics for your picking. But it comes with two disadvantages: it’s costlier and more complex. In the end, we recommend you try out HubSpot CRM or any of our top CRMs here first and then decide which one fits your work processes and requirements best.

Category: B2B News

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