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Salesforce or HubSpot CRM? Comparison of Two Leading CRM Software Solutions

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Customer relationship management is a key tool in getting leads for your company and increasing your bottom line. But there’s more to CRM than just closing deals. CRM has become a management strategy that very often will ensure a steady growth of your business. It allows you to consolidate sales data and get insights that can be used to make your business processes more cost-efficient.

But just having a CRM software is not a guaranteed ticket to success. Your team has to use it properly, too.

That’s why one of the important factor when you do any CRM comparison is to ensure it simplifies, not complicates, your sales team’s workflows. Advanced features are important, sure, but having an intuitive tool set is just as useful — if not more crucial — to your sales reps.

When looking for the right CRM solution, often, you’re torn between going for sophisticated features and simple but effective functionalities. In fact, you may find yourself thinking — should you go for Salesforce or HubSpot CRM? These are, after all, the two most popular CRMs in the market today, as a matter of fact, these tools are among the top 3 CRM solutions around. To answer that, we’ll give you the lowdown on the key factors of both solutions to help you make a sound decision on which one will fit your team better.

In a study by InsideCRM, a trade research outfit, ease of use was found to be the most important feature of CRM software.

Source: InsideCRM.

We couldn’t agree more. What’s the point of having a powerful CRM solution when it is underused by your team? Whenever a debate on comparison of Salesforce and HubSpot CRM starts ease of use is always at the core of the discussion. However, ease of use isn’t only about quick setup and less confusing features. It’s about the software being intuitive to the needs of your sales team and, in particular, sales reps who are at the core of your sales operations.

HubSpot vs Salesforce

Should you go robust with Salesforce or practical with HubSpot CRM?

Salesforce has been the industry’s barometer of what and what not a CRM software should be for decades. Robust, sophisticated, powerful, it’s also a tad complicated for the average sales reps, who usually want more of workflow automation and less of analytics and reporting.

HubSpot CRM always focused on this particular pain point and is now synonymous to intuitive CRM. What it lacks for in powerful computing it makes up with straightforward, practical features. Most sales reps just need to associate deals, tasks and contacts to increase their close rates and HubSpot gives them exactly this ability.

The real question is, should you go robust with Salesforce or practical with HubSpot CRM? If you fall under any these three scenarios, we highly recommend you go for HubSpot:

  1. If you’re looking for your first CRM. A common mistake when looking for the best CRM software is to go for the most robust platform. Don’t get caught up with sophisticated features, rather, get the features that you actually need and don’t pay for redundant ones.
  2. If you want to get your CRM set up fast. It’s easy to get started with HubSpot CRM. In fact, all you need is to sign up for a HubSpot CRM free app here and you’ll have everything up and running. Without having to pay for anything or talk to the vendor your sales team gets to test ride all the CRM features immediately.
  3. If you have Salesforce but it’s underutilized. Salesforce is good at reporting and analytics for high-level use, while HubSpot is built around the sales reps’ workflows. We see complementary, not competing, products here.
  4. If you want to use a free tool forever. Why pay for Salesforce when you can use HubSpot for free? That’s the vendor’s hard-to-beat proposition.

5 Key Differences Between Salesforce and HubSpot CRM

1. Ease of use

Ease of use is related to what your sales team thinks about the bells and whistles of each tool. The developer may find Salesforce “easier” to build an event-driven architecture with enterprise integration, but to the sales rep, that’s beyond him. Salesforce tries hard to achieve agility and it does succeed. The catch is, you will need a tech person to leverage Salesforce’s powerful features, and that person also needs to collaborate closely with sales reps to identify their pain points. And we all know how tech and sales share perspectives, almost nil.

Meantime, HubSpot CRM is designed for sales reps. They can easily navigate the features and optimize their workflows without much techplay. Using it for the first time, you’ll easily grasp what HubSpot wants to tell you: associate contacts with deals and tasks, automate mundane day-to-day tasks, give prospects and clients quick access to book meeting and visualize the pipeline to track deals.

When use Salesforce? When use HubSpot CRM?
If you have an IT team that needs agility to address complex business processes involving sales. When you need a platform that’s intuitive to common sales and marketing tasks and simple enough for reps to use.

2. Integration

Both HubSpot CRM and Salesforce integrate well with third-party systems via point-and-click or REST API.

Given that it’s a bigger and more popular software, Salesforce is integrated with more business systems. Salesforce data exchange is a standard with many ERP, HR, supply management systems and with legacy on-premise software such as Oracle, Microsoft and SAP. To be honest, you cannot find more robust integration tools in SaaS than in the Salesforce Platform and AppExchange, touted the world’s leading business app marketplace.

But sales teams usually only need to deal with marketing and support data to supercharge their conversion rates. In this respect, you’ll find HubSpot CRM is better at sales-focused vertical integration. You go beyond a simple data exchange across different systems; the CRM, in fact, acts as the underlying database for sales and marketing. There’s a lock-step integration among your person/company contacts, deals and tasks. And the HubSpot’s integration library isn’t a lightweight either — you get plenty of certified apps and web services that are sales-focused, from advertising to video. All you need to do is come up with a pretty good sales process and your good to go.

When use Salesforce? When use HubSpot CRM?
If your sales require to work with an intense number of different processes and businesses, Salesforce provides the wider support. When you simply need to get sales and marketing aligned to increase conversion rates.

3. Sales Tools

Both Salesforce and HubSpot CRM excel in their feature sets. Again, no doubt, Salesforce is the more robust CRM. But that can be its weakness, too.

You’ll immediately see over 15 tabs on Salesforce’ user interface. These include leads, opportunities, tasks, files, accounts, contacts, campaigns and dashboards. Each tab then drops down a menu of more properties. Pretty overwhelming, right? So if you’re a small business who can do away with complicated tools, you might want to find Salesforce Cloud alternatives.

Salesforce’ tabs can be overwhelming.

If you’re a sales rep you get a sense of information overload with Salesforce. Compare that to HubSpot’s UI. It only has tabs for the most essential features that offer a clear and intuitive overview of your system:

HubSpot offers a clear and intuitive interface.

Focus is also a problem with Salesforce. Take a look at this Salesforce dashboard that gives reps their quota analysis and sales history:

Salesforce dashboard may focus on things not crucial to regular sales reps.

This data is more useful to the sales leader or director, who needs the big picture. It’s okay to include this data on a rep’s workspace, but it’d be better to let reps stay focused on deals and pipeline, enough to tell them where they are in their quota journey. Which is what HubSpot achieves with its visual pipeline:

Deals neatly laid out on a visual pipeline in HubSpot CRM.

Yes, HubSpot CRM also provides dashboard analytics on sales, quotas, deal values and trends in your sales activities, but notice it’s for the sales leader, the one who’ll use the data more:

That’s telling us, again, Salesforce is tech-savvy, you get more bells and whistles. But HubSpot is more adapted to sales workflows, what reps really need on their day-to-day work.

The same story goes for the other key CRM features, such as, contact management, lead management, opportunity management and data management. For example, It’s hard to get lost navigating HubSpot CRM because all records are associated. On the other hand, Salesforce does link related data, too, but you need to navigate tabs to check related conversations, social media engagement and customer history, among others. These sales tools can help salespeople in maintaining client relationships and promoting growth.

Generally, you take more steps using Salesforce’ sales tools than HubSpot’s. The following sales tools are more intuitive in HubSpot than in Salesforce:

  1. Adding contacts. HubSpot allows for adding contacts with a single click.
  2. Associating records. HubSpot automatically links contacts with related records like company details, revenue and industry. Any update in the deal is also captured in the pipeline and synced with contact’s record.
  3. Email integration. Both CRMs have email open/click tracking, document tracking, email templates and calendar integration. But HubSpot adds more to the list with Email Sequences, a rule-based drip email based on the contact’s online behavior.
  4. Book meetings. Both CRMs allow this but HubSpot has a clean, intuitive UI. It shows an integrated calendar and action tools like buttons and slider to set the date, time and time period. Check out the HubSpot scheduling app here. Salesforce uses old-school email message that requires field entries.
  5. Live chat. Unlike Salesforce HubSpot has a live chat feature. It pops up a chat box to your website visitors to get in touch with prospects when they are most engaged, browsing your pages.

Where Salesforce earns a plus is in setting up mandatory fields, for example, amount, competition, close data and stage (CRM-required properties in HubSpot CRM is now in beta). Sales reps have to complete these fields before they can save a record. But this can be a double-edged sword. What of prospects with incomplete data? The rep won’t be able to store this useful contact right away, so you might lose this prospect.

When use Salesforce? When use HubSpot CRM?
When you want a complete feature set at once, whether your team will use them or not. When you want a more focused and streamlined CRM feature set.

4. Reporting

Hands down, Salesforce has the edge here. In fact, you’ll feel that it is designed for reporting and analytics. As we’ve explained earlier, Salesforce can handle complex sales reports with in-depth analysis and integrate with a variety of enterprise platforms — ERP, HRM and legacy systems. There simply is a wealth of data to be had with Salesforce.

But there’s the rub. Unless you’re a large organization with tons of data to manage to start with, Salesforce will leave you with the best analytics tools that you won’t use. For one, although the dashboards look neat and appealing, its backend, a drag-and-drop Report Builder is anything but simple:

Do you really need all those complex reports? If yes, Salesforce is a good choice. But if your sales reporting is like what most sales teams need, just the uncluttered essentials — deal forecast, sales performance, productivity, deals closed vs. goal and recent activities — HubSpot CRM delivers a more intuitive reporting system. Its reporting is built around dashboard, with drag-and-drop functionality and quick lookup feature.

Deal Forecast reporting is provided for free in HubSpot

However, the out-of-the-box reporting in HubSpot CRM can handle only so much data segments. You’ll need to upgrade to paid HubSpot Sales or add-on for advanced reporting. This is still a more flexible option than paying for all the extra tools at once in Salesforce.

When use Salesforce? When use HubSpot CRM?
If you have needs for complex reporting. If your reporting amounts to the essentials typical to sales teams.

5. Price

HubSpot CRM is 100% free. Compare this with Salesforce lowest priced out-of-the-box CRM, Lightning Essentials, at $25 per user/month, budget-wise HubSpot wins this race. But let’s not focus on price, but on value for money.

HubSpot isn’t a pared version, rather, a feature-rich free CRM software product with major modules for sales pipeline, contact management and sales automation. It has complete modules for contact management, Gmail and Outlook integration, deals and tasks, visual sales pipeline and  reporting. It allows an unlimited number of users and as much as 1 million records. Likewise, it integrates with HubSpot Sales and HubSpot Marketing (both apps have their own pared down free version). Against Salesforce Lightning Essentials, HubSpot’s features are equally good — at no cost to you. 

Why use HubSpot CRM? Why use Salesforce?
It’s not only free, but a competitive alternative to paid basic CRM. This makes it hard to pay for Salesforce when you can get it for free from HubSpot.


Here’s the brief answer to the question: Salesforce or HubSpot CRM? Despite having small business CRM solutions (Lighting plans), Salesforce can’t seem to shake off its enterprise, Oracle-inspired origin. It seems to have in its crosshairs sales managers and directors of large organization more than the sales reps who deal with clients and prospects most. If you need a high-level CRM for complex sales processes, Salesforce may be a good choice.

On the other hand, getting HubSpot CRM is a sound decision to set the foundation of having deeper long-term relationships with your customers. At no cost, it helps you to start building a growth stack that closely integrates sales with marketing.

More importantly, with its simpler interface and design built around actual sales workflows, HubSpot CRM has a better chance of being adopted by sales reps with little patience for tech gibberish (at least from their perspective). That means getting your CRM off the ground and really running in no time.

In the end, it’s best if you try using the free HubSpot CRM features and see how your sales team adapts to it and improves their performance. Since the tool is available entirely free of charge you can easily start off a test run. To do that just sign up for HubSpot CRM free app here.

By Nestor Gilbert

Senior writer for FinancesOnline. If he is not writing about the booming SaaS and B2B industry, with special focus on developments in CRM and business intelligence software spaces, he is editing manuscripts for aspiring and veteran authors. He has compiled years of experience editing book titles and writing for popular marketing and technical publications.

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