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Salesforce vs. HubSpot - Which One Is Right For Me?



Salesforce vs. HubSpot - Which One Is Right For Me?



Salesforce and HubSpot are prominent players in the CRM market, which each focus on a different market segment (Salesforce on large enterprises and HubSpot on SMB and Mid-Market). However, over the last few years, these lines have become increasingly blurred, with Salesforce releasing a small business CRM package and HubSpot going after (and winning) large enterprise customers, many of whom had been long term Salesforce customers but wanted to reduce costs. 


In this article we’ll dive deep into the differences between these two well known CRM solutions and help you determine which one (if either) are right for you. 


What is the difference between Salesforce and HubSpot?


Salesforce is renowned for its robustness and scalability and caters primarily to large enterprises with complex customer relationship management needs. This means customers who have extensive integrations, complex sales cycles and post-sales needs. It offers extensive customization but requires a significant investment in setup and ongoing administration, often necessitating dedicated specialists to manage and optimize the system. Some companies spend millions of dollars each year on licenses and dedicated resources to keep their Salesforce up and running. 


HubSpot is favored by small to medium-sized businesses seeking an intuitive and user-friendly interface that simplifies CRM processes without extensive IT overhead. HubSpot's pricing model includes a free entry-level option, making it accessible for startups and smaller companies, whereas Salesforce's pricing is structured in tiered plans, starting with a basic level that scales up in features and cost to accommodate growing business needs. 


Hubspot has started to branch out recently, by releasing more features that cater to larger organizations, and by doing so it has won over some larger customers who may have already been using its robust marketing automation suite of products. 


This fundamental contrast in customer focus, administrative complexity, and pricing structures highlights the distinct niches Salesforce and HubSpot occupy within the CRM landscape.


Features Comparison


1. Contact and Lead Management


  • Salesforce: Offers a highly customizable system that can handle complex sales processes and customer hierarchies, ideal for large enterprises with diverse customer bases and global markets. Features like advanced segmentation and predictive scoring help businesses prioritize and tailor their outreach.

  • HubSpot: Provides a more streamlined approach to contact and lead management which is suitable for businesses that follow a standard sales process. Its integration with other HubSpot services like Marketing Hub enhances lead nurturing directly within the CRM, making it ideal for inbound marketing strategies.

2. Email Integration


  • Salesforce: Integrates with Gmail and Outlook, although its famous rivalry with Microsoft means the standard Outlook connector is severely lacking in any sort of useful features other than to manually add an email to Salesforce. 

By adding emails to Salesforce, sales reps and sales managers are able to measure the effectiveness of their communication efforts. 


  • HubSpot: Features native email tools that are deeply integrated with its CRM functionalities. HubSpot's email marketing is highly user-friendly, enabling users to create and send emails with rich content directly from the CRM, and see detailed analytics on email performance such as open rate, click rate, through to lead analytics like conversion to an opportunity and more.

3. Reporting and Analytics


  • Salesforce: Salesforce allows for the creation of highly customized reports that can accommodate the diverse data needs of large organizations. Salesforce reports are dynamic, allowing for real-time insights and forecasts that can drive decision-making at multiple levels.Salesforce also acquired Tableau, an enterprise analytics platform and have integrated it into their product offering called CRM Analytics, which can offer even more robust insights into your business.

  • HubSpot: HubSpot isn’t particularly well known for its analytics, but that doesn’t stop it from offering user-friendly reports and dashboards that are accessible to users with minimal technical expertise. Its analytics components are designed to provide clear, actionable insights, particularly useful for SMBs that need straightforward metrics on sales performance and customer activities. 

4. Automation


  • Salesforce: Its automation capabilities are vast, including no-code automated workflows, data validation, and dynamic screen flows that can significantly streamline operations across departments. Salesforce's automation can be tailored to very specific operational processes, making it a powerhouse for efficiency.

  • HubSpot: Focuses on automation that supports marketing and sales alignment. It offers tools for automating email campaigns, social media posting, and task management among sales teams. HubSpot’s automation is generally easier to set up and maintain, which suits smaller teams that need to automate repetitive tasks without extensive IT resources.

5. Mobile Access


  • Salesforce: The Salesforce mobile app is an extension of its desktop environment, offering comprehensive CRM capabilities on the go. It is designed for the enterprise user, with features that support extensive data access, complex deal management, and on-the-spot analytics.

  • HubSpot: HubSpot's mobile app is designed for usability, focusing on core CRM functionalities such as contact management, deal tracking, and simple task management. It is ideal for sales teams that need immediate access to data without the complexity of a full desktop interface.

6. Customization and Scalability


  • Salesforce: Allows organizations to build a CRM solution tailored exactly to their needs, supporting custom object creation and complex software integrations. Salesforce also has numerous 3rd party offerings available to download and install into your CRM system from AppExchange Marketplace.

  • HubSpot: While not as extensively customizable, HubSpot allows for significant modification within its ecosystem, providing tools that are sufficient for most SMBs and growing businesses. Its scalability is geared more towards expanding the use of CRM features gradually as business needs grow. 

HubSpot also has an application marketplace, but it focuses more on integrating tools that exist outside of the HubSpot world, such as email clients and Zoom, rather than applications that are built specifically to work with HubSpot. As the company and platform grow though, I expect this will start to change. 


7. AI and Advanced Analytics


  • Salesforce Einstein: A suite of AI tools designed to enhance data insights, offer predictions, and automate tasks. Einstein can optimize marketing campaigns, predict sales, and personalize customer interactions, which are crucial for data-driven enterprises.

  • HubSpot Insights: Offers basic predictive tools for lead scoring and content optimization, suitable for businesses that are starting to incorporate AI into their operations without the need for complex data science resources.


8. Pricing and Accessibility


  • Salesforce: Its pricing strategy reflects its enterprise focus, with several tiers that accommodate growing needs. Each tier offers additional features and capabilities, which can become costly as add-ons and custom features accumulate.

  • HubSpot: By contrast, HubSpot is well known for its freemium model, which provides essential CRM functionalities for free with optional upgrades as businesses require more advanced features. This pricing model is particularly attractive for startups and small businesses looking to scale operations incrementally and also have some control over their system. HubSpot allows you to create custom entities to track whatever it is you need to track and only charges you extra for much more complex needs, such as multiple custom website domains. 

Administration Comparison


Salesforce: Navigating Complexity


  • Technical Administration: Salesforce’s extensive customization capabilities necessitate an administration that can handle complex data models, advanced user permission settings, and intricate workflows. Administrators often have to configure and maintain numerous integrations with other systems via Salesforce’s API or through the AppExchange marketplace, which offers a vast array of third-party applications tailored to extend the Salesforce capabilities.

  • Day-to-Day Management: A Salesforce administrator’s daily responsibilities can include managing custom reports, maintaining sales dashboards, and ensuring that the CRM is aligned with the company’s evolving sales strategies. This role might also involve user training and support as well as enhancing the system based on user requests and needs of the business, requiring both technical prowess and strong communication skills.

HubSpot: User-Centric and Streamlined


  • Ease of Use: HubSpot's design philosophy prioritizes user experience, making it more accessible for non-technical users to perform administrative tasks. The platform allows for easy creation of marketing content, lead capture forms, and email campaigns without needing extensive IT support.

  • Maintenance and Scalability: While simpler than Salesforce, HubSpot administrators still play a crucial role, particularly as businesses scale. They manage user roles, oversee database cleanliness, and customize features to align with marketing and sales processes. HubSpot’s integrated nature means less focus on third-party integrations but more on using its native tools effectively.

Professional Market Landscape


Salesforce Professionals: A Robust Ecosystem


  • Career Opportunities: The demand for Salesforce professionals spans across many industries globally due to the platform’s dominance in the CRM market. Roles include Salesforce Developers, Administrators, Business Analysts, and Consultants, Architects and more, each requiring a deep understanding of the platform and strategic business processes. These roles often command high salaries and offer extensive career growth opportunities, particularly in industries heavily reliant on customer data and tailored CRM processes.

  • Professional Community and Support: Salesforce has a large, active community known as the Trailblazer Community, where professionals can exchange knowledge, find job opportunities, and stay updated on the latest Salesforce developments.

  • Skills Development: Salesforce professionals are expected to continually update their skills due to the platform's frequent updates and new feature releases. This dynamic environment offers professionals numerous opportunities for career advancement but requires ongoing education and adaptation. Salesforce offers training through Trailhead, a completely free platform that allows you to learn Salesforce in the comfort and safety of your own playground environment where you can’t mess anything up in your production org. 

HubSpot Professionals: Expanding Influence


  • Market Demand: As HubSpot continues to grow, so does the demand for knowledgeable professionals who can leverage its full suite of tools. This includes not only CRM and sales functions but also inbound marketing and customer service. The market for HubSpot professionals is particularly vibrant among small to medium-sized businesses that are digital-first.

  • Professional Community and Support: HubSpot also supports a vibrant community of users and professionals, including HubSpot Academy, which offers certifications and training resources that are highly respected in the digital marketing community.

  • Skillset Broadening: Professionals working with HubSpot often wear multiple hats, blending marketing, sales, and content management skills. This multidisciplinary approach is less common in Salesforce roles, where specialization is more pronounced due to the platform’s complexity.

Training and Staying Current


Salesforce Training Options


  • Trailhead: As mentioned earlier, Salesforce’s Trailhead is a gamified online learning platform designed to make complex training engaging and accessible. It covers everything from the basics to advanced features, with paths designed to guide learners through career roles and certifications.

  • Certification Programs: Salesforce offers a comprehensive certification program that includes roles like Certified Administrator, Advanced Administrator, through to the highest certification, the Certified Technical Architect (or CTA), as well as various consultant and specialist credentials. These certifications are highly regarded in the industry and require regular renewal, which involves passing maintenance exams that reflect the platform’s latest updates.

HubSpot Training Options


  • HubSpot Academy: HubSpot Academy is renowned for providing extensive, free training courses that cover a wide range of topics from CRM basics to advanced sales enablement and marketing strategies. The courses are designed to be practical and are updated regularly to keep pace with new features and best practices.

  • Certification Benefits: Earning certifications from HubSpot Academy not only boosts professional credibility but also ensures that users are maximizing the potential of the HubSpot platform. These certifications are widely recognized in the marketing industry and serve as a testament to a professional’s skills and expertise in digital marketing and CRM management.

Price Comparison


Both solutions have 


Salesforce Pricing Overview


Essentials Plan:


  • Price: Starting at $25 per user per month (billed annually), this is Salesforce’s entry-level plan designed for small businesses needing basic CRM functionalities.

  • Features: Includes lead management, contact management, opportunity tracking, email integration, and basic reporting. It also includes the Salesforce mobile app, allowing access on the go.

  • Customization and Limitations: The Essentials plan allows for some customization of fields and page layouts but does not support the creation of custom objects, which are available in higher-tier plans. This plan is limited to up to 10 users only.

Higher Tiers:


  • Professional ($75 per user per month): Offers complete CRM capabilities without any user limits and includes more customization options and full sales and marketing capabilities.

  • Enterprise ($150 per user per month): Adds more depth in terms of customization, access to the Salesforce API for integration, and more sophisticated features like workflow and approval automation.

  • Unlimited ($300 per user per month): Provides access to Salesforce's most advanced features, including multiple sandboxes, 24/7 support, and configuration services.

HubSpot Pricing Overview


Free Plan:


  • Features: HubSpot's free CRM is particularly generous, offering a wide array of features that can adequately support small businesses and startups. Key functionalities include contact management, deal pipeline visualization, task and activity tracking, email scheduling, and live chat. Users can manage up to one million contacts and users without any expiration.

  • Customization Options: Even in the free version, HubSpot allows some customization of properties and workflows, which is somewhat limited but still beneficial for basic CRM tasks. This includes custom fields in contact, company, deal, and ticket records, allowing businesses to tailor the CRM system to their needs without any cost.

  • Scalability: While the free plan offers substantial features, businesses looking to scale or require more advanced sales, marketing, or customer service tools will need to consider upgrading to one of the paid plans (Starter, Professional, or Enterprise).

Paid Plans:


  • Starter ($45/month starting price): Includes all the features of the free plan plus additional functionalities like simple automation, multiple currencies, and custom reporting.

  • Professional ($450/month starting price): Offers advanced features such as marketing automation, sales automation, custom reporting, and more extensive customization and integration capabilities.

  • Enterprise ($1,200/month starting price): Provides features for larger organizations such as predictive lead scoring, user roles, and advanced reporting capabilities.


Comparison and Considerations


Free Offerings and Entry-Level Plans:


  • Salesforce’s cheapest plan, the Essentials plan, while not free, offers an entry-level price point but with more limited features compared to HubSpot’s free plan. It is designed for small teams that expect to grow and may soon need the more sophisticated capabilities found in higher-tier Salesforce plans.

  • HubSpot’s free plan is robust enough for many small businesses to operate effectively without upgrading unless they need advanced features. This plan is particularly useful for companies with limited CRM experience looking to implement a system without initial investment.

Customization Capabilities:


  • Salesforce’s Essentials plan restricts certain advanced customizations, including custom objects, which are a powerful feature for tailoring the CRM extensively to complex business processes available in higher-tier plans.

  • HubSpot offers some customization even at the free level, which includes editing fields and forms to fit the business's needs, though with some constraints on more advanced workflow customizations and additional features.

Overall Value:


  • Salesforce offers a clear path for growth with its tiered pricing, making it a feasible option for small businesses that plan to scale quickly and need the robust, customizable capabilities Salesforce is known for. However, the cost barrier to entry is higher compared to HubSpot’s free offering.

  • HubSpot provides exceptional value at the free level and offers straightforward upgrades as business needs grow. Its pricing structure is designed to scale smoothly as businesses expand their CRM usage.

Both CRM platforms offer different starting points and scaling opportunities, making it essential for businesses to consider their immediate and long-term CRM needs alongside their budget when choosing between HubSpot and Salesforce.


Customer Types and What’s Next


Examining the customer types attracted by HubSpot and Salesforce reveals a dynamic market where both platforms are increasingly vying for overlapping segments. Traditionally, HubSpot has been associated with small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and mid-market companies, while Salesforce has been the go-to solution for larger enterprises. 


However, the boundaries are becoming more fluid as each platform evolves to capture a broader audience.


Typical HubSpot Customer


Historical Focus:


  • SMBs and Mid-Market Companies: HubSpot has traditionally excelled in attracting small to medium-sized businesses due to its user-friendly interface, affordable pricing, and an integrated suite of tools that support inbound marketing, sales, and customer service. The platform’s ease of use and minimal IT requirements make it ideal for companies with limited technical resources but who need effective tools to manage customer relationships and grow their business.

Expanding Reach:


  • Scaling into Enterprise: Recent years have seen HubSpot expand its offerings to attract larger businesses. The introduction of more sophisticated features like advanced automation, better customization, enhanced analytics, and larger user capacity within its Professional and Enterprise plans reflects this shift. HubSpot is increasingly seen as a viable alternative to more complex systems like Salesforce, particularly for enterprises prioritizing ease of use and integrated marketing capabilities.

Typical Salesforce Customer


Core Audience:


  • Large Enterprises: Salesforce is known for its powerful and highly customizable platform, capable of handling complex business processes across various departments and industries. Its extensive ecosystem of applications through the AppExchange and advanced features supported by AI with Salesforce Einstein make it particularly attractive to large organizations with diverse and global needs.

  • Salesforce offers tailored solutions for industries as well, with pre-configured packages for manufacturing, healthcare, finance and more, making it popular with large enterprises in these industries. Salesforce is also extremely popular with companies that operate on the subscription model, due to its ability to handle subscription pricing and billing through Salesforce CPQ and/or other third party tools available on the AppExchange. 

Broadening Horizons:


  • Appealing to Smaller Businesses: With the introduction of its Essentials plan, Salesforce has made an effort to simplify its offering and reduce the entry price to cater to small businesses and startups. This plan includes basic CRM functionalities needed by smaller teams, allowing Salesforce to tap into the earlier stages of a business’s growth trajectory.

Summary


In conclusion, Salesforce and HubSpot each offer distinct advantages tailored to different business needs within the CRM landscape. 


Salesforce is ideal for larger enterprises requiring extensive customization, advanced analytics, and robust integration capabilities. Its comprehensive features support complex business processes and are best managed by dedicated professionals. 


Conversely, HubSpot serves small to medium-sized businesses with an intuitive platform that simplifies CRM processes and reduces the need for extensive technical support. It offers a free entry-level plan suitable for startups and smaller companies, making it accessible and scalable for growing businesses. 


While Salesforce is equipped to handle large-scale operations with its detailed and customizable system, HubSpot is expanding its capabilities, increasingly catering to larger businesses that prioritize ease of use and efficient marketing integration.


Now that you know the differences between the two market-leading CRM solutions, you can decide which one, if either, are right for you. Depending on your needs, budget and timeline, there may be a clear choice between the two for your organization, or you may need to continue your research before deciding. 


Whichever you choose, both solutions can provide efficiency and growth to organizations, and Think RevOps is poised to help you deliver this to your business. Contact us to learn more about how our implementation and fractional RevOps services can help you achieve your revenue goals today. 

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