Two CRM platforms easily stand above the rest: Salesforce and HubSpot.
Salesforce is arguably the first robust cloud-based CRM, and the one that created the template for other CRMs to follow.
HubSpot, hot on its tails, became one of the most widely recognized suites of tools, including its CRM and marketing automation software.
So here’s the question:
In the battle between Salesforce vs HubSpot, which CRM is better?
We’re going to consider each side-by-side across the most important categories.
Let’s jump right in!
Table of Contents
- Overall Features
- Sales and Marketing Automation
- Integrations and plugins
- Metrics and Analytics
- Email Integrations and Tracking
- User Reviews
- The Bottom Line
It’s difficult to compare HubSpot and Salesforce apples to apples, since each platform is so distinct in terms of what it can do.
Each platform also has a range of different tiers of service, from absolute basics to unlimited packages. And to make matters even more complicated, both platforms support integrations and modifications that allow you to customize your CRM experience.
Salesforce is arguably more robust, offering everything you need – and probably a lot of features you won’t ever use. It’s also much more customizable, though you’ll need some in-house developers or a big budget if you want to take full advantage of this.
By contrast, HubSpot is well-known as being incredibly intuitive and user-friendly. It has tons of features for customer tracking, and if you expand to use HubSpot’s full suite of tools, you’ll get access to sales automation, marketing automation, business analytics, and more.
It’s a full CRM in every sense of the word, and it’s easier to get started with, but it doesn’t have as much customization potential.
In terms of popularity, Salesforce is pretty far out in front. They’re the most widely recognized name in CRM software and they have 19.5 percent of the market share. They also tend to be the top name in “best CRM software” pieces from a variety of publishers.
Winner: Hubspot for beginners, Salesforce for experts who need lots of customization
If you’re just starting out or if you want something intuitive, HubSpot will give you a better user experience and everything you need. But if you want more features or if you’re interested in customizing your own experience, Salesforce is superior.
Okay, so how much does Salesforce cost? And how much does HubSpot cost?
Salesforce has several different packages to choose from, from Essentials to Unlimited, each with a different assortment of features.
For the most basic packages, you’ll pay $25 per user per month, with the most advanced package being $300 per user per month, all billed annually.
(Image Source: Salesforce)
HubSpot also has several paid packages.
The pricing for these varies depending on how many users you have and whether you’re paying monthly or annually. The basic package starts at $45 per month, and $23/mo for each additional user, with enterprise packages starting at $1,200 per month, and $120/mo for each additional user.
(Image Source: HubSpot)
Sales and Marketing Automation
With automation, you can do more and scale further, while reducing your costs and improving efficiency.
Both Salesforce and HubSpot offer automation tools.
For Salesforce, the defining automation tool is Einstein, which functions as a smart assistant that helps you do things like score leads, forecast revenue, and make recommendations for how to improve your outreach. It even functions as a chatbot, helping you serve customers without involving team members.
(Image Source: Salesforce)
HubSpot doesn’t have a branded personal assistant, but it does have dozens of automation tools designed to help you keep your business selling.
You can automate prospect and customer follow-up, automate marketing and sales email campaigns, and even design automated workflows for your team.
(Image Source: HubSpot)
Since both of these platforms have robust automation features, we’ll call it a tie.
Integrations and plugins
While both HubSpot and Salesforce are comprehensive tools, both were built with integrations in mind.
In the world of HubSpot, there are many different tools in the HubSpot ecosystem – and they’re all designed to work well together. If you’re using HubSpot’s marketing suite, for example, you can easily transfer data to and from your CRM.
Salesforce is almost constantly expanding its product offerings, acquiring startups and promising companies to offer customers more dynamic experiences. However, sometimes, these additional features can be clunky and hard to use.
Salesforce also has its “appexchange” marketplace where you can find thousands of plugins meant to expand its features and functionality. But as with many other categories in this guide, Salesforce offers more robust potential at the cost of a steeper learning curve.
Winner: Hubspot for ease of use, Salesforce for experts & customization
Let’s take a brief look at scalability.
With both HubSpot and Salesforce, you can upgrade or downgrade your account at any time, giving you instant access to a different package.
At the lower end of the scaling spectrum, HubSpot has a lot of appeal. You can get started with many of their tools for free – and continue using the free package as long as it continues working for you. It’s also much less expensive, making it affordable for most businesses.
At the higher end, Salesforce is tough to beat. You can start using it with a 14-day free trial, but after that, you’ll need to start paying.
From there, Salesforce’s many integrations and top-to-bottom customizability mean that the platform can evolve in any way you see fit, regardless of how your business evolves.
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With Salesforce, you’ll get a basic support package, no matter how much you’re paying. You can email customer support and expect an answer within a couple of days. If you want more responsive support, like 24/7 service, you’ll need to pay extra for it.
With HubSpot, your primary source of support will be its in-depth knowledge base and HubSpot Academy. That said, if you’re a paying HubSpot customer, you’ll get 24/7 phone support and live chat.
Overall, HubSpot offers you more support for less money. But if you’re willing to pay for it, Salesforce can offer a similar level of service.
Metrics and Analytics
Salesforce is an absolute powerhouse in terms of reporting and analytics. It offers real-time reporting, automatically generated reports, and all the tools you need to fully customize your experience.
It’s a bit intimidating at first, but once you learn the ropes, you can generate reports on almost anything within the system. Most Salesforce users rely on real-time dashboards built into the system for their reporting and analytic needs.
HubSpot’s reporting and analytics features aren’t nearly as customizable. In general, they aren’t as robust, either.
But HubSpot does have one advantage over Salesforce here: it’s easier to get started. HubSpot is a highly intuitive platform that doesn’t require much training or past experience, so it’s reporting features are much more approachable.
In terms of total power and full potential, Salesforce is the winner, but HubSpot has some advantages too – and it’s not totally lacking in this department.
Winner: Tie: Salesforce’s analytics have more potential, but Hubspot’s analytics are more accessible.
Email Integrations and Tracking
Is there a Salesforce Gmail integration? Or a Salesforce Outlook integration? Can HubSpot track your salespeople’s email activity?
The short answer is yes – but you’re not going to get all the in-depth metrics you might want.
With Salesforce, you can use Outlook and Gmail integrations to get access to some unique features.
Take a look:
(Image Source: Salesforce)
You can do a lot by integrating with Gmail or Outlook. You can log emails to your CRM records, schedule emails, report on activities, and even know when your recipients open emails.
However, you won’t get a detailed breakdown of each sales rep’s individual email activity the way you can with other tools.
HubSpot doesn’t have email-related features built into its CRM, but you can use email integrations as part of HubSpot’s Sales Hub.
Like with Salesforce, this integration makes it easy to create emails using data already stored in HubSpot’s CRM – and automatically store information from emails into your CRM records.
(Image Source: HubSpot)
You’ll also get some access to tracking data, enabling you to determine when a prospect receives an email, when (or if) they open your attachments, and more.
However, like with Salesforce, there’s no comprehensive analytic breakdown of email activity per sales rep – making it difficult to analyze individual performance in some ways.
We’ve delved into some of the technical components of each of these platforms, but what do the actual users think?
And if you look at consumer reviews on popular platforms, you’ll find these CRMs are rated similarly:
(Image Source: Capterra)
HubSpot has a slight edge in terms of average rating, but Salesforce has far more total reviews.
The Bottom Line
So, Salesforce vs HubSpot; which is the better CRM?
HubSpot is a leaner, cheaper, more approachable CRM. It has all the basics you need and plenty of room for scalability – and since it’s easy to learn, it’s a perfect fit for new and small businesses set to grow.
Salesforce, by contrast, is an absolute powerhouse. Its core features, reporting and analytics, and customization potential are hard to beat. If you don’t mind paying a lot of money and going through the proper training, Salesforce is going to provide more options and opportunities.
So, in the matchup of Hubspot vs. Salesforce, I’m declaring it a tie, with the winner dependent on the user’s needs.
Winner: Tie. Hubspot is better for SMBs who need a simple CRM; Salesforce for experts who need advanced customization options.
CRMs are awesome tools. There’s no doubt about it.
But unfortunately, they still don’t provide all the features that your sales and marketing teams need to be successful.
For example, neither Salesforce nor HubSpot has a comprehensive, built-in way to easily track email activity by representative, and critical KPIs like email response time.
For that, you’ll need a tool like EmailAnalytics.
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Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.