The Best Salesforce Alternatives: 8 CRMs to Help You Close More Deals
Salesforce is the de facto king of customer relationship management (CRM).
But it’s not the only CRM software on the market. In fact, it might not even be the best CRM on the market. Since you're reading this article, you probably agree.
The truth is, Salesforce is a powerful platform for enterprise organizations. Corporations with large sales departments and deep pockets are well-positioned to take advantage of the Salesforce features suite. But what about the rest of us—the ones who work for smaller, leaner teams? Our reps need a Salesforce alternative. Don't worry, I've got them for you!
Keep reading to learn why Salesforce is the wrong choice for certain companies, and which tools you should use instead to supercharge your company's sales process.
(In case you're wondering, "Who's this guy? Should I really trust his opinion on CRM software?" know that I've been writing about CRMs for years. As such, I know the ins and outs of each tool reviewed in this article. You're in good hands, my friend!)
Why Salesforce Might Not Be the Right CRM for You
Salesforce is a wildly popular CRM platform. But it's not the best option for every sales team. Actually, I'd contend that it's the wrong option for most sales teams. Here's why:
Salesforce Is… A Lot
Salesforce is jam-packed with features. "This is amazing!" you say. "I'll be able to do every sales-related task I've ever dreamed about." I beg to differ…
The onslaught of features in Salesforce may actually limit your growth. You'll have so many options, you won't know which ones to use or how to use them effectively.
And we haven't even talked about the time you'll need to spend on customization. Yes, Salesforce can do a lot of things, but it can't do them all out of the box. You'll have to finagle the tool and integrate it with other apps to turn it into a deal-making machine.
I'm not saying Salesforce is a bad CRM. I'm saying it's the wrong CRM for many companies—especially those in the startup phase. The incredible amount of features that Salesforce includes is one of the main reasons why.
When you purchase a CRM, make sure your team has a current use case for most of its capabilities. If it doesn't, the CRM will likely bog you down and prevent you from closing deals.
Salesforce Is Tricky to Use
Salesforce will give you access to contact management, lead generation, and automation features. But that doesn't mean these features are easy to use.
How do I know this? Studies show that Salesforce takes an average of three to four weeks to implement—much longer in some situations. CRMs like Close, on the other hand, take about two hours. This is important because every second your sales team spends not selling is a waste.
I'll be honest, Salesforce isn't as intuitive as other CRM systems. If you don't need all of the functionality Salesforce gives you, consider streamlining your workflow with a different tool.
Salesforce Can Be Expensive
Let's talk about pricing…
Salesforce Sales Cloud will cost you between $25 and $300 per user, per month. So, if you have 10 people on your sales team, and want access to all of Sales Cloud's top features, plan to spend $36,000 a year on your CRM. Is that sustainable for your organization?
Remember, that $36,000 a year doesn't include any of the marketing or customer service tools that other providers offer. It doesn't include the add-ons either, which will cost you an additional $25 to $30,000 a month, depending on functionality. Ouch!
As you can see, Salesforce isn't the most affordable CRM software on the market. Most startups and small businesses will probably need to invest in a more cost-effective option.
Salesforce Wasn't Made for You
If you sell for a small to medium-sized business, Salesforce probably isn't the best option for you. Why? We've already talked about a bunch of reasons: it offers more functionality than you need, it can be difficult to use, and there are definitely cheaper options on the market.
Fortunately, there are other CRM solutions that were designed with your specific needs in mind. I'll review a few of them in the next section. Let's take a look!
8 Best Salesforce Alternatives
There are a ton of Salesforce competitors out there. Which one is right for your sales organization? Here are the top eight CRM systems to check out:
1. Close: A CRM for Sales Teams, By Sales Teams
Close was designed to help sales teams close more deals in less time. To make sure this happens, Close is equipped with all of the features modern sellers need—lead management, power and predictive dialers, an email marketing suite, detailed reporting dashboards, etc. If you're looking for a reliable way to streamline sales processes, look no further.
Why Choose Close Over Salesforce?
- Close is really easy to use. I'm not joking. Most customers—myself included—are up and running with our sales CRM in less than two hours, thanks to Close's intuitive interface and drag-and-drop functionality. Steep learning curves? Never heard of 'em.
- Just because Close is user-friendly doesn't mean it lacks power. Use our power and predictive dialers to double your outbound calling efforts. Automate multichannel sales sequences to reach prospects at ideal times. Generate customizable reports based on the metrics you care about. And integrate your Close account with all of the other tools you already use, including Gmail, Zoom, Calendly, Slack, and Zapier.
- I should also mention the Close customer support team, which is ranked in the top one percent of all SaaS companies. Have a question about Close? Reach out, and we'll answer you ASAP. Salesforce customers have to pay extra fees for access to support reps.
- Finally, Close is just way more affordable than Salesforce. We'll talk about this more in a minute. But for now, know that most startups can excel with our aptly named "Startup" plan, which starts at $99 a month. And you won't have to pay for any add-ons to make the system work either. Or fork out fat wads of cash to hire an implementation pro, like you'll have to do if you go the Salesforce route.
A Few Things to Look out For:
- As mentioned above, Close was designed for sales teams. If you need a tool that your marketing and customer support teams can use, too, Salesforce (or one of the other Salesforce alternatives I review below) might be a better fit for your company.
- On a related note, Close isn't a one-stop-shop kind of tool. If you want to generate proposals, store documents, or manage inventory, you'll need to integrate Close with a third-party tool. Neither was our CRM built for outside sales teams.
How Much Does Close Cost? Close offers three different plans. The "Startup" plan costs $99 a month, billed annually, and can be used by up to three people. The "Professional" plan costs $299 a month, billed annually, and can also be used by up to three people. And the "Enterprise" plan costs $699 a month, billed annually, and can be used by up to five people. The more you pay, the higher-level features you'll have access to. Go here for more details.
Of course, you don't have to just pay for Close and hope you like it. Start your free 14-day trial to explore every feature in detail. Then decide if it's the right Salesforce alternative for you.
2. Pipedrive: A CRM for Tech-Averse Sales Teams
Pipedrive is another popular CRM—especially for small, tech-averse sales teams. Why do I say that? Because Pipedrive is both affordable and easy to use. This Salesforce alternative gives you access to visual pipelines, email marketing tools, and an AI sales assistant.
Why Choose Pipedrive Over Salesforce?
- Pipedrive is way easier to use than Salesforce. This has a lot to do with the CRM solution's visual pipelines, which are its defining feature. See your pipelines in real-time, then move deals around with the drag-and-drop user interface.
- Pipedrive is also known for its email features. Tap into subscriber segmentation tools, then choose from a variety of email templates to send each group. You can build multiple autoresponders and optimize each using the built-in analytics.
- Pipedrive includes an AI-powered sales mentor, which can help your sales team make better decisions and boost revenue. Salesforce offers AI, too, but users have to pay extra for it, which decreases affordability. Since we're on the topic of pricing…
- Why else should you subscribe to Pipedrive instead of Salesforce? Because you won't have to take out a second mortgage on your home to do it. More on this below.
A Few Things to Look out For:
- I found the Pipedrive tool easy to use; unfortunately, integrating it with other tools isn't. Many customers complain about how difficult Pipedrive makes the integration process.
- Pipedrive isn't the quickest tool on the CRM playground. If you want to access your CRM and make sales fast, you might be better off with a different tool.
- I should also mention Pipedrive's scalability problem. It's great for small teams, but if you have grand plans to grow your company, consider a different CRM.
How Much Does Pipedrive Cost? Pipedrive offers four different plans, ranging from $14.90 to $99 a month, per user, billed annually. As you would expect, higher-priced plans include higher-level features. I should also mention the Pipedrive add-ons, which give users additional capabilities related to lead gen, web analytics, etc., for $6.70 to $49 a month.
3. Zoho CRM: A CRM for Powerful Automation
Source: Zoho CRM
Next up, Zoho CRM. Use this customizable tool to store contact information, automate sales processes, dig deep into department analytics, and a whole lot more.
Why Choose Zoho CRM Over Salesforce?
- Zoho CRM is pretty affordable—way more affordable than Salesforce. I'm getting ahead of myself, though. We'll drive deeper into the cost of Zoho CRM soon.
- Want to purchase a CRM system that you can customize and make your own? Zoho CRM might be a good fit. You'll be able to change page layouts to suit your needs, add special fields to customer records, and select filters to see specific information.
- We can't talk about Zoho CRM without mentioning the platform's automation capabilities. You'll be able to easily segment customer data, then personalize your marketing campaigns to each lead in your sales pipeline. You'll also be able to schedule email marketing sequences to follow up with prospects at specific times.
- Zoho CRM also gets high marks for its analytics dashboards. Choose from 40 pre-built reports, or create your own custom reports—using only the metrics you care about. Zoho's AI tools make it possible to predict future results, too, not just look at past performance. Use real-time data to simplify your forecasting processes.
- As part of the Zoho software suite, Zoho CRM integrates with a ton of other tools, which companies can use to promote their brands, manage their projects, handle support tickets, and even oversee their Finances and HR departments.
A Few Things to Look out For:
- Zoho CRM includes email marketing tools. Unfortunately, the platform won't let you track individual messages, which makes it a less useful feature than it could be.
- Zoho CRM does more than most small and medium size businesses need. This isn't necessarily bad, but it does mean that sales teams will have to wade through a bunch of irrelevant tools to access the deal-boosting features they need to use every day.
How Much Does Zoho CRM Cost? Zoho CRM offers four different plans ranging from $14 and $52 a month, billed annually. If you'd like access to social media marketing, customer service, project management, and business intelligence tools, plan to spend $57 a month, billed annually.
4. HubSpot: A CRM for Large Businesses
HubSpot is one of the biggest names in business software. Its tools are widely used by sales, marketing, and customer support teams to streamline tasks and boost productivity. The question is, can HubSpot replace Salesforce as your company's primary CRM? Let's see…
Why Choose HubSpot CRM Over Salesforce?
- The HubSpot CRM will cost you $0 a month for unlimited users. That's right, sign up for the free plan, and you won't spend a dime on a CRM solution for your company. (Just know that, in my experience, the free version of HubSpot is limited. You can't track sales calls, automate sales workflows, generate quotes, accept payments, etc.)
- HubSpot makes it easy to store contact information, schedule appointments, send emails, track deals, and generate sales reports. Upper-level tools will even let you build entire marketing campaigns and access sales automation tools.
- If you're looking for a single platform to manage your company's sales, marketing, and customer service department, HubSpot is a strong option–but you’ll have to pay for it.
- There's one more thing you should know about HubSpot: it offers iOS and Android mobile apps to its customers. Want to check your sales pipeline while you walk the dog? How about when you're in line at Chipotle? HubSpot will let you do it.
A Few Things to Look out For:
- The HubSpot CRM is free, but it isn't super powerful. To access all of the sales and marketing goodness HubSpot has to offer, you'll have to pay a hefty monthly sum.
- HubSpot isn't super customizable either. Looking for an app that you can totally make your own? HubSpot probably isn't the right fit for your team.
How Much Does HubSpot CRM Cost? HubSpot's CRM is free, but serious sales teams will probably need more than the free version. When you're ready to upgrade, plan to spend at least $500 a month to access the Sales Hub and $890 a month to access the Marketing Hub. Prices like these make HubSpot a good option for most large businesses, but not many startups.
5. Zendesk Sell: A CRM for Support Team Alignment
Most customer success teams are familiar with Zendesk's popular help desk software. But did you know they offer a quality CRM, too? It's true. Zendesk Sell was made to "maximize productivity, maintain pipeline visibility, and grow revenue." This, plus the fact that it integrates perfectly with Zendesk's original customer service offering, makes this CRM system a solid option—especially for companies that need to align their sales and success teams.
Why Choose Zendesk Sell Over Salesforce?
- Zendesk Sell is known as a user-friendly application. You won't have to devote multiple weeks to the onboarding process. I was able to get up and running pretty quickly.
- Manage all of your company's sales and success activities in one place. Use Zendesk Sell for lead generation, workflow automation, and sales management purposes. Then pair it with Zendesk to handle support tickets from your existing customers.
- What about sales outreach? Zendesk Sell can help in this regard, too. Record sales calls to reference at a later date. Build and send automated email campaigns. And jump in on the burgeoning SMS craze with text messaging functionality.
- At the risk of sounding repetitive, Zendesk Sell is also much more affordable than Salesforce. We'll discuss this in more detail in the pricing section below.
A Few Things to Look out For:
- Unfortunately, task automation and lead scoring features are only available in Zendesk Sell's highest-priced plan. Those are pretty important CRM features, so if you're on an uber-tight budget, consider a different tool.
- There's also some negativity around Zendesk Sell's ability to generate reports. The platform should allow users to access pre-built and/or custom analytics dashboards, as well as forecast future results. But doing so isn't as intuitive as it should be.
How Much Does Zendesk Sell Cost? Zendesk Sell will cost your sales team between $19 and $99 a month, billed annually. Not bad! Just remember, some of the more desirable features are only available in the top-tier plan, which is a little bit disappointing.
6. Freshsales: A CRM for Budget-Conscious Companies
Freshsales, part of the Freshworks product suite, is another Salesforce alternative worth checking out. This is especially true if you work for a cash-strapped company, as Freshsales is one of the most affordable solutions on this list.
Why Choose Freshsales Over Salesforce?
- One of the best things about Freshsales is that it doesn't take a degree in rocket science to operate effectively. After trying out the interface, I think just about anyone can use it.
- The Freshsales platform is also infused with automation. I was able to streamline a variety of tasks, including sending emails, data entry, and email marketing.
- To make sales, you have to contact leads, which Freshsales will enable you to do. Use this CRM software to make and record calls, send email and SMS campaigns, and converse with prospects via website or WhatsApp chat. Basically, Freshsales lets you reach prospects where they are, which helps shorten sales cycles.
- Sell for an e-commerce company? Then you'll be happy to know that Freshsales has a product catalog feature that can be used to track inventory, offer discounts, and more.
A Few Things to Look out For:
- Freshsales is a solid app for sales teams. If you're looking for a plethora of marketing tools, though, choose a different CRM. This isn't where Freshsales shines.
- Sadly, Freshsales doesn't offer as many integrations as other CRM solutions, including Salesforce. So, you may have to adjust your sales workflows to use it.
- I have to ding Freshsales for its customer support options, too. If you happen to experience a problem, you'll only be able to contact them on weekdays. But what if you can only meet with a high-profile prospect on Saturday? And what if your CRM chooses that exact moment to take a dump? You'll be fresh out of luck, my friend.
How Much Does Freshsales Cost? If you're in love with Freshsales features, you're about to fall head over heels for this CRM solution. Why? Because it's dirt cheap. Like, McDonalds-for -a-first-date kind of cheap.
Plans range from $15 to $69 a month, per user. Note: Freshsales does offer add-ons for an additional fee, but they won't break the bank either.
7. Monday.com CRM: A CRM for Better Team Collaboration
Monday.com is a robust tool that offers tons of work management features. One such feature is the Monday.com CRM, which can be used to communicate with leads, track pipelines, and more.
Why Choose Monday.com CRM Over Salesforce?
- Monday.com offers a free-forever plan. It's pretty limited, so you'll probably need to upgrade soon. But any time a company gives me free stuff, I'm pumped.
- Monday.com is also customizable. I was able to edit deal stages, create new fields, build personal dashboards, and otherwise manage sales data the way I wanted to.
- When it comes to email marketing, Monday.com has a lot to offer as well. Sync this CRM platform with your Gmail or Outlook account, choose from a variety of email templates, and automatically track the success of your sales communications.
- Ya dig Kanban boards? Then you might dig the Monday.com CRM, too. Easily track all of your sales workflows, then automate them to boost team productivity. Honestly, this might be Monday.com's best feature. It really excels at project management.
- Speaking of Kanban boards, this feature makes it really easy for sales reps to collaborate together. If you view sales as a team sport, this is a cool offering.
A Few Things to Look out For:
- The Monday.com CRM includes automations, which is great. Unfortunately, said automations are a bit of a pain to set up, which is less than great.
- I'm a big fan of the advanced sales reports that Monday.com offers. I just wish they were available on lower-tier plans. As of this writing, "Basic" and "Standard" plans barely include any reporting features. Even the "Pro" plan is a bit lackluster in this regard. For the full analytics shebang, you'll need to subscribe to the "Enterprise" plan.
How Much Does Monday.com CRM Cost? Once you grow beyond the free plan, you'll pay between $30 and $72 a month for access to the "Basic," "Standard," and "Pro" plans. These prices include up to three users. Need more seats? Just pay a bit more. The "Enterprise" plan is Monday.com's most feature-rich package. Contact the company's sales team for pricing.
8. Microsoft Dynamics 365: A CRM for Salesforce-Like Functionality (Or Auctioneers—Seriously, That Name is a Mouthful…)
Source: Microsoft Dynamics 365
Out of all the CRM tools I've tried, Microsoft Dynamics 365 is the most like Salesforce. It's another enterprise-level tool that can do all of the things the Salesforce CRM can. If that sounds like your cup of tea, then keep reading to learn about a few stellar features..
Why Choose Microsoft Dynamics 365 Over Salesforce?
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 includes many of the same features as Salesforce. You'll have access to lead generation, pipeline management, and marketing automation features, as well as tools to help with sales reporting and customer loyalty-related activities.
- Dynamics has its own AI, too, which is similar to Salesforce's Einstein AI offering. Uncover customer insights, automate tasks, send emails on autopilot, and more.
- The biggest difference between Dynamics and Salesforce is the former's ability to seamlessly integrate with Microsoft products. If your sales team uses Excel, Outlook, Skype, etc. this will come in handy. I should also mention that Dynamics can be deployed as an on-premise solution, rather than just a cloud-based one.
A Few Things to Look out For:
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 is composed of 11 different modules, which are designed to help users tackle sales, marketing, service, finance, and other tasks. In other words, it's a big platform that has a steep learning curve—just like Salesforce.
- Dynamics doesn't seem that expensive at first blush. But, just like Salesforce, the devil is in the details. To access the full power of this CRM software, you'll have to pay for a bunch of add-ons. And, let me tell you, they aren't what I would consider cheap.
How Much Does Microsoft Dynamics 365 Cost? Plan to pay at least $65 a month, per user. But if you want to use all of the features inside the Dynamics platform, you'll need to spend a whole lot more. Like, hundreds of dollars more, every single month.
Give Your Sales Team a Boost with a Salesforce CRM Alternative
The right CRM tool will help your sales team connect with more prospects, close more deals, and elevate the customer experience. You just have to figure out what the right CRM tool is.
For small to medium size businesses, the answer probably isn't Salesforce. Fortunately, there are a bunch of other options available to you. To choose between them, decide which features you need and what your budget is. Then select a tool that accommodates both criteria.
Still can't decide? I'll make it easy for you: go with Close.
Our platform has all the CRM features you need to supercharge your sales pipeline.
Start your free 14-day trial today to experience the power of Close for yourself!