CRM Showdown: Salesforce or HubSpot?
The battle begins? not really!
Often, people Google this and end up getting more confused after receiving typical one-sentence advice that Salesforce is recommended for medium/large-scale businesses with heavy operations, while others can stick to HubSpot. While this makes sense from a cost standpoint in the beginning, it often doesn't tell you a lot about how it will impact your business in the long run and whether it's the right fit for you. I recommend going through this blog before diving into comparing the features of these platforms one by one.
Cost: HubSpot is cost-effective to onboard. If you are under budget constraints and HubSpot offers the features your business requires within your budget, it's a good option to consider. On the other hand, Salesforce comes with a higher user license cost compared to HubSpot.
User Interface: HubSpot looks like a typical web portal, similar to many other well-designed websites, making it easy for new users to enter and adopt. On the other hand, Salesforce has a learning curve, especially around its own design system. Users often find it overwhelming at first glance.
User Experience: In my opinion, Salesforce provides one of the best platform user experiences on the planet built on top of their own design system, which they call the Lightning Design System. This system is continuously evolving based on feedback and suggestions. Admittedly, it can be challenging to learn initially, but with proper training, it opens doors to heavy customisations and integrations with ease. The design language allows users to pick things where they left, explore new features, and feel confident once they become familiar with it. Instead of focusing solely on immediate adoption, Salesforce emphasises the long-term productivity of businesses and promotes a data-driven culture.
Customisations: The HubSpot package lacks some critical features like Automation flexibility, Field Layout options, and Lightning Page options for internal productivity, especially when compared to Salesforce offerings (specifically Enterprise and Up editions). On the other hand, Salesforce provides excellent capabilities for integrations and creating custom components with the help of its coding frameworks. When it comes to customisation, Salesforce is a super flexible and robust platform with a wide community of experts who can assist you at various levels and costs. However, the cost will always be higher than HubSpot due to the more technical work involved and the expertise required.
Business Critical Features: One problem with Salesforce is that if a business-critical feature, there is a high chance that the feature is offered as an add-on. On the other hand, important features may come bundled with HubSpot offerings, such as the Calling feature. It's important to note that these offerings may vary over time, so careful comparison is necessary, as they can add significant costs on top of your user license expenses in the near future, especially if you plan to stick with a cost effective solution for an extended period (e.g., more than 3 years). Additionally, comparing usage limits for add-ons in both cases is essential, wherever applicable.
Licenses: Salesforce provides add-on licenses that enable access to specific features, in addition to user licenses for their core product offerings tailored to particular business operations (e.g., Marketing Cloud). This means multiple users with different licenses can co-exist in the same Salesforce account instance. On the other hand, HubSpot doesn't use an add-ons approach; instead, they offer simplified product offerings like Marketing, Sales, and Service, each with its own tiered pricing structure based on the set of features included. Both approaches have their own Pros and Cons, which can fluctuate depending on the business type and the stage of the business's journey.
Reporting and Dashboards: Salesforce offers a superior reporting and dashboard experience compared to HubSpot in terms of analytics. However, I don't consider this a blocker for using HubSpot, especially in a budget scenario, unless utilising advanced reporting capabilities like Einstein or Tableau CRM in Salesforce is a critical business function.
Data Compliance: Have a clear understanding of the scale and sensitivity of your data, as well as any related compliance needs such as HIPAA for healthcare, and ensure that you never overlook the significance of this aspect. Data security and compliance should always be the #1 priority during the tech implementation process for any business.
Apart from these, there are many other aspects that can be explored in depth, and it's important not to forget that there are other upcoming CRMs in the market, some of which are industry-specific. In my general opinion, I would never recommend anyone to go bankrupt for onboarding a good tool. Instead, I would suggest using tools that align with your budget, business compliance, needs, and scale. Continuously improve and advance these tools as your business grows and evolves to stay competitive.
If, despite knowing everything, you are still overthinking, I recommend starting small with what matters the most and gradually progressing.