HubSpot vs. Salesforce: Which is right for you?

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HubSpot or Salesforce will be at the top of all sorts of best apps lists—for CRMs, marketing automation, sales analytics, and more. And there are reasons for that. Both come with full CRMs, marketing and sales analytics, and advanced features designed to help you sell more, develop and track pipelines, and forecast future sales—all while delivering the best customer service possible.

Sounds like a dream, but which one should you choose? After using both tools across many different projects, I’m going to help you weigh your options. So let’s get into it and explore the core differences between Salesforce and HubSpot.

Salesforce vs. HubSpot at a glance

HubSpot is best known as an inbound marketing tool, while Salesforce is known as sales automation software, but they both offer a really similar set of features:

  • CRM

  • Sales forecasting and analytics

  • Customer service features

  • Contact scoring

  • VoIP

  • Marketing features

I’ll walk through some of the core differences between HubSpot and Salesforce in-depth in the coming sections, but here’s a quick glance at their core differences.

HubSpot Salesforce
Sales reporting & forecasting ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Advanced sales reporting and forecasting, but requires an upgraded paid plan ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Highly advanced sales reporting and forecasting, available in baseline plans
Marketing features ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Extensive marketing features available with the free and Starter plans ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Extensive marketing features, purchased individually at per-month costs
Ease of use ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Strong onboarding with step-by-step guidance; more integrated dashboard and navigation ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Strong onboarding with a demo-like account; more structured setup
Customization ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Customizable workflows and automation, but no coding access ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Highly customizable (including coding capabilities)
Pricing ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Extensive free plan, including a free CRM and baseline features; plans include specific product bundles; increase the number of users or marketing contacts per month with a flat-fee raise ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Charges per user per month; many features come as standalone apps accessible by purchase; costs range from $4/month to tens of thousands per month, depending on variables

Ultimately, the biggest differences come down to pricing, user interface, and which specific features are slightly more advanced or more accessible to your organization. It’s truly a neck-and-neck race, here.

Salesforce’s sales reporting and forecasting are more advanced

Salesforce’s CRM and reporting are more advanced than HubSpot’s. It’s hard to argue anything else.

Massive corporations can—and do—benefit from either tool, but many prefer Salesforce because of these more advanced reporting capabilities. The Salesforce dashboard shows you your entire pipeline at a glance, as well as your estimated potential revenue amount and source based on past and current data.

Salesforce dashboard example

You can even get a solid look at exactly how many sales are in the pipeline, their estimated value, and the value of the sales that ultimately didn’t convert.

When assessing current leads, you can set the anticipated close date, the stage of the funnel that they’re in (and their history), the amount that you plan on closing on, and the probability of closing.

Salesforce opportunities view

When combined with a well-trained sales team, Salesforce’s contact scoring tools (which look at different customer fit criteria to assess a lead’s quality) are known to be pretty accurate when estimating the probability of conversion.

In Salesforce, forecasting features come with their baseline plan ($25/user/month). But in order to access sales forecasting features for HubSpot—which are robust but still less granular than Salesforce’s—you need to upgrade to their Professional plan (which starts at $450/month, no matter how many users you have). The features are also a little more user-friendly in Salesforce, with easier-to-understand graphics and breakdowns.

HubSpot has more well-rounded marketing features for more plans

For brands who want an all-in-one sales and marketing tool, HubSpot’s plans have more well-rounded marketing features that get the job done. And, unlike in Salesforce, these features come in product bundles instead of as individually-purchased, standalone tools.

For example, HubSpot offers pay-per-click (PPC) ad management that allows accounts to create and manage PPC ads from within HubSpot. Creating ad campaigns in the same tool as your CRM is the convenience a lot of businesses are looking for, especially when they’re starting out.

Other examples of HubSpot’s marketing features:

  • Page optimization suggestions

  • Email and page templates

  • Marketing automation features based on triggered actions

  • The ability to manage and publish to social media accounts

  • Account-based marketing features

HubSpot landing page creator

To be clear, Salesforce’s marketing features are also quite extensive and include email automation, SMS messaging, social listening, blog page creation, and more. (Starting to see how competitive these two tools are?) But in Salesforce, these tools are purchased individually—as opposed to in bundles—with an average price of $1,000 per tool. This means most businesses will have to really pick and choose which tools they want, and Salesforce, overall, may prove unaffordable and inaccessible to businesses with tight budgets.

Both HubSpot and Salesforce provide great onboarding

Both platforms have great onboarding processes and walkthroughs. HubSpot holds your hand from the moment you log in, displaying what tasks you need to complete to get started; and Salesforce has a pop-up offering to walk you through the process.

Salesforce onboarding pop-up

I personally find HubSpot’s onboarding to be a little more intuitive and easier to navigate right off the bat. But this is partially because of how Salesforce’s tools and add-ons are divided up: you need to view individual apps one at a time, using the App Launcher to find the right tools. You may also not know exactly which features are available (with your current plan or for upgrade) until you go looking.

Salesforce App Launcher

HubSpot, on the other hand, has everything cleanly laid out. Each Hub has a dropdown menu that shows the core features. When you click, you’ll see which features are available now and which ones are available if you upgrade your plan (noted with the orange and white arrow icons you can see in the screenshot below).

HubSpot dropdowns for navigation

Whichever platform you choose, you’ll be able to get set up easily, but if adopting a new tool is a scary thought, HubSpot’s onboarding will put you at ease.

Salesforce is more customizable

Salesforce is the winner when it comes to customization. Not only can you add specific new features with standalone apps, allowing you to mix and match your additional tools, but you also have custom coding access to customize basically anything you want. This can have a huge impact when you’re trying to work with a tool at a massive scale.

While each HubSpot feature is pretty customizable, it doesn’t really hold a candle to Salesforce in this regard: you have to upgrade to a new plan to access new features, and there’s no coding access for customization.

Salesforce vs. HubSpot pricing: apples and oranges

The main difference—and honestly, main means of comparison—between HubSpot and Salesforce is their pricing structures. One pricing structure may fit into your business’s financial setup more easily than the other—and this might be your deciding factor.

HubSpot’s pricing structure

  • Free plan that includes a CRM, live chat, landing page creation, customer service ticketing, and more.

  • Tiered plans that increase the number of users and marketing contacts (with the option to add on more) and available features.

  • Paid plans start at $54/month for the Starter plan with all Hubs. (It increases to $1,600/month for the Professional plan and $5,000/month for the Enterprise plan.)

Salesforce’s pricing structure

  • No free plan or features. There is a free trial if you want to test it out.

  • Per-user fees. If you have fewer users, this is great.

  • Paid add-ons for specific high-level features, ranging from a $4/order B2B commerce tool to a loyalty program that costs $30,000/month.

  • Paid plans start at$25/user/month (that’s the small business plan that includes sales and support apps). Their next plan starts at $75/user/month.

Bottom line: you can have more users and contacts in HubSpot for a flat fee; you mostly need to upgrade for features. With Salesforce, you can pick and choose which features you want as you need them, but you’re paying per user.

HubSpot or Salesforce?

HubSpot and Salesforce are more similar than most people realize. If I had to sum it up in two bullet points:

  • Salesforce has an edge when it comes to advanced features and customization.

  • HubSpot has less of a learning curve and offers more well-rounded marketing and sales tools at an accessible price point (even free!).

But all the overlap means individual (or business) preferences go a long way in the decision-making process. Give HubSpot’s free account and Salesforce’s free trial a go to see which tool you and your team prefer using.

If you decide to use both tools—maybe HubSpot’s free tools for marketing and Salesforce for CRM and sales—you can set up a HubSpot Salesforce integration with Zapier, to do things like creating new Salesforce leads whenever someone submits a HubSpot form. Get started with these resources:

This post was originally published in March 2019 by David Harrington.

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