Salesforce vs. HubSpot: Understanding the Key Differences

As modern businesses rely heavily on customer relationship management (CRM) systems to centralize their operations and drive revenue growth, selecting the right software is critical. In fact, 92% of businesses credit their CRM platform with playing a vital role in achieving their income goals.

There are a lot of different CRM systems out there. But this article will focus on two of the most popular options: Salesforce and HubSpot. Both platforms offer all-in-one CRM solutions suitable for small and enterprise-scale companies. However, there are significant differences between these two in terms of features, functionality, and pricing. Understanding these differences is key to selecting the best CRM solution for your company's unique needs.

What Is a CRM Tool?

A CRM software platform is crucial for businesses seeking to bolster and optimize their client interactions. It collates and retains customer data, activity, and communications within a centralized database. This consolidation facilitates seamless management of customer interactions, enhanced outreach planning, meticulous performance analysis, and streamlined operations of sales, marketing processes, and customer service.

Its primary objective is to equip businesses with a comprehensive and holistic view of their customers, thereby enabling them to offer more personalized customer experiences. An ideal CRM system should provide an all-encompassing view of the customer database and bolster functionality and data sharing across teams. It should also be able to automate the lifecycle of the sales process.

CRM tools may be broadly categorized into operational, collaborative, analytical, and strategic, each with a specific focus and set of features.

Operational CRM Systems

Operational CRM systems are engineered to optimize critical aspects of the business, such as customer service, sales, and marketing functions, resulting in improved customer acquisition and retention rates. It also includes marketing automation capabilities that you can use to send targeted communications to specific customer segments across various channels, including email, text, and digital ads. This level of automation not only saves valuable resources and time but also leads to more effective marketing campaigns.

This type of CRM can also track customer touchpoints and automate follow-ups, ensuring leads are nurtured effectively throughout the sales cycle. This can help organizations stay in touch with customers and prospects and keep them engaged at every stage of the sales process.

In addition to marketing automation and lead nurturing, operational CRM can provide powerful customer service automation features. Think self-service options, live chat, automated email responses, and AI-powered chatbots—all designed to help businesses handle customer requests with maximum efficiency. With these cutting-edge tools at your disposal, you can build lasting relationships with your customers and keep them coming back for more.

Collaborative CRM Systems

Collaborative CRM systems are intricately designed to foster communication and teamwork between various departments in an organization, including sales, marketing, and customer service. The fundamental objective of these systems is to amplify the customer experience by providing a more comprehensive and holistic perspective of customer interactions and requirements.

This empowers distinct departments to exchange customer data, facilitating a more personalized customer experience. For instance, a salesperson can meticulously record details about a customer's preferences and needs, which the marketing team can leverage to create highly targeted campaigns.

Moreover, collaborative CRM grants customer service representatives unrestricted access to the customer's entire marketing, sales, and customer service history, which helps them expedite the resolution of issues and concerns. This level of integration and collaboration among different departments undoubtedly augments customer satisfaction and brings about customer loyalty.

Analytical CRM Systems

Analytical CRM is a powerful tool for capturing, storing, and analyzing customer data. Leveraging this technology lets you gain valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences, enabling you to refine your customer service, sales, and marketing strategies.

Analyzing data from previous marketing campaigns can reveal the most effective tactics to replicate in future campaigns. This helps generate performance reports that provide a wealth of information, including customer satisfaction scores and sales history, enabling you to identify areas where you excel and areas that require improvement.

Analytical CRM systems can benefit businesses of all sizes, but they are particularly valuable for those looking to improve their customer relationship management practices. Adopting an analytical CRM approach can help you make data-driven decisions that enhance your overall performance.

Strategic CRM Systems

Strategic CRM solutions help collect and analyze data on customer needs and preferences that you can use to gain a deeper understanding of your customer base. This enables you to tailor your marketing, sales, and customer service efforts to meet customers' evolving needs.

For businesses requiring long-term customer relationship management, such as IT companies that provide ongoing data management services, strategic CRM is particularly valuable. These systems help businesses identify potential customer issues before they become major problems that could negatively impact customer satisfaction and retention.

Salesforce Overview

Valued at over $180 billion, Salesforce remains one of the leading CRM systems that provides a comprehensive suite of software products to manage customer relationships, sales, marketing, customer service, and analytics.

One of the key advantages of Salesforce is its customizability. Organizations can tailor Salesforce to meet their unique needs, making it a highly flexible tool that can adapt to changing business requirements. Its suite of CRM products includes Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and Service Cloud, among others, providing a complete solution for businesses of all sizes.

Over the years, Salesforce has taken over a number of competitors and SaaS providers, procuring more than 200 products and expanding its suite of offerings. As a result, businesses can now exploit a diverse range of add-ons and integrations to augment the platform's functionality and amplify its capabilities beyond just CRM.

At the heart of Salesforce's CRM system lies a centralized hub for managing contacts and accounts. This feature allows businesses to record and track customer interactions. Whether it is phone calls, emails, or social media conversations, Salesforce's CRM system diligently captures this data, enabling businesses to determine trends, preferences, and behaviors that translate to targeted marketing campaigns and improved customer satisfaction.

Salesforce's impressive array of reporting and analytics tools enables you to monitor your sales pipelines, track lead generation, and set revenue goals, optimizing sales performance and streamlining overall business operations.

Moreover, Salesforce offers robust training programs and certification opportunities to help individuals who want to be an expert in this field. Its training team is active and quite competent, so you can rest assured that you will receive top-notch training and support. Make sure to take advantage of these resources, so you can improve your Salesforce proficiency and unlock the full potential of your CRM system.

Hubspot Overview

Hubspot, a leading software company, specializes in marketing, customer service, and sales applications, catering to companies of all sizes and stages of development. With an expansive global presence across over 120 countries and a user base of 150,000, Hubspot has established itself as an industry leader, serving distinguished clients like GE Appliances, Walmart, and the US Air Force.

The hallmark of Hubspot's offerings is its all-in-one CRM platform, which integrates Sales Hub, Marketing Hub, Service Hub, and CMS Hub. This multipronged approach facilitates seamless communication and alignment among internal teams, providing valuable insights that enable businesses to flourish. The platform's user-friendly interface is an added bonus, making it easy to use.

Like Salesforce, Hubspot also offers an academy that provides free online certifications and training courses in sales, customer service, and marketing. This ensures businesses maximize the platform's benefits and stay up to date with the latest industry trends. The Hubspot Community is also readily available to users, providing you with access to a network of industry professionals who can offer valuable insights and advice.

Ten Key Differences to Consider Between Salesforce and Hubspot

Salesforce and HubSpot are two peas in a pod. They offer many similar features, but businesses should consider several key differences when deciding which platform to use.

1. Ease of Use

Salesforce is known for being a powerful, feature-rich platform. However, this also makes it more complex and difficult to navigate, particularly for new CRM software users. The learning curve can seem steeper, but this isn't to say that it isn't user-friendly at all. It just requires a tad more work to master its tools.

Fortunately, it offers a comprehensive online training resource known as Trailhead. This platform delivers a gamified learning experience that guides users through various aspects of the Salesforce ecosystem. Trailhead allows you to learn at your own pace and offers various resources to help you develop expertise in Salesforce.

In contrast, HubSpot is crafted with simplicity in mind, making it an excellent option for businesses that are new to CRM platforms. With its intuitive and easy-to-navigate user interface, users can begin using it with minimal onboarding. As your business expands and your platform usage grows, HubSpot's classroom training can assist you in exploring more sophisticated features and functionalities. Additionally, the HubSpot Academy provides access to a wealth of resources to enhance your marketing and sales strategies, including webinars, tutorials, and guides.

2. Apps and Integrations

Salesforce is widely known for its impressive array of third-party integrations, which includes over 3,400 apps available on its AppExchange marketplace. The AppExchange is home to a variety of sponsored app integrations, featuring some of the most popular marketing tools like MailChimp and LinkedIn Sales Solutions, as well as basic Salesforce integrations for popular SaaS applications such as Slack, Quickbooks, and Jira. This allows users to consolidate their preferred tools onto a single platform, helping streamline sales and marketing operations.

HubSpot, on the other hand, has a more modest app marketplace with around 500 integrations available, which includes popular Google tools like Gmail and Google Calendar. Although it doesn't have as many apps as Salesforce, there are more than enough to enhance your experience while using the platform. Additionally, there are several apps built exclusively for HubSpot, such as a timeline visualizer and a business news alert tool. HubSpot also provides website migration services to its CMS, which a designated Migrations Specialist facilitates.

3. Pricing

With Salesforce and Hubspot both vying for your attention, it can be difficult to determine which one is the right choice. If you are confused about making a decision, examining their pricing structures may provide some clarity.

Salesforce's pricing tiers can be quite intricate, as they are based on the number of users and the features you need. The more users and advanced features you require, the higher the cost. Although it doesn't offer a free plan, you can take advantage of Salesforce's 30-day free trial to test the software before committing to a plan.

Both can get quite costly, depending on your business requirements. However, HubSpot has a distinct advantage over Salesforce with its free tier. This option is ideal for small businesses or startups that may not have the financial resources to invest in a comprehensive CRM platform. This includes fundamental features such as contact management, email tracking, and deal tracking, which are more than adequate for small businesses. But larger organizations may need to invest in HubSpot's paid plans to access a wider range of advanced features, such as custom workflows, lead scoring, and advanced reporting.

Given that both platforms offer various packages, let's compare the pricing structure of Salesforce's Sales Cloud to HubSpot's Sales Hub since they are the most alike.


Essentials, $25/user/month: This tier offers the basics like account management, email integration, custom reports and dashboard, and custom sales processes.

Professional, $75/user/month: This tier adds sales order tracking, forecasting, contract management, and unlimited custom applications.

Enterprise, $150/user/month: This tier provides even more features, such as sales console apps, dedicated sales teams, workflow approval automation, advanced reporting capabilities, territory management, and opportunity scoring.

Unlimited, $300/user/month: The highest tier supports all the features mentioned and more, such as sales insights, lead scoring, a premier success plan, conversation insights, pipeline inspection, premium activity capture, and the Developer Pro Sandbox.


Free plan: This includes free tools to get you started, such as email marketing, conversational bots, live chat, landing page creation, and more.

Starter plan, $20/month: This starts with two users and 1,000 marketing contacts.

Professional plan: $500/month: This starts with five users and 2,000 marketing contacts.

Enterprise plan, $1,200/month: This starts with ten users and 10,000 marketing contacts.

4. Customization

Salesforce is known for its extensive customization capabilities. It gives you complete control over many areas of the platform, helping you personalize it to your business needs, even without coding knowledge. This includes the ability to customize list views, record highlights with compact layouts, record details with page layouts, buttons and links, and custom quick actions. Additionally, Salesforce allows users to develop and optimize their own apps and integrations through the App Cloud, making it an incredibly versatile solution for businesses of all sizes.

HubSpot, on the other hand, has more limited customization options. While it offers Custom Objects within its Enterprise package, users cannot custom-build many platform areas. This can be a drawback for businesses with specific needs that require a high level of customization. But this limitation isn't all that bad because HubSpot users won't have to worry about it breaking down during every update as some overly customized platforms tend to do.

5. Marketing Features

Salesforce offers a comprehensive marketing cloud with multiple bundles that cater to different marketing needs. Each bundle comes with various tools, such as advertising, email, social media, and B2B marketing automation. Its built-in social listening tools also enable teams to follow conversations on social media and the web directly within the platform. Moreover, the Salesforce Data Studio helps teams visualize their success by connecting data across different tools.

HubSpot's automated features are quite useful, particularly when it comes to email marketing. Drip email marketing is another key component of its powerful suite of tools. But the benefits don't stop there. The platform's workflows are also customizable, thanks to its user-friendly editor with drag-and-drop functionality. This means businesses can easily use it even without a dedicated developer.

With HubSpot's workflows, businesses can set up lead scoring, create internal notifications, and send prospects from marketing to sales. These capabilities allow businesses to create targeted and effective marketing campaigns that drive growth and improve overall customer engagement. Plus, while the platform's automated features are free, businesses may want to explore its paid features for even more customization options.

6. Analytics and Reporting

Salesforce is a CRM software that can be customized to fit the specific needs of businesses. With tags and custom objects, users can create a range of reports and charts, including fuel gauges, line charts, and bar charts, without the need for Salesforce developers. This makes it easy for anyone to build a dashboard or custom report to fit their specific requirements. Real-time reporting and automated reports are also available, and the platform integrates with third-party tools like Domo and Tableau for advanced reporting features.

As for HubSpot, it also provides users access to company, task, and lead reporting dashboards. Even the free tier offers this feature, making it an attractive option for small businesses or startups. However, its data storage is somewhat limited, and this is reflected in its analytics and reporting capabilities. Users need to upgrade to the sales or marketing hub to access more advanced analytics and reporting features.

The Sales Hub comes with reporting at the Professional plan, while the Marketing Hub includes analytics dashboards with the Starter plan and above. For more custom dashboards, advanced analytics, and reports, users can purchase them for an additional fee or use third-party reporting tools to improve their capabilities.

7. Customer Support

Salesforce's approach is to prioritize self-service, urging users to explore alternative support channels before contacting a customer service representative. They provide live chat support, but it is only available if you are already logged in, which is unhelpful if you require help prior to subscribing.

If you need to speak with a customer service agent, navigating Salesforce's support sections can be a bit challenging. The platform does offer a 1-800 number, but getting to the right support agent can be time-consuming. However, if you have one of Salesforce's high-tiered plans, you can expect strong customer service from the platform.

When it comes to HubSpot's customer support, it all boils down to the subscription package you have signed up for. If you are on the free tier, you will only have access to community support, which can be helpful but might not be enough for more complex issues. But if you are on the starter plan, you will have more support channels at your disposal, including email and live chat support.

Professional and enterprise plans offer phone support, which can greatly benefit users who need to speak with a representative. If you have multiple subscriptions with HubSpot, your support will be based on your most premium plan.

8. Knowledge Base

Salesforce has always emphasized self-service. And this isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially with 59% of customers preferring it that way. So what it might lack in terms of human-to-human interaction, Salesforce makes up for it with its incredibly comprehensive knowledge base and a vast array of self-service options. Users can choose from a range of resources, including documentation, videos, and walkthroughs for various tools and features. The platform even offers a guided learning path complete with interactive tutorials, a community portal for users to seek and give answers, and events to help users enhance their skills and knowledge.

Similarly, HubSpot offers a variety of resources to help users help themselves. Users can search for information in a vast library of articles using natural language processing techniques and participate in a community forum to share insights. You can also access video tutorials, certification courses, and other learning resources through HubSpot Academy.

9. Business Intelligence

Salesforce's Business Intelligence (BI) tool, Einstein, is a stand-out feature. It is powered by artificial intelligence and works seamlessly across all major departments, providing personalized customer experiences based on past data. This enables businesses to create hyper-targeted marketing campaigns and improve customer satisfaction. But its true power lies in its ability to increase empathy among sales reps and improve productivity for support agents. It is a tool designed to help you make sense of your data and use it to drive better outcomes.

HubSpot, on the other hand, does not have any dedicated modules or tools for advanced business intelligence. While the platform provides excellent analytics and reporting features, for deeper insights, businesses must rely on third-party BI integrations like Power BI or Hotjar. While these apps can provide valuable insights, they are not as seamlessly integrated as Einstein is within Salesforce.

10. Mobile Support

Mobile support has become a critical feature in the modern world. Reports show businesses get a 14.6% increase in productivity simply by having mobile CRM capabilities. So the ability to access your CRM tools while on the go is a must-have for many businesses. Fortunately, both Salesforce and Hubspot are available on Android and iOS.

The Salesforce mobile app stands out as a leading CRM platform due to its exceptional mobile functionality. Its user interface is highly responsive and customizable, while comprehensive customer data and mobile tools help streamline collaboration between teams and increase productivity. The reporting dashboard is particularly noteworthy, boasting a sleek design that surpasses that of HubSpot. Overall, the Salesforce mobile app is an excellent choice for businesses seeking a versatile and powerful CRM tool.

HubSpot's mobile app is a clean interface that is good for most basic CRM tasks. Users can set tasks and reminders and work on deals. The app provides all contact data, including communication histories. It also has emailing and other outreach features. Users can dictate notes using the app's microphone, and real-time notifications are sent to users whenever there is an update among their team or on open deals.

H2. Wrapping Up

A lot of people are asking which CRM is better. But one isn't necessarily better than the other per se. Both platforms offer robust CRM tools, but their effectiveness will depend on your requirements. Large businesses with complex needs may find Salesforce a better fit, while small businesses looking for an all-in-one solution may prefer HubSpot. So, it is important to consider your needs and budget carefully when choosing between these platforms. Ultimately, the right CRM solution for your business is the one that meets your specific requirements and provides the necessary features to help you grow and succeed.

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