Mackenzie | November 01, 2022 | Hubspot
One of the biggest differences to acknowledge between the two platforms is how each got its start. HubSpot began as an inbound marketing platform, and it has grown with that intention.
While the platform now has tools to support every aspect of the marketing, sales, service, website development, and even operations teams, HubSpot is laser-focused on helping you create a seamless experience throughout your prospect's entire journey with you.
For industries where relationships and sales are built on trust, communication, and positive relationships, that's an important distinction.
Salesforce started on the opposite side of HubSpot. When HubSpot was focused on helping you bring in new leads, Salesforce was focused on helping you close those leads, better and faster.
Now, both platforms offer a very similar range of tools, but it is helpful to consider this difference. Salesforce started as a sales tool, with robust reporting on cycle time, how deals were progressing, what made a prospect leave, and more. While they've added new marketing, service, and support features, sales is at the core of what Salesforce does.
So, what do we do with that information? Neither is bad — they're just different. And those differences mean that one of these platforms is probably better for you than the other. Let's find out which one it is!
In a nutshell, here are the essential differences between these two CRMs:
HubSpot got its start as the original "inbound marketing" focused CRM system.
Salesforce has earned its reputation as the tool for sales teams.
If that's all you wanted to know, great! But if you're still not sure whether HubSpot or Salesforce is best for your company, let's dive a little deeper.
From ease-of-use to how robust their reporting features are, we'll cover a few key considerations in-depth here.
HubSpot has long been voted the most user-friendly CRM. Across industry, including for B2Bs, HubSpot is the "easy" CRM. It's designed intuitively, which means you have instant access to the things you (as a marketer, salesperson, operations person, or customer service rep) need to use every day.
The HubSpot interface can best be described as simple and clean.
While Salesforce isn't some junky, clunky CRM, it's just not as easy to use compared to HubSpot. Salesforce offers a seriously wide breadth of functionality, and it's not easy to make all of those things look great at once.
For some companies, this can be a dealbreaker, as Salesforce usually requires significantly more onboarding and "training" time before your team can start using it confidently on their own.
If you look at any other Salesforce vs. HubSpot blog, you'll see that most writers give this category to Salesforce.
Salesforce started as a sales tool, which means it's always focused heavily on ROI — that's the whole point of sales, right? But in addition to giving you all the numbers you need, Salesforce gives you a customizable drag-and-drop way to create your reports.
For many, that's exactly what they need to create totally custom reports that aggregate data from custom properties and more.
HubSpot hasn't always been lauded for its reporting capabilities, but we will say that the reports look better. What's more, HubSpot has invested a lot of time in innovating its custom report capabilities. Anything that you put into HubSpot, you can now report on, which wasn't always true.
That said, if you're looking for very specific, down-to-the-fine-detail reporting, Salesforce might have the edge here.
Both HubSpot and Salesforce use a partner network to help new clients get onboarded. If you feel like your team can benefit from expert guidance getting started, that's available from both platforms.
Both platforms also offer free learning academies and training programs where your team members can go to get quick tips or certifications.
It is worth mentioning that some Salesforce courses and certifications come with a price tag, whereas all of HubSpot's Learning Academy is free. Again, Salesforce doesn't deliver the simple, clean design or intuitive navigation that makes HubSpot's Learning Academy so legendary.
When it comes down to it, it won't surprise you that we're giving this one to HubSpot.
The platform is simply more intuitive, more user-friendly, and easier to get used to. It works like you want it to.
Salesforce's endless functionality and traditional design can make it easy for information to slide by, which makes it hard to feel like you've got a complete grip on the platform, especially when you're learning.
As far as customization goes, Salesforce is the winner. You can custom-code your own properties and fields to your heart's content. For enterprise-level businesses with complex selling processes, this is often the solution you need.
HubSpot does allow for process customization through the marketing and sales tools, but it doesn't let you custom-code different properties and relationships. You can, of course, code your HubSpot CMS website, but there are some guardrails that HubSpot puts up as far as your CRM goes.
For many companies, the customization that Salesforce offers can be too much. The streamlined, simple approach that HubSpot puts your team into can offer the structure you need to really push processes forward.
That said, if it's customization you want, Salesforce can deliver.
When it comes to HubSpot vs. Salesforce, the features you get are pretty close. They're both CRMs, and they both offer marketing, sales, service, and CMS support. It's the functionality of those features that matter.
For HubSpot you get the benefit of a platform that was built from the ground up on one system. HubSpot is well known for its ability to roll up data from across your marketing, sales, service, and operations teams, and put it all in one easy-to-understand, easy-to-see spot.
Since all features were built on the HubSpot platform, they were literally made for each other and work together seamlessly.
Salesforce offers all of the same features, but it was built by acquisition. What this means is that instead of building marketing tools from scratch, for example, Salesforce acquired Pardot and bolted on those features to their existing platform.
You still get the same tools, but how they work together can be occasionally clunky in a way it will never be on HubSpot.
HubSpot is very well known for its free forever CRM. What that means is that every HubSpot Hub — CRM, CMS, Marketing, Sales, etc. offers some set of tools for free. And those free tools are available to users forever.
So, if you're a very small company just getting started with reporting and analytics or sales and marketing efforts, HubSpot offers an accessible way for you to try out many of their basic tools for free. If you like them, you can always upgrade, and if you don't, you can just stick with the free version, or move on to something else at no cost.
Beyond HubSpot's free tiers, it offers pricing on a tiered plan. Every Hub has three tiers — Starter, Professional, and Enterprise. You can mix and match which hubs you purchase and at which tier you purchase each hub. Prices range from about $23 per month to $5,000 per month if you opt for the enterprise level of every hub.
Salesforce does not offer the same free version, and their pricing works a little differently. It's more a-la-carte, and it's also based on the number of users you have. You're always paying per user, but then you can add on certain features as needed, which can escalate the cost. Some features could be as low as $4 per month or as high as $30,000 a month — it just depends on what you need.
To break all of that down:
When you get into the top tiers of both CRMs' packages, it's not going to be cheap, whether you go for Salesforce or HubSpot. So, it's about evaluating what tools you want, and what the cost difference is across the two platforms for those key features.
So we made it through the full round-up. But with HubSpot winning some categories and Salesforce winning others, how do you know which platform is best for you?
Don't worry, I'm going to tell you.
If this is your company's first try with a CRM, with marketing, or with a sales process, HubSpot is going to be the better option. There's onboarding time with any new software, but HubSpot is the most user-friendly option on the market.
Beyond that, HubSpot also makes it easy to streamline processes. It's built to facilitate communication between marketing and sales and the rest of the company, which means it will work to make data visible across teams and provide tools that help you reach your business goals.
Salesforce is definitely the steeper learning curve, but if your team is willing to put in the time and truly needs that level of customization, it's the best option for you.
And, if your platform needs to support the sales team first, there's no more obvious option out there. That's what Salesforce is known for.
Yes, we're HubSpot Solutions Partners (at the Diamond tier, no less), so of course, we're biased.
That said, we're always here to solve our customer's problems first. If you need something we know HubSpot can't deliver, we'll tell you. So if you're ready to have that conversation, get in touch!