Salesforce is the most popular customer relationship management (CRM) software, but it is expensive for small businesses since it’s designed to be an enterprise solution. We compared dozens of alternatives for contact and deal management, customization, technical support, and overall affordability to determine the six best Salesforce alternatives for small businesses, including the best overall.
Top 6 Salesforce Alternatives & Competitors 2019
Salesforce Alternatives For Small Businesses
(Best overall) Businesses that want a flexible, feature-rich alternative to Salesforce
Businesses seeking a free Salesforce alternative for lead generation
Sales teams that want a Salesforce alternative with an intuitive, visual pipeline
Businesses that want a Salesforce alternative with project management features
Organizations that want a Salesforce alternative with built-in social media contact management
Professionals who want an alternative to Salesforce offering a la carte features
In addition to these alternatives, small businesses should also consider the new Salesforce Essentials plan designed specifically for teams of up to 10 users. It includes many of the features of the classic version of Salesforce, at a price that is accessible for small businesses. Users can manage leads, contacts, and deals, create workflows, and manage their sales pipeline for $25 per month, per user, for up to 10 users. Visit Salesforce for more information.
How We Evaluated These Salesforce Alternatives
The enterprise Salesforce product is a full-featured CRM with lots of integrations, but it can be uneconomical for many small business owners due to its higher cost and complex feature set. As a result, it can be difficult to implement and includes features that are often beyond a small business sales team’s needs. Therefore, small business teams may see a greater benefit by implementing another tool with more intuitive functionality at a lower price.
The criteria we used to evaluate the best Salesforce alternatives include:
- Price: Small businesses need to be able to do a lot at an affordable price, so we considered both the monthly fee, as well as any additional costs associated with getting set up or adding tools that extend the CRM functionality.
- Lead and customer management: The heart and soul of a CRM is managing your lead and customer relationships, and we looked at how intuitive it is to create, edit and search for contacts as well as how each tool worked with email, phone calls, and other tasks.
- Deal and opportunity management: Monitoring and tracking sales opportunities as they move through the sales process helps businesses win more deals, and we evaluated how each option lets you implement and customize your sales pipeline.
- Workflow automation: We reviewed each salesforce competitor’s methodology regarding sales processes, follow-up tasks, and other reminders that help you save time and eliminate repetitive tasks and activities.
- Reporting tools: Salesforce has robust reporting features, so we considered how each option handled reporting and analytics to allow sales managers to monitor their teams as well as their sales pipelines better.
- System integrations: To conduct the fairest apples-to-apples study on core product features, we did not compare enterprise-level plans; however, we did a review to evaluate how each tool integrates with cloud-based third-party programs.
- Customization: We reviewed how each CRM handles customizations like contact fields, opportunity fields, and sales processes since these are important in configuring the software based on your team’s specific needs.
- Customer satisfaction: We read through extensive product reviews and compared technical support offerings.
- Accessible to small businesses: While there is a range of Salesforce alternatives like SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft Dynamics, those CRM are usually out of reach for small businesses both in terms of price as well as implementation.
Based on these criteria, we have determined that Freshsales is the best Salesforce alternative for small businesses. Freshsales was given this distinction as it offers the most direct one-to-one comparable features while being more accessible for small businesses, along with additional customization capability at a more affordable price point.
Freshsales: Best Overall Salesforce Alternative for Small Businesses
Freshsales is a fully featured CRM with contact management as well as flexible lead and opportunity tracking that can be customized to your needs. Because it is easier to use and offered as a lower price point compared to Salesforce with many of the same robust features, we recommend it as the best overall alternative. We recommend Freshsales for those seeking a highly customizable and competitively priced CRM for small businesses.
Freshsales offers a free plan called Sprout, which provides unlimited users with contact management capability. Additional functionality like deal management, as well as advanced analytics, is available in its paid plans, which range from $12 per user, per month, to $49 per user, per month, which is a significant cost saving compared to Salesforce.
Freshsales Tiered Features
Sales Pipeline Tracking
Lead Assignment Routing
Custom Opportunity Fields
Customized Sales Processes
The Sprout plan is Freshsales’ free entry-level plan and provides basic contact management functionality you would expect in a CRM software. It also offers rules-based scoring to help you prioritize lead follow-up better as is found in Salesforce’s Professional plan and web-to-lead capture forms that can help speed up the data entry process. This feature is also not found in any of the Pipedrive plans.
However, the Sprout plan lacks many of the more robust opportunity management features and email tools found in the paid plans. It also lacks the website visitor tracking feature found in Zoho CRM’s free plan. For this reason, the Sprout plan is best for businesses that are looking for an affordable tool for managing their contact relationship details and little else.
The Blossom plan costs $12 per user, per month, which is still half the cost of Salesforce’s Essentials plan. In addition to helping you manage your contact relationships, the Blossom plan offers opportunity management, bulk emails with templates, and email tracking. It also lets you dial contacts and log your phone call activities without leaving the tool, which is a feature not found in Salesforce unless you pay an additional fee for an upgrade.
It also includes lead scoring, which is only found in Salesforce’s higher-priced tier. However, the Blossom plan does not include team management functionality as the other tiers do. It’s also missing the ability to create multiple pipelines like the comparably priced plan from Pipedrive. Therefore, the Blossom plan is best for individuals or highly independent sales teams that want to track their calls or send mass emails.
The Garden plan provides the team management functionality that the Blossom plan lacks for $25 per user, per month. It also automates the lead process by allowing lead assignment and routing similar to what Salesforce offers in its Professional plan. The Garden plan does not, however, allow you to create custom sales activities as you can do with the Estate plan, nor does it provide time-based workflows or include a dashboard.
You can create multiple pipelines, essential for businesses with different sales teams, such as inside and outside sales, and product lines like service and products. This feature is only found in Salesforce’s higher-priced plans. For this reason, the Garden plan is best for businesses that have multiple teams with different pipelines. It is also best for those who are disciplined when it comes to setting manual workflow reminders.
The Estate plan includes dashboards as part of its reporting features but extends the tool’s contact management and lead scoring functionality to include contact activity on your website. The advanced reporting and forecasting found in this plan are only found in Salesforce’s $150 per user, per month, plan.
The Estate plan costs $49 per user, per month, which is still more affordable than Salesforce’s Professional plan. The integrations with Freshworks’ relatively low-priced suite of products like service and calling also make this plan stand out from Salesforce. This makes it a good fit for business-to-business (B2B) sales teams with long sales cycles that want to better utilize their website as part of their lead prioritization strategy.
What Freshsales Is Missing
Unlike Salesforce, Freshsales does not include the ability to issue quotes, manage orders, or send invoices directly. Nor does it include pricing books, which is a feature Zoho CRM provides, or product statistics like Pipedrive does. For this reason, Freshsales may not be the best Salesforce alternative for businesses that manage inventory like retail or distribution.
What Users Think About Freshsales
Freshsales users like how it displays the entire sales process. They also give it high marks for customer service and technical support as well as how easy it is to customize the CRM. However, they give the tool lower marks for the quality of the standard reports and have complained the software can be slow depending on your internet connection. You can read more in-depth reviews on our Freshsales review page.
Where to Find Freshsales
Freshsales is a great alternative to Salesforce based on functionality and cost. It can also help you manage your relationships with very little setup time and without the need to employ someone with an advanced degree in CRM. Freshsales offers a free forever plan, but you can also give the professional features a try with a risk-free trial. Click here to get started for free.
HubSpot CRM: Best Free Salesforce Alternative for Lead Generation
HubSpot CRM is a free contact management application with functionality like smart-form lead capture, a chat widget, and customer support ticketing as well as email tracking and deal management. It can also be integrated with the Sales and Marketing Hubs for additional automation features. Overall, HubSpot is a powerful CRM for those looking for a free Salesforce alternative that includes the most important lead-generation features small businesses need.
HubSpot CRM includes many common CRM features like contact management, deal management, and email marketing for up to a million records for free. HubSpot also offers add-on functionality through the Sales Hub and Marketing Hub, available at an additional cost ranging from $50 to $800 per month, depending on the specific features added.
HubSpot CRM includes features like lead capture, contact management, email templates, and tracking. It includes innovative features like a live chat widget on your website to capture leads. HubSpot also uses a tracking code on your website to both track visitor activity as well as identify the networks of prospects who visit your site, even if they don’t fill out a form, providing you a list of organizations your sales team can contact.
Form-based Lead Capture
HubSpot CRM includes the ability to embed forms on your website or capture data entered into existing website forms using a tracking code. While this feature can be found in other CRMs, most do not offer them in their free tiers. Contacts captured as leads can then be entered into automated marketing campaigns, making HubSpot economical option for businesses that use landing pages to generate leads.
HubSpot CRM includes the ability to organize contacts by organization or company and provides insights such as a contact’s recent activity on your website. HubSpot also auto-enriches profiles based on the information it pulls from social profiles and information it knows about companies, and scores leads based on both profile information and website activity, which is something other free options offer only in a limited manner.
Lead & Task Management
HubSpot CRM gives you the ability to schedule tasks for later follow-up and allows you to create workflows to handle regular marketing tasks. Compared to other free plans available from options on this list, these tools are more intuitive in moving leads through the sales process. HubSpot also includes a free embeddable chat tool that allows you to use conversational bots to prequalify leads that engage on your website while other options require a third-party plugin.
What HubSpot Is Missing
HubSpot does not include some of the more robust features found in the paid plans for CRMs on this list, or that are found in Salesforce. Features like workflow management or marketing automation are missing unless you also subscribe to either Sales Hub or Marketing Hub. In addition, HubSpot also offers only limited customer support to its users of the free CRM.
What Users Think About HubSpot
HubSpot CRM users especially like how easy it is to use, and like the extent of the features available to free users. HubSpot CRM users also like the extensive library of sales and marketing educational tools available to customers. Some users do mention that they wish the product offered more reports and customization. You can read more on our HubSpot CRM review page.
Where to Find HubSpot
HubSpot CRM is a free CRM that includes the features and functionality that small businesses need in an intuitive and affordable software package. For small businesses who need to manage contacts and deals, and want an easy-to-use software tool, HubSpot is an ideal choice. Visit HubSpot’s website to sign up for your free CRM account today.
Pipedrive: Best Salesforce Alternative for Pipeline Management
Pipedrive is a competitively priced CRM designed to simplify the sales process. Pipedrive’s visual pipeline management gives you the ability to see what’s in your sales pipeline at a glance and lets you drag-and-drop prospects and clients from stage-to-stage. This makes it easier to track, understand, and manage your deals, making it best for individuals or organizations looking to manage contacts through a visual, customizable sales funnel.
Pipedrive offers three plans, which range from $12.50 per user, per month, to $49.90 per user, per month. This pricing makes the product more affordable than Salesforce, although not as economical as Freshsales. Pipedrive does, however, offer a free trial, allowing you to test it out before you buy.
Pipedrive Tiered Features
|Sales Pipeline Tracking|
|Customized Sales Processes|
|Configurable Dashboards & Reports|
|Meeting & Task Scheduler|
The Essential plan costs $12.50 per user, per month, and includes Pipedrive’s signature visual pipeline homepage as well as contact management and configurable reports. Unlike Salesforce, Pipedrive is easy to customize, even in its entry-level plan, giving you the option of creating a unique and unlimited pipeline process to fit the needs of your business. Compared to Freshsales, adding deals takes fewer clicks to create and then drop in the appropriate stage.
However, the Essential plan lacks the built-in scheduler and email template functionality found in its higher-tiered plans. It also lacks the lead scoring feature found in the plans from Freshsales. As a result, the Essential plan is best for businesses that are looking for a way to manage their leads as well as their contacts better or those who want a software program that is tailored to their individual processes rather than being forced to adapt their processes to the tool.
The Advanced plan adds email tracking capability to Pipedrive’s contact management platform as well as a meeting and task scheduler not found in the Essential plan. It also provides account insights, which can help you better focus your follow-up efforts on the leads that are almost ready to buy. Like Salesforce, it also provides insights into your products, such as sales splits and average discount. This feature, however, is not available in Freshsales.
At $24.90 per user, per month, the Advanced plan is best for teams that want to take advantage of Pipedrive’s visual pipeline and require additional analytics. It is also best for those businesses like high-volume start-up companies that are prospecting and need to stay organized with the with a built-in scheduling tool.
The Professional plan offers the same features as the Advanced plan but also includes sales forecasting functionality and advanced reporting features for $49.90 per user, per month. There’s also a goal-setting feature that’s not found in either Salesforce or Freshsales. Like Salesforce’s Professional plan, the Professional plan from Pipedrive lets you set specific permissions based on roles, giving you more control of what your team needs to do or see.
The plan also gives you access to live phone support, and your data is hosted in a dedicated private environment. As the Professional plan’s chief benefit over the less expensive plans is its additional analytics, role-based permissions, and support, it is best for hierarchical teams. Because of its dedicated secure environment, the Professional tier is also best for businesses in industries that handle sensitive data.
What Pipedrive Is Missing
Pipedrive lacks Salesforce’s lead assignment and lead-based routing functionality, which makes it less viable than Salesforce for account-based sales requiring multiple points of contacts. While leads can be prioritized based on time since the last contact and priority labeled, there is no lead scoring feature like what you find in Salesforce, Freshsales, or Zoho CRM. Pipedrive also lacks a mass marketing email feature like those found in Salesforce and Freshsales.
What Users Think About Pipedrive
While Pipedrive does not include as many of the advanced features found in Salesforce, it focuses on being the best at what it does. Users of the software praise its user-friendly interface, its available integrations with other third-party tools, and its simple curve. However, they do wish the tool allowed additional customer filtering based on past sales and more robust webhooks. You can read more about what other users are saying on our Pipedrive review page.
Where to Find Pipedrive
Pipedrive simplifies the sales process while giving you a means of managing your relationships. While other tools require several clicks to navigate deals and locate specific customer activities, Pipedrive organizes data in easy-to-digest visual homepages. You and additional team members can try out Pipedrive’s visual pipeline risk-free. Visit Pipeline to start your free trial.
Insightly: Best Salesforce Alternative for Project Management
Insightly is a robust, competitively priced CRM that includes project management functionality, something that Salesforce lacks without integrations with third-party apps. This enables you to manage your prospects, deals, project milestones, and vendor contacts. Therefore, it is a great solution for business owners looking for a Salesforce alternative with both contact and project management capabilities, such as interior designers, travel agents, and publishers.
Insightly has two pricing plans: $29 per user, per month and $49 per user, per month. This pricing puts Insightly on par with Salesforce’s entry-level Essentials Plan but is less expensive compared to Salesforce’s Lightning Professional. If you will only have one to two users, Insightly offers a completely free option.
Insightly Tiered Features
|Sales Pipeline Tracking|
|Bulk Email Campaigns|
|Lead Assignment Routing|
|Customized Sales Processes|
|Custom CRM Fields|
|Configurable Dashboards & Reports|
Insightly’s free plan includes up to two users and provides basic CRM functionality like contact management, sales opportunities, and task management. These features are limited compared to the paid plans, and it includes less free users compared to Zoho, Freshsales, or HubSpot, although it does include project management tools, which are unique in a free CRM.
This plan is a good choice for individuals or partners, who don’t need advanced sales tools but want to sell and manage customer projects. Insightly’s free offering is a good option for freelancers like designers or content producers who provide project-based services to clients and want to manage the entire customer relationship cycle in one place.
At $29 per user, per month, Insightly’s Plus plan gives users the ability to manage contact relationships after the deal is closed with its project management functionality. It can add and manage 100,000 records and send 2,500 bulk emails a month. Like Salesforce, leads resulting from those contacts and marketing messages are then tracked and managed through a sales pipeline process customized for your business needs.
The Plus plan, however, does not include any of the lead assignment rules, shareable account insights cards, dashboards, or workflow automation found in the Professional plan. For this reason, it is best for solopreneurs, highly independent sales representatives, or those with a sales process that cannot be automated.
The Professional plan increases the number of records you can manage to 250,000 and doubles the amount of bulk email that can be sent out each month per user at a cost of $49 per user, per month. The Professional plan lets you customize your dashboard. It also gives you the ability to assign role-based permissions and automate workflow tasks like Salesforce’s Lightning Professional plan does, but at a lower price point.
The Professional plan is best for teams of more than one individual that want to send more marketing messages or tailor the dashboard data to fit their unique business needs. It is also a good fit for sales managers who would like to limit what their teams can do or see based on roles.
What Insightly Is Missing
While you can manage your projects within Insightly, the tool does not offer product pricing books and does not include a means for managing quotes and order. This puts the tool at a disadvantage when compared to Salesforce for businesses that conduct a lot of retail or product transactions. If managing products is important, Pipedrive or ZohoCRM are better alternatives.
What Users Think About Insightly
We use Insightly at Fit Small Business and appreciate the ease in which contacts can be added to the database directly from a native email client as well as its ability to manage the projects in our pipeline. Other users like the ease in which fields can be added, and reports can be created. However, the use of the tool does require many clicks to navigate to specific record information. You can read more about Insightly on our Insightly review page.
Where to Find Insightly
You can use Insightly to coordinate internal tasks and vendor relationships as well as the activities needed to close a sale. Insightly knows that relationships continue well beyond a deal’s close, which is why its project management functionality is such a benefit. Even better, it gives you a chance to try out its Professional plan with a 14-day free trial. Visit Insightly for more information.
Zoho CRM: Best Salesforce Alternative for Social Media Management
Zoho CRM has many of the same features as Salesforce but with a free plan and paid plans starting at $12 per user that comes at a fraction of the cost. Furthermore, it allows you to incorporate social media into your relationship management with additional sales channels for Facebook and Twitter, which you won’t find in Salesforce’s sales CRM. This makes it ideal for sales teams who prospect on social media sites.
Zoho CRM Pricing
Zoho CRM offers a free plan for up to three users, which includes contact and opportunity management like Salesforce. Additional functionality and customization are offered through its paid plans ranging between $12 per user, per month, and $20 per user, per month, a significant cost saving compared to Salesforce.
Zoho CRM Tiered Features
|Configurable Dashboards & Reports|
|Lead Assignment Routing|
|Product Price Books & Order Management|
|Action Follow-up Rules|
Zoho CRM’s Free plan supports up to three users and includes lead and contact management. It also has additional unique activity tracking features like phone logging and social media connections, which are not found in Salesforce and other free plans we reviewed without incurring additional add-on fees. With the free add-on version of Sales IQ, you can track website visitors, which is a feature not found in Salesforce or Freshsales.
The Free plan, however, cannot route leads to specific users, manage orders, or customize the interface. Therefore, the Free plan is best for teams of three or less that need activity and deal tracking but little software customization. It is also best for teams that manage their quotes and orders through another accounting tool.
The Standard plan costs $12 per user, per month, and allows users to add up to 10 custom fields and create up to 100 custom reports, which can then be scheduled and delivered to users daily. Like the Free plan and unlike Salesforce, the Standard plan integrates with Twitter and Facebook. It also allows you to send bulk emails, track website visitor interactions, and provide sales forecasting and email insights.
The Standard plan is, therefore, best for sales teams who want more insights into a lead’s behavior as well as being able to track multichannel communications like an ecommerce business. The Standard plan is also a good fit for groups of more than three sales team members.
The Professional plan offers similar price book and order management functionality found in Salesforce but costs only $20 per user, per month, making it a much more affordable alternative. The Professional plan includes access to Zoho CRM’s proprietary SalesSignals, which automates lead scoring and helps you prioritize lead follow-up better. It also lets you add up to 150 custom fields per module.
This plan’s custom field offering and conditional follow-up rules that can be tied to CRM field updates make it a great alternative for teams like B2Bs with multiple products looking for either a tool with a high degree of customization potential or workflow automation. The Professional plan is also best for those who would like to capture leads directly from social media.
What Zoho CRM Is Missing
One major feature that Zoho CRM is missing when compared to Salesforce is the ability to register leads with partners. In addition, Zoho doesn’t have customer support ticketing, which is available in both Salesforce and HubSpot CRM, making those options better suited for businesses who want to keep their entire customer relationship in one software tool.
What Users Think About Zoho CRM
Zoho CRM users report the tool makes it easy to customize, track prospects, and set future tasks. They say data is easy to import from existing CRMs making the switch less painful. However, they do say that technical support could be improved. Fixes and new features are slow to roll out, and the user interface could be easier to navigate. For more user reviews, you can visit our Zoho review page.
Where to Find Zoho CRM
Zoho is a Salesforce alternative that allows you to engage with your contacts on whatever social media channel works best for them. Zoho CRM’s customization and extended integration make it a great solution for teams that depend on being able to adapt their sales processes to match the next social media trend. Visit Zoho CRM to create your free account.
Really Simple Systems: Best Salesforce Alternative With a la Carte Pricing
Really Simple Systems has three tiers that range from free to $30 per user, per month, as well as email marketing upgrades between $22 and $46 per month. With Salesforce, many of these email marketing upgrades like bulk email campaigns are included in their tiered pricing. This makes Really Simple Systems ideal for price-conscious businesses that only want to pay for the things they intend to use regularly.
Really Simple Systems Pricing
Really Simple Systems offers a free plan for up to two users, which includes contact management, and a product and pricing book. Additional storage or users can be added by upgrading to a paid plan ranging from $14 per user, per month to $30. Marketing upgrades cost a flat $22 to $46 per month.
Really Simple Systems Tiered Features
|Sales Pipeline Tracking|
|Customized Sales Processes|
|Products and Price Books|
|Configurable Dashboards and Reports|
Two-way Email Sync
The primary difference between Really Simple Systems’ Free plan and its paid plans is the available file storage and the ability to add on one of its two optional email marketing feature upgrades. With the free plan, you can import and export contacts, similar to Salesforce, and track the status of leads as they progress through your pipeline. You can also manage your product’s price books. However, the free plan is limited to two users.
For this reason, Really Simple Systems is a great alternative for cost-sensitive solopreneurs who do not need email marketing tools. It is a CRM tool that lives up to its name by offering simple contact relationship management.
For $14 per user, per month, the Starter plan offers all of the same features as the free plan but also logs emails without having to purchase either of the email marketing upgrades. The marketing upgrades cost between $22 per month and $46 per month and provide features like those found in Salesforce, including email tracking, templates, and bulk email. Unlike Salesforce, however, those prices are not tied to the number of users.
The Starter plan is best for teams that don’t need a lot of bonus features like built-in phone dialers, web-to-lead capture forms, or widgets that work in the background like the plans offered by Freshsales and Zoho CRM. It is designed for businesses wanting to manage their contact relationships and only pay for the features they intend to use.
The Professional plan has all the same features as the Starter plan, including the option to add on email marketing upgrades, while also letting you manage quotes. For $30 per month, data storage is increased to 5GB, and the Professional plan lets you assign role-based permissions similar to those found in Salesforce’s Lightning Professional plan.
In addition to more storage and user permissions, the Professional plan gives users access to technical support via phone and through online training. This makes it a better plan for businesses needing more immediate assistance or those that intend to attach large files to their contacts or sales-related activities such as service-related B2Bs.
What Really Simple Systems Is Missing
Really Simple Systems is designed to provide small businesses only the tools they intend to use. Therefore, what it lacks in comparison to Salesforce will depend on what an individual is willing to pay for. Even with the optional upgrades, Really Simple Systems lacks Salesforce’s, Freshworks’, and Zoho CRM’s collaboration and team management tools.
What Users Think About Really Simple Systems
Really Simple Systems users report that it is a great CRM for startups due to the low cost and the number of instructional videos available online. They said it is easy to use and navigate. It speeds up workflow but starts to get pricey as you need more storage. We have a Really Simple Systems review page where you can find out more about what other users are saying.
Where to Find Really Simple Systems
Really Simple Systems makes it easy for users to be up and running in minutes so that they can spend less time trying to understand their CRM and more time growing their business. You can take advantage of the Free plan or sign up for a free trial of the Professional plan on its website. Visit Really Simple Systems to get started today.
Bottom Line: Salesforce & Salesforce Competitors
Salesforce is the gold standard of sales CRMs for large enterprises and is likely to continue being so for years to come. While it has recently begun offering products suited to small businesses like Salesforce Essentials, the number of Salesforce competitors specifically designed for small businesses is on the rise, and they are often more accessible and priced better for small business needs.
We recommend Freshsales as the best all-around Salesforce alternative because it makes it easy for sales reps to win more deals. It also provides all the sales analytics you need to drive improvements to sales performance, and it’s a great value for the money. Freshsales offers a free-forever plan as well as a free trial of its paid plans. Visit Freshsales to get started today.