Zoho and Salesforce are comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) software that include lead and contact management, sales opportunities, reporting, and team management features. Zoho is generally more affordable and is a better choice for most small businesses that need an integrated, all-in-one sales and productivity suite, while Salesforce is a powerful but complex software tool.
When to Use Zoho CRM
Zoho CRM is best for businesses that want an affordable all-in-one sales, HR, project management, and productivity suite. Zoho’s plans are generally less expensive than Salesforce, and they offer a free-forever tier with basic CRM functionality for up to three users, allowing smaller businesses to start with the features that fit their business, both today and as they grow.
When to Use Salesforce
Salesforce is a better option for larger businesses that need robust sales and service features within the same CRM. With a complete sales, marketing, and analytics platform, as well as an exhaustive library of third-party integrations, Salesforce is also a good choice for larger teams that need more control over their sales tools and the ability to connect them to outside apps.
When to Use an Alternative
If either of these two options are too robust for your needs, or if you need a highly visual CRM, try using Pipedrive. Pipedrive is easy-to-use, affordable and simple to set up. Its intuitive interface and visual sales pipeline make it easy to move leads, contacts, and deals through your sales process.
Zoho vs Salesforce at a Glance
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How We Evaluated Zoho & Salesforce
Zoho and Salesforce are both robust CRMs, so to compare the two, we considered how each handles customer contact management, sales opportunities, workflow automation, and reporting features. We also looked at their integrations with third-party software and other products in their overall software families. Finally, we considered how they compare on features like mobile functionality, overall ease of setup and use, affordability, and customer support.
We took into consideration the following factors:
- Price and affordability: We looked at the overall value and features offered at each price point, and whether or not a free-forever plan is offered.
- Ease of use: We looked at how much work is involved in getting the software set up, and how easy it is to use based on the tasks salespeople do on a day-to-day basis.
- Lead and contact management: What tools are included for generating, nurturing, and converting leads into customers, and how the software allows users to organize and communicate with contacts.
- Sales pipeline: We considered how easily users are able to move sales opportunities from the inquiry stage through the sales process, including whether the software allows users to automate steps in the process.
- Email tools: Whether the CRM will sync with your business email from Outlook or Gmail, and whether it includes advanced email tools like templates, tracking, and automation.
- Integrations: Additional functionality that can be added to the core software through extensions, integrations, and apps. We looked at both the overall software available from each provider, as well as third-party applications.
We choose Zoho as the best choice for small businesses that want an affordable CRM that integrates with an all-in-one productivity, HR, and project management suite, based on significantly greater ease of use, price, and the complete suite of sales and productivity software. Businesses that are looking for both sales and service features within the same CRM or that need more robust third-party integrations should instead consider Salesforce.
Zoho vs Salesforce: Pricing & Features
Both Zoho and Salesforce offer comprehensive CRM tools, including the ability to customize contact fields and the overall sales process, as well as integrations for things like marketing automation, customer service ticketing, analytics, and social media tools. Overall, Zoho’s plans are less expensive, beginning at $12 per user, per month, though Salesforce’s pricing is more straightforward and includes more standard features starting at $25 per user, per month.
Zoho CRM Pricing
Zoho CRM offers a free-forever plan with lead, contact, and deal management features for up to three users. Paid plans range from $12 to $35 per user, per month, which adds advanced customization, reporting, social media capture, and lead generation functionality.
Zoho CRM Tiered Features
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|Zoho SalesIQ Integration|
Zoho’s Free tier supports up to three users and includes basic contact management features like lead generation, sales opportunities, contacts, and reporting. Users can create up to 10 email templates and one workflow rule for each module. The CRM also integrates with Twitter and Facebook, allowing users to feed leads from their social media networks into their sales process.
The Free plan is limited in features beyond basic lead and contact management and does not include sales forecasting, advanced workflows, or process management. However, as Salesforce does not offer a free plan, this plan makes Zoho a better entry-level CRM, especially for solopreneurs or small businesses of up to three team members that are primarily concerned with basic management of leads, contacts, and deals.
Zoho’s Standard plan is $12 per user, per month, and adds lead scoring rules, email insights, and custom reporting and dashboards. It also allows users to store up to 100,000 records and gives them the ability to customize fields for contacts, leads, and deals. The Standard plan allows for more control over setup and reporting with up to 100 custom reports, 10 custom fields per module, sales forecasting, and 10 custom dashboards.
Compared to Salesforce, this plan includes some of the most important workflow and automation tools like rules-based lead scoring at a much lower price. Additionally, users are able to integrate their CRM and sales tools with Zoho’s productivity and office software, making it a good option for small businesses that are looking for an all-in-one sales and productivity suite.
Zoho’s Professional plan is $20 per user, per month, and includes the features in the Free and Standard plans as well as inventory management, territory and lead validation rules, and unlimited records. It also adds Zoho’s SalesSignals feature, which provides real-time notifications that can be configured by sales reps to alert them to lead activity like email opens or new deal stages.
This plan is less expensive than either of Salesforce’s tiers while including much of the same functionality, although none of the Zoho plans includes built-in customer service ticketing. This plan is ideal for sales organizations that need an affordable, fully-featured CRM that can be customized to fit their sales process as well as integrate with the rest of the Zoho suite of software.
Salesforce offers two plans specifically for small businesses. While Salesforce does not offer a free tier, it does offer free trials of its paid plans, which begin at $25 per user, per month for the Essentials plan. Lightning Professional is $75 per user, per month, and includes advanced automation, lead scoring, and customizable reporting features.
Salesforce Tiered Features
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|Customizable Sales Process|
|Permissions and Roles|
Sales Essentials is $25 per user, per month for up to 10 users. It’s built on Salesforce’s Lightning platform, making it more intuitive and user-friendly than the original Classic version. Essentials includes contact management, sales pipelines, deal management, and mass email features as well as lead capture, a mobile app, and access to the Salesforce App ecosystem.
Salesforce is more expensive than Zoho’s base level plans, but includes more advanced CRM features like workflow automation as well as built-in service and support features. There’s no free-forever plan, but Essentials is ideal for small sales teams that need a robust set of CRM features and want to take advantage of the extended Salesforce family of applications, including their marketing cloud, service, support, and analytics.
Salesforce Professional is $75 per user, per month, and is a fully-featured CRM platform used by thousands of businesses. It includes all of the core CRM features in Essentials, as well as advanced features like rules-based lead scoring, forecasting, advanced reporting, and role permission features. The Professional plan also includes extensive customization options to configure the CRM based on your particular business needs.
The Professional plan includes more functionality than any of the other options we reviewed, but it is significantly more expensive than Zoho’s most comparable Enterprise plan. It’s designed for larger sales teams that need advanced features like lead scoring, campaigns, order management, and forecasting. Professional is a better choice for sales teams that manage high-level sales opportunities and want to expand functionality through third-party integrations.
Zoho vs Salesforce: Ease of Use
Both Zoho CRM and Salesforce give users wide control over customizing both the overall interface as well as individual modules, especially on higher-tier plans. Both also provide users with tools to organize and filter their information, especially large contact lists, and both include a Kanban-style view of the sales pipeline, making it easy to monitor the progress of deals as they move through your sales process.
Zoho CRM Ease of Use
Zoho CRM is highly customizable, which makes it easy to adapt for your sales process, but cumbersome unless you use the setup wizards. The interface is relatively straightforward compared to Zoho’s competitors, but the number of features packed in can make it overwhelming for new users. However, it easy to share information between the various Zoho software applications, helping to streamline many of the important processes in your business.
Salesforce Ease of Use
Salesforce requires a significant amount of setup in order to make the most of the features included, and many businesses have a dedicated in-house or outside administrator to handle customization and implementation. At the same time, once set up, the cloud-based and mobile interfaces feature a cleaner design than Zoho, allowing sales reps to easily access the information they need on a day to day basis.
Zoho vs Salesforce: Integrations
Both Zoho and Salesforce offer a variety of integrations, extensions, and plug-ins. For example, both offer Outlook and Gmail plug-ins to bring CRM capabilities to your email, and both integrate with a wide range of third-party sale, marketing, and productivity applications.
Zoho CRM System Integrations
Zoho CRM is a part of the overall Zoho software ecosystem which includes support desk, HR, invoicing, inventory management, social media, and office productivity software. This makes it easy to integrate most of your business software services into an all-in-one suite, and makes it a great alternative to Salesforce. In addition, Zoho integrates with many popular third-party software tools Mailchimp, UpLeads, Google Ads, RingCentral, and Trello.
Salesforce System Integrations
Salesforce Sales Cloud (the official name of the CRM) is a part of the Salesforce family of sales, marketing, ecommerce, field service, and analytics tools. However, unlike Zoho, most of these are focused squarely on Enterprise customers and not small businesses. Salesforce also integrates with hundreds of the most commonly used third-party tools, including Mailchimp, DocuSign, QuickBooks, SurveyMonkey, RingCentral, Eventbrite, HubSpot, and more.
Zoho vs Salesforce: Customer Service
One of the important aspects when comparing Salesforce versus Zoho is the training and support provided by each company. Both include extensive training materials, although Salesforce is known for its Trailhead learning and certification programs. One area of difference that may matter to users is that most of Zoho’s service reps are internationally based, while Salesforce has a U.S.-based team of reps, as well as a much larger network of third-party consultants.
Zoho CRM Customer Service
Zoho provides an online knowledge base as well as how-to videos and tutorials. Zoho also facilitates an online community where users can find peer support, learn best practices, and solve many common problems. Finally, users are able to add enhanced support options at an additional price, including priority and dedicated support technicians.
Salesforce Customer Service
Salesforce provides support to Salesforce Essentials customers through guided online training, access to a self-service portal, and two-day online support tickets. In addition, users have access to success communities, where you can interact with other Salesforce customers and support consultants. Users on the Lightning Professional plan can purchase additional 24-hour, toll-free phone support for an additional fee.
Zoho vs Salesforce: Customer Reviews
Both Zoho and Salesforce have large user bases, which means that there are plenty of reviews to consider when making the choice about which CRM is best for your business. We looked at what users had to say about what each service does well and what it doesn’t, and considered case studies and testimonials available for each software.
Zoho CRM Customer Reviews
Users give Zoho generally good reviews for having a comprehensive feature set and for being flexible enough to fit into most sales organizations. At the same time, users comment that the software can be frustrating and cumbersome to customize. Users also wish there were better support options available, as many reviewers share that interactions with support reps can be slow and frustrating. You can find more about what users think on our Zoho review page.
Salesforce Customer Reviews
Salesforce users like the degree to which the software can be customized and the ability to extend functionality with third-party integrations. Users also commented that they like that Salesforce includes both sales and service features within the CRM. However, users feel that there is a long learning curve, and implementation can be challenging. You can read more user feedback on our Salesforce review page.
Both Zoho and Salesforce are powerful and robust customer relationship management tools with plans that are designed to fit a variety of small business needs. Deciding which is best for your business depends on the features that matter most, along with the third-party tools that are integral to your sales process.
We recommend Zoho as the best choice for small businesses that want an affordable CRM that integrates with an all-in-one sales, HR, project management, and productivity suite. Zoho offers a free plan with basic CRM functionality for up to three users, and users can sign up for a free trial of each of their subscription tiers. Visit their website for more information.