This article is part of a larger series on CRM.
Zoho CRM and Salesforce are both excellent customer relationship management (CRM) software that offer lead management, deals and opportunities, and customizable sales pipelines. However, Zoho CRM proves to be the superior choice overall as it provides essential features at lower price points, has better support options, and is easy to use right out of the box. Meanwhile, Salesforce is more expensive but offers more advanced features and integrations.
When to use Zoho CRM or Salesforce based on specific small business needs:
- Zoho CRM: Ideal for small businesses that need a robust CRM that’s easy to set up and could be used immediately after sign-up.
- Salesforce: Recommended for bigger businesses that need advanced CRM software with complex features, and have experienced sales reps with technical know-how.
It is worth noting that there are many other general-purpose CRM systems that are simple to use and offer similar capabilities at affordable price points you can consider. Review other options by visiting our guide on the best simple CRMs.
Zoho CRM vs Salesforce at a Glance
4.25 out of 5 stars
4.38 out of 5 stars
Ease of Use
Lead and Contact Management
Lead and Deal Prediction
Customizable Sales Process and Pipelines
Reporting and Analytics
*Starting price for annual contracts
How We Evaluated Zoho CRM vs Salesforce
As we compared Zoho CRM and Salesforce, we looked at the most fundamental factors critical to a small business’ decision in choosing the most suitable CRM for them, such as pricing, ease of use, general features, customer service, and expert scores.
Click the tabs below for more information on the criteria we used to evaluate each customer relationship management (CRM) system:
30% of Overall Score
We looked at the available pricing options, payment schemes, and the need to purchase add-ons to determine which one offers the best value for the most affordable price.
20% of Overall Score
We evaluated the overall set of CRM features, including lead management, lead scoring, sales forecasting, and analytics. We also assessed the extensiveness of available third-party integrations.
20% of Overall Score
Usability and intuitiveness are two of our key considerations when looking into a software’s level of ease of use. In evaluating Zoho CRM and Salesforce, we looked into the level of expertise needed to get up to speed with using the system.
20% of Overall Score
Support is a critical part of running CRM—especially for small businesses with no in-house technical experts. We analyzed the types of support provided by both Zoho CRM and Salesforce via live chat, email, and phone.
10% of Overall Score
We looked through existing customer reviews on credible sites to measure the level of satisfaction current users have, as well as any problems that they usually encounter. We also added our thoughts and expert opinion on key features, value for money, and popularity.
Let’s take a closer look at Zoho CRM and Salesforce:
Most Affordable: Zoho CRM
Starting Monthly Price (Annual Contract)
Starting Monthly Price (Month-to-Month Contract)
Yes, 15 days
Yes, 14 days
Credit Card Requirement for Free Trial
*Month-to-month contract is only available for the Essentials Plan, Salesforce’s lowest-priced plan.
Zoho CRM offers a free plan that includes an allocation for three users and access to basic features, such as contact, lead, and deal management. It has four paid plans that range from $14 to $52 per user, per month. Zoho CRM also offers specialized pipeline-centric CRM for micro-businesses called Zoho CRM Bigin at $7 per user, per month.
Salesforce, on the other hand, doesn’t offer a free plan. Its entry-level and lowest-priced plan, Salesforce Essentials, costs $25 per user, per month when billed annually, and includes fundamental sales and customer support features. It is the only pricing plan that’s available on a month-to-month contract subscription at $35 per user, per month. Its higher-priced plans range from $75 to $300 per user, per month and are billed annually.
Salesforce also offers add-on purchases to extend their CRM’s capabilities, which include the following:
- CPQ and Billing (price configuration and complex quote solutions) at $75 per user, per month
- Sales Cloud Einstein (sales productivity with turnkey intelligence and automation) at $50 per user, per month
- Pardot, which offers sales and email marketing automation campaigns with email builders, contact nurturing, personalized messaging, and optimized sending at $1,200 per month for up to 10,000 contacts
Winner: Zoho CRM wins this round for having affordable pricing options across all its pricing plans. It also doesn’t require any add-ons to its subscription, and users simply need to choose which plan covers their requirements best.
Most User-friendly: Zoho CRM
Straightforward interface that makes it easy to set up and use right away
More sophisticated dashboard that requires time to understand and use
Both Zoho CRM and Salesforce are accessible on desktop or mobile devices, and both provide a high level of flexibility for setting up the system according to users’ unique sales processes. Both providers’ interfaces are also properly laid out, but Zoho CRM’s interface and presentation of data are less complicated and easier to use.
Salesforce’s interface, while properly organized, is full of data and information that can be intimidating for first-time users. Setting up the system also requires some level of experience and even the support of a technical expert—depending on the system customizations needed.
- Zoho CRM: Ideal for beginners who want a straightforward tool that can manage all the essential aspects of their CRM requirements, such as deal and contact management.
- Salesforce: Best for intermediate and experienced users who need highly intelligent and sophisticated analytics and automation tools.
Contact Management With Zoho CRM
Adding a contact on Zoho CRM is simple. You have to fill in each contact’s pertinent details, and all related information for that contact will automatically appear. What’s great about the contact management feature is its ability to display intelligent data that includes the best time to call or email, as well as related activities, including deals, related campaigns, and past interactions—all in one page.
Contact Management With Salesforce
Salesforce’s contact management features, while also straightforward, include a lot of tabs. Users have to toggle through them to see other information, such as opportunities, campaign-related info, cases, and files. At the right side of the dashboard, you’ll find all communications logs with contacts, including calls, emails, and chat.
Winner: Zoho CRM is the winner for this round for being very easy to use and providing a simpler user experience—making it a great choice for small businesses without a dedicated tech team. While also reasonably easy to use, Salesforce requires users to have some level of technical experience depending on how customized they want their dashboard to be.
Best Lead Management Features: Zoho CRM
Social Media Lead Capture
Lead Conversion Prediction
Campaign-based Lead Conversion Analysis
Both Zoho CRM and Salesforce have excellent lead management capabilities, such as lead assignment to the most capable sales reps, capturing potential leads visiting their website, and scoring their importance.
Zoho CRM takes it a notch higher by capturing leads via users’ social media pages and providing data on a lead’s probability to convert. It is also able to nurture leads through an omnichannel platform communication, including email, phone, live chat, and social media.
Winner: Zoho CRM is the winner for best lead management as it provides users with more tools to nurture leads, analyze where they are generated, as well as assess their quality.
Most Advanced Capabilities: Salesforce
Offers essential lead management and sales performance tools and integrates with 50+ third-party apps
Offers complex and advanced sales features, plus 100+ third-party integrations
Zoho CRM offers all the fundamental features, such as lead management, deals and opportunities management, email accounts, and customizable sales pipelines. It also lets users conduct sales forecasting and automate their workflows.
On the other hand, Salesforce offers the same set of features plus few other complex functionalities, including lead campaign management, collaborative forecasting, and rule-based scoring. It also includes advanced features, such as real-time sales insights, a developer sandbox, and role-based permissions that set object or data access for different users.
Zoho CRM offers over 50+ integrations that include office suites, telephony, messaging, finance, and marketing apps. Meanwhile, Salesforce offers a wider selection of integrations, enabling them to connect to over 100 apps that include lead generation, ecommerce, sales, and analytics.
Winner: Salesforce has the upper hand in this category as it offers more advanced and highly intelligent features to analyze a business’ sales performance. It also offers more extensive third-party integrations.
Best Customer Support: Zoho CRM
N/A (Available when you purchase Enterprise support)
N/A (Available when you purchase a Premier or Signature Success Plan)
N/A (Available when you purchase a Premier or Signature Success Plan)
Remote Assistance Session
Neither Zoho CRM nor Salesforce offer 24/7 support in their existing plans, and users need to purchase this as an add-on on top of their monthly subscription. Zoho CRM’s Enterprise Support plan costs 25% of users’ annual Zoho CRM subscription fee, while Salesforce’s Premier Support Plan starts at 30% of users’ annual cost.
Zoho CRM includes all essential support options for its paid plans, including live chat, email, phone, and community forums, as well as remote assistance sessions. Its phone and live chat support is available eight hours per day, five days a week.
Salesforce, on the other hand, provides very limited support options. Its default support is limited to email support or online submission of support cases. Users need to purchase a support plan for more robust support options.
Winner: Zoho CRM is the clear winner in this round for providing users with live chat, phone support, and remote assistance sessions.
Best Alternatives to Zoho CRM & Salesforce
Both Zoho CRM and Salesforce are great CRM tools, but they may not be entirely suitable for every small business. There are other user-friendly, reliable CRM systems with unique features and selling points to consider.
Here are the best alternatives to Zoho CRM and Salesforce:
- Insightly: Good choice for users with longer sales or support cycles and who need a straightforward CRM that includes contact and basic project management features.
- HubSpot CRM: Best for users who need CRM software with robust lead generation and marketing tools.
- Pipedrive: Ideal for sales professionals and teams who need an easy-to-use CRM with visual sales pipeline tools.
- Freshsales: Great option for users who can scale with their business and want CRM with a built-in phone system.
Interested to explore more options? Read our guide to the best CRM software for small businesses and determine which option works best for your specific business needs.
Zoho CRM and Salesforce are both robust customer relationship management tools with a range of plans that suit varying business needs. Choosing the right option for your business boils down to the functionalities that are integral to your sales process.
Zoho CRM is simpler and more affordable but still offers critical features in CRM. Salesforce, on the other hand, is more advanced but also requires some level of technical expertise and previous CRM experience.