Gone are the days of scanning your customer database in spreadsheets, jumping from tab to tab to find Billy’s birthday and email just to send him a promotion he has absolutely no interest in. For all businesses, it has always been important to have a full scope of your customer management and your sales and marketing efforts. Without it, you’re essentially shooting yourself in the foot, as you climb the ladder to success. Cliché talk aside, it is no secret that a good growth platform separates the top dogs from the strays as it offers businesses full and customisable control of sales and marketing operations and most importantly, attracts new customers and conducts the necessary actions to retain them.
Now, you may be asking “Where can I find a solid growth platform to develop my business?” No need to fret amigo, as two of the household names that may have tickled your ears are industry leaders HubSpot and Salesforce. Both are a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) and provide incredibly powerful features for sales, marketing and service. While they share similarities, they don’t cater for all businesses in the same way - particularly in regard to their available features, usability and pricing, so you need to determine which platform is best for your business.
Lucky for you, we’ve done half of the leg work by showcasing the difference between HubSpot and Salesforce suites in this article, so let’s get cracking. Quick disclaimer though: we at Neighbourhood are proud HubSpot partners, so you can best believe we’ll be a little biased towards it. Nevertheless, we will keep both systems on an even playing field so you can be the judge yourself.
So are there any differences?
When comparing the two, I think it's fair that we dive into a little background about the two systems. Let’s start with the giant Salesforce. Salesforce hosts numerous different cloud platforms such as SalesCloud, MarketingCloud and ServiceCloud in collecting customer data and generating them into actionable insights for the different departments of the business in one big suite. Major Salesforce clients include Spotify, Toyota and Amazon Web Services, so you already know these guys are big players in the industry.
On the other hand, Hubspot is an all in one growth platform that boasts sales and engagement system, robust sales analytics under HubSpot CRM, Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, Service Hub and CMS Hub. HubSpot continues to support the growth of industry brands such as Subaru, Suzuki and Randstad. HubSpot also introduced to businesses the Flywheel model , as a new way of connecting with and nurturing customers. With its focus on Inbound Marketing the model puts customers in the centre of your business and takes them through its three stages; Attract, Engage and Delight.
1. HubSpot vs Salesforce: Cost
Whether software costs eat up a huge chunk of your expense or not, it's always important to consider the monetary costs of a platform that’s supposed to make you more money. Hence, we put it as number one on the list. Just for you!
HubSpot offers a free version which comes with a set of free marketing, sales and service tools, available to an unlimited number of users. Great for startups just starting out and looking for methods to develop their customer base. Gotta keep those overhead costs low baby! At the same time, the free version also grants you access to HubSpot’s free online community where you can access discussion forums for support, how-to articles, and certification from HubSpot academy. And yes you heard it right the first time: all for free.
If you’re a larger organisation or just want to up your marketing and sales level, HubSpot offers multiple plans for add-ons ranging from $75AUD per month for lower tier plans up to $4 610 per month for enterprise-level plans. Price bundling is also offered of the entire HubSpot suite and is broken up into three tiers, for three different types of businesses – Starter, Professional and Enterprise. As a paid user, if you run into any issues, HubSpot has your back with access to 24/7 email and call support.
Salesforce follows a different approach by letting you choose between four licensing options for access to one of its cloud services. A monthly plan is required for every user of the system ranging from $35AUD per month for the lowest tier and $416AUD per month for the highest, although they do also offer a limited free trial, which gives users access to one of its cloud services. However, this free tier comes with limited support.
2. HubSpot vs Salesforce: Ease of Use
Software usability can be an underrated factor when implementing a new suite. It may have all the bells and whistles but if your team is finding it difficult to navigate, you might not get the full intended use of the platform and it’ll cost you that precious time and money.
One of the few key takeaways with HubSpot is the interface with you, (the user) in mind. Because the core purpose of a complete suite is managing and organising all customer or client data, HubSpot has enabled the navigating and usage of the platform to be easy to pick up. Couple intuitive navigation and powerful reporting with automating features, and HubSpot will give you easily accessible insight into how your business is performing. According to G2, HubSpot users have rated the suite a score of 8.6, beating out Salesforce’s score of 7.8.
Just like the flexibility of an Android smartphone, you’ll notice straight away that Salesforce offers more options for the customisation of menus such as adding custom tabs for elements like Tasks, Sales Groups and Files along its wide array generic tabs. This type of user experience is highly suited for large enterprises handling complex sets of data or when dealing with a unique sales pipeline. However, when you adopt the Salesforce system, you’ll likely need a dedicated specialist and account manager to ensure that things are running smoothly to best suit your business’ needs. While this may be largely helpful for you to get the most of it, executing it can be costly as you would need to either train someone or hire someone – both of which are a long-term investment for your business. So while Salesforce is highly customisable, its complexity in terms of its user experience can cost you more in the long run.
3. HubSpot vs Salesforce: Sales and Pipeline Management
To all businesses, guiding a customer through the sales pipeline is much like a baby needing milk – a crucial factor for growth. While pipelines differ for each business, it's never been more important to have insight every time a new lead is added to the pipeline. Having that information is like finding the golden ticket, as it’ll allow you to carefully craft what actions to take. No time dealing with Oompa Loompas over here!
Being a customer of HubSpot also means you adopt their tried and true sales pipeline stages. Pre-configured in the system, it also allows you to add and edit your own stages to best suit your business. While the free version only allows for one sales pipeline per organisation, subscribing to the premium plan unlocks multiple pipelines. Reporting is available in all both free and paid plans and provides digestible understandings of your pipeline analytics.
I wasn’t joking when I said that Salesforce is highly customisable because this too translates to its pipeline management features. Salesforce allows you to personalise deal stages that suit the exact sales processes of your business. Because of this, the software also efficiently produces custom reporting (we will dive into this later on) so you can focus more of your time enhancing your operations, instead of trying to understand where your leads go cold. With the introduction of its own Artificial Intelligence (AI), this feature gets to know more by using predictive algorithms to anticipate which channels leads are more likely to interact with. And as you may expect, this premium feature is only available for premium payment plans.
While Salesforce boasts larger capabilities in managing the sales pipeline, HubSpot offers the essentials to track and manage your leads and the stages they’re in. However, because of the breadth of customisation Salesforce offers, they have the ability to produce custom reporting that you may need.
4. HubSpot vs Salesforce: Analytics and Reporting
Dealing with analytics is not for everyone - as I and the rest of the failing Data Analysis uni students can attest. However, a good growth suite should be able to translate raw data into digestible and actionable insights, just like how I aced the unit after switching tutors.
Out of the box, HubSpot enables you to be the smart data-driven marketer you’ve always had in you by including analytics, reports and a user-friendly dashboard for easy data viewing. While the free version covers pre-configured reports for sales pipelines and sales activities, its premium package offers more customisable reports.
As previously mentioned, Salesforce pride themselves on custom data - but this also goes hand in hand with reporting. With the higher priced plans offering endless customisation and robust reporting, Salesforce has always been the king when dealing with really large amounts of customer data. Although powerful and of course helpful, customising it will require time and resources to implement and master.
5. HubSpot vs Salesforce: Support and Training
If you’re not a complete tech wiz, you may find yourself accidentally doing something you’re not supposed to in any software. What usually follows is a lot of head scratching, maybe a little sweating and probably a lot of “Uhh… Where’s that button?” to tech support. HubSpot and Salesforce offer different options for support that you should definitely factor in to avoid yourself staying back in the office on a Friday afternoon.
While all HubSpot customers have access to its free online community for support, premium support and technical assistance can sometimes come at an additional cost. However, if a basic product query is all you need, whether you have the paid or free version, you’ll get a response within 24 hrs. If you’re after upskilling new recruits with some certifications, HubSpot also offers free courses mainly on inbound lead generation.
Salesforce promises that all its customers get a standard support package which includes customer success communities and two-day responses for general queries. For its premium users, 24/7 access to phone support and one-hour responses to critical issues are what to expect. Salesforce also offers training which focuses on the technical aspects of Customer relationship management (CRM) tools and features.
6. HubSpot vs Salesforce: Integrations
Scattered data = Productivity loss. All businesses have experienced cluttered data at some point or another - which is why growth platforms have integrated with a bunch of tools and services to help your organisation be a well-oiled machine. But what happens if those tools aren’t well integrated? Luckily, HubSpot and Salesforce both have a great range of integrations, so you won't have to worry about that.
Do you already use Slack to communicate in teams and for a bit of workplace banter? Perfect! Slack is among over 500 free and subscription-based apps available for integration in the HubSpot App Marketplace. Other apps you already may be using or are sat ready to compliment your entire suite include Gmail, Facebook Ads and Mailchimp.
Much like HubSpot’s app ecosystem, Salesforce has over 3,400 free and paid apps and integrations in its AppExchange.
So with all this in mind… Which should I choose?
The short answer: it's completely up to you and your business’ needs.
The long answer: We highly recommend HubSpot for small to medium businesses who have just started and are looking to expand their customer base without sacrificing resources and productivity. Don’t get me wrong, Salesforce is a very powerful growth platform with heaps of capabilities to develop a business. It's just that sometimes, it may be a little overkill - especially if you’re paying for a premium package but you aren’t getting the most out of all its features. But if you want an all in one suite that does all the essentials such as pipeline management and analytics really well, coupled with an intuitive user interface and a lower cost to implement, both in the short and long run, HubSpot will be where it's at.