And how to pick the one that’s best for you
Looking for the best Salesforce competitor for your small business?
Digging through 600+ different alternatives to Salesforce to find the right one can be a daunting job. 😅 That’s why we’ve done the work for you!
In this post you’ll find:
- A list of the top 7 Salesforce alternatives 🥇
- Ranked by their review scores ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- With their respective pros and cons 👍👎
That way you don’t only find out which ones are best, but also which one is best for your small business specifically.
At the end, we’ll wrap up with a short summary of the pros and cons of each alternative + lay out the 4 essential steps to move from Salesforce to a competitor.
The 7 best Salesforce competitors ranked
Don’t want to read the whole comparison? 🤓
Here’s a quick overview of how each Salesforce alternative performs:
- Salesflare: 9.7/10 🏆
- HubSpot CRM & Sales Hub: 8.6/10
- ActiveCampaign: 8.5/10
- Freshworks CRM: 8.3/10
- Insightly CRM: 8.3/10
- Zoho CRM Plus: 7.7/10
- Pipedrive: 6.6/10
These products ratings are obtained by combining three ratings in one:
- Overall product rating, from the #1 B2B software review site (G2)
- Mobile app rating, from the #1 mobile app store (Google Play)
- Email plugin rating, from the #1 email plugin marketplace (Google Workspace Marketplace)
That way you know you’ll choose a Salesforce competitor that performs on all fronts.
Want to dig into the details? Read on! 👇
If you're a small or medium-sized B2B business and need an alternative to Salesforce that your team will actually use, Salesflare may be right for you.
Salesflare is a dedicated sales CRM that was built from the ground up to help your sales team build better relationships and sell more, while requiring very little of that dreaded data input.
It's made to pull all the data together from where it already is (email, calendar, phone, social media, company databases, email signatures, email & web tracking, ...) and uses that to help you follow up your leads in a better way.
The flip side is that some companies are not used to sharing this much information within the team, although this has been changing dramatically in recent years, and Salesflare has introduced a new permissions system for companies who want to limit some of that newly created transparency.
- Overall (G2): 9.6/10
- Mobile app (Google Play): 4.8/5 → 9.6/10
- Email plugin (Google Workspace): 5/5 → 10/10
- FINAL REVIEW SCORE: 9.7/10
If you don't sell B2B (aka sell to other businesses) and don't do active sales, read on, as one of the below CRMs might be a better fit for you then. If you do actively sell B2B, give Salesflare a try. 👈
We guarantee you won't find anything that will make it as easy to follow up your leads! 👌
2. HubSpot CRM & Sales Hub [8.6/10]
HubSpot is a marketing automation platform turned everything platform. It was founded in 2005 to make marketing automation easier.
Nowadays, HubSpot’s main selling point is offering an all-in-one solution, including marketing, sales, service and operations. If you don’t like using different apps and integrating them (by using tools like Zapier and native integrations), then HubSpot might be the Salesforce competitor you’re looking for.
The flip side is that HubSpot’s software is extremely expensive. Yes, its small business CRM is free, but it’s only comparable to the others in this list if you buy it together with the Sales Hub. And if you want to actually reap the benefits of the all-in-one platform, you need to pay up for the other Hubs too.
On top of that, you’ll find that the different tools in the platform do not compare to their more polished, feature-rich and usually cheaper competitors.
Actually, if you have some ideas of what functionality you need (a CRM, lead forms, landing pages, automated emails or maybe newsletters, …), hit us up on the chat and we’ll help you come up with the perfect sales-marketing stack. I guarantee that it’ll be better and cheaper… and easy to integrate.
- Overall (G2): 8.5/10
- Mobile app (Google Play): 4.6/5 → 9.2/10
- Email plugin (Google Workspace): 4.0/5 → 8.0/10
- FINAL REVIEW SCORE: 8.6/10
3. ActiveCampaign [8.5/10]
ActiveCampaign is an email marketing/automation platform, founded in 2003. It now brands itself as a customer experience automation (CXA) platform, to cover its expanding range of functionality.
ActiveCampaign added a small business CRM module to its offering in 2014, as a sales focused add-on to the rest of the platform. This integration between email automation and CRM is probably its main forte.
Setting up ActiveCampaign is not a light task and its software may become overwhelming, while the CRM aspect itself on the other hand will not be as feature rich compared to the other Salesforce competitors in this list.
When people compare ActiveCampaign to Salesflare, which also offers automated emails and email sequences, our advice is usually simple: if you’re an ecommerce company or B2C company, or you need very complex or very high volume email automation, ActiveCampaign is probably what you’re looking for. If you’re a B2B company with an active sales team and the need to automate more personal emails, then go with Salesflare.
- Overall (G2): 8.9/10
- Mobile app (Google Play): 4.3/5 → 8.6/10
- Email plugin (Google Workspace): 4.0/5 → 8.0/10
- FINAL REVIEW SCORE: 8.5/10
4. Freshworks CRM [8.3/10]
Freshworks CRM is a sales CRM from Freshworks, the company behind / initially called Freshdesk. Freshworks was founded in 2010 to provide a better, cheaper solution for customer service teams.
Freshworks’ main selling point is its feature depth. It has also managed to offer this range of functionality through an easier to use interface than its competitors/predecessors from the same city (Chennai, India), Zoho. Similarly to Zoho as well, it very often positions itself as the cheaper Salesforce competitor.
The flip side here is that the software does feel quite bulky and that the functionality feels like its built too fast to be really well thought through. If complex software frustrates you, it probably isn’t for you.
If you’re in for its most basic plan, the price-functionality ratio is comparable to the more normally priced alternatives to Salesforce in this list. The pricing however ramps up very quickly from there as you need more functionality (or more than 1 pipeline, 5 sequences, …).
Salesflare doesn’t often get compared to Freshworks CRM, but when it happens, it’s people weighing getting something that their team will love to use, against something that checks off a few more of the boxes on their specs list.
Freshworks CRM’s ratings:
- Overall (G2): 9.0/10
- Mobile app (Google Play): 3.8/5 → 7.6/10
- Email plugin (Google Workspace): 4.2/5 → 8.4/10
- FINAL REVIEW SCORE: 8.3/10
5. Insightly CRM [8.3/10]
Insightly CRM is the CRM platform of Insightly, founded in 2009 in Perth, Australia. It was started with the purpose of bringing a better CRM to small businesses.
Starting as a simple solution, over the years Insightly has been building more and more functionality and it now offers a CRM, a marketing platform, a service platform, and an integrations platform. This means that the experience got a little more complex, but you can now get everything in one place.
The main feeling we have when working with Insightly is that it’s relatively old school, clicking through lists and lists of data, with relatively little focus on communication and on actually managing relationships.
While it’s probably a smart upgrade from a spreadsheet, it doesn’t feel on par anymore with some other Salesforce alternatives in this list.
When people compare Salesflare to Insightly, it’s also usually by companies looking for a central database and not necessarily a CRM to better follow up their leads and relationships.
Insightly CRM’s ratings:
- Overall (G2): 8.2/10
- Mobile app (Google Play): 3.9/5 → 7.8/10
- Email plugin (Google Workspace): 4.5/5 → 9.0/10
- FINAL REVIEW SCORE: 8.3/10
6. Zoho CRM Plus [7.7/10]
Zoho Corporation is a software development company, founded in 1996 (coincidentally in the same city as Freshworks above), which is behind an extremely wide range of software products.
It launched a small business CRM product in 2005, which has historically been positioning itself as a cheaper alternative to Salesforce. And that’s immediately its biggest strength.
The pinnacle of its offering is Zoho One, which gives you access to 40+ of its “business apps” for $105/user/month (or $45 if you get it for ALL your employees). Talk about cheap!
The flip side is that Zoho’s products don’t feel user friendly. While the engineering team does churn out a lot features for a low price, the user experience is generally lacking.
Still, if you can’t resist a good deal, Zoho has a whole lot to offer you. Or, if you’ve already tried Zoho and didn’t love it, give Salesflare a try.
Zoho CRM’s ratings:
- Overall (G2): 7.8/10
- Mobile app (Google Play): 4.2/5 → 8.4/10
- Email plugin (Google Workspace): 3.5/5 → 7.0/10
- FINAL REVIEW SCORE: 7.7/10
7. Pipedrive [6.6/10]
Pipedrive is a dedicated sales CRM. It was founded in 2011 in Estonia as a small business alternative to enterprise CRMs like Salesforce, which are built more for enterprise needs than they are for sales teams.
Pipedrive’s power is its simple and well considered user experience, especially when it comes to its older functionality. It makes data input and keeping track of activities easier, albeit still very manual.
Its main weakness is that it has become a bit stale, with a more limited mobile app, lacking basic automation (e.g. of data input), a wonky email integration, and a set of more recent functionality that is not as thoughtfully built anymore.
At some point in time, we positioned Salesflare as “Pipedrive without the typing” (check this TechCrunch video for instance). We did this because like Salesflare, Pipedrive is built for sales teams, is easy to use, and easy to set up.
The main difference is that, unlike Pipedrive, Salesflare was built from the ground up to automate your team’s data input, which also makes it easy to keep it alive / up to date… so you can reap all the benefits you’d expect to get from a CRM. Because, after all, a CRM is only useful if you keep using it.
- Overall (G2): 8.6/10
- Mobile app (Google Play): 3.3/5 → 6.6/10
- Email plugin (Google Workspace): 2.3/5 → 4.6/10
- FINAL REVIEW SCORE: 6.6/10
Which of these Salesforce competitors to pick in which case?
Here’s a quick summary on the pros and cons of each alternative:
- Salesflare [9.7/10] 🏆: your team will actually use it (but the transparency created may be too high)
- HubSpot CRM & Sales Hub [8.6/10]: you’ll have everything in one place (but it’ll get extremely expensive for a suite of tools that is not on par with what you get when you buy the specialized tools separately)
- ActiveCampaign [8.5/10]: you’ll get advanced email automation (but the CRM part won’t be as developed compared to the others in the list)
- Freshworks CRM [8.3/10]: you’ll get a ton of functionality (but it may get a bit bulky and complex)
- Insightly CRM [8.3/10]: you’ll get it all in one place (but you’ll be working with a relatively old school database style CRM, with relatively little focus on communication and relationships)
- Zoho CRM Plus [7.7/10]: you’ll get a lot of functionality for a low price (but it won’t be user friendly)
- Pipedrive [6.6/10]: you’ll get something that is made for sales teams (but that has become a bit stale)
Don’t take our word for it however. We’re very well informed, but also a little biased. 😄
For a longer breakdown with screenshots and testimonials that covers Salesforce, Zoho, HubSpot, Pipedrive and Salesflare, check out this ultimate comparison.
And know that, in the end, your priorities will define what’s the best choice for YOU.
How to move from Salesforce to a competitor: 4 essential steps
Moving over from Salesforce to an alternative CRM isn’t too hard, but to maximize your success it’s best to follow these 4 key steps. 👇
1. Cancel your Salesforce subscription as early as possible
The Salesforce Master Subscription Agreement states that you need to cancel your Salesforce contract by giving written notice 30 days before the end of the contract.
MSA 11.2 “Except as otherwise specified in an Order Form, subscriptions will automatically renew for additional periods equal to the expiring subscription term or one year (whichever is shorter) , unless either party gives the other written notice (email acceptable) at least 30 days before the end of the relevant subscription term.”
As explained in our article about Salesforce contracts however, it may be quite hard to get a hold of your Account Executive to make that cancellation go through, so you best start the process as early as possible.
2. Involve your sales team in picking a better alternative
Don’t choose an alternative CRM by yourself and impose it on your sales team. Chances are high they won’t use it, which will render the CRM useless. You’ll be back to square one again.
Instead, make a shortlist and get them to actually use those Salesforce CRM competitors. If they see themselves using the CRM, it’s way more likely they’ll start and keep using it. Plus, you’ll have their buy-in, which is invaluable.
3. Move over your data and integrations
The easiest way to export your data from Salesforce is to use its Data Export Service, as explained in this Salesforce article. You can also use the Data Loader if you’re used to it, but it’s not the easiest tool to use.
After exporting, it’s best to open the files in Excel and clean out the data a little. Just like when you’re moving houses, it’s best to throw some stuff away and clean your belongings. Otherwise you’ll be moving your accumulated rubbish to the new place too.
When ready, just take the CSVs and import them into your new CRM. For Salesflare, we offer a handy how-to video on importing data here.
When it comes to integrating your new CRM to other systems, the easiest way to do that is through Zapier. Even though Salesforce is touted to have the best integrations, you’ll quickly find that the ease and possibilities of Zapier are so much better. They list some example integrations for Salesflare here.
If you have any questions about importing data or moving over integrations, hit us up on the chat on our homepage. We’re here to help!
4. Train the team & agree how you’ll use the CRM
Training the team on what the CRM can do is essential, so your team can use it to its fullest potential.
Still, you’re setting yourself up for failure if you don’t also decide how you’re going to use it as a team. If everybody uses the system differently, it’s hard to collaborate or make sense of the data.
Take a few moments to come up with some guidelines, and you’ll again have maximized your chances for success.
Let us know if you'd like some guidance on that, especially if you’re picking Salesflare!
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