There are plenty of CRM tools available to help marketing, sales, and customer success teams manage lead generation, sales funnels, and customer relationships. Your company is probably using an average to great CRM platform already, and its features are baked into your day-to-day sales operations.
However, you might still be looking for an integration or all-around solution that incorporates other important operations at your company, such as human resource management. We're talking about human capital management tools for payroll management, absence and leave logging, employee profile management, HR compliance, time tracking, and L&D.
Many companies, especially at the enterprise level, opt for an in-house solution instead of a cloud-based SaaS platform - and oftentimes, the intranet approach to sales and CRM leaves much to be desired.
Not to mention that intranets and other internal solutions tend to be under-designed and not very user-friendly while presenting a high maintenance cost to your company.
If you've had a less-than-impressive experience with your company's current CRM solution or intranet, or you're looking for something with more HR management features, you're probably searching for CRM alternatives (which is, of course, what brought you to this article).
While Salesforce is a top-rated sales and customer relationship management platform with a high number of users worldwide, Hubspot is an emerging favorite and a strong competitor in the CRM category for you to consider for your business.
Your choice for an alternative will ultimately come down to the nitty-gritty of how these systems work and integrate into your current workflows, the kinds of reports you can generate, and how much it will cost your company.
Most importantly, we'll consider the possibilities for HR management in using these platforms, so that you can make an informed decision about whether Salesforce or Hubspot is the all-rounder software for you.
Salesforce offers a comprehensive platform together with standalone products and tools for your sales team and your customer support and marketing teams.
Having grown through multiple strategic mergers and acquisitions over the years, their CRM platform is based on modules ("Clouds") for Sales, Service, Marketing, Commerce, Integrations, etc.
Whereas this could present a bit of a learning curve for new users, Salesforce has also created packaged products for small businesses and businesses working in particular industries to make it easier for your company to get up and running.
It is also notable that Salesforce is more robust in offering coding capabilities and more granular reporting features, which opens up many more customization options for you.
A key differentiator is that the Salesforce Platform's Lightning Framework enables you to create your own apps with low code.
Image Source: Salesforce
HubSpot built its modules from the ground up and offers a CRM platform for Sales, Marketing, Content Management & Service. However, Hubspot has also relied on its fair share of acquisitions to add more functionality to its offering.
The main differentiator is that Hubspot offers a free version with elements from all of its modules ("Hubs"), which means that anyone can use its essential features upon signing up and won't need to upgrade until they need more sophisticated tools or specific reports.
Hubspot also offers more baked-in marketing features, whereas Salesforce offers marketing features as add-ons (which incurs extra costs).
Image Source: Hubspot
Launched in 1999, Salesforce's CRM was the first SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) platform built from scratch using cloud computing.
Cloud computing simply means that data is stored on remote servers and accessed via the internet instead of on-premise, as with traditional software.
Cloud-based software implies that it's easier to initiate since no complicated software installation is necessary. Updates and bug fixes can be done faster at a lower (or no) cost to the client.
With their "no software" guerilla marketing campaign, Salesforce established itself as an innovator in the software space, heralding the new age of SaaS.
It only makes sense then that they've been leaders in the CRM category for more than a decade, specifically focused on sales automation and optimization.
Let's break down the features that Salesforce offers:
Automation And Integrations
The Salesforce app marketplace, AppExchange, provides access to thousands of third-party app integrations.
It's the most comprehensive CRM software integrations platform, which is both impressive and daunting.
This means that whatever software you're already using within your business, most likely, you'll be able to plug it into Salesforce and start pulling in customer insights.
Salesforce also enables you to automate sales tasks using workflows and approvals, and you can use Pardot as a marketing automation tool.
If you're looking for an AI tool to assist with smoother operations, you can rely on Salesforce's Einstein to lend a helping hand with recognizing important data and recommendations for your next steps.
As mentioned in the previous section, Marketing Cloud is powered by Pardot, a marketing automation tool that was acquired by Salesforce.
The Salesforce Marketing Cloud has great features for integrating with social media platforms, scheduling social posts, and creating and automating marketing emails.
You can automatically create and complete tasks and send trigger-based lead nurturing emails with rich content.
Salesforce's Content Builder is a drag-and-drop content management tool that enables you to collect and use your documents and images at a central location within Marketing Cloud. This lets you create visually appealing emails and website landing pages in Salesforce.
You can also make use of Salesforce and GA4 integration and integration with Google Tag Manager to report on your marketing ROI.
Sales Cloud offers all the features you need to move contacts from lead to customer status.
From managing accounts, contacts, and opportunities, to sales forecasting (predicting your sales success based on AI) and workflows for sales automation, Salesforce makes it easier for you to handle business — even on your mobile phone.
Image Source: Salesforce
Salesforce's new flagship product, Customer 360, really aims to do what it says: to give you an all-round view of your customer's preferences, touchpoints, pain points, and opportunities for further growth — all in one place, with the help of Slack.
Customer relationship management is not only a sales process. Before customers buy, they're simply real users looking to find solutions to their needs.
These marketing contacts turn into leads, then customers, who will also need support in their continued use of your product/service. That's why Customer 360 makes so much sense.
Salesforce gives you a Single Source of Truth by assigning a single Customer 360 Identity to each of your contacts while leveraging Google and Facebook sign-on.
This means customer data is seamlessly and securely saved across multiple Salesforce tools.
You can use Salesforce's Service Cloud to make and manage calls, emails and chat support, and create a branded customer self-service site (knowledge base and ticketing) to help your customers understand and use your product/service.
The Field Service app can be accessed online as well as offline and enables customer service agents to complete in-person or virtual jobs.
Service Cloud also makes it easier to manage your customer service team with the help of smart productivity tools.
The Employee Service feature includes an employee self-service portal for managing onboarding and managing IT tickets, and can be customized to suit your needs.
It allows you to get an overview of each employee, automate processes, and even lets you create a customized L&D solution for your team using myTrailhead.
You can collect employee feedback on learning modules and identify skills gaps.
If you want a full-fledged HR solution on Salesforce, you should consider flair - we're built on the back of Salesforce's Lightning Framework, which means our platform was made to enhance Salesforce for you.
As one of the first HR management apps on Salesforce AppExchange, flair is a five-star rated time-tracking, shift planner, payroll, absence, and employee self-service platform.
Image Source: Salesforce AppExchange
Salesforce enables you to create customized reports on all your sales, marketing, and customer service operations.
This is an incredibly powerful feature, since CRM data is key for making business decisions.
In terms of HR management reporting using flair, you can generate reports on:
Salesforce Essentials packages start at $25 per user per month.
Salesforce does not offer a free version, but you can take advantage of their 30-day free trial to get a feel for the software before you decide whether to buy.
You don't need to enter any credit card details to get started with the trial version.
A Fortune500 company once rated the Most Innovative Company by Forbes, Salesforce has also been rated as one of the best companies to work for in America.
The Salesforce ecosystem of products and integrations is beyond impressive - it is overwhelming!
The comprehensiveness of their product offering began to shroud the value that it could bring to the customer (and their customers), a point that Hubspot leveraged in the comparison between their own product and Salesforce.
Salesforce acquired Slack in 2020 and formed a partnership with Apple to add some of their feature shortcuts to the Salesforce software.
The Slack acquisition led to their Customer 360 product offering:
"Customers expect more from your business. With a shared view of every customer, your teams can deliver. Built on a single, scalable customer relationship management (CRM) platform, Customer 360 has an app for every phase of your customer’s journey, from lead to loyalty. The more apps you combine, the more teams you unite, the greater the business benefits."
Customer 360 addresses the issue of having too much of a good thing with Salesforce by offering one platform for their customers to connect all the Salesforce products they're using, plus the functionalities that Slack has to offer.
Patrick Stokes, SVP of Product Management, who heads up Customer 360 product development, describes it as follows:
"What makes Customer 360 different is that we’re leaving data where it belongs, in the systems that manage it. We’re simply putting a graph on top of the data from our clouds so that we know where it is and how to retrieve it when we need it. We think this is a faster and safer solution, and it can all be managed by Salesforce admins, without the need for development work."
Furthermore, their myTrailhead feature for employee L&D is another game-changer to aid in your sales, marketing, and customer teams' growth.
Salesforce, overall, has high user reviews for customer service (4.1 out of 5 stars).
As can be expected from such a giant enterprise, there are mixed customer responses concerning their support.
They also have handy videos and topics within the platform to help you get the answers you need.
Again, the myTrailhead feature enables you to create customized learning experiences for your employees to learn how to use Salesforce at your company.
Image source: Capterra
Having entered the CRM market a while later in the game (launched in 2005), Hubspot established itself as a key player with thought leadership on inbound marketing.
Its founders, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah published the seminal book, Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media and Blogs in 2010.
Hubspot prides itself on being a "single source of truth" for its customers to find the insights they need to manage their businesses better.
Let's break down the features that Hubspot offers:
There are a few automation tools under Hubspot's hood, including Workflows and Sequences for sales processes, and Chatflows to handle chatbot conversations with new and returning visitors to your website.
Hubspot also has built-in AI in place that works as a personal assistant: you can scan business cards to extract contact information. The platform automatically finds and reports duplicate contacts.
In terms of marketing automation, you can create personalized email drip campaigns and choose from a variety of triggers, conditions, and actions to make sure you send optimized communication to your prospective customers.
HubSpot has an impressive App Marketplace offering integrations with over 500 native (Hubspot-built) and third-party apps. To optimize and streamline your processes, you can connect other powerful HubSpot alternatives like Salesmate, Zoom, Mailchimp, Slack, Gmail, Zapier, and more.
Image Source: Hubspot
In the Hubspot Marketing Hub Professional, you'll find robust content marketing tools for SEO and online ads, as well as email marketing, social media scheduling and monitoring, and campaigns.
Image Source: Hubspot
Marketing Hub lets you plug in your social accounts and share rich content across your accounts and landing page, all from one central place. It also provides analytics reporting that you can tie back to your bottom line.
Since Hubspot focuses on inbound marketing, they offer a built-in content management system (CMS).
Hubspot Sales Hub provides all the sales features that you would expect from a world-class CRM:
The Hubspot API allows you to get user information from your app and connect them to custom objects to more easily monitor and manage user experience — from signup to upgrade.
Other CRM features include managing customer communication, setting call tasks, getting notifications when the customer reaches touchpoints and creating Active Contact Lists based on criteria.
This creates a real-time view of your customers.
Image Source: Hubspot
To keep your customers happy and engaged, you can use the service tools in Hubspot's Service Hub.
These include the Knowledge Base feature, Customer Portal for support ticket management, live Chat, and shared Inbox to build a customized customer service hub.
Advanced features such as Chatflows make it easy to create automated bot responses to frequently asked questions and help customers find the answers they're looking for.
All of these actions are captured in the CRM tool so you can keep track of where customers are visiting and clicking.
Seeing as Hubspot is a highly customizable tool, it is possible to create a Pipeline and Deal Stages for HR purposes like hiring and onboarding.
However, Hubspot has no built-in HR management features (and not many HR management platforms that you can integrate with via their App Marketplace).
Hubspot has a wide array of reporting tools.
There are generated reports to quickly gain insights into sales opportunities and productivity, customer success, and customer support.
You can also segment and filter data and create exportable custom reports to share with your team.
You can build out your own dashboards as well, to keep your reporting relevant, consistent, and specific to your company goals.
Image Source: Hubspot
Hubspot offers a free version with limited access to all of its modules.
This will oftentimes suffice for a small business wanting to get up and running with a CRM, but which might not have the budget to allow purchasing a software license right away.
Once you feel you're ready for access to premium tools like unbranded landing pages, marketing campaign tools, in-app chat support, meeting scheduling, sales automation, customer service bots, etc., you can upgrade to one of their paid plans starting at $45 per month.
What's also really helpful is that Hubspot has comprehensive cost calculators for each package they offer to know how much you'll pay before you commit to signing up.
Hubspot is an affordable software option for small to medium businesses looking for a quick setup process at no additional cost.
A unique feature about Hubspot compared to Salesforce is that they offer free seats on any package for adding employees (such as exco or manco) who only need viewing access to reports but none of the other tools for CRM per se.
Of course, Hubspot's free tools also make the software tool highly accessible. Hubspot has a pretty comprehensive free-forever version that includes your team's CRM, Marketing, Sales, Service, and Operations tools (at no cost!).
Hubspot's customer service is impeccable – you can log a ticket or find a live representative to chat with you within minutes.
Best of all, you can request a support call no matter where you are in the world, and someone from the Hubspot team will be able to help you out.
When the platform is experiencing downtime or other issues, there is always a clear notification to let you know so that you don't lose any work while they fix the issue.
Image Source: Capterra
Based on the evidence in this article, it's clear that both Salesforce and Hubspot are forerunners in the CRM category.
Whereas it is excellent that Hubspot offers a free tier package with unlimited users, their module-based pricing structure can get tricky when you're trying to decide on features versus value for money.
If we had to choose a 'winner' for each category listed above, it would look like this:
We hope this article helps you choose the right CRM for your needs, especially in terms of an integrated HR management platform.
As a last note, you can also integrate Hubspot and Salesforce with each other if you want to use Hubspot's free tools together with the power of Salesforce.