Salesforce vs. HubSpot CRM


Updated · Feb 11, 2021

A business has a wide range of customer relationship management (CRM) systems to choose from. Two are Salesforce — probably the largest and most popular system — and HubSpot, from a company known for its social media marketing, inbound marketing, and content marketing tools. This article will compare how these systems approach vital CRM features that help businesses manage customer information and grow revenue.

Know your needs before you begin comparing CRMs

When comparing Salesforce vs. HubSpot, it helps to pick the features that are of particular importance to your business and see how they compare. Most CRMs do check most of the categories, but how well do they perform in each one? And what might you be giving up to get that? This depends on your business, the capabilities of your staff, and your goals.

Salesforce is a highly capable, extremely customizable, and higher-priced CRM aimed at the enterprise market. And while HubSpot has traditionally targeted small and medium-sized B2B businesses, the software also serves enterprise-level companies, but may not include as many customization options as Salesforce. 

Contact and lead management

Both HubSpot and Salesforce provide all of the standard functions for managing contacts and capturing lead information. Neither option offers a particularly robust email function, and businesses will find that they will need to use additional email tools.

HubSpot has a strong focus on supporting lead generation, unsurprising given HubSpot’s origins in inbound marketing. By paying extra, a user can use HubSpot’s content management system (CMS) to publish blog posts and other content. The leads generated will appear in CRM, making analyzing the effectiveness of various pieces of content straightforward.

Salesforce’s reliance on use of a third-party (CMS) system for managing content means that end-to-end analytics, from content to lead, can be a bit more complicated.

Pipeline and deal management

The more complex your sales process, the more the customizability of Salesforce will become important. Salesforce allows sales and marketing teams to define where the prospect is in the pipeline on their own terms. These tools are suitable for a wide variety of industries, both B2B and B2C. HubSpot is better for a simpler sales process with fewer deal stages, particularly for B2B sales. HubSpot provides pre-configured deal states, including qualification, presentation scheduled, and contract sent. It can handle only one pipeline, so if a product line requires a different sales process than the others, HubSpot would not be a good choice. 

Ease of use

The point of a CRM is to help manage and organize all data related to customers, including contacts, leads, and active accounts. To keep track of what’s going on, you need easy-to-use dashboards and other ways to enter, view, and manipulate data — because if it is cumbersome to use or does make essential information easy to access, sales and marketing team members will not use it, and will revert to the siloed spreadsheets a CRM is supposed to replace.

HubSpot has a clean, simple interface, making it easy to learn and use for beginners. The lack of various choices makes it harder to make a mistake or set things up incorrectly. As skills and needs grow, however, this might feel restrictive.

Salesforce’s functionality and wide range of possible choices can make it difficult for new users to orient themselves. In the past, its interface could be confusing, but the newer Lightning interface is much more intuitive. Of course, the views, menus, and tabs are much more configurable than they are in HubSpot.

Support and training

Salesforce has a strong standard support package, with guaranteed maximum response times and the ability to reach a live person. HubSpot also has good basic support, but some types of support may require extra payment. For example, onboarding is standard with Salesforce, while it can cost $1,500 for HubSpot.

If you like learning from peers, both Salesforce and HubSpot have active user communities to share tips and experiences. Salesforce also has Trailhead, a gamified self-training platform full of content that allows users to learn at their own pace.

HubSpot provides training in using the software, In addition to basic training in using the software, HubSpot is known for its training and certifications in inbound and content marketing. Salesforce tends to focus more on the nuts and bolts of how to customize it, set up complex workflows, and define granular pipelines, as you might expect given its greater complexity. It has increasingly added training in both marketing and sales.


Salesforce, a large, highly capable CRM, operates on a software-as-a-service (SAAS) model with a monthly subscription fee per user, starting at $25 per user per month for the barebones version, and going up from there.

By contrast, the basic HubSpot CRM functionality is free for any number of users. The real cost comes in the add-ons and additional functions, your basic “cheap printer, expensive ink” model. Many functions that come standard with Salesforce might be add-ons in HubSpot.

So a careful calculation of the number of intended users, and the essential functions they will need, should give you a way to compare the two for your specific uses.

Choosing between Salesforce vs. HubSpot

Again, it depends on your needs and abilities.

HubSpot is best for B2B businesses who need a well-designed system that embodies best practices, but it may feel constraining if the company needs to customize interfaces, workflows, and functions.

Salesforce is best for somewhat larger businesses of any kind with experienced sales forces that know what modifications will enable them to squeeze the maximum efficiency out of their CRM.

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