- Salesforce is the world’s largest CRM platform and maintains market dominance.
- Salesforce’s global scale means it isn’t designed to serve the unique needs of every business.
- Other CRM companies have filled the small business market gaps left by Salesforce and its market-leader cohort.
- This article is for business owners who want to consider alternatives to the Salesforce CRM.
Salesforce continues to dominate tech headlines and investment forums in 2023. The company has garnered much attention thanks to improved features and an increased stock price, but layoffs and leadership transitions are also part of the chatter surrounding the organization. Internal and external changes could pave the way for rivals like Microsoft and Oracle to claim more market share.
As our review of the Salesforce CRM makes clear, the vendor produces one of the best CRM platforms around. But that doesn’t mean businesses shouldn’t study Salesforce’s competitors. Another offering could better suit your needs, especially when you consider some of Salesforce’s downsides.
Editor’s note: Looking for the right CRM software for your business? Fill out the questionnaire below to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.
Why you should consider Salesforce alternatives
The customer relationship management (CRM) space is full of large and midsize companies vying for the attention of businesses like yours. While only a few CRMs out there are real competition for Salesforce and its global scale, small business clients have a wide variety of vendors to consider.
Salesforce is the most prominent name on the market, with a vast array of features and integrations at reasonable pricing, but those positives may become negatives when viewed from a small business point of view. For example, too many choices can create analysis paralysis; with a plethora of features to choose from when choosing their Salesforce package, small business owners may become overwhelmed or distracted from their core business needs. Plus, many of the company’s integrations and features can be irrelevant and costly bells and whistles for some smaller businesses that can get by with basic functionality. You should also keep in mind that bigger doesn’t always mean better when it comes to customer service. Salesforce, despite being the global CRM leader, has gained a reputation for limited customer support within small business circles.
Fortunately, all it takes is a little research to discover which Salesforce alternatives may be more ideal for your business. We’ve gotten the process started for you by rounding up some of Salesforce’s top competitors below.
Salesforce is the market leader in the CRM space, but small businesses may want to look elsewhere for a vendor that delivers quick customer service and provides the level of individual attention smaller companies need.
Top Salesforce competitors
Could one of Salesforce’s top competitors be a better solution for your small business? We recommend considering these vendors.
One of the things we love most about Keap is its ease of use. This CRM platform is super customizable to your business’s unique needs and makes automation simple to set up. You can add over 2,500 software integrations and sales and CRM marketing tools to expand its functionality. However, Keap’s contact-based pricing model means costs will increase for businesses with more than 10,000 contact names (contacts could include all of your current and past customers, as well as customer leads). This may not be a significant drawback, however, for very small businesses with limited client lists:
- Why it stands out: Keap’s CRM platform stores all customer activity in a centralized space. Your business’s customer interactions are added automatically. The user dashboard makes it easy for you and your team to text, email, book appointments, process purchases and add invoices from the same screen.
- Pricing: The Pro plan starts at $139 per month for two users. The Max plan starts at $199 per month for three users. The company also offers a 14-day free trial.
Find out more in our detailed Keap review.
Zoho CRM is designed to increase leads, accelerate sales and accurately measure performance with ease and efficiency. Zia, the system’s artificial intelligence (AI)-powered assistant, predicts leads and deals, identifies potential customers for conversion and helps sales teams focus their efforts with user-friendly guidance. Note that only Enterprise subscribers have access to these AI-powered tools:
- Why it stands out: This vendor particularly excels at serving remote and hybrid teams. Real-time notifications of customer interactions can reach your sales team in any location, easy-to-use automation saves time on repetitive tasks and the flexible dashboard makes it convenient to stay in touch with your entire sales team from anywhere.
- Pricing: Zoho offers four plans — Standard, Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate. Pricing starts at $14 per user, per month, for the Standard package and tops out at $52 per user, per month, for the Ultimate option. We particularly like that the Enterprise tier gets you a customer journey command center, a Canvas visual CRM view, a mobile software development kit and multiuser portals.
See our in-depth Zoho CRM review for a breakdown of each pricing tier.
Zendesk works incredibly well for businesses with complex customer profiles and industries with long-term customer relationships. It is especially well-suited for managing post-sale business activities, renewals and other customer service tasks. However, the home dashboard isn’t super user-friendly compared to other CRM options on the market.
- Why it stands out: You can enjoy a suite of collaboration tools that keep team members engaged and make it easier to work together from various locations. Customer data is aggregated from multiple customer touchpoints into a central database, preventing different departments from duplicating communications or missing context.
- Pricing: The monthly subscription price ranges from $19 to $99 per user, with a 30-day free trial option.
Using a CRM model alongside your CRM software can help improve your company’s sales process while using a CRM for customer service can boost client retention.
Oracle NetSuite CRM
While Oracle is one of the biggest CRM companies in the world — competing alongside leaders like Salesforce, SAP, Microsoft and Adobe for market share — it can also be a powerful tool for small e-commerce businesses. Its Oracle NetSuite product is a truly unified, all-in-one commerce solution for sales, marketing and operations. Just be aware that access to all features and tools requires purchasing Oracle’s enterprise resource planning platform.
- Why it stands out: The Oracle CRM includes custom integrations with the full suite of Oracle products. It also provides a robust CRM analytics system, highly rated mobile applications and full browser and cloud support.
- Pricing: Costs are not available online because quotes are generated based on each business’s specific needs.
While pricing isn’t readily available, our full review of the Oracle NetSuite CRM is jam-packed with other must-know information on other aspects of this Salesforce rival.
monday Sales CRM
For businesses with never-ending task lists and complex ventures, the monday Sales CRM from monday.com can help streamline project management processes as they relate to sales activities. The vendor’s core work management platform, which is included with the CRM, is designed to run and scale to any workflow. The software’s interfaces are easy to navigate, and the program comes equipped with unlimited boards to organize projects, from dashboards to customer data visualization tools:
- Why it stands out: Premade templates make building and implementing time-saving automation super simple. We like that all plans include 24/7 customer support.
- Pricing: There are four plans available — Free, Basic, Standard and Enterprise (for large-scale operations). The free plan is limited to two users, 5GB of storage and 200+ templates. Basic and Standard are priced from $10 to $14 per user per month when billed annually, while companies interested in the Enterprise option need to get a custom quote. Students and nonprofits may qualify for discounted or free access.
Our review of the monday Sales CRM explains how the free version of the software differs from the tiers you have to pay for.
Other CRM competitors
The vendors we highlighted above are only some of the many other CRM providers small businesses can choose from. Companies like Less Annoying CRM, HubSpot, Insightly and SugarCRM can’t compete with Salesforce in terms of sheer size, but they understand the small and medium-sized business market. Like the other CRM vendors profiled in this article, these companies have built CRM solutions designed to serve small businesses with a more modern sales process that makes buying a software-as-a-solution product more transparent.
Salesforce has an entry-level option called Salesforce Essentials. This product may be more appealing to small businesses that still want to work with the Salesforce brand but don’t need all of the company’s pricey tools.
The future of Salesforce and its competition
Salesforce is unique in that it acquired a dominant market share by targeting businesses of all sizes at the same time. The company continues to face stiff competition from big dogs like Oracle NetSuite CRM and Microsoft Dynamics as they move out of the enterprise-only market to nab contracts with large and midsize companies. That’s on top of the increasing competition Salesforce faces from CRM companies that focus exclusively on the small business set.
The strength of the competitive landscape combined with the economic changes hitting the technology sector in 2023 promise to make it an interesting year for Salesforce. The alternatives that focus on serving the unique and evolving needs of small businesses, instead of on company growth and global market dominance, could chip away at Salesforce’s clientele. After all, a global presence and unmatched power don’t automatically make the Salesforce CRM the best option for your business.
Mona Bushnell and Jordan Beier contributed to this article.