Salesforce vs. HubSpot: What Do Real Users Think?

A comparison of CRMs by 7 criteria based on ratings and reviews by small and medium-sized businesses

Salesforce vs. HubSpot

Looking to make an informed decision between HubSpot and Salesforce?

You may have already checked the comparisons written by the vendors themselves or by the lonely blogger/analyst out there, but you’re probably still wondering: what do real users think? 🤔

You could go out and read through the hundreds of reviews on websites like G2 or Capterra… but if you’re instead looking to get a quick yet comprehensive summary, we’ve got you covered here.

We’ve read through all the user reviews, structured all the feedback along 7 different criteria and laid it out for you below, complete with ratings per criterion. ⭐


Methodology and sources

The below comparison is entirely based on user reviews that are:

Our methodology consists of the following steps:

  1. Read through all the reviews to extract key review snippets
  2. Structure review snippets along 7 different criteria (see below)
  3. Summarize these snippets in a readable text format for you
  4. Extract the user review scoring for each criterion from G2 (when possible)

The selected criteria for this comparison largely align with those used by G2 to review software products. We’ve added additional “integrations” and “pricing” criteria, plus we merged the “quality of support” and “ease of doing business with” criteria into one.

The structure we’re using for the Salesforce vs. HubSpot comparison looks as follows:

  1. Ease of use: can you actually use it?
  2. Ease of administration: how easy is it to keep it up to date?
  3. Ease of setup: what does it take to get started?
  4. Meets requirements: does it do what it should do?
  5. Integrations: can you integrate it the way you expect?
  6. Support: do you get help when you need it?
  7. Pricing: what does it cost?
  8. Final verdict: Salesforce vs. HubSpot – which CRM is best?

We understand that you’re looking to compare our major competitors HubSpot and Salesforce, but do forgive us for mentioning our competing product, Salesflare, along the way because:

  • If you’re up for a better CRM option in any way, you’ll see that real users consistently give Salesflare higher review ratings than Salesforce and HubSpot on all criteria.
  • And if you’re not up for a better alternative, you can still enjoy the fruits of our deep CRM expertise and just read on below to figure out which CRM is best for you!

Enjoy 😁


Ease of use: can you actually use it?

An absolutely essential question to ask when choosing the right CRM for your small business is: will your team use the software? After all, if they don’t use the CRM, it’s relatively useless to even buy and implement one.

This is the first criterion where we can identify a big difference between HubSpot and Salesforce.

HubSpot reviewers are generally positive about its ease of use, although opinions are a little mixed:

  • “HubSpot is straightforward” (HubSpot)
  • “Too much clutter and too much going on” (HubSpot)
  • “It’s user friendly” (HubSpot)
  • “A bit busy” (HubSpot)
  • “Relatively intuitive” (HubSpot)
  • “Multiple UX flows do not make sense” (HubSpot)

In short, while HubSpot is relatively easy to use, it also seems to suffer a little from its increasing complexity.

The feedback for Salesforce when it comes to ease of use is however absolutely brutal.

Here are a few quotes from Salesforce reviews that summarize the overall tendency:

  • “It’s hard to navigate and clunky” (Salesforce)
  • “What seems simple is not. The very large complexity of the whole environment is astonishing” (Salesforce)
  • “Overwhelming and confusing to get used to” (Salesforce)
  • “Search in a million different places to find things” (Salesforce)

Now why would the biggest CRM player in the market build a CRM that people don’t like to use? 🤔

The main reason for this is that Salesforce is generally bought by executives at enterprises, who value the usefulness of the system for the organization above how easy it is for their teams to use. Or said otherwise: Salesforce’s CRM is built for management, not for sales people.

HubSpot on the other hand is primarily built for mid-sized companies, where usability is more important to the decision makers when choosing the right software.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for the more easy-to-use CRM of HubSpot and Salesforce, go with HubSpot.

When checking the G2 ratings for “ease of use”, HubSpot gets 4.30/5 while Salesforce is rated 4.05/5. You’ll see throughout this comparison that these G2 ratings usually land in the 4-5/5 range, i.e. a score close to 4 is a relatively bad score.

Now, if you’re looking for a really easy-to-use CRM for your small or medium-sized business, don’t limit yourself to these two and have a look at Salesflare instead. It gets a G2 score of 4.75/5. ✨


Ease of administration: how easy is it to keep it up to date?

Actually using CRM software is obviously the key to a successful implementation and to reaping all the benefits that come with it. There is, however, one key bottleneck when it comes to CRM success: the ease with which you can keep it up to date.

That’s where most CRMs fall short. They expect you to keep the whole system up to date manually, tracking every interaction, every little detail about a customer, and every person you meet along the sales process.

Sales people just don’t have the time and the discipline to take care of all this, so most CRMs that are implemented get used superficially… or not at all. And this is regardless of how easy these systems are to use and to navigate.

When reading reviews of HubSpot and Salesforce, we can see that this is a major opportunity for improvement for both CRMs. Here a few quotes to exemplify this:

  • “Very manual” (HubSpot)
  • “Lot of time to record everything you do (Salesforce)
  • “Requires a lot of clicks to get things done” (Salesforce)
  • “Hard to keep track of everything” (Hubspot)

Now, despite the general trend we can identify, HubSpot is still much easier to keep up to date than Salesforce based on the reviews as well as on our own experience with both systems. It also synchronizes some more data out of the box (with Salesforce, you even have to pay for an additional package to sync your email inbox). Altogether, this makes HubSpot the clear winner on this criterion. 🏆

Conclusion

Both Salesforce and HubSpot can be relatively tedious to keep up to date, but if you’re looking for the better option, you’d better choose HubSpot.

The G2 ratings also lean towards HubSpot, with a 4.30/5 for HubSpot and 4.00/5 for Salesforce (again at the very low end of the usual 4-5/5 range).

If you’re, however, looking for a CRM that practically keeps itself up to date (wouldn’t your team love that?), then Salesflare is a much better option. It gets a whopping 4.75/5 G2 score for “ease of administration”.


Ease of setup: what does it take to get started?

The data we have at Salesflare about the success of our customers very clearly shows that those who get set up better with their CRM in the first few weeks tend to be significantly more successful with their CRM and achieve better sales results in the long run.

Said otherwise: the better you organize yourself, the better your sales results will be. 📈

HubSpot and Salesforce are very different in this respect. While only a limited number of reviewers complain that setting up HubSpot was a pain, a large amount of Salesforce users seem to have problems with this:

  • “Hard to configure” (Salesforce)
  • “Too heavy to set up” (Salesforce)
  • “Long roll out” (Salesforce)
  • “Difficult admin UI” (Salesforce)

This is, again, because Salesforce is built for enterprises and is generally implemented by an implementation partner of theirs. While it does offer the possibility to try it out and get set up without anyone’s help, this is not generally recommended.

HubSpot on the other hand is built for mid-sized companies who have a greater need for an out-of-the-box solution. This does not mean they don’t have implementation partners. After all, if you go beyond the CRM and Sales Hub, setting up HubSpot can become more of a pain. It does however mean that the option has been created to take care of it all yourself.

Conclusion

Comparing HubSpot with Salesforce by the criterion of “ease of setup”, HubSpot is the obvious winner.

Ratings on G2 are relatively low for both platforms: HubSpot sits near the bottom of the usual 4-5/5 range with 4.15/5, while Salesforce sits at an even lower 3.75/5 score.

The #1 easiest-to-setup CRM as rated by real users on G2 is Salesflare, getting a 4.75/5 score. Needless to say, we’re very proud of that feat!


Meets requirements: does it do what it should do?

Now does each CRM meet its customers’ requirements?

This is a rather vague question to answer if you don’t identify first what these requirements usually are, so we’ve done that. 👇

Based on our analysis of all the Salesforce and HubSpot reviews we read, the following requirements are mentioned most often:

  1. Following up sales leads better
  2. Integrating with the email inbox (for email tracking, email sync and email sequences)
  3. Reporting on sales results and activities

Now, let’s zoom in on each of the 3 basic requirements to compare Salesforce vs. HubSpot.

1. Follow up leads

While both systems have reportedly been built for the purpose of following up and managing leads, HubSpot does a better job at it.

There aren’t many reviews that complain about HubSpot’s capabilities in this area, while there are many reviews that state that in Salesforce it’s “difficult to navigate and manage all your contacts” and a “pain to perform simple tasks”.

It does however seem that both Salesforce and HubSpot are plagued equally by outages and slowness that make it hard to rely on the CRMs for everyday lead follow up:

  • “Website goes down several times a week” (HubSpot)
  • “Makes me feel like I’m in middle school with the dial-up internet” (Salesforce)
  • “Down for a long time, the tasks and contacts would sporadically not work” (HubSpot)

People also report that when this happens, support isn’t really helpful, but more on that later.

2. Email integration

Email is still the #1 communication channel for B2B sales today, with LinkedIn and phone calls falling in second and third place respectively.

That’s why a proper email integration is a major CRM requirement for most small and medium-sized businesses.

When it comes to this email integration, companies are looking for 3 main things: a good email sync, some handy email tracking, and the ability to send email sequences.

Additional handy features we won’t cover here include: an email sidebar, automated email signature sync, integrated web tracking, auto-created contacts, and some other power features. Depending on your email provider, you can get a full breakdown of these features for Google / Gmail users and features for Microsoft Outlook users in our dedicated articles on the topic. 💌

Email sync

Essentially, people expect their emails to show up in the CRM, so they don’t have to paste them in there manually. And they want to be able to send emails from the CRM as well.

Getting this functionality in Salesforce requires you to purchase an additional Salesforce Inbox package, for which you’ll pay extra, while it’s included in any HubSpot plan.

Here are some snippets of reviews that mentioned this email integration, both positive and negative:

  • “Like the ability to interact via email and tag my colleagues directly” (HubSpot)
  • “Attachments and email communications end up tied to deals where they don’t belong – it is a disaster” (HubSpot)
  • “Can send emails directly from the deal page” (HubSpot)
  • “Some emails appear, some don’t. It’s hard to understand the logic” (HubSpot)
  • “The email integration is terrible” (HubSpot)
  • “Dislike not seeing the customer’s email response in the activity feed” (HubSpot)

In short: people like that the capability is there, but the way it works seems to need some improvement.

We unfortunately couldn’t find much in reviews about Salesforce’s email integration, but that may be because it’s not a standard Salesforce feature.

Email tracking

A very simple yet powerful CRM feature is the ability to track email opens and clicks, as it allows sales teams to gauge the prospect’s real time interest and follow up in a much more informed way.

Based on HubSpot reviews, it seems to be one of the top features of the CRM. Here and there, a few people mention that “own email opens are counted”, that it’s “a bit limited” and “doesn’t track cold outreach”, but the overall vibe is very positive in most reviews. 👍

For Salesforce, it’s – like for email sync – part of the paid Salesforce Inbox package and only mentioned sporadically in user reviews.

Email sequences

Where in the past this used to be separate software, most major sales CRMs nowadays allow sending email sequences: i.e. the ability to send personalized emails at scale to your contacts from your own inbox and follow up automatically, usually as long as you don’t get a reply or the sequence ends.

Based on user reviews and some additional research, sending email sequences from Salesforce still requires purchasing additional software today.

In HubSpot, it is one of the core features of the Sales Hub’s “Professional” plan.

It also seems to be the feature people complain most frequently about however:

  • “Cold outreach email limitations are bad” (HubSpot)
  • “Every email in a sequence needs to be a reply” (HubSpot)
  • “Cannot change the email subject on subsequent emails” (HubSpot)
  • “Can’t edit a sequence in motion” / “Hard to correct a sequence” (HubSpot)
  • “Would like more visibility into sequence metrics” (HubSpot)
  • “Only enroll 50 contacts at a time in emails” (HubSpot)

Hopefully HubSpot acts on the feedback soon, because people currently don’t seem to be too happy with how the feature is built. 😞

3. Reporting capabilities

Finally, the third major CRM requirement reviewers talk about is the need to be able to report on their customer data, sales results and activity.

This is a core feature you will find in both Salesforce and HubSpot. Based on our own tests with both platforms, Salesforce’s reporting capabilities are more robust, while HubSpot’s reporting is way easier to use.

When reading reviews from actual users the feedback is a little mixed, indicating that there’s still additional room for opportunity here:

  • “One of my favorite parts of this tool is the “reports” tool” (HubSpot)
  • “Can’t get some reports to work properly” (HubSpot)
  • “Reporting is cumbersome and all over the place – some reports are under one tab while others are only visible in certain places” (HubSpot)
  • “The reporting is quite comprehensive” (HubSpot)
  • “I find the reports hard to create and follow” (HubSpot)

Still, we would personally prefer using HubSpot’s reporting over Salesforce’s any day. It’s just so much easier to get started with it.

(Need some inspiration when building out sales dashboards? We’ve compiled a handy overview of sales dashboard examples.)

Conclusion

While both HubSpot and Salesforce seem to be able to meet most requirements (except for email sequences in Salesforce + them sometimes requiring an additional package), the way these requirements are met is not 100% up to standard.

Despite that, based on the full set of feedback from user reviews, we’d again consider HubSpot the winner in this HubSpot vs. Salesforce comparison.

Surprisingly, however, G2 reviewers rank Salesforce higher with a 4.40/5 score vs. a 4.24/5 score for HubSpot. This could be due to a lack of focus on key requirements by reviewers and rather on checking off as many feature checkboxes as possible.

If you’re open to an alternative that better meets the above key needs and gets higher ratings from G2 reviewers for “meets requirements”, Salesflare scores 4.65/5.


Integrations: can you integrate it the way you expect?

A CRM is not used in isolation. That’s why it’s important that it integrates with other complementary software packages.

It is also one of the main selling points of both Salesforce and HubSpot. While HubSpot sells all-in-one business software, attempting to make any integrations unnecessary, the sales team at Salesforce will promise you that it’s easy to integrate Salesforce with anything. It is, after all, the market leader with the widest range of integrated products.

Both these pros also have their cons. While HubSpot reviewers complain about being “forced in their way” and needing to “upgrade and upgrade”, Salesforce reviewers consistently report that it “does not integrate with any other system nearly as well as promised” and “isn’t easy to integrate with, even though it’s possible”.

Conclusion

When looking at the quantity of integrations, Salesforce is the clear winner. When calculating in the ease of integration, HubSpot takes over. So it all depends on whether you have a team of developers at your disposal or not.

Considering the focus of this comparison on small and medium-sized businesses, we’d recommend going with HubSpot here.

Based on our research, there are no other credible, independent ratings of the integration level of both CRMs to be found that are based on real user reviews, so we won’t be able to provide you any CRM reviewer scores on this criterion.


Support: do you get help when you need it?

In an ideal world, support isn’t needed. But more often than not, it is a critical part of your experience with a CRM product or company.

Not surprisingly, the quality of support is something that is very often mentioned in user reviews. Here are a few snippets that summarize well what we’ve been reading overall:

  • “Accessible support team (HubSpot)
  • “Service and support don’t know what they’re doing” (HubSpot)
  • “They are not able to do anything about the issues at hand – even if they are critical (HubSpot)
  • “If you need help with anything, you can forget to try to get help from support” (Salesforce)
  • “Customer service is really terrible” (Salesforce)

If we’d have to summarize everything we read in our own words:

  • HubSpot support is accessible, though often the support staff is not being really knowledgeable or helpful 🤷
  • Salesforce support is relatively inaccessible and takes a long time to resolve anything

Said otherwise: while HubSpot may find it hard to deliver high quality support, Salesforce practically requires you to hire consultants if you want any proper help at all.

Conclusion

The clear winner when it comes to delivering quality support is HubSpot, although it seems to be more of an “in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king” situation. As in: it’s better to give low or medium quality support than almost none at all.

Within the usual 4-5/5 range of G2 ratings, this translates into a 4.25/5 “quality of support” score for HubSpot and 4.1/5 for Salesforce.

If you find good support important, you can opt for Salesflare as an alternative CRM, which gets a way higher 4.85/5 score from its users for its quality of support.


Pricing: what does it cost?

Last but not least, how does the pricing of HubSpot and Salesforce compare?

Unfortunately, this is the most complicated question to answer, because it all depends on:

  • What you need
  • How many contacts you have
  • How many pipelines, reports, custom properties, custom objects, …
  • And a gazillion other things

If there’s anything reviewers are frustrated by, it’s the pricing of HubSpot and Salesforce (not just the initial pricing, but also how it scales quickly):

  • “Pricing as you scale contacts is pretty crazy” (HubSpot)
  • “It is very expensive once you start using it and need additional functionality” (HubSpot)
  • “The pricing is a little harsh on the SMBs out there” (HubSpot)
  • “WAAAAAAY too expensive for what you get” (Salesforce)
  • “License fees are out of control when you exceed the default number of custom objects” (Salesforce)

To make a simple comparison possible, based on the requirements outlined above, we’ve estimated that you’ll probably need each CRM’s Pro(fessional) plan. And when opting for the monthly Pro plan with 5 users, this amounts to:

  • $500/month with HubSpot (you’ll need CRM + Sales Hub)
  • $375/month with Salesforce (Sales Cloud excl. Salesforce Inbox; adding this will probably get you to a total of around $500/month as well; although if you lock yourself into a multi-year contract you’re likely to get this for free)

Note that these are just starting prices and that they can very quickly increase if you hit any of the CRM’s standard limitations. 💸

Conclusion

When it comes to pricing, Salesforce and HubSpot land around the same level.

On the monthly Pro plan with 5 users, both CRMs usually start at around $500 per month including email integration. This is already on the very high end of the CRM pricing spectrum and it only gets more expensive from there, which you’ll probably only discover when you’re already locked into the software.

As a comparison, an alternative CRM like Salesflare will only set you back $275 per month (that’s about 45% less expensive) and comes without hidden upgrades.


Final verdict: HubSpot vs. Salesforce – which CRM is best for small businesses?

While you’ll probably need to go with Salesforce if you’re a large enterprise, HubSpot is the better choice for small and medium-sized businesses.

As outlined above, based on real user reviews, HubSpot scores higher than Salesforce on practically every one of the 7 criteria, except (maybe) pricing. It is the clear winner of the two.

If you’re however open to discovering a significantly better rated CRM at a much lower price, do not miss the chance to check out Salesflare as well. 👈

Try Salesflare for free

Here’s a final comparison between HubSpot and Salesforce, plus Salesflare for reference.

HubSpot vs Salesforce vs Salesflare comparison table

Note again that the mentioned prices are merely starting prices for Salesforce and HubSpot (posing built-in limitations on many levels) and if you want an email integration or send email sequences with Salesforce, you’ll already find yourself buying extra packages or software.


Want to dig deeper into the differences? Just ask our team using the chat on salesflare.com. We’re here to help 😄


try Salesflare

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