Zoho CRM vs Salesforce: which CRM tool is best?

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March 10, 2020

salesforce vs zoho crm

While customer relationship management (CRM) once meant cumbersome manual processes like address books and spreadsheets, CRM software has replaced this with a unified contact management system for helping organizations build and maintain customer relationships.

With the surge in popularity of cloud software in recent years, CRM has become a critical business enabler across teams in marketing, sales, support and accounting. One recent report found that 91% of businesses with 11 or more employees use CRM software. It’s now the fastest-growing software market in the world.

So it goes without saying that CRM is a must-have. But to fully benefit from your CRM processes, you need to choose the right tool and consider a wide range of factors, from ease of deployment to integrations to user experience.

You’ve probably already heard of Salesforce. With a market share of over 19%, it’s a giant in the industry, but it’s far from the only option.

One of the many others is the rapidly growing on-demand platform Zoho, based in Chennai, India.

Read on to explore the two CRM platforms in a side-by-side comparison...

An in-depth look of Salesforce vs. Zoho CRM

Both Zoho and Salesforce offer a comprehensive solution for contact management, reporting, sales enablement and team collaboration.

Both have their merits and limitations, and while Salesforce is an undisputed industry standard, Zoho CRM offers low pricing and integration with a wide range of other business tools and processes.

Here’s a bird’s eye view of what each platform has to offer...

Ease of use

Both Zoho CRM and Salesforce provide extensive customization options when it comes to choosing features and changing the user interface. They also include tools for filtering information in large contact lists and views of sales pipelines.

Zoho has setup wizards to enable quick and easy deployment, but while the interface is fairly intuitive for new users, the sheer number of features available can be overwhelming.

ease of use zoho

However, Salesforce is substantially more complex beneath the hood, which is why many businesses have a dedicated administrator to oversee implementation and management or outsource the operations to a managed services provider (MSP).

salesforce ease of use

Comparing Zoho CRM vs. Salesforce on ease of use: Choose Zoho for quicker set-up, Salesforce if you have the budget and resources for implementation and management.

Pricing

Zoho CRM offers five pricing tiers, while Salesforce's Sales Cloud offers four. Zoho starts with a free subscription, which is suitable for very small businesses with three or fewer users. The price of the Standard subscription weighs in at $12 per user per month, the Professional version is $20, the Enterprise edition is $35, and Ultimate is $45.

zoho pricing

With Salesforce's Sales Cloud, prices start at $25 per user per month for the Essentials version, $75 for the Professional package, and $150 for Enterprise. There’s also an unlimited version for $300 per month.

salesforce pricing

Most SMBs will be choosing between a standard Zoho subscription and Salesforce Essentials. Both provide a comprehensive feature set including contact management, mass mailing and reporting. Zoho users can integrate their sales tools with the rest of the company’s productivity and office tools, while Salesforce provides an extensive app ecosystem.

Although it’s one of the most expensive CRMs on the market, Salesforce Professional provides by far the richest feature set of all, including advanced reporting, role permission management and rules-based lead scoring.

Comparing Salesforce vs. Zoho CRM pricing: The sky's the limit with what Salesforce can achieve, but you'll need to pay more for the value and functionality you need. Alternatively, you can get started with Zoho CRM as a free alternative to Salesforce.

Automation

Workflow automation is key for any business. It’s also one of the main benefits of upgrading to professional CRM software. With a combination of visualized data-driven insights and rule-based lead scoring, both Zoho and Salesforce are perfectly capable of automating several routine workflows.

With Zoho's free plan you can automate key processes with leads, contacts, accounts, deals and tasks, while sales forecasting is available with Standard and "SalesSignals" come with Professional.

automation zoho crm

Salesforce's automation benefits are gated behind higher plans, with lead registration, collaborative forecasting and rules-based lead scoring available with Professional ($75/user/month) and workflow and approval automation accessible from Enterprise plan ($150/user/month) onwards.

Both platforms also support marketing automation within their CRM, but to take things further with Salesforce you can add on Pardot, their B2B marketing automation solution. This requires a much heftier budget: Pardot starts at $1,250/month for up to 10,000 contacts.

marketing-automation-overview-salesforce

Salesforce is, at least potentially, the more versatile of the two, but it requires higher subscription tiers and third-party connectors for seamless integrations and automation.

Comparing Zoho CRM vs. Salesforce automation: As with much of Salesforce, if you pay enough you can automate just about anything. But if you're on a budget, Zoho is much more accessible.

Reporting and analytics

Data-driven analytics are central to informed business decision-making. Both platforms offer extensive reporting features and customizable dashboards.

The Standard version of Zoho, for example, provides up to 100 customized reports with up to 10 custom fields per module. Zoho also features built-in artificial intelligence allowing users to derive data-driven insights from their customer data.

reporting and analytics zoho crm

Although substantially more expensive, Salesforce Professional and above offers advanced reporting features, including lead scoring and sales forecasting. With the included mobile app, decision makers can even access reports and dashboards while they’re on the move. It’s also possible to build custom reports without the help of the IT department.

sales mgmt dashboard thumb

Comparing Salesforce vs. Zoho CRM reporting: Zoho provides a great range of reports at a low price point, while Salesforce offers the most intelligent analytics on the market – if you can pay for it.

Team collaboration and integrations

Eliminating information silos should be a top priority when choosing new software. Even in small businesses, periods of rapid growth can cause a great deal of friction if everyone’s using different systems that don’t work well together.

Both CRMs provide a range of integrations to simplify information sharing and streamline collaboration across cloud environments. This enables improved cooperation between sales, marketing, support and other core business processes.

Salesforce and Zoho each provide an open application programming interface (API) for integration with third-party apps. They also feature numerous integrations with popular collaboration and file-sharing platforms like Slack, OneDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive out of the box.

Zoho offers a wide range of integrations straight out of the box, with the Professional and higher tiers featuring integration with the major social media platforms and office productivity suites like Office 365 and G Suite. You can also check Zoho’s wide integration library.

No matter which business tools you're using, chances are you can integrate Salesforce with it.

In addition, you can integrate both Zoho and Salesforce two-ways with other apps that store customer data, such as email marketing platforms, customer support tools, phone contacts, accounting tools and many others. This is another big step in avoiding data silos and making sure your departments are all working with integrated, up-to-date information.

Comparing Zoho CRM vs. Salesforce for collaboration and integrations: Both tools thrive when used across departments to connect teams and integrate with other business apps.

Scalability

When choosing a CRM, it’s essential to choose something that will be able to support future business growth. While it’s also important to avoid being locked in your tools, moving to a new CRM can be expensive and time-consuming, particularly if it involves reworking lots of integrations.

Zoho offers compellingly affordable plans for small businesses, but it also offers the Enterprise tier to satisfy the demands of larger businesses. The same is true of Salesforce, but it undoubtedly wins in the scalability department thanks largely to its status as a global industry standard.

Comparing Salesforce vs. Zoho for scalability: Salesforce is one of the most scalable CRM on the market, but you need a huge budget. Zoho is much more accessible for small to mid-sized businesses.

Customer support

CRM software is a critical business enabler and one of the most important tools in your organization. As such, you’ll need customer support you can count on.

Salesforce provides local support teams in the US and other countries and, being an industry standard, it also has a huge network of third-party consultants.

Zoho, by contrast, relies more on peer-to-peer support, although it does allow subscribers to tap into enhanced support options at an extra monthly price.

Comparing Zoho vs. Salesforce for support: Zoho provides more accessible support at a lower price point, while Salesforce provides complete guidance and training if you can afford it.


When to choose Zoho

With their plans generally being substantially cheaper than Salesforce, Zoho CRM is a great choice for small businesses that are looking for an affordable all-in-one solution.

The free-forever tier is ideal for very small businesses, as well as those wanting to give it a thorough test run. Zoho is also more suitable for companies that don’t have a dedicated IT department, since it’s easier to deploy and maintain.


When to choose Salesforce

Salesforce is usually the better choice for larger businesses and smaller ones which anticipate substantial growth over the next few years.

While it’s a lot more expensive to implement and support than many other platforms, it’s one of the most versatile of all. Support is widely available too. However, it might be overkill for smaller companies that only have a small team size and don’t need a highly advanced and complex system.


How to sync Salesforce or Zoho CRM with your other apps

As your CRM is such an important part of your business operations, it's essential to connect the data in it with your other business tools. PieSync bridges the gap between your CRM and hundreds of other business apps, making sure you're always working with consistent, integrated data.

Some of the most popular syncs with Salesforce are:

And popular syncs with Zoho CRM include:

  • Mailchimp + Zoho: when a custom yes/no field in Zoho CRM is toggled on, update certain properties in Mailchimp.
  • ActiveCampign + Zoho: when contacts are tagged in Zoho CRM, have the contacts enriched by ActiveCampaign's social data.

Get started with a PieSync free trial to enable your teams to work together with more reliable, connected data.

About Lucy Fuggle

Lucy Fuggle writes for PieSync, the two-way contact sync tool for hundreds of apps. She also works with her clients to make their brand matter with a content-rich marketing strategy.