3 Easy-to-Use Salesforce Alternatives for CRM That Won’t Break the Bank

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Salesforce is everywhere, but it’s not the only option. We did the research. These are the easiest alternatives to use that won’t break your budget.

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Eighty-one percent of business owners believe that they will succeed or fail in the marketplace based on customer experience.*

One of the most popular ways to learn about your clients and improve their experience is building a customer journey map, and one of the most widely used ways to collect data to build one is customer relationship management (CRM) software.

In fact, over 50% of business owners* say CRM software is one of the most valuable tools for collecting customer data.

But what’s the right CRM solution for your business? You’ve heard of Salesforce (how could you not), but is that the best tool for you?

Salesforce made their bones by being affordable and easy to use. But since they emerged on the scene in the early 2000s, has anyone else built on that model—or improved on it?

We took a deep dive into Capterra’s directory of 700+ CRM products to answer that very question.

Selection criteria for our Salesforce alternatives

The three top products listed below have two main features in common:

  1. A pricing option lower than $25/user per month (which makes CRM much more affordable, especially for smaller companies).
  2. Aggressively easy to use (which makes CRM a more approachable option for businesses that don’t have as much experience with this type of software).

With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at the products listed below (in alphabetical order) and how they compare to the giant that is Salesforce.

A chart comparing Salesforce to Freshsales, HubSpot CRM, and Pipedrive

3 Salesforce alternatives you can actually afford (and quickly learn to use)

The above chart is a great place to start, but let’s get a little more granular with our alternatives and what makes them so appealing.

1. Freshsales: Well-supported and well-connected easy intro to CRM

Launched in 2016, Freshsales is an offering from Freshworks (then Freshdesk) as a CRM system for high-velocity sales teams.

Their focus on automation saves users time and resources, while centralizing leads and customer profile data. This system is a great option for companies with little experience in the world of CRM, or smaller companies with limited budgets.

What reviewers liked:

  • The company’s stellar customer support (Freshsales has a score of 93.1 / 100; category average is 84.7).
  • The software’s real-time visitor activity trafficking (which helps with intent-based marketing and lead scoring).

What reviewers would like to see improved:

  • Because it’s a relatively new product, Freshsales is still ironing out a few kinks and is prone to change. In other words: Don’t get too comfortable with the product as-it-is.
  • Some users noted that the system can run frustratingly slow at times.

Most popular with: People who work in the IT services industry

Pricing:

  • $12/user/month (small teams)
  • $25/user/month (growing teams)
  • $49/user/month (large companies)
  • $79/user/month (enterprises)

A screenshot of Freshsales CRM

Freshsales account page (Source)

2. HubSpot CRM: Centralize your data for improved customer and user experience

Chances are, you’ve heard about HubSpot. Started in 2004 by MIT alums, the company coined—and built an entire business around—the phrase inbound marketing.

HubSpot CRM focuses on centralizing data. This means that all information about your customers and all interactions with them are logged in a single highly-visible location. All such interactions can also happen in real-time.

This system’s complete automation makes it a great resource for smaller businesses that are less familiar with CRM software.

What reviewers liked:

  • You can make calls from inside the software, which are recorded and logged for continued data centralization.
  • Users say that the software’s interface is aesthetically pleasing and makes it easy and fun to use.
  • It can be integrated with the rest of HubSpot’s software suite.

What reviewers would like to see improved:

  • HubSpot CRM received a low functionality rating; it can be a challenge to get everything you want out of the program, especially as your company grows.
  • The mobile app doesn’t offer the same ease of use or reflect the full scope of the desktop system.

Most popular with: People who work in the marketing and advertising industries

Pricing:

  • $0/user/month for basic CRM and marketing tools
  • $113/month for CRM, marketing, sales, and service starter tools
  • $1,200/month for the “professional” suite of tools
  • $4,200/month for the “enterprise” suite of tools

A screenshot of Hubspot CRM

HubSpot messaging example (Source)

3. Pipedrive: Customize and integrate to suit your sales team’s individual needs

With nine years of existence and $90 million in investments under its belt, Pipedrive has accrued 90,000 clients worldwide.

Pipedrive focuses on the people doing the sales; this is reflected in its API, which allows users to develop custom features for free. This system syncs with all of your Google apps, and can integrate with 100+ leading software solutions.

Pipedrive also offers mobile apps, as well as a multilingual and multi-currency option.

What reviewers liked:

  • The customizability makes it easy for teams to craft a CRM solution that fits their unique needs and products.
  • Particularly helpful for users who use it to manage daily tasks.

What reviewers would like to see improved:

  • A lack of focus on centralization could lead to disorganized data, resulting in a worse customer experience.
  • The system’s dependence on APIs could mean a higher risk of a broken connection.

Most popular with: People who work in the computer software industry

Pricing:

  • $12.50/ user/month (includes tracking, pipeline management, and contact linking)
  • $24.50/user/month (includes automation)
  • $49.90/user/month (includes call tracking, team management tools, and sales scaling)
  • $99/user/month (includes customization for enterprises)

A screenshot of Pipedrive CRM

Pipedrive account page (Source)

Still not satisfied? Or already satisfied?

If none of these jump out as the right choice for you, check out the rest of our CRM software directory.

If you’ve used any of these before, don’t forget to leave a review on their product page.

And, if you feel like I’ve missed a top Salesforce alternative for CRM, let me know in the comments below.


NOTE

The content in this piece that provides opinions and points of view expressed by users. It does not represent the views of Capterra.

The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.

Survey Methodology

1. Results presented are based on a 2017 Gartner study on Marketing’s role in Customer Experience. The research was conducted using a mixed methodology [online/CATI] during June 2017 and July 2017 among 280 respondents in North America.

Respondents were required to be marketing leaders with involvement in Customer Experience programs and initiatives Respondents were all from organizations with $500M or more in annual revenue. Respondents came from these industries: financial services (37 respondents), high tech (37 respondents), manufacturing (38 respondents), CPG (35 respondents), retail (35 respondents), media (33 respondents), transportation/hospitality (35 respondents), and healthcare providers (30 respondents).

The survey was developed collaboratively by a team of Gartner analysts who follow Marketing and was reviewed, tested and administered by Gartner’s Research Data and Analytics team.

Looking for Customer Relationship Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Customer Relationship Management software solutions.

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About the Author

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Adam Rosenthal

Adam Rosenthal is a Senior Specialist Analyst covering Vendor Marketing. He received his Masters from the University of Chicago and worked on several TV shows you might have heard of.

Comments

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Where’s Bitrix24? Easily the best free Salesforce alternative in 2019.

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Highrise is no longer accepting new sign-ups. I actually wanted to try them out. However, existing users can continue to use it forever (or at least until the end of the Internet).

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Thank you for all the great recommendations! We will take a look at all of your suggestions when we update this article in the near future.

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why is Zoho CRM not listed as 1 of the option ?

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Great post!

As for email, people love to debate ESP versus CRM. Tough call.

Personally, as an email person, I have a preference to work in a more built out ESP. Typically because most of the data that I’ve found useful for email segmentation has come from interaction with email.

In my experience, when running automation, ESPs can do more things on the fly than a CRM, making testing easier and more meaningful. But it’s not an either/or issue. It’s likely that you’ll need both platforms to execute your priorities.

We did a compare/contrast here on our blog, if you’re interested: https://bit.ly/2xF8neG

Hope that’s useful!

Good luck

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Hello,
I am quite surprised there is no eWay-CRM, as they specialize on SMB.
Great CRM solution, affordable and easy to use. Check it out!

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I just recently came across this article while looking for a CRM and was surprised not to see InfoFlo. I found InfoFlo to be an easy to use CRM solution for our company. Price point fit our budget dead on. Besides providing an easy to use product at an affordable cost the support provided was above expectations. This should be a must purchase CRM for any business.

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As an update to the notes on Really Simple Systems https://www.reallysimplesystems.com/ we have just launched the first phase of GDPR compliance specific features in our CRM. As part of the Marketing module the features help customers make their email marketing compliant with the European Union’s (EU) new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which comes into force in May 2018 and will affect any business holding data of individuals based in the EU.

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These products (several of them free) are not cheap alternatives to Salesforce.com. There are just cheap solutions, plain and simple. They provide a fraction of the overall functionality that Salesforce.com does and that’s OK if these basic low cost solutions meet your requirements, but the article leads you to believe you can get similar functionality from one of these alternatives at half the cost. You can’t. The closest alternatives from a functional comparison that are less costly than Salesforce would be Commence CRM, Microsoft Dyanmics and Sugar CRM.

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You should include most popular free Salesforce alternatives in your list (Bitrix24 and Hubspot). In my opinion these two are pretty good at replacing Salesforce for most users and free is better than cheap 🙂

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You forgot Zoho! Fantastic tool for keeping track of multiple pipelines whether investors or clients.

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Thank you, Andrew. It is a great list. Personally I prefer Insightly and InStream, but I saw some principle new tools for me. Thanks for that.

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Nice list Andrew!
I personal use Insightly and I can say it really comfortable and not very expensive.

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Well, you are right. Technically you can get the same functionality and even more by hiring Partner company with adequate Salesforce services like https://www.omi.co/services/. Plus, getting a few extensions. But I doubt that the new cloud will satisfy all needs of banking and financial companies that will purchase the new product. My guess, you’ll still need to outsource some work at the end, and Financial Services Cloud would be just a stronger foundation.

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Thanks For the list, we would like to suggest a cloud based sales CRM (http://Growthfactorcrm.com). GrowthFactorCRM is a powerful, feature-rich, cloud-based application that gears up the complete sales and marketing team together in a powerful and smooth way

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As mentioned in the previous comment, Zoho is the most popular CRM here in India. But considered Zoho and used the trial but ended up choosing http://www.maplecrm.com.

There are a few factors that made Maple CRM win over Zoho. First one is the price factor. Maple is a lot cheaper than Zoho. Being a small company with less than 10 employees and expect to grow up to 50 people in the next 2 years. We cannot afford big price at this time. Until we chose the CRM software, we have been using Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets to manage documents and our sales process. It worked perfectly fine until the number of clients and staff increased. For a small team with a small number of clients, Google docs is still a great option. We tried building a small custom CRM for ourselves but had to drop in the middle since we were not reaching anywhere.

Another factor that made us choose Maple CRM is its simplicity. Somehow, we felt it is made for us. It has all the features we wanted and just the required features. There aren’t too many complicated features that would require skilled people to use a CRM software. Of course, Zoho is a great choice for a large enterprise where a lot of features would be required. Maple, Zoho and Salesforce are mentioned as the most prefered CRM software in India – http://www.indiastudychannel.com/resources/172443-Best-CRM-Software-for-Small-Business.aspx
We ruled our Salesforce in the first state itself since it is quite expensive for us.

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Very informative post! Thanks. I would love to share with you a simple affordable CRM that is great for all type businesses https://www.windsor.ai/ I have been using it for past several months and it worked very good for us, because of the advanced insights, reporting and predicting that it’s giving us for all existing leads and potential customers.

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Here we missed the CRM software by zoho, it is suitable for both large and small company business. Basic CRM with the ability to track leads, tasks and events, Google AdWords integration, Basic Workflow automation, Integrated E-mail Marketing and Campaigns and available at affordable price. Now slowly it is developing the additional features of the software and for more details, please visit https://www.zoho.com/crm/

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Well I think Nimble is one of the best alternatives, but only for SMB type of companies. When talking about large enterprises, I think no one comes close to Salesforce. But the biggest issue with CRM (similarly to ecommerce platforms) is not the platform itself, but the extensions and integrations that you apply to it. At the end of the day you can have Nimble working better than any other CRM on the market by simply making it powerful with automation and analytics tools. There are companies (https://www.omi.co/) who make a living by taking CRMs and customizing them to corporate needs.

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Being a premium member of SugarCrm randomly I tried one of the freemium software http://fieldmi.com/ – it is one of best automation software for Sales, Service and Field. I picked this up due to faster reliable process when I was looking for more affordable alternatives to SugarCRM. Really worth.

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Hi Michael, tnx for this list! My team have been using https://platformax.com for several months now and it’s worked wonderfully for us, because of the advanced insights, email automation, reporting and predicting that it’s giving us for all existing leads and potential customers. It also offers free one month trial for starters.

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I recently tried the $25/month Saleforce IQ CRM and was very disappointed in the contact syncing process. Why cant Salesforce write code to pull in Outlook contacts exactly as they are in Outlook? 95% of my contacts came in with name only (no title, company, numbers(s), email, or address). Seems like a very simple code to write for a programmer. Their work around was to import a CSV file and setup the fields in Salesforce to match. It was a work around, not a solution. I’m doing this for ease, not to create a new setup project.

With that said, which program:

1) syncs effortlessly with Outlook as though I was seeing my contact as I entered it in Outlook?

2) has alerts to remind me to follow up

3) is $25 per month or less

4) has opportunity/lead tracking

5) has a to do list

6) as a bonus, can pull in Linkedin

Some can do #2-#6. Which one can do #1? At the end of the day, it is a CRM. Thanks in advance.

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Let me add another one to the list: https://platformax.com My sales team and I have been using it for past several months and it worked very good for us, because of the advanced insights, reporting and predicting that it’s giving us for all existing leads and potential customers.

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With all due respect, this list is a total bullsh*t. Anybody in the industry knows that pretty much the only free Salesforce alternative is Bitrix24 and the only paid ones are Zoho, SugarCRM or MS Dynamics.

Yes, Insightly has a free version and Capsule is cheap, but they aren’t even close to being Salesforce alternative. Heck, they can’t even compete against free Bitrix24, because they are too basic.

For a CRM to be considered a realistic Salesforce, there are several must have requirements

1. But be built for sales teams. Average Salesforce account size is 21 users. This mean serious access rights and admin options.

2. Must have sales and marketing automation

3. Must have ALL CRM entities, starting with lead (lead, contact, company or account, deal or opportunity, quote or estimate, invoice, etc).

So this is basically a list of inexpensive CRM options. If you want to write an article about real Salesforce alternatives, your list has to start with Zoho, Bitrix24 and SugarCRM, and if you are create a list of cheap ones, then it’s going to be shorter, because Sugar is expensive, and if it’s going to have ‘free’ in the headline, you wouldn’t be able to name anything other than Bitrix24.

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Very thorough overview of the CRM marketplace. I would highly recommend that you take a look at amoCRM. It’s a very good solution for small sales teams who want enterprise level features (like sales automation) on a small business budget.

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Thanks for sharing this list Andrew. I’d like to put forward my friends and colleagues at SalesSeek. I work here part time but actually use the system in my other job, since they introduced a new pricing plan I really think it could be a fantastic addition to this list. It’s visual interface is a really nice addition to the platform that aims to align sales and marketing for best results. Let us know if you want a demo before hand 🙂

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I just wanted to make you aware of an error on your updated account for Really Simple Systems CRM. We launched a new version of the CRM recently with a new UI, additional features and a new price structure.
I see you have picked up the new pricing correctly but the text refers to the previous set up. We no longer offer the “pick and mix” style pricing but have introduced a simplified structure with 4 price plans with set feature packages. Customers can upgrade as they need more features by moving to the next price plan.
There’s more information on the new version CRM here https://www.reallysimplesystems.com/blog/introducing-crm-new-version/.

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Have you tried http://AgileCRM.com – Sales, Marketing and HelpDesk integrated into a great freemium model. I picked this up due to its marketing automation functionality when I was looking for more affordable alternatives to SF and InfusionSoft. Well worth a look IMHO

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Hey Michael, it’s a great list!

May I suggest another CRM for this list – our newly-launched Simple CRM System available at http://simpleCRMsystem.com

Our main differentiator from the competition is that our solution actually does not look like a CRM. It s a spreadsheet. Since despite having your great list of alternative CRMs there’s still one CRM that is the most popular in the world – the spreadsheet (Excel / Google Sheets), we decided to make a CRM that looks like a spreadsheet. However, it does provide all the advanced functionaity INSIDE the spreadsheet: set reminders, set appointments, sync with your calendar, send e-mails, collaborate with your team and more!

The main advantage is that the salesperson does not have another new & complicated interface to learn. Instead, he/she can still type in data into the spreadsheet as they’re used to. However, gradually, as they choose to, they get exposed to all the advanced stuff that they really need from a CRM. Spreadsheets are still the most popular CRM in the world for
small businesses! (which are 95% of existing businesses).

We’d love to get your opinion and be featured here! Thanks a lot.

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Hi Guys,

These are all great CRMs. I would love to share with you a simple affordable CRM that is great for small to medium sized businesses.

http://www.salesmate.io

Give it a try, we focus on simplicity and make sure it is affordable.

Thanks!

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Great list! Although I think theres is one nice CRM still missing. http://www.teamgate.com for me is one of the best CRM tools so far. Besides, an award winning for it’s ease of use Teamgate is the only Inbound Sales CRM that makes it easy to improve your inbound process to grow your business. So I think it’s really worth trying for you as well

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Hello, thanks for this resourceful content. I run and educational program people apply on our website then I can create an excel list. Every few days I take the list of applilcants whom I accept and send them an email welcoming them and giving them instructions on the next steps to take.
However I need to personalize this emails with their last name , gender etc Do all of these CRM programs allow me to create templates that have adaptable fields. It is very time cosnuming for me to open each application and write an email with the parents name, due date (different on each case) , kid name, price.. etc…Any suggestions?
Thanks

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eWay-CRM is a CRM-system embedded in MS Outlook. It has all the features you need; companies, contacts, projects, marketing campaigns, products, users, time sheets and reports. You can tailor the system through the administration tool. It’s integrated with all the Outlook features such as e-mail, tasks and calendar. You can store most any kind of document. All communication with the customer is stored in the system.

eWay-CRM Free, is free, for 1 user, limited to 200 MB storage. No other limitation.
eWay-CRM Premium, from $28/user/month, 10 GB storage, upgrade and support included.
eWay-CRM Mobile (Android), free on Google Play, for Premium-users.

English, Norwegian, Czech, German, Slovak and Russian.

http://www.eway-crm.com or eway-crm.no

Please check it out.

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There’a also a nice solution that works inside Gmail – Deskun (https://deskun.com/), it doesn’t have all the big CRM features, but works just fine for a customer support in a small company. I found it when I was looking for an alternative to Streak. And as far as I know, they have API so you can integrate it in your CRM for better customer support. Check it out, it’s worth it.

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SlickPie is the soul of my business. I have been using it for one year. It’s a well-supported system that is intuitive and easy to use. Easy and transparent invoicing system. It’s 100% free online accounting system. Cool reports.

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Thanks for the list! I’m looking for something that will mostly just manage our contacts, (for a PE firm of 4 people) but also sync with Outlook emails and contacts. Any recommendations there?

Thanks!

[…] many cases sites like Capterra, Business News Daily, and even now a site dedicated to analyzing the top 10 CRMs each quarter have […]

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