Salesforce Review: Decide if the CRM Is Right for You

Find out if Salesforce is the key to unlocking your company’s sales potential by checking out our in-depth Salesforce review.

Salesforce is a sales-forward CRM that’s ideal for traditional sales teams with long cycles and a lot of direct contact with leads. It’s renowned for its powerful analytics engine, myriad customization options, and seamless automations. Companies are drawn to Salesforce’s depth and flexibility — and are willing to pay top dollar for it — but smaller organizations may find it overwhelming or unnecessary for their needs. Our Salesforce review will help you decide.

Salesforce at a Glance

Salesforce is trusted by 150,000+ customers worldwide for its robust features and customization, powerful reporting engine, and wide range of sales automation functions. However, it can be complicated to learn and too robust for many organizations.

Price Range: $25 to $300 per user, per month (14+ day trial)

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Cost star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Core Features star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customization star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Integrations star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customer Support star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full

Pros:

  • Feature-rich sales platform
  • Vast customizations and integrations
  • Can generate any type of report
  • Can automate teams' entire process

Cons:

  • Too complex for most small businesses
  • Customer service not always timely
  • Steep learning curve and clunky UI
  • Time-consuming to set up without help

Ratings, pros, and cons aside, it’s also essential to consider specific situations where Salesforce excels — along with scenarios where it may not meet expectations:

When to Use Salesforce

Salesforce is regarded by sales professionals as one of the best CRM software options on the market. Some of the reasons for Salesforce’s popularity include a powerful reporting engine, vast customizations, and an excellent mobile app experience good for larger sales teams or salespeople with longer sales cycles that require extensive lead nurturing.

Click below for a complete list of the use cases for when to use Salesforce CRM:

  • You Rely on Data to Make Sales Decisions: Data-driven businesses will appreciate Salesforce’s ability to generate any type of CRM report, display in-depth analytics, and provide real-time sales forecasts with great accuracy. 
  • You’re an Enterprise Seeking a Flexible CRM: Salesforce is one of the most malleable pieces of sales software out there, which will benefit large-scale organizations wanting to add niche elements and custom app integrations to their CRM.     
  • You’re Keen to Automate as Much of Your Workload as Possible: Users can allow Salesforce to automate everything from basic data entry and email sends to administrative tasks such as expense reports — leaving more time to close deals.
  • Your Field Reps Need a Reliable Mobile CRM: Salesforce has a companion mobile app with many of the features found in the desktop version. There’s also offline data caching — crucial for reps who find themselves in areas without stable Wi-Fi.   
  • You’d Like to Try a CRM Before You Buy It: All Salesforce plans include a 30-day trial so users can get a feel for the software risk-free before committing. The exception is Salesforce Essentials, which has a 14-day trial instead.
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If Salesforce sounds like a good option for you, we recommend exploring Salesforce’s entire suite of features and reviewing its pricing structure to ensure it’s in line with your sales goals and budget. Then, you'll be able to make a fully informed decision, as well as use Salesforce's 14-day trial.

When Not to Use Salesforce

Despite its reputation as an industry-leading CRM, Salesforce will not be the ideal solution for every organization — namely if you’re a small company that’s unfamiliar with the intricacies of CRM software or don't need a robust solution that is powerful but might be complicated to learn.

Below are the specific situations where Salesforce might not be good for you:

  • You’re a Small Business Owner or Solopreneur: Barring Salesforce Essentials — which is a competitively-priced entry-level CRM — Salesforce Sales Cloud will be too expensive and complex for what most new businesses and sole proprietors can handle.
  • Your Team Is Unfamiliar With CRM Software: Salesforce is made with experienced CRM power users in mind. Thus, anyone who has never used CRM software may find the process of learning Salesforce taxing and intimidating.   
  • You Need a CRM Up and Running ASAP: Because it’s such a sophisticated piece of sales software, Salesforce takes time to properly set up. If your team needs a CRM that’s ready to go out of the box, then you should pass on Salesforce..
  • You Lack In-House Tech Support: Setting up and maintaining Salesforce takes plenty of technical know-how. Having a Salesforce expert on staff can help with this; otherwise, companies will have to pay for onboarding services and premium support.
  • You Only Need Basic Sales Tools: Salesforce is a sprawling platform with an array of advanced sales features. For organizations that simply need basic contact management features, Salesforce will be too excessive.    
  • You Require More Than Sales Functionality: While Salesforce Sales Cloud does include some marketing crm and service tools, it’s still a sales-centric CRM, first and foremost. Other CRMs offer a better balance of cross-department features.
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If Salesforce CRM doesn't seem like the best solution for you, take a look at our list of the best CRM software. There, you’ll find a detailed breakdown of the top CRM platforms, one of which may better align with your intended use case and budget.

Salesforce Pricing

Salesforce has four tiers to suit teams of various sizes and needs. The entry-level Salesforce Essentials costs $25 per user, per month for custom reporting and pipeline management tools, but it has a 10-user max. Larger companies should consider Salesforce Professional and up, which not only have unlimited seats but add advanced functions like lead scoring, sales forecasting, and approval automation. Head below for a full breakdown of Salesforce pricing:

EssentialsProEnterpriseUnlimited
Annual Plan Monthly Rate$25 per user, per month (10 users max)$75 per user, per month$150 per user, per month$300 per user, per month
Monthly Plan Monthly Rate$35 per user, per month (10 users max)N/AN/AN/A
Free Trial14 days30 days30 days30 days
Key FeaturesLead and opportunity management, custom reports and dashboardsRules-based lead scoring, collaborative forecasting, campaign influenceApproval automation, advanced reporting, unlimited record types24/7 support, unlimited custom apps, Salesforce Meetings video interface
Workflow RulesUp to 5 rulesUp to 5 rulesUnlimitedUnlimited
Campaign InfluenceN/A3 campaigns per opportunity5 campaigns per opportunity5 campaigns per opportunity

Salesforce also offers over 100 add-ons that’ll either introduce new CRM features or augment existing ones. Most of these add-ons are priced per user, per month and can cost anywhere from $2.00 for very basic functions to tens of thousands of dollars for sophisticated data analytics. Below are some of Salesforce’s most popular add-ons.

Sales Cloud Inbox

Social Intelligence

Sales Cloud Einstein

Salesforce Engage

All Salesforce plans are eligible for this add-on, which costs $25 per user, per month. It syncs contact data with a company’s email and calendar clients.

Salesforce Sales Cloud Inbox

For $25 per user, per month, all Salesforce customers can gain access to social media data that can be shared with stakeholders to improve strategies.

Salesforce Social Intelligence

Salesforce Enterprise and Unlimited customers can pay $50 per user, per month to imbue their CRM with AI-powered forecasting and automation.

Salesforce Sales Cloud Einstein

Subscribers to Salesforce Professional and up can add real-time alerts, campaign reporting, and deeper insights for an extra $50 per user, per month.

Salesforce Engage

Business leaders who are seeking an industry-specific CRM out of the box should know that Salesforce offers multiple versions of its base software outfitted with features related to finance, healthcare, education, and other sectors. As a result of these niche functions being included, prices tend to skew much higher for these specialty editions of Salesforce.

Salesforce Features

Salesforce is known for its deep functionality. It allows businesses to build viable pipelines, pull all types of reports, automate various tasks, develop spot-on sales forecasts, and so much more. The following are among Salesforce’s most notable core CRM features:

Contact Management

Salesforce contact management

Salesforce provides a full view of its leads and clients, detailing past activity to communication history. Contact profiles are created by extracting data from Gmail or Outlook. Salesforce can also pull social media data to provide further insight into what contacts say about a company online. All of this is compounded by an intuitive search engine that pulls up data quickly, no matter how broad or niche the keyword.

See how Salesforce’s contact management tools compare to other CRMs in our list of the best contact management software.

Lead Management

Salesforce lead management

For managing and nurturing leads, Salesforce's Sales Path feature allows users to track all lead info and activity in one place. Team leads and reps can access relevant insights and then take the appropriate next steps in converting leads into customers. Salesforce also provides ample info regarding lead sources so businesses know which channels are making the most impact in bringing in prospects.

Learn more about the types of lead management tools present in Salesforce and other popular CRMs in our list of the best lead management software.

Pipeline Management

Salesforce pipeline management

Salesforce splits pipelines into leads and opportunities, so it's easy to track contacts and deals no matter which stage in the sales process they're in. From there, quick search filters and real-time updates help sales reps find and focus on opportunities that need extra attention. Thanks to a powerful reporting engine, companies can monitor the health of their pipelines via detailed reports and dashboards.

Salesforce has a spot on our list of the best sales pipeline software; check it out to see how it fares against other platforms when it comes to this vital CRM feature.

CRM Reporting

Salesforce report builder

For data-driven organizations, Salesforce has deep reporting capabilities that can generate any type of CRM report. Every plan includes access to pre-made and custom reports, which users can build via a simple-to-use drag and drop editor. Salesforce Professional and Enterprise up the ante by adding more variables, deeper analytics, and advanced features like cross-filtering and bucketing.

Salesforce is known for its advanced reporting, so it’s highlighted in our article on CRM reporting, which explains how businesses can translate key data into an actionable resource.

CRM Dashboards

CRM Dashboards

All Salesforce plans come with custom dashboards that can support up to 20 reports each. Creating dashboards is as easy as dragging-and-dropping components – from charts and tables to gauges and specific metric labels. Dashboards can be outfitted with KPIs related to sales team performance, deal management, or forecasting – and then shared either publicly or privately with relevant parties.

Discover the importance of building an effective CRM dashboard for your sales strategy, featuring examples directly from the Salesforce platform.

Workflow Automation

Salesforce Process Builder

Salesforce is fantastic for sales teams to automate as much of their process as possible – including admin work like expense reports and email follow-ups. Salesforce’s Lightning Flow Automation tool can also be used to create workflows that help reps take the best actions throughout all stages of the sales process. Salesforce Essentials and Pro come with five workflow rules; Enterprise and Unlimited don’t impose any caps.

Salesforce’s automation is at the forefront of our guide to CRM automation, which shares in-depth info about how it works and which tasks are worth automating.

Campaign Management

Salesforce campaign manager

Every Salesforce plan offers campaign management tools that let marketing professionals plan and oversee inbound and outbound campaigns spanning email, ads, referrals, landing pages, and LinkedIn lead gen. Then there’s Campaign Influence, an advanced feature that pairs opportunities in the pipeline with relevant campaigns to show how marketing initiatives influence the bottom line for those deals.

Forecasting

Salesforce Einstein forecasting

Salesforce includes collaborative forecasting with its top three tiers. It helps teams predict when deals will change status or close based on a pooling of real-time pipeline data. Advanced forecasting features in higher tiers add custom fields, opportunity splits, and territory management. Enabling the Sales Cloud Einstein add-on ($50 per user, per month) yields AI-powered predictions and insights.

Lead Scoring

Salesforce lead scoring

Salesforce will be of service to high-volume sales teams that need to quickly rank and distribute leads. (All Salesforce plans have lead scoring except Essentials.) After capturing leads via landing page or web form, Salesforce scores them based on configurable rules related to select demographics or behaviors. From there, sales managers can set assignment rules to route leads to the right reps.

Upgrade your lead management strategy with Salesforce or any of the other best lead scoring software.

App Integrations

Salesforce AppExchange

The Salesforce AppExchange boasts an impressive 3,000+ apps, many of them already used daily by most sales reps like Mailchimp, DocuSign, and Slack. Roughly one-third of the apps in the AppExchange are free; the rest require a subscription or other fee. Beyond the vast selection of pre-integrated apps, Salesforce allows companies to build their own apps on the Salesforce Web Services API (included with Enterprise and Unlimited).

Find out which integrations you should add to your CRM in our guide to CRM integration, which also includes detailed instructions on how to set them up using Salesforce as an example.

Mobile App

Salesforce mobile app

Take Salesforce on the go with its free mobile app for iOS and Android. Field pros who often struggle with finding a steady wireless connection on the road will appreciate the offline data mode, which caches data for dashboards, opportunities, and other key elements. The mobile app also offers AI insights powered by Einstein Analytics; an Einstein voice-activated search feature will roll out in the near future.

Read our guide to the best mobile CRM apps – which includes Salesforce – and understand why they stand out among the pack.

Salesforce's first tier, Essentials, offers the core features that many businesses need, and they can upgrade to a higher tier for even more functionalitiy.

Salesforce Ease of Use

Salesforce boasts a rich suite of functionality plus the highest level of customization — which also makes it one of the most difficult CRMs to master. It’s not beginner-friendly, and even seasoned CRM users need ample time to acquaint themselves with the ins-and-outs of Salesforce. On top of that, implementation is a tedious process that requires strict attention to detail, as any mistakes can yield troublesome errors once everything is up and running.

One way to work around potential onboarding and setup issues is to hire a Salesforce expert who is on-call for technical support and offers specialized guidance to teach employees how to use the platform to its fullest. Of course, such services do not come cheap and will have to be factored into an organization’s overall CRM budget. Alternatively, users can check out Salesforce Trailhead Academy and sharpen their skills via free, self-paced online courses.

Despite its high barrier to entry and clunky interface, learning to harness the power of Salesforce can culminate in a substantial payoff for businesses that are able to invest the time and resources. Fans of Salesforce claim that once they’ve become comfortable with the platform, it becomes quite easy to navigate — and the possibilities it offers are endless.

Salesforce home screen

Salesforce Customer Service

Standard with every Salesforce plan is access to email and live chat support during local business hours. Companies needing around-the-clock customer service (via email, chat, and phone) can upgrade to one of Salesforce’s Success Plans, which add benefits like specialized coaching, regular diagnostic checks, and account management assistance. Pricing for these (costly) support plans is available upon request.

As some user reviews note, Salesforce’s standard support staff is not the most timely in responding to requests. However, for companies that simply can’t afford the cost of premium help, there is hope. Salesforce provides unfettered access to its community forums and knowledge base. These outlets are well-maintained and updated often — and thanks to the ubiquity of Salesforce, even the most niche queries are likely to have an answer in place.

Salesforce help center

What People Think of Salesforce

Naturally, a platform as popular as Salesforce has garnered plenty of user feedback. To help develop a sense of Salesforce’s public perception, we’ve scoured thousands of reviews and star ratings from the top three software aggregate sites: Capterra, Software Advice, and G2.

Capterra LogoSoftware Advice LogoG2 logo
4.2 / 5 stars4.4 / 5 stars4.4 / 5 stars
16,000+ total reviews16,000+ total reviews12,000+ total reviews

Salesforce has amassed a combined 44,000+ reviews plus an average score of 4.3 stars. Those are admirable stats, but it’s worth going beyond the surface — what are the contributing factors to Salesforce’s above-average marks? We’ve taken a deeper dive into the reasons why professionals are keen to sing Salesforce’s praises (or call out its shortcomings).

What People Like About Salesforce

Fans of Salesforce appreciate its flexibility. As one reviewer says, its high level of customization allows users to “[implement] what's essential, not what Salesforce believes is significant.” Salesforce also receives a lot of praise for its wealth of functions — particularly its pipeline management, reporting, and sales automation. Some users admit that the broad selection of features may be overwhelming but they also enable companies to solve almost any problem.

What People Wish Salesforce Did Better

Critics of Salesforce cite its lack of usability, especially out of the box. Several reviewers caution that without a designated Salesforce expert to assist with setup and adoption, the implementation process will be harrowing. Interestingly, another common complaint about Salesforce is its complex feature set. Yes, that’s a reason why many companies like the platform; however, small business owners find most of Salesforce’s tools extraneous.

Alternatives to Salesforce

Salesforce may be regarded as the gold standard of CRM software, but it won’t appeal to companies that have no need for such a weighty and pricey platform. Whether your business is seeking a beginner-friendly experience or looking for a more cost-efficient way to secure advanced CRM features, there are several viable options to consider. Below are five CRMs we believe are the best alternatives to Salesforce.

Freshsales

Pipedrive

HubSpot CRM

Zoho CRM

Insightly

Alternatives to Salesforce - Freshsales

Freshsales is ideal for rapidly-scaling organizations looking for AI-powered sales tools and other advanced features at a significantly lower cost than Salesforce. Premium plans range between $15 and $69 per user, per month and include insights generated by Freshsales’ Freddy AI engine. A free version of Freshsales also exists but it lacks Freddy AI and focuses primarily on contact management.

Freshsales is rated as our top alternative to Salesforce. You can check out our scoring in our editorially-independent review of the top Salesforce competitors and alternatives.

Alternatives to Salesforce - Pipedrive

Pipedrive is similar to Salesforce in that they’re both sales-forward platforms. However, Pipedrive is much more accessible in terms of cost and usability. In fact, Pipedrive is celebrated for its visual, easy-to-learn interface and range of basic sales tools. For teams that need a CRM up and running quickly, Pipedrive is one of the best choices out there. Prices for Pipedrive range between $14.90 and $99 per user, per month; a 14-day trial is also available.

We put these two sales-centric CRMs head-to-head in our Pipedrive vs Salesforce article. Check it out to find out more about each platform’s pros and cons.

Alternatives to Salesforce - Hubspot

HubSpot CRM is suitable for SMBs wanting a robust free CRM they can easily scale via premium upgrades. (Prices for paid plans start at $45 per month for two users; HubSpot’s free CRM has unlimited seats.) For teams that are largely new to CRM software, HubSpot CRM is a better choice than Salesforce because it offers a simpler setup process, cleaner interface, and one of the best support teams in the business.

See how these two industry leaders fare head-to-head when it comes to pricing, features, and more in our breakdown of Salesforce vs HubSpot CRM.

Alternatives to Salesforce - Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM is an excellent choice for small-to-midsize companies seeking a marketing-forward CRM to help foster social media leads. It’s not as flexible as Salesforce, but Zoho CRM still offers a fair amount of leeway when it comes to customization at a much more reasonable price. Zoho CRM costs between $14 and $52 per user, per month, and a free (albeit very stripped-down) version is also available.

Check out our comparison of Zoho vs Salesforce to learn more about the similarities and differences between each of these platforms.

Alternatives to Salesforce - Insightly

Insightly is beneficial for small-to-medium sized companies that need something beyond an entry-level CRM but find Salesforce too expensive and complex for their needs. It features a balanced blend of advanced sales tools and robust project management features plus an interface that won’t totally alienate users who are new to CRMs. Insightly costs between $29 and $99 per user, per month. There’s also a limited free-for-life version plus a 14-day trial.

Our showdown of Insightly vs Salesforce illuminates the strengths (and touches upon the weaknesses) of both of these CRMs.

Are neither of the above options ticking the appropriate boxes for your business? Take a look at our list of the best Salesforce alternatives to learn more about Salesforce’s other main competitors’ use cases, pricing, and features.

Bottom Line: Salesforce Review

Salesforce is the preferred CRM for hundreds of thousands of users around the globe thanks to its vast range of cross-departmental features, countless customization options, and in-depth reporting. Salesforce’s status as an industry leader is an alluring selling point, but remember to do your due diligence. Seek out trusted Salesforce reviews (including this one) and sign up for a free trial or demo. From there, you’ll have a better idea of whether Salesforce is right for you.

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