Zoho vs Salesforce: Pick the Best CRM for You in 2021

Check out our breakdown of Zoho vs Salesforce's features and more so you can decide whether one of these CRMs fits your needs.

Zoho CRM and Salesforce are industry-leading CRMs, although for different reasons. Zoho CRM is an affordable and easy-to-use option for small and medium-sized businesses. Salesforce, on the other hand, provides large or fast-growing businesses with countless customizable, high-tech features. Honing in on the nuanced differences between Zoho vs Salesforce will help you decide if either is a smart choice for your business.

Here are the situations when you want to use either Zoho CRM or Salesforce:

  • Zoho CRM: Best for small-to-medium businesses needing a marketing-forward CRM that’s affordable still yet rich in crucial sales features (free to $52 per user, per month)
  • Salesforce: Best for quickly-scaling or large businesses seeking a state-of-the-art CRM with advanced analytics, automation, and customization ($25 to $300 per user, per month)

While Zoho CRM and Salesforce are both industry heavyweights, they might not be the best fit for your specific needs. If you'd like to consider other solutions, see our articles on the best overall CRMs and the best industry-specific CRM solutions. Otherwise, keep on reading for highlights of the showdown between Zoho CRM and Salesforce.

Zoho vs Salesforce at a Glance

Zoho CRMSalesforce
Price Range (Annual)Free to $52 per user, per month$25 to $300 per user, per month
Core FeaturesEssential CRM features across marketing and salesAdvanced tools for deep insights into the customer journey
Ease of UseAccessible to new users, but wealth of features can be overwhelmingLarge time investment to become proficient with it
ReportingOffers 40 standard reports and ability for custom onesAble to build any type of CRM report
Sales AutomationAutomates repetitive sales processes and tasksAutomates tasks across various functions
Mobile AppCapable of capturing voice notes and filesCustom navigation and offline access to key data
App Integrations1000+ apps, many of which are freeOver 3,000 pre-installed apps to customize your platform
Customer ServiceUsers below Professional plan rely on peer-to-peer supportAll plans include support during local business hours
Visit Zoho CRMVisit Salesforce

How We Evaluated Zoho vs Salesforce

Zoho CRM and Salesforce are both great options, but each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses. We uncovered these distinctions by comparing the two platforms based on five key criteria that are most important to businesses when choosing any CRM — costs, features, ease of use, app integrations and customization, and user support.

Evaluation Criteria

First, we divided our five chosen evaluation criteria into weighted subcategories and scored each one. Then, we added up the subcategory and criteria scores, which revealed the winning CRM for each category.

Pricing:
25%
Features:
25%
Ease of Use:
20%
App Integrations & Customization:
15%
User Support:
15%

Aside from the weighted criteria above, we separated three core CRM features into their own individual categories below: reporting, sales automation, and mobile app. We’ve honed in on these specific features because businesses deciding between CRM software options often want to know how they compare in their ability to uncover insights and streamline sales processes.

Best for Pricing: Zoho CRM

Zoho CRMSalesforce
Free-for-Life OptionYes (3-user maximum)No
Free Trial15 days30 days 
(14 days with Essentials)
Starting Price (Annual)$14 per user, per month$25 per user, per month  (10-user maximum)
Enterprise Price (Annual)$52 per user, per month$300 per user, per month
Add-OnsFrom $2 per monthFrom $5 per month
Monthly BillingYesEssentials only

Winner: Zoho CRM is the more cost-effective choice by virtue of its free-for-life edition and low-cost enterprise edition.

Zoho CRM is a more affordable option than Salesforce. Zoho CRM’s free-for-life edition is a great option for small business owners who want the basic features of a CRM, such as contact management and standard reporting. And, if the number of your CRM users grows past three, the jump to the enterprise option is anything but prohibitive at $40 per user per month, and gives you advanced features like AI-backed suggestions and more customization options.

Zoho pricing tiers

Salesforce is a more expensive choice than Zoho CRM. especially if you factor in the potential outside costs of hiring a Salesforce administrator, which is typical for medium to large businesses attempting to get the most out of the software’s Enterprise or Ultimate editions. However, Salesforce’s Essentials plan is $25 per user, per month — only $11 more than Zoho’s standard plan. Salesforce offers a 30-day free trial for those looking to test it out.

Salesforce pricing

Show More >>

Best for Core Features: Salesforce

Zoho CRMSalesforce
Contact Management360-degree view of contacts; access to social media dataRich profiles of contacts; data from Gmail and Outlook
Lead ManagementLead analysis and nurturing; omnichannel communicationTracks lead sources; automated lead routing
Pipeline ManagementDeal stage view; notifications when deals require actionOpportunity view; pipeline filtering and inspection
Advanced FeaturesWorkflow rules; customer journey command centerCustom field forecasts; Einstein Analytics

Winner: Salesforce has the most comprehensive CRM feature set out there and offers great functionality for sales, marketing, and support departments.

Zoho CRM has a large feature set to help businesses effectively track leads, contacts, and deals. It even ties in social media data regarding contacts, and allows you to communicate with contacts in-platform through live chat, email, and other channels. Zoho also offers marketing capabilities, like its ability to run email nurturing campaigns. The Enterprise plan includes the CommandCenter, where you can personalize the customer journey of your leads.

Zoho contact management feature

Salesforce, however, reigns supreme when it comes to range and depth of features. All plans offer robust contact, account, lead, and opportunity management functions. Users will also get great 360 degree views of their contacts’ demographics, communication history, and past actions. But, its Enterprise and Ultimate plans shine brightest, boasting workflow tools that allow you to easily automate almost any CRM task, including lead scoring and distribution to reps.

Salesforce contact management

Show More >>

Best for Ease of Use: Zoho CRM

Zoho CRMSalesforce
Ease of SetupFairly quick and simpleTime-consuming and involved
Learning CurveModerateSteep
Common Positive ReviewsIntuitive interface, easy to customize, simple contact managementVery customizable, seamless app integrations
Common Negative ReviewsUnreliable support, only basic analyticsConfusing interface, missteps in setup lead to later issues

Winner: Zoho CRM is accessible to users of most experience levels thanks to its relatively simple setup and customization.

Zoho CRM is known as one of the more user-friendly CRMs. Its intuitive, no-frills interface and wizard-guided setup make it easy to get the software up and running quickly. Zoho users also enjoy how easy it is to customize when compared to Salesforce — albeit, this is in part because the customization options are less complex. Users can pay extra 20-25% of the license fee for onboarding support, or, if they have over 25 users, an account manager for ongoing help.

Zoho Process Management

Salesforce offers tremendous functionality and the highest level of customization, but it comes with quite the learning curve, which prompts many businesses to hire an in-house Salesforce administrator to manage the system. Setup is a cumbersome process due to the software’s flexibility, and mistakes can lead to issues later on. However, fans do often state that once you’ve learned the platform, it offers endless possibilities and easy navigation.

Salesforce Sales Cloud Features

Show More >>

Best for Reporting: Salesforce

Zoho CRMSalesforce
Basic Report TemplatesAll plansAll plans
Custom ReportingStandard plan (100 max); higher plans (unlimited)All plans
Advanced ReportingEnterprise and UnlimitedEnterprise and Unlimited
Reporting DashboardUnlimited custom dashboards starting at ProfessionalUp to 20 reports per dashboard

Winner: Salesforce gives businesses the ability to create any type of CRM report they need to make data-driven decisions.

Zoho CRM includes 40+ standard pre-built report types that users can run, along with unlimited custom reports in the Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate plans. For your convenience, all paid plans allow you to schedule reports to automatically run on certain dates. Plus, reports can be easily represented visually in charts and graphs. Zia, the AI assistant that can answer your questions about analytics in real-time, is available in the two highest plans.

HubSpot CRM dashboard

Salesforce offers pre-built and custom reports in every plan. Building your own reports is simple thanks to the drag and drop editor; just pick your filters, fields, and visualization type and you’re done. Its higher-tier plans include advanced reporting features like cross filters and bucketing that enable users to organize data in an easy-to-find manner. Salesforce gives you all the tools you need to track key metrics and also investigate how to improve a team’s sales performance.

Salesforce reporting dashboard

Show More >>

Best for Sales Automation: Salesforce

Zoho CRMSalesforce
Workflow Editor InterfaceVisual drag-and-dropVisual point-and-click
Workflow TypesFollow-up activities, contact creation, notificationsDeal management, approval requests, notifications
Workflow Rule LimitsDaily limits vary by plan and functionEssentials: Up to 5 rules
Professional: Up to 5 rules
Enterprise: No limits
Unlimited: No limits
Workflow Templates
Workflows From Scratch

Winner: Salesforce can automate a wide variety of business and CRM processes, which will help salespeople save time on repetitive tasks.

Zoho CRM’s sales automation features are primarily focused on communication and follow-up with leads or clients. For example, it can automate email follow-ups to be sent after a certain number of days. It can also be configured to create new contacts when you’ve received an email from an unfamiliar email address. If you want to create workflows for other processes (like approval for requested discounts), you’ll have to purchase the Enterprise or Ultimate editions.

Zoho workflow editor

Salesforce’s automation extends beyond those found in Zoho. Its Lightning Flow Automation tool enables users to build processes that standardize and automate your most common CRM routines. Users can even build out workflows that recommend next steps to their salespeople as they move through a deal. Also, design self-service wizards for tasks like updating a contact’s address, thereby ensuring team members follow the most productive company procedure.

Salesforce automation

Show More >>

Best Mobile App: Salesforce

Zoho CRM Salesforce
Mobile App CostFreeFree
Mobile App PlatformsiOS and AndroidiOS and Android
Mobile Sync With CRM
Offline ModeContacts onlyVarious items
Standout FeaturesTask automation, voice note recordingsAI-powered analytics, customizable elements

Winner: Salesforce has a mobile app that allows you offline access to crucial sales data beyond contact information.

Zoho CRM's mobile app enables users to access data from their IOS or Android devices while on the move. It offers time management features like a daily planner, map, and alerts to help you stay on track. Plus, top plans offer task automation; simply text the actions you want taken to Zia, an AI, who’ll perform them for you. When offline, you can check and amend contact info, and even leave voice notes that’ll be reflected in the CRM when you’re back online.

Zoho CRM Mobile App

Salesforce’s mobile app is essentially the entire Salesforce CRM in the palm of your hands. Its most notable feature is its offline mode, which, compared to Zoho, enables you to see and update more information, including dashboards and opportunities. Online, the mobile app gives AI-powered insights that foster smart decisions and the ability to customize your mobile experience by personalizing navigation and selecting favorites for even greater productivity.

Salesforce mobile app

Show More >>

Best for App Integrations: Salesforce

Zoho CRMSalesforce
App MarketplaceZoho App MarketplaceSalesforce AppExchange
Number of Total AppsOver 1,000Over 3,000
Notable IntegrationsSlack, Mailchimp, ShopifyDocuSign, Quickbooks, Dropbox

Winner: Salesforce wins this one due to the sheer number of apps it supports and the simplicity of the integration processes.

Zoho CRM and Salesforce both support a large number of third-party applications. The Zoho App Marketplace currently has over 1,000 integrations spanning business applications, document storage, marketing tools, and more. Many of the most popular integrations are free (G Suite, PandaDoc, Office 360, Mailchimp, Dropbox). While its app plugins cost extra, some offer free versions with limited functionality.

Zoho App Integration

Salesforce AppExchange, on the other hand, allows for the implementation of over 3,000 pre-integrated apps that can help you improve your performance in a variety of key areas, from document management to sales automation. The integration with these apps is seamless and enables you to customize your experience more than you would with Zoho. But, more than half cost money. Popular free integrations are ZoomInfo, Cirrus Insight, and Yesware.

Salesforce AppExchange

Show More >>

Best for User Support: Salesforce

Zoho CRMSalesforce
Standard Business HoursWeekdays during local business hoursWeekdays during local business hours
Support ChannelsLive chat, phoneLive chat, phone, email
Knowledge Base
Community Forums
Certification ProgramsZoho SparkSalesforce Trailhead

Winner: Salesforce gets a slight win here because it’s the industry standard; many questions have been posed and answered online in forums.

All Zoho CRM users have access to live chat and phone support during local business hours. You can pay extra for Premium support, which bumps support access to 24/5, but costs 20% of your license fee. Businesses with 25+ users can pay 25% of their license fee to get a dedicated account manager and 24/7 support. Still, Zoho’s customer service staff is notorious for delays. If you need an answer in a pinch, you can turn to their knowledge base and community forums.

Zoho support center

All Salesforce plans come with email and live chat support, along with access to Salesforce’s community forums and knowledge base, which are extremely helpful. Thanks to the software’s ubiquity, even the most niche questions have likely been answered. Premium support plans can be purchased separately as well. They include additions like 24/7 support, one-on-one coaching, and advanced diagnostics that can help you get the most out of the platform.

Salesforce Help Center

Show More >>

Who Shouldn’t Use Zoho CRM & Salesforce?

Zoho CRM and Salesforce each have a base of raving fans that get everything they need from the software. However, there are some businesses with specific attributes that might want to avoid using Zoho or Salesforce. Ultimately, your specific sales needs are the priority when choosing a CRM, and it’s best not to become enamored with a system just for its reputation.

Who Shouldn’t Use Zoho CRM

The business types below tend not to be a great fit for Zoho CRM:

  • Enterprise Companies Needing Heavy Customization: Zoho offers relatively few customizable elements and shallow feature depth, which might hold back large teams. 
  • Companies That Just Want a Sales CRM: Zoho CRM has a lot of great marketing capabilities; if you don’t use them, it might not be worth paying for the whole platform.
  • Companies That Need 24/7 Support: Zoho’s customer support is limited unless you pay for it, which can be up to 25% of the licensing fee.

If you fall into any of these camps, don’t simply default to Salesforce. Take a look at the list below to see if you might want to choose something else entirely.

Who Shouldn’t Use Salesforce

The following businesses and reps might not want to choose Salesforce: 

  • Small Businesses and Startups: Salesforce’s massive feature and customization set will be too overwhelming, not to mention pricey, for most smaller companies. 
  • Companies Without In-House Tech Support: Salesforce is prone to small bugs or crashes due to its complexity, so you'll want someone who understands your customized platform. 
  • Salespeople New to CRMs: Salesforce takes time and effort to learn, even for people who have experience with CRMs, so it’s not recommended as a first-time CRM. 

If it feels like neither Zoho CRM nor Salesforce will fit what you’re looking for in terms of price, features, and support, there are some other great CRMs out there that might be a better match.

3 Best Alternatives to Zoho CRM & Salesforce

Zoho CRM and Salesforce both have their advantages, but there’s a chance neither tick the right boxes for your business. Whether you’re seeking a more sales-focused CRM or a free option, there is a bounty of great choices. We find the below three CRMs to be the best alternatives to Zoho CRM and Salesforce: 

  • Pipedrive: Best for businesses in need of a robust, user-friendly, sales-focused CRM with visual, custom pipelines to track your opportunities ($12.50 starting price) 
  • Insightly: Best for growing businesses that want to use their CRM to manage projects and product delivery along with sales and marketing ($29 starting price)
  • HubSpot CRM: Best for small businesses seeking a free CRM that comes with essential CRM features and quality customer support (free starting price)

Check out our lists of the best Zoho CRM alternatives and the best Salesforce alternatives to learn about comparable solutions and find the right one for your business. In the articles, you’ll find information about their pricing, core features, use cases, and more.

Bottom Line: Zoho vs Salesforce

While Salesforce takes the crown in features and customization, Zoho CRM still receives knighthood in those categories and seizes the throne when it comes to usability and affordability. In sum, the best CRM for you should fit your business and sales needs, be within your budget, and gain traction with your team. Depending on your business’s current state, the right CRM for you could be Salesforce, Zoho CRM, or another one you just haven’t encountered yet.

Selling Signals
Actionable advice for sales professionals
Address
355 Lexington Ave,
18th Floor,
New York, NY, 10017
COPYRIGHT SELLING SIGNALS, LLC – 2021