Check out our breakdown of Insightly vs Pipedrive based on features, cost, and other criteria to see if either CRM is right for 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:
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.
|Price Range (Annual)||Free to $52 per user, per month||$25 to $300 per user, per month|
|Core Features||Essential CRM features across marketing and sales||Advanced tools for deep insights into the customer journey|
|Ease of Use||Accessible to new users, but wealth of features can be overwhelming||Large time investment to become proficient with it|
|Reporting||Offers 40 standard reports and ability for custom ones||Able to build any type of CRM report|
|Sales Automation||Automates repetitive sales processes and tasks||Automates tasks across various functions|
|Mobile App||Capable of capturing voice notes and files||Custom navigation and offline access to key data|
|App Integrations||1000+ apps, many of which are free||Over 3,000 pre-installed apps to customize your platform|
|Customer Service||Users below Professional plan rely on peer-to-peer support||All plans include support during local business hours|
|Visit Zoho CRM||Visit 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.
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.
|Free-for-Life Option||Yes (3-user maximum)||No|
|Free Trial||15 days||30 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-Ons||From $2 per month||From $5 per month|
|Monthly Billing||Yes||Essentials 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.
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.
|Contact Management||360-degree view of contacts; access to social media data||Rich profiles of contacts; data from Gmail and Outlook|
|Lead Management||Lead analysis and nurturing; omnichannel communication||Tracks lead sources; automated lead routing|
|Pipeline Management||Deal stage view; notifications when deals require action||Opportunity view; pipeline filtering and inspection|
|Advanced Features||Workflow rules; customer journey command center||Custom 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.
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.
|Ease of Setup||Fairly quick and simple||Time-consuming and involved|
|Common Positive Reviews||Intuitive interface, easy to customize, simple contact management||Very customizable, seamless app integrations|
|Common Negative Reviews||Unreliable support, only basic analytics||Confusing 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.
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.
|Basic Report Templates||All plans||All plans|
|Custom Reporting||Standard plan (100 max); higher plans (unlimited)||All plans|
|Advanced Reporting||Enterprise and Unlimited||Enterprise and Unlimited|
|Reporting Dashboard||Unlimited custom dashboards starting at Professional||Up 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.
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.
|Workflow Editor Interface||Visual drag-and-drop||Visual point-and-click|
|Workflow Types||Follow-up activities, contact creation, notifications||Deal management, approval requests, notifications|
|Workflow Rule Limits||Daily limits vary by plan and function||Essentials: Up to 5 rules|
Professional: Up to 5 rules
Enterprise: No limits
Unlimited: No limits
|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.
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.
|Mobile App Cost||Free||Free|
|Mobile App Platforms||iOS and Android||iOS and Android|
|Mobile Sync With CRM||✔||✔|
|Offline Mode||Contacts only||Various items|
|Standout Features||Task automation, voice note recordings||AI-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.
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.
|App Marketplace||Zoho App Marketplace||Salesforce AppExchange|
|Number of Total Apps||Over 1,000||Over 3,000|
|Notable Integrations||Slack, Mailchimp, Shopify||DocuSign, 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.
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.
|Standard Business Hours||Weekdays during local business hours||Weekdays during local business hours|
|Support Channels||Live chat, phone||Live chat, phone, email|
|Certification Programs||Zoho Spark||Salesforce 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.
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.
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.
The business types below tend not to be a great fit for Zoho CRM:
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.
The following businesses and reps might not want to choose Salesforce:
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.
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:
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.
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.