by Karen McCandless
Published on 28 January 2016
If you're in the market for a CRM chances are you'll have come up against one name again and again: Salesforce. Maybe you looked into the system and were put off the idea of CRMs altogether because of the price points, implementation time, and the complexity of the system. After all, small businesses and startups run on tight margins and pride themselves on their agility, while larger organizations are looking for a cost-efficient solution that has enough features to meet their needs.
Or maybe you chose Salesforce because it's a well-known name in the CRM arena, and you felt that you couldn't go wrong with a market-leader. But now you're stuck with a load of features you don't understand or never use, employees who feel faint when just looking at the user interface, and a bill that makes your accountant weep. Or you were looking for a flexible solution that is highly customizable and can standardize and automate processes, but Salesforce just isn't cutting it.
CRMs such as Salesforce are great when your staff are already familiar with the system, plus you have the budget to employ consultants to implement it and take the time to train your staff. But it can all be overwhelming and costly for a company trying to get business off the ground or one that wants to actually use the data it has in its CRM.
If you're looking for a more nimble cloud-based CRM that is easy to use, can be up and running in no time, and is tailored for your business - whatever its size - then check out these 10 great alternatives to Salesforce CRM, including insights from users of these products, extracted from GetApp's reviews.
bpm'online CRM differentiates itself from Salesforce by providing marketing, sales, and service products on one platform, with a single interface, and interconnected processes. Salesforce, on the other hand, offers three separate products for these functions. Similarly, bpm'online CRM provides a single tool for business process automation, which contrasts to Salesforce's collection of tools to fulfill the same job. Its pricing is also a major plus point, coming in at significantly less than Salesforce.
Jordan Fraczek, marketing manager at ERP consultants BrainSell, feels Bpm'online CRM should be on any list of alternatives to Salesforce. He says: "Bpm'online is an extremely affordable tool compared to Salesforce and in many ways is just as powerful. Bpm'online certainly warrants being in the discussion for, 'as good as Salesforce'."
Given that this is an article about alternatives to Salesforce, it may seem strange to include a Salesforce product in here. But the company acquired RelateIQ in 2014 and rebranded it SalesforceIQ because it's more nimble and lightweight than the traditional Salesforce CRM, making it a better option for startups and small businesses.
Josh Weinstein, business lead at productivity suite Quip, explains why his company switched from Salesforce CRM to SalesforceIQ (RelateIQ): " I love RelateIQ. We are a small-ish company of about 20 people, and we started using Salesforce. It was terrible - everything was completely manual, you had to input everything and tell it exactly what to do. We decided to go with RelateIQ, and it has made my life much easier. I check my feed to see who I need to reach out to and keep myself apprised of all the ongoing relationships I have. Our account manager, Will, is awesome too. He is super responsive and makes sure we have what we need."
Salesforce is often described as a complex system, which can hinder user adoption or - at the very least - require significant training. GetApp's reviewers like Pipeliner CRM for its ease of use and the speed at which users can get up and running. They also rate its customer support and the useful video tutorials it provides to help its customers understand key features.
Lori Grass, group vice president of marketing and client strategy at media company Gannett, talks about why Pipeliner CRM is a good option for today's sales rep: "Pipeliner is our primary CRM for our sales and client success team. We moved from Salesforce.com to Pipeliner as a cost saving as well as looking for a tool that had a more progressive feature set. Of specific interest to us was the visual user interface of the opportunity pipeline and the social media integrations."
Zoho CRM has been described as a customer relationship management system that is excellent value for money with great integrations, both of which are key considerations for any company, but especially small businesses and startups.
One GetApp reviewer had this to say about the advantages of Zoho CRM vs Salesforce CRM:
" We are several months into using Zoho and we are now thinking why couldn't we find Zoho before we locked into a contract with Salesforce. Well, we moved forward and decided to make the switch even though we are still paying for Salesforce (because we have to) - Combined with Zoho Reports and the 3 Enterprise licenses we have, we $155 per month vs Salesforce's $390 per month (with waaaaay less features)."
This list of Salesforce alternatives wouldn't be complete without Insightly, which topped the list of CRMs in GetRank Q1 2016, GetApp's quarterly ranking of business apps based in the cloud. Our reviewers have described it as, "different, innovative, and simple", as well as "super easy to implement and use".
Steven Figueroa, director of Digital Media for the JD Donaghe 2016 Presidential Campaign, describes Insightly as being a great CRM for Google Apps users. He says: "I first signed up my company for Insightly to use on internet sales for furniture products. We ended up expanding that use as sales reps enjoyed how simple it was to use and share info on leads."
Another CRM that our reviewers have highlighted as being suitable for small businesses is Pipedrive, citing it as a far more affordable alternative to Salesforce. The app has a fully customizable interface, offers seamless access across devices, and works straight out of the box.
Alain Portenier, business development at open source legacy optimization company OpenLegacy, claims Pipedrive is "Built by people who truly understand the requirements of the sales professional, [and an] extremely well designed software with all the capabilities you would expect and none of the clutter, at a fraction of Salesforce. You can tell that the entire Pipedrive team is focused on building a system that increases the efficiency of the sales professional."
If you're looking to set up a CRM quickly without hiring consultants to do the job and if Salesforce seems to complicated for your workforce then Apptivo CRM is an alternative. It offers integration with Google's business apps (as well as other useful integrations), a solid sales pipeline, simple and cheap setup process, and comprehensive support ( according to one reviewer, it's the only CRM to offer free 24/7 online support chat from within the app).
Adrian McKeon, director of HomeZone furniture company, explains why his business chose Apptivo (although he points out it is not as well developed as Salesforce): "Apptivo is not Salesforce. As a result we were up and running in days with no need for external consultants. Obviously we had the usual customisation issues but support is excellent with lots of helpful videos on YouTube. Ideal for a small business. Start off simply. Add apps as you go."
WORK[etc] CRM has been hailed by our reviewers as one of the most fully-featured CRM for startups, and a product that could replace not just Salesforce's CRM but also its Service Cloud. Due to its low price points, some users thought that it would be low-end but were surprised to find out that it has features for many different parts of the business arranged in different tabs, including purchasing, accounting and sales.
Jordan Zoot, managing director and CEO of aBIZinaBOX accounting firm, explains his choice:
"We looked at the app thinking its was a low end CRM….what we got was an app that if we were in a do over, could replace our Salesforce Service Cloud EE, Desk.com support portal, and Smartsheet Project management in one pass. Very tight integration with Xero for PSA, and a Professional Services Platform that is on the level with workflowMAX. This product is going to become our "go to" for CRM/Customer Service in the Google Apps Ecosystem."
Nimble CRM's unique selling point is its integration with social media. One of our reviewers uses it in combination with LinkedIn to find prospects. Another highlight is that the company offers weekly training sessions, plus it beats Salesforce on its feature-to-cost ratio.
Paul Sizemore, marketing technology consultant at mobile engagement company Octoprise, choose Nimble for its deep feature set and because it's easy to get up and running on. He says: "I started using Nimble because it was very easy to start using, and after I grew, I evaluated other CRM systems, including Microsoft and Salesforce. For the size of my business, Nimble was a standout. To get the features I wanted in a CRM it would have been hundreds of dollars a month on a Salesforce platform. Nimble is comprehensive."
Workbooks is a CRM that is specifically designed for small and medium businesses which has been described by our reviewers as "amazingly simple" with a fantastic UI and UX. It also integrates with other small business cloud software favorites such as Quickbooks for accounting, Teamwork Projects for project management, and Mailchimp for email marketing.
One of our GetApp reviewers had this to say about why they prefer Workbooks to Salesforce:
"One thing I can stop thinking about is the desktop-style UI, with the movable windows, file icons, and pop-up start menu, all work just as well as Mac OS or Windows (Pre-W8) desktop. I've never seen a web application do anything remotely close to this, and didn't know it was even possible to have something like that in a browser. Really friggin' cool, blows the more traditional setups you see in Zoho CRM and Salesforce out of the water. The workflow customization is top-notch, and I've been able to keep an eye on all my sales team's progress with leads, activities, emails, and phone calls with minute precision via WB's reporting capabilities. Bravo."
If you're looking to take the next steps in choosing your alternative to Salesforce for CRM then why not check out GetRank's top 25 apps ranked according to integrations, mobile apps, user reviews, and social media presence.
Another good place to carry out further research is the GetApp Marketplace where you can access an in-depth product analysis, see more on up-to-date pricing, use our comparison tool to see how apps rank against each other, and watch video walkthroughs. And if there is an app that doesn't appear in our list that you think should be there, let us know in the comments below.