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Beyond that use case, Salesforce had a variety of situations where they needed to automate processes across the various tools used in their environments. Salesforce external source syncing. Ongoing Success Program. Included Professional Services. Add-On Professional Services. All features. Compare Salesforce Einstein to a deal by deal bottoms up contextual AI. to analytics that goes beyond historical data and inputs.

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Salesforce vs Zoho vs OpenCRM – A CRM Comparison

16 Aug 2021

If you’re in the process of taking on a CRM system, you’re probably wondering how all the different options compare? We wanted to compare OpenCRM with the heavy hitters in the CRM marketplace: the Salesforce vs Zoho battle. And to help you along your decision-making process, we’ve also included a helpful infograph at the end. Let’s jump in…

The start of the Salesforce vs Zoho battle

As we’ve moved into the 21st century, the use of Information Technology has enhanced and accelerated our daily lives. And the business environment is no exception. Many businesses across the globe use technology to boost their productivity, efficiency and ultimately, their profitability. CRM is undoubtably the most commonly used business software. It’s a market which shows no signs of slowing down, CRM revenues are expected to reach $80 billion by 2025.

CRM software packages offer a full range of functionalities to businesses of all shapes and sizes. With a range of features available including storing customer information, from tracking enquiries and managing after sales support. The goal is to make all business efficient in maximising simple, smooth and auditable processes.

When you discuss the word CRM, there’s always going to be one product which springs to mind – Salesforce. As one of the original cloud-based CRM systems, Salesforce has been and remains today one of the most powerful players on the market. In recent years, we’ve also seen the rise of Zoho as a CRM alternative. They’ve got thousands of customers across the globe flocking to its suite of productivity tools.

We’re a fan of both platforms, they offer a range of functionalities for businesses throughout the world. Most businesses, when looking for CRM, will most likely have both somewhere on your research list. But here at OpenCRM, we believe our CRM software holds its ground against these big hitters. We offer a real UK alternative to both of those mentioned and the numerous others out there.

Don’t believe us? Well, we’re going to do our own comparison to convince you. A Salesforce vs Zoho vs OpenCRM showdown if you will. To help you weigh up the pros and cons when making your CRM decision.Shortcode

Case Studies

Don't just take our word for it

Click to read how other companies have benefited from using OpenCRM. From out-of-the-box implementations to businesses that needed bespoke development to fit their unique approach - we've seen it all.

find out more

A Comparison Infographic

We’ve also put together the following infographic comparing the three different CRM solutions: Salesforce vs Zoho vs OpenCRM.

Salesforce vs Zoho vs OpenCRM - 2021 Infographic

Features Comparison

All three of the products covered in this comparison are packed full of features that appeal to a wide range of customers. Neither Salesforce, Zoho, or OpenCRM target a particular niche market. This means the features on offer all have inherent flexibility to help mould into most user’s businesses.


The feature rich portfolio of features within Salesforce is broad and deep. This means that it’s great for large enterprising businesses with high volumes at the heart of what they do. Covering the key areas of CRM such as Contact Management, Opportunity Management, Reporting and Automation, Salesforce is a fully featured solution which can appeal to a wide range of requirements. With an extensive Partner Development network, a range of extra Salesforce applications are available to solve a mix of problems.

Whilst the range of features in Salesforce are wide, they are not all instantly available. With a range of products across the suite such as Sales or Service Cloud, all with different editions and features, finding the right mix for your business may not be as straight forward as first thought.

For a business that would want to manage both their Sales and Customer Service teams within their CRM system, you could expect to pay £80 per user per month (billed annually) for 77% of the available features on that plan. For considerably fewer features, you could pay £25 /user/month or £260 /user/month for 100% of the features.


Zoho’s big claim is they have a CRM system which is full of features and full of context and in many ways, they aren’t wrong! Their CRM is definitely feature rich, covering areas such as Sales Forecasting, Document Storage and Workflows. Zoho also have a free offering which enables a good entry level. They market this to those looking to dabble with CRM to see what it can offer.

Despite this, we’ve all heard the saying ‘You don’t get anything for free’. Whilst this isn’t strictly true with Zoho’s free CRM offering, you may find yourself stuck in a functionality cul-de-sac. If you’re looking to extend beyond the basic, as with Salesforce, you’ll be met with a tiered pricing model based on the level of functionality you and your business.

If you want to pay monthly, you can get about 70% of the available CRM features for £28 /user/month. Alternatively, you could pay £16 /user/month for a very basic system or £52 /user/month for all the bells and whistles.


At OpenCRM, we believe we are a true UK alternative to Salesforce (and Zoho for that matter). Our system boasts a wide array of features across a range of different business functions. Covering all the way from first enquiry to project delivery and after sales support, our 20 + key modules offer functionality through the entire business environment. We have also thrown in HelpDesk Ticketing, Email Marketing Campaigns, and a variety of sales force automation tools for good measure.

Being UK based also gives us a key insight into the UK market. This means that we can develop features in OpenCRM dedicated to meeting the bespoke needs of our market. Want an example? How about our baked-in GDPR features for managing Data Retention, Right to be Forgotten, and Email Opt-Ins?

Aside from the specific features, we don’t believe in restricting our functionality to those on a budget. Every user has access to the whole OpenCRM system. So whether your business has 1, 10 or 100 users, you get the full functionality straight out the box. A fully featured solution, for every shape, size and type of business.

That means you get 99.99% of our features for £33 /user/month. We only ask you to pay minimum extras for add-ons associated with accounting software or if you require additional API support.Shortcode


Do we have what it takes?

We don't restrict which features you have access to in OpenCRM based on how many users you have. You get everything right out of the box. Click to find out if we've got the features you need.

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Data: A question of location and space

When it comes to the data you store within your CRM system, the contact records, emails, documents, and more, you want to be sure of three things:

  1. Your data is safe,
  2. You know where your data is stored, and
  3. You have enough space to store it.

For the first point, we think it is safe to say that your data is secure with any of these three CRM providers. You can read more about our own infrastructure in this article, but suffice to say that we hold our own against the two big players in the CRM marketplace.

But what about points 2 and 3? Well, on that note, there are definitely some differences in the Salesforce vs Zoho (vs OpenCRM) battle.


When it comes to where, exactly, your data is being stored, the answer is a bit of a “it depends.” Although you can select where your primary data centre will be located, your failover and backup databases can easily end up in another country. Salesforce advertise this as a security benefit, but we disagree.

Although it’s a great idea to have your data centres geographically separated (we do this ourselves of course). Having them in different countries can make some people feel a bit nervous about data sovereignty.

But, ignoring where your data is stored for the minute. How much data are you able to store?

With the same Salesforce plan described above, you will get 20MB per user. This means that a smaller company who deals in large volumes of data may need to purchase extra storage space to avoid going over their limits.


Zoho approaches their data storage in a similar way to Salesforce, with a company being able to select the location of their primary data centre. Their data centres are located in the US, India, the EU, and Australia. We were unable to find confirmation that failover and backup facilities will be located in the same country.

When it comes to storage, though, Zoho’s offering is considerably more generous than Salesforce. Each system will get 1GB of file storage, plus 512MB for each user. As with Salesforce, though, this certainly benefits systems with more users.


As a UK company (with UK based support), we felt strongly that we wanted to keep all our data, including what’s in our CRM system, within the UK (or EU at a stretch). That’s backups and failover servers as well as the primary. This meant that, when it came time to upgrade our infrastructure, we decided to keep everything in the UK.

This means we’re a UK company, with UK support and UK data…an all around UK CRM provider.

But what about space? Well, just like our features library, we didn’t want to make restrictions based on the number of users or the price you pay. So all systems get 2TB of storage. That’s 2 Terabytes!!

And you know what, we haven’t had a single system go over it in more than 15 years of trading.Shortcode


GDPR: your data, your rules

We've always put data protection at the heart of OpenCRM. So with the introduction of GDPR, we've added new tools and features so you have the control you need to implement your policies and achieve compliance.

find out more

Support for Customers

Even the most experienced software wizards sometimes need some assistance with their CRM systems, so it’s important Support is on hand when an issue crops up. With customers all over the world, let’s compare the Support you can expect to receive from all three providers.


With Salesforce’s large client base and partner program, the support you receive as part of your journey with the platform can vary greatly. For this comparison, we’ll discard the 3rd party offerings and jump straight into the Support options available from the company themselves.

Support levels are often dependent on your subscription level with Salesforce, with 48 hour case submission available across all options. Online training videos and resources are widely available to administrators, developers, and end users.

No clear indication on their website whether in-system live chat is included in the price (or even available).

But getting to speak with a real person on the phone? Asking for a remote session to help with troubleshooting? Have a chat with someone from the customer success or account management side? That most likely going to cost extra.


Every paid plan on Zoho CRM includes their Classic Support. This gives you weekday, 8 hour response for any issues which can arise. If you’re looking for something a little more substantial, Premium Support can be purchased at an additional cost. You do have to qualify for the privilege though. With only those on the Professional or Enterprise packages and more than 10 Users afforded the choice.

If you do qualify, Premium Support gives you a dedicated Account Manager, 1 hour response time and Quarterly Usage reports. Given Zoho’s recent rise in popularity across the globe, a large community has been built online for advice and guidance on how to navigate the Zoho suite. Whilst not official support, it does give some extra help if needs be.

Similarly with Salesforce, any remote screensharing, customer success, or account management sessions will have an extra associated cost.


Our KnowledgeBase gives all users a place to find information they need, with a range of handy FAQ’s and Video tutorials right at your fingertips.

Alongside this, every single user gets access to Premium Support as standard alongside their subscriptions. We think this gives us a real edge in the Salesforce vs Zoho fight.

It means every single OpenCRM user can get in touch with our UK based support team via Phone, Email, and Live Chat when they have a question. We don’t place a limit on the number of tickets you (or any member of your team) can raise. Operating 09:00 – 17:30, Monday – Friday, our friendly and expert team is always happy to help you maximise the value you receive from OpenCRM.

You can also speak with our customer success team or your dedicated account manager whenever you need. Alternatively, could schedule a screenshare with one of our support techs. All without paying anything extra.Shortcode


Watch and learn

If you're looking for further information on how specific features and functionality play out in OpenCRM, why not click to check out our webinars?

watch now

Price (the big one)

As with all business decisions, available budgets can drive what you can and can’t do when it comes to taking on a CRM product. A CRM has to fit your budget as well as your business. So next I’d like to break down the costs in our Salesforce vs Zoho vs OpenCRM comparison to see which solution offers the most bang for your buck.


Salesforce have historically focused themselves at the Enterprise market, with costs often matching their big business status. As we covered in the Features section, Salesforce have a range of products and sub-editions on offer. This means the price will vary dramatically depending on the functionality you need.

Sales and Service Cloud for example, ranged from £25 user/month up to £260 depending on the functionality you need. Coupling this together with the same price brackets for Service Cloud and additional costs for Support, Salesforce can start to become a pricey solution, especially for SMEs.


Within Zoho’s tiered pricing model, some additional options are available to help balance the books. Starting at around $16 for the standard product all the way to $52 user/month for the most advanced, Zoho’s pricing model does come up cheaper than Salesforce.

Alongside this, Zoho do have options to ease your cashflow with monthly payment options also available. You can expect to pay a little more with these options though. With the increase ranging from 25-50% depending on the package.


At OpenCRM, seeing as we give everyone the same functionality. It only made sense to give everyone the same price too – £33 user/month.

A flat cost across our platform with the same model applying. So whether your business has 1, 10 or 100 users, you get the full functionality straight out the box. The rolling contract also gives you flexibility, allowing you to add and remove users as your business moves and evolves.

We work on a standard rolling 60-day contract which is paid monthly, so it’s easy on your cashflow too. For those of you would like to take a longer contact, discounts of up to 15% can be had, depending on length you opt for.Shortcode

Custom Demo

Let us take you on a tour

You've had a look around and are starting to think OpenCRM might be the system for you and your business. Why not chat with one of our team (and ask your burning CRM questions) as they take you on a tour of the system?

find out more

Salesforce vs Zoho (vs OpenCRM): The Verdict

All three of our CRM heavyweights have loads of plus points, with customers all over the world receiving massive value in helping them streamline, manage and grow their businesses. Salesforce is undoubtably the world’s biggest CRM provider, but may not be the best solution for small businesses with their high pricing structure.

Zoho definitely competes well with a range of features, free support offering and flexible pricing structure. Although the free Zoho platform gives a great entry point to new and existing CRM users, it does limit what’s on offer. With prices rising to get all the functions your business may need.

With OpenCRM, we believe our system performs well against the big guns, and really is a true alternative to Salesforce and Zoho. Offering full functionality and UK support within an affordable pricing model, OpenCRM may be the right system for you when weighing up all the options on the market.

And really, there’s only one way to find out – why not sign up for a free trial (it’s at the top right of this screen) and see for yourself how we shape up in the CRM market.

Graham Anderson

Graham Anderson

Before I got my start in the tech industry as part of Apple's UK Mac launch team, I was a professional drummer (notice I didn’t say musician). But once I got in, I was hooked and I’ve been involved in the tech industry, primarily software development, for over 35 years. I founded this company and I now have the enviable title of System Architect (as well as Managing Director) here at OpenCRM.

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HubSpot vs Salesforce Comparison - Which is the Best CRM?

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system provides a central place where businesses can manage customer and prospect data.

If you’re a business looking to implement a new (or replacement) CRM, there are thousands of solutions on the market. It’s not an easy process to evaluate and compare. In fact, one of the questions we're most frequently asked is, ‘what CRM should I use?’.

It’s important to start by saying that there is no best CRM. The right CRM for your business depends on the size of your company, your budget, the structure of your business, your current technology and even your employees.

With that said, two of the most popular CRM systems are HubSpot and Salesforce, and in this post we’ll compare and contrast the two to see which might suit your business best.

HubSpot vs Salesforce CRM

Salesforce has become one of the world's most renowned CRM providers. Launched back in 1999, it revolutionised the CRM software industry with its cloud-based solution Sales Cloud.

In terms of market share, Salesforce is the leader with a 19.6% market share and over 150,000 customers.

HubSpot introduced their free CRM software in 2014, allowing businesses to organise, track, and nurture their leads and customers. 

Salesforce is the global leader in CRM but HubSpot is slowly gaining traction, especially among small-medium sized businesses, and now boasts more than 56,500 customers.

When choosing a CRM, like HubSpot or Salesforce, it’s important to evaluate and compare certain areas. We’ll be evaluating both CRMs on the following:

  • User interface
  • Ease of use
  • Pricing
  • Features
  • Reporting
  • Customisations
  • Integrations
  • Support

By the end of this post, you’ll (hopefully!) be able to answer whether or not you should choose HubSpot vs Salesforce for your business’ needs.

User interface

When it comes to selecting a CRM for your business, the user interface (UI) is critical to the success of your implementation. If your salespeople aren’t entering information for sales calls, prospects and leads, or worse, entering bad data, they can create more work for your business.

HubSpot and Salesforce’s user interface is best evaluated by looking at screenshots of the different pages:

HubSpot deals(Source)


salesforce open opportunities(Source)


emily keefe hubspot contact record(Source)


marc benioff contact record(Source)

When it comes to evaluating UI, it’s important to accept that everyone has a different user experience so it’s very subjective. It all depends who looks at it and works with it.

With that said, one of the most common criticisms for Salesforce online is that its UI is clunky and looks outdated compared to other CRM providers.

Looking through Salesforce’s user reviews on TrustPilot, here are some of the comments:

'Interface looks like it's from the '90s!'

'Old and clunky user interface'

'There are and will be other Sales CRMs coming down the line offering a MUCH BETTER user interface'

Ease of use

With CRMs, the biggest challenge facing businesses is getting their sales and marketing teams to use the CRM day in, day out.

In terms of features and functionality, Salesforce is far more complex and comprehensive. While most customers will buy based on what a CRM can do, a common complaint about Salesforce is that, due to its complexity, businesses won’t use most of the features.

Due to the steep learning curve, many businesses don’t take advantage of what the system has to offer. It is user-friendly and has a modern UI, but its complexity can be overwhelming for some businesses.

HubSpot, on the other hand, is more intuitive for users and doesn’t require a huge time investment to get familiar with.

Here is a comparison between the HubSpot and Salesforce dashboards:


hubspot deal source reporting(Source)


To give you an example, here’s a screenshot of the newer Salesforce dashboard.

salesforce-sales executive dashboard


As you can see, there are a lot of tabs and buttons to press. You’d be forgiven for getting a bit lost in the interface.

Ease of use is ultimately subjective but based on data gathered by Capterra from real users in sales and marketing roles:

  • Salesforce has a 3.9/5 average rating for ease of use by 14,230 users on Capterra.
  • HubSpot has a 4.4/5 average rating for ease of use by 2,521 users on Capterra.


When it comes to price, HubSpot's CRM is the winner over Salesforce.

Salesforce starts at £20/month per user for an out-of-the-box CRM, but this is only for up to five users. Beyond that, you can choose between three other packages:

  • Essentials - £20/month per user
  • Professional -  £60/month per user
  • Enterprise - £120/month per user 
  • Unlimited -  £240/month per user

You can compare the different editions and features on Salesforce’s website, but for Lightning Professional the following are some of the features you get:

  • Account and contact management
  • Person Accounts
  • Chatter
  • Files
  • Salesforce Mobile App
  • Full offline mobile functionality
  • Email Integration with Gmail or Outlook
  • Google Apps integration
  • Task Management, Activity Feed
  • Opportunity management

HubSpot, on the other hand, is…. free. Yes, you read that right. You can add 1,000,000 contacts, unlimited users, and your free access to the CRM is never-ending. 

If you want more functionality, HubSpot also offers the following:

  • HubSpot Sales Starter - £42/month per user
  • HubSpot Sales Hub Professional - £410/month with 5 users included
  • HubSpot Sales Hub Enterprise £990/month with 10 users included

You can compare the different HubSpot products and services here, but HubSpot Sales Starter includes the following features:

  • All Features of HubSpot CRM
  • Email Scheduling
  • Meetings
  • Reporting Dashboards
  • Live Chat
  • Conversational Bots
  • Sequences
  • Documents
  • Notifications

Hidden Costs, Fees & Add-ons

Along with the licensing costs, Salesforce includes many hidden fees and add-ons. These 'product enhancements' are sold separately and include the following:

  • Knowledge user license
  • Offline access
  • Live video chat support
  • Additional data storage

HubSpot, for the most part, functions as a free standalone CRM. The only added costs are the paid marketing and sales tools that are listed above.

  • On Capterra Salesforce has a score of 4/5 for value for money.
  • On Capterra HubSpot has a score of 4.4/5 for value for money.


If we look at the most common features associated with CRM technologies, here is how both companies stack up:

Comparing HubSpot and Salesforce features, it’s evident that Salesforce has more. With that said, it all comes down to your business' requirements.

  • Salesforce scores 4.4/5 for features on Capterra.
  • HubSpot scores 4.3/5 for features on Capterra.


Salesforce wins for reporting. Salesforce allows you to customise and build hundreds of dashboards and reports, no matter the complexity.

salesforce opportunities(Source)

You can, however, add an additional reporting functionality to HubSpot for an additional cost, which brings the platform’s functionality to a similar level to Salesforce.


If your business has an advanced need for sophisticated lead analytics and reporting, then Salesforce has a competitive edge. It’s also worth noting that in terms of exporting, Salesforce is again more advanced in this department. With HubSpot there are some clever features around exporting their dashboards to PDFs or PowerPoint, but Excel exports in certain areas are lacking, or difficult to get all of the data you need.


Salesforce markets its product as 'the most customisable CRM'. HubSpot can also be customised for your business' processes and structure, as well as offering an Open API, but is likely not too customisable to the same extent as Salesforce.

With Salesforce, you can customise each of the standard tabs and types of records, including adding custom fields and setting page layouts. You can also customise the search, tagging, and user interface options for your business. 

If you want a product that makes it easy to adjust the software to simply fit your business needs, HubSpot wins. If you want a product that allows seemingly endless customisation, Salesforce is the better solution.


HubSpot allows you to integrate with hundreds of apps and services, including integration with WordPress, Survey Monkey, Zapier, Slack - and we think HubSpot’s LinkedIn ads integration is a game-changer for B2B marketing. This list is ever expanding, and their open API offering allows companies to build their own custom integrations.

Salesforce offers an ever large ecosystem with thousands of products and integrations via their AppExchange. AppExchange, which is known as the Salesforce Store, allows users to extend the functionality of Salesforce, whether that’s integrating outlook with Salesforce, sending documents with DocuSign, or creating email campaigns, managing your lists and subscribers all from within Salesforce with MailChimp. 

CRM support

Salesforce licensing includes limited support. Their standard plan is available to every Salesforce customer, which includes the following features:

  • 2-day response and 12/5 support (12 hours a day, 5 days a week) from their technical team
  • Guided journeys
  • Community forums
  • Access to Trailhead, which is a series of online tutorials
  • Events
  • Interactive webinars

Salesforce also offers Premier, Premier+, and Priority plans offer additional guidance and support. The additional cost depends on the total price of purchased products.

HubSpot offers many different types of support all available to free users, including:

  • Training courses
  • Multiple certification tracks
  • eBooks, whitepapers, and interactive downloads
  • Knowledge Base
  • Community forums
  • The HubSpot Academy

If you upgrade and start paying for HubSpot products, you can access 24/7 phone and email support.

Which is the best CRM?

Salesforce and HubSpot are both great CRM options, but they have significantly different strengths and benefits. It’s important to understand how the features and other factors fit into your business' needs and budget. 

After all, there is no right answer to the HubSpot vs Salesforce comparison. There is no best, rather it’s a case of which CRM is best for your business. Play around with the HubSpot and Salesforce dashboards and get a feel for them. See which you think you and your team would be more likely to feel comfortable with.

For many large businesses, Salesforce is the right CRM. 

For many small and medium-sized businesses, HubSpot is the better option, but HubSpot have started rolling out more enterprise-level features over the last couple of years too.

As a HubSpot agency and inbound marketing agency, we lean towards their CRM platform because of its pricing, integration and features. 

Try it out by clicking on the banner below if you like. 

But Salesforce might still be the better option for your organisation. Let us know your preference or shoot over any questions on Twitter!


Signavio Announces Signavio Process Intelligence for Salesforce on Salesforce AppExchange, to Help Map and Analyze Successful Sales Patterns

With Signavio Process Intelligence for Salesforce, organizations can analyze their sales performance over multiple dimensions and compare how effective the sales teams are across regions, market segments or product lines. They are also able to identify best practices by mapping and analyzing their most successful sales patterns and sales people.

Built on the Salesforce Platform, Signavio Process Intelligence for Salesforce is currently available on AppExchange at:

Signavio Process Intelligence for Salesforce allows businesses to foster a culture of sales excellence through:

  • Visibility across the entire sales cycle – Analyze your sales performance over time and over multiple dimensions: compare how effective the sales teams are across regions, market segments or product lines. Find out who is doing better than the rest, how are they doing it and why they are able to be so successful.
  • Optimized sales cycles – Making sure people know and understand what the most successful sales people in your business are doing, and why, is a dream sales leaders want to realise. With an end-to-end view of the sales cycle, leadership can determine and correct inefficiencies and blockages experienced by the sales team, enabling companies to understand and continuously improve their processes, resulting in more efficient selling, bigger deals, and increased win rates.
  • Beyond business intelligence – with insights around behavior, timing, non-conformances, success rates and more. This allows leadership to understand what engagement models work best and derive best practices that can be rolled out across the organization. We help you understand this by showing you, visually, how your sales process is actually being executed. You can see every action and interaction over time, from the moment leads enter the top of your funnel through to deal closure.

“The selling journey has always been ripe for process management and the availability of Signavio Business Transformation Suite on Salesforce AppExchange will help businesses understand processes to achieve their sales goals,” said Mark Law, Global Vice President of Channels & Alliances, Signavio. “Our technology offers visibility into the sales cycle that allows leadership to make necessary process changes that will help drive more sales, save money and close deals faster.”

“Signavio Process Intelligence app is a welcome addition to AppExchange by helping businesses around the world change existing processes to drive sales pipelines,” said Woodson Martin, GM of Salesforce AppExchange. “AppExchange is constantly evolving to enable our partners to build cutting-edge solutions to drive customer success.”

About Salesforce AppExchange
Salesforce AppExchange, the world’s leading enterprise cloud marketplace, empowers companies to sell, service, market and engage in entirely new ways. With more than 5,000 solutions, 7.5 million customer installs and 90,000 peer reviews, it is the most comprehensive source of cloud, mobile, social, IoT, analytics and artificial intelligence technologies for businesses.

Additional Resources

Geraldine Teboul
Global SVP Marketing
[email protected]
+49 151 540 70110 / +33 6 68 79 64 50
Kirsten Welch
[email protected]
+1 407 734 7332


Microsoft Dynamics 365 vs. Salesforce: Which is Best for Your Business in 2018 and Beyond?


The CRM market is booming

Every CRM market study agrees: the market for CRM has increased dramatically over the past several years. It wasn’t long ago that Gartner predicted a CRM market worth $36.5 billionby 2017.

Just last year, a 2017 study by Grand View Research upped the ante by predicting the CRM market will be worth $81.9 billion by 2025.

That’s a bold claim, and not everyone is as bullish. But even if the reality falls short of  the GVR prediction, there’s no denying how lucrative the CRM market is right now. CRM market growth has been steady year-in and year-out, and we don’t seem to have found the ceiling just yet.

And frankly, business should be booming in the CRM world. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems can provide tremendous value to your business when well-implemented, and the rise of cloud-based and mobile systems over the past several years has made CRM more flexible and more affordable, especially for small and mid-sized companies that couldn’t afford the enterprise-level solutions of a decade ago.

As costs have come down, demand has gone up. And as demand has gone up, so too has supply. There are many, many CRM solutions on the market these days. Some of them have been around for years, and are household (ok, office…hold) names. Others are up-and-comers hoping for a shot at the title.


Finding the best CRM for your business

So with all these options before you, the question is this: Which CRM system is best for your business in 2018 and beyond?

CRM is certainly a lot more affordable than it was ten years ago, but it’s still a sizeable investment. You need to make sure you find a system that will generate maximum ROI for your business.

For most businesses, there are only two real choices: Salesforce, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales.

According to the 2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation, Salesforce and Dynamics 365 are far and away the industry leaders. Both systems finished first and second in both completeness of vision and ability to execute.

Of the two, Salesforce has a much higher market share and far better name recognition. Even if you haven’t heard of CRM, you’ve heard of Salesforce. That’s because, as pretty much every study agrees, Salesforce has taken over more than 25% of the CRM market.

But for most businesses, the best bet for your business in 2018 and beyond is Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales.


Why you should bet on Dynamics 365 vs. Salesforce



Both Salesforce and Dynamics 365 offer enterprise-level functionality. But Salesforce pairs that with enterprise-level pricing. In fact, Salesforce isn’t just the most popular CRM on the market—it’s also the most expensive! As of June 2018, Salesforce Enterprise Edition ($150/user/month) costs over 50% more than Dynamics 365 for Sales ($95/user/month).

And that’s without factoring in the money you can save by usingteam member licenses ($8/user/month) in Dynamics 365!

Of course, you would get a lot of value from your Salesforce Enterprise Edition subscription. Salesforce CRM is a powerful product, especially for enterprise-level organizations, and anyone who says otherwise is fooling themselves.

But as Gartner reports, “Salesforce clients regularly identify issues with deriving value from their Salesforce implementations. Some clients object to the price paid, relative to the business results delivered by the system, and some object to the amount of customization needed to automate complex sales processes.”

Dynamics 365 offers the same benefits at a fraction of the cost, with far more flexible licensing and contracts.

Salesforce, meanwhile, has developed a reputation for being far less flexible. According to Gartner, “Gartner frequently speaks to existing and prospective Salesforce clients who are unhappy with Salesforce’s aggressive sales practices and licensing inflexibility, or who are dissatisfied with its contract negotiation techniques.”

Salesforce does offer more budget-friendly options. Salesforce Lightning Professional Edition is more competitively priced, but it is a stripped-down version of the software that does not compare to Dynamics 365 in terms of functionality. Again, Gartner tells us their clients were hesitant to opt in to Lightning editions due in part to “functionality gaps.”

Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers 3 license types: sales and customer service, sales, and team member. With Dynamics 365, you can get the exact licenses you need without breaking your budget.



Both Salesforce and Dynamics 365 are integration compatible with a huge number of business applications. This should surprise no one. Salesforce has been the industry leader in CRM for an eternity in technology years, and Microsoft has been the industry leader in general office software suites for even longer.

Where Dynamics 365 really stands out is (unsurprisingly) its compatibility with other Microsoft products. As of 2016, there were 1.2 billion Microsoft Office users. Without question, Microsoft Office is the gold standard for general office productivity.

Dynamics 365 boasts seamless, out-of-the-box integration with Office, Outlook, Exchange, SharePoint, and an ever-expanding suite of Microsoft applications including Azure Machine Learning, Azure Data Factory, Azure Data Lake, and Power BI.

Microsoft doesn’t just offer integration compatibility; it offers an integrated product line.

And because Microsoft’s Office suite is so ubiquitous, the result is high-value, low-effort integration with the tools your team already knows and uses. Gartner notes that its Dynamics 365 clients “have reported positively on this integrated product offering,” which isn’t surprising in the least.

Salesforce is integration compatible with most Microsoft offerings, but requires third-party add-ons to do so.



First, the straight-forward comparison: Dynamics 365 is available on-premises or on the cloud. Salesforce is only available on the cloud.

For many businesses, this isn’t a big deal. But for businesses with legal or operational constraints that require full, on-site control over CRM data, on-premises is the only choice.

On-premises CRM can also be a good choice for enterprise-level operations with the infrastructure, personnel, and up-front spending power to run internal servers.

If you are considering on-premises CRM, Dynamics 365 is the clear winner.

But flexibility is also about customization, and that is where the waters get a little murkier.

Both Microsoft and Salesforce offer third-party app stores (AppSource and AppExchange, respectively), and both offer app-building tools (PowerApps and Salesforce Platform—formerly App Cloud). In both cases, Salesforce was first on the scene. That means more developers have been working longer to create Salesforce add-ons than Dynamics add-ons, which gives Salesforce a clear numbers advantage.

But Microsoft makes up for that advantage in a couple key ways.

First, Dynamics 365 is easier to customize. As Gartner notes, “Microsoft’s strength lies in its ability to create custom sales processes. Microsoft’s reference customers gave it very high scores for the ability to customize its application with custom fields, custom objects, workflows and a customized user interface, which includes the ability to customize the user interface for desktop users.”

Microsoft uses open standard code that enables easier in-house development. Even the most complex Dynamics 365 customizations typically use JavaScript. Salesforce uses Apex, a proprietary code.

Javascript is a common, standardized coding language that most developers already know well. Apex, on the other hand, is a far more specialized language. Unsurprisingly, there are fewer Apex developers despite Salesforce’s long period of CRM market dominance. That means both in-house and contract development is often more difficult and expensive when you use Salesforce.

Second, Salesforce can requires heavy customization to generate value.

Although Gartner found “customers gave Salesforce high scores for the ability to create and maintain opportunity sales processes,” a major hurdle to generating value with Salesforce was “the amount of customization needed to automate complex sales processes.”

For large operations with fairly simple sales processes, this won’t matter much. But for smaller or more complex operations, this can be a huge barrier to your ROI.



Perhaps the most important reason to bet on Dynamics 365 vs. Salesforce is Microsoft’s long-term vision for their products.

Salesforce is an excellent piece of software, but Microsoft offers a powerfully integrated suite of software solutions.

And that suite is constantly growing, both internally and through Microsoft’s high-profile acquisitions of Skype (2011), LinkedIn (2016), and GitHub (2018—just two days before this article was published). Those three acquisitions alone represent a $44.1 billion dollar investment.

Microsoft is all-in on creating a suite of business tools far greater than the sum of its parts.

It’s worth noting that not all of these tools are fully-formed as of this writing. In particular, Gartner gave low marks to Dynamics last year for its forecasting and advanced analytics capabilities. Dynamics also lags behind Salesforce in terms of artificial intelligence capabilities.

But Microsoft has demonstrated a consistent willingness to invest in improving and expanding Dynamics 365 itself. Gartner also gave low marks to Microsoft’s reporting and dashboard capabilities in 2017, but Power BI has significantly improved both less than a year later. And it wasn’t long ago when Gartner rightfully listed Microsoft’s clunky CRM UI as a major weakness of the product. Now, the Dynamics 365 interface is one of the sleekest on the market.


Deciding between Dynamics 365 vs. Salesforce

Betting against Microsoft’s vision for Dynamics 365 seems silly, but that doesn’t mean Dynamics 365 is right for your business. Salesforce does boast several legitimate advantages over Dynamics 365, and for organizations that can absorb the extra costs, those advantages can be absolutely worth it.

But for most small and medium-sized businesses, we’ve found that Dynamics 365 offers a much higher return on investment, and we are more and more bullish on the future of Dynamics 365 for Sales with every announcement and update.



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