Choosing the best CRM for your business can be tricky. Although Salesforce is the current undisputed market leader, its prohibitive costs has helped foster the growth of a number of competitors. Here are two of the more popular.
Zoho CRM is Zoho Corporation’s customer relationship application. It is primarily marketed towards startups and SMBs. Although not as customizable as Salesforce, Zoho CRM’s strength lies largely in the fact that it is a much more affordable option for small businesses.
One of Zoho CRM’s biggest draws is the three-user free version. The free version comes with a number of features found in the paid versions, including lead and contact management, email marketing, web forms, customer support, and social media integration. There is, however, a 5,000-record hard cap as well as a 256MB file storage limit per organization.1
There are currently three different paid Zoho CRM editions — Standard, Professional, and Enterprise. The paid versions of Zoho CRM offer lead management, email marketing, customer support, and inventory management. They also integrate with multiple Zoho apps as well as third-party programs such as Evernote and G Suite.
While lagging behind Salesforce in terms of features, SugarCRM is both less expensive and doesn’t have a steep learning curve.
One main feature of SugarCRM is its open-source architecture. Users can modify the platform to fit their needs and requirements, but redistribution is restricted. It can rival and perhaps even beat Salesforce in terms of customizability, but doing so can require a lot of coding on the user’s part.
Over the years, SugarCRM has progressively been building on its original open source model in order to become a fully-paid software and services company. The free open-source Community Edition, which features basic dashboards, simple queries, and packaged reporting, for example, was basically discontinued by SugarCRM in February 2014.2
SugarCRM currently comes in three paid editions — Sugar Professional, Sugar Enterprise, and Sugar Ultimate. The CRM’s paid editions come with the features in Community Edition and add everything from deeper CRM feature sets and additional integration options to increased customer support features and additional storage.3
Both Zoho CRM and SugarCRM are good Salesforce alternatives for businesses that don’t have a large sales team, a big CRM budget, or both. While all three CRM solutions target the same SMB market, Zoho CRM and SugarCRM don’t have the high barrier to entry that Salesforce does.
That said, these two Salesforce competitors still largely suffer from the same limitations that Salesforce has. Much like Salesforce, neither ZOHO nor SugarCRM offer complete control over the entire customer management lifecycle straight out of the figurative box.
If you need more features, be prepared to pay additional fees for official add-ons, upgrades, and third-party programs. Zoho, for example, offers a project management solution called Zoho Projects, but it’s a separate purchase from the CRM with its own tiered editions.4
With WORK[etc], users no longer have to worry about buying and integrating third-party programs (further lengthening the time it takes for onboarding) or paying extra for access to business-critical systems such as sales, billing, project management, and customer support.
1. “Zoho CRM – Editions & Pricing”. Zoho.com. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
2. “SugarCRM in the Next 10 Years”. SugarCRM.com. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
3. “CRM Software packages and Pricing”. SugarCRM.com. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
4. “Collaboration Tools | Plans and Pricing: Zoho Projects”. Zoho.com. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
5. “Sales Cloud Full Edition Comparison Chart”. Salesforce.com. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
6. “Zoho CRM – Edition Comparison”. Zoho.com. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
7. “Editions Comparison”. Cloudfront.net. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
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