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Zoho vs. Salesforce: A Grounded, Dry, and Practical Comparison

zoho vs salesforce

Zoho vs. Salesforce: Can an Underdog Rival the #1 CRM on the Market?

There are hundreds of Zoho vs. Salesforce comparisons available online taking an in-depth look at the features both solutions bring to the table.

That being said, functionality alone doesn’t make or break a CRM. If that were the case, Salesforce would win every time, hands down. It is simply the only player with enough resources to outspend the competition when it comes to investing in functionality and infrastructure.

Luckily for you, the consumer, the SAAS market is highly competitive. It offers the chance for smaller products to shine through additional advantages that may be as crucial (if not more so) to your particular case as the dozens of undeniably cool bells and whistles from a purely practical standpoint.

Here’s the thing with CRM systems: You don’t invest in software, but rather in a more efficient business process. Here are the top three questions every business owner is to ask themselves before deciding in favor of a CRM:

  •  Will it enhance my workflow?
  •  How long will it take for my team to adapt?
  •  Can I afford it?

These are the questions we’ll be answering in today’s attempt to compare Zoho CRM with Salesforce. Everything else is white noise.

Salesforce CRM vs. Zoho CRM: Performance and Applicability

Truth be told, Salesforce essentials vs. Zoho functionality is quite comparable in nature, as both solutions take a similar SAAS approach.

Both offer functionality that captures information from website visitors directly in the CRM and creates a Lead record. In addition to that, Zoho assigns these leads directly to a sales rep, which may work wonders in a small team, but is barely acceptable in a larger-scale operation.

Both offer email templates and campaign insights. Zoho collects a little bit more data regarding the CTR’s and Bounce Rates, but Salesforce is a better fit for automating routine routes, such as introductory or thank you letters.

Salesforce and Zoho both offer access to a mobile app that works offline, though the former is a little bit more secure. This may seem like a pivotal factor to a large business at first glance, but experience shows that smaller companies and startups are targeted much more often. Social engineering and phishing practices such as getting access to one employee’s account in order to compromise the whole system adds salt to injury.

We could go on about such similarities as report and dashboard customization, community and teamwork hubs, or automated inbox sorting, but such an approach will not determine which CRM is superior.

So let’s compare Zoho CRM vs. Salesforce and focus on the differences instead:

zoho crm vs salesforce crm

Zoho CRM vs. Salesforce: How Quickly Will My Team Adapt?

Salesforce is a much larger player on the CRM market. Not only does the product have a longer history, but the developers seem to have a nasty habit of following what the user base desires. This approach led to a very interesting result: The sheer volume of new features the SAAS platform introduced since 1999 has made the interface a convoluted maze of opportunities.

On the bright side, you’ll be rocking a behemoth of a CRM with almost everything you need hidden somewhere among the menus. On the downside, you’ll probably never know you needed this advanced level of functionality until stumbling upon something cool by accident.
You will have a much simpler time when discovering and adjusting additional functionality with Zoho.

That being said, if you have the time and resources to educate your team on every nook and cranny of a new CRM, Salesforce is probably a better option due to:

  • More operational power
  • Better integrations
  • A more responsive support team (though you’ll be spending extra
  • A much broader range of workflow customization opportunities

Zoho CRM vs. Salesforce CRM: Can I Afford It?

Most reviews you’ve seen on the internet will state that Zoho is a better fit for smaller teams or medium-sized businesses because, while being comparatively underpowered, is relatively cheaper. This statement, while true to an extent, might not work out for you in the long-run.

Every business owner should understand that the cost of ownership will grow perpetually as time passes by. Truth be told, you are only saving resources for three or so years, if compared to developing a custom CRM in-house, as the maintenance fees have grown from 16 to 24% over the past few years. And with a much higher emphasis on the cloud-based infrastructure we see throughout businesses, this trend shows no intention of slowing down.

Cloud applications for business

Source: IDG Cloud Computing Study

Now that the cat is out of the bag, it’s time to ask the real question: Can you afford to continuously invest in a SAAS solution that offers less flexibility and scalability?

Again, there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. The decision should be based on your business growth forecasts. If you are planning to grow your sales team, incorporate a marketing team into the workflow, and perhaps save some money by offering a centralized cross-department workflow management system, Salesforce is probably a safer bet.

The same can be said in the Zoho vs. Salesforce small business argument: If you are running a small store and have zero to no intention of growing into a chain or franchise, the extra bucks you’ll save from picking Zoho ($12-$100 vs. $25-$300 per user) will stack up into a formidable sum.


We’ll probably end this one with the worst line you see in these types of versus comparisons – the ultimate choice is up to you. But hey, now you know a little bit more about the differences between these two systems, their cost of ownership, and the opportunity for scalability.

Checking out a few more Zoho vs. Salesforce reviews probably won’t hurt as well, but if someone were to summarize the rivalry into a single sentence, it would go as follows: Zoho is almost as flexible as the competitor while being significantly cheaper to maintain in the long-run, while Salesforce is a future-proof CRM that will meet your demand for growth, deliver on it, and then some.

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    Comments (6)

    • Audrey Lee

      Both companies have matured, actively listened to customer feedback, and incorporated many features that help run a business.

    • David Adams

      I am searching for a CRM currently; I am testing both Salesforce and Zoho CRM. Which one would you recommend me?

      • Marvin Bronner

        Most of the functionality provided by both CRMs is similar, but Salesforce provides more depth in the default offerings. Plus, Salesforce customized to fit your business process. Finally, Salesforce offers you a 30-days free trial, Zoho offers a free trial of 15-days. So try it!

    • Cynthia Harris

      Not to mention Salesforce, but Zoho has a trick up its sleeve – a great free trial, and a low price.

    • Dennis Johnson

      We have an ongoing implementation program that develops the platform every year. We are now in the third year of our sales journey, and this year we will work more with communities and integrate CTI into the platform.

    • William Rodriguez

      I used both options. Zoho is user-friendly, easy to set up and navigate. But Salesforce’s marketing and CRM capabilities are best-in-class.


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