Salesforce Sucks: Low Cost Alternatives for Small Business

Why Salesforce sucks

Salesforce is no doubt a powerful and flexible CRM tool, however it’s built for very large organizations with 100+ employees.

Their marketing efforts will try to convince you that businesses of all sizes can use it, but it is such a complex tool it requires dedicated technical or dev employees simply to install and manage Salesforce on a daily basis.

Smaller companies simply don’t have the resources to roll out a proper, custom built Salesforce solution. This doesn’t refer only to manpower, but also price since Salesforce is extremely expensive.

If Salesforce is properly setup with all the integrations and features, it will lead to many, many pain points for regular sales and marketing people:

  • Excessive time spent on manual data entry to have SF functions work correctly.
  • Clunky user interface with tabs upon tabs, menus upon menus, and long loading times.
  • Features that aren’t needed, but haven’t been removed.
  • Quality of life features that are needed, but aren’t included.

Another problem of Salesforce is not the software itself, but the company culture and work habits built around it.

For instance, some companies give employees very strict KPI’s or quotas they need to fill into Salesforce every day or week.

Things like “record 10 calls a day” or “every text field must be filled in”, can make any job feel tedious and pointless very quickly.

These are just some of the reasons why people hate Salesforce. So, what’s the solution?

If you’re the administrator of your company’s Salesforce, or an executive with real decision powers, then you might consider switching from Salesforce to one of the other CRM’s listed in this article.

If you’re a user of your company’s Salesforce integration, then the best approach to make the experience less bad by learning how to use some of Salesforce’s quality of life features and/or persuade management to make improvements on your Salesforce.

Renegotiating Salesforce price if you can’t switch CRM

Salesforce almost never accepts price renegotiation in the middle of a contract.

An exception to this is when you give big concessions that tie you into Salesforce even more, such as paying the same but getting more licenses or getting a -30% discount for a long term, 3 year contract.

Part of the reason they don’t do price renegotiations is because they know that once setup, most companies basically end up being hostages to Salesforce software since it’s hard to migrate away from it.

If you can’t move away from Salesforce, then the next best thing is to try negotiate a lower price and get the most bang for your buck out of Salesforce.

Renegotiate close to renewal date, or Salesforce end of quarter

If you have a contract with Salesforce, the best (and only) times to do a renegotiation is a few months before your contract is set to expire and/or around the time Salesforce’s fiscal quarter is about to end.

Salesforce account executives and sales agents usually have their targets and bonuses structured around fiscal quarters, so they have an extra incentive to offer deeper discounts around that period.

Remove unneeded features and licenses

If you don’t have a contract with Salesforce, consider auditing how your company uses the CRM and downgrade the licenses (or even eliminate them altogether) of employees who don’t need or don’t use certain features.

Things are more complicated if you do have a contract, since they’re usually structured in a way that holds a company to have a certain amount of licenses, so you can’t legally cut 10 licenses to reduce your overall monthly bill.

If you are close to your renewal period, then that’s the best time to reduce the number of licenses and remove unneeded features.

Find “hidden” Salesforce quality of life features

If you’re stuck with Salesforce, you might as well try to get the most bang for your buck. In the end, Salesforce’s main problems are that it’s user unfriendly and costly price tag.

In terms of raw features though, it’s a reasonably competent CRM. Here are some things that might help with usability:

Below are just a few tips for automatic data entry:

Improve Salesforce page loading speeds:

Finally, consider browsing Skillshare or Udemy and find relevant guides to help know the “unknown unknowns” of working with Salesforce.

Lower cost Salesforce alternatives for small business

Salesforce is a lot of marketing.

They’ve basically invested a ton in mindshare programs so that if someone says “we need a way to track sales, contacts and customers” the instinctive response is to say “Ah, Salesforce can do that”.

Salesforce itself isn’t that bad of a CRM, but it’s just so bloated, overcomplicated and overpriced that most companies are better served by a simpler, more focused CRM that’s easier to setup and navigate.

Pipedrive – Affordable Deals & Sales CRM

Pipedrive’s strength as a CRM is its ease of use, very quick setup and affordable price. It’s designed with (very) small businesses in mind or sole proprietorships.

Pipedrive is sales pipeline management tool, feature set is oriented towards acquiring new business and customers and this is where it excels at.

What makes it so nice to use is how much visual customization you can add to your pipeline. Things like changing the color of UI elements depending on the status of the lead, how important a deal is, priorities, alerts, timelines etc.

If you need a CRM primarily to manage existing customers, then Pipedrive may not offer sufficient automation options to keep in touch with your client base.

In terms of integrations, Pipedrive has apps for most critical business functions such as:

  • Messaging (MS Teams, Slack)
  • Automation tools (Zapier)
  • Task management (Trello, Asana)
  • Accounting and invoice (Xero, Quickbooks)
  • Chat bots
  • Phone tracking & messaging

Pipedrive CRM vs Salesforce CRM

Pipedrive CRMSalesforce CRM
Lowest plan is $12.5 per month per userLowest plan is $25 per month per user
14 Day Free Trial30 Day Free Trial
Easy to setup 
Clean and simple user interface, with a focus on initial salesPowerful, but overly complex UI with many tabs, buttons and features
24/7 support on lowest plan24/7 available only on $300 per month plan
270 supported apps5,000+ apps
Built around sales, with prospects structured on every sales stage pipelinePaid addons to customize any function, from deals, to customer management, to marketing automation
Comes with mobile appComes with mobile app
Lead capture feature requires an extra $32 per company, offers chat bot, web form, live chatLead capture included in $25 monthly plan, through web forms
Automation included in base $12.5 per month planAutomation available only on $150 monthly plan or above
Sales forecasting included in base planSales forecasting only for $75 per month plan or above
Roles and permissions included in base $12.5 planRoles and permissions only for $75 or above monthly plans

Freshworks CRM – Lead & Customer Management + Automation

Freshworks CRM is built to primarily create leads out of visitors coming to your website, and then turns these leads into potential customers either through phone, email or social media channels.

As part of this, Freshworks offers multiple very useful features such as:

  • Ability to create custom landing pages.
  • Automated workflows of tasks such as updating invoices and customer records, sending emails, etc.
  • Automated marketing journeys and sequences, depending the actions of your customers (viewed a page, clicked a button, saw an email etc.)
  • Connect with customers through phone, text or email from within the Freshworks CRM app.
  • Team inbox where anyone can talk with the lead or customer.

Those are some of the more standout features of Freshworks, but it does have the usual features of a good CRM such as sales funnel mapping, reporting, deal management, contact migration, etc.

Freshworks CRM vs Salesforce:

Freshworks CRMSalesforce CRM
Lowest plan is $19 per monthLowest plan is $25 per month per user
14 Day Free Trial30 Day Free Trial
Easy to setup 
Clean, easy to use interface, can send email, SMS & phone calls within Freshworks CRM appPowerful, but overly complex UI with many tabs, buttons and features
24/5 support for base plan24/7 available only on $300 per month plan
36 app integration5,000+ apps
Primarily built for automating lead conversion and staying in touch with existing customersPaid addons to customize any function, from deals, to customer management, to marketing automation
Comes with mobile appComes with mobile app
Lead capture included in base plan $19 monthly planLead capture included in $25 per month plan or above
Team inbox included, where anyone can answer to the leadPaid addon
Create up to 5 landing pages in base $19 monthly planLanding page creation feature available only on very expensive, Marketing Cloud subscriptions
Automation included in base $19 per month planAutomation available only on $150 monthly plan or above
Sales forecasting included in base planSales forecasting only for &75 per month plan or above
A/B testing features included in base planA/B testing available only for expensive, Commerce Cloud integrations
Roles and permissions included in base $19 planRoles and permissions only for $75 or above monthly plans

Freshworks CRM is built by the same company that offers FreshDesk, a ticketing tool to stay in touch with existing customers.

One of the biggest advantages of Freshworks CRM is that it integrates natively with most other Freshworks products centered around SaaS companies, chat bots, phone and messaging integrations.

Capsule CRM

Capsule is a very lightweight CRM that is mostly focused on tracking a company’s business contacts and relationships, and how these evolve over time.

Capsule comes with many integrations that allow it to be scaled up as a B2B and B2C tool.

That being said, Capsule shines the most for sole proprietorships, freelancers or small businesses in service industries such as consulting, real estate, hospitality etc.

For example, with Capsule you can create both “Person” and “Organization” profiles and you can track the relationship history of both.

If a “Person” leaves one “Organization” to join company, you can then update their profile within Capsule and use that individual as a potential contact to obtain business with the new company they started at.

Next you can create custom fields, tags and data tags to segment customers based on properties that are important to you. As an example, you can tag one “person” as a “marketing executive”, and another as an “accountant”.

Next, you have extensive task, reminder and calendar features that help you keep track of everything you need to do for a particular client.

These features are both so simple and so powerful, they will feel like a mini-project management tool built into the CRM.

Capsule CRM vs Salesforce

Capsule CRMSalesforce
Lowest paid plan is $18 per monthLowest plan is $25 per month per user
30 Day Free Trial30 Day Free Trial
Has a forever free trial for 2 users and 250 contactsNo forever free feature
Simple and focused UI, centered around contact managementPowerful, but overly complex UI with many tabs, buttons and features
24/5 support ticketing system24/7 support available only on $300 per month plan
Integrated with 56 apps and tools5,000+ apps
Few native automation features, requires integration with other tools for automation and rule based marketingPaid addons to customize any function, from deals, to customer management, to marketing automation
Roles and permissions included in base $18 planRoles and permissions only for $75 or above monthly plans
Sales forecasting included in base plan $18 planSales forecasting only for &75 per month plan or above
No native lead capture capabilities, must use integrationsLead capture included in $25 per month plan or above
Automation included in base $19 per month planAutomation available only on $150 monthly plan or above

Other nice to have features of Capsule include:

  • 10 GB storage per user.
  • 50.000 contacts.
  • Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace integrations

Monday.com CRM

Monday.com was mostly known as a product and task management tool, but it has recently expanded its product offerings by offering a CRM.

Perhaps the biggest draw of its CRM is the very attractive price which gives a lot of features for the money.

The Standard plan costs $30 per month, but provides you with 3 users instead of 1, as most CRM’s do. This comes in at $10 per user, far below the competition.

Other noteworthy features include:

  • 200+ UI templates to customize your CRM workflow, depending on what industry you work in.
  • Integration with Outlook and Gmail to automatically update lead status.
  • Automations (ex: if “x” happens, do “y”)
  • Sales analytics, goals and forecasting.
  • Mailchimp integration.
  • Unlimited contacts and custom fields.

Monday.com CRM vs Salesforce CRM

Monday.comSalesforce
Lowest plan is $8 per month, per user, with 3 bundled usersLowest plan is $25 per month per user
14 Day Free Trial30 Day Free Trial
Forever free plan with 2 users, but very limited CRM functionsNo forever free plan
Clean, easy to use interface, with 200 UI templatesPowerful, but overly complex UI with many tabs, buttons and features
24/7 support through ticketing system24/7 available only on $300 per month plan
40 integrations with other apps, including Zapier5,000+ apps
All purpose CRM, can be expanded with billing apps, lead forms, Facebook Ads, eCommerce, Stripe, email and more.Paid addons to customize any function, from deals, to customer management, to marketing automation
Mobile app includedMobile app included
Roles and permissions included in base $24 planRoles and permissions only for $75 or above monthly plans
Sales forecasting included in Standard $30 per month planSales forecasting only for &75 per month plan or above
Web-to-lead capture forms included even in forever free planLead capture included in $25 per month plan or above
Automations included in $30 per month planAutomation available only on $150 monthly plan or above

TeamWave CRM

TeamWave is an incredibly affordable (and feature rich!) CRM, with the lowest plan costing a flat $39 monthly for unlimited users. The other 2 plans cost $66 and $199 per month.

For this price, you will get:

  • A sales pipeline tool that includes list view, tasks, email integration, custom tasks and sales pipelines, filters, sales goals, reports etc.
  • A contact management tool, with complete history for every contact, tagging, document attachment, sharing, custom fields and more.
  • Project management tool with task breakdowns per project, team collaboration and discussion, file management, note creation and sharing, client collaboration, project milestones.
  • Other integrations include: HR functions, Gmail integration, Slack, Dropbox, Zapier, Quickbooks and many other integrations.

The best part is that all those features come with unlimited users for only $39 per month.

That seems like a pretty good deal overall, but the $39 does come with some limitations compared to the more expensive plans.

Finally, below is a comparison table between Salesforce and TeamWave:

TeamwaveSalesforce
$39 per month with unlimited usersLowest plan is $25 per month per user
14 Day Free Trial30 Day Free Trial
Clean, easy to use interface, can customize the UI for what you need.Powerful, but overly complex UI with many tabs, buttons and features
24/7 support through ticketing system24/7 available only on $300 per month plan
A few dozen integrations.5,000+ apps
All purpose CRM, can be expanded with billing apps, lead forms, Facebook Ads, eCommerce, Stripe, email and more.Paid addons to customize any function, from deals, to customer management, to marketing automation
Mobile app includedMobile app included
Only 2 types of roles in base $39 planRoles and permissions only for $75 or above monthly plans
Sales forecasting included in Standard $39 per month planSales forecasting only for &75 per month plan or above
Web-to-lead capture forms included in base planLead capture included in $25 per month plan or above
Extensive native automations, plus Zapier functions.Automation available only on $150 monthly plan or above

Nimble CRM

Nimble CRM is an all-purpose low cost CRM that comes with a single plan of $25 per month, per user ($19 if billed annually).

For this pricing you will get contact management, outreach features, sales pipelines, activity tracking, iOS & Android mobile apps, Gmail, Outlook & browser integrations.

In terms of limitations, Nimble offers: 2 GB file storage per user, 100 messages per user per day and 25,000 contact records (both can be increased).

Nimble CRMSalesforce
$25 monthly / $19 monthly when billed annually per userLowest plan is $25 per month per user
14 Day Free Trial30 Day Free Trial
Clean, easy to use interface, can customize the UI for what you need.Powerful, but overly complex UI with many tabs, buttons and features
24/7 support through ticketing system24/7 available only on $300 per month plan
100+ app integration5,000+ apps
All purpose CRM, can be expanded with billing apps, lead forms, Facebook Ads, eCommerce, Stripe, email and more.Paid addons to customize any function, from deals, to customer management, to marketing automation
Mobile app includedMobile app included
Roles and permissions includedRoles and permissions only for $75 or above monthly plans
Sales forecasting included in Standard $25 per month planSales forecasting only for &75 per month plan or above
No lead capture forms includedLead capture included in $25 per month plan or above
Extensive native automations, plus Zapier functions.Automation available only on $150 monthly plan or above

EngageBay

EngageBay is one of the few all-purposeCRM’s that has a free plan. Paid plans are also very price competitive, and cost $8.99 / 29.99 / 47.99 per month.

In terms of features, EngageBay offers the following:

Sales funnel, complete with tasks, contact management, contact communcation history, automation features, meeting scheduler, extensive automatic data entry.

Landing page builder, lead capture forms, email templates and email sending capabilities, email automation rules.

Customer service integrations: ticketing system, complete with tracking, reporting, automated responses, tasks, ticket routing, escalation, ticket segmentation, macros and more.

There are a bunch of other features included in EngageBay, but aren’t included in this short description.

Less Annoying CRM

As the name implies, Less Annoying CRM is focused on the essentials a small business might need.

It has a single pricing tier at $15 per month per user, and it is mostly oriented as a contact management and sales tool:

  • Contact management, including lead reporting,
  • Team-wide calendars.
  • Custom fields.
  • Team collaboration.

Nutshell CRM

Nutshell CRM is a feature rich, all-purpose CRM that is incredibly easy to setup, configure and administrate.

Nutshell has only two pricing tiers: $22 and $39 per month. You can choose annual plans for a 15% discount.

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