HubSpot Vs. Salesforce: Comparing Sales Growth Platforms

By Mike Poledna

The world is full of great debates that will never rest:

Dogs vs. Cats

Ketchup vs. Mustard

Lebron vs. MJ

Android vs. iOS

In the sales and marketing world, however, there is only one debate that really matters:

HubSpot vs. Salesforce

Both have created and defined their own categories — HubSpot with marketing automation and Salesforce with, well, sales force automation. 

Today though, their capabilities overlap to the point where any ambitious business has a serious decision to make:

“Do we go with the tried-and-true SaaS leader, or the fast-growing, flexible competitor?” 

As a HubSpot Gold Partner agency, there’s no secret on where we stand in this debate. But as a 15-year veteran sales leader, I have also used Salesforce for my entire career. 

So why did we choose HubSpot over Salesforce when building our inbound agency? 

It wasn’t that HubSpot had objectively better features. Our decision was based on philosophy.

Features vs. Philosophy

If you want to compare HubSpot and Salesforce features head-to-head, there are plenty of resources that allow you to do so. But at the end of the day, both are excellent platforms. 

The biggest differences between HubSpot and Salesforce are philosophical:

  • Do you value centralization or integration?
  • Do you value customization or ease-of-use?
  • Do you believe in top-down or bottom-up management? 
  • Do you value power or flexibility?
  • Are you bureaucratic or entrepreneurial?

There are no wrong answers to these questions. There are clearly cases where you’d prefer a centralized, bureaucratic system over an entrepreneurial one (you don’t want your retirement advisor betting on startups, do you?).

But for 90% of businesses — especially younger, fast-growing companies in the range of $1-$50 million annual recurring revenue (ARR) — you value integration, flexibility, ease-of-use, and entrepreneurship. You need your front-line team members to work fast and make informed decisions on their own. You don’t have time bureaucracy and top-down command. You need a sales growth platform that supports those efforts.

More often than not, that system is HubSpot.

Where Salesforce Excels — Business Management

But before jumping into HubSpot, let’s give the undisputed SaaS leader its due.

Salesforce is an excellent platform and the market-leading CRM for a reason. They should update that old saying about IBM to, “Nobody ever got fired for hiring Salesforce.” They are the gold-standard — the preferred platform by some of the largest companies in the world.

Salesforce excels for businesses that are: 

  • Reaching or eclipsing $100 million ARR
  • In highly-regulated industries like finance and healthcare
  • Planning to exit via private equity or acquisition by a Fortune 1000 corporation
  • Maintain traditional marketing/sales silos, or employing large sales forces to support outbound efforts.

In other words, Salesforce is preferred by large corporations with complex business needs and regulations to navigate. When acquiring new businesses, they like for those companies to use the same systems as them — namely, Salesforce.

For these corporations, Salesforce is so much more than a sales growth platform. It’s a business management system. In reality, Salesforce competes with the likes of Oracle, SAP, and NetSuite. Not HubSpot.

So unless you plan to use Salesforce as your core system for everything — not just sales and marketing, but supply chain, ERP, HR, and accounting, too — Salesforce is more than you need. You’ll be paying for loads of functionality and customization that you’ll never use.

Where HubSpot Excels — Sales Growth

Salesforce was once the leading sales growth platform, but it grew up in a world much different from the one we live in today. 

Fifteen years ago, sales growth was driven by outbound sales efforts. Businesses fielded armies of sales reps who smiled and dialed all day. This is the world I grew up in, and Salesforce was exactly what I needed.

Today, though, sales growth is driven by consumers, not companies. Outbound success rates have plummeted by 50% or more. Only the largest corporations (i.e., businesses using Salesforce) can afford to grow through sheer, outbound force. 

For the rest of us, we’ve shifted our strategy to Inbound.

Inbound is the most effective growth strategy for our consumer-driven world. That’s why HubSpot, not Salesforce, is today’s leading sales growth platform.

HubSpot is best for businesses that:

  • Generate $1-$50 million ARR
  • Rely on inbound marketing to support sales
  • Prefer integrated sales/marketing/service teams over traditional silos
  • Empower front-line employees to make decisions
  • Prioritize ease-of-use and flexibility over customization
  • Do not need a core system to centralize business functions

HubSpot is a sales growth platform, and that’s it. HubSpot users don’t need a core business system like Salesforce — instead, they use a mosaic of light-lift SaaS tools like Gusto for HR and Xero for accounting. HubSpot is flexible and easy-to-use, which means front-line employees have the reports and analytics they need to make smart decisions, quickly.

Most importantly, HubSpot is a completely integrated system for sales, marketing, and service. The tools work seamlessly with one another, allowing you to easily jump between functions. It’s perfect for integrated sales growth teams that put sales, marketing, and service under one roof.

Feature Image - Outsourced Hubspot agency

HubSpot vs. Salesforce Pricing

That last factor I’ll touch on is pricing because no one has an unlimited budget. As we just discussed, Salesforce is a business management platform, not a sales growth platform. All that power and customization comes with a hefty price tag.

According to HubSpot, the estimated total cost of Salesforce for 10 users is $43,680.

HubSpot is a pure-play sales growth platform, with a price tag better suited for small- and medium-sized businesses. The estimated cost of HubSpot Enterprise for 10 users is just $17,400 — and most small businesses can get by on HubSpot Pro, which is a tier below Enterprise and significantly less expensive.

For many large corporations — and those companies trying to get acquired by them — Salesforce is worth the high price. But for everyone else, HubSpot will give you more for much less.

HubSpot: The Best Sales Growth Platform for SMBs and Startups

I started 360 Sales Growth with a simple mission: To help SaaS and B2B technology companies grow sales, not just leads. 

Today’s consumer-driven world requires a tight integration between inbound marketing and sales. That’s why, despite using Salesforce my entire career, HubSpot was the only platform for us and our clients. 

HubSpot is now the best sales growth platform for SMBs and startups. It has the perfect balance of flexibility and power. It gives your team the freedom to make smart decisions quickly. It’s an integrated platform for your integrated sales, marketing, and service departments. It’s built on the philosophy of Inbound, not outbound. And it’s priced reasonably for fast-growing businesses.

HubSpot is not the platform for everyone. But if you’re an entrepreneurial company with your eyes set on sales growth, then HubSpot might be the platform for you.

Tags: Salesforce

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