Salesforce CRM Review
Salesforce is the best CRM application for growing businesses because of the sheer number of features, third-party integrations and add-on options it offers. Once implementation is complete, Salesforce offers users a beautifully designed product that's speedy, powerful and highly customizable. All of this and more makes this CRM ideal for businesses with diverse and evolving needs.
View all of our recommendations for CRM software on our best picks page.
Salesforce's cloud CRM comes in four different subscription tiers: Essentials, Professional, Enterprise and Unlimited.
Essentials is designed for up to five users and costs $25 per user, per month. It offers account, contact, lead, and opportunity management, email integration with Gmail or Outlook, and the Salesforce mobile app.
Professional can be used for different team sizes; it starts at $75 per user, per month. It includes all of the Essential features in addition to lead registration, rules-based lead scoring and collaborative forecasting.
Enterprise has all the Professional plan features and workflow and approval automation functions. It starts at $150 per user, per month.
The Unlimited edition offers everything included in the aforementioned plans and 24/7 support and configuration services for $300 per user, per month.
Salesforce is a massive product with lots of optional add-ons and customizations, so the subscription costs listed here should be considered jumping-off points. It is possible to spend considerably more on this product depending on what you need through useful add-ons like CPQ&Billing, which allow you to quickly configure, price, and quote complex solutions for $75 a month per user. Other add-ons include Pardot, Quip and myTrailhead, all of which are sold separately. There are additional costs if you opt for training or help with implementation help.
Relative to the other CRM products we reviewed, Salesforce is pricey. Many other SaaS products offer free versions as well as low-cost, entry-level subscriptions that can be used indefinitely. While $25 per user, per month isn't exactly price gouging, it's not a realistic long-term option for most small businesses, since only five users are supported at that level. The next level available jumps to a whopping $75 per user, per month, which is significantly more expensive than the competition.
Users will be hard-pressed to find another CRM with as many optional features as Salesforce. Besides offering all the standard CRM, sales, and marketing tools you'd expect, this solution sports beautiful dashboards and high-level reporting and analytics in a customizable package. Here are just a few outstanding Salesforce features:
- Comprehensive business ecosystem. Salesforce offers a range of business products that all seamlessly integrate with each other. Businesses can grow with Salesforce and gradually adopt new features as needed. Some Salesforce product categories include the Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Commerce Cloud, Community Cloud, Quip (a collaboration tool) and Salesforce Platform (for high-level development and customization).
- Easy import process. Salesforce makes it easy to get up and running by giving users the ability to seamlessly import data from Gmail, Google calendar, Excel spreadsheets and more.
- Popular integrations. One of the biggest advantages of Salesforce is its widespread use, which translates to lots of easy integrations. Through AppExchange, users can peruse dozens of broadly used apps like Jira, Zapier, Outlook, loads of data and development tools, and instantly integrate them with their Salesforce CRM.
- Trailblazer community. Nearly every CRM we reviewed has some form of an online community, but Salesforce's Trailblazer community is replete with documentation that's invaluable for admins, making it a real asset. Step-by-step guides on everything from how to create a custom report type to turning on user notifications are available. There's also an extensive user-only forum for direct communication with other admins and users.
- User-friendly productivity features. One of Salesforce's greatest strengths is the built-in project management features it offers end users. Once implemented, sales and marketing , as well as managers, will find it easy to manage and build out workflows, assign and follow tasks, and check off permissions. There are also add-on productivity tools available through the AppExchange store.
Salesforce CRM was built to meet the needs of enterprises and large businesses, but as the SaaS world exploded and small business solutions became more common, Salesforce expanded its scope with streamlined options that were easier and more affordable to get up and running. Today, the CRM giant offers users of every ilk access to powerful business software with plenty of customization options. The pricing scale Salesforce uses makes it easy for growing businesses to build out highly advanced systems, piece-by-piece, as they grow.
The sheer scalability of Salesforce makes it an excellent choice for companies that are quickly expanding. The Salesforce AppExchange store is one way in which CRM users can build out customizable systems. Through the store, Salesforce offers third-party integrations for thousands of apps and software products that range from in-house Salesforce add-ons to third-party solutions (both paid and free).
Other CRM software companies we reviewed have similar online stores for add-ons, but Salesforce's is far more comprehensive. The company also makes it easy to search add-ons based on product name and view industry-specific product bundles. Because Salesforce is such a huge company, the offering of industry-specific add-ons available is expansive, and there's even a separate section for small business specific add-ons, many of which are free.
Due to the breadth of customization options, the implementation process for Salesforce CRM varies drastically. But once the system is set up, users will quickly see it is worth the effort. Thanks to the intuitive design and overall sophistication of the product, the learning curve isn't steep for non-admin users. Eschewing the trendy while maintaining a modern look, Salesforce CRM keeps the navigation process simple, like it should be. The upper tab-style layout is typical across business and personal software, making it intuitive to grasp, and categories like Home, Contacts, Accounts, Leads, Campaigns and Opportunities bear no explanation.
For in-house admins, more training may be required, but Salesforce offers excellent admin controls. Setting up different permissions based on groups or on individual users (some systems only allow for admin settings by group) is simple, as is creating different displays and workflows for various departments/employees. If you have even moderate technical expertise and admin experience, you should have no trouble managing Salesforce day to day, onboarding users or updating permissions.
Finally, Salesforce offers a major advantage to both organizations that rely heavily on legacy software and those that have unique compliance needs, like those in the healthcare, financial services or communications fields. Salesforce is large and established enough that it already offers compliance solutions and integration services, even for legacy and proprietary systems. When you work with Salesforce, the odds that you'll have a use case the company has never heard of or cannot address are extremely slim.
Pricing options with Salesforce can quickly become complicated, and many users complain about a lack of clarity when it comes to what is included and what costs extra. Users who defect from Salesforce often cite this type of confusion.
While Salesforce is a market leader in terms of its CRM technology, integrations and capabilities, in our experience, it falls short in the customer service department. When we reached out for information about the company's services, we weren't provided with quick feedback.
When we did get in contact with them, they were very helpful and used real-life situations to explain its features and answer our questions about the program. They were very clear and offered several solutions to help further our understanding. Compared to other CRMs we called, their answers could have been more in depth but overall, they gave us a clear understanding of the program.
It has a D-minus rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and also isn't an accredited business. It earned a 1 out of 5 stars and closed 34 complaints within the last three last years.
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