The 7 Best Salesforce Alternatives

Salesforce is a popular CRM – but plenty of better options for small businesses hide in its shadow. Here are the top Salesforce alternatives based on our expert research:

Our Research

Our team of writers and researchers review CRM software by rating each product against the key features businesses care about: ease of use; value for money; the ability to scale, plus the depth of functionality and advanced options.
Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

According to our extensive research, Salesforce is a good option for growing SMEs. But it’s also bested by plenty of other brands that are worth considering before you invest, including some tempting free CRM software choices.

For over half a decade, we’ve been tracking the top brands on the market to compile a list of the best CRM software solutions for small businesses.

Our research found that the leading Salesforce alternatives for 2024 are:

SMEs can find Salesforce’s clunkier interface and lack of marketing tools cumbersome. It’s also a very expensive platform. There are plenty of providers that offer better deals and discounts, as our online quote-matching tool shows.

Buying any business software is an expensive investment – and you don’t want to discover you’ve wasted valuable time and money on the wrong technology.

Below, we’ll go through what we found to be the top Salesforce alternatives for small businesses. But first, here’s a quick overview:

Swipe right to see more
0 out of 0

Bigin

Less Annoying CRM

Keap

Price per month (billed annually):
Price per month (billed annually):
Price per month (billed annually):

Free plan, or £12 per user

Price per month (billed annually):

£5 per user

Price per month (billed annually):

Free Plan, or from £18 (flat rate)

Price per month (billed annually):
Price per month (billed annually):

£11.20 per user

Price per month (billed annually):

£60.15 (dependent on contacts)

Free trial?

Free trial?

Free trial?

Free trial?

Free trial?

Free trial?

Free trial?

Free trial?

Yes

Score out of 5:

3.8

Score out of 5:

4.6

Score out of 5:

4.5

Score out of 5:

4.3

Score out of 5:

4.2

Score out of 5:

4.3

Score out of 5:

3.7

Score out of 5:

3

Features:
  • Automatic data capture
  • Mobile access and administration
  • Salesforce Inbox
  • 10 user limit
Features:
  • 21 features available on free plan
  • Automated reports included on free plan
  • User permissions available for larger teams
Features:
  • Freddy AI tool gives you insights ready-made
  • Communication, ecommerce, and accounting integrations
  • Big library of preset templates
Features:
  • 50,000 contact limit
  • Ecommerce integrations
  • Webforms
  • List segmentation
Features:
  • Send 2,000 emails per month
  • 5 active contact lists for outreach
  • Thorough 12-step onboarding process
  • Chatbots, campaigns, and webforms
Features:
  • Unlimited contacts permitted
  • Communication, ecommerce, and accounting integrations
  • Allows unlimited custom fields
Features:
  • 50,000 contact limit
  • Onboarding assistance for teams with 10+ users
  • Communication integrations
Features:
  • 25,000 contact limit
  • One user limit
  • 5 automated workflows
Storage:

10GB per organisation

Storage:

200MB per organisation

Storage:

2GB per user

Storage:

1GB per organisation

Storage:

5 documents per user

Storage:

N/A

Storage:

10GB per user

Storage:

Unlimited

Zoho CRM: best Salesforce alternative for small businesses

Zoho CRM screenshot

4.5 out of 5
  • Usability
    4.5
  • Customisation
    4
  • Functionality
    4.5
  • Pricing
    3
  • Help and Support
    3
  • We gave Zoho CRM 4 out of 5 for usability – impressive compared to Salesforce’s 1 out of 5
  • Zoho CRM leads Salesforce in every category we looked at: Usability, Customisation, Functionality, Pricing and Help and Support.

Perhaps the biggest turn-off for potential Salesforce customers is its expense. Luckily, switching to Zoho – one of our top-rated CRM software for small businesses – promises big savings.

Salesforce is billed annually, and users pay at least £20 per user, per month. Zoho CRM, on the other hand, costs £12 per user, per month.

We know from our customer research that Salesforce users also complain about the platform’s limited functionality.

Despite costing £8 less per user, Zoho has seven more features than Salesforce, including the ability to create a visual sales pipeline. Comparatively, Salesforce requires users to build this view using a dashboard workaround – something we highlighted as one of the platform's flaws in our full review of Salesforce.

This visual pipeline is a really important feature for helping SMEs to monitor and track customer relationships and oversee the transition from potential lead to paying client. It makes Zoho well suited to companies with a short purchase cycle, such as retailers.

Zoho CRM also scored 5 out of 5 in our research for contact management. According to a report by SuperOffice, this is the number one CRM feature, requested by 94% of users surveyed.

The one area in which Salesforce does better than Zoho is limitations. As Salesforce is designed for bigger teams, you’re permitted unlimited contacts and 10GB of storage, while Zoho allows 100,000 contacts and 200MB of storage.

Freshsales Suites: best Salesforce alternative for scalability

Freshsales dashboard

4.5 out of 5
  • Usability
    4.5
  • Customisation
    3
  • Functionality
    4
  • Pricing
    3.5
  • Help and Support
    3
  • Freshsales has 22 more features than Salesforce – and costs £6 less per user
  • Freshsales permits revenue forecasts, while Salesforce does not

Freshsales Suite is a product from CRM software company, Freshworks CRM. It combines both sales and marketing strategies and is billed as one easy-to-use platform for small businesses.

We think ambitious firms with established targets will favour Freshsales over Salesforce. It’s a full-featured software that can develop alongside your business, which means it’s a great investment in your long-term sales strategy.

Salesforce is not a very scalable small business CRM. Its tiers jump dramatically from £20 per user, per month, to £60 between just one plan – whereas Freshsales’ pricing is much more reasonably distributed.

Starting at £12 per user, per month is Freshsales Growth. That becomes £35 per user with Freshsales Pro, and £55 per user for Freshsales Enterprise.

Freshsales also has a strong list of organisational tools, including a calendar, reminders, and meeting scheduling tools. This makes it well suited to teams with lots of small deadlines, such as accountancy SMEs.

Unlike Salesforce, Freshsales is also one of the few CRM systems to offer a free tier. It lacks some crucial elements – including reporting tools – but is still a fantastic way to trial the platform before buying.

Zoho Bigin: best Salesforce alternative for customisation

Zoho Bigin dashboard

4.3 out of 5
  • Usability
    3.5
  • Customisation
    3.5
  • Functionality
    3
  • Pricing
    4.5
  • Help and Support
    1.5
  • Zoho Bigin costs an outstanding £5 per user, per month (Salesforce costs £20)
  • You can create one webform per month, while Salesforce permits none

Given Zoho Bigin is a platform that describes itself as ‘exclusively built for small businesses’, it came as no surprise to our expert research team that this software is a great option for SMEs.

Bigin’s simplistic ‘drag-and-drop’ interface makes it easily navigable and thus very friendly to new users.

The platform also has superb capability for data customisation. It enables you to present your contact information, sales figures, and budget in a wide variety of formats.

Another high point for the platform is that it does not restrict you from using custom contact fields – unlike Salesforce.

The presence of preset dashboards, which are populated with useful charts and metrics, is also useful with Bigin, as a time-efficient way to present your data.

Compared to Salesforce, we think Zoho Bigin is the better option for small businesses wanting to take a more personalised approach to sales – like creative teams and agencies, for example.

HubSpot Free: best Salesforce alternative for affordability

HubSpot contact list

4.2 out of 5
  • Usability
    3.9
  • Customisation
    2
  • Functionality
    3.5
  • Pricing
    3.7
  • Help and Support
    2
  • We gave HubSpot full marks for pricing, whereas Salesforce earned just 2.5 out of 5
  • HubSpot is better-equipped for marketing and outreach than Salesforce

As our comprehensive guide to HubSpot relates, the popular CRM system has built up a serious reputation as an innovative marketing solution that can help small businesses to manage and automate successful advertising campaigns.

As our more detailed comparison of HubSpot vs Salesforce also mentions, this makes it the antithesis of Salesforce, which has just one marketing element according to our testers (website visitor tracking).

Included in the long list of marketing capabilities that HubSpot has over Salesforce are:

  • Webforms
  • Chatbots
  • Email design editor
  • Social media integration
  • Quote builder

But none of these are even HubSpot’s biggest pull factor. All of the above will cost you £0 per user, per month – which means much bigger savings for HubSpot users over Salesforce.

Plus, because it’s targeted towards businesses in their early stages, HubSpot is also super easy to use. While Salesforce has some demo features, HubSpot is much better at onboarding with step-by-step guidance, a more integrated dashboard, and smarter navigational tools.

Pipedrive: best Salesforce alternative for usability

Pipedrive dashboard

4.3 out of 5
  • Pricing
    4.1
  • Customisation
    3.1
  • Features
    3.9
  • Team Infrastructure
    3.9
  • Customer Support
    4.2
  • Scalability
    3.2
  • Pipedrive has much better help and support tools compared to Salesforce
  • We gave Pipedrive full marks for security, and Salesforce just 3 out of 5

While Salesforce markets itself as a CRM powerhouse that can drive huge growth across your business, Pipedrive is the user-friendly alternative that any sales team can quickly implement into its processes.

While Salesforce’s full-featured software can lead to a somewhat messy interface, Pipedrive has everything simply laid out, with intuitive buttons to ensure the user journey flows naturally.

And that’s not to say it scrimps on features. When you click on a user's profile in Pipedrive, you’re given a view of their contact information, their employer, and any deals related to them.

Pipedrive costs £14.90 per user, per month. In one year, a business with five users will pay a total of £625, billed annually. The same company using Salesforce would pay almost double (£1,200 per year).

So where does it go wrong? Well, Salesforce has around 2,500 integrations, whereas Pipedrive has just over 300.

Still, we think Pipedrive is the better option for small business users that don’t have a hierarchical or department-based structure and need software that every member of their team can master quickly and easily.

Less Annoying CRM: best Salesforce alternative for simplicity

Less Annoying CRM dashboard

3.7 out of 5
  • Usability
    4.5
  • Customisation
    1.5
  • Functionality
    1.5
  • Pricing
    3.5
  • Help and Support
    2.5
  • Salesforce has 13 CRM pricing tiers available, while Less Annoying CRM has just one
  • We gave Salesforce and Less Annoying CRM the same score for sales features

One of the most common issues that Salesforce customers report when using the platform is its confusing structure.

There are four Salesforce CRM products in total, each of which boasts four pricing tiers. You don’t need to be a maths whizz to know that creates a confusing number of options for small business owners.

Less Annoying CRM’s unique selling point is that it has just one payment tier. For a budget-friendly £11 per user, per month, you’ll get everything the platform offers.

Naturally, this means it’s not the most scalable platform. But then, due to its added expense, neither is Salesforce.

Plus, our experts awarded both CRM systems the same score for sales features. With Less Annoying CRM, you’ll still be able to customise your contact list, design a visual sales pipeline, and integrate with a number of third-party apps including Outlook.

Less Annoying CRM also has no feature limitations. Salesforce, in comparison, has quite a few – there are no custom fields, for example.

We recommend Less Annoying CRM for small business leaders without an accounting team, who want a simplified subscription that makes renewing contracts easier.

Keap: best Salesforce alternative for help and support

Keap setup

3 out of 5
  • Usability
    2.5
  • Customisation
    1
  • Functionality
    3
  • Pricing
    1
  • Help and Support
    5
  • You can use webforms at any level with Keap, unlike with Salesforce
  • Keap is very expensive, but you do get the first three months for free

Help and support tools can be life-saving for small businesses that don’t have the time or the knowledge to get systems up and running quickly.

Like Salesforce, Keap is a cloud-based software. However, you can still contact its customer team 24/7 over the phone, via live chat, and online – while Salesforce relegates its users to just email support.

Keap also offers onboarding assistance, and is really taking no prisoners when it comes to help and support. We gave it 4.5 out of 5 for this category. No other brand came close to this score in our research. In fact, Salesforce scored an abysmal 1.5 out of 5. 

It should be noted that this expertise comes at a price. Keap costs a staggering £60 per month at a minimum, and you’re only permitted one account manager.

We think this platform is best suited to small business owners who are inexperienced with tech, and want a CRM software that comes pre-established. For example, firms that are usually based offline.

How we test CRM systems for UK small businesses

At Startups, it's important to us that the product recommendations we make to small UK businesses are useful, accurate, and based on thorough product testing.

We tested 13 CRM systems across seven main categories of investigation and 13 subcategories – all in all, we covered 84 areas of investigation. Next, we gave a ‘relevance weighting' to the final product category scores - this ensures the products' final ratings perfectly reflect the specific needs and requirements of Startups readers.

Our main testing categories for CRM systems are:

Features: the functionalities and capabilities provided by the CRM software, including contact management, lead and opportunity tracking, and task and activity management.

Help and Support: the assistance and resources available to users when they encounter issues or need guidance while using the CRM software.

Customisation: the ability to tailor the CRM software to suit the specific needs and processes of the organization, including customising fields, layouts, and workflows.

Scalability: the ability of the CRM software to accommodate the growth and changing needs of the organization, such as the capacity to handle a growing customer database.

Price: the cost associated with using the CRM software. It includes factors such as licensing fees and subscription plans.

Team Structure – Sales CRM: determining if a platform makes it easier to manage large sales teams, including team dashboards and team hierarchies.

Usability – Small Business CRM: assessing the simplicity of the interface, the ease of navigating through menus and options, and the overall user experience.

The Startups product testing process

The Startups product testing process diagram

Next steps

We think that Zoho CRM is the best alternative Salesforce software for small businesses.

Many Salesforce small business users complain about the system being too complicated and expensive. After weeks of intensive investigation, our team scored Zoho CRM 4.5 out of 5 for usability, demonstrating that it doesn’t scrimp on ease of use.

Its visual sales pipeline is also intuitive to use and smartly designed, making it simple for users to manage customers. We think it’s the perfect choice for SMEs that need to support lots of short-term clients without breaking their wallets.

We’d also recommend Zoho Bigin, the baby brother of Zoho CRM, to creative companies that want a CRM they can personalise. Similarly, Freshsales is a good option for accounting SMEs, thanks to premier organisation tools.

For a full breakdown of the top CRM providers on the market, you can use our online comparison tool. We’ve designed it to bring your business the quotes that match your specific requirements.

Salesforce Alternative FAQs
  • Why do companies use Salesforce?
    Salesforce is a good CRM option for large or growing companies. It focuses on enabling large sales volumes and organisation – which aren’t big concerns for most small businesses.
  • Is there a free version of Salesforce?
    There is no free Salesforce plan, only a free 14-day trial. We recommend HubSpot if you want a high-performing freemium CRM.
  • What is Salesforce's biggest competitor?
    Zoho CRM is similar to Salesforce in terms of industry recognition, but scores much better for functionality, usability, and customisation. monday.com also outranks Salesforce as our highest-scoring CRM platform for small business users.
Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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