Salesforce Competitive Analysis 2023 – Business Analysis

Salesforce Competitive Analysis 2023 – Business Analysis

Table of Contents

Who are the top competitors of Salesforce in the CRM market?

Salesforce is the dominant player in the global CRM market with about 20% market share in 2022. Its top competitors include:

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM – Closest competitor, offers CRM bundled with Office 365. Strong in midmarket and enterprise.
  • Oracle Sales Cloud – Strong legacy player, focuses on enterprises. Integrates with Oracle’s ERP and CX clouds.
  • SAP Customer Experience – Leverages SAP’s enterprise presence. Integrated with back-end SAP systems.
  • Adobe Marketing Cloud – Strong marketing automation capabilities and integration with Adobe Experience Cloud.
  • Zoho CRM – Most popular in SMB space, over 60 million users. Low cost freemium model.
  • HubSpot CRM – Focuses on SMBs, freemium model plus sales and marketing hubs. Highly rated for ease of use.
  • SugarCRM – Open source CRM with flexibility to customize. Has midmarket and SMB presence.
  • Salesforce Pardot – Salesforce’s own B2B marketing automation system and a major HubSpot competitor.

Other competitors like PipeDrive, Freshworks, Insightly, Keap, Apptivo etc. compete in SMB space. Industry-specific solutions like Veeva, Salesforce Financial Services Cloud also compete for market share.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of Salesforce compared to its major competitors?


  • Largest ecosystem of apps and extensibility via AppExchange marketplace
  • Lightning interface and ease of use for end users
  • Sales, service, marketing, and platform clouds provide end-to-end CRM capabilities
  • Strong brand recognition and reputation as a leader
  • Scalability for both SMBs and large enterprises
  • Customization and integration capabilities via declarative tools


  • Can be more expensive than competitors for midmarket buyers
  • Limited capabilities for manufacturing, supply chain, and other back-end ERP functions
  • Industry-specific solutions from competitors can be more tailored
  • Reporting, analytics, and AI still catching up to other enterprise vendors
  • Perception of being overly complex and “salesy” for small businesses

How does Salesforce pricing and packages compare to its competitors?

Salesforce uses role-based pricing starting at $25/month for Essentials plan up to $300/month for Enterprise plans. Some unlimited pricing also exists. Compared to competitors:

  • Microsoft Dynamics – Similar role-based pricing but offers bundled CRM with Office 365 and Power Platform
  • Oracle – Charges per user and data storage, advanced features cost extra
  • SAP – Higher pricing aimed at large enterprises, leverages SAP’s presence
  • Zoho – Offers free plan for 3 users and a basic $12/month plan for larger SMBs
  • HubSpot – Freemium CRM plan plus subsctiption bundles for marketing/sales hubs
  • Adobe – Bundles CRM capabilities within Marketing Cloud starting at $1,000/month

Overall, Salesforce is considered a premium-priced solution but offers discounts for multi-year contracts. Competitors like Zoho, Microsoft offer lower entry points while Adobe, SAP target large enterprises.

What unique features and capabilities does Salesforce offer versus its competitors?

  • Einstein AI features such as predictive lead scoring, live recommendations, intelligent matching and routing
  • Lightning Platform for developing custom apps and building on CRM data
  • AppExchange marketplace with over 5,000 apps to extend functionality
  • Sales, service, marketing, and other clouds tightly integrated
  • Community Cloud for building online communities for customers
  • Industry-specific solutions tailored for complex verticals
  • Tableau integration for advanced analytics and data visualization
  • Mulesoft acquired for API-led connectivity and integration

Overall, the depth of capabilities across sales, service, marketing, and flexible platform extensibility is unmatched by competitors.

How does Salesforce’s market share in the CRM industry compare to competitors like Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, Zoho, HubSpot etc?

According to 2022 market share estimates:

  • Salesforce has 19-20% market share
  • Microsoft Dynamics has about 15-16%
  • SAP has around 11-12%
  • Oracle has roughly 8-9%
  • Adobe has around 2-3% market share
  • Zoho, HubSpot, and other SMB focused players have under 2% each but combined make up over 20% market share.

Salesforce remains the single largest vendor in terms of market share. Microsoft and SAP are closest rivals based on revenues. But SMB competitors like Zoho and HubSpot are rapidly growing in customers.

Which industries and customer segments does Salesforce target versus its competitors?

  • SMB – Main competitors are Zoho, HubSpot, Pipedrive, Apptivo
  • Mid-market companies – Microsoft, Oracle, SugarCRM, Sage
  • Large enterprises – Oracle, SAP, Microsoft Dynamics
  • High-tech – Adobe, HubSpot, Pardot specialize in marketing and sales automation
  • Financial services – Salesforce Financial Services Cloud vs Dynamics 365 Finance, nCino
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences – Veeva, IQVIA compete strongly in this vertical
  • Manufacturing – Microsoft, Infor, Oracle have broader ERP capabilities
  • Public Sector – Microsoft Dynamics 365 Government Cloud

Overall, Salesforce competes across all industries but has specially tailored clouds for financial services, healthcare, and other highly regulated sectors.

How does Salesforce platform and ecosystem compare to competitor platforms?

The Salesforce Platform powered by Lightning offers several advantages over competitors:

  • Lightning is modern, enterprise-scale platform optimized for CRM
  • Support for declarative no-code configuration via drag and drop
  • Thousands of AppExchange partner apps and components to extend platform
  • Tight integration between sales, service, marketing, and other clouds
  • Open API access and flexibility for integration
  • Heroku and MuleSoft acquisitions added development capabilities

Competitor platforms like Microsoft Power Platform and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure also offer PaaS capabilities. But Salesforce Lightning is tailored for CRM while having tools to build any cloud app. The AppExchange also fosters an ecosystem unrivaled by competitors.

How do Salesforce sales, marketing, service, and other clouds stack up against competitor offerings?

Sales Cloud – Leads rivals like Dynamics 365 Sales and Oracle CX Sales. Features like Einstein Relationship Insights set it apart. Tightly integrated with Pardot.

Service Cloud – Compares favorably against Oracle RightNow, Dynamics 365 Customer Service. Powerful automation and Omnichannel.

Marketing Cloud – Adobe marketing cloud considered more advanced in marketing automation but Salesforce growing fast with Pardot.

Tableau – Salesforce offers best-of-breed data visualization via Tableau integration. Competes with Microsoft Power BI, Oracle Analytics Cloud.

Community Cloud – Unique capability to build online communities. Limited competition from Lithium Social Customer Service.

Overall, Salesforce clouds are among the leaders in their categories versus specialized competitors while having tight integration between clouds.

How does Salesforce’s acquisition strategy compare to major competitors?

Salesforce has acquired over 60 companies since 2010, far exceeding competitors. Notable deals include:

  • Tableau – $15.7 billion in 2019 for market-leading analytics
  • MuleSoft – $6.5 billion in 2018 for API-led connectivity
  • Slack – $27.7 billion in 2021 for business collaboration
  • ExactTarget – $2.5 billion in 2012 to enter marketing automation

Major competitors like Microsoft, Oracle, SAP have also pursued acquisitions but not at the frequency and size of Salesforce deals. Adobe and Workday have also grown through acquisitions in their categories.

Key motives behind Salesforce acquisitions are gaining technology and capabilities, eliminating competitors, expanding into new segments, and entering new markets.

Which companies are seen as emerging threats or disruptors to Salesforce in the CRM space?

The most likely emerging threats and disruptors to Salesforce include:

  • Microsoft – With LinkedIn acquisition and bundling of Dynamics 365 with Office 365, Microsoft gaining on enterprise and mid-market buyers.
  • Adobe – With Marketo purchase and digital experience focus, Adobe strengthening marketing cloud offerings to counter Salesforce.
  • Zoho – Rapid SMB and mid-market growth worldwide with spread of freemium model.
  • Twilio – CPaaS market leader could leverage customer engagement into Salesforce territory.
  • ServiceNow – their workflow strengths powering expansion into CRM and CX.
  • WhatsApp – Could integrate Business API into a lightweight CRM alternative leveraging Meta user base.
  • Freshworks – Fast growing with Freshsales and Freshmarketer products. Raised over $500M.
  • Amazon – Potential to offer AWS-native CRM or leverage Amazon Connect into space.

How does Salesforce’s AI and analytics capabilities compare with competitors?

Salesforce Einstein AI introduced in 2016 aims to deliver insights and automation across clouds. Main competitors include:

  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 AI insights and Power BI analytics
  • Oracle CX Unity AI and Oracle Analytics Cloud
  • Adobe Sensei AI and Adobe Analytics
  • SAP C/4HANA with SAP Analytics Cloud
  • HubSpot CRM Platform with HubSpot Analytics

Einstein has helped Salesforce gain credibility in AI-driven CRM. Integration of Tableau analytics also a plus. But Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle, SAP viewed as more mature in enterprise analytics space currently. Salesforce does have technology lead in AI-driven CRM scenarios like prediction, personalization, and recommendations.

How do Salesforce and competitors compare in ease of use and user experience?

Salesforce Lightning interface introduced in 2014 refreshed UI and UX. Competitors have also modernized their interfaces.

Lightning Pros:

  • Streamlined intuitive interface across all clouds
  • Enhanced mobile optimization
  • Drag and drop customization
  • Pre-built templates and components

Microsoft Dynamics 365, Oracle CX Cloud, SAP C/4HANA, and Zoho have also invested in UX improvements and responsive design. Adoption of mobile and consumer-style apps has been an industry-wide pattern.

For SMBs, Zoho and HubSpot score very high on ease of use. For enterprises, Microsoft and SAP have advantage of tight integration with backend systems. But overall Salesforce Lightning interface is considered a leader.

What do customer satisfaction surveys and reviews say about Salesforce vs. competitors?

Salesforce typically ranks very competitively on customer satisfaction surveys versus competitors:

  • Salesforce scored 4.2 out 5 on Gartner Peer Insights with 93% willingness to recommend. Microsoft Dynamics and SAP respectively scored 4.1 and 4.0.
  • Salesforce scored 97% in customer satisfaction on TrustRadius versus 95% for Microsoft and 93% for Oracle.
  • On G2Crowd, Salesforce scored 94% for user satisfaction compared to 92% for HubSpot, 90% for Zoho, and 89% for Microsoft.

Common Salesforce strengths cited include quality of platform, ecosystem, and CRM capabilities. Weaknesses mentioned are pricing and complexity. Reviews ultimately view Salesforce as the clear market leader.

How do Salesforce’s growth, revenue, and profitability benchmark against competitors?

Salesforce has sustained over 25% year-over-year revenue growth since 2015 to $26.5 billion for FY 2022. Growth outpaces competitors:

  • Microsoft commercial cloud revenues grew 36% YoY in 2022 to $69 billion. Dynamics 365 growth estimated at over 40%.
  • SAP cloud revenues grew 26% YoY in 2022 to $11.7 billion.
  • Oracle cloud revenues grew 44% YoY in 2022 to $13.8 billion.
  • Adobe Experience Cloud grew 15% YoY in 2022 to $4.6 billion.

Operating margins for Salesforce were 3.7% for FY 2022 versus Oracle at 47%, Microsoft at 42%, SAP at 24%. Salesforce prioritizes growth while competitors focus more on profitability.

What are analyst views on Salesforce’s strengths and weaknesses versus competitors?

Analysts like Gartner and Forrester see Salesforce as the clear market leader in CRM:


  • Breadth and depth of CRM capabilities across sales, service, marketing clouds
  • Partner ecosystem and AppExchange marketplace
  • Enterprise scalability and flexibility
  • Einstein AI and Tableau analytics (though still behind competitors in analytics)


  • More costly than Microsoft and other enterprise IT vendors
  • Can be overkill for simpler small business needs
  • Not as specialized for specific industries like manufacturing

Overall, analysts view Salesforce as the most strategic CRM vendor with a sustaining competitive advantage from platform and ecosystem network effects. But continued innovation is needed to maintain leadership.

How does Salesforce’s international expansion and market share outside USA compare with competitors?

Though Salesforce generates 70% of revenue from Americas, it is rapidly growing in EMEA and APAC. In 2021:

  • EMEA comprised 22% of Salesforce revenues
  • APAC was 8% of revenues

Microsoft and SAP have greater presence in EMEA and APAC by leveraging regional field teams and global delivery centers.

Zoho’s international growth is accelerating with expanded offices and data centers across regions. Freshworks similarly targets global SMB expansion.

Industry analysts view international expansion as a key priority where Salesforce still lags leading enterprise competitors and aggressive SMB challengers.

Which competitors are potentially most threatening to Salesforce in the enterprise, mid-market, and SMB space?

Enterprise – Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Oracle Sales Cloud have resources to compete long-term. SAP C/4HANA also leverages SAP installed base.

Mid-Market – Microsoft and Oracle again strong here. But Zoho and Freshworks gaining share with SMB-like buying preferences.

SMB – Zoho, HubSpot, Freshworks eroding market share with competitive pricing and easier learning curve. SuiteCRM emerging as open source option.

For enterprise and mid-market, Salesforce’s platform and ecosystem provide some competitive buffers. But pricing and simplicity advantages of competitors appealing for SMBs and lower mid-market.

What are the key factors and criteria businesses consider when evaluating Salesforce against competitors?

The most important evaluation criteria typically include:

  • User experience – Ease of use and intuitive workflows for sales, marketing, service users
  • Flexibility – Ability to customize CRM to company’s unique needs and processes
  • Total cost – License costs, implementation fees, and ongoing spends
  • Features – Evaluating specific CRM capabilities required for industry and use cases
  • Scalability – Can the platform scale from dozens of users to thousands globally
  • Ecosystem – Availability of third-party integrations and apps
  • Implementation – Speed and complexity of onboarding and deployment
  • Customer support – Quality and responsiveness of vendor support

How does Salesforce partnership ecosystem compare with competitor ecosystems?

A major Salesforce advantage is AppExchange with over 5,000 ISV partners building apps and components. Other leading CRM vendor ecosystems include:

  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 has around 3,000 apps and 750,000 partners in its ecosystem. Power Apps also extends ecosystem.
  • SAP has over 2,800 partners for C/4HANA solutions and builds on SAP’s broad partner base.
  • Oracle Sales Cloud leverages broader Oracle PartnerNetwork of over 10,000 members.
  • Zoho Marketplace has 1,000+ applications.
  • HubSpot Solutions Partner Program has 250+ ISV partners.

For sheer size and maturity, Salesforce AppExchange marketplace is unmatched in CRM. Partner-built components can fulfill almost any industry or niche requirement.

How do Salesforce Einstein AI capabilities compare to competitor AI offerings?

Salesforce rolled out Einstein AI across clouds starting 2016, earlier than competitors’ AI enhancements.

Key Einstein features

  • Predictive lead scoring
  • Live recommendations for agents
  • Intelligent matching and routing
  • AI-driven sales forecasting
  • Next best action suggestions

Microsoft Dynamics leverages Azure AI for tasks like sales metrics analysis and churn predictions. Oracle, Adobe, SAP, and others follow suit integrating AI into respective CRM clouds.

Overall, Salesforce still leads in AI-driven CRM use cases, but gap with Microsoft and other enterprise AI platforms closing. Embedded AI now tablestakes in industry.

How does Salesforce Community Cloud compare against competitors’ community solutions?

Salesforce Community Cloud provides industry-leading community platform capabilities leveraging the Lightning platform.

Main competitors are:

  • Lithium Social Customer Service
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Communities
  • SAP Customer Experience Community module
  • Vanilla Forums

Salesforce is considered furthest along in enabling Community Cloud for self-service portals, customer communities, partner communities, and other use cases.

Capabilities like gamification, reputation management, content moderation, custom templates enable Salesforce customers to quickly launch branded, customized community sites.

How does Salesforce platform extensibility compare to competitors’ ability to customize?

The Lightning Platform provides excellent extensibility and customization capabilities for CRM using:

  • Lightning App Builder – Declarative no-code tools to customize UIs and workflows
  • Lightning Components – Reusable components built using React-like framework
  • Lightning Web Components – For building responsive web apps
  • Apex & Visualforce – Programatic and metadata customization

Competitors like Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, and Zoho also offer varying combinations of drag and drop configuration, reusable templates and components, open APIs, and developer tools that allow extensive customization.

Overall, extensibility is now largely tablestakes in industry, but breadth of Lightning Platform capabilities stand out compared to competitors.

How does Salesforce’s vertical industry strategy align against specific competitors?

Salesforce has industry-specific solutions for major sectors:

  • Financial Services Cloud – Competes with Dynamics 365 Finance, Salesforce Financial Services Cloud, and vertical solutions like nCino
  • Health Cloud – Focused on healthcare CRM in contrast to specialized healthcare solutions like Veeva
  • Manufacturing Cloud – Lightweight WFM capabilities unlike end-to-end solutions from Oracle, Infor, SAP.
  • Public Sector Cloud – Targets government and education vs. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Government Cloud
  • Consumer Goods Cloud – Merchandising and go-to-market focus overlapping with Oracle CX for CPG.

Though Salesforce has industry versions, they are lighter-weight compared to specialized competitors or CRM solutions from horizontal ERP/CX vendors.

But AppExchange also provides channel to extend industry capabilities through ISVs. Salesforce aims for “good enough” industry support versus trying to lead in every vertical.

How do Salesforce and competitors’ mobile CRM capabilities compare?

Salesforce Mobile App enables access to Salesforce data and key workflows across iOS and Android mobile devices.

Key capabilities:

  • Reduced steps for common tasks like logging calls and contacts
  • Offline access to CRM data for working remotely
  • Productivity tools integrated within mobile experience
  • Einstein-powered predictive recommendations
  • Adoption of common mobile UX patterns

Competitors like Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Zoho also provide mobile apps optimized for their respective CRM solutions. Mobile experience is now a baseline expectation for modern CRM vendors.

Feature depth for Salesforce Mobile ranks among leaders, but top consideration is quality of mobile experience for a company’s chosen CRM platform.

How do Salesforce and competitors’ analytics solutions compare?

Salesforce’s Tableau acquisition in 2019 aims to improve analytics and data visualization capabilities across the Salesforce platform.

Competitor offerings include:

  • Microsoft Power BI deeply integrated with Dynamics 365
  • Oracle Analytics Cloud with natural language querying
  • SAP Analytics Cloud bringing BOBJ visualizations to C/4HANA
  • Adobe Experience Platform analytics leveraging segmentation
  • Zoho Analytics and BI platform for SMB analytics

For enterprises, Microsoft and Oracle have broader enterprise analytics traction. Salesforce plus Tableau helps close gap but still maturing in breadth of analytics features.

What does Salesforce offer for small businesses compared to competitor CRM solutions?

For SMBs, Salesforce Essentials provides its core sales and support capabilities starting at $25/user/month.

Competitive options like Zoho and HubSpot CRM offer:

  • Freemium tiers with free versions up to 2-3 users
  • Lower starting price points like $12/month for basic Zoho CRM
  • Minimum monthly commitments instead of annual contracts
  • Small business-focused support, customer success teams

Salesforce aims more at growing/scaling SMBs willing to pay for Salesforce capabilities supporting their growth. Truly small companies tend to gravitate toward freemium-based competitors.

How does Salesforce customer and technical support stack up against competitor support?

Salesforce offers multiple premium support options:

  • Standard support during business hours at no charge
  • Developer support starting at $250/month
  • Premier support 24/7 with enhanced SLAs starting at $15k annually

Other CRM vendors offer free plus paid support:

  • Microsoft – Free with Dynamics 365 license. Paid premium 24/5 support.
  • Oracle – Free for Cloud Customer Connect, paid premium for Customer Success Manager
  • Zoho – Free email plus live chat support. Paid Prime and Enterprise Support.

Salesforce support costs can be higher for mission-critical deployment compared to competitors’ premium offerings. But analysts rate Salesforce customer satisfaction with support among leaders.

How do Salesforce and competitor CRM integrations with other apps compare?

Salesforce provides extensive integration, connectivity, and APIs:

  • 1,500+ prebuilt connectors on AppExchange
  • MuleSoft acquisition for API-led connectivity
  • Integration tools like Workato, Zapier, PieSync

All major competitors including Microsoft, SAP, Oracle have certified integrators, vast partner ecosystems, and API access for third-party integration.

For enterprise deployments and hybrid connectivity, Microsoft likely has an edge from decades of experience. Salesforce’s connectivity and API-first approach is on par with other cloud-centric CRM vendors.

Which competitors offer CRM solutions with lower total cost of ownership vs. Salesforce?

Competitors that can potentially achieve lower TCO compared to Salesforce include:

  • Microsoft – Already embedded across enterprises, bundling with Office 365 and Azure.
  • Zoho – Freemium model reduces barriers to entry plus ongoing license costs.
  • SugarCRM – Open source foundation lowers license fees for on-prem deployments.
  • Oracle – Established presence yields integration savings for existing Oracle customers.
  • HubSpot – Free CRM tier can supplement marketing and sales hubs.

Areas where Salesforce nets out more expensive:

  • Per user licensing fees higher at enterprise tiers
  • Implementation costs with systems integrators
  • Change management and training costs stronger with sales orientation
  • Ongoing administrative customization and AppExchange costs

But TCO can be offset by accelerated productivity and revenues if adoption is high.

What are some of the top alternatives and substitutes businesses consider instead of Salesforce?

Instead of Salesforce, companies may consider:

  • Spreadsheet-based CRM and contact management
  • Open source CRMs like SuiteCRM or vtiger
  • Small business-focused tools like Zoho, HubSpot, Keap
  • All-in-one suites like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace
  • Single-purpose tools like email marketing, live chat, marketing automation etc.
  • Internally built custom CRM applications
  • Headless CRM leveraging backend data sources

Many businesses, especially smaller ones, perceive Salesforce as overkill. But need for centralized data and holistic view of customers eventually necessitates a centralized CRM as companies scale.

Which competitors are considered most innovative and forward-thinking versus Salesforce?

The competitors regarded as most innovative and forward-thinking include:

  • Adobe – With experience focus spanning marketing, analytics, commerce, content and data.
  • ServiceNow – Innovating in digital workflows and customer service management.
  • Microsoft – Leveraging strengths in AI, business apps, and Teams collaboration.
  • Zoho – Rethinking CRM for SMBs with Unified Analytics, BI platform, and FrontDesk workspace.
  • SugarCRM – Driving open source CRM and no code “Low-Code CX” platform.
  • Pega – Advancing low-code CRM and customer service capabilities.

Salesforce made early bets on cloud delivery, platform model, and now Slack-driven digital HQ vision. But competitors are rapidly innovating in their strong zones while copying Salesforce’s past innovations.

What are some of the biggest complaints and criticisms customers have about Salesforce compared to alternative CRMs?

Common customer complaints about Salesforce include:

  • Pricing – Perception that Salesforce nickel and dimes customers with license costs, implementation fees, and add-ons.
  • Complexity – Platform can be overwhelming for non-technical users compared to simpler CRM tools.
  • Customization – Expensive and challenging for business users to customize Salesforce without deep expertise.
  • Legacy Baggage – Lightning integration with Classic can be clunky for longtime customers.
  • Support – Some users feel support costs extra or quality varies.
  • Sales Orientation – Still seen as sales-centric versus modern CXM.

Competitors like Zoho, HubSpot, and Microsoft highlight ease of use, bundled pricing, and support. But Salesforce users also recognize depth of capabilities and ecosystem offsets areas of friction.

How does Salesforce’s CRM personalization compare to customization offered by competitors?

Salesforce enables personalization via:

  • Permission sets to customize user access
  • Custom objects, fields, and record types
  • Lightning App Builder for point-and-click customization
  • Template-driven sites and community builder

Microsoft Dynamics 365 similarly has security roles, configurable entities, Power Apps Studio, and portals.

Other leading CRM competitors also provide combinations of user personalization, access controls, and UX configuration tools.

Overall, Salesforce is comparable to competitors in CRM personalization capabilities. The critical factor is ease of use for admins to personalize and users to customize their own experience.

What emerging technologies like blockchain, IoT etc. are Salesforce and competitors investing in?

Salesforce and major competitors are exploring emerging technologies:

  • Blockchain – Salesforce has a blockchain platform. SAP builds on Leonardo. Oracle integrates blockchain cloud.
  • IoT – Salesforce partners with IoT vendors. SAP acquired Plat.One. Microsoft integrates Azure IoT.
  • AR/VR – Startup acquisitions like Salesforce buying MetaMind for computer vision. Dynamics 365 Layar integration.
  • Quantum – Salesforce and SAP researching quantum computing applications. Microsoft launched Azure Quantum.

But these are generally incremental add-ons to supplement core CRM and CX. The innovations are primarily driven by tech giants like Microsoft and niche players versus Salesforce.

How do Salesforce and competitors’ development platforms compare for custom apps?

Salesforce Lightning Platform powers custom app dev via:

  • Visual Studio Code-based Salesforce Extension Pack
  • Declarative development using Lightning components
  • Full-featured IDE in Eclipse-based Salesforce Developer Studio
  • Heroku elements for CI/CD and Scrum dev processes
  • ISV partner-focused Illuminate DX development tools

Microsoft Power Platform with Visual Studio and .NET Framework has broader appeal for app dev pros. Mendix acquisition also boosts low-code.

For custom CRM and industry apps, Lightning is robust and optimized for the Salesforce ecosystem. But Microsoft likely edges out for general purpose custom LOB app development at enterprise scale.

How do Salesforce’s sustainability, social responsibility and governance efforts compare against competitors?

As a CRM industry leader, Salesforce makes substantial investments in ESG initiatives:

  • Sets net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target for 2040
  • Sources 100% renewable energy across global operations
  • Donated over $300 million in grants and 10+ million employee volunteer hours
  • Strong representation – 40% of global workforce and 36% of leadership are women

Microsoft, SAP, Adobe, and other top technology vendors also have robust sustainability, diversity, and social impact programs aligned to UN Sustainable Development Goals.

But ESG is now competitive necessity. Salesforce does not necessarily lead but exceeds baseline expectations for global industry peer companies.

Which competitors have strongest momentum and growth recently versus Salesforce?

The CRM competitors with strongest recent momentum are:

  • Microsoft – Boosted by LinkedIn integration and bundling with Office 365.
  • Adobe – Experience Cloud growth accelerated after 2018 Marketo acquisition.
  • Zoho – Rapid international SMB customer expansion at 50+ million users.
  • HubSpot – Marketing Hub driving cross-sell into fast-growing CRM base.
  • Freshworks – Recent IPO and 500,000+ customers signals rising threat to Salesforce.

Microsoft is leveraging enterprise synergies. Adobe, Zoho, and HubSpot gaining share through focus. And Freshworks emerging on global stage.

Salesforce still leads but competing evolution across brackets demands continued innovation.

How do Salesforce acquisition costs compare against competitor CRM software costs?

Salesforce licenses start at $25/month but enterprise users can cost $300/month. Additional fees add up for add-ons, storage, and support.

Key competitors:

  • Microsoft Dynamics – Bundled with Office 365 starts at $115/month for Dynamics 365 Professional.
  • HubSpot – Free CRM tier. Marketing Hub starts at $800/month.
  • Zoho – Free for 3 users. $12/mo per user for Standard plan. $35/user for Professional.
  • Oracle – Starts at $75/user/month for CX Sales.
  • SAP – C/4HANA users start at $85/month plus services.

For SMBs, Zoho and HubSpot offer lower cost of entry. Microsoft bundles reduce incremental cost. Oracle and SAP price higher.

Salesforce acquisition cost depends on product mix and partner services selected for implementation.

How flexible are Salesforce’s CRM deployment options compared to competitors?

Salesforce is available across all standard deployment models:

  • Public cloud
  • Private cloud
  • Hybrid cloud

Microsoft Dynamics 365 similarly offers full cloud and on-premises deployment flexibility.

Other CRM competitors like SAP, Oracle, SugarCRM, and Zoho have hybrid options blending cloud and on-premises.

For regulated industries or global regions requiring on-prem, Salesforce Private Cloud enables deployment flexibility without compromising benefits of Salesforce model.

How do Salesforce administrator and user learning curves compare to competitors?

As Salesforce has grown in scope, the platform’s complexity has also increased. Key factors influencing learning curve:

  • Breadth of capabilities – Administration spans sales, service, marketing, communities, platform.
  • Customization options – Declarative, programmatic, and metadata approaches each have nuances.
  • Maturity of ecosystem – More partners and AppExchange add-ons to evaluate.

Competitors like Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle have similarly extensive capabilities and moving parts for large enterprise deployments.

SMB-focused Zoho and HubSpot likely have an advantage for simpler business needs. But the tradeoff is reduced flexibility as companies scale up.

Which competitors offer the most similar capabilities and user experience as Salesforce?

The competitors with most closely comparable capabilities and UX to Salesforce are:

  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 – Similar mix of sales, service, marketing, and platform. Modern UI with Dynamics 365 Mobile App.
  • Zoho CRM – Offers sales, service, marketing, and platform modules via uniform new UX. Mobile app for access.
  • HubSpot CRM – Leading easy-to-use UX, mobile app, and tight integration to marketing and sales hubs.
  • SugarCRM – Web and mobile apps for sales automation, marketing, and service. Open source flexibility.

Microsoft and Zoho mirror Salesforce’s breadth more closely. HubSpot prioritizes front-end UX. Overall dynamics shifting as competitors replicate Salesforce, but also differentiate.

How does Salesforce’s brand reputation and awareness compare against major competitors?

Surveys of brand reputation and awareness for CRM vendors show:

  • Salesforce leads in brand strength and familiarity as the founder of cloud CRM.
  • Microsoft has highest overall brand recognition from breadth of products.
  • Oracle also has strong brand from decades in enterprise software.
  • SAP, Adobe enjoy strong brands in respective categories but less so for CRM.
  • Zoho, HubSpot have growing mindshare for SMB and mid-market buyers.

Salesforce continues to dominate CRM brand affinity. Microsoft and Oracle present enterprise brand strength. Market challengers like Zoho and HubSpot increasing visibility.

Which competitors are most likely to disrupt Salesforce in the future?

The competitors most likely to disrupt Salesforce are:

  • Microsoft – With leading commercial cloud position and enterprise breadth.
  • Adobe – Experience cloud synergies spanning marketing, analytics, commerce.
  • Amazon – Potential to leverage consumer base into CRM/CX.
  • Google – Could expand Workspace into customer management.
  • ServiceNow – Innovating in workflows critical to customer service.
  • Freshworks – Fast-growing challenger reaching scale and visibility.
  • Zoho – Grassroots adoption of their unified platform and CX vision.

Salesforce has sustained leadership through constant innovation and acquisition. New threats require vigilance to maintain definitive CRM market position.

What functions like HCM, ERP does Salesforce offer compared to specialized competitor solutions?

Beyond core CRM for sales, service, and marketing, Salesforce offers some tangential functions:

  • FinancialForce ERP – Joint ERP solution with Unit4 targeting professional services.
  • Workforce Engagement Management – Limited WFM capabilities for contact centers.
  • Tableau Analytics – Robust analytics but not full ERP or HCM offering.

In contrast, Microsoft and SAP have extensive HCM, ERP, and analytics. Oracle has full-suite cloud ERP and HCM.

Salesforce’s strategy is to provide just enough peripheral functions while avoiding inflating scope. Specialized vendor partnerships and acquisitions augment gaps.

How do Salesforce and competitors’ AI-driven sales, marketing, service etc. compare?

Salesforce Einstein embedded AI across clouds, especially for:

  • Predictive lead scoring
  • Content and message personalization
  • Recommendations for next best actions
  • Intelligent case/ opportunity routing
  • Chatbot and virtual agent assistance

Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle have made AI acquisitions and built similar capabilities into respective sales, marketing, service apps.

Salesforce still leads in volume of AI-driven CRM use cases. But technology gap closing as AI becomes “table stakes” in customer management apps.

How do Salesforce and competitors’ bot and conversational interfaces compare?

Salesforce offers bots via:

  • Einstein Bots – Build no code chatbots and virtual assistants
  • LiveMessage – Chatbots for messaging apps
  • Service Cloud Voice – Integrates Alexa and Google voice bots

Microsoft Azure Bot Framework enables Dynamics 365 bots. Oracle Bots and Adobe Sensei virtual agents offer conversations capabilities. SAP C/4HANA conversational AI coming soon.

For common customer service scenarios, leading CRM providers have roughly comparable chatbot solutions. Differentiator is the tightness of bots with respective sales and service processes.

Which vertical industries are currently underserved by Salesforce compared to vertical competitors?

Some industries with strong vertical solutions considered better served by competitors:

  • Manufacturing – SAP, Oracle, Infor software better supports processes like SCM, PLM.
  • Healthcare/Clinical – Veeva Systems known for regulated industry expertise.
  • Higher Education – Anthology and Workday strong in ERP and HCM for education.
  • Hospitality/Travel – Industry clouds from Oracle, SAP designed for lodging and travel vertical.
  • Public Sector – Microsoft’s cloud for government includes Dynamics 365 compliance.

Salesforce aims for 80/20 fit across verticals. But specialized vendors tailor more industry-specific capabilities in high-touch verticals.

How does partner ecosystem vitality compare between Salesforce and competitors?

Salesforce’s AppExchange of over 5,000 ISV partners is likely the industry’s most vibrant enterprise software ecosystem.

Among leading CRM competitors:

  • Microsoft has a vast partner network from across Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics 365.
  • SAP works with well-established global SI partners and cloud experts.
  • Oracle partners leverage breadth of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.
  • Zoho Marketplace and HubSpot Solutions networks target SMB channel.

For enterprise deployments, Microsoft likely matches Salesforce’s ecosystem vitality. But SMB-focused competitors cultivating strong partner networks in their segments.

How do Salesforce acquisitions impact competitive dynamics in the CRM space?

Salesforce’s major acquisitions shape competition:

  • Tableau – Bolstered analytics capabilities to compete with Oracle, SAP, Microsoft.
  • Slack – Shifts focus to business communication vs. Microsoft Teams.
  • Mulesoft – Better competes on integration against Microsoft and Oracle.
  • ExactTarget – Gained marketing automation to challenge Adobe, HubSpot, Oracle.
  • Datorama – Increases marketing analytics to counter Adobe Analytics.

Its aggressive M&A strategy counters competitive pressure points across sales, service, marketing, and complements Salesforce’s organic innovation.

What are the most significant differences between Salesforce and the closest 2-3 competitors?

The main differences between Salesforce and top competitors Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP:


  • Salesforce born in cloud. Microsoft transitioning to cloud.
  • Salesforce leads in usability. Microsoft holds edge in customizability.
  • Salesforce pace of innovation faster. Microsoft advantages in legacy systems.


  • Salesforce multi-cloud modules. Oracle broad horizontal cloud platform.
  • Salesforce innovates in CRM/CX. Oracle strengths in back-office apps.
  • Salesforce ecosystem more open. Oracle more proprietary technology.


  • Salesforce sales-oriented culture. SAP engineering and back-office driven.
  • Salesforce nimble and iterative. SAP traditional and enterprise-focused.
  • Salesforce AppExchange partner network. SAP leverages global SIs.

Despite closing capability gaps, fundamental cloud DNA and customer-centric cultural differences remain between Salesforce and legacy competitors.

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