If you own a business, you probably have a lot on your plate already. Luckily, CRM doesn't have to be another one of your headaches. Whether you need something small to take care of your SMB needs or whether you need something more versatile to keep up with your plans for scaling your company, there are plenty of CRM options out there to choose from.

Two in particular are industry leaders that are worth checking out: Zoho and Salesforce.com. They each offer an impressive set of tools that accommodate businesses of all sizes and scopes, but they also have some basic differences that establish themselves as unique players in the industry. To help you figure out what's best for you, we'll take a look at what each product offers you and what spending $25 per month can get you with each.

Pricing zoho logo salesforce logo
Monthly Zoho Professional costs $20/user/month. Sales Cloud Group costs $25/user/month.
Free Trial Try it free for 15 days—no credit card required. Try it free for 14 days—no credit card required.
Max # of Users No user limit. The Group plan allows for up to 5 users.

Zoho takes the crown here in all 3 areas we looked at. While they don't offer a strict $25/user/month plan like Saleforce does, their Professional plan is the closest one with regards to pricing. They offer an extra day in their free trial and don't have a hard cap for users you can have in your plan. Salesforce is no slouch in its own right, but your wallet will feel better if you pick Zoho.

Verdict: Zoho wins. 

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Core Features zoho logo salesforce logo
Data Storage Unlimited data for the organization. 1GB of data per organization; additional storage can be purchased.
File Storage 1 GB per organization; additional storage is $4/mo/5GB. 11GB of shared storage for all users in the organization.
Email Templates
Mass Emails  500 emails/day
Campaigns
Leads
Accounts
Contacts
Document Attachments
Content Library
Task Tracking
Web-to-lead Capture
Standard Dashboards
Customizable Dashboards
Standard Reports
Custom Reports
Order Management
Role Permissions
Territory Management

Let's get this out of the way before we break this category: Zoho and Salesforce are both really good at what they do. But in terms of getting the most bang for your buck, there is one clear winner here, and that's Zoho.

Salesforce's Sales Cloud Group plan is dwarfed by its own Professional and Enterprise brethren, both of which are priced much higher. So, while Salesforce does offer all of the core features listed on this chart, they choose to leave out a lot of these features on its Group plan. Unfortunately, what you're left with on the Sales Cloud Group plan pales in comparison to what Zoho Professional packs. And it sure packs a whallop.

One of the most impressive things Zoho Professional boasts is that you get more than just standard dashboards and reports. You can customize and filter pretty much anything to fit your business needs and expectations. So, whether you're just getting off the ground or you're an established force in your industry, you can tailor Zoho Professional to target the customer base you plan on targeting. Along with customizability, Zoho Professional also allows for mass emails and campaigns. Granted, these aren't critical features for smaller business with a limited reach. But it's assuring to know that you could do more when you ever choose to scale your company and reach out to larger targeted audiences.

So, you're getting more for your money—and spending $5 less per user per month—with Zoho Professional. And it's not even close here.

Verdict: Zoho wins. 

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Mobile Access:

There are a few things that become glaringly apparent as you work with both products on mobile devices.

First of all, they each seem to be leveraging mobile platforms for different reasons. While both products have dedicated iPhone, iPad, and Android apps, Zoho's app is a living, breathing entity of its own. Its traditional online/desktop interface and mobile interface work distinctly different but handle your workflow the same way. If anything, Zoho's app adds a ripple or two to its desktop variant. So, if you want to search, view, and edit records, feel free to do that on the mobile app just like you normally would on the web. But feel free to also make and log phone calls directly from the app. Essentially, the app functions as a helpful addition to the desktop version.

On the other hand, Salesforce's mobile apps highlight what their greatest strength is: their desktop version. Salesforce's app is designed well and there's clearly a lot of attention that's been paid to every last detail, but it still feels like there's just something… missing. For starters, the app is slow when compared to Zoho's. It opens slower, runs slower, and customizability is a chore. While on Zoho's app, creating/modifying records and changing lead owners and assignments can get done with a few swipes and clicks. On Salesforce's app, these features are either clunky to get to or—as in the case of it lead permission controls—is nonexistent.

This isn't to say that Zoho's app is every bit better than Salesforce's. Zoho has noticeable sync issues, for example, and that has to be a concern when you're finishing up a task on your computer and then switch to your phone as you head out on the road. Zoho's app isn't flawless, but expect a slightly less steep learning curve when handling it as opposed to the Salesforce's.

Verdict: This is closer than it seems, but Zoho wins.

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Final Thoughts:

For all of their differences, there do happen to be a couple of areas where both products converge with regards to execution.

First of all, they both offer Google Apps integration, which is a big deal for companies that rely on Google products for their everyday business needs. Neither Zoho nor Salesforce blows the other out of the water here, though. On their web apps, the integrations work like you'd expect them to; calendars, tasks, and contacts can be exported to Google and everything syncs like it should.

Secondly, their web apps are about as good as it gets. Let's face it. Both companies have been around for long enough to know that their core strength lies in how well they can cater to businesses from their central web interface. Both Zoho and Salesforce understand this and it translates in the sleekness of their web platforms. So, if you're at your laptop or desktop, and you need to take a look at those leads and the tasks that are left up to you to complete, either product's web interface can get you to your destination. Of course, we've covered the core features that'll make your experience with both products differ wildly, but with regards to just the product's web interface, neither one is going to leave you scratching your head. They both do this well.

If you have the money to spend and can cough up upwards of $25/user/month on CRM software, the parameters of this comparison would change dramatically. Salesforce has long been a virtually unparalleled juggernaut in the field of CRM and handling day-to-day functions for businesses of all sizes. But for just $25/user/month, Zoho not only keeps up with Salesforce; it soars past it. It's a little cheaper, you get more storage space, more customizability, more core features, and you get a better mobile experience.

You can't go wrong with either product, but there's only one clear winner here.

The Verdict: Zoho Professional gives you more bang for the buck than Sales Cloud Group does.