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Here are the 5 best Salesforce alternatives and competitors

For years, Salesforce has been an extremely popular and highly sought-after solution for companies that want to improve their sales functions and increase their appeal to customers. Best of all, Salesforce has worked well for companies of all sizes and its cloud-based platform is easy to access across the enterprise.

But Salesforce’s success has also spawned the continued development of a variety of other solutions that similarly promise to improve the sales experience inside an organization. Better yet, some of the solutions are simpler to use than Salesforce, and even sole proprietors or those working in small teams can take advantage of the solutions without being forced to pay hefty prices.

It’s against that backdrop that we’ve compiled a list of the best Salesforce alternatives and competitors for companies of all sizes seeking a bit of change in their sales process. The following solutions have a hefty slate of features, offer rapid cloud-based deployment to ensure business continuity, and don’t have price tags that will leave customers shell-shocked. Read on to learn about the best Salesforce alternatives:

best salesforce alternatives and competitors dynamics

No discussion on Salesforce alternatives can be complete without mentioning Microsoft’s Dynamics 365.

Dynamics 365 actually goes above and beyond a simple CRM. Its Sales portal competes with the likes of Salesforce, but if you sign on to the service, you can also take advantage of its field service features, talent management, artificial intelligence, and much more. If you’re a big, sophisticated company, this is the solution for you. But if you’re a small business, look elsewhere.

On the sales side, Microsoft Dynamics 365 comes with a variety of high-end features, including the ability to enable smart selling with embedded information about buyers. You can set up sales contests in the app and use a variety of engagement tools across LinkedIn and other platforms to connect with buyers. And since Microsoft Dynamics 365 includes artificial intelligence features, you can rely on the platform’s “smart” features to give you hints on targeting buyers.

Inside Microsoft Dynamics 365, you can access a variety of what the company calls “pre-built solutions.” Those included a LinkedIn Sales Navigator for targeting people on the professional social network, as well as a PowerDialer for quickly automating calls. The list of features inside Microsoft Dynamics 365 goes on and on. And in many ways, the experience can be tailored to any organization.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 costs $115 per user per month for the base option (though there is a bare-bones option starting at $40 per user per month). If you want the full plan with all the solutions, you can expect to pay $210 per user per month.

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best salesforce alternatives and competitors freshworks

Freshworks’ Freshsales comes with a tag line that might make Salesforce chuck: “Your sales force needs a better CRM.” Indeed, the company is clearly focused on competing directly with Salesforce.

Freshsales lives in the cloud and gives you the ability to create sales contacts in the system. You can save information about customers, score your leads to see who’s hot or not, and automatically “enrich” listings with social profile information, pictures of people, and more.

The app includes a visual sales pipeline with drag-and-drop navigation to help you get a sense of where prospects are in the sales funnel and a deal age report will tell you how far along in the process you are.

Integrating Freshsales into your website is simple, with web pages that tell you where people are visiting and what they’re doing on the site. You can then segment those visitors and add to your lead scores to see which might constitute “warm” leads. Freshsales even includes a handy conversation history feature for tracking what happened over time in your relationship with customers.

Freshworks Freshsales offers a variety of plans for small teams or big enterprises. The base plan will cost you $12 per user per month. The top-of-the-line enterprise-focused plan for big companies will set you back $79 per month.

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best salesforce alternatives and competitors hubspot

HubSpot is a decidedly different solution than most others in today’s CRM market. The main reason: it’s free.

HubSpot offers a visual view of all of the sales leads in your pipeline and gives you a dashboard where you can see what deals you’re working on at a glance. From that pane, you can sort the deals by their status, the name of your contact, and more.

Better yet, HubSpot CRM integrates into your e-mail, social media, and call platforms and can even sync with Gmail or Outlook to capture every conversation you’ve had and populate your CRM with actionable information.

Additionally, HubSpot’s CRM includes tools for live chatting and team emails and lets you queue up a slew of emails and send them to your prospects at the same time to maximize your response rate.

As discussed, HubSpot’s CRM is free for companies of all sizes. But since it doesn’t come with the same level of high-end features that you might find in some of the paid options in this roundup, it could be a better option for small businesses that want a cost-effective solution for managing sales. 

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best salesforce alternatives and competitors zoho

Zoho has established itself as a company that offers a slew of cloud-based resources for companies that want to improve office productivity. And its Zoho CRM is one of them.

Zoho CRM offers a variety of contact integration to populate the platform with information. When it’s integrated into email, for instance, it offers the opportunity to integrate those emails into contacts and prioritize the sales pipeline. The platform’s live chat feature allows users to interact with visitors and Zoho CRM even integrates into corporate phone systems and social media to capture leads.

Zoho is one of the few companies in the market to use an artificial intelligence platform in its CRM. That platform, called Zia, is an artificially intelligent sales assistant that can take your information and immediately put it where it needs to go. You can simply call or chat with Zia and it will return revenue for the month, the number of new leads you’ve contacted, lead sources, and more.

Throughout Zoho CRM you can access notifications called SalesSignals, and built-in analytics features give you a sense of how successful you’ve been at increasing sales. Best of all, Zoho CRM integrates with a variety of popular services, including G Suite, Office 365, Slack, and LinkedIn, among others.

Zoho CRM is a nicely powerful option that would work well with small and medium-sized businesses. Its base option goes for $12 per user per month and prices jump from there in three other categories. The highest-end plan costs $100 per user per month. 

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best salesforce alternatives and competitors agile

Agile CRM is one of the more popular alternatives to Salesforce for larger companies that need more features and more power. And it integrates sales, marketing, and service to make it a fine solution for companies.

On the sales side, the app is capable of managing all your company’s contacts on a single page. It can track deals you’re working on and it tells you which stage you’re in and the milestones you’ve achieved. Like many of the higher-end solutions in this roundup, Agile CRM offers one-click calling for quickly contacting prospects, and offers both call scripts and voicemail automation.

If you want to schedule appointments with Agile CRM, you can do it from within the app, and you can even handle project management in the service. A “gamification” feature means you can create sales games for your employees to participate in and try to top their colleagues.

Agile CRM can be used as a marketing-automation platform and integrates into both social media and email. It’ll even allow you to send out personalized text messages. And if you have a customer service arm, Agile CRM can be relied upon to handle all helpdesk inquiries, customer service ticketing, and more.

For the first ten users in your company, Agile CRM is free. After that, the company’s pricing ranges from $9 per user per month to up to $48 per user per month for the enterprise-focused option. 

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Looking for more small business solutions? We’ve found VoIP phone services, antivirus software, and accounting software to get you started.

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Black Friday/Cyber Monday Is Coming – and It’s Only the Beginning

Are you a retailer trying to get ready for the 2018 holiday season? Well, I’m afraid I can’t help you.

Just kidding. Sort of.

I could just sit here and share yet another checklist to remind you of all the standard e-commerce table stakes you need to master. Things like load testing, inventory monitoring and management, mobile site optimization, security compliance, paid ads, email drip campaigns, social media campaigns and customer support.

However, what I really want to do is help you get ready for Cyber Monday 2019. And 2020. And 2025. And all the shopping days in between.

Where to begin? Let’s take a long, hard look at your commerce infrastructure.

Big doorbuster sales may be the bread-and-butter strategy for your standard Black Friday weekend, but if you’re looking for long-term success, you’ll need to think beyond new features and promotions. You’ll need to make sure your commerce platform is capable of carrying your storefront into the future, where the world of e-commerce (and commerce in general) moves at a rapid, and accelerating, pace.

Can your commerce platform get you where you need to go? If you suspect the answer is no — don’t panic! Following are four major insights on development, internationalization, channels and data that will help you get ready for the future.

1. Continuous Improvement Allows for Flexibility

Amazon’s dev team deployed new code to production at an average rate of once every 11.6 seconds, Director of Platform Analysis Jon Jenkins revealed at a Velocity Conference talk in 2011. What does this mean in layperson’s terms? It means that the folks at Amazon continually have been building new functionality, updating existing features, A/B testing, and fixing bugs to gradually improve their product and overall customer experience. That’s why they have such phenomenal business results.

If you’re looking to get ready for the future, you’ll want to make sure your org supports this technology-first approach to development. By merging small amounts of code frequently, continuous integration allows dev teams to write better code, be more productive, ship faster, and respond to customer experience requests quickly.

Through continuous deployment (or to a slightly lesser extent, continuous delivery), teams then can automate building, testing and deploying so that software continues to be released in short cycles, allowing for incremental updates.

Smaller, frequent updates offer flexibility, but they also offer the opportunity to build toward a big update without having to shut your entire site down. I recently got an email from a major retailer saying, “…we are about to code freeze for November.”

If your site is on code lockdown for two months before the holidays (that’s 16 percent of the entire year, by the way) because you don’t feel confident that your infrastructure and software can handle changes without crashing, you are falling farther behind every day. The Amazon Effect is real.

2. Tap Into New Markets by Going International

Optimizing your site for international markets means more than simply using a currency converter, or setting up international shipping options. It means personalizing your e-commerce content, defining your targeted products, and tailoring your sales strategy to specific regional markets.

If you’re a clothing retailer looking to tap into new markets, you’ll want to be strategic about the types of merchandise you market to consumers. Different types of messaging resonate with different kinds of people living in different places. Is a casual register more appropriate, or should the voice stick to being formal?

Likewise, a shopper in a sunny suburb in the U.S. has entirely different needs from a shopper living in a rainy city in the UK. It’s not just about localization. Internationalization requires considering new promotions that resonate with new markets, like Singles Day in China. It also means accommodating shoppers in countries who primarily browse on their mobile devices, or in offline mode.

With new markets come new sales strategies. You’ll want to make sure your commerce platform can accommodate different exchange rates and taxes (e.g. value added tax), and you’ll also want to be flexible with how your reporting interprets conversion. As for shipping, you’ll want to set up the proper rules for international shipping so that shoppers don’t get blindsided by high shipping costs.

E-commerce is commerce, and commerce is global. If you can’t accommodate, respect and support the needs of your international neighbors, your conversion rates will suffer. Amazon gets this. Fortunately, there are commerce platforms out there with the technology to support internationalization. For retailers looking past the next big hit or sale, it’s worth checking out.

3. Omnichannel Reflects How Shoppers Actually Buy

It’s a bit of a buzzword now, but there’s a reason why omnichannel is so widely discussed in commerce. Savvy shoppers no longer make their purchases through one point of sale alone. Now, the customer journey may consist of several touchpoints, which may begin in-store, continue to a marketplace site accessed on a mobile app, and finally end on a desktop computer.

That’s why it’s essential for retailers to offer as seamless an experience as possible for shoppers, so that they can experience the best of the brand consistently as they continue down the channel stream.

Unfortunately, the troubling reality is that many retailers struggle with offering this seamless experience. That’s often because there’s no single source of truth for their data — not for inventory, not for customer data, not for traffic, user experience or marketing metrics.

Imagine running an online storefront that doesn’t share data with its Amazon marketplace storefront, its brick-and-mortar locations, or anything else. If the online storefront inventory runs out of shirts on Cyber Monday, that site isn’t selling more shirts. Meanwhile, in the backroom of a physical store five miles away, hundreds of shirts sit there, in stock, ready to be shipped.

Omnichannel requires customization. It requires a flexible infrastructure that won’t break when you try to launch a new loyalty program, a mobile POS, or a new fulfillment option like in-store pickup. In return, it provides retailers with a holistic view of data across channels. Imagine how nice it would be to have a centralized place to monitor and manage every order, shipment and conversion.

4. Real-Time Data Is Everything

I’m just going to put it bluntly: If your data isn’t connected in real time to what’s happening with your store, you’re flying blind.

When it comes to big shopping events like Cyber Monday, there’s no time to lose. With the major influx of traffic, sales and support inquiries, you’ll need to be on top of things as they come, second-by-second. Even relatively straightforward functions like inventory management can be hopelessly bungled if you have to wait for your system to generate an overnight cron job just to know what’s in stock.

Through algorithmic real-time data, retailers immediately can spot trends as the promotion carries on. They can use those trends to predict behavior and make timely decisions to provide a greater shopper experience, resulting in greater conversion.

Is one product type converting poorly compared to other products? Play with pricing. Is it receiving zero conversions? There may be a problem with its checkout CTA. This type of instantaneous dialogue simply would not be possible in a static model.

So how can retailers employ real-time data? Again, it all goes back to infrastructure. You’ll want to make sure your infrastructure is event-driven and has the ability to retain and analyze data. Consider looking into NoSQL databases like MongoDB, which account for many types of data schemas in real time.

In conclusion, do what you need to do to get through this holiday season, of course. Check off all those essential table-stakes items. Batten down the hatches! Once you’ve recovered from the frenzy of this year’s short-term promotions, though, it’s time to think about your long-term goals.

Rethink your development process. Make sure it’s flexible and allows for continuous improvement. Tap into new international markets. Reflect how shoppers actually buy, then establish a single source of truth for data. Last but not least, always maintain a real-time dialogue with your customers.

I hope this holiday season is successful beyond your wildest dreams. I also hope that when the rush is over, you’ll take a deep breath, reflect on how it all went, and ask yourself: Can this commerce infrastructure get us to where the market will be next year? Five years from now? Ten? If you don’t like the direction you’re headed, the best time to begin the process of making a course correction is now.


Sara Hicks is cofounder and CEO of
Reaction Commerce, the fastest-growing open source commerce management platform used by modern retailers.

Jane.VC, a new fund for female entrepreneurs, wants founders to cold email them

Want to pitch a venture capitalist? You’ll need a “warm introduction” first. At least that’s what most in the business will advise.

Find a person, typically a man, who made the VC you’re interested in pitching a whole bunch of money at some point and have them introduce you. Why? Because VCs love people who’ve made them money; naturally, they’ll be willing to hear you out if you’ve got at least one money maker on your side.

There’s a big problem with that cycle. Not all entrepreneurs are friendly with millionaires and not all entrepreneurs, especially those based outside Silicon Valley or from underrepresented backgrounds, have anyone in their network to provide them that coveted intro.

Jane.VC, a new venture fund based out of Cleveland and London wants entrepreneurs to cold email them. Send them your pitch, no wealthy or successful intermediary necessary. The fund, which has so far raised $2 million to invest between $25,000 and $150,000 in early-stage female-founded companies across industries, is scrapping the opaque, inaccessible model of VC that’s been less than favorable toward women.

“We like to say that Jane.VC is venture for every woman,” the firm’s co-founder Jennifer Neundorfer told TechCrunch.

Neundorfer, who previously founded and led an accelerator for Midwest startups called Flashstarts after stints at 21st Century Fox and YouTube, partnered with her former Stanford business school classmate Maren Bannon, the former chief executive officer and co-founder of LittleLane. So far, they’ve backed insurtech company Proformex and Hatch Apps, an enterprise software startup that makes it easier for companies to create and distribute mobile and web apps.

“We are going to shoot them straight”

Jane.VC, like many members of the next generation of venture capital funds, is bucking the idea that the best founders can only be found in Silicon Valley. Instead, the firm is going global and operating under the philosophy that a system of radical transparency and honesty will pay off.

“Let’s be efficient with an entrepreneur’s time and say no if it’s not a hit,” Neundorfer said. “I’ve been on the opposite end of that coaching. So many entrepreneurs think a VC is interested and they aren’t. An entrepreneur’s time is so valuable and we want to protect that. We are going to shoot them straight.”

Though Jane.VC plans to invest across the globe, the firm isn’t turning its back on Bay Area founders. Neundorfer and Bannon will leverage their Silicon Valley network and work with an investment committee of nine women based throughout the U.S. to source deals. 

“We are women that have raised money and have been through the ups and downs of raising money in what is a very male-dominated world,” Neundorfer added. “We believe that investing in women is not only the right thing to do but that you can make a lot of money doing it.”

Some major Facebook investors want to oust Zuckerberg after scandals

mark zuckerberg testimony header
Bill Clark/Getty Images

After a rocky year of privacy scandals, several major Facebook investors are calling for Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to be removed from his role as chairman on the board. On Wednesday, October 18, the state treasurers of Illinois, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania along with the New York City Comptroller filed a proposal asking the board to make the Board Chair position independent from the company’s CEO. The four representatives of public funds with shares in Facebook joined a proposal filed by investment firm Trillium Asset Management earlier this summer.

Zuckerberg serves as both the CEO and the chairman for Facebook — the proposal points to the latter position, requesting the board make the chairman position independent from the company’s CEO role. The group says that making this change would not only be in the best interest of shareholders, but of employees, Facebook users, and U.S. democracy in general.

The proposal cites several recent controversies that have embroiled Facebook, including the Cambridge Analytica data-selling scandal and Russian interference in the U.S. elections. The list also charges Facebook with partial culpability for the violence in Myanmar, India, and South Sudan as well as allowing advertisers to exclude minorities, and spreading fake news.

Since the Cambridge Analytica imbroglio, Facebook’s share price have dropped and growth has slowed. The proposal was filed by Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, Rhode Island State Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Pennsylvania Treasurer Jo Torsella, and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

“Boards of directors should be a check on management teams, not a tool of them, and an independent Chair is essential to achieving that result,” Torsella said in a statement. “That’s why I’m joining this effort, so that we can stand up for investors, and against the unchecked corporate power of Mr. Zuckerberg and the threat he currently represents to shareholder value.”

The group points out other major tech companies that have the chairman position separate from the role of CEO, including Twitter, Google, Microsoft, and Apple. The proposal suggests the change would help the company take a broader view.

The proposal isn’t the first attempt to remove the founder from his position on the board — a similar move was proposed last year. While this is a repeat request, the proposal isn’t likely to oust Zuckerberg. The CEO has about 60 percent of the voting rights on the board, according to Reuters.

Last month, Instagram’s co-founders resigned from the social media giant that also owns Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp.

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Some major Facebook investors want to oust Zuckerberg as chairman after scandals

social media mark zucerberg with american flags
Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

After a rocky year of privacy scandals, several major Facebook investors are calling for Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to be removed from his role as chairman on the board. On Wednesday, October 18, the state treasurers of Illinois, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania along with the New York City Comptroller filed a proposal asking the board to make the Board Chair position independent from the company’s CEO. The four representatives of public funds with shares in Facebook joined a proposal filed by investment firm Trillium Asset Management earlier this summer.

Zuckerberg serves as both the CEO and the chairman for Facebook — the proposal points to the latter position, requesting the board make the chairman position independent from the company’s CEO role. The group says that making this change would not only be in the best interest of shareholders, but of employees, Facebook users, and U.S. democracy in general.

The proposal cites several recent controversies that have embroiled Facebook, including the Cambridge Analytica data-selling scandal and Russian interference in the U.S. elections. The list also charges Facebook with partial culpability for the violence in Myanmar, India, and South Sudan as well as allowing advertisers to exclude minorities, and spreading fake news.

Since the Cambridge Analytica imbroglio, Facebook’s share price have dropped and growth has slowed. The proposal was filed by Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, Rhode Island State Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Pennsylvania Treasurer Jo Torsella, and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

“Boards of directors should be a check on management teams, not a tool of them, and an independent Chair is essential to achieving that result,” Torsella said in a statement. “That’s why I’m joining this effort, so that we can stand up for investors, and against the unchecked corporate power of Mr. Zuckerberg and the threat he currently represents to shareholder value.”

The group points out other major tech companies that have the chairman position separate from the role of CEO, including Twitter, Google, Microsoft, and Apple. The proposal suggests the change would help the company take a broader view.

The proposal isn’t the first attempt to remove the founder from his position on the board — a similar move was proposed last year. While this is a repeat request, the proposal isn’t likely to oust Zuckerberg. The CEO has about 60 percent of the voting rights on the board, according to Reuters.

Last month, Instagram’s co-founders resigned from the social media giant that also owns Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp.

Editors’ Recommendations