Think about your go-to sweater or hoodie. You know the one. It’s comfortable, broken-in and does what you need it to do. Sure, you’ve had it awhile and it’s not the flashiest or most stylish, but it’s okay – even when the zipper sticks.
We get it. We all like what’s familiar; it’s human nature. But sometimes, what we hang onto isn’t the best fit. And this applies to more than sweatshirts. Let’s talk about Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms. What are you using to grow your business and, more importantly, is it still a good fit?
One platform we’ve been hearing about from clients lately is Zoho. Both HubSpot and Zoho are cloud-based platforms that offer myriad features to help boost your business, organize and streamline your data and automate processes – all assets to your front office teams. Both offer sales and marketing automation, customer support and help desk management tools, product configuration, reporting and customer analytics.
But the differences between Zoho vs HubSpot become apparent when you take a close look at things like UX, ease of implementation, flexible capabilities, ongoing support and maintenance needs. Those factors prompted some organizations to search for a better fit, despite their familiarity with Zoho.
When it’s time to graduate from the outgrown, well-worn CRM, we recommend making the switch from Zoho to HubSpot. To back up our argument, let’s compare the two in terms of their capabilities, costs and value using seven parameters.
1. HubSpot’s Great UX
HubSpot prides itself on being an intuitive, easy-to-navigate user experience right out of the box for everyone from admins to sales reps to managers. In fact, HubSpot is consistently ranked as the most user-friendly CRM and B2B software by PC Mag.
But what if you’re comfortable with Zoho, even if you find it limited or difficult to use? You’re right that many adults find changing to a new software system challenging. In fact, several studies (Merkle Group, Redspire and CSO Insights) have indicated user adoption is the number one barrier to successfully using a CRM to accelerate growth.
For those who fear change, there’s good news: sales rep adoption is often cited as a key benefit among HubSpot users. That’s likely due to HubSpot’s approach to customer support, which places the success of their customers at the heart of their business – and that begins with the onboarding experience, HubSpot Academy, and their core in-house (instead of outsourced) Customer Success team. Since the software is easy to deploy and use, customers see quick adoption among their staff, as illustrated below for Marketing, Sales and Service Hub. There are also HubSpot Solutions Partners (like us!) who can help further improve onboarding and adoption.
Zoho does not provide the same quality of onboarding support to its customers. Getting started resources include help docs, videos, an online guide, glossary, eBooks, and webinars. Many outside companies offer onboarding services – for a fee. Since Zoho doesn’t have the vast network of partners that HubSpot has, good Zoho implementation specialists can be difficult to find.
2. One-Stop Shop: An All-in-One Platform
Zoho’s slew of products have largely been developed in-house, but many combinations of their offerings require additional connections or integrations to sync with even their own products. For instance, if you want to add Zoho Desk and Marketing to their CRM, you must establish synchronization rules and connect just like you would for a third-party.
The many separate tools (CRM, Mail, Desk, Assist, Books, Analytics, Campaigns, Social, etc.) are indeed all unified under the Zoho brand, but their underlying framework is disparate. That leaves you – and your data – with a confusing, fragmented experience where the various tools seem like add-ons, instead of part of a seamless system. This can slow your team down, increase friction and reduce your ability to create exceptional customer experiences.
Since HubSpot built their CRM platform and supporting Sales, Marketing, Content Management, Operations & Service Hubs from the ground up, users have a consistent, continuous, unified user experience. Your data, reporting, and a host of individual tools work seamlessly with one another because they are all driven by the same database. Everyone in your organization — Marketing Sales, Service, and Operations — is working off the same system. This enables smoother handoff between teams and less friction (and more delight!) for your customers.
3. Superior Integrations & Alignment
There’s nothing more frustrating than having all the data you need to see a clear picture of your sales funnel but no way to connect the dots to see all the pertinent details about a deal, contact or company or your sales processes in one place. If inventory information is housed in one platform and sales efforts logged elsewhere, you only get part of the story. How can you connect those dots without cobbling it together in some unwieldy format? Integrations.
With carefully-crafted products and a robust ecosystem of integrations, HubSpot works to align your data, channels, and teams around a single source of truth – no more data siloes and far more reporting capabilities.
No matter who or what your contacts interact with, every engagement (website visit, email open, form submission, call from sales or meeting) is synced and logged to their timeline. At a glance, your whole team has a clear understanding of this person, not just the persona they’ve been assigned. When they have access to this data, your team can create a more personalized and outstanding customer experience.
4. HubSpot’s Easily Customizable & Scalable
One of the best things about HubSpot is its ability to grow right along with your business. It’s easily customizable right out of the box and as you scale up your operations, without adding another layer of complexity. HubSpot doesn’t sacrifice capability for usability. For example, if you switch up your strategy, you don’t have to worry about switching up your CRM. Your organization can remain agile as you scale and make changes to your processes.
If your data doesn’t fit into the standard contact, company or deal objects, you can easily create a custom object that behaves and can be used in the same manner as standard objects.
There’s no need for months of (costly) custom development work because HubSpot offers custom objects beyond the standard contacts, companies, tickets, etc. This means instead of simply logging and storing that data, you can have it work for you.
Gartner reviewers give Zoho CRM lower ratings across the board and noted specific challenges when it comes to integration and deployment. Even with in-house development, Zoho has been slower to innovate on features that would mitigate pain points like immediate data connectivity between applications. While they offer an extensive suite of products to help customize your tech stack, each one brings the potential for more friction – which means more time spent on basic configuration that may keep you from optimizing your processes.
5. HubSpot’s Part of a Greater, Supportive Ecosystem
With a network of over 1,000 integrations and thousands of certified solutions partners, HubSpot gives you what you need as well as the options and support you want. We don’t want you to have to figure it all out on your own, and with such an expansive network, you certainly don’t have to. You’ll have the tools and connections to create and provide an exceptional customer experience from start to finish.
Another area where HubSpot shines is support. From day one, they are invested in your success. Support services are available to all customers, with phone and email support (at no extra cost) for Pro and Enterprise customers.
Besides tech support, HubSpot Academy offers a wide array of fantastic lessons that cover everything from CRM and inbound basics to using all the platform features to drive business growth. The video courses include quizzes and if you want to become certified in various areas, exams. A few of the certifications require practical exercises as well, which is a great way to ensure users truly grasp the material and can put it to use.
HubSpot users also have the benefit of the HubSpot Community – other users, in the trenches, just like you! Many of the questions users have about the platform have come up before and they are cataloged in an easy-to-search forum. Further, HubSpot takes the questions and requests posted there as cues to improve the platform. Countless features and improvements have sprung from this fabulous forum.
Zoho’s cost is attractive to many potential users, but there are hidden costs when it comes to support. Zoho doesn’t appear to have the capacity to service all their customers, all the time. Their customers are required to pay an additional 20-25% of their annual contract for any support outside of normal business hours. This means they need to pay more for a feature that is vital to smooth operation of the product, and their costs will increase as business scales.
Waiting to hear back from tech support when you need to get moving on a project is frustrating and inefficient.
6. More for Your Money with HubSpot
Let’s talk more about costs. To help you understand the difference in total cost of users and how many you can have between Zoho and HubSpot, let’s break it down in this chart from HubSpot.
You can see the difference in the initial costs outlined above, with HubSpot coming in slightly lower than Zoho.
Both HubSpot and Zoho offer free plans, and they’re great for giving the platforms a try. You can get a feel for the interface, capabilities and UX. Even in the free version, HubSpot gives your entire organization visibility into the rich data housed in HubSpot, to help teams work smarter and deliver a more cohesive customer experience – free.
Further, HubSpot can often replace one or more tools in your tech stack. And possibly the nicest part: it grows with your business. Start out with the free CRM and scale up to additional features – that work the same way, so you don’t have to learn a new platform.
7. HubSpot’s Value
Zoho is affordable and offers basic CRM capabilities. But HubSpot’s value lies in its flexibility when it comes to capabilities, customization, levels of support and pricing options. The combination of those factors mean HubSpot’s power can be realized – and put to work – faster.
Zoho offers a limited number of seats, even with their paid plans. HubSpot offers unlimited free user access to reporting, results and more. Paid seats are required for certain features, but all users have free access to the basics.
HubSpot also places value on how you use your contacts. You only pay for the contacts you market to using email or ads, and you have access to free storage for up to 15 million non-marketing contacts. Zoho limits your account to 5 million records for organizations with less than 200 users. Additional storage needs mean additional fees.
What about ROI? Customers who use HubSpot experience faster growth. Using data from more than 158K HubSpot users, they saw marked increases in KPIs in the first 12 months after purchase.
The true value in a CRM, though, is how it works for your business. Does it help or hinder your efforts to provide a stellar customer experience? Is it easy to use or clunky? Are you constantly having to work around the way the platform works, or is it custom-tailored to your processes? By choosing HubSpot, you’re getting a growth platform equipped with superior capabilities, cost and value.
Are you considering making the switch from Zoho to HubSpot? We’d be happy to have a conversation about your needs as you grow your business. Get in touch with us today!
Christine is a Marketing Technologist at Simple Machines Marketing. She has a background in marketing, sales & journalism – and likes to blend them together to help clients expand their business. Outside of work, you'll find Christine whipping things up in the kitchen, hanging with family & friends or exploring all the fabulous things Minneapolis has to offer.