What is the fastest growing CRM for SMBs?

As of last August Zoho claimed to have 20 million users and they were adding 700,000 new users per month and they were hoping to grow that number to 1 million new users per month by the end of 2016. Are these claims credible? Let’s have a look.

Salesforce vs Zoho

Salesforce.com, which was started in 1999, is the clear and undisputed market leader in the CRM software sector. Zoho, started in 2004, is equally clearly the #2 player and overtaking SF quickly, at least in the small and medium business category. I researched a number of websites and found there to be a great deal of propaganda, especially for a few unnamed CRM systems that have “gamed” the search engines. However, I settled on a couple of objective measures that prove this out.

I started with one reasonably objective website, capterra.com, shown below, to start the analysis.  I just used the top 10, BTW:

Source: Capterra.com

Then I ran the supposed “Top” CRM systems through Google Trends, which shows search volume over time.  Results are shown below.



Source: Google Trends

Then, I compiled the results and expressed each CRM brand as a percentage of Salesforce.com.

CRM System Average Search Volume % of Salesforce
Salesforce 41 100%
Zoho 14 34%
ACT! 5 12%
SAP CRM 5 12%
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3 7%
Maximizer CRM 0 0%
Oracle CRM 1 2%
Sugar CRM 3 7%
InfusionSoft 1 2%
Apptivo 0 0%

Next, I compared each company’s Alexa website ranking (Alexa ranks websites globally based on traffic.  The lower the number, the larger the traffic and more important the site)

CRM System Alexa Global Rank
salesforce.com 138
zoho.com 519
act.com 69,468
sap.com NA
Microsoft Dynamics CRM NA
Maximizer CRM 382,654
Oracle CRM NA
Sugar CRM 41,552
InfusionSoft 607
Apptivo 0

NA = results not relevant because the URLs are not for the CRM specifically, i.e. microsoft.com

The Alexa Rank is a strong indicator of overall “importance” and level of traffic of a URL.   The Alexa data clearly supports the Google Trends data, with the one exception of InfusionSoft.  In that case the two data sources conflict pretty clearly but I am going to go with Google’s take on it, which is consistent with my experiences.   The gist of the Alexa data, and the way it supports the Google Trends data is that Salesforce and Zoho are the #1 and #2 systems globally, and they are both growing rapidly.  No other systems even compare.

NOTE:  I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Hubspot.  It was not in the Capterra Top 10, which is puzzling.  Perhaps it is because Hubspot has positioned itself more as a marketing platform than a CRM, but in all truth the differences between CRM and Marketing platforms are disappearing.  Hubspot would be the best #3 solution, and well behind Zoho in both Google Trends and Alexa Global Rank, but it would be the leader of the pack below those 2.

So what is the fastest growing CRM system for small businesses?

It is pretty clear from the above analysis that Salesforce has been both the fastest growing and market leading CRM system on the planet.  However, when it comes to small and medium businesses Salesforce isn’t necessarily the best fit.  The reason is that SMBs generally don’t need the full power of SF, nor are they willing or able to make the investment.  Generally speaking SF is about 3 times as expensive as the next leading system, Zoho.  Implementation costs for SF compared to Zoho will have a comparable relationship.  We have encountered a few SMBs that are happy with their SF product, but for the most part they have found it to be more complicated and more robust than they need.

Zoho has been modeled after Salesforce in many ways.    It is what we call an “ecosystem” of software, or to use Zoho’s catch phrase…Zoho is and “operating system for business”.  It means that Zoho provides up to 100% of what businesses need through their ecosystem of Apps.   Yet it has a “forever free” version and is surpisingly affordable at so many levels.  Many of our SMB customers get by just fine with the Professional version of Zoho, which is $20 per month per user, when paid annually.    This provides them with everything they need and more.  Salesforce starts at $65 per user per month to get similar functionality.

So what is the fastest growing CRM for SMBs?  From our perspective the answer to this question is Zoho.  You can work the math.

If you have any questions feel free to contact us.