Salesforce Alternative for Small Business

crm-statisticsSalesforce is not only the most well-known CRM solution, they are also the pioneers of cloud-based software service (SaaS). However, that doesn’t mean they are ideal for every business. Infact, Salesforce could be a poor choice for your small business.

Why Salesforce is not a good fit for small businesses
Salesforce’s revenue was initially driven by small and medium size businesses, but after their IPO the focus has shifted to larger enterprises. According to Mintigo research:

74% of companies who use have annual revenue between $1M and $50M.

Mintigo Research

Because Salesforce is focussed on “Enterprise” customers, their software is loaded with gazillion features, customization options and complex workflows, while in reality more than of 70% of CRM users would give up the extra features to implement an easy-to-use CRM solution.

No product or service is suitable for customers of all sizes (one size does NOT fit all).

TeamWave has been built from scratch by a small business (digital agency) for small businesses around the world. We have first hand experience of the issues & pain-points of small businesses.

More than a decade’s experience of running a small business has gone into conceptualisation and engineering of TeamWave.

Why Salesforce cannot deliver desired value and how TeamWave is a good Salesforce alternative for small businesses.

1. Ease of Use

Products evolve with time and in case of Salesforce, their focus on larger companies has resulted in complex workflows and features that are more in line with enterprise requirements.

  • Customisation

CRM customization is important for businesses – it helps a company align the CRM system with own processes and extend the functionality. With Salesforce you’ll get a lot of customization options, but they are also cumbersome and time consuming.

Let’s take an example:

The out-of-the-box solution given by Salesforce offers a generic sales pipeline with five sales stages. If you intend to customize it, here are the steps to edit the stages:

Salesforce Settings Page
    1. Open up the settings page
    2. Click on ‘setup home’
    3. Choose objects and fields
    4. Select object manager
    5. Scroll down and locate ‘Opportunity’
    6. In the ‘Field Relationship’ click on ‘view all’
    7. Scroll down and click on ‘next’ to view the remaining stage fields
    8. Click on ‘Stage’
    9. Scroll down and edit the stages

For someone new to Salesforce, it can be very difficult to navigate through multiple options. Note that here I’ve only discussed about something as simple as editing a stage; managing different pipelines is a whole new ball game. If you end up hiring a Salesforce consultant to do the customizations, be ready to shell out around $200 per hour of work.




In TeamWave you can edit the sales stages with two clicks: click on settings and click on the stage which you wish to edit.

TeamWave Settings Page
  • Third party integration

You may need integration with third party software. Salesforce has a business app marketplace where you can find software integrations to enhance the functionality of CRM solution. But, there are couple of issues:

  • These integrations have been developed by other software vendors – which means if something breaks down, Salesforce is not responsible
  • Sometimes you’ll have to pay for the integration
  • You need to go through the reviews before a installing a particular integration and one more layer of software evaluation will be time consuming

In case of TeamWave, all integrations are built by our engineers and native to our platform. You can activate the integrations right from the app (no concept of app marketplace here).

  • Reporting

As a small business owner, time is the most precious resource. You need reporting capability that provides actionable insights quickly and helps you drive sales. While reporting in Salesforce can be very granular, it can also take a lot of time to generate reports. You’ll have to go through the following:

  • Select one out of the 10 categories of reports – Accounts & Contacts, Opportunities, Leads, Campaigns, Activities, etc. There is also an option to select subcategories.
  • Drag the reporting fields to the preview area
  • Save and run the report
  • Add chart

TeamWave reporting comes with essential pre-built reports, so you spend time in gathering actionable insights instead of configuring & creating reports. These reports have three broad categories:

  • Sales performance
  • Pipeline performance
  • Activity effort
TeamWave Reports Page

Questions that can be answered with a few clicks:

  • What is the conversion rate of the deals present in different sales stages?
  • Who has maximum deal conversion rate in a particular time period?
  • From which sales stage are we losing most number of deals?
  • In terms of deal value or number, who has contributed the most to the sales pipeline?
  • Which sales rep is completing maximum number of sales activities?
  • Training and Learning curve

Salesforce is a complex product that has a significant learning curve. Training your sales reps to use this software would cost you additional time and money. Also, regardless of the expertise, it takes long time to fully implement the solution. TeamWave is intuitive, simple and straightforward; you’ll be up and running in 15 minutes but don’t take our word for it. Here’s what our customers are saying:

Customer Testimonial

2. Pricing

Salesforce is expensive for small businesses. It starts from $25/user/month and goes up to $300/user/month.

  • You will be locked in for a year, as there is no monthly subscription
  • The plans restrict the type of feature you can use and the number of users you can collaborate with
Salesforce Pricing

TeamWave has a straightforward pricing – $3/user/month. If you go for annual subscription, the pricing is $2/user/month. Moreover all the plans get all the features and apps – absolutely no restriction.

TeamWave Pricing

Here is the cost comparison for a company with 10 employees:


3. Customer Support

At this time, Salesforce has more than 1,50,000 customers and that makes it very difficult for them provide timely & personalised service to all types customers. Therefore, they’ve created different plans for customer support and issue resolution. According to your support plan, your issue will be prioritized – enterprise/large customers pay more, so they get more attention and enjoy the privileges associated with a key account.

At TeamWave, we’re just a chat window away (thanks to Intercom)! Buzz us whenever you’re in need some clarification or facing difficulty. You can also log support ticket, browse our knowledge base and watch video tutorials. 

TeamWave Support via Intercom

4. Application Suite

TeamWave is an integrated suite of business apps, which means you get Project Management, HR and CRM apps. Here are the two benefits:

  • You can copy important files (example: requirement document) from the deal to projects with a few clicks. Can be quite useful when you start delivering after winning a deal.
  • In the HR app, if you add someone as the reporting manager of a sales rep, then the reporting manager will be automatically added as a deal follower whenever the sales rep adds a new deal. This fosters collaboration and helps in progress tracking.

Salesforce doesn’t offer Project and HR management app. You’d need to integrate third party apps in the app marketplace to get this done. You’ll end up bearing additional cost and spending more time!

Bottom Line

Primarily small businesses just need a CRM system to track the progress of deals in a sales pipeline, manage contacts, schedule sales activities and keep a note of the conversation. TeamWave offers all these basic tools for a fraction of the price one would pay to Salesforce, and considering that it is easy-to-use, businesses will save substantial time while setting up the app and training sales reps.

If you need advanced features like sales automation, complex third party integration (via API), TeamWave offers that as well, along with Project Management and HR management.



Why Small Businesses are LEAVING Salesforce

Salesforce pioneered the idea of delivering cloud-based SaaS to businesses for a monthly/annual subscription fee. They were wildly successful in disrupting the on-premise CRM software market. Salesforce allowed customers to get started within days … large multi year implementation projects with upfront licensing fees became a thing of past.

The reason for their success: They offered a solution that was relatively simple (to implement & use), affordable and convenient. Infact in 2004, Salesforce claimed that they derived a significant portion of [their] revenue from small businesses.

So, Why Are Small Businesses Falling Out of Love with Salesforce?

Sometimes, growing SaaS companies change their focus to enterprise/large customers. Small business customers are no longer a priority for Salesforce because the revenue per account is significantly less. Check Tomasz Tunguz’s The Innovator’s Dilemma For SaaS Startups

“Early on, the SMB customers finance a startup’s growth and enable the startup to build a broader product over time that eventually becomes more attractive to enterprises. At some point, the startup pursues the enterprise market to continue to achieve high growth rates with decreased customer churn.”

Here is data we found from the annual reports and wikinvest:

Year Number of Customers Revenue (Million $) Average Selling Price Per Customer ($)
2005 13900 176 12662
2006 20500 309 15073
2007 29800 497 16678
2008 41000 748 18244
2009 55400 1008 18195
2010 72000 1310 18194
2011 92000 1660 18043
2012 100000 2270 22700
2015 150000 5370 35800

*Salesforce didn’t reveal the number of customers in 2013 and 2014.

Here is a graph representation of this data:

Salesforce Average Sales Price

So what exactly changed between 2011 and 2015? As per Mintigo research –

74% of companies who use have annual revenue between $1M and $50M.

Mintigo Research

Salesforce is focused on closing larger deals instead of large number of deals. Post-IPO, in order to sustain growth they have chosen go after large enterprise customers.

It is impossible to build a product (or deliver a service) that is great for customers of all sizes. You Can’t Be Everything To Everyone.

Here are some reasons why Salesforce can neither deliver a great experience nor the desired outcome to small and medium businesses:

1. Complexity

As a product grows, the number of features increase and workflows become more complex. Requirements of a large enterprise is very different than that of a small business. Abundance of features and the degree of customization simply become overwhelming for a small business user. It is not feasible (or desirable) for a small business to hire external consultants for setting up the CRM system and making subsequent changes in the future.

2. UI/UX

Salesforce was the first to “cloud” solution, but with time they have not been able to keep up with modern UI standards, intuitive and the overall user experience have become out-dated. For example: when you log in to Salesforce, you’re greeted with the following screen:

Salesforce Home

Full of white space (unused screen) and you need to scroll down to the bottom to find out your CRM tasks.

Modern SaaS solutions have delightful & intuitive UX. For example check TeamWave. This is what you see when you login to CRM.

TeamWave cRM

Just some of the CRM-related things you can do easily:

  • Check progress of each deal/opportunity in a nice visual sales pipeline
  • Add and move deals from one stage to another
  • Mark them as won/lost
  • Schedule deal activities
  • Select different sales pipelines
  • Figure out cumulative deal worth in each stage of the pipeline
  • Find out the rotten deals (no activity for specific number of days)
  • Toggle between list view and time line view of deals
  • Filter deals via tags, deal ownership and deal state (open, won, lost, rotten)
  • Quickly connect with support via in-app messenger

3. Pricing

with Salesforce, a small business might choose the lowest pricing to start off, but as you dig deep into the software, you’ll realize that your CRM strategy has fallen prey to restrictive pricing. It means, at that pricing you can’t use some of the important features (example: API access) to integrate CRM with your company’s workflow. Removal of critical features from the base plan forces companies to move to higher plan and they end up playing 2x or 3x.

4. Friction in Adoption

There is a significant learning curve associated with Salesforce and SMEs need to spend  time & money to get things rolling. Software Complexity is the biggest inhibitor of adoption in a small business, most sales people don’t enjoy using software that overwhelms them. Time & money are important resources for companies of all sizes … for SMEs they are CRITICAL.

5. Support

It’s very difficult for a company of the size of Salesforce (with more than 3M users) to provide timely & personalised solution to all the customer issues. That’s how prioritization comes into play. Because enterprise/large customers pay more, they get more attention and enjoy the privileges associated with a key account.

6. Reporting

The reports generated via Salesforce are highly customizable. The problem is, this makes reporting a time consuming and cumbersome process. Small businesses have to spend lot of their time or hire expensive consultants to implement custom reporting. Example: For something as simple as a chart for “closed deals by sales reps”, you need to go through several steps of choosing the reporting folder, specific report, customization and chart selection. Small businesses need a nimble and out-of-the-box reporting solution that’s capable of providing deep insights.

What are the best “Salesforce alternatives” for small & medium sized companies?

There are 10+ modern CRM solutions that are built for small businesses that deliver great value. Some of them include:, Zoho CRM, Hubspot CRM, Pipedrive & TeamWave

Make sure you try most of them before choosing a solution that can help your business succeed!