If you are switching from a contact manager or a legacy CRM system to a new CRM system, Salesforce and Sage CRM may be among the applications you are considering. Let’s look at both the similarities and differences between these two CRM applications.
While a number of CRM systems on the market were originally client/server solutions that have evolved into browser-based applications, Sage CRM and Salesforce were both originally designed to be 100% browser-based from an end user and administrative perspective.
Both products came to market around the same time, although Salesforce.com has significantly higher marketplace momentum. Salesforce not only defined a category of computing, but they have executed extremely well on all fronts – including sales, marketing and technology. Both companies, salesforce.com and The Sage Group plc, are publicly traded and are very stable financially.
Both applications are easy to use and experience high end user adoption. Both are highly customizable and allow for consolidating functionality from one or more legacy databases into a single solution.
While there are many similarities between these two products, there are a number of important differences.
Update 2015-05-12: Sage and Salesforce have announced a global strategic partnership.
Cloud vs. On-Premise
The biggest difference is that Salesforce was designed, from the beginning, to be a multi-tenant cloud application. Sage CRM, on the other hand, was originally designed to be a single instance, in-house installed application.
While there is a multi-tenant cloud version of Sage CRM called SageCRM.com, this is a currently a more basic version of the product. This article will focus on the on-premise version of Sage CRM.
We won’t go into all the differences between hosting and owning software, but generally speaking, Salesforce requires no IT resources to run. On the other hand, any in-house solution requires installing and maintaining a server or servers – which includes managing uptime, software updates and backups.
This difference is often a pivotal one, as some companies will only consider a hosted CRM solution, whereas others will only consider a behind-the-firewall, in-house solution.
Both Salesforce and Sage CRM have point and click tools for adding new fields to existing tables (called objects in Salesforce). In Salesforce, it’s somewhat easier to create new, custom objects than it is to create new, custom tables in Sage CRM. Creating custom tables in Sage CRM requires a slightly higher level of training.
In Salesforce, advanced customizations are performed using Apex, Salesforce’s scripting language, and Visualforce, Salesforce’s markup language.
Salesforce is certified to work with Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. Salesforce also works well with Chrome, although Chrome is not officially supported.
Sage CRM is only certified to work with Internet Explorer. While for the most part, SageCRM runs in Firefox, it won’t be officially certified for Firefox until a future release. While most of the things that don’t work in Firefox are only minor inconveniences, a couple of the limitations could be problematic, depending on specific customer use cases. Update: with version 7.1 SP2, Sage CRM introduced cross-browser support.
Editions and Pricing
Aside from the specially priced versions for Sage accounting customers, there are also two Sage CRM standalone editions – Sage CRM 100 and Sage CRM 200. The list pricing for Sage CRM 200 is $3,995 for the server license and $795 per named user license. Update: the named user license price will is now $1,095. This is a one time purchase. Annual software maintenance and technical support costs 25% of the total list price for the top tier.
Salesforce has a variety of editions, ranging from $5 per user per month to $250 per user per month, on an ongoing basis. There can be additional fees for things such as extra storage and additional features, including knowledge base and field service. Premier support plans are available for an additional fee.
Sage CRM has customers with several thousand users and is generally a product for small to mid-sized business, or departments within enterprises.
Because of its database architecture, Salesforce is scalable to any number of users and size of database. It can scale from a single user to large enterprises and government agencies. Salesforce.com has customers that have over a hundred thousand CRM users.
Sage has pre-developed integrations between Sage CRM and accounting systems such as Sage 100 and Sage 300 ERP. These are local integrations, with data and/or views being shared on the same local network. A third party integration for Sage 100 is offered through Greytrix.
Integrating an accounting system with Salesforce often requires movement of data between an in-house accounting system and Salesforce’s cloud platform. This involves some level of integration software that’s responsible for this traffic.
There is also a third party accounting system option for Salesforce that functions 100% within the CRM application itself – FinancialForce.com.
Word Mail Merge
Out of the box mail merge in Salesforce only works with specific browser and Office versions. Often, companies that need to perform mail merges purchase a third party product, such as Conga Composer.
Fully functioning mail merge is native within Sage CRM – no add-on product is required.
Configuration for B2C Sales and Support
In Sage CRM, Contact records (called Person records) do not need to have a Company association. Sage CRM can be easily used — out of the box — for pure B2C applications or for mixed B2B/B2C applications.
In Salesforce, a Contact always has to have a parent Account record – so even a consumer must have an associated Account record. Making sure that this relationship always exists without a user having to enter two levels of records (Account and Contact) for each person requires deploying functionality called “Person Accounts” or adding some custom code.
Third Party Products
Salesforce.com has a large and well-standardized third party application site called the AppExchange. There are over a thousand applications on the AppExchange — some are free and some are paid.
Sage CRM has a third party showcase called Apps & Extras.
Both Salesforce and Sage CRM are very strong CRM packages that can meet the business requirements for most companies — although Salesforce is better qualified for implementations with many thousands of users. Salesforce is extremely popular and benefits from the fact that most organizations are looking for a fully hosted CRM solution (a reality that Salesforce.com, itself, created). For companies that are focused on finding an in-house solution, Sage CRM is worth adding to the short list.