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Salesforce-Certified-CPQ-Specialist Certified CPQ Specialist

Title: Salesforce Certified CPQ Specialist

Test Detail:
The Salesforce Certified CPQ Specialist certification validates the knowledge and skills required to design and implement Salesforce CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) solutions. Salesforce CPQ enables organizations to streamline and automate their quoting and pricing processes, improving sales efficiency and accuracy. The certification demonstrates expertise in leveraging Salesforce CPQ to drive sales effectiveness.

Course Outline:
The Salesforce Certified CPQ Specialist certification program covers a comprehensive range of topics related to Salesforce CPQ. The course provides participants with an in-depth understanding of CPQ concepts, configuration, and implementation best practices. The following is a general outline of the key areas covered in the certification program:

1. Introduction to Salesforce CPQ:
- Understanding the role and benefits of Salesforce CPQ
- Overview of CPQ terminology and concepts
- Exploring CPQ integration with Salesforce CRM
- Overview of CPQ pricing and quoting processes

2. Salesforce CPQ Configuration:
- Configuring product bundles, options, and pricing rules
- Defining product and pricing configurations
- Managing product catalog and pricing data
- Creating quote templates and document generation
- Configuring discounting and promotions

3. CPQ Quote and Contract Management:
- Creating and managing quotes in Salesforce CPQ
- Quote approval processes and workflows
- Contract management and renewal processes
- Generating and tracking quotes and contracts
- Integration with Salesforce Sales Cloud and other systems

4. Salesforce CPQ Administration:
- User management and security settings
- Role hierarchy and record access controls
- Customizing CPQ to meet specific business requirements
- Configuring guided selling and quoting workflows
- Monitoring and reporting on CPQ performance

Exam Objectives:
The Salesforce Certified CPQ Specialist exam assesses candidates' understanding of Salesforce CPQ concepts, configuration, and administration. The exam objectives include, but are not limited to:

1. Demonstrating knowledge of Salesforce CPQ fundamentals and terminology.
2. Configuring product bundles, options, and pricing rules.
3. Managing quote and contract lifecycles using Salesforce CPQ.
4. Customizing CPQ to meet specific business requirements.
5. Implementing CPQ best practices for pricing and quoting processes.

The Salesforce Certified CPQ Specialist certification program typically includes online training modules and study resources provided by Salesforce or authorized training partners. The syllabus provides a breakdown of the topics covered throughout the course, including specific learning objectives and milestones. The syllabus may include the following components:

- Introduction to Salesforce CPQ
- Salesforce CPQ Configuration
- CPQ Quote and Contract Management
- Salesforce CPQ Administration
- Exam Preparation and Practice Tests
- Final Salesforce Certified CPQ Specialist Certification Exam
Certified CPQ Specialist
SalesForce Specialist approach

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Certified CPQ Specialist
Question: 64
A user created a Quote containing two Products. The Subscription Pricing field on Product A is blank. Product B has
Subscription Pricing set to Percent of Total and both Products share the same Percent of Total Category. When the
Contract is renewed, both Products are shown in the renewal Quote, but Product A has a Net Total of zero.
Why does Product A have a Net Total of zero?
A. Renewal Model was set to Asset Based at the Account Level.
B. The Asset Conversion behavior on the Product must be set to Allow Renewals.
C. Include Net-New Products in Maintenance must be flagged in CPQ Package settings,
D. Product A is an Asset that the customer already owns.
Answer: A
Question: 65
Universal Containers sells a total of 100 Products. Thtrt art 80 Products that are generally available for selection by all
users (General Access). The remaining 20 Products should only be available to a certain group of users (Special
Which Product Selection and Price Book strategy should the admin utilize to meet the requirement?
A. Create one Price Book that contains all 100 Products. Create a Validation Rule on the Quote object to prevent
selection of a Special Access Product based on the level of User access.
B. Create one Price Book that contains all 100 Products. Create a custom Product field to designate General Access
and/or Special Access. Utilize Hidden Search Filters to support dynamic Product visibility based on the level of User
C. Create two Price Books: one General Access Price Book with the 80 generally available Products, and one Special
Access Price Book with the 20 Special Access Products. Create automation to populate the appropriate Price Book ID
into the SBQQ__QuotePrlcebookld__c on the Opportunity.
D. A Create two Price Books: one General Access Price Book with the 30 generally available Products, and one
Special Access Price Book with all 100 Products. Use Guided Selling to assign the appropriate Price Book based on the
level of User access.
Answer: D
Question: 66
Universal Containers needs to generate two styles of PDF output, one that includes prices in the line item table if the
Quote is another that hides prices when the Quote Primary checkbox is False.
Where should the admin reference the Primary checkbox field to set up this requirement?
A. The Hide Group Subtotals Field on the Quote Template
B. The Hide Totals Field on the Quote Template
C. The Conditional Print Field for each price Line Column
D. The Conditional Print Field of a Template Section for only price Line Columns
Answer: C
Question: 67
Universal Containers has a Quote that contains a Quote Line associated to an Asset Product in addition to another
Quote Line.
Which property must be present on the additional Quote Line to create a Subscribed Asset at the time of Contract
A. Subscription Pricing equals Percent Of Total
B. Pricing Method equals Percent Of Total
C. Package equals True
D. Bundled equals True
Answer: B
Question: 68
Northern Trail Outfitters has two different user profiles that need to see different Quote Line fields in the Quote Line
How should the admin configure CPQ so users automatically see the desired fields in the Quote Line Editor?
A. Create two field sets on the Quote object representing each profile, and create a text formula field with the API
name HeaderFieldSetName on the Quote object that returns the appropriate field set name based on the user’s profile.
B. Create two field sets on the Quote object representing each profile, and create a text formula field name
EditLinesFietdSetName on the Quote object that returns the appropriate field set the user’s profile.
C. Create two field sets on the Quote Line object representing each profile, and create a test formula field sets with the
API named EditLinesFieldSetname on the Quote object that returns the appropriate field set name based on the user’s
D. Create two field sets on the Quote Line object representing each profile, and create a test formula field sets with the
API named EditLinesFieldSetname on the Quote object that returns the appropriate field set name based on the user’s
Answer: C
Question: 69
Universal Containers (UC) sells containers in three sizes. The admin has created a bundle product for the container
with Product Options for different size lids. The admin has also created a Configuration Attribute called Container Size
with three different values. When a user selects a particular size container in the Configuration Attribute, only the lid
for that size container should be available for selection. An admin has created a lookup table to capture which Product
Options are valid for each container size.
Which steps should the admin take using a Product Rule to ensure only the lids of the correct size are sold with each
A. Create a Product Rule of type Selection.
Create a Lookup Query which compares the Configuration Attribute value to the lookup table to able the invalid
B. Create a Product Rule of type Alert.
Create A lookup Query which compares the Configuration Attribute value to the lookup table and warns a Product
Rule of type Selection.
C. Create a Product Rule of type Selection.
Create a Lookup Query which compares the Configuration Attribute value to the lookup table and select the valid
D. Create a Product Rule of type validation.
Create a Lookup Query which compares the Configuration Attribute value to the lookup table and prevents the user
from saving without selecting the valid option.
Answer: C
Question: 70
When an Order is Contracted, the sales operations team needs to store a unique license number on the Asset record for
each downloadable Product sold.
How should the Admin meet the business requirements?
A. Set Asset Conversion for each downloadable Product to null.
B. Set Asset Conversion for each downloadable Product to a custom value.
C. Set Asset Conversion for each downloadable Product to One per unit.
D. Set Asset Conversion for each downloadable Product to One per Quote Line.
Answer: C
Question: 71
Universal Containers (UC) offers the same services for consumption in different parts of the country, but at different
prices. UC has configured this without cloning bundles or pricebooks.
A single quote can contain products for consumption anywhere in the country.
A custom object has been created to maintain a Price Multiplier per product per geographic area. The quote document
should display the List Price of the appropriate geographic area.
How should the CPQ specialist complete the configuration?
A. Create a Lookup Price Rule to retrieve the multiplier and apply it to the Special Price field on the Quote Line.
B. Create a custom List Unit Price field on the Quote Line and a Lookup Price Rule to retrieve the
multiplier and apply it to the custom List Unit Price field on the Quote Line.
C. Enable the Consumption Schedules checkbox in the CPQ Managed Package Settings.
D. Create a Lookup Price Rule to retrieve the multiplier and apply it to the List Unit Price field on the Quote Line.
Answer: B
Question: 72
Given a customer’s tiered pricing model, an Admin wants to allow users to define Discount Tiers and use those values
as the Regular Price instead of an Amount deducted from the List Price.
How should the Admin configure the Discount Schedule to meet this requirement?
A. Set the Discount Unit to Percent, set the Aggregation Scope to Quote, choose Current Tier from the Override
Behavior picklist, and then select the Use Price for Amount checkbox.
B. Set the Discount Unit to Amount, choose All from the Override Behavior picklist, and then select the Use Price for
Amount checkbox.
C. Set the Discount Unit to Amount, create a custom Override_Amount_c field on the Edit Tiers page, select the Users
Defined checkbox, and then choose All from the Override Behavior picklist.
D. Set the Discount Unit to Percent, set the Aggregation Scope to Quote, Current Tier from the Override Behavior
picklist, and then select the User Defined checkbox.
Answer: C
Question: 73
Universal Containers sells a total of 100 Products. There are 80 Products that are generally available for selection by all
users (General Access). The remaining 20 Products should only be available to a certain group of users (Special
Which Product Selection and Price Book strategy should the admin utilize to meet the requirement**
A. Create one Price Book that contains all 100 Products. Create a Validation Rule on the Quote o(M.ect to prevent
selection of a Special Access Product based on the level of User access.
B. Create one Price Book that contains all 100 Products. Create a custom Product field to designate Genera! Access
and/or Special Access. Utilize Hidden Search Filters to support dynamic Product visibility based on the level of User
C. Create two Price Books: one General Access Price Book with the 80 generally available Products, and one Special
Access Price Book with the 20 Special Access Products. Create automation to populate the appropriate Price Book ID
Into the SBQQ__QuotePricebookld__c on the Opportunity.
D. A Create two Price Books: one General Access Price Book with the 80 generally available Products, and one
Special Access Price Book with all 100 Products. Use Guided Selling to assign the appropriate Price Book based on the
level of User access.
Answer: D
Question: 74
An Admin at Universal Containers has hidden the prices of Products on the Configure Products page.
How should the Admin make the prices visible again?
A. Go to the Product Option object’s Unit Price field and add visibility to its Field-level security.
B. Go to the Product Option object’s Option Configuration Field Set and add the Unit Price field.
C. Go to the Product Option record and check if the Default Pricing Table field is set to Standard.
D. Go to the Product Option record and check if the Price Editable field is False.
Answer: A
Question: 75
Universal Containers (UC) wants to sell products with monthly subscription terms. UC wants additional days to round
up to the nearest month for calculating the prorated price.
Which CPQ package settings should UC use to meet the business requirement?
A. Subscription Term unit: Month
Subscription Prorate Precision: Day
B. Subscription Term unit: Month
Subscription Prorate Precision: Month
C. Subscription Term unit: Month
Subscription Prorate Precision: Month + Daily
D. Subscription Term unit: Day
Subscription Prorate Precision: Day.
Answer: B
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Salesforce CRM Review and Pricing

Editors Score:9.5/10

The Salesforce CRM offers an impressive selection of features, customization options and tailored workflows within a single ecosystem, making it our pick for the best CRM for growing businesses.

  • The Salesforce CRM is highly customizable; with time, you can modify almost every element to fit your specific business needs.
  • The lowest-priced plan includes advanced features such as mass emails, marketing campaign management, a drag-and-drop app builder, and lead auto-assignment.
  • Salesforce has an immense selection of support materials, videos and tutorials, as well as a helpful online community.
  • Due to the sheer volume of customization and automation options, setting up the Salesforce CRM to match your business's specific processes and needs can be time-consuming. It may require training for your in-house marketing team and administrators.
  • You must know CSS, HTML and other coding languages to customize specific elements within Salesforce.
  • Salesforce's pricing model can be confusing; there's a lack of clarity around add-ons, which can drive up costs.

Businesses must successfully convert leads and manage and grow customer relationships to succeed. Salesforce CRM features myriad customization options to achieve these goals, empowering businesses of all sizes – and across various industries – to better understand and support prospects and customers. You can adapt nearly every aspect of the software’s interface and performance to help sales, marketing, customer service and technical support teams succeed. Salesforce CRM features thousands of fully integrated apps, plug-in scripts, and a superior API interface to help businesses create a flexible, customized solution. Once implemented, you’ll enjoy a beautifully designed product that’s speedy, powerful, and perfectly tailored to your company’s specific needs and processes.

Salesforce CRM Editor's Rating:

9.5 / 10

Customization, add-ons and integrations

Why We Chose Salesforce as the Best CRM for Customization

Salesforce is arguably the best-known CRM provider on the market. It has an established community and a well-earned reputation for being a leader in the customer relationship management field. While it was created to meet the needs of enterprises and large businesses, Salesforce has expanded its scope and now actively targets businesses of all sizes.

Unlike more rigid competitors, Salesforce CRM provides countless personalization and customization options, giving businesses a high level of control over how the system looks and acts. We were particularly impressed by how Salesforce handles workflow automation and by its pioneering integration of AI in CRM customization.

Notably, Salesforce was one of the first CRM platforms to open itself up to third-party developers, giving it more apps and customization options than any other provider. If Salesforce doesn’t have a built-in function you need, there’s almost certainly an app to compensate. If not, a developer can create and deploy a specific solution. 

Salesforce CRM’s initial setup requires time and IT skills. Its learning curve is far steeper than those of many other CRM providers we reviewed. However, you’ll enjoy flexible CRM software guaranteed to accommodate all custom processes and meet the changing needs of your business. For all these reasons and more, Salesforce is our top CRM choice for customization.

Salesforce CRM’s pipeline management feature gives an overview of your sales opportunities. Source: Salesforce

Salesforce may not be the best choice for businesses with less complex operational needs. If your SMB’s CRM needs are straightforward, check out our review of CRM and comparison to learn about a well-executed system designed for SMBs.

Ease of Use

Despite its complexities, Salesforce is surprisingly easy to implement and use. Here are some notable ease-of-use factors we discovered. 

  • Salesforce’s navigation process is straightforward. We like that Salesforce keeps the navigation process simple. The upper tab-style layout is typical across business and personal software, making it easy to grasp; categories like “Home,” “Contacts,” “Accounts,” “Leads,” “Tasks,” “Reports” and “Opportunities” need no explanation. You can get instant help from the question mark icon in one of the corners of the screen – a handy feature we’ve seen on many other CRM packages.
  • You can use Salesforce at a limited level out of the box. Because of its numerous features and customizations, setting up the Salesforce CRM takes more time and expertise than other solutions we reviewed. However, we appreciate that Salesforce’s smart default setup options help businesses use the CRM out of the box. You can gradually modify contact, opportunity, account, task and workflow elements as you explore the software’s full scope over time.
  • Salesforce doesn’t provide practice data. Note that you’ll need data to practice on during onboarding; Salesforce doesn’t supply this. To get practice data, you can duplicate and isolate existing data or use a service like Mockaroo to create dummy data.
  • Salesforce’s onboarding and support resources are robust. We were pleased to see that Salesforce offers a wealth of support materials, webinars and guides to facilitate the CRM implementation process and resolve usability issues. Its global Trailblazer community is also an excellent resource. Additionally, the vendor promises a two-day query response time.
  • Onboarding users and updating permissions is straightforward. While in-house administrators may need specific training, we appreciate that Salesforce provides excellent admin controls. Setting up various permissions based on groups or individual users is simple. This is notable because some CRMs allow only admin settings by group. Creating different displays and workflows for various departments and employees is also straightforward. If you have even moderate technical expertise and admin experience, you should have no trouble onboarding users, updating permissions or managing this CRM daily.

Salesforce visual dashboard

Salesforce’s visual dashboards help your team pinpoint problems and work on solutions. Source: Salesforce

Salesforce’s upper-tier plans give business owners access to live support, coaching sessions and adoption guidance for an additional fee. This may be useful if you’re considering switching CRM systems to Salesforce.

Salesforce Features

The Salesforce product boasts an impressive array of CRM features that make it one of the best on the market. Here are some of the most notable features that provide excellent CRM software benefits.

Comprehensive Business Ecosystem

We like that Salesforce’s business products seamlessly integrate. Businesses can grow with the Salesforce CRM and gradually adopt new features as needed. Additional Salesforce product categories include:

  • Sales Cloud
  • Service Cloud
  • Marketing Cloud
  • Commerce Cloud
  • Safety Cloud
  • Heroku (Heroku is an app development platform.)
  • Quip (a collaboration tool)
  • Salesforce Platform (with high-level development, customization, analytics and built-in AI)

You can use Salesforce’s impressive range of third-party apps to run many aspects of your company, from marketing to fulfillment. HR, data analytics, workforce collaboration and finance apps plug directly into Salesforce CRM. You can even add ERP apps to Salesforce to build a system close in function to the ERP platform described in our review of Oracle NetSuite CRM. 

We also like how Salesforce’s AppExchange breaks down apps by industry. There are 12 sector-specific areas on AppExchange, including communications, financial services, manufacturing and professional services.

Salesforce is a capable solution for companies that want to improve customer service performance. Read our review of Salesforce Service Cloud to discover how it helps supervisors and teams manage ongoing customer relationships.


We were impressed by Salesforce CRM’s vast customization capabilities – an area where it truly stands out among the competition. While many CRMs we reviewed offer options for customizing deal and contact fields, email templates, and dashboards, Salesforce lets you do much more. 

Here are some of our favorite customization options: 

  • Change how pages look and function. You can change how pages look and function to suit your specific needs. Use the CSS settings to adjust the spacing between page elements, colors and fonts. You can modify customer records to show just the lists, sections and fields you want particular co-workers to see, improving employee collaboration. 
  • Use object control to customize the system. The Salesforce CRM’s object control is superior to that of other CRMs we tested. Objects are “fields” within databases (like name, address, email, etc.). Salesforce makes it easy to add objects so you can record exactly the information you want on accounts, contacts and leads. You can set permissions on records and fields to determine who else can view and edit fields. You can even make objects actionable by adding buttons, actions, triggers and links to create processes for adding a new customer, supplier or co-worker to the database.
  • Use the developer console to create custom apps. We really liked Salesforce’s developer console. Many businesses, particularly SMBs, won’t have in-house programmers but may use freelance developers to develop specific functions within Salesforce. Salesforce gives these developers a dev console where they can write, test and debug code for your custom applications. We found the inclusion of Apex triggers within the dev environment particularly helpful because it will shorten the development cycle in most instances. A developer sandbox and an app builder are included with every plan. 

Salesforce custom dashboard

Sales managers can customize their dashboards with specific objects. Source: Salesforce

Integrations and Add-ons

We like that CRM users can build customizable systems and integrate their favorite business apps via the Salesforce AppExchange store. Other CRM software companies we reviewed have similar online stores for add-ons, but Salesforce’s is far more comprehensive, with thousands of available integrations. 

The company makes it easy to search for add-ons based on the product name and view industry-specific product bundles. Because Salesforce is such a huge company, its industry-specific add-ons are expansive. There’s even a separate section for small business-specific add-ons, many of which are free.

On the AppExchange, you’ll find five different solution categories:

  • Apps: Similar to mobile apps on Apple’s App Store or Google Play, AppExchange apps are direct, preprogrammed plug-ins that interact with Salesforce. You can customize most apps via their settings. Apps add new functions or improve and augment existing functions on your platform.
  • Lightning Bolts: Lightning Bolts are prebuilt templates providing extra features to employees, partners, suppliers and anyone accessing your Salesforce CRM. Hundreds of Lightning Bolts have various use cases. For example, there are supply chain management bolts for suppliers, project management tools for employees and tools to access client account information. 
  • Flow solutions: Salesforce incorporates Flow Builder, a tool that simplifies workflow automation via a simple drag-and-drop approach. Flow solutions are prebuilt workflows or processes you can import directly into the Salesforce Flow development tool. 
  • Lightning data: These are customer tracking tools that can enrich customer and prospect data and keep them updated regularly. We saw four such tools during our review process.
  • Components: Components are reusable features you can deploy to build your own apps within Salesforce. There are nearly 300 free components and around 30 paid ones.

Salesforce is embracing the “low code” and “no code” trends with its Lightning App Builder and Salesforce Flow drag-and-drop tools. Read our HubSpot review to learn about another CRM with drag-and-drop functionality.

Salesforce CRM AppExchange

New apps are added to the AppExchange daily, further enhancing its appeal. Source: Salesforce

Intuitive Productivity Tools

We were pleased to see Salesforce’s intuitive productivity-boosting tools, particularly its built-in project management features. (Freshworks has similar tools; read our Freshworks CRM review to learn more.) Once implemented, sales and marketing departments – as well as managers – will find it easy to manage and build workflows, assign and follow tasks, and check off permissions. 

Salesforce’s visual dashboards allow sales reps to check KPIs and track their progress toward quotas, facilitating productivity and accountability. We like that you can add meetings straight from the calendar tab and see an instant overview of your schedule. 

Additional add-on productivity tools are available through the AppExchange.

Artificial Intelligence

Salesforce’s artificial intelligence (AI) strides impressed us with capabilities beyond those of the competitors we reviewed. Salesforce was a CRM-AI pioneer, launching its high-profile AI tool, Einstein, in 2016. Today, the company has picked up the pace amid breakthroughs in the generative large language model AIs (like ChatGPT and Bard) that power tools like Einstein. Einstein is available on Salesforce’s upper-tier plans or as a paid add-on.

Einstein can do the following after gathering data from system use and user input: 

  • Help salespeople with call prompts
  • Handle web chats via the Service Bot chatbot
  • Recommend products to clients to facilitate upselling and cross-selling
  • Create excellent product presentations
  • Generate workflows to make companies more efficient 
  • Predict with a high degree of accuracy which deals will close
  • Deep dive into social media and present you with sentiment analysis about your brand
  • Help CEO decision-making with decision support systems that give advice based on live analytics 

Einstein, in its current form, is amazing, and we look forward to seeing its next iterations. We expect AI (and the solutions other CRM providers develop) to be integral to corporate life and CRM adoption in the coming years. We’re not awarding best use of AI in this round of CRM reviews; however, if we were, Salesforce would win.

Einstein can flag emails in which leads express critical concerns that could prevent a deal from moving forward, allowing a sales rep to prioritize those messages and act fast to grow and sustain customer relationships.

Salesforce Einstein tool

Salesforce’s Einstein tool can help with sentiment analysis so you understand how your brand is perceived. Source: Salesforce

Trailblazer Community

Nearly every CRM vendor we reviewed has some form of an online community. However, Salesforce’s Trailblazer community is particularly impressive, replete with documentation invaluable for admins. You can find step-by-step guides on everything from creating custom CRM reports to turning on user notifications. 

There’s also an extensive user-only forum for direct communication with other admins and CRM users and a comprehensive Trailhead learning platform with various product-related courses, upskilling opportunities and official certifications. 

Salesforce Pricing

You can purchase Salesforce’s Sales Cloud CRM via one of four subscription tiers:

  • Essentials
  • Professional
  • Enterprise
  • Unlimited

Unlike Salesforce competitors monday and HubSpot, there’s no free plan.

Only Essentials is available on a month-to-month basis; all other plans require an annual contract. Bear in mind that annual contracts often require you to pay for the whole year upfront, which may not be ideal for some businesses.

All costs below are applied when billed annually. All plans allow you to send 5,000 email marketing messages daily from the platform, which is much more generous than many other providers we reviewed. 


Price: $25 per user per month; available for up to 10 users

Features: Account, contact, lead, task and opportunity management; lead auto-assignment; prevention of duplicates; automatic capture of a  lead’s available web information; mass email; marketing campaigns; customizable reports and dashboards; email integration with Gmail and Outlook; and Salesforce mobile app


Price: $75 per user per month

Features: Everything in the Essentials plan, plus pipeline management, lead registration, rules-based lead scoring, collaborative forecasting, a forecasting mobile app, quote and order management, roles and permissions, and a developer sandbox


Price: $150 per user per month

Features: Everything in the Professional plan, plus workflow and approval automation, sales teams and territories, opportunity scoring, and advanced reporting


Price: $300 per user per month

Features: Everything in the Enterprise plan, plus a sales engagement hub, AI-powered sales insights with Einstein, sales cadences and 24/7 support

Other Charges

Salesforce is pricey compared to other CRM solutions we reviewed. It’s a massive product with many add-ons and customizations; the subscription costs listed here should be considered jumping-off points. 

You can spend considerably more on Salesforce. For example, CPQ & Billing, which allows you to quickly configure, price and quote complex solutions, costs $75 per user per month. Other add-ons include Pardot, Quip, Einstein AI and Sales Dialer – all sold separately. There are additional costs if you opt for training or help with implementation.

Many other SaaS products offer free versions and low-cost, entry-level subscriptions that can be used indefinitely. While $25 per user per month isn’t exorbitant, it’s not a realistic long-term option for most small businesses because only 10 users are supported at that level. The next plan jumps to $75 per user per month – significantly more expensive than the competition. 

We recommend taking advantage of Salesforce’s 14-day free trial to ensure this CRM is worth the investment.

Onboarding and Implementation

Implementing CRM software always takes care and patience. But due to its breadth of customization options, Salesforce CRM’s implementation process can vary drastically, taking anywhere from a few days to several weeks. While that may seem alarming, users will quickly see that this CRM is worth the effort once it is set up.

Salesforce and third-party agencies can manage your initial implementation and launch for you. Still, this help comes at a cost, depending on your company size, number of employees, data volume and complexity, third-party integrations, and customization level.

Fortunately, you don’t necessarily have to create a complex solution immediately. You can use the software out of the box and modify it as your business needs evolve. Thanks to the Salesforce CRM’s intuitive design and overall sophistication, the learning curve isn’t steep for non-admin users after implementation.

In addition to a vast library of training materials, Salesforce offers adoption guidance and coaching services for an extra cost. That may be worth it for business owners concerned about setting up the CRM and onboarding users.

Use the Data Import Wizard from the Setup menu to import up to 50,000 standard objects – like contact, lead and account information – from a CSV file.

Customer Service

While Salesforce is a market leader in CRM technology, integrations and capabilities, we found that it falls short in the customer service department. When we reached out for information about the company’s services, the response was delayed.

When we did communicate with customer support reps, they were very helpful and used real-life situations to explain the product’s features and answer questions about the program. They were very clear and offered several solutions to help further our understanding. However, compared to other providers we called, their answers could have been more detailed.

Unfortunately, Salesforce has a C-minus rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and isn’t an accredited BBB business. It earned 1 out of 5 stars and closed 55 complaints within the last three years. That’s disappointing and surprising for a company that’s so well regarded in the industry. 

On the plus side, Salesforce provides an extensive selection of self-guided resources, access to the Trailblazer community and basic technical support. Additionally, its Unlimited package comes with 24/7 assistance. 

For an additional fee of 30 percent of your total monthly service fees, users can access 24/7 phone support, expert coaching and a dedicated account manager.


Salesforce CRM is an excellent solution; however, we did identify some limitations: 

  • Customizations can be complex. Salesforce’s biggest strength – its customization capabilities – is also a potential downside. Setting up a fully customized CRM tailored to your business’s specific sales funnel, structure and workflows requires time and, ideally, a dedicated IT team. Entrepreneurs and smaller companies might be better off with an easy-to-use yet still customizable solution like Zoho. (Learn more in our detailed Zoho CRM review and Zoho comparison.)
  • Salesforce requires technical knowledge. Most of the Salesforce CRM’s customizable elements require some basic technical knowledge of CSS and HTML. This is slowly improving since the introduction of the Lightning App Builder and Salesforce Flow tools. For example, the Lightning Email Templates use a more interactive drag-and-drop functionality, similar to some rival CRMs we reviewed. Salesforce is getting simpler and more intuitive over time. However, it’s not there yet. 
  • Pricing can be challenging to understand. Due to the number of available add-ons and platforms, it can be difficult to estimate the final price of your desired CRM solution. However, Salesforce’s sales and support teams are happy to provide a unique quote for your business.


When evaluating the best CRM software, we conducted extensive comparative research of dozens of software solutions in the category. Our product review process was designed to help you find the right CRM for your business. It included customer support team communication, trials to evaluate product functionality, and an evaluation of each provider’s tutorials, webinars and support materials. We also took pricing into consideration. When looking for the best CRM for customizability specifically, we examined customization options, available integrations, reporting and analytics, and sales automation.

Salesforce FAQ

Though the Salesforce system has an extensive collection of CRM features and add-ons, its intuitive design and standard CRM lingo make it easy to learn. The vendor also provides various training materials and courses on Trailhead, the company’s free online learning platform, to get you started.

Salesforce doesn’t have a free plan; its pricing starts at $25 per user per month. However, the company offers a 14-day free trial so you can assess whether it’s a good fit for your business. 

Bottom Line

We recommend Salesforce CRM for …

  • Businesses that need a flexible and highly customizable CRM solution.
  • Companies that want access to a large collection of integrations and add-ons to suit their processes and industries.
  • Businesses looking for a CRM that can expand with their evolving needs.

We don’t recommend Salesforce CRM for …

  • Businesses that want a free CRM solution or advanced CRM functionality at an affordable price.
  • Entrepreneurs and small businesses with limited IT resources.
  • Companies that need a straightforward CRM system that works right out of the box and is easy to customize with no technical skills required.

Nadia Reckmann contributed to this article. 

Tue, 07 Nov 2023 10:00:00 -0600 en text/html
Salesforce vs. HubSpot: Which CRM Is Right for Your Business?
  • Salesforce and HubSpot are industry-leading CRM platforms with advanced sales and marketing features. 
  • Salesforce is highly customizable, with a wide range of features and service plans for businesses of all sizes.
  • HubSpot is often praised for its ease of use and extensive integration library.
  • This comparison is for business owners deciding between Salesforce and HubSpot for their CRM needs.

Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms can save businesses time and boost sales by tracking and automating client interactions. The best CRM software helps businesses organize customer information and engage with leads and customers via multiple channels, creating a consistent and effective communication strategy. 

Salesforce and HubSpot are top-tier CRM solutions that can help many businesses. We’ve evaluated key elements of our Salesforce CRM review and our HubSpot CRM review to help businesses weigh their similarities and differences and choose the right CRM software for their needs. 

Salesforce vs. HubSpot




Starting price

$25 per user per month

Free plan available; paid plans start at $20 per user per month

Free trial

Yes (30 days)

Yes (14 days)

Third-party integrations

Salesforce supports API and third-party integrations with a wide range of apps and software services.

An expansive App Marketplace hosts over 1,000 integrations.

Customer support

Customer support is available 24/7 via email, live chat or phone.

Support options vary by plan. Phone support is available only to Professional and Enterprise customers. Starter plan customers can access chat and email support. Free-tier users must consult community resources. 

Sales features

Salesforce CRM comes with robust sales tools, including:

  • Account, contact and deal management
  • Sales analytics
  • Einstein automated activity capture
  • Customized sales paths
  • Customized sales forecasting
  • Lead opportunity scoring

HubSpot offers a wide range of sales features, including:

  • Call tracking
  • Sales management playbooks
  • Pipeline management
  • Automated sales quotes
  • Chatbots
  • Sales automation
  • Conversation intelligence 

Marketing features

Upgrade your marketing with Salesforce’s marketing functionality, including:

  • Email templates
  • Content personalization
  • Customer segmentation
  • Marketing analytics
  • Customer journey builder
  • Mobile marketing messaging

Streamline and automate marketing efforts through HubSpot’s marketing tools, including: 

  • Live chatbots
  • Customer contact management
  • Email templates and tracking
  • Marketing analytics
  • Marketing automation

Who Do We Recommend Salesforce For? 

While Salesforce is an excellent option for any business, we recommend the platform particularly for businesses with advanced customization or automation needs. 

Salesforce is a well-known and highly respected CRM vendor used by thousands of companies worldwide, including big names like IBM, Mercedes-Benz, NBCUniversal, Herman Miller, Morgan Stanley, PayPal, AT&T, 3M, ADP, Adidas and Asana. Its high-level sales and marketing features can help businesses of all sizes generate leads, close sales, and improve and streamline operations. We especially like its AI-powered Einstein tool, which automates sales tasks and provides rich deal insights, call coaching and sentiment analysis to help your sales team perform more effectively.

We appreciate that Salesforce offers an expansive range of plans to accommodate the needs of various businesses. In this evaluation, we focused primarily on its impressive small business offerings. Salesforce’s lowest tier starts at an affordable $25 per user per month; as businesses scale and their needs grow, they can upgrade to more feature-full plans. 

The following features make Salesforce a top CRM choice:

  • Salesforce’s real-time sales forecasting can help businesses project future sales revenue.
  • The CRM’s Einstein AI tool can provide personalized insights and recommendations to sales reps.
  • Salesforce CRM plans start at $25 per user per month; businesses can take advantage of a free trial to test the platform.

Salesforce dashboard

Salesforce offers easy-to-read dashboards and AI-powered personalized insights. Source: Salesforce

Who Do We Recommend HubSpot For?

We recommend HubSpot for small businesses implementing a CRM for the first time or companies with teams new to using CRM software. Its user-friendly interface promises a short learning curve that can help quickly get your staff up and running. 

HubSpot boasts well-rounded sales and marketing features. Its intuitive setup and navigation will make it easy to manage customer relationships, track customer and lead communications, build a sales pipeline, monitor in-progress deals, and much more. Additionally, its expansive integration options can help businesses connect their CRM to their existing business software, creating a customized solution. 

We were impressed by HubSpot’s free offering, which provides essential sales, marketing, commerce and operations tools to help small businesses on a tight budget manage leads and customers. As they grow, they can opt for the affordable Starter tier for $20 per user per month and gain more extensive sales and marketing features.   

We think the following features help HubSpot stand out among the competition: 

  • HubSpot features a robust App Marketplace that can help businesses connect the CRM with their existing tech stack.
  • The platform offers a convenient deal pipeline that tracks in-progress deals throughout the sales cycle.
  • HubSpot’s free version and affordable Starter tier are ideal for small businesses on a tight budget.

HubSpot’s education platform, HubSpot Academy, offers training courses in multiple areas, including sales training and digital marketing skills development.

Hubspot sales and marketing tools

HubSpot offers a wide range of sales and marketing tools, including email templates and tracking. Source: HubSpot

Salesforce vs. HubSpot

Price and Plans


  • Four plans range from $25 to $330 per user per month.
  • All plans require an annual contract.
  • All plans allow a 30-day free trial. 

Salesforce offers various plans with features to improve lead management, sales, marketing and more. Various add-ons are available for enhanced CRM analytics capabilities, marketing features, commerce options and more. We like that it offers a reasonably priced Starter plan; however, it’s missing notable features like automations and detailed CRM reporting. We were also disappointed that you must opt for the Unlimited plan to access lead scoring. 

The following prices reflect monthly charges with annual billing. You’ll pay more for monthly billing. 





$25 per user per month

Lead management, offline functionality, duplicate blocking, Einstein activity capture, email integration, mass emails, custom sales processes, mobile apps, custom dashboards and reporting, file sharing, and up to five automation workflows


$80 per user per month

Everything in Starter, plus sales forecast management (desktop and mobile), Sales Cloud Everywhere functionality, offline mobile functionality, order and quote creation and tracking, additional collaboration tools, and five flows per organization


$160 per user per month

Everything in Professional, plus workflow and process automation, advanced pipeline management, opportunity scoring, deal insights, sales console apps, sales team tools, advanced reporting and forecasting, opportunity splits, territory management, opportunity scoring, deal insights, a waterfall chart, and web service APIs


$330 per user per month

Everything in Professional, plus lead scoring, advanced Einstein tools and insights, built-in AI, premium support, advanced automation, sales engagement tools, and more


  • HubSpot’s generous free plan includes marketing, sales and service tools. 
  • The Starter tier is only $20 per user per month for new HubSpot customers and adds crucial features. 
  • There’s a significant jump between the Starter tier and the Professional plan – from $20 to $1,600 per user per month. And the Professional plan incurs a $3,000 onboarding fee.

HubSpot has various iterations related to marketing, sales, customer service, operations and content management. For our evaluation purposes, we’re looking at HubSpot’s CRM Suite and its pricing. 

We love that HubSpot CRM Suite has a free tier – few competitors offer this perk. While the free tier lacks some crucial features, including marketing campaign management, it’s still a great deal to help businesses get started with using a CRM. 

The following plans and prices reflect an annual billing discount. (You’ll pay more for monthly billing.) 




Free tools


Up to 2,000 emails monthly (with HubSpot branding), App Marketplace integrations, marketing tools, service tools, CMS tools, email scheduling, one inbox and live chat (with HubSpot branding)


$20 per user per month for two users 

($25 for each additional user)

Includes everything in the free tier (removes HubSpot branding from emails and live chat), plus access for two users to HubSpot Sales Hub Starter, Marketing Hub Starter, Service Hub Starter and CMS Hub Starter


$1,600 per user per month (for five users)

$100 for each additional user

One-time $3,000 onboarding fee 

Everything in Starter, plus access for five users to Sales Hub Professional, Marketing Hub Professional, Service Hub Professional, CMS Hub Professional and Operations Hub Professional


From $5,000 monthly for 10 users

Enterprise-level tools, including 10,000 marketing contacts

Winner: Tie

We’re calling a tie in this round; your business’s needs and budget will dictate the most affordable package for you. HubSpot’s free plan is unmatched; however, it may not be enough for your business’s sales and marketing goals. The Starter plan adds essential features, but there’s an enormous price jump to its Professional plan if you need more extensive functionality. Salesforce may end up being a better value if you need a higher-level plan. Its Professional Plan is $80 per user per month, offering businesses a way to upgrade beyond essential features without incurring exorbitant expenses.

Check out our review of monday Sales CRM to learn about another popular CRM platform with a generous free tier.

Free Trial


Salesforce offers a 30-day free trial, allowing businesses to thoroughly test its CRM platform. No credit card is required to sign up for the free trial. To sign up, you’ll complete an online form with essential information like your name, contact information, company size and company name.


HubSpot offers a 14-day free trial for its paid service plans. Additionally, businesses can sign up for a free account to access a more limited range of CRM tools.

Winner: HubSpot

While both vendors allow you to test their software for free, HubSpot wins this category. Businesses can use its free offering as long as necessary before upgrading to a paid version.

Third-Party Integrations


Salesforce can integrate with various software packages and productivity applications, including Slack, Google Cloud, Dropbox, Mailchimp, QuickBooks and DocuSign. Salesforce integrations can be managed through Zapier, AppExchange plug-ins or API integrations.


HubSpot offers robust integration options within its App Marketplace, including popular business software like Gmail, Asana, Zapier, Microsoft Outlook and Calendly. It even offers integrations with competing CRM tools like Salesforce, Zendesk, Pipedrive, Freshsales and Zoho CRM. 

Winner: HubSpot

HubSpot offers an expansive range of integrations in its user-friendly App Marketplace – over 1,000. Additionally, setting up integrations with HubSpot is exceptionally quick and easy. 

CRM integrations are crucial for many businesses, allowing them to utilize existing software, including productivity and communication apps.

Customer Support


Salesforce’s customer service team is available 24/7 by phone, email and chat. However, the support line frequently experiences a high call volume that may lead to long wait times. Salesforce encourages customers to take advantage of the available online self-help tools or request a support call via an online form. 


HubSpot’s customer support options vary depending on your plan:

  • Free plan subscribers can’t access customer support. HubSpot recommends they use the HubSpot community forums to get assistance with CRM questions or issues.
  • Starter plan subscribers can obtain chat and email support.
  • Professional and Enterprise plan subscribers can access 24/7 phone support in addition to chat, email and community resources.

HubSpot also offers many self-service features and training options online. 

Winner: Salesforce

While Salesforce’s customer support options aren’t perfect, we appreciate that the company offers 24/7 support through multiple communication channels. We think it’s crucial for small businesses to have access to phone support, as even the most user-friendly CRMs have a learning curve.

You don’t need to be a HubSpot customer to access the company’s training library. HubSpot Academy courses and certifications are free, providing a great resource for training on skills like sending marketing emails and improving SEO.

Sales Features


  • Account and contact management: Get an easy-to-read overview of customer information, including key contacts, past activity, communications and internal account discussions.
  • Deal management: Track deals throughout the sales cycle with an easy-to-understand dashboard and deals tracker.
  • Sales analytics: Sales managers and staff can customize dashboards and reporting to easily review key sales data and analytics.
  • Einstein activity capture: Automatically capture activities like calls, emails and meetings by syncing your email and calendar with Salesforce.
  • Customized sales paths: Customize sales processes and milestones to fit your team’s unique needs.
  • Customized sales forecasting: Adjust the key information and metrics used for sales forecasts to get the most accurate picture of your business’s upcoming sales and revenue.
  • Opportunity scoring: Predict which leads are most likely to convert to sales.


  • Call tracking: Track sales calls and record call notes in customer profiles.
  • Sales management playbooks: Provide call scripts, competitive battle cards and other sales training resources to help sales teams close deals.
  • Deal pipeline management: Use the deals pipeline dashboard to monitor deal progress and assign sales tasks.
  • Sales quotes: Quickly generate professional, branded sales quotes for clients within the platform.
  • Sales automation: Enhance lead nurturing by setting up automated sales emails and follow-ups to maintain frequent communication with prospects.
  • Conversation intelligence: Capture call details and access AI-powered recommendations.
  • Live chat: Capture leads when visitors are on your website and connect them with the right salesperson.

Hubspot features

HubSpot offers a wide range of sales features, including deal tracking. Source: HubSpot

Winner: Salesforce

Salesforce offers comprehensive and user-friendly sales features, even in budget plans. The Salesforce CRM is one of the most popular tools for sales teams because the platform offers strong sales tracking functionality along with robust analytics, forecasting capabilities and AI-powered insights to help boost sales teams’ productivity and performance. We also like how well Salesforce organizes lead data and routes leads to the correct sales team member.

Marketing Features


  • Email templates: Create targeted, automated email campaigns with prebuilt email templates.
  • Content personalization: Build email and content flows to deliver the right content to the right customers.
  • Customer segmentation: Segment customers and leads into different lists for more targeted and personalized outreach.
  • Marketing data: Review dashboards and reporting to analyze the effectiveness of marketing efforts.
  • Journey builder: Build customized and automated content journeys for customers.
  • Mobile messaging: Create targeted mobile marketing with app push messaging and text messaging.

Salesforce analytics

Track the performance of specific marketing assets or campaigns with Salesforce’s helpful marketing data dashboards. Source: Salesforce.


The HubSpot Marketing Hub includes the following features:

  • Chatbots: Interact with visitors on your website using chatbots that provide targeted welcome messages and automated chat messaging.
  • Contact management: HubSpot has excellent contact management features that help you organize customer contacts and distribute targeted email marketing messages.
  • Email templates: Quickly build branded, professional emails with customizable email templates.
  • Email tracking: Track which customers open your emails, and send follow-ups or receive tracking notifications as desired.
  • Marketing analytics: Explore HubSpot’s built-in data dashboards, reports and analytics to evaluate the effectiveness of marketing efforts.
  • Marketing automation: Access lead scoring, automate email campaigns and more with HubSpot’s marketing automation tools.

Hubspot reporting tools

Access advanced marketing reporting with visual charts and graphs with HubSpot’s marketing features. Source: HubSpot

Winner: HubSpot

HubSpot’s marketing features shine, with multiple options and ease of use. We also like that the vendor offers marketing skill-building courses to train marketing teams.

Salesforce vs. HubSpot Recap

Both Salesforce and HubSpot provide essential CRM features; however, one may be better than the other for your specific business needs. 

Choose Salesforce if:

  • You want enhanced customization options.
  • You need advanced sales forecasting capabilities.
  • You’re looking for a vendor with 24/7 phone support.

Choose HubSpot if: 

  • You want free or lower-cost CRM software.
  • You need extensive integrations.
  • You’re looking for a user-friendly CRM solution.


Salesforce does not have a free plan but does offer a free trial. If you are looking for a free CRM option, consider HubSpot’s free CRM plan.

HubSpot has different plans and features targeted toward different functions, including sales and marketing. A stand-alone Sales Hub can be purchased by companies that just need sales-focused features.

Both vendors offer comprehensive CRM tools that can meet the needs of a wide range of businesses. HubSpot offers more affordable pricing and a shallower learning curve, making it a great option for many small businesses. Salesforce’s enhanced customization options make it well suited for larger businesses.

Yes. QuickBooks offers a Salesforce Connector that can integrate data between Salesforce and QuickBooks.

According to HubSpot, over 184,000 businesses globally are using its service.

Thu, 26 Oct 2023 11:59:00 -0500 en text/html
CX Specialist Ventrica Enters CCaaS Bespoke Software Market

CX specialist Ventrica enters CCaaS bespoke software market with launch of technology arm.

Ventrica has built a huge reputation for offering exceptional customer experience to its clients over the last fifteen years. This month they have expanded their portfolio to launch a series of bespoke digital solutions into the marketplace.

Ventrica’s blue-chip client portfolio requires the very best software and already uses global brands such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and Twilio in their daily workflows. Ventrica is also very proud to be a full partner of Zendesk offering exceptional customer experience and data privacy.

However, whilst specifically working with our globally recognised hospitality and retail clients, Ventrica developed a suite of software products which can now be used and integrated with existing systems of any Contact or Customer Experience Centre to enhance service.

In the last week, Ventrica launched Ventrica A.I, artificial intelligence software customised by their in-house team of software developers to specifically meet the needs of Contact Centres faced with a volume of unstructured contacts, tickets and client questions.

The second complementary product launched today is Ventrica CSAT, Ventrica’s tailored customer experience software that creates a customised view of your client journey, improving data points to help you hear your customer more clearly.

It became clear to Ventrica’s Development team that one size simply did not fit all in terms of off-the-shelf technology and these products come straight from the coalface, working successfully with major clients with great success.

What makes these new offerings even stronger is that they not only stand alone, they also integrate into Zendesk, ensuring there is insight gained as to any key trends. The Ventrica/ Zendesk partnership allows for granularity of focus for current Zendesk customers, such as individual training needs, communication, and areas for CX improvement, plus giving the opportunity to recognise excellence.

Not only Zendesk, though, as Ventrica’s products are built upon and open API approach and integrate with a broad spectrum of platforms including Salesforce.

Chief Executive Iain Banks commented

“What separates Ventrica from our peers is our own in-house development team, a group of exceptionally talented developers who have incubated these new products based upon customer testing and integration at the very coal-face others only aspire to work at.

Ventrica’s recent shortlisting in no less than 6 categories at this month’s ECCCSA awards, including “Best Use of AI” and “Best Customer Experience” underlines the high quality of this work, but we are very much more than just people and processes, we are now a technology provider”.

Ventrica is a leading European award-winning, outsourced customer management business that delivers omnichannel and multilingual customer service for blue-chip brands. Significant investment in people, automation and digital contact centre technologies allows Ventrica to enhance customer experiences designed to keep their clients ahead of the technology curve and their competition.

The company is headquartered in Southend, where it operates from spacious, hi-tech and modern offices, placing significant emphasis on its staff’s comfort and well-being. Ventrica shares the same passion for its customers’ business as it does for its own and continually strives for quality and service delivery consistency.

For additional information on Ventrica view their Company Profile

Wed, 08 Nov 2023 14:17:00 -0600 Contact- Centres en-GB text/html
salesforce inc.

Salesforce research on generative artificial intelligence users found divides between older and younger people in their use of AI tools, with Gen Z and millennials leading the way.

Two issues plaguing San Francisco could force Salesforce to potentially pick another city for future instances of its Dreamforce conference, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Salesforce CEO says San Francisco's downtown 'never going back to the way it was' as downtown officials struggle with businesses leaving The Golden City.

The Supreme Court's ruling rejecting the use of affirmative action and consideration of race as a factor in college admissions could prompt challenges to companies' diversity programs.

Several websites including workplace messaging service Slack experienced widespread outages for hours on Tuesday, leaving many customers in the lurch.

Trailblazer Ranch is a 75-acre, 140-room campus located in the redwoods of Scotts Valley, California, about 70 miles south of San Francisco.

Ford is aiming to deliver more to America's plumbers, electricians and first responders.

About a week after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the ability of members of Congress and their spouses to make stock trades, the California Democrat disclosed several major purchases.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff will now have a co-CEO, the company announced Tuesday

Salesforce, an American cloud-based software company headquartered in San Francisco, is offering to help employees who have concerns about access to "reproductive healthcare" to move out of Texas in light of the state’s new law banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected around six weeks.

Thu, 09 Nov 2023 10:01:00 -0600 en-US text/html
Salesforce Tower Camera 4

David DePape found guilty of federal charges in Paul Pelosi assault

David DePape, accused of bludgeoning former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband Paul Pelosi​ with a hammer at the couple's San Francisco mansion last year, was found guilty of the charges in a federal court Thursday.

Sun, 28 May 2023 13:28:00 -0500 en-US text/html
Latest News Mentioning Salesforce

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Maxar Technologies appointed Dan Smoot as CEO of its intelligence business, taking over for interim chief executive Daniel Jablonsky. The company said Monday Smoot is the latest addition to Maxar Intelligence’s new leadership team, which includes CFO Mike Mohn, Chief Product Officer Scott Herman and Chief Human Resources Officer Anat Gan Eden....

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Scott Brock, vice president of strategy and business development for state and local at Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), said chief information officers at state and local government agencies should consider the platform technology they intend to adopt as they advance information technology modernization. “Most have moved into the cloud, but modernizing wi...

Paul Baltzell, vice president of strategy and business development for state and local government at Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), said government agencies looking to counter cyberthreat actors and allow internal teams to focus more on strategic efforts should modernize their digital infrastructure with the adoption of an agile, cloud-based platform. Balt...

Mike Mulcahy, a digital transformation and strategy development leader for global public-sector aerospace and government system integrators at Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), said the talent shortage in the aerospace and defense industry reflects the need for the industry to keep up with technological developments. “The loss of talent is only the symp...

Karen Hay, digital transformation leader of global public health at Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), said government agencies looking to expand access to health care services and mitigate public health challenges should advance digitization. “Digitization helps health workforce challenges as well as addressing the service backlog and supporting expande...

Allan Day, vice president of logistics and sustainment of global public sector at Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), said there are three factors government agencies and other public sector organizations should consider to help improve the decision-making process and address inefficiencies in supply chains post-pandemic. These factors are the development of co...

Syam Nair, a former executive at Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), has been named chief technology officer at Zscaler (Nasdaq: ZS) in a move that takes effect May 24. Zscaler said Tuesday that Nair will serve as executive vice president for research and development in addition to CTO. The 25-year technology industry veteran...

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Salesforce Starter

Salesforce is regarded as one of the best customer relationship management (CRM) solutions for large-scale enterprises, with its Salesforce Sales Cloud Lightning Professional tool earning our Editors' Choice award. However, that enterprise-grade CRM is too complex and costly for smaller businesses. On the other end, the company's entry-level Salesforce Essentials offered limited features at a steeper price than its competitors in the small to medium size business (SMB) space. That brings us to Salesforce Starter, a streamlined version of the award-winning platform designed to replace Essentials on Salesforce's menu of CRM options. Starter is specifically targeted toward SMBs, giving Salesforce a seat at the table with HubSpot CRM, Freshsales, and Zoho CRM (our Editors' Choice pick that features deep third-party integrations).

(Credit: PCMag/Salesforce)

How Much Does Salesforce Starter Cost?

Like its predecessor, Salesforce Essentials, Salesforce Starter costs $25 per user per month, billed annually. That's on the higher end of the affordability scale. Still, Starter does a better job than its predecessor of merging usability and scalability with a comprehensive set of sales, marketing, and service tools that won't overwhelm new CRM users.

The most notable bone that Salesforce has thrown to its SMB customers is that you can onboard up to 325 users on Starter, compared with Essentials' 10-user limit. Salesforce aims to make Starter flexible enough to grow with small to medium businesses, so you won't need to jump to a pricier, more complex solution before you're ready.

As with many of its competitors, you can test drive Salesforce Starter for 30 days without a credit card before diving into a yearlong commitment.

If you need more advanced features, Salesforce Professional is the next tier at $80 per user per month, billed annually. This plan adds tools like sales forecasting, quotes and contracts, and third-party API access. Then there are Salesforce's Enterprise tiers that range in cost from $165 to $500 per user per month, billed annually. These include the sophisticated features, high-level customization, and robust library of add-ons that make Salesforce one of the top CRMs.

How does Salesforce Starter fare against its rivals? Let's take Zoho CRM, for example. Zoho's Standard plan costs $14 per user per month, billed annually, making it notably more affordable than Salesforce Starter. Although it lacks the case management and artificial intelligence-optimized tools found in Salesforce Starter, Zoho compensates by offering lead scoring and sales forecasting. Both platforms are evenly matched when it comes to customization, reporting, and ease of use. Ultimately, your choice boils down to your budget and business needs.

(Credit: PCMag/Salesforce)

How to Set Up Salesforce Starter

Salesforce Starter's setup process is one of its most impressive features. In contrast to earlier Salesforce products, Starter practically holds your hand (in a good way) through onboarding. There's still a noticeable learning curve, but you won't need to outsource onboarding to a Salesforce expert. This will save your business money.

To begin, you fill out a brief form and take a short survey regarding your business goals, which will then bring you to a two-minute video. (The video is merely a Salesforce commercial, so you won't lose much by skipping it.). When you're ready to purchase a plan, click the "Buy Now" button in the application's top-right corner to begin the three-step checkout process.

Then you'll see a homepage split into two main areas. The top section, Quick Look, features shortcuts to essential sales, marketing, and service tools. Click on these for a guided walkthrough of those elements, complete with on-page prompts and a sidebar checklist you can either move, minimize, or snooze as needed. The homepage's bottom half highlights your recent sales activities and suggests the next steps based on those metrics.

The top tabs highlight the Accounts, Contacts, Sales, Service, Marketing, Calendar, Dashboard, and Reports sections. Above these tabs are a universal search bar and a notifications button. Guidance Center and Quick Settings offer setup checklists and admin tools, such as adding users or managing your Salesforce subscription.

These are all welcome features, and they make it clear that Salesforce Starter aims to provide SMBs with a turnkey CRM. Starter doesn't support what Salesforce calls "custom objects," which let third-party vendors integrate their software with the platform. That's in contrast to Saleforce's earlier Essentials product, but the benefit here is a less time-intensive setup. This is ideal for companies new to CRMs or smaller teams that lack the resources to allocate for a lengthy onboarding process.

(Credit: PCMag/Salesforce)

Data Transfer and Syncing Options With Salesforce Starter

There are two ways to sign in to Salesforce Starter: the usual email-and-password method or syncing to your Google or Microsoft account. The latter method streamlines the login process and lets you directly upload contacts, emails, and calendar events to the CRM. Salesforce's Einstein Activity Capture automatically links synced data to appropriate deals, granting you more time to focus on revenue-generating tasks. ("Einstein" is Salesforce's catch-all branding for any feature it claims is powered by AI.)

To import sales data, leads, or opportunities, you must upload a CSV file. You can opt to populate your contacts that way, as well. 

Salesforce Starter's Pillars of Sales Success

The Guidance Center focuses on three main pillars for selling on the platform: Accounts, Contacts, and Opportunities. These serve as the backbone of your Starter sales operations, housing all the essential information and functions you'll need to initiate and advance deals. 

An unobtrusive pop-up walks you through manually entering data for each section. After saving the data, you're taken to an overview page divided into three parts: personal details, recent activities, and other related CRM data such as Cases and Files. This hub streamlines vital sales activities like sending emails, scheduling meetings, and logging calls, eliminating the need to toggle tabs or swap screens.

You can filter Accounts, Contacts, and Opportunities with preset or custom list views. Tailor these lists for targeted marketing campaigns or generate quick sidebar charts to track specific metrics on the fly. You also can switch between table, Kanban, and split view formats, whichever suits your workflow best.

(Credit: PCMag/Salesforce)

Maximizing Lead Generation in Salesforce Starter 

Although Salesforce Starter's target audience is SMBs, many of which will have little or no experience with CRM software, it offers many features that aid growing companies in executing an efficient lead generation strategy without devoting too much time to grunt work (read: data entry). These tools are found in the Marketing hub. They don't rival what's available from standalone email marketing and marketing automation products, but they'll be a boon to smaller companies that don't want to navigate learning multiple applications for their sales functions.

Cadences, a feature also present in Salesforce Sales Cloud Lightning Professional, guides you through the prospecting process by mapping out activity sequences. These sync up with Tasks, which automatically update as leads progress through the pipeline. 

Sorting leads and automating tasks is seamless, thanks to Segments and Flows. These sections have a visual interface with drag-and-drop elements and dropdown menus, leveling the playing field for people new to CRMs who don't want to be inundated with lines of unfamiliar, confusing code.

The Campaigns tab has an email builder with customizable templates and myriad components for businesses wanting to level up their outreach. Whether you're sending one email or preparing an email blast, the Einstein Send Time Optimization suggests the best times to hit send (you can disable this if you prefer manual timing).

The Performance tab offers a comprehensive view of your ongoing email campaigns so you'll know what's working and what's not. Notably, this component was often the slowest to load during our tests. (For context, we tested the software against the latest version of Chrome on a 2019 Intel-based MacBook Air.) 

Salesforce Starter lets you send up to 2,000 emails per month, which should suffice for most small businesses. However, if you need to up that allowance, you can pay an extra $10 per month for another 1,000 sends.

Advanced options, such as lead scoring and sales forecasting, aren't part of the package, which is expected given Salesforce Starter's focus on user-friendliness for smaller businesses. Nor is there any integration with social media networks, which is something to keep in mind if you promote heavily on such platforms. However, Zoho CRM is worth investigating if you're looking for such features at a fair price. 

(Credit: PCMag/Salesforce)

Keeping Clients Happy With Salesforce Starter

In addition to its Sales and Marketing tools, Salesforce Starter also has a Service hub to help manage customer queries. The central feature here is Cases, where you log and view every interaction that a customer had with your company about a given issue. This way, any team member can easily step in and pick up where someone else left off for a smoother transition. (Once again, you can think of this as a subset of what you'd get from a standalone help desk product.)

There's also the Knowledge tab, where you write and publish articles about common customer problems and their solutions, all within the CRM. These articles are searchable and accessible right within each customer case, so you can resolve things quickly and keep things moving.

The last Service feature is Quick Text, designed to speed up outreach by letting you create preset email messages for occasions like birthdays or special promotions. We couldn't fully test this due to a minor bug. Still, it's worth noting that at the time of our test, Salesforce Starter was a just-launched product. As of this writing, it's still only available in a limited number of geographic regions, mainly owing to language localization issues.

(Credit: PCMag/Salesforce)

Measuring Success With Dashboards and Reporting

Salesforce Starter has the weakest reporting capabilities among the full family of Salesforce Sales products. However, compared with most CRM competitors in the small business space (like Freshsales or HubSpot CRM), it's robust without the overkill of advanced features better suited for large enterprises.

Salesforce Starter comes with over 60 customizable report types across 11 categories, such as sales, marketing, service, and admin. You'll also have a range of nearly a dozen chart types, giving you the flexibility to present your data in the most meaningful way. You can organize dashboards according to report types and tailor the formatting to your liking. 

You can make reports and dashboards public, private, or limited to specific users. With the Subscribe feature, you can opt to receive notifications for report or dashboard updates in real-time or at scheduled intervals.

(Credit: PCMag/Salesforce)

Is Salesforce Starter Easy to Use?

Salesforce Starter aims to be accessible for newcomers to the Salesforce ecosystem or CRMs in general. While the platform is feature-rich, which could potentially steepen the learning curve, the on-page guidance and easy access to the Guidance Center are a boon for smaller teams that may not have the means to bring in a Salesforce expert to train them. There's also the Trailblazer Community, where you can find resources and answers to any questions you may have. 

Salesforce is known for its high level of customization, and Salesforce Starter also delivers on that front. You can tweak the interface to your liking, which could range from something as basic as choosing between a wide-spaced or compact layout, or going all-in and incorporating the colors and logo of your company for a personal touch. 

On the other hand, unlike its predecessor, Salesforce Essentials, Salesforce Starter doesn't support the platform's custom objects. As mentioned above, this restricts the range of third-party app integrations that are available. But once again, this is likely intentional given the platform's focus on simplicity for small businesses. If building a tech stack is necessary for your small business, look at HubSpot CRM instead.

Salesforce Starter syncs with the Salesforce mobile app, which is free to download on Android and iOS. While it lacks access to the advanced remote features available in Salesforce's Enterprise tiers, the core functionality should meet the needs of most small to medium businesses.

A User-Friendly Gateway to the Salesforce Platform

Salesforce bills Salesforce Starter as a platform for small- to medium-size businesses seeking a turnkey CRM. It succeeds in that regard, thanks to a straightforward setup process and a focus on core sales, marketing, and service tools. Its scalability and ease of use make it a suitable choice for companies that want to streamline their operations, minus the burden that often accompanies the introduction of new technology. For most SMBs, Salesforce Starter is a fine introduction to the Salesforce ecosystem (or CRMs in general).

There are concessions you must make if you opt for Salesforce Starter. Notably, a lack of support for third-party objects and fewer AI-powered tools than other Salesforce products. The trade-off is a CRM that's essentially ready to use out of the box, barring any tweaks you'll want to make to the interface. Editors' Choice winner Zoho CRM is a better value for your money, but the entry-level Starter is an excellent gateway into the broader Salesforce platform that offers room to grow.

Sun, 22 Oct 2023 12:00:00 -0500 en-gb text/html

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