SAP Competitors Part 1 – SAP Vs. Salesforce


That is part 1 of a series about SAP competitors – this first part is about the market leader in CRM (Customer Relationship Management): Salesforce.

As an enterprise application software and especially ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) giant, SAP has a customer base of more than 425,000 customers in over 180 countries.

SAP is the market leader in the ERP applications market and right after Microsoft, the market leader in the overall enterprise applications software market in 2018.

If needed, there is a refresher for what SAP is.

Sketch of the SAP logo.
SAP is the market leader for ERP applications and the 2nd in the market for enterprise applications worldwide.

SAP offers applications for a wide range of business areas. For example,

  • Financials
  • Human Capital Management
  • Logistics
  • Customer Relationship Management
  • Project Management
  • Specific industry solutions such as Aerospace & Defense or Oil & Gas

SAP offers applications for both on-premise and the cloud. SAP moved its focus recently to cloud computing by buying companies in the cloud computing branch, investing heavily into its cloud technology, and releasing rapidly one SaaS (Software as a Service) after the other. That is no wonder – the world-wide spendings for cloud computing more than doubled since 2015.

Additionally, SAP offers hybrid deployment solutions of on-premise and cloud too. And from small to medium to large scale businesses, SAP has specific products for each besides it scalability through its cloud computing applications. For example, in SAP’s core area of ERP applications:

But SAP is not always the choice made, and SAP may not be for everyone. SAP competitors are everywhere and even excel SAP in some markets – for example, in the market of CRM.

CRM Market SAP Competitors

The market leader in CRM clearly is Salesforce by a lead of 12,5% to the 2nd placed Oracle, and 13,1% to the 3rd placed SAP in 2017:

Worldwide CRM Applications Market Shares in billion $ in 2017.[1]

SAP is eager to become the market leader for CRM applications as well like in the ERP applications market – CEO of SAP Bill McDermott, said in 2018:

“We’re going to turn up the jets, and we’re going after CRM with everything we have.”

That is no wonder because the CRM market has become the biggest software market in the world and overtook the ERP market in 2017.

There is no end in sight of the growth of the CRM market: In 2010, the worldwide spendings for CRM applications were $13,93 billion – the forecast for 2025 are $80 billion:

Worldwide ERP and CRM Applications Market Shares in billion $ from 2010 (2011) to 2025.[1][2][3]

CRM Market Leader Salesforce

Salesforce is the clear leader in the CRM applications market and one of the fiercest SAP competitors. They boast more than 150,000 companies currently using their product. Salesforce began in 1999 as an idea shared between four men in San Francisco:

They wanted to create business applications in a new way, delivering the solution through a new model called Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

The three pioneers eliminated, thereby the need for high priced startup costs and implementations regarding hardware and software that could take years for large companies. They removed the complexity of legacy networks etc. from the company equation so resistance to the new software would easily be overcome. And it worked.

What started as one sales-customer-relationship application, Salesforce quickly scaled up to include other products, including:

  • sales
  • service
  • marketing
  • commerce
  • engagement
  • platforms
  • integration
  • analytics
  • industries
  • communities
  • enablement
  • productivity

Besides Salesforce’s vast fleet of SaaSs such as its Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud, or Data Cloud, Salesforce released their Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) with the acquisition of Heroku for $212 million in 2010. Plus, in 2016 it released another PaaS with the Lightning Platform.

Sketch of the Salesforce logo.
Salesforce is the market leader in CRM software and offers only cloud computing since its founding in 1999.

Salesforce Vs. SAP

While Salesforce is often seen as an equivalent SAP competitor, it is to keep in mind that Salesforce is great in CRM. But where Salesforce is not great is in ERP – because Salesforce does not offer any ERP solutions. However, ERP is the core business area of SAP since SAP was founded in 1972.

But CRM software is since 2017 the biggest software market in the world, and the growth isn’t slowing down. CRM is now expected to reach $80 billion in revenues by 2025.

Company Data

FoundersDietmar Hopp, Hans-Werner Hector, Hasso Plattner, Klaus Tschira, Claus WellenreutherMarc Benioff, Frank Dominguez, Parker Harris, Dave Moellenhoff
IndustryEnterprise SoftwareCloud Computing
HeadquartersWalldorf, Baden-Wuerttemberg, GermanySalesforce Tower San Francisco, California, U.S.
Key peopleHasso Plattner (Chairman), Bill McDermott (CEO)
Marc Benioff (Chairman & co-CEO), Keith Block
(co-CEO), Parker Harris (Co-Founder)
Customers> 420,000> 150,000
Employees> 98,000> 35,000
Revenue (B$)27.6213.28
Operating Income (B$)6.380.54
Net income (B$)4.561.11
Total assets (B$)57.0830.73
Total equity (B$)32.2415.60
Company data from 2018 about SAP and Salesforce compared.

CRM Applications

Pros and Cons

Both SAP and Salesforce are powerful CRMs designed by mature companies to include sales automation, pipeline management, and a SaaS or Cloud solution. The goal of each is to reach a streamlined level of workflow while tracking leads to improve sales processes.

As a CRM solution, Salesforce is a giant in the industry. It owns about 20% of the CRM market share. It is the preferred solution for many businesses looking to use a SaaS solution to support their sales groups.

Salesforces greatest asset is also its greatest disadvantage. Because of its massive size, Salesforce also loses many customers to other CRM providers. Because it is simply so large and feature packed, many SMBs (Small Businesses) find that Salesforce comes with too many bells and whistles that they would rather not pay for since they would not be using them.

SAP is one of the most recognized ERP providers on the market. Aside from CRM, SAP products also include software solutions for computing, inventory management, ERP, process integration, transportation management, business intelligence and more.

In some ways, SAP has a leg up as they are a singular solution to many requirements for a small to large business. While SAP Sales Cloud succeeds in areas against Salesforce, it also lags behind in others.

Batch email marketing

If you’ve ever been on an eCommerce site and typed in your email address to get a discount code and then started to receive emails from them, then you have firsthand experience with a bulk or batch email marketing system.

Salesforce has the capability to design emails and newsletters from pre-built design templates or if you wish, from scratch. The application can use CRM data to build personas for targeted use in order to cater to user demands or needs. Users are able to schedule email or newsletter broadcasts and view them in their calendar of scheduled messages in order to craft long-term strategies.

Salesforce also includes what they call email journeys. These are designated content workflows to encourage continued engagement with the content. They use very robustly best practices and FAQ forum as an excellent resource to help users make the most of their application.

With SAP Sales Cloud, customers can also leverage quick and easy capabilities for enterprise-grade email marketing. This includes sophisticated campaign management and cross-channel marketing used to attract viewers from a variety of sources. The applications high-volume delivery and advanced targeting offer a wide scope including in-depth personalization. This CRM integrates both inbound and outbound marketing programs into a single platform for user convenience.

To summarize, Salesforces edges out SAP by a bit here with their step-by-step marketing campaign builders.

Email utilities

Making and sending email tools are in abundance here. The important component is the ability to track and monitor emails sent.

Email utilities are used to track how many emails were opened, how many clicks to a website were made and other marketing data. From this information, marketing teams can check ROI on individual campaigns and adjust accordingly based on tangible data analysis.

Salesforce users can easily track emails sent from any email app. Users automatically capture every interaction with their campaigns then apply that information toward the appropriate contact, opportunity or account for future use and tweaking.

SAP maintains a similar setup. As with Salesforce, emails can be automatically tracked, but users must manually input special parameters into the tracking tool for any specific tracking needs.

For this one, Salesforce does come out ahead with their ability to assign contacts and opportunities much easier.

Online Case Management

This is the management of events, contacts, etc., related to an individual case. As an example, a case can be a customer service-related ticket request such as a return. It can also incorporate workflows and internal processes. Simply put, it helps your sales teams stay organized and make effective use of the information.

Salesforce allows users to view and edit from anywhere. Sales reps can easily escalate cases to SMEs in order to deliver qualified answers back to clients in a timely manner. Ticket options can be customized here, further making the response times quicker.

SAP case management will collect information from many sources and stores it in an easy to use searchable database. SAP uses a similar setup to the ticket system from Salesforce and ups it by using HR and financial components including illness benefits, dispute management, tax audits and collection management.

Additionally, SAPs incident tracking options include custom fields to ensure nothing is missed in documenting an issue. Reps can categorize using pre-defined hierarchies or have custom headings set up by admins.

In this space, SAP clearly takes the lead.

Custom Reports

As with all pre-built applications, a company may wish to customize reporting to their own bespoke needs. Being able to create custom reports is always a necessity.

Salesforce offers a real-time dashboard of your business at a glance. This solution does allow a user to build custom reports to gather metrics like KPIs, rep performance and conversion.

With SAP, users can create and change interactive reports from the same screen with their easy-to-use interface. You can then assign reports to specific users or organizational units. These reports can also be made accessible to “eyes only” users. SAPs role-based access keeps data secure and only permitted for any organization’s appropriate roles.

SAP comes out a leader here with their more interactive offerings using unique assigning and access abilities.

Business Process Support

With varying business, demand comes to varying business needs when looking at any given software solution. Business processes are not all the same and often it is the role of the software provider to design their solution to fit as much of the majority of business process needs across many industry verticals. The better the resources a vendor has, the better they can respond to needs from organizations requiring specialized modules etc.

Salesforce can be said to have practically written the book on CRM. Their solution streamlines sales, customer support, and marketing business processes. Add to this is an ability to perform deep analysis of important sales information, ensuring that client data is used for greater engagement and satisfaction.

SAP is practically a leader themselves in their diverse product line based on the SAP ERP application and support processes in a range of industries. These often include financials, procurement, logistics, product development, manufacturing, and human capital management.

While Salesforce may lead in CRM-specific business process support, SAP leads overall as it is the more appealing solution to cover a wider range of industries with a diversity of their product line.

One thing to note that is important though is that Salesforce does integrate into an SAP ERP platform.

All used acronyms and their full forms are in this ultimate SAP acronyms list alphabetically ordered.

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