SAP CRM vs. Salesforce: How Do They Differ? (+ Vital Facts)

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This is about SAP CRM vs. Salesforce.

You’ll learn:

  • What SAP CRM is
  • What Salesforce is
  • The difference between SAP CRM and Salesforce
  • Lots more

So if you want to get a side-by-side comparison between SAP CRM and Salesforce, then this article is for you.

Let’s get started!

So What Actually Is a CRM?

If you own a business that has clients or customers, you need CRM (Customer Relationship Managemet). If you do not have a CRM, you are almost one step behind your competition already.

CRM software offers a set of tools to help you stay organized, manage your customer relationships, and ultimately improve sales.

CRM won’t drop the ball on spotting opportunities or miss deadlines, so you and your team can focus on running your business’s strategic aspects instead of sweating over the administrative details.

CRM software is nothing new. The earliest versions of CRM have been around since the 1990s, though the software has definitely come a long way since then. It is no wonder then that more and more companies rely on CRM to manage their business needs.

CRM is an part of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) such as SCM (Supply Chain Management) and PLM (Product Lifecycle Management). CRM is the largest single ERP market by revenue:

The Essential CRM Features

You may be wondering which areas of a business can be amplified with CRM software.

A comprehensive CRM can perform dozens of tasks that, in general, can be distilled to five key core front office functions:

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Customer service
  • Field service
  • Digital commerce

Under these core functions, CRM software may help perform many subcategories of tasks. Businesses found CRM software especially useful to manage the following top tasks:

  • Lead management
  • Contact management
  • Email
  • Reporting & Analytics
  • Marketing
CRM Software Features Most Wanted by Buyers_1-100
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And Who Should Use CRM?

Anyone who runs a business, conducts sales, or provides customer service, should get CRM software. 

Regardless of size or industry, all businesses will be better organized, better positioned to leverage customer insights, and better able to provide tailored solutions to customer needs thanks to CRM. 

CRM can help smaller companies with few resources from becoming overwhelmed. 

Large companies with entire departments dedicated to sales or client management need CRM just as much. CRM solutions will help keep track of all of your company’s front office activities and spare your very busy employees some stress.

So efficient!

SAP CRM vs. Salesforce: What Are the Differences?

There are many CRM software solutions on the market today, and the field keeps growing. So how is a business expected to pick the right solution to meet their special requirements with so many options?

Among the dozens of CRM service providers, several industry giants offer comprehensive solutions. There are also more niche companies that focus on specific CRM solutions and, in some cases, provide services that support one of the major companies.

Two of the top CRM software providers are SAP and Salesforce.

Read on ahead to find out what differentiates these two companies and which one may be right for your business:

This Is Salesforce

Even if you don’t know much about CRM, you have probably heard of Salesforce. It is one of the leading names in tech and is a top CRM software provider in the industry.

Salesforce leads the CRM software industry in innovation and provides the most up-to-the-minute software options. With Salesforce, you will get the most advanced and cutting edge technological solutions for all of your CRM needs.

Some of the notable features of Salesforce CRM solutions include:

  • Entirely cloud-based
  • Offers a huge range of customizable options
  • Modern interface
  • Never not innovating
  • Affordable for businesses of all sizes

Salesforce is #1 in the CRM market by a HUGE margin:

SAP Is Cloud-Based Software

All of Salesforce’s CRM offerings are in the cloud. Many, but not all, CRM service providers have also moved to the cloud, but Salesforce was one of the first to offer cloud-based CRM solutions, resulting in years of experience under its belt.

These days, most businesses prefer cloud-based versus on-site software solutions, and all CRM solutions will likely be cloud-based in the future. There are several advantages to using cloud-based software:

  • Allows for greater flexibility
  • Easier to access remotely—all you need is an Internet connection
  • Faster to manage and deploy
  • More affordable for smaller companies, eliminating the upfront costs of setting up hardware in-house

However, wherever there is light, there is shadow. Below are the biggest challenges of cloud computing:

Wide-Ranging Business Solutions

Salesforce offers many high-quality CRM solutions to meet a variety of sales, marketing, service, and commerce needs. Salesforce’s CRM solutions are geared towards many industries and types of businesses.

In addition to providing great tools to meet standard CRM needs, Salesforce is like an octopus in that it continues to constantly expand and reach its tentacles into new areas.  

To provide businesses with more choices and ever more cutting-edge solutions, Salesforce has expanded into AI, collaborates with App designers, and integrates other big-name technology companies, such as Tableau and Slack, into its platforms.

Whether you are looking for basic tools or a more complex suite, all of Salesforce’s solutions are customizable, so you can create a CRM solution that is perfect for you.

Sales, Marketing, Services—the CRM Basics

You can count on Salesforce for quality solutions to meet basic CRM needs via the Sales Cloud, the Marketing Cloud, and the Services Cloud. Whether you are a small, mid-size, or major company, you can customize and expand these solutions depending on your business needs.

Salesforce Sales Cloud

  • Allows you to organize and manage your sales leads 
  • Helps you track and manage your contacts
  • Helps you better organize your sales campaigns
  • Has features that create quotes, track sales, forecast sales, and identify cross-sales opportunities. 

Salesforce Marketing Cloud

  • Enables you to plan and track the customer lifecycle
  • Provides you with a big picture view but also allows you to manage the details every step of the way
  • Helps you deepen your understanding of your customer so you can market your products more effectively 

Salesforce Service Cloud

  • Aims to streamline your service teams and the work that they do
  • Helps you track cases from beginning to completion to produce happy customers 

Customer 360

Salesforce’s Customer 360 combines the Sales, Marketing, and Services Clouds with more features for corporations and enterprises.

If you are a big business and rely on many different Salesforce features and Apps, Salesforce 360 helps you get organized on one platform with your customers in mind.

The Salesforce Customer 360 Truth feature creates a single customer profile across all of the Customer 360 tools.

So, if you are a big business and one of your customers has sales, service, and marketing data on the Customer 360 platform, it will be fused into a single identity, making all the different data points easier to:

  • View
  • Understand
  • Utilize

Customer 360 allows personnel in different departments at your company to view a single customer profile. This ensures that there are no blind spots and that all of your customer-facing employees fully understand each of your customers, enabling them to provide the best customer service experience.

AppExchange

In addition to all of the options that Salesforce offers with its own CRM solutions, the company also stays ahead of the curve by hosting an Apps marketplace, where clients can shop for additional digital solutions. The Apps are separate from Salesforce’s subscriptions. Some are free, and others range in price.

The AppExchange has hundreds of Apps to choose from. You can filter the Apps by solution type, industry type, or product type. Otherwise, you can spend hours browsing all that the market place has to offer.

Some of the most popular apps in the AppExchange include:

  • DocuSign – helps you easily get documents signed electronically
  • Conga Composer – helps you create presentations
  • Demandtools – helps you manage your business data

AI

Salesforce is not one to shy away from trying new things. One of the ways that Salesforce is staying a step ahead of its competitors is by diving headfirst into the Artificial Intelligence (AI) field to help businesses with CRM.

In 2016, Salesforce launched Salesforce Einstein, which analyzes the subscriber’s information entered into their Salesforce platform.

By looking at customer interactions and sales data, Salesforce Einstein can offer analytical insights and suggestions to help drive business.

Salesforce Einstein is available for an additional cost with most of Salesforce’s subscription services.   

Modern Interface

Salesforce offers a clean, user-friendly interface, regardless of the solution you purchase. With all of the Salesforce options and settings, it would be really easy to fall down a rabbit hole. However, Salesforce prides itself on CRM solutions that are intuitive and easy to use.

Salesforce also offers an App for Android and iOS users. The Salesforce App allows users to continue to access their Salesforce account while they are on the go. The App also features a sleek and easy to use interface.

Salesforce offers a multitude of demos and user guides for its platforms. If you ever get lost using a solution, help is at your fingertips.   

Slack

In December 2020, Salesforce announced that it was purchasing Slack, a communications platform that offers chat and messaging services. Salesforce plans to use Slack as the interface for its Customer 360 suite in the future.

Though it will probably be a few years before it is fully rolled out, Slack will help Salesforce step up its already robust communications solutions. Slack’s goal is to declutter your email Inbox and simplify communication. 

For Businesses of All Sizes

Salesforce offers CRM solutions for businesses of all sizes. While some solutions are only available for larger corporations, Salesforce prides itself on offering packages that make sense for smaller businesses too. 

The small business package options focus on sales, services, and marketing, along with optional application add-ons.

Salesforce makes CRM packages affordable specifically for small businesses. The small business subscription options are broken down into four pricing categories:

  • Essentials
  • Sales Professional
  • Service Professional
  • Pardot Growth

The Essentials package costs as little as a few cups of coffee and can be shared with up to 10 employees. In return, Salesforce can help you increase customer leads and keep existing customers happy. That seems like a pretty sweet deal!

Competitive Price

Salesforce has so many pricing options and packages that it will make your head spin. While the options allow Salesforce users to customize their packages and make Salesforce more affordable for smaller businesses, the choices can be overwhelming.

Many of Salesforce’s CRM solutions, such as Sales Cloud, can be purchased individually and on a subscription basis. However, Customer 360 is only available at the Corporate, Enterprise, and Enterprise Levels. Most subscriptions are annual, but some packages can be purchased on a monthly subscription.

The greater the number of users and the type of features that you need, the more expensive the package. There are many add-on features that can also be purchased for an additional cost.

The best way to figure out which package and add-ons are right for you is to contact Salesforce’s customer service. They are available to answer your questions and provide you with a quote.  

What Are Salesforce Clients Saying?

Salesforce customers tend to agree that Salesforce is the top CRM provider on the market. Customer reviews tend to highlight how easy the Salesforce platform is to use and how helpful they find the company’s many offerings and features.

Salesforce customers love that they can customize a solution specific to their needs. However, some note that the prices can be high, especially with all of the optional add-ons.

Apparently, the options can also be too much of a good thing for some customers who value simplicity. Customers note that all of the different options can, at times, slow the interface down.

Users from some bigger companies that tend to buy more complex packages note that there is a learning curve to figuring out how to use the platform. Some recommend implementing training for company employees to help them use the tools accurately but note that smaller companies may not have this problem. 

This Is SAP CRM

SAP CRM is one of the oldest CRM providers in the industry, with over 20 years of CRM software experience. The company, which was launched in Germany in the 1970s, unveiled its first CRM suite in 2000.

By the way, SAP was not only one of the pioneers of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software but also the 3 biggest programming & software company worldwide by now:

With years of experience, it is no wonder that it is a well-trusted name in the CRM solutions market. It offers a core suite of quality CRM products that it knows inside out and delivers well.

However, SAP CRM has also become a bit of a dinosaur over the years, failing to quickly keep up with technological trends. Unlike Salesforce, SAP CRM has not stayed ahead of the curve and rarely makes the list of top CRM solution providers anymore.

You should not rule out SAP CRM just yet, as it is making progress to catch up with companies like Salesforce and does have some standout features that are worth writing about.

SAP Cloud vs. SAP On-Premise

SAP CRM started out as an on-premise solution, requiring the installation of hardware at the customer’s site. As you can imagine, this made it more difficult for some small companies to afford and accommodate SAP CRM in their spaces. 

Eventually, SAP CRM realized that to remain a player in the CRM solutions market, it would have to adopt the cloud. Though SAP CRM now offers quality cloud-based solutions, it entered the cloud computing space way too late, and some would argue never caught up. 

SAP CRM’s reluctance to let go of on-premise suites is probably one of the reasons it is not currently seen as a major technological innovator or why it isn’t able to compete with a technologically-forward company like Salesforce. 

Though SAP CRM is moving towards putting all of its services in the cloud, it still offers on-premise services today. The company hopes to migrate all of its clients to the cloud by 2027. 

If you opt for a SAP CRM solution, make sure that it is a cloud-based one. You will know you are picking the right solution because the names of all of the cloud-based products end in the word “cloud.” 

Range of CRM Solutions

While SAP does not have as wide a range of CRM solutions and add-ons as Salesforce, the CRM products SAP does offer are tried and true. 

SAP has opted to focus on a smaller range of reliable products and deliver them well instead of dipping their hands in too many pots. However, in the past couple of years, SAP has hinted at plans to expand and transform the company’s presence in the cloud. 

SAP C/4HANA

SAP C/4HANA is SAP’s new, entirely cloud-based CRM suite of solutions. The solutions themselves are trusted features from the on-premise suite, but SAP is looking to advance and integrate them better in the cloud. SAP C/4HANA solution options include: 

SAP Marketing Cloud

  • Enables you to compile a customer’s data from across your organization and some third-party providers to create a single customer profile 
  • Allows you to manage customer permission for data collection and sharing

SAP Commerce Cloud

  • Allows for an intuitive and smooth experience for your customer 
  • Provides you with data on your customer throughout the sales lifecycle

SAP Sales Cloud

  • Allows you to better understand your customers 
  • Allows you to manage all aspects of sales, including the customer experience, pricing, and even incentivizing your sales team

SAP Service Cloud

  • Enables you to provide top-notch customer service 
  • Allows your service agents to triage and resolve customer service issues
  • Provides field service options to help dispatch and manage agents offsite

SAP Customer Data Cloud

  • Powered by Gigya, an Israeli-based identity management service that SAP acquired in 2017 
  • Gigya enables your customers to create user profiles securely and manage their preferences
  • Allows you to better understand your customer and helps you tailor your products to individuals

SAP S/4HANA

Unlike SAP C/4HANA, which is only geared towards CRM, SAP S/4HANA is a suite of all kinds of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) business solutions—as well as an module for CRM: S/4HANA for Customer Management.

However, you can also integrate SAP C/4HANA into SAP S/4HANA.

The difference between CRM and ERP is that while CRM offers front office tools to manage customers, ERP mainly is a back-office set of tools to help with the in-house aspects of running a business, such as supplies, finance, and distribution. But keep in mind that CRM is a subpart of ERP. 

SAP is very well known for its ERP solutions and is working to integrate its different front and back-office solutions. In 2020, SAP announced plans for a cloud-based Integrated Intelligence Suite, which will combine CRM and ERP solutions on one platform. 

AI

To keep up with competitors, SAP has also entered the artificial intelligence space. SAP’s AI efforts focus on two areas: 

  • Intelligent Robotic Process Automation, which assists you and your employees with making smart and intuitive decisions when interacting with customers 
  • Conversation AI, which are chatbots to help customers and employees 

In 2017, SAP launched SAP Leonardo, which was intended to be similar to Salesforce’s Einstein. However, SAP lacked a clear vision for Leonardo, and the project flopped

SAP CRM Partners

SAP partners with over 21,000 companies worldwide through its partner program. 

SAP’s partners redistribute SAPs solutions to their customers. They are also able to customize SAP solutions to your specific needs, as well as help integrate, implement, and troubleshoot the SAP solution of your choice. 

Among the partners are globally recognized technology and consulting companies. There are five categories of partners to choose from, broken down by the partner’s expertise and performance: 

  • SAP PartnerEdge Platinum Partners
  • SAP PartnerEdge Gold Partners
  • SAP PartnerEdge Silver Partners
  • SAP Recognized Expertise
  • SAP Pinnacle Award Winners

App Center

Similar to Salesforce, SAP hosts an App marketplace, SAP App Center, which brings together SAP partners who offer App solutions to SAP customers. The App solutions offered in the App Center can be integrated with SAP’s platforms. 

The App Center is available 24/7 and features nearly 2,000 different Apps. SAP recommends that customers browse the Apps to get an idea of the types of solutions they might require prior to contacting a SAP partner. 

Also, since 2018, SAP has offered its own Business One Mobile App, which focuses on ERP, with additional options of sales and customer service.

SAP CRM Target Audience

Originally, SAP CRM was better suited for larger companies that needed more complex solutions. However, with its recent advancements in the cloud computing space, SAP CRM has expanded its focus to include small and mid-size companies. 

Though SAP does not currently have a CRM solution tailored specifically for small businesses, SAP’s partners enable SAP to deliver its CRM solutions to smaller companies. SAP does offer an ERP solution that is specific to small and mid-sized businesses. 

SAP boasts of having thousands of small business clients, but ultimately, SAPs CRM solutions are still best suited for larger companies, corporations, and enterprises at this time. 

SAP CRM Pricing

Whereas Salesforce posts its base pricing clearly on its website, SAP does not. In order to get a cost estimate, you must request a quote from SAP, which you can do on the company’s website

SAP has two types of subscriptions for its Marketing and Commerce cloud-based CRM solutions: 

  • Standard Edition
  • Professional Edition 

SAP’s Marketing Cloud also comes with a 30-day free trial. Unlike the Marketing and Commerce clouds, SAP’s Service Cloud only has one subscription option. 

The rest of the CRM cloud solutions, including Customer Data Cloud and Sales Cloud, do not provide any information about pricing options. One possible reason for this is that prices may vary depending on the SAP partner by whom they are provided. 

SAP CRM Customer Reviews

Over the years, SAP has established a loyal customer base. SAP customers generally have good opinions of SAP solutions and their utility. Notably, some of SAP’s major clients are not looking for another solution despite having to endure a potentially troublesome migration to the cloud. 

Some of the customer complaints about SAP CRM solutions include:

  • An outdated and unattractive user interface
  • The platform can be slow if running many solutions
  • Hard to learn how to use and not very intuitive 
  • Too expensive and out of reach for smaller companies 

SAP CRM vs. Salesforce—a Side-by-Side Comparison

In a contest between SAP CRM and Salesforce, Salesforce is the clear winner. Read ahead for some key pros and cons of each company below. 

Because Salesforce is forward-leaning and flexible, you can count on the company to stay ahead of the curve. While it could benefit from reigning in its focus at times, Salesforce recognizes that the tech world is rapidly changing and will likely adjust your solutions as needed in the future. 

On the other hand, SAP is working to catch up, and who knows what the CRM market will even look like by the time SAP phases out its on-premise solutions in 2027. Unless SAP is able to step up its tech game quickly, it will never be able to catch up and act like Salesforce’s true competitor. 

Salesforce

Pros:

  • Innovative and technology-focused
  • Is likely to be at the forefront of future CRM transformations 
  • Base prices for all solutions are made available on the company’s website
  • Tailored to businesses of all sizes 
  • Intuitive and attractive interface well-liked by customers  

 Cons:

  • Too many options (yes, there is such a thing) can be confusing and distracting for some customers
  • Focused on innovating and delivering many solutions, which may diminish the ability to deliver solutions that have already been rolled out  

SAP CRM

Pros:

  • Reliable performance of longstanding CRM solutions 
  • A singular focus on delivering a limited number of solutions well 
  • Very focused on data privacy, security, and transparency with customers about how their information is managed 
  • Partnership program enables SAP clients to tailor CRM solutions to their specific needs 
  • Working to streamline solutions  

Cons:

  • Behind the curve and still catching up technology-wise
  • Migration from on-premise to cloud-based solutions challenging for some customers 
  • Not transparent about pricing 
  • Geared more towards large companies vs. small businesses at this time

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