SugarCRM vs CRM comparison with facts, differences and reasons


SugarCRM vs Salesforce is a common comparison point for many CRM customers. It’s a choice that needs to be made before adopting a CRM for the organisation.In the mid-market and enterprise market there are three CRM vendors who compete with each other, namely SugarCRM , Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics.

Out of the many CRM vendors SugarCRM and Salesforce are the two vendors whose only focus is CRM. Other vendors are in CRM market but their core product might be something else and might have joined the CRM bandwagon as an add on to their other products.

For example SAP and Microsoft both have ERP as their main focus and offer CRM functionality.

The global giants Salesforce and SugarCRM are based out of San Francisco Bay area and started in 1999 and 2004 respectively.

This article compares the feature benefits between the two products.  Definitely Salesforce brand is more recognised compared to SugarCRM.

SugarCRM vs Salesforce Branding

Many a times enterprises go with the branding these companies build.  Salesforce from day one is a marketing company and has spent lot of money on brand building.

Salesforce is also number one in the market in terms of its its revenue. However it has never reported a profit even for a quarter in the last two decades due to its extensive marketing budget.

Whereas Salesforce spent lot of money on marketing and branding, Sugar spent its money on product improvement and usability.

Of late in 2018 Sugar partnered with Accel KKR and we should watch if the new funds infusion helps in Sugar brand building.

Let us look at these two systems and see their differences and similarities.

SugarCRM vs Salesforce Features

Salesforce is by any standards the leader in the CRM Market. To be a leader the company has to keep on adding more and more features. But in a mission to catch up, every follower tries to offer all the features of the leader or most of the features of the leader. SugarCRM offers almost all the features of Salesforce but comes with a new look and feel.

UI / UX Comparison

SugarCRM released an all new platform level upgrade in 2013 to shift its UX as well as development platform to suit to the latest mobile technology revolution. Sugar has been revamping its UI often from 2004 onwards but the 2013 upgrade is a major change with technology.This new version has a highly flexible UI and also uses a Client Side MVC framework to make it much faster experience than other CRMs.

After 3 years in 2016 October Salesforce followed SugarCRM by complete revamp of its UI / UX calling it Lightning. And Sugar continued making changes to UI / UX and in Sugar 9 released in 2019, there is again a UI / UX changes. Salesforce UI was stagnant for a very long time from 1999 to 2016 and the new UI may not change in the near future due to its multi-tenant architecture.

But Sugar continues to improve its UI by taking continuous feedback from customers and partners.

Usability and Navigation

Both SugarCRM and Salesforce have moved to new UI frameworks and considered improving the basic navigation of the system. Sugar has improved its top navigation whereas Salesforce has adopted the Tab / Twitter Bootstrap navigation ecosystem.

SugarCRM UI is very simple and easy to learn whereas Salesforce tried its best to give more features but at the cost of complexity. The UI is complex to visualise as well as navigate. You can compare both the navigations here.

SaaS CRM / Cloud CRM / Deployment Options

Salesforce is a pioneer in inventing the SaaS model or Software As a Service Model to counter the then existing packaged hosted solutions like SIEBEL. When salesforce came into existence in late 1990s, CRM was very expensive. Salesforce made it an affordable solution by accepting payments for yearly usage rather than for buying and hosting in the company premises. Even though there is a definite shift over a period of time from hosted CRM to Cloud CRM / SaaS CRM, there is still large market for Hosted CRM. In this scenario salesforce offers only SaaS CRM hosted on their own cloud.

But SugarCRM offers lot of flexibility in terms of deployment. It comes by default with SaaS CRM hosted on SugarCRM own cloud which it calls as ‘SugarCRM On Demand” and the same application can be hosted on customer premise or any public cloud or private cloud. Unlike Salesforce’s csv file back up for migration, SugarCRM provides complete installation along with Database as back up so that anyone can restore it on their own hosting platform.

The deployment option is not a problem as long as there is no corporate policy to host inside the premises or country regulatory framework allows customer data to be stored outside the country. If any of the above two conditions are a bottleneck, SugarCRM fares well against salesforce by providing an option to host. Since most of the companies are not maintaining their own data centres, SugarCRM is being hosted on public clouds like AWS or SoftLayer, or Microsoft Azure or private clouds provided by many cloud companies.

And many countries are slowly but steadily putting regulatory framework not to sure customer data of financial institutes outside the country. In this scenario salesforce is altogether ruled out if they do not have their cloud hosted in that country.

Mobile CRM

Both SugarCRM and Salesforce significantly invested in building a flexible and latest mobile app for their CRM. They are available for both Android and iPhone. The modules and fields that needs to be visible on the mobile UI can be controlled from the Admin area. SugarCRM has improved its application with the new client side MVC framework by making it a responsive application.

That way, it renders neatly on the mobile browser if you do not want to download the mobile app. For SugarCRM Enterprise Edition and Salesforce Enterprise Edition the mobile application works offline too.

Salesforce offers the sales features like account management, lead management , opportunity management and activities management. SugarCRM offers all of what salesforce offers and also quote management too. This way the SugarCRM mobile CRM / application is way ahead of salesforce.

Pricing and Simplicity

When we go and look at salesforce pricing, there are too many options, addons and choices. This might make salesforce a one stop solution for an organisation, but it may confuse the first timers or small and medium businesses. Where as SugarCRM comes with a plain pricing policy and follows one price for one product mechanism. For the price you pay you get all the features and there is no selective enablement or disablement.

There are two major editions that we can compare between SugarCRM and Salesforce. Both of them have Professional Edition and Enterprise Edition. The Enterprise Edition of SugarCRM matches in features and depth the Enterprise Edition of Salesforce.

Sales Force Edition


SugarCRM Edition

Price – Per User Per Month

Essential (Upto 10 Users)

$25 /user/month

None Equivalent


$75 /user/month


$40 /user/month


$150 /user/month


$60 /user/month


$300 /user/month


$150 /user/month

10 User Salesforce Enterprise for 1 year = USD 150 X 12 X 10 = 18000 USD

10 User SugarCRM Enterprise for 1 year = USD 65 X 12 X 10 = 7800 USD

SugarCRM is almost available at 60% cheaper than Salesforce for the same / similar feature set.

Customisation and Extensibility

In a SugarCRM vs Salesforce comparison, SugarCRM offers extensive customisation capabilities and very less complexity than Salesforce.

Because salesforce is a SaaS based application, from the beginning it worked on creating an admin area and specific language to customise the system and add business logic. The same mechanism is followed by SugarCRM. Salesforce and SugarCRM both comes with extensive web services API that help integrating the system with other systems. There may be inherent limits that control the usage of these APIs but if SugarCRM is hosted on the cloud or on premise these limits may not be a bottleneck for integrations.

Apart from the admin area from which the system can be customised, SugarCRM being an open source CRM application, lot more code level enhancements can be done efficiently. Most of the enhancements are done using Javascript related technologies and PHP.

So overall salesforce is Weirdly Stitched and Confusingly expensive.

Sales Experience

Salesforce comes with an enterprise level sales team across the board. For a prospective customer their enterprise level presentations and team presence in physical meetings can be rated very high.Once a sale is made by the salesforce sales team, it is handed over to the implementing partner for implementation. Sometimes for large implementation salesforce itself takes the implementation. But mostly there may be expectation mismatch once a sales is made by Salesforce.

Whereas SugarCRM sells mostly through their partners. And SugarCRM partners may be small or large enterprises, and depending on the size of the partner company, SugarCRM sales experience during evaluation and sales process will be much different than Salesforce. The main difference here between SugarCRM and salesforce is, Salesforce sells with their own sales team and implements with the partner team.

Whereas in SugarCRM case, partner does both the sale and implementation except for a pretty large deals where SugarCRM will be directly involved.

All in all the above points present some of the differences to consider while choosing SugarCRM vs Salesforce or Salesforce vs SugarCRM.

Bhea is a leading SugarCRM partner and you can contact us for any further information or assistance here


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