SugarCRM vs Salesforce CRM comparison with facts, differences and reasons – April 2020

sugarcrm vs salesforce comparison by bhea

If you are evaluating CRM software, salesforce, sugarcrm and microsoft dynamics may not miss your eye. Salesforce is no doubt the biggest CRM vendor of our time. But bigger does not mean the best and may not mean value for money. SugarCRM is the most popular cost effective alternative to Salesforce CRM. So SugarCRM vs Salesforce is a common comparison point for many CRM customers

In the mid-market and enterprise market there are three CRM vendors namely SugarCRM , Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics  who compete with each other..

Out of the many CRM companies,  SugarCRM and Salesforce are the two companies whose only focus is CRM. Other companies are in the 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.

Sugar CRM and Salesforce CRM are standing out by focussing all their energies satisfying the customer relationship management and customer experience management areas.

When we are looking at Salesforce vs SugarCRM, incidentally they both originated out of the San Francisco Bay area and started in 1999 and 2004 respectively.

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

Salesforce vs Sugar CRM Branding

When enterprises want to buy CRM, they go with the branding these companies build.  Salesforce from day one is a marketing company and spent a lot of money on brand building. Salesforce is also number one in the market in terms of 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 a lot of money on marketing and branding, Sugar spent most of its money on product improvement and usability.

In 2018 Sugar partnered with Accel KKR and with the infusion of new funds Sugar re-branded with a new Sugar logo. It added new products like Sugar Market and add ons like Sugar Connect, Sugar Discover etc to improve its product portfolio.

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

Salesforce crm vs Sugar – product offerings

Being the full suite CRM companies, both Sugar and Salesforce offers the following products

NameDescriptionSugarCRM Salesforce
Marketing AutomationEmail marketing, drip marketing, lead scoring, web tracking solutionSugar MarketMarketing Cloud
Sales Force Automation / Sales CRMLead Management, Account and Contact Management, Opportunity Management, Sales pipeline management ,Forecast, Quote Management etcSugar SellSales Cloud
Customer Support Automation / Support CRMTicketing / Case Management, Knowledge Base, Customer Self Service PortalSugar ServeSupport Cloud

There are many add on plugins to these base products from both Sugar and Salesforce. But for comparison these three core products – Marketing, Sales and Support, have been taken into consideration. Salesforce is a cloud only platform whereas Sugar offers the products on Sugar cloud and  on premise / private cloud. 

Sugar On Premise Products include

Sugar Professional Edition

Sugar Enterprise Edition

SugarCRM vs. Salesforce CRM Pricing 

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 any organisation, but it may confuse the first timers or small and medium businesses. 

Whereas SugarCRM comes with a plain and simple 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.

What SugarCRM Offers 

  1. Sugar Market – for Marketing Automation 
    1. priced at USD 1000 Per Month Per 10K Contacts
    2. Annual PrePay – USD 12000
  2. Sugar Sell – For Sales Force Automation or Sales CRM
    1. Priced at USD 80 Per User Per Month
    2. 10 Users Minimum with Annual Prepay – Starting at USD 9600
  3. Sugar Serve – For Customer Support Automation or helpdesk CRM
    1. Priced at USD 80 Per User Per Month
    2. 10 Users Minimum with Annual Prepay – Starting at USD 9600
  4. Sugar Sell + Serve – For Sales Force Automation along with Customer Support Automation
    1. Priced at USD 110 Per User Per Month 
    2. 10 Users Minimum with Annual Prepay – starting at USD 13200

SugarCRM other offerings : Sugar offers for On Premise customers Sugar Professional Edition and Sugar Enterprise Edition. 

Salesforce offers a similar product line but has more variations but the most equivalent to Sugar products is their Enterprise Edition.

What Salesforce CRM Offers

  1. Salesforce Marketing Cloud – Pardot B2B Growth 
    1. Priced at USD 1250 Per Month Per 10K Contacts
    2. Annual Prepay – USD 15000
  2. Salesforce Sales CRM – Sales Cloud Enterprise Edition
    1. Priced at USD 150 Per User Per Month 
    2. For 10 Users with Prepay – Starting at USD 18000
  3. Salesforce Service CRM – Service Cloud Enterprise Edition
    1. Priced at USD 150 Per User Per Month.
    2. For 10 users Annual Prepay – Starting at USD 18000
  4. Salesforce Sales + Service CRM – Enterprise Edition
    1. Priced at USD 175 Per User Per Month
    2. For 10 users with Annual Prepay – Starting at USD 21,000

Salesforce Other Editions 

Salesforce has other editions like Essentials priced at USD 25 and Professional Priced at 75, but they are feature wise not comparable with Sugar products. Only the Salesforce Enterprise Edition is comparable to the Sugar’s Sales CRM and Service CRM.

In SFDC vs Sugar price comparison, SugarCRM wins on two parameters

  1. It is available at 50% cheaper than Salesforce for the same / similar feature set.
  2. Price Simplicity – There is one price to choose from for SugarCRM. Whereas Salesforce needs understanding of complex parameters.





Sugar Market

Marketing Automation

USD 1000 Per 10 Contacts

USD 1250 Per 10K Contacts

Sugar Sell

Sales Force Automation

USD 80

USD 150

Sugar Serve

Customer Support Automation

USD 80

USD 150

Sugar Sell + Serve

Sales and Support Automation

USD 110

USD 175

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 to its crm platform. But in a mission to catch up, most other CRM solution providers try 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 better 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 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. And Sugar continued making changes to UI / UX and in Sugar 9 released in 2019, there are again UI / UX changes.

After 3 years of Sugar platform level upgrade,  in 2016 October Salesforce followed SugarCRM by complete revamp of its UI / UX calling it Lightning. 

Salesforce UI was stagnant for a very long time from 1999 to 2016 close to 17 years 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.

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 need 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.

In the mobile application ,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 and all custom modules and customisation.. This way the SugarCRM mobile CRM / application is way ahead of salesforce.

Customisation and Extensibility

SugarCRM and Salesforce come with customization and extension capabilities. Both have a drag and drop field addition and field movement in UI.

However when you want to write a business logic or integration they use two different paths.

  1. SugarCRM uses open source technologies like PHP, JavaScript apart from the Business Process Engine SugarBPM.
  2. Salesforce uses custom proprietary language called APEX

Because of this difference, when you need deeper customisations and integrations, Salesforce becomes quite expensive when compared to SugarCRM.

Salesforce and SugarCRM both come with extensive web services API that help integrate 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, a 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 implementations salesforce itself takes the implementation. But mostly there may be an expectation mismatch once a sale 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 the SugarCRM case, the partner does both the sale and implementation except for pretty large deals where SugarCRM will be directly involved.

Since pre sales and post sales, your key contact point is the partner, you may find better SugarCRM implementations than Salesforce.

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.


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 with more than decade expertise in implementing SugarCRM and migrating Salesforce to SugarCRM.

Contact Us for if you are looking for implementing CRM or migrate from salesforce to SugarCRM.