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How Dominant Is Salesforce in the CRM Software Space?

Grishma Govani
March 23, 2015
Customer Success

How Dominant Is Salesforce in the CRM Software Space?

In our latest Buyer’s Guide to CRM Software, users among all market segments – small businesses, mid-size companies and enterprises – have picked Salesforce as a top rated CRM software. Salesforce is also the most frequently evaluated software on TrustRadius. Products with large customer bases or high growth momentum are usually evaluated more frequently.
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However, in our Buyer’s Guide to CRM Software we have also seen a few new highly rated CRM tools. For those considering purchasing a CRM or switching from your current CRM, is Salesforce a sound investment given the highly rated alternatives? We asked five experts:

“Do you see anything shifting in Salesforce’s position i.e, more dominant, less dominant, or more focused on a particular segment?”

Here are four main takeaways from their responses:

  1. The CRM software market is largely untapped, with many companies still using email or homegrown solutions.
  2. Most experts agree that Salesforce dominates the CRM space. However, there are too many categories within CRM for Salesforce to claim leadership in all of them.
  3. Salesforce has been shifting focus to the enterprise, and expanding beyond CRM to become a software development platform.
  4. A tool that is highly focused and helps companies give valuable context to each customer interaction is going to be successful.

Here are their full responses:

Mitch Lieberman

A thought leader and practitioner in the areas of customer relationship management (CRM), sales enablement, customer service and customer experience. He has held successful leadership positions, designing and delivering mission-critical business applications to Fortune 500 companies. He tweets at mjayliebs

Email applications are still the largest force for CRM in any market, anywhere. While SFDC does have a dominant position as a software vendor in the CRM space, the market is still 80% untapped, as most people still use email. There is a lot of opportunity for highly focused vendors to meet the very specific need of helping people work with people, seeing eye-to-eye, giving valuable context to each interaction, through every touch point.

David “Doc” Searls’ Experts

Doc Searls is the author of Intention Economy and co-author of the business bestseller book The Cluetrain Manifesto. He asked the CRM experts in his network to respond to the above question. In order to provide honest responses, they have chosen to remain anonymous.

Expert #1: Salesforce will continue to dominate. They are moving faster than others in the space and thus as a big current user I have no incentive whatsoever to move.

Expert #2: I would challenge this statement outright. CRM is like ERP or “Marketing Software.” There are just too many categories to claim leadership and the ecosystem is constantly changing. Start with Sales automation, case management, compensation… Add social? Add mobile?

Look at this review from DestinationCRM… it’s for “case management.” Salesforce gets what amounts to honorable mention. Parature takes leadership. Oracle is an up and comer.

As analysis gets granular, you find this more and more. Salesforce is a participant in many aspects of the business but hardly a leader.

I’d also observe that companies large and small build their own solutions and the “home grown” category is probably still the market leader. They don’t show up in satisfaction surveys because they are often hated.

Marshall Lager

Marshall Lager is the founder and managing principal of Third Idea. Marshall is a former Senior Editor at CRM Media. During his tenure at CRM Media, he was the recipient of three APEX writing awards for his feature writing and Pint of View, his back page column. He tweets @Lager

For the past several years, Salesforce has been trying to shift its focus to larger enterprises, but the great majority of its users (and income) are still SMBs. This is not going to change anytime soon.

Denis Pombriant

Denis is a CRM and Social CRM analyst, researcher, writer, keynote speaker, consultant and award winning blogger. He is also the Managing Principal at Beagle Research Group, LLC 

Salesforce is, I believe, continuing to dominate the CRM market while building a business as a software development platform with CRM as the primary example of the platform’s capability. As such I expect that Salesforce will try to take on more responsibilities in enterprise computing.

Rich Bohn

Independent Analyst of CRM Solutions and has over 40 years experience in Sales leadership roles.

Frankly, in the CRM space, I think Salesforce is a house of cards. Try to discover their churn rate. The typical Salesforce customer I meet is unhappy and looking for something else.

So what does this mean for prospective buyers? If you are low on resources and skills for a complex tool like Salesforce, look into getting a more specialized solution. However, if you have the resources—including an expert in managing complex systems—implementing Salesforce might be a worthwhile endeavor as your company grows.

To learn more about the pros and cons of top rated CRM software products, based on the analysis of 480+ real user reviews, download the latest Buyer’s Guide to CRM Software. It includes:

  • A summary of CRM software including common features, factors to consider in your evaluation, benefits of using CRM software, and pitfalls to avoid
  • TrustMaps™ (two-dimensional charts) showing the leading CRM software products for enterprises, mid-size companies and small businesses, based on average “Likelihood to Recommend” ratings and search volumes on TrustRadius
  • An in-depth evaluation of 12 CRM software products, including pros and cons, tips from end users, and other insights gleaned from end-user reviews on TrustRadius

About the Author

Grishma Govani

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