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An in-depth look at HubSpot CRM vs SugarCRM: How to choose

6 mins read

Sometimes, you just have to cross boundaries - and for a humble marketer, that can be a big leap. When Digital 22 were asked by HubSpot to write a review of their sales tool compared to other platforms, we got ready to cross over to the other side. The Dark Side (to a marketer like me). The sales side of HubSpot.

So, I donned my shiny suit, slicked my hair back and re-watched The Wolf Of Wall Street for inspiration, then started diving into the HubSpot CRM vs SugarCRM sales tools to give you this comparison review.

In this blog, you’ll discover an in-depth comparison of HubSpot CRM versus SugarCRM. Let’s begin!

Who are HubSpot and SugarCRM, anyway?

HubSpot is the leading inbound marketing voice and one of the most popular, best-performing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms in the world. Established around a decade ago, HubSpot offers the most comprehensive and all-inclusive CRM platform on the market. 

It’s also more than that. It's part of a wider HubSpot service that’s seen as a growth platform that’s built around offering a scalable service to different businesses, including the Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, Service Hub and CMS Hub which can be used depending on preference.

HubSpot CRM.

SugarCRM is one of the world’s leading CRM tools. It’s also an open-source platform and was one of the industry’s leading innovators in the noughties. Now it’s popular among its users because of how easy it is to use.


Both platforms are used all over the world and have their own particular strengths and weaknesses. 

Let’s start with pricing levels

Here at Digital 22, we’re a little biased. HubSpot is our go-to, our bread-and-butter, our ride-or-die. As you can tell, we’re pretty hyped on the platform - so here’s what it is. 

HubSpot CRM is a free-to-use CRM tool. You can manage your pipeline with complete visibility, log sales activity and segment leads all in one place. Plus, you can also get marketing, sales and customer service tools as well. Did we mention it’s completely free? And you can begin to use subscription models for further services if you find it’s the right platform for you. 

In contrast, SugarCRM doesn’t offer a free service but does have competitive pricing rates with their entry-level membership. Professional Level starts at £41.60/ per user per month. There’s also the stipulation that you need a minimum of ten users, so for these ten users, this equates to a starting price of £4,992 per year - quite a sizable difference.

HubSpot CRM is leading on the pricing front. Let’s see what else we can compare them with to find the best CRM system.

CRM setup

Obviously, my Digital 22 account is already set up on the HubSpot CRM, seeing as we're an Elite Partner, so I had to start from scratch and use another email address.

I started the clock when I Googled, “HubSpot CRM” and in just two minutes (two minutes and eighteen seconds, to be precise), I was registered, my account was authorised and I was installing my HubSpot tracking code onto my website. In fact, you can get it all done in one afternoon

Everything then follows a clear step-by-step process for setting up lead capture forms, importing your database and setting up your sales team. I think, without the distractions of phone-checking and coffee-making, you could do your first outreach through the platform within 15 minutes.

It’s easy to set everything up in the correct order, which is great for those small to medium businesses where the MD or another manager may have to take on sales department responsibilities.

SugarCRM fans say the setup is quick and easy on that platform too, providing there are no technical hiccups. This leads us to some potential sticking points I’ve seen regarding SugarCRM.

hubspot contact

The cons of HubSpot CRM & SugarCRM

There are a number of reviews (linked below) that highlight how SugarCRM’s interface is clunky and often unresponsive. There are complaints that some features drop off completely and their support team needs to be contacted frequently (another comparative which is addressed in the final section of this post).

In one review on Software Advice, it states "Some of the features are a little generic and could be a little more updated with the times. Overall it is a good product." Another reads, "Not the prettiest software to look at but gets the job done."

Part of this may be down to the fact that SugarCRM is open-source. It’s aimed at businesses with the know-how and skillset to correct things like this because the adaptability and customisation of SugarCRM is definitely a plus - providing you have the in-house developers.

Speaking of which, there’s also feedback that HTML templates and coding doesn’t always transfer across to the CRM cleanly and needs to be tidied up post-import. Nothing more than a bug-bear if you have your own developers, but a real sticking point if this service is outsourced.

It means SugarCRM is far from automated, just like it reportedly is on the front end too. Sales managers have commented that the email campaign tool can be tricky to use and still relies on a decent amount of manual input.

Alternatively, with HubSpot CRM, the design is based around user-friendliness - every team member can use it - from marketers to developers to sales. 

Moving onto HubSpot CRM, you can only send emails to contacts (on a one by one basis) directly inside the CRM. In a review from Software Advice, one user states:

The amount of emails you can send is directly related to how many contacts you have. If you send a lot of them per month, you will need to increase your contact list to twice of what you have, just to be able to send more marketing campaigns.

For 99% of sales use, this is adequate and, in fact, easy to use.

The pros of HubSpot CRM & SugarCRM 

Customisable dashboards are something SugarCRM users seem to rate highly. As they do the campaign and report setup wizards. These features regularly get mentioned in user reviews, alongside the ability to link up with several email providers.

HubSpot CRM blows this integration out of the water, however, if you use the HubSpot Marketing Hub - with its seamless integration and automatic updating of Contact Profiles in light of user behaviour outside of sales.

As quickly alluded to earlier, HubSpot’s Marketing Hub is an all-encompassing tool. It allows you to publish all the forms of content you need to attract leads and all the data will feed into your CRM directly and seamlessly.

It will also work backwards and give you the user’s history before they filled in a form and became a lead. Right down to which tweet first piqued their interest in your brand.

And speaking of forms, the personalisation tools in these (and everywhere else) means you can segment your contacts deeper on HubSpot and with less effort.

An overview of integrations and features

Both platforms boast hundreds of integrations with other tools so that you can continue using the platforms you’re already familiar with. Pretty much everything is covered apart from. Currently, both SugarCRM cannot integrate with SAP, Oracle or Netsuite. HubSpot can integrate with SAP and Oracle, provided bespoke APIs or third-party integration services. The CRM platform does integrate with Netsuite.

In terms of features, both options include all the wealth features your sales personnel are likely to need. Lead scoring and segmentation, SMS marketing, predictive analytics, split testing, web activity tracking… everything you’d want as a minimum is in there.


User ratings

Hopefully, you won’t just take my word for it, but you will be interested in seeing what users of both platforms have to say about them.

Finances Online gave HubSpot their Expert’s Choice Award for 2020 when comparing the different online sales tools which are out there on the market. The HubSpot CRM has earned a score of 9.0/10 on this trusted site with users being 99% satisfied. On Software Advice, the CRM platform is rated at 4.51/5.

For comparison’s sake, SugarCRM lags behind with a score of only 8.9/10, which is still good, but not as good as HubSpot. This is mirrored on Software Advice, with a score of 3.79/5. The strength of SugarCRM is definitely its open-source nature making it great for capable, larger businesses.

Marketing Automation Insider, a website that knows a thing or three about sales automation, has awarded HubSpot 4 stars out of 5. They give SugarCRM 3.5 stars out of 5 which, again, is a little behind the HubSpot tool. G2 Crowd has a wider score difference, with their user reviews and scoring giving HubSpot a seriously impressive 4.7 out of 5 and SugarCRM 3.7 out of 5 overall.

Another popular review site, Capterra, has collated hundreds of reviews for each tool and given HubSpot CRM 4.5 stars out of 5 and SugarCRM 4 stars out of 5.

TrustRadius, the reputed business tech review community and website (check their credentials here), gives the most telling results. SugarCRM has earned a score of 7.5 out of 10 from the TrustRadius bods and community, while HubSpot scores a whacking 8.3 out of 10.

For a bit more information, you can see how HubSpot fares in comparison to Salesforce in our blog here.

What else you get with HubSpot compared to SugarCRM

So, it’s pretty close in lots of aspects, with the exception of price, which is a huge differentiator. Which tool is right for you, putting price to one side, may depend on what your company’s coding abilities are or whether you want to use HubSpot’s in-depth segmentation and tracking tools.

Thanks to connectivity and integration, HubSpot aligns data channels and interactions within contact’s timelines, offering businesses a single version of truth and richer insights concerning prospects and clients. To find out more about what sets HubSpot apart, check out this blog here

The cool thing about HubSpot’s offering is the CRM comes integrated with any purchase. So if you buy the Marketing Hub, Sales Hub or CMS Hub, you also have access to the CRM. 

Finally, another key differentiator mentioned earlier in the post is Customer Support and how much HubSpot wants to help their clients (you).

hubspot support

The SugarCRM support team’s response time for Professional Users is an average of four hours and this is only improved if you pay for higher-priced subscriptions.

This is fairly similar to HubSpot, who operate a five tier support system, including:

  • Knowledge Base
  • Community
  • Chat Support
  • Email Support
  • Phone Support

For free users, only the Knowledge Base (‘a library of how-to guides, reference docs, and troubleshooting steps’) and Community are available. However, for those on Starter, Professional or Enterprise subscriptions, the other tiers are available

Whenever the issue has been more complex (this is beyond rare - once in 12 months), the helpful member of the support team has stayed with us to see the resolution through. This means no explaining the issue to new HubSpot employees every time you chase it up.

The reason I mention this is because it typifies the whole experience of using HubSpot.

HubSpot exists to help you achieve your goals. This is done through far-reaching data tracking and easy presentation, smooth UX, a wealth of training videos and downloadable guides and industry-recognised courses and certifications. HubSpot wants to make your life at work easier and more successful.

And the HubSpot CRM in particular is no different.

If you’re still in the process of comparing a few different CRM providers check out HubSpot’s CRM evaluation guide or get in touch with Digital 22 for help with HubSpot CRM implementation.

Alternatively, if you’re investing in automation for your marketing and sales processes, but you’re unsure where to begin looking for the right tools for the job, we’ve got you covered.

The Digital 22 Marketing Automation Guide

In our guide, we explore how to find the right marketing automation platform for you and your business, with a focus on built-in CRMs, user-friendliness, integration capabilities and value for money. 

We explore four of the industry-leading vendors so you can find the platform that ticks all of those crucial boxes. Filled with accurate and relevant knowledge, this is the guide for you.

Click the link below to download.