Zoho vs. Highrise vs. Salesforce


I am looking to finally implement somekind of CRM here, as it get's more painful to run business without it. At the moment Zoho or Highrise seem like solutions I can consider.
We're using Google Apps also, so all email is in there. Zoho seems to handle GMail integration better(at least judging by their video) though.

Update: looks like Salesforce could be another good, albeit more expensive option?

I am seeking some recommendations on which one would be better to use and integrate with Google Apps. I am basically looking for the following high level features:

  • Keeping track of customer communications, with reminders when to follow and such
  • Having clear understanding of what's in pipeline, at what stages, how much business closed every month
  • Keeping customer profiles and contact information and sharing it among ourselves here

One thing that I may be looking for in the future is high level project management features.

Can someone who used either of these systems shed somelight of whether they helpful or painful to use for what I need?


CRM Productivity

asked Nov 20 '10 at 02:43
262 points

11 Answers


I have deployed ZohoCRM for one of my previous companies, I also decommissioned recently Highrise.

Once you have 2-3 sales people, you will outgrow Highrise. ZohoCRM is built out bit better, but lacks a lot of features. It is a mess to get the data out of either of the systems and get it into new system. Highrise... not sure what all the hype is about. It is one of the dumbest CRMs I've used (and I have dealt with turds like SalesLogix and MicrosoftCRM). Only thing it had going for it is semi decent UI.

I would look into something that can scale with you: SugarCRM or... Salesforce (just make sure you squeeze them really hard for a discount in the beginning, since Salesforce sales people are worse than used car sales ones).

UPDATE: recently I wrote an article where I lay out steps you need to take when deploying CRMs and other sales operations components: Building Sales Operations Infrastructure. What Your Team Needs to Sell Better.

answered Nov 20 '10 at 04:30
Apollo Sinkevicius
3,323 points
  • "outgrow Highrise" how? Can't you get the unlimited users plan? – Joseph Turian 13 years ago
  • Also, what is so dumb about Highrise? I ask because I'm evaluating Highrise vs SugarCRM vs etc – Joseph Turian 13 years ago
  • Great advice, thanks! In your experience, which(Sugar,Zoho,Salesforce) are more flexible in terms of adapting to a sales process we have here? – Alex 13 years ago
  • Out of all the CRMs I have dealt with, 37Signals is the most arrogant company out there. It is not the license issue, but the capability and flexibility one. Highrise is good enough for a tiny shop that does not rely on CLEAN data. Just invest the money and effort into a real CRM and get it done 80% right from the beginning. – Apollo Sinkevicius 13 years ago
  • BTW, migrating away from Highrise into any real CRM is pain I don't want to deal with ever again. I'd rather go see a dentist for a week. – Apollo Sinkevicius 13 years ago
  • @Joseph - outgrowing highrise is usually due to the need for additional features/functionality. 37Signals has a niche market and takes minimalism very literally. A mature company that requires customization and integration is not going to find it there. They show no interest in the 'Enterprise'. – Jeff O 13 years ago


We are using Insigtly and it seems to be good enough for our needs.

It's simple and not so complete, but it's integrated on Google Apps and it's free for now.

answered Nov 20 '10 at 11:14
Fabio Ferrari
321 points
  • +1. I use Google Apps for much of my business, so this integration makes things really sweet. – Joseph Turian 13 years ago
  • Having spent much of my career as a CRM consultant and then later as an entrepreneur, hard to beat Insightly for what you require. Integrates amazingly with Google Apps, is free and a great productive UI.Go for Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM or SugarCRM if you outgrow it. – Anurag 11 years ago
  • Also, just noticed that the Insigtly free package is considerably more generous then the one from Highrise. – Eric Brotto 11 years ago


Here is a review from someone on the internets.

I'd probably steer clear of 37 signals.

answered Nov 20 '10 at 04:23
Tim J
8,346 points
  • "I'd probably steer clear of 37 signals." Why? Please explain. – Joseph Turian 13 years ago
  • +1 for the link to a very useful review. – Ricardo 13 years ago
  • @Joseph - In all the interviews I hear of the 37 signal guys they sound unbelievably arrogant and make a point of stating that they don't write software for their users - rather for themselves. That might be reasonable, but I'd rather spend my money on companies that have a different attitude and viewpoint if there are competing products that meet my needs. All things being equal I would avoid them. – Tim J 13 years ago
  • I realize that 37 signals is the shiny/hip/model company for lots of entrepreneurs, and they certainly should be commended for their success, but I don't buy into a lot of the hype or some of their philosophies. – Tim J 13 years ago
  • Link broken :(. – Eric Brotto 11 years ago


We've been using Zoho CRM for about four years now, and it's really met our needs. We track leads, opportunities, quotes and sales orders in there; contacts are kept updated there, and then synced to my Google Contacts account so I've got them on my mobile phone too. Three user accounts are free, any more than that start to be charged, but the fee is really minimal. You can do a lot of customization in there, in terms of adding fields and whole new areas to records.

Salesforce is a great system, but huge in terms of features and costs. I know a few companies and organizations who were using it and moved away, due to the fact that their needs were much simpler and Salesforce was overkill for them.

We tried Highrise, and in my opinion it's just a glorified contact management system. It's not great for managing serious business processes.

answered Jun 3 '12 at 18:48
Miriam Schwab
121 points


Good answers already, here my personal review after testing and using different CRMs in startups.

Goal for me : Time to market and thus productivity is everything. Work hard to receive customer feedback, if good continue, else close the company.

  • Salesforce : Very expensive. Has a lot of features and will be perfect when scaling. Lots of easy to generate reports. Problems: We use only 5% of the features, interface is bloat, for developing integrations you need to pay. No me gusta.
  • SugarCRM : Free. Has a lot of features. I could do everything I could do with Salesforce. Interface I liked more than Salesforce. Problem: You have to host it on your own. This is a pain, especially as it is developed in PHP. I spent 2 hours per week fixing server configuration problems in a previous startup.
  • Highrise : Very cheap. Very productive as it is easy. Clean interface. Easy integrations via their API. Problem: Lacks advanced reports. As a developer you can code them via the API, with no knowledge it is more difficult.

When starting, go for Highrise. Once you have a proof of concept and proof of scale consider switching.

answered Sep 19 '12 at 19:19
241 points


I evaluated Highrise, Zoho, FreeCRM, and Insightly and choose Insightly; it has a good interface and recently they provided documentation for their API. Support team is very responsive and requested features do get implemented. I asked for a feature and found it available in about 2 weeks. What I really like is the Google Gmail gadget you can get a lot done just from your inbox.

answered Sep 7 '12 at 07:02
11 points


Just checking, have you considered open source?

Great thing is the "zero cost" (in the cold hard cash sense), which also means you are freely able to really give them a good spin around the block at no financial risk!

There are several good ones, I'd recommend:



CiviCRM (if your niche is appropriate for it, I'm going to be using it for a couple)

answered Jun 2 '12 at 03:02
Matthew Galloway
99 points


We choose Infusionsoft as our CRM. However, we did a lot of research and Salesforce was the other choice for us. However, we picked Infusionsoft because it was a less expensive option and it had a lot of functionality that we needed. I think you should take your time and try the free trials because once you pick a CRM, you do not want to switch it.

answered Jun 5 '12 at 01:53
21 points


In case you missed this: Comparison of CRM systems

answered Sep 17 '12 at 01:51
Z Boss
132 points


A lot depends on what your growth plans are and what kind of features you anticipate needing in the future. Changing CRMs is painful, so investing some time in figuring out the "right" one early is worth it.

When we started, we took the simplest path (Google spreadsheet). Not surprisingly, we outgrew that as the business started to get traction. We then moved to Salesforce.com. Overall, that's been a good decision for us. Salesforce.com is stable, has a rich set of functionality and a relatively open platform (so you're less likely to outgrow it). But, it does start to get expensive as you move into higher tiers and add a lot of users (we have 100+ now).

answered Nov 26 '10 at 16:09
Dharmesh Shah
2,865 points
  • I am actually leaning more and more towards Salesforce now, after a test drive. – Alex 13 years ago


I use HighRise since 1 year and I look to migrate on SugareCRM, OpenERP or SalesForce.

answered Jan 19 '12 at 21:31
1 point

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