A Side-by-Side Breakdown of SugarCRM vs. HubSpot

When choosing a CRM platform for your business, it’s all too easy to get tangled up in the ever-expanding range of solutions and functionality available today. The correct choice of platform for your organization depends on a number of factors, including how many direct B2B sales you handle, how much large-scale marketing you need to perform, and how technologically savvy your primary CRM users are going to be.

In terms of CRM platforms that are easy to learn, HubSpot remains a favorite of many users – but this platform also comes with some significant limitations, which we’ll dive into in detail. On the other hand, if you’re willing to put in hours to learn and customize your CRM software, then the powerful SugarCRM platform may be more your speed – though its complexity and pricing packages may give you pause.

Both these platforms have recently premiered new features that make them worthy of closer examination. For example, HubSpot now offers predictive lead scoring (for some paid users) and Sugar has made major updates to its search and reporting functionality.

Here’s how these two popular platforms break down side-by-side.

Comparison methodology

Although many other websites offer a simple CRM comparison matrix, we prefer to be more informative. That’s why we give you a detailed CRM functionality comparison, examining not only key features and pricing, but also attributes like platform usability and responsiveness of support, as well as positive and negative feedback from users like you.



Taking that approach, we’ve focused this review on attributes that will most significantly impact your everyday experience using each of these two platforms. For example, instead of making a list of every integration offered by each platform (which you could easily find on a vendor’s website), we’ll examine the integrations most likely to be useful to you, and provide reasons why those specific integrations matter more than others.

Along the way, we’ll be taking a closer look at aspects of each platform that can’t be easily quantified and compared. For instance, this CRM features list comparison will examine the processes of setting up and configuring HubSpot and Sugar, their ability to evolve as your business grows, their support departments’ responsiveness, and their users’ attitudes and experiences using them day-to-day.

Once we’ve examined all these areas in depth, we’ll finish up with a clear comparison of each platform’s pricing and packages, so you’ll know exactly what you’d be paying for in each case.

Implementation and setup

Both HubSpot and SugarCRM are based in the Cloud, which means there’s no local software to install. Instead, you’ll purchase a license to use the software month-to-month (unless you decide to go with HubSpot’s feature-limited free plan) and will upload all your customer data to the company’s server. That means you’ll never be limited by the number-crunching speed of your local laptop, because you’ll be leveraging the computing power of your solution’s cloud.

At the same time, no power this great comes without an investment – and both HubSpot and SugarCRM will require some level of customization in order to conform to your organization’s unique needs. HubSpot is famous for being one of the simplest CRM platforms to set up and configure – but that’s because its free plan includes much less functionality than Sugar offers.

Although some companies waste hours trying to set up and customize their new CRM platform, the vast majority end up more frustrated than before, and hire a professional implementation service to handle the job. That’s the approach we recommend. An expert can get your new platform set up and customized around your business’s needs in just a few days, at a fraction of what you’d end up paying your own staff for the same results.

The typical cost-to-services ration for HubSpot or Sugar implementation is approximately 1:1.
That means if you’ve spent $5,000 on your software license, you can expect to pay around $5,000 for implementation. Once that initial setup is complete, though, you’ll start to see returns on your investment almost immediately – and your only CRM cost going forward should be your standard monthly subscription.

Main features and usability

Because HubSpot and Sugar both include so many layers of features, any list is going to have to leave some things out – but at the same time, only certain features of each platform are likely to have a direct impact on your everyday user experience. The key differences break down into the categories of usability and mobile-friendliness.

Sugar and HubSpot both rank among the top-used platforms in the world, handling billions of transactions every day. Sugar offers support for databases of thousands of customers, and unlimited concurrent users, as do HubSpot’s paid plans at the Marketing Hub level and above. And in terms of core features, both platforms offer the range you’d expect from any pro-level CRM solution: email marketing, campaign management, lead management, marketing analytics, support case management, performance forecasting, social integration, and so on.

So where do the differences emerge? Most noticeably, in terms of the usability learning curve. While most users find HubSpot’s basic interface fairly straightforward to learn, Sugar is known for being more tricky to navigate – and that complexity can become magnified when you start to add your own customizations and integrations. However, HubSpot’s user-friendliness also comes with a downside: the platform will frequently try to upsell you on add-ons and customizations.

The other key area where differences stand out is that of mobile functionality. Although both platforms offer mobile apps, HubSpot’s is by far the more robust of the two, offering management of many of the same features you’ll be using on the desktop version. Sugar’s mobile client, on the other hand, is a lightweight PHP app – which makes it versatile enough to run on just about any device, but also makes the interface somewhat cumbersome.

One final note on functionality: HubSpot’s paid plans come with social media CRM built right in, but Sugar requires a third-party social marketing add-on. This bring us to the broader subject of integration and customization options, which is our main focus in the next section.

Customization and integration

While both HubSpot and Sugar pack a lot of power out of the box, they’ll both require some significant customization in order to fit into your business’s unique sales workflows. (This is why we recommended hiring a professional implementation service in the “Implementation and setup” section above.) But once your platform is set up and customized, it’ll be ready to roll out across your entire sales organization, where – as long as it’s been configured properly – your new software will start helping to streamline your sales processes right away.

Along with basic customization in terms of user interface and form fields, you’ll probably want to add some integrations with other software you already use – as described in this article[1] . Sugar offers a marketplace of 143 third-party platforms and apps, including tools for sales, customer service, accounting, automation, and even computer telephony integration (CTI) providers such as Cisco and Avaya. HubSpot comes out a little ahead in this category, with 205 integrations, including e-commerce platforms like Shopify, email campaign automation tools like MailChimp, and support solutions like Zendesk.

However, if your organization relies heavily on an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution like SAP, you should note that SugarCRM doesn’t offer much in the way of ERP integration – nor does it offer compatibility with Oracle or Netsuite. HubSpot, on the other hand, comes with built-in support for Oracle and Netsuite, and is compatible with third-party solutions for integration with SAP and other ERP platforms.

Before you invest in either of these two platforms, it’s worth taking a quick look through their app marketplaces, to check whether they offer built-in integrations with the platforms you need. Even if you can’t find your favorite app in the marketplace, though, all may not be lost – because many apps offer application program interfaces (APIs), which can enable your software to interact with them directly. The only downside is that APIs require significant expertise to set up, which means you’ll have to pay for expert assistance when you need a third-party integration that isn’t included in your platform’s marketplace.

Pricing and packages

It’s tricky to make a direct apples-to-apples SugarCRM vs. HubSpot cost comparison, because the two platforms structure their packages and pricing tiers very differently. A lot of HubSpot’s marketing focuses on the fact that the basic plan is “free forever” – but that plan will significantly limit you in terms of integrations and other features.

HubSpot’s free plan offers storage for up to one million contacts, for up to 1,000 users; along with access to the sales pipeline dashboard, which includes automated call logging and other helpful features. For email marketing automation and social integration, you’ll have to upgrade to the Basic plan, which costs $200 per month – and for advanced marketing automation, you’ll need the $800-per-month pro plan, while the $2,400-per-month Enterprise plan is required for A/B testing and advanced reporting.

Sugar’s pricing, on the other hand, is more straightforward. The Professional edition costs $40 per user per month, and offers sale automation and forecasting, along with lead management tools. For $65 per user per month, you’ll get the Enterprise edition, which adds product level quotes and forecasting, along with 60 gigabytes of data storage. The Ultimate tier, which runs $150 per user per month, includes the help of a dedicated technical account manager, plus 250 gigs of storage. Even factoring in additional costs for add-on modules, Sugar’s pricing still comes in well below that of HubSpot’s roughly equivalent plans.

The correct pricing structure for your organization depends on a number of factors — the most obvious of which, of course, is your annual CRM budget. However, an increase in that budget may be worth considering, if you’ll soon need to scale up your platform to accommodate many more customers, daily users, gigabytes of storage, and/or third-party app integrations. If you’ll need marketing automation and A/B testing, you may get more out of HubSpot’s paid plans; while Sugar’s pricing model may work better for you if your main needs are focused around sizable data storage and campaign forecasting.


HubSpot and Sugar will both charge you for phone support. Sugar includes five-days-a-week support in its Enterprise plan, and 24/7 support in its Ultimate plan. HubSpot offers a support ticketing system with all its plans, but you’ll have to pay for the Basic plan to get any phone support – or for the Enterprise plan if you want a direct-to-human support line.

Sugar’s support team tends to respond more quickly than HubSpot’s, with response times as quick as four hours (or up to two days), for an unlimited number of cases. HubSpot typically responds within 24 to 48 hours, and the quality of their responses tends to be a bit higher – but again, you’ll have to go through their system of submitting a ticket, then waiting for a human to respond to you, unless you’re ready to shell out for the Enterprise or Ultimate edition.

User feedback

Both Sugar and HubSpot have extremely loyal users, as well as frustrated ones who wish they’d invested in a platform better suited to their needs. SugarCRM customer feedback tends to focus on its clear and reasonable pricing, as well as its “nearly endless” customizability. However, negative reviews emphasize the complexity of customizing the platform, and the difficulty of learning the interface if you’re a first-time user.

In addition to thousands of small-business customers, a number of enterprise-level organizations have achieves positive results with HubSpot. Jean Montcrieff, owner of Emerge Studio, says, “[HubSpot’s] ability to manage everything in a single place has a huge impact on our productivity.” Mark Colgan, digital marketing manager at The Local Data Company, says he used Hubspot to manage his company’s entire inbound process. “In one hour,” he says, “I can have a complete lead generation campaign set up.” In one hour I can have a complete lead generation campaign set up.”

Users of SugarCRM often praise the platform’s ability to bring all their customer relationships into one single interface. Charlie Gunningham, CEO of Business News, says “Sugar has helped us break down silos. Advertising and subscription sales have clear, consistent processes and are able to work in unison with clients.” John Mills, IT director of Cells4Life, says, “The regulatory standard operating procedures were paralyzing and costly. Using Sugar for automation, we removed that problem.” And Daniel Tronolone, IT director of TengoInternet, adds, “If all your sales people are free to sell instead of updating data, they can put in 25 percent more time with customers. SugarCRM has enabled us to achieve that transition.”

HubSpot user reviews sing the praises of the robust free plan, and the ease of setting up and using the platform. Paid users love the simplicity of setting up third-party integrations, as well as the sheer number of automation and analytics tools that come built into the core software. Negative reviewers mainly complain that the software constantly tries to upsell them on upgrades and add-ons, to the point that the interface itself can sometimes feel like one big advertisement.

The bottom line

Neither of these two platforms comes out the clear winner in every category – instead, each of them is better suited to a certain set of needs and constraints. If you’re working with a minimal CRM budget, HubSpot’s free plan may cover your essentials. Just be aware that your HubSpot costs can quickly skyrocket as your business starts to need new features and integrations.

If you’re willing to invest more time and money up-front, on the other hand, Sugar can probably save you money in the long run. Just be aware that the platform may take significant time to set customize, and it comes with a relatively steep learning curve. For those who take the time to understand it, however, it can offers excellent long-term ROI.

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