SugarCRM vs Zoho CRM – Review and Comparison

In this article, we compare and contrast numerous features within SugarCRM and Zoho CRM. It is our aim to inform our readers of the pros and cons of both systems – as well as help them understand their options in the world of Cloud CRM.

SugarCRM Review - Comparison to ZohoSugarCRM is branded as the world’s leading open source CRM Application. Sugar provides a full offering of CRM capabilities for companies with basic-to-intermediate requirements. In contrast to ZohoSugar CRM can be deployed on-demand or on-premises.

SugarCRM as a company was established in 2004 in California. It has more than 150 employees, and claims over 7,000 customers and 500,000 users worldwide.

SugarCRM has undergone a business resurgence that began two years ago. Gartner has seen a significant increase in customer inquiries due to improved sales execution, and, in 2011, SugarCRM had the largest win in the company’s history (IBM 75,000 users). SugarCRM continues to leverage its open-source heritage for product development and is a value option as it relates to its competitive price point.

The Community Edition (free download) continues to be a viable alternative for attaining basic functionality for less capital expenditure. A cloud-neutral strategy enables customers to run SugarCRM on a variety of cloud infrastructures, including Amazon and IBM Cloud. A flexible customization environment that leverages PHP, combined with an innovative, opensource CRM model and community, enables collaborative, customer-driven enhancements. The open-source community develops and refines capabilities, then SugarCRM takes these capabilities and productizes enhancements in commercial releases of SugarCRM software. SugarCRM provides an attractive, easy-to-understand pricing model; customers pay the same subscription price, regardless of model. The IBM partnership provides improved delivery services and market reach; for those companies that have adopted an IBM technical stack, such as Lotus Notes, there is a CRM option.

Zoho CRM Review - and Comparison to SugarCRMZoho CRM has a market focus to be a low-cost provider for Customer Relationship Management and Sales Force Automation. Zoho is attractive to SMBs, which tend to be more cost-conscious.

Zoho CRM is often viewed as an affordable On-Demand CRM. It is part of a broader portfolio of on-demand business applications, which cover areas such as project management, document collaboration, invoicing and web conferencing.

Zoho offers a full CRM feature set, which is designed for companies with simple to intermediate requirements. Visually, Zoho looks a lot like an older version of Salesforce. Zoho is inexpensively priced and offers strong multilingual support. Zoho CRM was included in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation in 2011 for the very first time.

Zoho Corporation is privately held and headquartered in California. Zoho claims over 50,000 companies and 5 million users of its various business applications.

It offers a low-cost solution . Zoho Professional Edition is $12 per user per month, and Enterprise Edition is $25 per user per month. There is a broad suite of business application functionality, but it will not have the depth required for large, complex installations. This vendor’s solution is attractive for SMBs looking for value, yet not interested in a full CRM.

Our Verdict: Sugar vs Zoho

Both Zoho and SugarCRM rank among the Top 10 CRM systems for SMBs. In short, Sugar offers a complete CRM solution including marketing, project management and mobile – for $35/month. On the other hand Zoho offers a lesser price for a much smaller feature set.

If you are looking for a simple sales tool and don’t require adding in features over the next 3-5 years, then Zoho may just be the way to go.

If you require a full CRM and don’t want to spend more money migrating to a full CRM sometime in the next 5 years, then SugarCRM is probably the way to go.

Comparing Packaging & Pricing of Zoho and Sugar

The vast majority of CRM features within SugarCRM are common across the Professional and Corporate editions.

The Corporate edition includes all features in the Professional edition and adds the following functionality: (a) offline mobile access, (b) increased storage allocation and (c) increased number of calls to the SugarCRM support desk.

The Enterprise edition includes all features in the Corporate edition and adds the following functionality: (a) offline client for computers, (b) reporting access to complete SQL tables, (c) support portal (d) more increased storage allocation and (c) more calls to the SugarCRM support desk.

The vast majority of Zoho’s CRM features are common across all three of the Zoho CRM editions.

The free edition is limited by (a) the maximum number of users (three) and (b) storage allocation. It excludes the following features/modules: (a) products, (b) security administration, (c) workflow and (d) mail-merge.

The Professional edition is limited by storage allocation and other tools that are only available in Enterprise edition such as (a) deduplication, (b) web tabs and (c) groups. Click here for more pricing info.

Comparing Screens and User Experience

The SugarCRM user interface was completely refreshed/improved in version 6.0. The new screens include a combination of tabs and hover-over navigation.

In the interface, new records or activities created from the top of the page. The tabs across the top are the primary navigation method, and most record types are presented as a single continuous page, which can require lots of scrolling if a record is very detailed. On the other hand, users can drag and drop record sections to their preferred sequence/order on the page.

Sugar provides hover-over access for common tasks and recent records per entity.

Notifications are visible in top, left-hard corner, and a wide variety of themes available out of the box.

The Zoho screen design is very similar to older version of Salesforce. Tabs are restricted to navigating between primary record types such as (a) accounts, opportunities, contacts etc. Most record types are presented as a single continuous page. This requires quite a bit of scrolling in cases where a record is very detailed: for example attachments, opportunities, contacts, notes, activities, products, quotes, sales orders, invoices, related accounts and cases.

The customizable sidebar within Zoho provides access to the following modules/functions: (a) search, (b) recent records, (c) a quick create option with a customizable drop-down menu, and (d) a calendar.

Unfortunately, personalization is limited to simple setup options. A number of skins are available out-of-the-box.

Managing Contacts and Accounts in Zoho and Sugar

SugarCRM supports both B2C and B2B Contacts and Companies business scenarios. Within Sugar, Contact information links with both Twitter and Linked-In out-of-the-box. It also integrates with InsideView, a contact content aggregator and networking tool. This tool is available in free and paid versions. History, activities, documents, opportunities, quotes, leads, campaigns, cases, and direct reports can be added to contacts. Google maps integration for address details is available as an iFrame and can be quickly configured. Change logs can be applied to any desired field for auditing purposes. Sugar allows users to create custom modules, rename modules and create parent/child relationships between any specified modules.

Zoho CRM supports both B2C and B2B business models, thus both the Contacts and Companies scenarios. Zoho also provides basic contact information, including Skype ID. It allows users to initiate a web conference directly through the contacts tab. The following subpanels/tabs are available and can be added to contacts and accounts: attachments, opportunities, contacts, products, quotes, activities, notes, cases, quotes, sales orders, purchase orders, emails, invoices and campaigns. Zoho CRM supports parent / child relationships for subsidiary companies or divisions. Contacts can even be assigned automatically through workflow. Google maps integration is also available for address details.

Managing Activities and To-Do’s in both systems

SugarCRM offers flexible capabilities for task and event management. This includes a flexible Calendar with day / week / month view. Sugar offers a Scheduling assistant and supports shared calendars for multiple users to work together as a team. SugarCRM offers Microsoft Outlook integration via a very flexible plugin. Invitees, including external invitees can be added to activities. Users are able to invite other users as activity attendees. Recently, Sugar added support for recurring activities.

Zoho CRM provides basic capabilities for task and event management: (a) create/edit a task or event (b) support for recurring events (c) invitees, including external invitees can be added (d) inbound/outbound calls can be logged and (e) a stopwatch feature is provided to record the amount of time spent on individual calls.

Managing and Converting Leads in Sugar vs Zoho CRM

Sugar Users are able to capture basic lead information, including lead source, from a customizable drop-down menu. Activities, attachments, histories and campaigns can be quickly added to a lead record. InsideView integration is also provided for leads. When ready to move forward, leads can be converted into contacts, companies, opportunities, notes, logged calls, scheduled meetings and tasks. Users can configure default settings for lead conversion. Within Sugar, Web-to-lead capabilities are provided out of the box. Leads can be assigned automatically to individual users using the built in workflow module.

In Zoho CRM, users are able to capture basic lead information, including lead source from a customizable drop-down menu. Attachments, products, activities, emails, notes and campaigns can be added to a lead record. Leads can be converted into opportunities. When converted, opportunities are assigned to an existing account through an automatic lookup, or a new account can be created. Leads can be assigned automatically to individual users based on specific field values (e.g. State), although this capability is not available in the free version of the product.

Comparing Marketing Forms: Web To Lead Forms

SugarCRM provides out of the box Web-to-lead forms. These are easily created through the Campaigns module.  SugarCRM fields can be dragged into position on the leads form, and Sugar’s web form builder automatically generates HTML code that can be embedded in any customer website. SugarCRM can be configured via workflow to send the prospect an automated email when they submit their web form details. Workflow rules can also be used to route the leads to specific users based on field values.

Depending on the edition of Zoho CRM, users can create up to 25 online forms for lead capture. Users can select the fields to be made available online through the Web form builder. The web form builder generates code that can then be embedded in any customer website. This can be configured to send the prospect an automated email when they submit their details. Interestingly, workflow rules can be used to route the leads to specific users based on field values.

SugarCRM vs Zoho: Managing Sales Opportunities, Products and Quotes

SugarCRM opportunities have a similar structure to accounts and contacts. Users can track opportunity information, including stage, account, probability, new business vs. install base, as well as unlimited custom fields. Sales stages can be customized within the administration studio. Activities, history, attachments, contacts, quotes and leads can be added to opportunity records.

In Sugar, users can capture product information in the product catalogue, including list price, unit price, serial number, discount rate, and more. Products are completely searchable. They can also be grouped by type. The Product catalogue is used to add products to quotes.

SugarCRM Quotes can be associated with an opportunity, account or contact. Users can create entire quotes and print to customizable PDF templates. Users can also capture overview information such as quote expiration date and other billing details. They can also add Product line items with pricing from the product catalogue. Sugar provides configurable quote stages: negotiation; on-hold; delivered; confirmed; closed – accepted; closed – lost; closed – dead

In Zoho CRM, Opportunities are referred to as Potentials. These can be created individually or imported from an external source. Potentials provide a similar structure to accounts and contacts. They allow users to track basic opportunity information, including stage and probability. Zoho offers a customizable stage/probability mapping tool as well as the ability to track competitor information. Once these Potentials/Opportunities are created, attachments, products, quotes, contact roles, activities, emails, notes and campaigns can be added. Please note that contact roles are supported (for example the decision maker, influencer, etc…) and Zoho provides ‘Big deal alert’ capability. Zoho provides basic capabilities to manage suppliers and generate purchase orders. Supplier information is captured in the same way as customers. And purchase orders are handled in the same way as invoices.

In Zoho CRM, the Product catalog is only available in the paid version of the product. Users can track basic product information: product name, product code, unit price, quantity, product category picklists and descriptions. There is limited support for tax rates. ZohoCRM Alerts can be configured for stock re-ordering. Users can also configure a basic pricebook. Users are able to implement and track simple discounting rules such as (a) flat rate or (b) volume based. Zoho offers integration to QuickBooks, but it is not clear if it supports synchronization of pricing information.

In Zoho, Quotes can be associated with an opportunity, account or contact. These quotes can be converted directly into sales orders or invoices. Zoho invoices are only available in the paid versions of the product. These are based on product and pricing information. And once they are created, an invoice can be emailed directly to a customer or converted into a PDF.

Contrasting Reports and Forecasting

SugarCRM supports individual and team roll-ups for forecasting purposes. It aggregates opportunities from the opportunity tab and provides numerous out of the box dashboard reports with various views/angles on the data. In the Forecasting module, each user enters best, likely and worst case amounts. The actual amounts aggregate up the hierarchy chain of responsibility. Sugar provides charts that show quota vs. committed vs. actual amounts.

SugarCRM provides a wide range of reporting capabilities: filters, runtime filters, report charts, tracker reports, SQL queries and automated report delivery scheduling. There is also a vast range of standard reports out-of-the-box with advanced report search capability. There is a custom report wizard also available – that allows access to report on all modules in the database as well as related fields. Query options for reports are almost endless.

The Dashboard tab, also referred to as the Home tab, allows for multiple tabbed dashboards e.g. dedicated for sales, marketing, customer service, etc. Dashboards can have one, two or three column layout, yet column sizes cannot be changed. There is a wide range of different dashboard component types: (1) charts, (2) entity-based lists, (i.e. my accounts, my calls), (3) web pages and (4) tools, which include a number of other component types, (i.e. activity stream, notepad and Sugar news). These components can be filtered. There is also a wide range of standard charts provided within Sugar. These charts can also be based on standard and custom reports. Where a report does not exist, the user must exit the dashboard wizard to create it. Dashboard components can be easily customized: the number of lines shown, whether it is auto-refreshed, report columns to be hidden or displayed, and any filters that should be applied. Once added, the browser must be refreshed before the component functions. Dashboard components can be dragged and dropped into position, but cannot be resized on-the-fly. There is no limit on page length.

Forecasting is only available in the paid versions of Zoho. The fiscal year can be captured in settings. Zoho forecasting also aggregates opportunities from the opportunity tab as well as providing breakdowns by (a) month, (b) quota, (c) % quota, (d) closed, (e) committed amount, (f) best case and (g) pipeline.

Zoho CRM offers a suite of standard reports – out-of-the-box. Custom reports can be created, yet there is a limit of 2,000 records per report.

In Zoho CRM, Dashboards are available out-of-the-box for the following modules: leads; accounts and contacts; opportunities; campaigns; cases and solutions; products and inventory. These Dashboards can be edited, but they unfortunately cannot be filtered. Custom dashboards can be created in Zoho, but the maximum number of dashboards is limited by the edition. Components are based on lists or reports. Dashboards are also limited to a 2 column, fixed width format. It is noteworthy that if the list or report does not exist, the user must exit the dashboard editor, create list or report and then reopen the editor. The bar, pie, line, funnel and table chart types supported.

Workflow Automation Options in SugarCRM and Zoho CRM

SugarCRM Workflow is used to create alerts and updates to records. Unlike some competitive solutions, workflow in Sugar can also be used to create new records, not just updating existing records. Workflows are created by using triggers and actions. This allows for multiple workflows actions to be configured as a workflow sequence. Workflow triggers can include lapsed time or an update to a record. Alerts can be sent as email or system alerts. A Test function is provided in order to test workflows before they are run in the production environment.

Workflow in Zoho CRM is limited to one trigger, one action. Workflow is used to create a new alert, task or field update based on the creation/update of a record or a field. Yet Workflow cannot be used to create a new record.

Integrating with Outside Systems

As an open source product, SugarCRM offers an extensive range of integrations: Project and activity management is provided as an out of the box module within SugarCRM. This module provides dependent project tasks and Gantt charts. Other Project Management plugins can also be implemented as needed. SugarCRM also provides free, very flexible Microsoft Outlook and Office integration through their own plug-in. The following free connectors are frequently implemented: (a) Cisco WebEx Meeting Center integration (b) Citrix Online GoToMeeting integration (c) Cloud Connectors to Facebook, Hoovers, Jigsaw, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Zoominfo (d) Gmail and Google Docs integration (e) InsideView integration (f) LotusLive integration.

Microsoft Outlook and Office integration is available through a free plug-in.  Cisco WebEx Meeting Center integration and Citrix Online GoToMeeting integration are available through free tools. Cloud Connectors to Facebook, Hoovers, Jigsaw, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Zoominfo are also available for free and provided by Sugar. Gmail and Google Docs integration as well as InsideView integration are also available for free within Sugar.

In Zoho CRM, Microsoft Outlook integration can be purchased at an extra cost. This integration is delivered through a plugin which synchronizes contacts, activities and tasks. Please note that Emails can be associated with Zoho records. Zoho CRM also integrates with Microsoft Office, Google docs and Zoho docs for attachments and mail-merge. Zoho CRM integration with Quickbooks is also provided as an extra cost service. This is limited to: (1) basic data import from Quickbooks (contacts, quotes, products, vendors, sales orders, and invoices), (2) bidirectional sync of contact and company fields, and (3) ability to map standard and custom fields between the two applications for sync.

Zoho CRM offers a number of addons/plugins. The Zoho Plug-in for Microsoft Outlook is priced at $3 per user per month. The Zoho CRM Plug-in for Microsoft Office is priced at $3 per user per month. The Zoho CRM Mail Add-on is priced at $3 per user per month for the Paid versions and $5 per user per month for the free version. A Data Export is available yet priced at $10 per request. CTI is priced at $6 per user per month. Zoho CRM QuickBooks integration is priced at $25 per Organization per Month.  Support Integration for Quickbooks is priced at $3 per user per month. Projects Integration is free for all Editions Mobile Edition is priced at $3 per user per month.

Other things to be aware of

Although it signed a large deal with IBM in 2011 (75,000 users), SugarCRM is primarily focused on SMBs and is in the process of expanding direct sales and partnerships to support larger SFA implementations. SugarCRM is in the process of ramping up its direct sales organization for larger named accounts that will improve its ability to sell to larger accounts. SugarCRM is building a strong ecosystem of traditional ISV partners to fill in functional white space of products. SugarCRM does have an emerging marketplace of ISVs called and offers, which is an open-source community. One subscription price, regardless of delivery model, is easy for customers to understand, however, some customers question why they would not get a price break if they are taking on the operational burden of running software on-premises.

With no direct sales, Zoho relies on a pull model and advertising for customers to discover its products. There is a lack of integrated ISV partners to fill functional white space. Customers report that Zoho needs to spend more time on quality assurance before releasing new versions.

Review of SugarCRM (Video)

Review of Zoho CRM (Video)

Comparison of SugarCRM vs ACT vs Microsoft CRM vs Salesforce

Free Download - CRM Excel Tool - CRM Feature ComparisonFREE DOWNLOAD: Excel Tool to Compare CRM Systems

With this Excel chart, you will be able to view the key differences between 8 of the top CRM providers including the following CRM Systems:

==>Download this Free Excel CRM Feature Comparison Spreadsheet<==

Evaluation Factors:

  • Chief CRM Features
  • Cost
  • Available Entities (e.g. SFA, Marketing, Service, etc)
  • Synchronization details
  • Call Center options
  • Quotes details
  • Lead Management
  • Security
  • Workflow details
  • Hardware service for Linux
  • Industry Codes

Sugar CRM - Free CRM Assessment PDFFREE BONUS: SugarCRM Cloud Evaluation PDF

Click to download our (free) Sugar CRM Assessment PDF.

With this PDF document, you will be able to understand the major improvements within Sugar CRM.

Topics addressed:

  • Special Fields (Show/Hide)
  • Related Fields (related to other entities)
  • Calculated Workflow Fields
  • Dependent Drop-Downs
  • Using Favorites
  • Understanding the Favorites Dashlet
  • LinkedIn and Social Media integration
  • Reporting Options (grouping, filtering)
  • User Screen enhancements
  • Sugar Mobile details
  • and much more.

Video Comparison of SugarCRM and Salesforce:

Sage ACT! Premium 2013 - Free Feature Assessment PDFFREE BONUS: ACT! Review and Assessment

Click here to receive our Free ACT! Feature Evaluation .

With this PDF document, you will be able to understand the chief enhancements inside ACT!

Topics include:

  • Interface improvements
  • E-Marketing
  • Performing Online Surveys
  • Sales Opportunity enhancements
  • Flexible Reporting options
  • ACT Dashboard improvements
  • Microsoft Outlook Invitations
  • Advanced Outlook Sync for Calendar
  • Google Calendar Options
  • Simplified Importing redesign
  • and much more.

Video Comparison of ACT and Salesforce:

Mark Shaw

Director at Accent Gold Solutions
Author: Mark Shaw, Director of Accent Gold Solutions, is certified in a number of CRM systems - including SAP CRM, SugarCRM and ACT! Having studied Business at the University of Massachusetts, he went on to consult several large Energy Utilities in the US and Europe - including designing a Sales Database for the largest European provider of Natural Gas. Using his unique combination of sales and marketing experience, Mark has set up and led successful sales teams for several firms, including Xerox.
Read more about Mark on our About Us page. Google