Zendesk vs. Salesforce Comparison

Zendesk and Salesforce are two of the most recognized names in the CRM industry, with extensive track records and substantial client bases that range across all sectors. Zendesk launched in 2007 with a mission to revolutionize the way businesses interact with customers, providing a cloud-based customer support platform that emphasizes simplicity and user experience. Salesforce, established in 1999, originally focused on sales force automation (hence the name) before rapidly expanding its offerings to encompass every part of the business cycle, becoming a one-stop-shop for customer engagement and data management.

Importance of Choosing the Right CRM for Businesses

A CRM system is the heartbeat of a company’s customer-facing operations, centralizing customer data and streamlining interactions in an organized, effective manner. The right CRM can significantly enhance customer satisfaction, improve sales conversion rates, and boost overall business performance. It serves as a cohesive tool to align marketing, sales, and support activities, highlighting the necessity of careful selection. By contrasting Zendesk and Salesforce, we aim to clarify which tool may be the optimum fit for your business’s unique set of needs.

Comparison of Features

In the comparison of Zendesk versus Salesforce, the feature sets of each platform are important highlight. Here is a detailed comparison across various categories to help you understand what each CRM specializes in.

Customer Support Capabilities


Zendesk is widely acknowledged for its prowess in customer support. It offers a suite of tools that facilitate multi-channel customer interactions, such as email, chat, phone, and social media. Zendesk’s ticketing system allows for streamlined case management, and its customization features enable businesses to create tailored customer support processes. The platform also includes analytics to track customer issues and agent performance, as well as a comprehensive knowledge base system for self-service support.


With the Salesforce Service Cloud, customer service is interwoven with sales and marketing activities, creating a holistic view of customer engagement. Service Cloud equips agents with an advanced console for swift resolution of cases, integrates AI for predictive service, and provides a self-service community platform. Like Zendesk, Salesforce offers robust reporting and analytics to monitor service levels and client satisfaction.

Sales and Marketing Tools


Zendesk’s offering in sales and marketing tools is centered around customer insights and engagement. With features such as Zendesk Sell, businesses can manage deals and customer relationships, track interactions, and forecast sales pipelines. Zendesk also offers a platform for messaging app integration, streamlining conversational marketing efforts.


Salesforce’s roots are deeply in sales and marketing, and its tools reflect this wealth of experience. The Sales Cloud is a comprehensive revenue and lead management system that provides a 360-degree view of your customer. On the marketing front, the Marketing Cloud allows for personalized customer journeys across different channels, including email, mobile, social, and web.

Pricing and Scalability


Zendesk offers a range of pricing plans suitable for businesses of various sizes. The flexibility allows for scalability as your business grows. Pricing is based on the number of agents and includes a free trial period. Additional costs may apply for advanced features and add-ons.


Salesforce is known to cater to businesses across the spectrum, from startups to enterprise-level corporations. The pricing model is more complex, based on the number of users and the specific modules and features required. While this can make it initially more expensive for smaller operations, it ensures that the platform can grow with your organization without necessitating a shift to an entirely new system.

Integration Options


Zendesk is designed with integration in mind, with an extensive app marketplace that includes over a thousand options. Users can connect Zendesk to popular accounting, CRM, e-commerce, and productivity software, streamlining operations and enhancing functionality. While many of these integrations are built by third-party developers, Zendesk also offers its suite of connected apps.


Salesforce similarly boasts a vast ecosystem of apps and integrations. The AppExchange is Salesforce’s marketplace for third-party applications, providing access to a plethora of tools that cater to various business needs. Additionally, the platform encourages the development of custom apps and integrations through its development environment, Apex.

Pros and Cons Analysis

Both Zendesk and Salesforce have their own set of strengths and weaknesses that may sway users depending on their business’s context and goals.

Zendesk Strengths

  • Intuitive and user-friendly interface.
  • Strong focus on customer support and service.
  • Robust knowledge base and self-service options.
  • A large number of integrations and third-party apps available.

Zendesk Weaknesses

  • Limited native marketing and sales features compared to Salesforce.
  • May require add-ons to access advanced functionality.
  • Scaling to larger enterprises may pose challenges for some businesses.

Salesforce Strengths

  • Comprehensive suite of sales, marketing, and service tools.
  • Highly customizable, catering to the unique needs of businesses.
  • Strong data management and reporting capabilities.
  • Community and ecosystem support are extensive for learning and development.

Salesforce Weaknesses

  • Initial setup can be complex, requiring technical expertise.
  • User interface can be overwhelming for new users.
  • Higher starting price points for small businesses.

Success with Salesforce

SchoolStatus is a leading education technology provider that was struggling to integrate multiple systems across six acquired companies. By implementing Salesforce and NetSuite with help from Plative, SchoolStatus created operational cohesion that reduced sales reporting time from 8 hours to 1 hour and sped up sales cycles.

The unified technology stack also enabled seamless lead follow-up and complex quote approvals across the organization. Overall, Plative helped SchoolStatus transform disjointed systems into a unified platform that drives more effective communication between schools, families, and stakeholders to support student success.

“There were a lot of moving pieces and we knew consolidating one company using different systems into our Salesforce and NetSuite would be a challenge, let alone six. We really needed a partner like Plative who understood the complexity of it all.”

Phil Charland

Decision-making Factors

When contemplating between Zendesk and Salesforce, consider the following factors crucial in your decision-making process.


Consider the projected growth of your business and whether the CRM can effectively scale to meet those expanding needs. Salesforce, with its enterprise-level focus, may provide a more natural fit for ambitious growth plans. Zendesk, while adaptable, may not offer the same level of functionality for larger operations without additional investments.


How important is customization to your business process and customer handling? Salesforce excels in this area, providing an expansive developer platform and customization options. If tailoring your CRM to nuanced business processes is a priority, Salesforce may be the better choice.


The learning curve and ease of use are pivotal, especially if you have a diverse team with varying levels of technical acumen. Zendesk’s intuitive interface can be a significant advantage for quick adoption. In contrast, Salesforce’s extensive feature set may require more comprehensive training and a bigger time investment in the learning process.


Your current budget and future financial projections will inevitably guide your CRM choice. While Salesforce’s pricing model can be initially pricier, it offers a cost-effective solution for larger enterprises in the long term. For startups and small businesses, Zendesk’s more straightforward pricing structure may be the more manageable option.

Choosing between Salesforce vs. Zendesk

The choice between Zendesk and Salesforce ultimately depends on your specific business needs and long-term vision. Zendesk shines when it comes to intuitive customer support tools and straightforward pricing, while Salesforce excels in providing an end-to-end customer engagement platform with unparalleled customizability.

If you’re looking for a trusted guide in navigating this decision and implementing the right CRM solution, Plative has the expertise to advise you. As leading Salesforce and NetSuite consultants, Plative can objectively evaluate your unique requirements and map the optimum technology roadmap to drive your business growth. By leveraging Plative’s experience transforming disjointed systems into unified operational engines, you can boost team alignment, accelerate processes, and deliver standout customer experiences.

Get in touch with Plative today to start a conversation about revolutionizing the way you interact with customers. Our team of CRM specialists and cross-cloud architects are ready to help you select, implement, and continually optimize a future-proof CRM ecosystem tailored for your organization’s success.

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