NetSuite vs Salesforce : The Ultimate CRM Head to Head

There seems to be a discussion on the internet about who’s got the bigger boots – NetSuite or Salesforce. I’m not sure where that started, since, as you are going to discover in this article, they really are two quite different products.

If you have found yourself embroiled in the NetSuite vs Salesforce debate, you might be scoping out a new CRM implementation or perhaps you have both products at the moment and deciding whether to consolidate or integrate.

Whatever the reason, it is super important to understand what these systems are, what are their strengths and what are their potential weaknesses or compromises.

What is NetSuite?

NetSuite is a cloud based business management system. It is often labelled as an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system but this is just a small part of the story.

NetSuite can be your ERP, CRM (Customer Relationship Management), E-Commerce platform and so much more. These aren’t lots of different products under the same banner. This is the same product with different configurations. Modules and add-ons all built out of the same cloud based system.

NetSuite is also highly customizable which allows bespoke processes to be built where the system doesn’t naturally provide a solution.

It is worth adding a few more words around the CRM capability of NetSuite as you will find out shortly that CRM is the primary focus of Salesforce.

NetSuite’s CRM is robust and feeds in to the same data cube as all the other system components you have running.

It can handle the full customer cycle from Lead to paying Customer. All communications can be tracked and managed through NetSuite including internal and external emails, phone calls and meetings and even marketing campaigns can be run and analyzed.

Customer service can also be managed through case management, time tracking and a customer portal.

NetSuite vs Salesforce: Example of a NetSuite Dashboard for Sales and CRM.
Did you know:
NetSuite and Salesforce were founded just months apart and both were started by ex Oracle employees.

One the earliest investors in both companies was Larry Ellison and both systems are regarded as one of the earliest primarily cloud based software products.
Learn the full NetSuite story here.

What is Salesforce?

Salesforce is also a cloud based system-as-a-service but that system is primarily CRM. Salesforce provides a platform for customer management to give users across the business the same, consolidated view of customer data.

How does it do that? Well, it starts by having a really friendly, intuitive user interface with fully customizable dashboards and templates for both management and daily users.

Where it really differs from the model above though is the integrations. Salesforce, out of the box, focuses on customer relationship management but that doesn’t mean you can’t broaden it’s scope or bring in other verticals of the business.

Salesforce partners with a number of third party systems that it can integrate with and now owns products such as Slack, Mulesoft and Tableau. You can even integrate Salesforce with NetSuite if you choose to use the CRM capability of one and the Accounting of the other, for example.

NetSuite vs Salesforce: Example of a Salesforce Dashboard

NetSuite vs Salesforce : The Key Features

Now you have a basic understanding of what these two systems offer let’s compare some basic headline features and characteristics.

NetSuiteSalesforce
AccessibilityCloud based so available globally through your browser.Cloud based so available globally through your browser.
CRMContains an array of CRM tools either natively, or through add-on features and modulesAn industry leader with out-of-the-box full CRM functionality as standard.
Sales CycleFull order to cash cycleOrder to cash cycle can be managed but with difficulty and with the help of integrations to manage the accounting
AccountingBuilt on a solid, world class accounting system.This is not an accounting tool. It requires an integration with another system to achieve this.
MarketingContains broad marketing capability with additional specialized add-on modules.Marketing functionality is available through add-on modules
ReportingSolid reporting and advanced querying tools. Dashboards and visualizations could be improved onStrong reporting capability and, additionally, dynamic, visually engaging dashboards.

Cloud SaaS

Both these systems are cloud based SaaS solutions. This is a green tick for both. Most companies would be wise to transition wherever suitable to a cloud based solution that provides all the functionality of an on premise piece of software but with the backend infrastructure and security of a company like Oracle or Salesforce.

On that note, we obviously all know and trust the capabilities of a multinational computer tech company like Oracle but don’t forget that Salesforce is in the top 60 largest companies in the world now so also not to be doubted.

CRM

There is a distinct difference in the format of offering here. NetSuite contains amazing CRM tools. Salesforce IS an amazing CRM tool.

The features available in Salesforce specifically around customer relationship and data management do outweigh those in NetSuite but you mustn’t forget how malleable the NetSuite UI is and the ability to write custom processes and automations.

Salesforce’s offering is more applicable to businesses that want to get up and running with an out of the box solution. NetSuite will require set up and things like dashboards will need to be built to custom.

Sales Cycle

Despite the name, Salesforce doesn’t handle the full sales cycle as standard. Users can generate quotes and custom forms but you will need to integrate with another system or add additional features to correctly manage that full order to cash cycle.

NetSuite will correctly manage this out of the box. A factor playing in to this is the fact that Salesforce is not built for…

Accounting

NetSuite is a true ERP and therefore the accounting and financial functions are at the core of what it does. All the correct accounting treatments for sales, purchase, tax, multi currencies and everything beyond is configurable for organizations across the globe (NetSuite OneWorld is the solution for multi subsidiary and multinational organizations.).

There are a number of accounting solutions built for Salesforce and some that are native add-ons but they are separate decisions to be had on top of the purchase of the core CRM system.

Marketing

NetSuite can be set up to manage email marketing campaigns and provides data that can be analyzed relating to these campaigns. Targeted campaigns can be automated based off customer demographics, purchasing trends and other historical data stored on the customers record.

Salesforce, again, doesn’t offer this functionality from the core system. Using a number of different add-ons you could get close to the same level of functionality as described above for NetSuite but it is disappointing this is not closer to being a standard offering.

Reporting

Salesforce offers out of the box dashboard solutions and there are also a host of add-ons available to enhance the experience. Salesforce dashboards look great. The visuals are engaging, colorful and really consider the management viewer or person who is not often in the system but needs to understand the data.

NetSuite’s standard dashboards come on a role by role basis and they are generally not fit for purpose. Custom dashboards need to be built off either standard or custom searches and reports.

Although the data querying capability of NetSuite is phenomenal the aesthetics of the output is not as impressive as Salesforce. Using SuiteAnalytics some prettier looking graphs can be generated but to really compare you would need to add some additional features.


As you can see there are pros and cons of both systems. As an incredibly simplified and high level summary I would say Salesforce is more suited to a company that has identified a need to better manage their customer data and relationships but already manages their accounting and other processes elsewhere.

NetSuite can do a lot of what Salesforce offers but that is not it’s primary focus. It is a lot more money for a lot more product and if you are going to purchase it you are not just going to be using the CRM.

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