ServiceNow vs Salesforce: Which Is Best for You?

ServiceNow and Salesforce are leading lights in distinct markets. Salesforce dominates in CRM, sales, marketing, service, and obtaining a 360-degree view of the customer and the customer journey. ServiceNow is a top player in information technology service management (ITSM). While ServiceNow emphasizes IT workflows, it is also strong in the tracking and optimizing of employee and customer workflows. Thus, there are definite areas of overlap between these two solutions.

In this article, we explore the similarities and differences in ServiceNow vs Salesforce, and define their ideal customers.

Read more: Best IT Help Desk Software (2022)

What Is ServiceNow?

ServiceNow logo

ServiceNow has been a leader in ITSM for many years, but ITSM is just one facet of the many functions that operate on the ServiceNow Now Platform. Within this cloud-based platform, the company has a large section known as IT Workflows that includes modules for ITSM, IT operations management (ITOM), IT business management, IT asset management, DevOps, security operations, GRC (governance, risk, and compliance), and more.

ServiceNow’s full suite of ITSM capabilities include discovery, service mapping, operational intelligence, cloud management, and orchestration. Users leverage the ServiceNow Platform to automate incident, problem, change, configuration, and request management with an out-of-the-box, pre-configured, ITIL-based solution.

ServiceNow excels in tracking workflows through a great many IT systems and applications, staying on top of everything.

Its Customer Workflows functions encompass customer service field service management, connected operations, financial services operations, telecom, order management, and more. There are also employee and creative workflow modules.

Workflows, then, are what tie everything together. ServiceNow excels in tracking workflows through a great many IT systems and applications, staying on top of everything. Whether it is incident management, problem management, change management, configuration management, service desk, or enhancing the customer journey, ServiceNow uses workflows to get the job done. It also weaves analytics into all of these functions, and has been adding artificial intelligence (AI) functionality as of late.

ServiceNow recently updated its platform. Based on a survey that found 65% of employees plan to engage in hybrid work, the company released several new features:

  • Assign work teams to different areas of the office, manage traffic flows and reservations, and prevent overcrowding
  • Outlook plugin for reservation management to integrate planning into productivity and collaboration tools
  • A Safe Workplace Dashboard to collect data from ServiceNow’s Safe Workplace Suite and monitor occupancy levels, facilitating planning to meet safety guidelines

The company has also been rolling out a Healthcare and Life Sciences Service Management product, as well as an Operational Technology Management platform for smart manufacturing.

Read more: ServiceNow Review: Features & Benefits

ServiceNow: What the Analysts Say

ServiceNow is considered a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for ITSM, earning that distinction for eight straight years. Forrester, too, regularly grades it as a Leader due to deep ITSM capabilities in asset and configuration management; a variety of business service modules, such as HR and facilities; and powerful Platform as a Service (PaaS) capabilities.

Forrester, however, noted that the company needed more skilled developers to achieve greater success and expressed concerns over the cost to deploy ServiceNow.

ServiceNow Pricing Model

The company offers subscription licensing in a SaaS deployment model hosted in ServiceNow’s private cloud. Everything is done on a “contact us” basis. In other words, there isn’t a menu of pricing available on the website. Analysts, though, regularly comment on complex licensing for the platform and its high cost.

What Is Salesforce?

Salesforce logo

From humble beginnings in a San Francisco apartment in the late 90s, Salesforce currently boasts more than 150,000 companies in its client roster. It is clearly the most popular CRM app around. As a cloud platform, it can be tailored to customers by need and by industry.

These days, the company emphasizes Customer 360 as an all-encompassing platform to bring sales, service, marketing, commerce, and beyond into a single, shared view of customers. This integrated CRM platform — powered by AI — enables employees to work together to build relationships and deliver personalized experiences.

Salesforce’s integrated CRM platform — powered by AI — enables employees to work together to build relationships and deliver personalized experiences.

Salesforce has also been working hard on its partner ecosystem to make it easier to integrate with other popular business apps. The Salesforce AppExchange includes a great many applications in areas such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), business intelligence (BI), office productivity, collaboration, and general cloud services.

Salesforce is happy to provide customer platforms for large and small organizations alike. Industry-specific customizations are also available. It also prides itself in being able to run anywhere — the cloud, mobile devices, social media, and over voice. Analytics are used to streamline and target customer actions and decisions such as:

  • Engaging customers with relevant digital marketing
  • Quickly launching and scaling eCommerce that’s built around the customer
  • Providing customer service
  • Digitally transforming rapidly

Another innovation recently introduced by Salesforce is making Slack core to the Salesforce product experience. All aspects of Customer 360 are available in a Slack-first format, helping every department and industry improve collaboration across organizational boundaries. Salesforce includes its own AI system called Einstein AI, which provides predictive analytics, natural language processing capabilities, and machine learning. The platform is HIPAA compliant.

Read more on SoftwarePundit: Salesforce Review, Pricing & Features

Salesforce: What Do the Analysts Say?

Analysts have a positive opinion of Salesforce. They grade it highly as follows:

  • International Data Corp. gives it higher marks in CRM 
  • Forrester gives it high marks for automation
  • Gartner gives a high rating in field service

Negatives include Salesforce’s reputation for having a steeper learning curve, which makes it cumbersome for many SMBs. It is also regarded as one of the more expensive platforms on the market.

Salesforce Pricing Model

At first glance, the pricing for Salesforce appears straightforward. For SMBs, it starts at $25 per user per month for sales functionality. The overall model starts relatively inexpensively for basic functions, but the price tag mounts as more features and modules are added. But it is hard to gauge how this pans out in the real world. The best advice is to do a deep dive into pricing in Salesforce to see how it works out for your specific organization.

SeviceNow vs Salesforce

How Are They Similar?

In terms of similarities, ServiceNow and Salesforce both offer CRM and sales functions. Unsurprisingly, Salesforce offers a broader and deeper feature set in CRM and sales management compared to ServiceNow.

They both offer perspective on the customer journey. Thus, it is quite feasible for a company to deploy both platforms. While they each provide insights, they each take a different perspective. The areas for direct competition between the two, then, are fairly limited.

How Are They Different?

ServiceNow and Salesforce are very different, both in terms of overall product, and in terms of how they address the customer experience. ServiceNow’s bread and butter is back-end IT management. It takes care of the myriad functions that are needed to make enterprise IT work. Salesforce, on the other hand, doesn’t try to compete in that sphere. Its focus is on CRM, sales, marketing, and the customer experience as a whole.

When it comes to customers, the best way to understand the difference between ServiceNow and Salesforce is their emphasis.

When it comes to customers, the best way to understand the difference between ServiceNow and Salesforce is their emphasis. Salesforce begins and ends with the customer. Everything revolves around the customer and the steps they take to discover, evaluate, and purchase products. AI is used to dig into the details of demographics, marketing, product selection, upselling, cross-selling, and retention. Marketing campaigns and sales outreach actions are tied into everything.

ServiceNow takes an entirely different approach. It is all about workflows. Its platform defines and streamlines workflows that wave through marketing, sales, and service to orchestrate the many applications and systems involved in the customer journey.

Who Is the Ideal User for Each?

When the selection process is based purely on CRM and sales, Salesforce clearly comes out on top. In terms of customer-based AI, Salesforce’s Einstein AI is more well known for customer analytics capabilities than ServiceNow’s AI. But Salesforce is not for everyone.

The ideal user for Salesforce, therefore, would encompass several of the following categories:

  • Salesforce is the most scalable, customizable solution for large enterprises. While it is also used by SMBs, its benefits rise as the scale of operation increases.
  • Any organization with a laser focus on sales and marketing should carefully consider Salesforce.

The ideal user for ServiceNow, on the other hand, would be:

  • An organization with a need or focus for stronger, back-end IT discipline that encompasses areas such as ITSM and ITOM.
  • A company that wants to gain real insight into the workflows that lie behind customer-facing actions. ServiceNow can help such organizations to isolate the bottlenecks, bandwidth issues, and capacity problems that may be thwarting the efforts of sales and marketing.

Read next: Best ERP Systems for 2022: Compare Top Vendors

Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb has been writing about IT and engineering for more than 25 years. Originally from Scotland, he now lives in Florida.

Latest Articles