In the customer relationship management (CRM) space, Microsoft Dynamics vs Salesforce is the premier rivalry for the title of best CRM platform. Each platform has its upsides and downsides, and ultimately your choice depends on the needs of your organization.
Here, we break down the differences and similarities between Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Salesforce, giving prospective buyers an in-depth look at each platform.
Read more: CRM vs ERP: What Are the Key Differences?
Microsoft Dynamics vs Salesforce: What Are the Differences?
CRM software is designed to manage all the relationships and interactions an organization has with customers and potential customers. The idea is to use coordinated data as a way to improve business relationships, ultimately converting prospects into repeat buyers. CRM systems then help organizations to better connect to customers — to streamline the processes used in communicating with the aim of raising sales and profitability.
CRM is the largest segment of enterprise application software, so it is no wonder Salesforce and Microsoft are locked in a struggle for dominance.
The current idea is to build a 360-degree view of the customer — one that spans all avenues, including phone, email, mail, social media, chat, and other digital channels — and to tie this data into all relevant aspects of the organization. Management, sales, marketing, customer service, business development, recruitment, social media, and other lines of business should all be able to look at the same database. And each of them should be able to feed data seamlessly into the system for everyone else to view.
Of course, both Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Salesforce do more than CRM. They handle the usual CRM functions, such as the gathering of customer information, nurturing relationships with clientele, appointment setting, and coordinating information on sales leads and existing customers. But depending on the platform, they include features for enterprise resource planning (ERP), analytics, business intelligence, marketing, eCommerce, sales, customer service, and more.
According to Grandview research, CRM is expected to be worth $114.4 billion by 2027. CRM is the largest and fastest growing segment of enterprise application software, so it is no wonder Salesforce and Microsoft are locked in a struggle for dominance. Any comparison, then, is not exactly apples-to-apples. Nevertheless, there is enough overlap for a worthy comparison to be made of these two giants.
What Is Microsoft Dynamics 365?
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is Microsoft’s portfolio of intelligent SaaS applications for sales, customer service, marketing, commerce, finance, supply chain, and human resources. It helps organizations of all sizes become more agile and delight their customers.
What Are the Features of Microsoft Dynamics 365?
Microsoft Dynamics 365 works natively in the Microsoft Cloud alongside the Microsoft 365 office productivity applications, Azure, and the Microsoft Power Platform. This integrated approach offers organizations better access to data across the Microsoft universe.
For example, Dynamics 365 was built to organically work with Microsoft 365, so people can access and share information to collaborate across roles, teams, and departments. Most recently, the company’s popular Microsoft Teams platform has become tightly integrated with Dynamics.
Dynamics 365 can be considered an umbrella term for a massive collection of modules for a wide range of enterprise applications. It actually evolved over a couple of decades based on a large number of acquisitions. In ERP, for example, Microsoft absorbed at least three other companies as it evolved ERP capabilities that are suitable for SMBs all the way to large enterprises. A combination of internal development, external acquisitions, and a gradual evolution of many applications to become part of the Microsoft cloud has resulted in Microsoft Dynamics 365.
The ERP solution part of Dynamics 365 includes financial, accounting, and operational software. The CRM portion of Dynamics 365 includes sales, marketing, and customer service software. All of the software in Dynamics 365 is designed to integrate with Microsoft 365’s suite of productivity apps, and all of the apps leverage cloud technology.
Pros and Cons of Microsoft Dynamics 365
Analysts have a generally favorable opinion of Microsoft Dynamics 365. They grade it highly in the following areas:
- Forrester gives it high marks for Salesforce automation (slightly ahead of Salesforce).
- Gartner gives a high rating in field service (but behind Salesforce), finance, ERP, and supply chain.
- Nucleus Research grades Dynamics well in ERP.
In terms of similarities, they both offer CRM and sales functions. Salesforce is focused squarely in those areas, whereas Microsoft Dynamics spans a much broader range of enterprise applications and platforms. The ideal user for Dynamics 365, therefore, would encompass several of the following categories:
- Already invested in the Azure cloud
- Already invested in Microsoft 365 productivity applications and Microsoft Teams
- Already invested in or in need of an ERP suite
If the selection process was based purely on the basis of CRM and sales, Microsoft loses some of its advantages. Head-to-head CRM comparisons should include a review of pricing models and specific functions customized for certain verticals. However, Microsoft is strong in many areas of CRM and would be high in the list of candidates.
Microsoft Dynamics Pricing
Microsoft pricing for Dynamics 365 is complex. The general model is to charge based users per month, per module. But sliding scales are in place for the number of users and the number of apps. Pricing per user for one module is roughly in the range of $50 to $165 per month. Some modules cost much more than others, though. Additionally, there are higher charges for certain specialist modules for analytics and management.
What Is Salesforce?
Salesforce has emerged over the past 10 years as the vendor to beat in CRM. It deals with both large and small organizations, while having industry-specific customizations available. It functions in the cloud, on mobile devices, social media, and over voice, and it enhances its functions with artificial intelligence.
What Are the Features of Salesforce?
The Salesforce platform is designed to unify marketing, sales, commerce, service, and IT teams from anywhere via Customer 360, its integrated CRM platform that powers its suite of connected apps. It is used to:
- Engage customers with relevant digital marketing
- Quickly launch and scale e-commerce built around the customer
- Provide customer service
- Digitally transform rapidly
Beginning in a San Francisco apartment in the late 90s, Salesforce now boasts more than 150,000 companies in its client roster. That certainly makes it the most popular CRM app around. As a cloud platform, it can be tailored to customers by need and by industry.
Customer 360 brings sales, service, marketing, commerce, and more into a single, shared view of customers on an integrated, AI-powered CRM platform. This enables employees to work together to build relationships and deliver personalized experiences.
Additionally, the platform is paired with a partner ecosystem to make it easier to integrate a variety of apps. Known as the Salesforce AppExchange, this is the company’s attempt to make up for Microsoft’s advantage in areas such as ERP, BI, office productivity, and general cloud services.
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 improve collaboration across organizational boundaries.
Pros and Cons of Salesforce
Analysts have a positive opinion of Salesforce. They grade it highly in the following ways:
- International Data Corp. gives Salesforce higher marks in CRM compared to Microsoft Dynamics.
- Forrester gives it high marks for salesforce automation (but slightly behind Dynamics).
- Gartner gives a higher rating in field service than Microsoft Dynamics, though both scored well.
In terms of similarities, they both offer CRM and sales functions. Salesforce offers a broader and deeper feature set in CRM compared to Microsoft Dynamics, although Microsoft is not far behind. The ideal user for Salesforce, therefore, would encompass several of the following categories:
- Laser-focused on sales and marketing
- Not invested heavily in the Azure cloud, Microsoft 365, or Microsoft Teams
- Not using Microsoft Dynamics for ERP
When the selection process is based purely on CRM and sales, Salesforce tends to come out on top. However, head-to-head CRM comparisons should review pricing models and specific functions customized for certain verticals. In some cases, that might skew the decision more in favor of Microsoft.
Salesforce pricing can be complex. Pricing for SMBs seems to favor Salesforce over Microsoft, starting at $25 per user per month for sales functionality and with packages available for sales teams that combine multiple applications.
The overall model seems to start relatively inexpensively for basic functions, but the price tag appears to mount up as more and more features and modules are added. However, it is hard to gauge how this pans out in the real world. The best advice is to do a deep dive into pricing of Salesforce and Microsoft to see how it works out for your organization’s needs.