CRM Solution Showdown – Salesforce vs. Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE

CRM Solution Showdown – Salesforce vs. Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE

Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (Microsoft Dynamics CE) are powerhouse two CRM software solutions at the top of their games. While the two are very similar in many ways where Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CE differ are very significant. Here we compare elements of the solutions’ pricing, features, and functionality to help you make the most informed decision for your organization.

An important note before we begin — both Microsoft Dynamics CE and Salesforce are available in multiple versions or editions. For example, Microsoft Dynamics CE has a Professional, Enterprise and Sales Premium edition of Dynamics 365 Sales. Salesforce has Essentials, Professional, Enterprise and Unlimited. Some of the features mentioned in this article and the comparisons made may not be applicable to all versions.

Pricing: The bottom line

The most intuitive way to compare the two would be by price per user. However, since each vendor includes a different set of features in each of its editions, a straight across price per user comparison isn’t particularly useful. For example, Microsoft Dynamics CE includes AI capabilities (among others) in its downstream editions that Salesforce charges for. We’re not including pricing in this article for just this reason — to be fair you need to make an apples-to-apples comparison which isn’t possible without understanding an individual company’s needs and goals. Our team can help you perform a detailed cost comparison based on the features and functionality your company needs.

However, to provide a high-level pricing assessment, amongst CRM consultants who are familiar with both CRM software solutions, most agree that Salesforce has a lower entry point than Microsoft Dynamics CE. But, as a company’s needs, level of sophistication and user count grow, Microsoft Dynamics CE quickly turns into the most cost-effective option.

Deployment: At home or in the cloud CRM Software Solution Implementation

Both Microsoft Dynamics CE and Salesforce are available as cloud-based, hosted SaaS applications. However, only Microsoft additionally offers on-premise and hybrid deployment models.

So, if you want to keep your CRM on your in-house server, Microsoft is your best (and only) option.

Ease of Use: It depends

One could say that the best CRM software is the one that gets used. Unfortunately, CRM implementations have historically been plagued with low user adoption rates. And if users aren’t using it, the business value of CRM plummets. We know that things like being intuitive and easy to use naturally promote higher user adoption rates, so which CRM software solutions is easier to use?

Let’s start by acknowledging that “ease of use” and “intuitive” are highly subjective terms. What seems intuitive for some isn’t for others. But we can work with subjective opinions since they seem to even out with enough input. Here’s where G2, the peer-to-peer review site that gathers input directly from those subjective users, can help.

In a head-to-head G2 comparison, Salesforce received an average Ease of Use rating of 7.9 over 10,000+ reviews. Microsoft Dynamics CE received a 7.4 over 1,200+ reviews. While this assessment gives the win to Salesforce, avid Microsoft Dynamics 365 users — those using other Microsoft applications — tout the benefits of a consistent user interface across the applications.

Integration: Microsoft casts a long shadow

Many companies take the best-of-breed approach to business management software. They find the best financial management application for their operations, the best HRMS, the best business intelligence, the best warehouse management system, and the best CRM. This approach can work exceptionally well — if the applications are integrated. Without integration, companies end up with data silos, little visibility, and plenty of manual workflows to combine the data.

Here’s one area where Microsoft Dynamics CE gets the definitive nod. Microsoft Dynamics CE not only integrates with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, but all the other Microsoft productivity tools companies rely on, including Outlook, Office 365 and OneNote.

Salesforce uses an open API capable of providing integration with many applications, just not the native integrations offered by Microsoft Dynamics CE.

Reporting: All under one roof

This point of comparison is somewhat related to the integration capabilities we talk about above. While both CRM applications provide robust reporting capabilities, the native integration between Microsoft Dynamics CE and the balance of the Microsoft 365 Suite makes it simpler to combine data from different business areas – including any of the Dynamics 365 modules, Office applications, Teams, and more.

Sure, third-party data analysis tools can bridge disparate applications, but there’s nothing disparate about Microsoft Dynamics 365’s suite of business solutions.

AI: It doesn’t take an Einstein

No longer a novelty, Artificial Intelligence (AI) delivers real, strategic value to CRM software solutions. For example, AI can help identify market trends, make sales probability predictions, and recommend next best actions for sales teams. The PwC 2022 AI Business Survey found that 40% of businesses identified as “AI leaders” use AI to improve their companies’ customer experience.

Salesforce has Einstein AI, but you’ll need to pay more for Einstein while with Microsoft Dynamics CE, AI capabilities are included.

Implementation: Partner for success

Companies that select Salesforce can opt for implementation by Salesforce itself, while Microsoft relies on its partner network to implement its CRM software solutions.

As Microsoft partners, we could be forgiven for asserting the value a partner brings to any software implementation. Neither Salesforce nor Microsoft will take the time to thoroughly understand your business and your goals for a CRM application. It’s just not in their business models. They sell software. Partners sell solutions.

Service level agreement: Or not

Microsoft Dynamics CE, when hosted in the cloud, comes with a 99.9% uptime guarantee. Salesforce does not come with an uptime guarantee.

Bonus: Teams-work really does make the dream work

Improved collaboration is one of the primary objectives of CRM buyers. Sharing data and resources is simply good for business, and Microsoft Teams serves as a direct communication and collaboration channel in many companies.

Microsoft recently changed its licensing model surrounding Microsoft Teams and CE. The change allows Dynamics 365 users to invite anyone in the organization to view and collaborate on customer records right within the flow of a Teams chat or channel, without the need for additional CE licenses for those users. As you might have guessed, this is unique to Microsoft and Salesforce doesn’t offer anything comparable.

Final thoughts

Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE and Salesforce are both powerful, highly regarded, feature-rich CRM applications. In many instances, either one will serve a company well. Selecting the ideal CRM software solution for your organization involves many considerations, of which price and feature set are the most critical.

Reach out to our team for an assessment of CRM requirements and we can determine if Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement is the right solution for your business.

Why Choose Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE over the Competition

Why Choose Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE over the Competition

Much like how people used to say, “Nobody gets fired for choosing IBM” — a reference to the company’s early domination of the server market and reputation for over-delivering making it a safe bet – fast forward to today and we could substitute “Microsoft” for “IBM” and the phrase holds true.

Now we’re not recommending that you choose a technology solution just to be safe, but when the safe solution also happens to be the best solution – as recognized in The Forrester Wave: CRM Suites, Q3 2022 Report – it’s definitely worth your consideration.

So, why choose Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE over the competition? Here are eight good reasons.

1. Popular platform lowers cost of ownership

Going back to our IBM reference earlier, a contributor to the ultimate demise of IBM’s influence lay in the fact that its technologies were proprietary and became increasingly obsolete as developers moved to open-source platforms. Case in point — it’s much easier to hire a C++ programmer than a COBOL programmer.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE is built on the Microsoft platform which connects dozens of Microsoft applications as well as dozens more third-party applications, such as Dropbox and Google Calendar. Additionally, it leverages industry standard programming languages, including C#, JavaScript, SQL Server, and Net. In contrast, Salesforce uses a proprietary programming language.

The advantage in choosing the Microsoft solution lies in the fact that support and customizations within Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE are likely to be less costly simply because there are more people familiar with the popular tools the solution leverages.

2. Native integration promotes efficiencies

One would be hard-pressed to find a company that’s not using at least a couple of Microsoft solutions. And companies that add Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE can capitalize on integrating Office, Excel, Teams, and Outlook with the CRM application to realize greater efficiencies and streamlined workflows. The native integration allows each team in your organization to continue working in the applications that are familiar to them while benefitting from the free flow of information between solutions.

For example, emails sent through Outlook are captured in Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE. Sales Orders created in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central are visible in Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE. Users can export data from Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE to Excel, make changes and easily transfer the data back into Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE.

3. Make Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE your own

The real value in Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE lies in its ability to morph to meet the needs of the customer, rather than requiring a customer to alter their business processes to fit the software.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE is built as an xRM platform, meaning it can easily be customized to meet specific business needs. And because xRM is an open platform, it’s not just for Microsoft developers (back to that popular versus proprietary advantage). Many customizations, such as adding and removing fields, require no code changes, putting the power squarely in the hands of confident users.

For more complex customizations, the Microsoft Power Platform allows low code, no code customization options for workflows, integrated applications, power virtual agents, and more.

4. Smart thinking with Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Plenty of CRM applications have recently begun promoting their AI capabilities, but Microsoft was a pioneer in this area and Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE has incorporated AI capabilities for years. Here are just a few of the ways the application powers smart thinking:

  • AI for Customer Service: AI-driven technology empowers informed decision making about improving resolution rates, reducing wait times, and decreasing customer service costs. Companies can use case resolution insights, backlog trends, and historical comparisons to evaluate agent performance and business impact, and address inefficiencies in their system.
  • AI for Sales: Predictive lead scoring and predictive opportunity scoring helps salespeople prioritize the right relationships, achieve higher lead qualification rates, and reduce the time it takes to qualify leads or close opportunities.
  • AI for Customer Insights: Unify data from multiple sources (think spreadsheets, Business Central, etc.) to gain a 365-degree view of customer activity.
  • AI for Market Insights: Helps organizations understand and interpret what customers say, do, and feel about their brand and products by synthesizing activity and data from proprietary search and browse signals and public social signals.

5. Realistic and transparent licensing fees

Ever shop for a new car? You see an affordable base price and think, “Yes – I can do this.” But then you work your way through all the options and the price jumps by fifty percent. And did you notice that they always put that one feature you really need in the next tier package?

Some CRM vendors play this same game, advertising a low price, but the low-cost option doesn’t include any advanced features so in order to get robust functionality, you need to opt for a more expensive plan. Then to get the necessary reporting and data analysis tools, you’ll have to spring for the highest tier option.

We’re hearing from customers switching from other leading CRM applications to Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE that the vendor bumps up the licensing fees significantly after a year or two of use. In contrast, Microsoft is transparent about fees and functionality for CE. So, you’ll know up front what you’ll pay and what you’ll get.

6. When it’s gotta work — an SLA guarantee

Downtime is costly, and CRM downtime can be especially expensive in that it stands in the way of the exceptional service you wish to provide your clients. Microsoft’s Service Level Agreement (SLA) guarantees a 99.9% uptime rate for Azure where Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE is hosted.

Go ahead and ask the competitors about their uptime guarantees — many (including the big ones) don’t offer one.

7. Reporting capabilities

When we ask our customers what functions they use most — in any type of software — reports and queries are always on the list. In fact, one could make the argument that the main reason we use software is so we can report on the data it collects. Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE takes understands that which is why delivers robust reporting capabilities unequaled among its competitors.

In addition to the dozens of available standard reports and the infinite number of customized reports you can build, Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE leverages Power BI to take CRM reporting to a whole new level. Gartner also recognized Power BI as a leader in the Business Intelligence space, and for good reason. Coupling Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE with Power BI creates the ultimate power couple. Watch out Salesforce.

8. Partnership speeds ROI

Some companies decide to implement a CRM application on their own, but just because Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE is cloud-based and intuitive to use does not mean that you won’t benefit from a professional implementation.

The good news is, there is an enormous, global Microsoft partner network. Wherever you are, whatever industry you’re in, and whatever size your organization is now, and however you expect to grow, there’s a Microsoft partner ready to provide the personalized support, services, and strategic guidance that will speed your CRM return on investment.

Final Takeaway

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement has a definitive edge over competing CRM applications. If you’re looking to invest in a CRM solution for the long-term –  one that’s built on world-class, industry-leading technology and delivers the integration capabilities, robust feature set, fair pricing, and analytics that drive efficiency and performance, look no further than CE.

As a distinguished Microsoft partner, we’ve worked with companies across industries, helping them implement customer experience solutions that differentiate your organization, create value, and add to the bottom line. Contact us today to learn more.