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The Dynamics CRM vs. Salesforce Puzzle Solved

Posted by Indusa Admin on February 15, 2017 8:12 pm

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Whenever you see a successful business, it’s because someone once made a courageous decision. When life is full of choices like Apple vs. Samsung, Facebook vs. Instagram, and Star Wars vs. Star Trek, it can be hard to choose just one. In the corporate world, the Dynamics CRM vs. Salesforce decision has long been a tough decision to make.

So how do you decide which software is better for your sales team? For customer service? For you, to understand actuals and forecast for the future? And for business growth?


Having a good CRM system is fundamental for competitive excellence. CRM systems enable you to interact with and understand your customers’ preferences better and offer exceptional service. Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM and Salesforce are two of the most popular (and capable) products in the market, but both solutions are like peas in a pod. Although there are a handful of other products available in the market, Dynamics CRM and Salesforce end up being pitted against each other due to the features they possess, the markets they target, and the user experience they provide.

In that case, how do you choose one over the other?

First, it is very important to note the differences in the names of the product tiers. Nobody wants to find out that they have to pay a lot of extras in order to get advertised benefits. Microsoft’s top tier is called “Enterprise,” and the most common fully-functional CRM license level is “Professional.” Salesforce calls its popular but not top tier, “Enterprise,” giving it a bit of grade inflation. Salesforce’s “Professional” solution is quite under-powered for serious CRM users. In order to make a sort of apples-to-apples comparison, we’re comparing Microsoft Professional Dynamics 365 CRM Online with Salesforce Lightning Enterprise, without all the extras that Salesforce often requires to make it appear more complete.

Dynamics and Salesforce – The Similarities


Both systems offer similar features in terms of sales, marketing automation, customer service and call center management, and social CRM. Plus, you have the freedom to select the required features that each department needs.


There are a variety of application add-ons available to scale your CRM sales automation, marketing, and customer service functionality.

3rd Party Applications

You can browse a variety of third-party applications and integration options on the CRM App Store and Salesforce AppExchange.

Valuable Insights

To help your organization identify trends and track key performance metrics, both CRMs provide valuable insights.

Advanced Analytics

Both CRMs possess advanced analytics, offering real-time dashboards, BI and data visualization, and customizable reports.

But the proof is in the pudding and the devil’s in the details…

Dynamics and Salesforce – The Differences


Dynamics 365 gives you the power of CRM, along with its counterpart applications that drive financials, operations, product development, human capital, big data, and BI. It’s part of an increasingly integrated modular code set and common data model. Microsoft allows license plans with blended licensing so you never over-pay. Salesforce is still CRM-centric and must use point integration with other platforms to achieve a sense of seamlessness.

Microsoft Stack

Dynamics 365 CRM enables you to work seamlessly with existing Microsoft applications, from Office apps to OneNote and SharePoint, to Skype, and Yammer. Microsoft gives you direct access to Power BI and native integration to Outlook and Exchange so email-centric users never have to leave “email.”  Salesforce offers several connectors and tool kits that allow you to work with Microsoft Office products, ERP systems, and a variety of apps, but not at the level some users prefer. CRM cannot operate well without full and friendly integration to Microsoft Office, Outlook, Skype and other products. Microsoft now partners with Adobe for incredible content and marketing benefits. Unless your business is run on Google Docs and GMail, Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM has a large advantage.

Large Enterprise Tenancy

Much has been written about multi-tenancy in the cloud, but it’s all a bit of a red herring intended. The real question is: how does a single enterprise instance of a database allow internal soft boundaries that allow business units to operate in a shared, partially autonomous habitat, where they cohabitate and consolidate, but they don’t interfere. The secret is Business Units, Security Roles, Data Types, Data ownership/ record access, and role-based forms. Salesforce has a great tenancy model for multiple customers, but the need for autonomy forces complex businesses into separate instances. Dynamics CRM has the better model for complex, multifaceted enterprises needing to inter-operate in the same instance.

Quote To Order

Many business models use e-commerce. However, many of those firms and many non-digital models must use order management solutions. The traditional way to do this is in antiquated ERP environments. Increasingly, CRM is tasked with all customer facing interaction, including the ability to create quote to order (QTO) transactions. Microsoft has an outstanding and robust independent QTO tool with features like state management, versioning, and line items. Salesforce QTO is stuck inside Opportunities, and is still lagging in features needed to make it easily deployable for most enterprises. For example, old quotes in Salesforce are relegated to attachments instead of a seamless history in a structured format. Dynamics CRM has the edge in getting customers from quote to cash quickly.

Reporting and Dashboards

When it comes to data presentation and metrics, both Salesforce and CRM offer robust report generation and dashboards. Reports are great, but everyone loves the eye candy, so dashboards are infinitely cooler. In the dashboard battle, CRM has a definite edge. It allows a wider variety of dashboard elements, including views and iframes, and has better recency. Salesforce has notorious latency, so you’re never sure if you are seeing the latest data. As with other enterprise features, dashboards go through the CRM security model, but not so with Salesforce, which uses folder security.

User Interface

Back in the day, Salesforce had the advantage with a simple and clean interface. Time has marched on and Microsoft came out with flow-based, flattened, smart UI and predictive, contextual features that is causing Salesforce to have to catch up. Nearly all CRM UI capabilities work in both PC based and mobile computing environments in its write once, deliver everywhere delivery model advantage. Microsoft offers far better parameterized data validation and UI controls via “Business Rules” than the simple error messages and Javascript needed with Salesforce. Salesforce offers a Chatter-based universal search, but it way over-responds with TMI. Microsoft takes a balanced approach with universal search and configurable cross-entity search options.


In addition to the more advanced tenancy and security model, Microsoft CRM is better-suited for more complex enterprise deployments, in the area of release control and solution bundling. Salesforce has not had a multi-environment solution deployment tool (currently in development). With CRM you get “managed” and “unmanaged” solutions that provide self-documented, layered solutions for continuous development even across multiple dev teams, including track-back and roll-back features. CRM has a data ownership model with inherent active/inactive record state (soft delete), and much more scalable merge-purge tools, as well as more granular administrative controls. Salesforce is a great tool because it is simple, but the trade-off is in the way you control continuous evolution of the product.


When it comes to upgrades, Salesforce has a rapid upgrade cadence, but it forces subscribers to accept the upgrades, whereas Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online has rapid evolution and allows many more options for clients to schedule the upgrade at a convenient time for them. Microsoft CRM Online gives you a free sandbox and inexpensive sandbox options for true enterprise development.


While Salesforce can only be deployed in the cloud, Dynamics gives you the flexibility to choose from cloud, on-premises, or hybrid models. CRM gives clients a 99.9% uptime guarantee and SLA that Salesforce does not.

Price Point

Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM has a standard published price point and offers more functionality and capacity for the money. The big complaint with Salesforce is all the hidden costs of overcoming the many capacity limitations and having to upgrade to get comparable functionality.

Comparing the Two

If you’re looking to get a CRM system on board, and wondering which one would fit your needs better, the comparison chart below might be a good place to start:

CRM vs salesforce

Exploring your options

Choosing a CRM system that’s perfect for your business requires substantial research, along with a detailed assessment of the pros and cons. Make sure your decision is based on ROI, and look carefully at the TCO for tomorrow’s CRM, not today’s.

Choosing a CRM system is complicated. We offer free assessments and interviews to help you make the right decision.  You can schedule a no-cost demo for Dynamics CRM to see how it can best suit your business needs.

CRM cta

Topics: CRM