Microsoft Dynamics vs Salesforce

Microsoft Dynamics versus Salesforce

A Head to Head Comparison of the Top 2 CRM Systems

1.User ExperienceAdvantage: Salesforce
2.Sales Force AutomationAdvantage: Salesforce
3.MarketingAdvantage: Salesforce
4.Customer ServiceAdvantage: Dynamics CRM
5.Business IntelligenceAdvantage: Dynamics CRM
6.PlatformAdvantage: Salesforce
7.ToolsAdvantage: Salesforce
8.EcosystemAdvantage: Salesforce
9.Cost & ValueAdvantage: Dynamics CRM
10.Customer SupportAdvantage: Dynamics CRM

I’ve been an active participant in the CRM software industry for three decades, and have enjoyed the good fortune to work with the top four CRM systems. However, while Oracle and SAP have viable CRM products for their ERP install bases, their CRM market share is in decline. It's clear the chase for the top CRM software position has reached a two horse race. Salesforce is the market leader and Microsoft Dynamics CRM is the challenger.

I've also been writing Microsoft Dynamics CRM reviews and Salesforce reviews for clients, analysts, CRM publishers and the public at large for many years. However, prior to this post I've never put these two market leaders into a direct comparison.

Determining the best fit CRM software solution is of course subject to your specific business objectives. But with that said, there are 10 objectives commonly shared in CRM software selections that I’ve used to illustrate the similarities and differences between Dynamics 365 CE and Salesforce.


User Experience

Salesforce: The CRM user experience is a balanced combination of a well-designed user interface and application utility that meets user productivity and performance expectations. Salesforce CRM software was born from consumer technologies. The user interface is simple, intuitive and easily customizable. I think the user experience litmus test is user enthusiasm, and one benchmark which compares enthusiasm is each company's annual partner and user conference. Dreamforce attracts hundreds of thousands of fired up attendees. The energy is palpable. Microsoft Envision conferences are well organized but without the energy and mass attendance. Perhaps more importantly, my experience has been that the perennial challenge of CRM software user adoption is less of a challenge with Salesforce.

Dynamics 365 CE: Since the Dynamics 2013 release, Microsoft has steadily improved the user interface and actually delivers a more modern user experience. However, the difficulty in modifying tabs, stylesheets, themes and typography (fonts, headlines, etc.) make the user interface less adaptable to user preferences and objectives.

Winner → Salesforce


Sales Force Automation

Salesforce: Sales Force Automation (SFA) was the original flagship product for both Microsoft and Salesforce, and both products are similarly positioned. However, my discussions with sales professionals consistently reveals they prefer this solution as it is easier to use and more intuitive.

Dynamics 365 CE: Microsoft's SFA is feature rich, but when compared to Salesforce, incurs a longer learning curve and a lesser mobile experience. It also doesn't deliver the same buyer intent signals (digital footprints and online behaviors) to salespeople. However, one standout area for this solution is its integration to Outlook. It's more than just a sync of contacts and emails. Microsoft has embedded much of the SFA capabilities in Outlook so salespeople can perform their CRM tasks - such as updating sales activity and opportunity records - within Outlook and without having to access the CRM app.

Winner → Salesforce


Marketing Automation

Salesforce: The company offers two marketing cloud solutions, Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Salesforce Account Engagement (previously Pardot). The first is generally used for B2C while the second is more often used for B2B. You may want to read Salesforce Marketing Cloud vs Salesforce Account Engagement to understand the differences. But in either case, the Salesforce Marketing application is hands down superior to Microsoft CRM for digital marketing or any of the six marketing automation capabilities (i.e., lead tracking, lead acquisitions, lead scoring, lead nurturing, lead transfer to sales or lead analytics).

Dynamics CRM: Microsoft has a long and troubled history with marketing software. From it's original marketing release (an unmitigated disaster called MarketingPilot) to a strategic relationship with Adobe that's never taken off, this application has been and continues to be clumsy and disappointing. The current product called Microsoft Dynamics Marketing (MDM) is a reasonable entry level marketing automation platform but does not compete with Salesforce.

Winner → Salesforce


Customer Service

Salesforce: The Salesforce Service Cloud has come a long way and offers impressive case management, knowledge management and social service capabilities. The company's acquisition of ClickSoftware looks extremely promising, however, as is typical, the integration to the remaining CRM platform is a work in progress.

Dynamics CRM: Microsoft has made customer service a point of differentiation. The company's acquisitions of Parature, Adxstudio and FieldOne combine for a single CRM solution that delivers assisted service, self-service, field service and support for professional services. The company's Power Virtual Agents (a module in the Power Platform) makes creating impressive chatbots and virtual agents simple and effective. Microsoft's big investments in Open AI suggest ChatGPT will continue to further it's competitive advantage in this area.

Winner → Microsoft CRM


Business Intelligence

Salesforce: Analytics has evolved from the original Analytics Cloud (created from the Edgespring acquisition) to Wave Analytics to Einstein Analytics to what is today Tableau CRM. It is a sophisticated solution for transforming data to insights, delivering eye popping dashboards and creating predictive analytics. But while sophisticated, it requires a longer learning curve and some analytics reports require writing SAQL (Salesforce Analytics Query Language) or JSON code. That may be a benefit for specific use cases but is also a detriment for users that prefer configuration over coding.

Dynamics 365 CE: Microsoft’s Power BI facilitates user generated, agile data analysis with self-service business intelligence managed in the cloud for collaboration and sharing. It's a simple all in one analytics solution to facilitate extract and transform functions, model and analyze capabilities, and powerful data visualizations. Power BI has become a category leader in Gartner and other analyst rankings and continues to evolve rapidly. Power BI offers a packaged integration to Salesforce, however, adoption appears sparse.

This is a tough category to choose a winner, but I'm choosing Microsoft as most of my clients prefer an easy to use analytics tool over a more powerful but technically complex tool.

Winner → Microsoft CRM


Software Platform

Salesforce: The CRM software leader has transitioned from a best of breed sales force automation (SFA) software as a service (SaaS) provider to an application development platform as a service (PaaS) company. The company's PaaS tools such as Salesforce1, and Lightning offer impressive flexibility and extensibility that helps future-proof enterprise software investments. Using these platforms, developers inherit cloud infrastructure components such as multi-tenant architectures, security and scalability as well as application technologies such as analytics, mobility and social media tools.

Dynamics CE: Microsoft has evolved its CRM platform from xRM (eXtensible Relationship Management) to the Power Platform. Dynamics can also leverage the Microsoft stack, including the SQL Server stack (i.e., Reporting Services for reports, Analysis Services for data warehousing, Windows Workflow Foundation for business process automation); the .NET framework for customization and integration; Office integration; and native integration with other popular Microsoft products such as Exchange and SharePoint. Such top to bottom leverage tends to facilitate complex IT efforts and can reduce time and cost for big projects. But on the flipside, a variety of technical tools requires a deep learning curve and IT support. Lastly, Microsoft offers choice in CRM software delivery – be it online, on-premise or a hybrid combination – and permits cloud portability so that customers can run Dynamics CRM on Microsoft's cloud or any other cloud. While in theory this sounds good, the reality is you would incur significant cost and complexity to move Dynamics to any cloud other than Azure.

This is another tough decision, but as referenced in the prior category, my clients tend to favor simplicity so the decision goes to Salesforce.

Winner → Salesforce



Salesforce: Which CRM tools are most important depends upon your needs. However, it's been my experience that Salesforce delivers more tools that are needed more of the time – such as tools for system integration (i.e. Mulesoft), customization, social media engagement, mobility, routing & approval, and flexible APIs.

Dynamics CE: Some unique tools from Microsoft include its process guides (to facilitate guided-navigation) and its Outlook integration which improves user adoption and provides a limited offline operation. However, particularly at the enterprise level, Microsoft just doesn't match Salesforce when it comes to tools for CRM software customization, integration or extensibility.

Winner → Salesforce



Salesforce: The CRM leader pioneered the cloud expansion strategy whereby the publisher delivers a comprehensive platform suite with accompanying tools and then embraces partners to deliver industry, application, process and niche solutions through an organized online ecosystem. Salesforce AppExchange is the most comprehensive third party directory in the CRM industry.

Dynamics CRM: Microsoft supports a partner product portal called AppSource which is a descent online partner marketplace, however, lacks the breadth, social rating features and usefulness of AppExchange.

Winner → Salesforce


Cost & Value

Salesforce: The company effectively uses its market leadership, disruptive brand and continuous innovation to command a price premium. While admirable from a company perspective, this creates a higher acquisition cost for customers. It's also incumbent on customers to ensure they are purchasing the right edition and bill of materials to avoid over buying, version-creep and future pricing surprises. A high number of product SKUs, frequent product naming changes and somewhat complex licensing rules require customer diligence to get the right solution.

Dynamics CRM: In my experience the Microsoft CRM subscription is about 35 to 45% less than Salesforce. Unlike Salesforce, Microsoft permits more flexible tiered pricing so that customers can mix different user licenses based on their needs and avoid being charged the price of the most expensive user license for every user. Microsoft also bundles more of the software in fewer SKUs which avoids the all too common problem of up-selling and incremental fees for product add-ons. In typical Microsoft fashion, the company seeks grow their market share by lowering subscription pricing and backing on-demand software delivery with a solid Service Level Agreement (SLA); something Salesforce doesn't offer.

Value is more important than cost, however, is dependent on customer use cases and software utilization. Cost is more constant.

Winner → Microsoft CRM


Customer Support

Salesforce: The company provides reasonable telephone support based on varying fee structures. However, compared to Microsoft, customers have fewer options when onsite consulting help is needed. The volume of Salesforce partners supporting small and midsize businesses is low.

Dynamics CRM: Microsoft has long been a channel first company. The Microsoft Dynamics channel is a much larger and more mature consultant network. This gives customers more options and competitive rates.

Winner → Microsoft