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CRM Heavyweights: Salesforce vs CRM Dynamics

In 1999, Oracle executive, Marc Benioff, left the company to start a Salesforce.com. It’s hard to imagine that was nearly 18 years ago, and the rush towards SaaS has only become more intense. While many investors viewed Salesforce as the poster child for cloud-based software, the road to success (and profit) would be a bumpy one. Right now, it’s top of the market, so let’s look at a comparison for the heavyweights: Salesforce vs CRM Dynamics.
Salesforce became synonymous with CRM (customer relationship management), and others took notice at the otherwise stodgy business software niche. Today, CRM is a thriving business dominated by products from Salesforce, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft. And it makes a lot of sense if you consider that maintaining a close relationship with your customers is the best way to grow your business. It’s usually a lot less expensive to sell into your current customer base than it brings in a new customer.

Gartner forecasts consistent growth along all segments of the CRM market which is now valued at over $37 billion. CRM has grown to include a lot more than merely managing your customer base. Today’s software includes modules that range from managing your help desk to advanced business intelligence features. Salesforce had the foresight to anticipate that their products would begin to compete with the titans of software such as Microsoft and SAP. So far, they’ve been able to stay a step ahead of the competition. But for how long?

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Salesforce vs CRM Dynamics

The following article will take a look at Salesforce vs CRM Dynamics. Over the past few years, Microsoft has assembled a core of products that compete for head-on with Salesforce. Let’s check-in to see how both products compare today.
Usability
Reviewers often understate the importance of software’s usability when comparing business software. That’s unfortunate. Well-designed software should allow the user to find exactly what she needs in the least amount of time. CRMs are complicated by nature makes this a challenge for any company.

The Salesforce Dashboard

Salesforce is a well-designed software. The founders understood that they had to build an easy-to-use product if they were going to entice users to leave more robust products such as SAP. Salesforce has a learning curve, but it’s not very steep to access its core features. The product itself may not be as customizable as some competitors, but I don’t believe that’s a knock on it. Creating software for the web forced Salesforce to present each module in a clear and concise fashion. Browsers reward simplicity and Salesforce not only understood those limitations but used them to its advantage.
Microsoft has made continual improvements to Dynamics. It still feels like traditional business software in a few places. Moving between modules isn’t quite as seamless as Salesforce. One area where Dynamics shines is in customisation. There are many customisation options. But you may want to involve IT before you begin.
Both Salesforce and Microsoft hold annual partner and user conferences. Microsoft Envision is held in Orlando in September. Salesforce plans to hold their Dreamforce conference in San Francisco this coming November.

Both Salesforce and Dynamics are well-designed products. I give a slight edge to Salesforce, but Microsoft continues to close the gap.
Marketing and Sales Automation

We’re now moving into the core functionality of a CRM. Maybe you’ve outgrown your decades-0ld Access solution. Eventually, you need a way to better manage interactions with your customers, and you turn to a CRM to help in that regard.

Salesforce offers some marketing and sales automation tools. Two standouts include email marketing and marketing automation. The Salesforce Marketing Cloud is superb when it comes to marketing automation features. It can help you track leads, acquisitions, score leads, nurture leads, and transfer qualified leads to sales.

Dynamics’ tools in marketing and sales automation have improved since Microsoft acquired MarketingPilot. There’s a lot of potential here. The features don’t feel as well integrated as they do with Salesforce. One unique feature of Dynamics is Marketing Resource Management (MDM). Otherwise, Salesforce still provides the most comprehensive marketing and sales automation tools you will find in a CRM.
Business Intelligence

This is the future of CRM. That might sound bold, but speak to any CEO, and he/she will tell you this is their dream feature. While other CRM features merely organise data into digestible chunks end users can manage, BI turns that data into action items. BI combs through all your CRM, external, chat, and social data to point you to your best opportunities. Machine learning and deep learning are pushing BI into new realms. Without a doubt, Microsoft will continue to build on its lead-in BI.

Microsoft Dynamics Dashboard with BI

Salesforce includes their Analytics Cloud that’s optimised for mobile. It provides simple data visualisations for people on the go. Some Salesforce customers complain that it lacks advanced tools found in other products. It supports all Salesforce data sources and covers the basics. But it’s nowhere near the level what Dynamics can do today.

Dynamics was built on a robust BI engine called Power BI.  This is one area where Microsoft is well ahead of Salesforce in determining the future of CRM. Power BI is head and shoulders above anything Salesforce offers today. This bodes well for Dynamics because BI is destined to become the most important feature of CRM.
Value

This is a difficult category to grade. Each company has a list of core features they need, and both Salesforce and Dynamics cover the basics well. If you value having access to the most tools, the largest ecosystem, and the most mature product you will find Salesforce to be the better value. Salesforce does a lot of things well. But it doesn’t do everything better than Dynamics.

Dynamics comes in around half the cost of Salesforce for most customers I know. It shines in BI and takes advantage of other Microsoft services such as SQL Server, Exchange and SharePoint. Microsoft hasn’t been in the game as long as Salesforce, so you’ll find a few rough edges. But regarding the value, it rates very high. Microsoft has an army of partners and consultants ready to help you migrate to Dynamics. Salesforce can do the same but doesn’t have the same level of consultant support.

When looking at Salesforce vs CRM Dynamics, you should know products provide good value regarding features and support. It won’t matter that Dynamics costs less if it doesn’t include the core features you need.
I recommend giving both products a try before you buy.

Conclusion

Salesforce is the market leader today, and it acts as the market leader in both good and not-so-good ways. Microsoft is using aggressive and flexible pricing strategies to win over Salesforce customers. Healthy competition means customers have more choices and lower prices. Both Salesforce and Microsoft understand they don’t have the luxury of remaining still. Expect both companies to continue to innovate and acquire small businesses to fill in the feature gaps.

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Microsoft is in an excellent position with Power BI to take advantage of its broad learning capabilities on Azure. It may take them a few iterations to get there. But one thing Microsoft has is patience.

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