Salesforce vs Dynamics 365 CRM Solutions: What’s Best for You?

Choosing the best Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application for your business can be daunting for sales and IT leaders alike. Dynamics 365 CRM and Salesforce are both sophisticated sales automation platforms that provide insights into potential and existing customers.

Selecting which one is right for you depends on the characteristics of your company, technology, and strategy. For an overview, start with this quick comparison table. Click on any of the pink text in the left-hand column to jump to further details in the article below.

 

Note on Product Naming and App Details

Technically, there are five Dynamics 365 apps made for different CRM needs. However, they’re all based on the same “Common Data Service” infrastructure, and they all connect with each other as well as other Microsoft products in similar ways.

Salesforce is a single solution with three core editions which embody the major elements of CRM that surround a customer: sales, customer service, and marketing. They can be used on their own, but they’re designed to work as a unit to best deliver their return on investment.

In this article, we’ll be covering the differences between the Dynamics 365 CRM apps and Salesforce as a whole, without diving into the details of the different facets of each product family. If you want to know more about the different varieties of Dynamics 365 CRM apps, take a look at our Comparison of Dynamics 365 Sales, Customer Service, and Marketing and Comparison of Dynamics 365 Field Service and Customer Service.

Subscription Pricing

Dynamics 365 CRM app licensing starts from $50 per user per month, whereas Salesforce licensing starts at $25 per user per month. (Both Salesforce and Dynamics 365 are cloud-based solutions with Software-as-a-Service monthly licenses.)

With five different apps that all carry various usage and integration options, Dynamics 365 licensing is more complex. Pricing is reached by understanding the core customer-centric functions of your business as well as how they work together and how the teams operate. These functions include sales, customer service, marketing, project operations, and field service. Dynamics 365 is more affordable for companies with more sophisticated operations that must be integrated with other solutions.

Since Salesforce is a more straightforward solution with fewer elements, pricing is easier to understand based on your company’s capacity for various levels of sales, customer service, and marketing functionalities. From the point of view of licensing, Salesforce is a cheaper option for companies who are interested in staying within their suite of integrated solutions.

Implementation Process

The implementation process for Dynamics 365 CRM apps is more involved than for Salesforce, because it requires more discovery, design, and configuration.

Dynamics 365’s power lies in its ability to elevate your own business model and strategic operations rather than requiring you to change them to fit a pre-existing mold. To implement Dynamics 365 well, you must both understand and be able to articulate your processes and goals to a Microsoft Dynamics Partner who can apply the key elements to the design of the system.

Then they must properly configure and integrate your system based on a design that fits you. The result is a system that uses your vocabulary, workflows, and processes.

Salesforce is more of a plug-and-play solution with more limited configuration and integration abilities, which means it’s faster to implement. While there’s less time needed for discovery and configuration, more time may need to be spent on user acceptance testing and training, because Salesforce comes with its own pre-configured workflows and processes, to which your team will need to adapt.

Add-Ons and Extra Apps

Both Salesforce and Dynamics 365 CRM can be extended with more than 3,000 add-ons and applications from third-party developers. It’s important, though, to note that these solutions are added into the core CRM solution to expand functionality, not integrated with it as you would with a disparate system.

Dynamics 365 can also include Power Platform’s impressive set of building tools for non-developers — like Power Automate, Power Apps, and Power BI — which all allow admins to create customized solutions for their CRM. Power Automate advances workflow automation by connecting your system processes with other data sources and applications. Power Apps create mini solutions within the larger platform that give users a focused workspace for easier data entry and process management. Power BI gives reporting designers extensive access to all your company’s data as well as the ability to combine it with external data sources.

The Salesforce solutions around automation and custom applications are limited either to those that can be built by a user and sourced from within the system or to those that can be created by a Salesforce developer. However, there are options to use Microsoft’s Power BI with Salesforce, such as the Salesforce Analytics for Sales Managers app.

AI Capabilities

Overall, Dynamics 365’s AI capabilities are more robust than Salesforce, because they reach far beyond the system’s components and joined applications.

While both platforms offer AI-generated email content, predictive selling models, and website chat bots, Dynamics 365’s Power Platform extends the AI abilities to any accessible database regardless of its connection to the Dynamics 365 system.

Furthermore, the AI capabilities of the Microsoft CRM stack have been expanded with Microsoft Copilot for Sales. It can quickly surface useful information about accounts for your busy salespeople, by drawing on data inside the D365 Sales CRM application or via automatic Bing searches. That helps your salespeople move faster and stay focused inside a single interface.

Reporting

Salesforce’s reporting options are more straightforward, while Dynamics 365’s are far more configurable (as is the entire system), which can make building and managing reporting more complex.

Salesforce uses industry best practices and standardized perspectives to present data across the entire system through lists, views, charts, and dashboards. And it comes with many pre-built options which range from simple user-based charts to more complex governing dashboards. These tend to be intuitive and easy to use, but they are constrained by the data that’s inside of or connected to Salesforce.

Dynamics 365 also provides out-of-the-box reports and dashboards, but the flexibility of its innate query tools as well as Power BI delivers more comprehensive yet streamlined views of unlimited data sources. This typically requires a report designer who is fluent in multi-source data visualizations.

Integrations

Integrations between Salesforce and other business applications tend to be more expensive to build, maintain, and manage than the equivalent for Dynamics 365 CRM.

Salesforce has a standard set of approved applications that can easily integrate into it. But for any outside of that list, serious development work is needed to create the connections and move the data.

On the other hand, Dynamics 365 solutions were built with integration in mind. The solutions inside Power Platform enable everything from custom Dynamics 365 CRM apps that allow users to interface with different systems to high-powered dashboards that provide insights by combining disparate data sources.

Connections With Other Microsoft Products

A major reason we see some companies choose Dynamics 365 for their CRM solution is the ability to connect data and automations with other Microsoft business products: from Word, Excel, Outlook, and Teams down to Dynamics 365 ERP solutions like Business Central.

If your company already uses Microsoft applications for many other important parts of your business, you will find especially significant benefits to choosing Dynamics 365 for your CRM application as well. While Salesforce can be used alongside the Microsoft suite of tools, it doesn’t offer the same advantages.

Customization

Overall, it’s more costly to customize Salesforce because it’s more of a traditional, pre-configured solution. Dynamics 365 CRM is more admin- and user-ready to customize, meaning more of the labor can be kept in-house.

Beyond what could be considered cosmetic changes that can help users understand their Salesforce system faster, larger and more meaningful changes require a technical Salesforce developer. This creates a bigger financial and time demand when new functionality is required.

Microsoft has embraced the “citizen developer” concept and implemented user-based tools that are native in Dynamics 365. This means that a system administrator can handle a large range of changes to the system, including formatting, layout, design, vocabulary, automation, and much more. Therefore, it’s significantly faster and cheaper to improve a Dynamics 365 CRM system, because your administrators can directly react to changing business needs.

Functionality

The core CRM functionality of the systems is similar in that they both capture rich profiling of both customers and prospects and facilitate your team’s work through all phases of the sales process. With AI and reporting, they also both act as guides for salespeople and automate more repetitive tasks while providing predictive forecasting information.

The key difference lies in Dynamics 365 CRM’s flexibility in configuration and integration. This means that the system can potentially capture almost any kind of data, govern any kind of process, and provide any kind of insights. Salesforce is limited to the manufacturer’s build and the constraints of its design.

It’s also important to note that while Salesforce has some standard applications that extend its functionality, their abilities around more robust customer-facing processes like project management and field service management are extremely limited. Dynamics 365, however, encompasses additional platforms with end-to-end solutions (Dynamics 365 Project Operations and Dynamics 365 Field Service) that specifically satisfy for both industry and business process best practices in these areas.

Training and Learning Resources

Both Salesforce and Dynamics 365 offer training resources that can be provided online and in-person. Training for both systems is also offered by licensed partners who sell, design, build, and train on them.

Salesforce’s standardized layout and processes typically make it easier to perform training, and it means there’s more effective on-demand training like YouTube videos. However, since Dynamics 365 CRM is more customizable and is built with your users’ unique needs in mind, it usually has a faster adoption rate and training materials are easier to understand more quickly.

Choosing the Right CRM Product for Your Business

The best CRM solution for your business depends on your specific needs, technology, and strategy. Many companies find success using either of these two products.

In general, if your company has clear and straightforward operations and it’s not attempting to evolve or grow, Salesforce may be a great choice. Its pre-configured solutions and sleek interface offer all essential CRM functionalities with elements that naturally work together to provide automation, predictive models, and reporting.

On the other hand, if your company has more complex processes and operations and your goal is to scale your technology with your business, then Dynamics 365 CRM apps may be the best fit for you. Its configuration power allows you to adapt it to changes in how you do business while conserving the workflows and interfaces that maintain adoption.

If you have any questions about leveraging Dynamics 365 CRM solutions for your business, please contact us. We’d love to talk with you and discuss your options.

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