Dynamics 365 vs Salesforce – Which is best?

Ok, it would be fair to say that as a Microsoft Partner, we’re firmly biased on the side of Dynamics 365. But hear us out. We’re asked this question a lot – why should we go with Dynamics over Salesforce? And here’s what we have to say.

The struggle is real when it comes to deciding between the two. Having done a search for other articles trying to answer this very question, I found that most of them were out of date before they even rank by the search engines. Microsoft’s development of Dynamics 365 and integrations with the Microsoft platform, are occurring at break-neck speed. (This article will no doubt suffer the same fate and be out of date quickly, so do your homework).

At this stage of the maturity of both products, a feature by feature comparison is fairly futile. Both systems are very mature and proven solutions, and should be able to be configured to do all of the functions you’d reasonably expect of a CRM, plus more. The decision is broader than “feature” and “function” analysis. It’s about the cost over time, the nature of the initial and ongoing engagements to configure and enhance your solution, and the inter-operability of the solution within the broader set of applications you have within your business.

Here are our top 4 reasons why choosing Dynamics 365 over Salesforce makes good business sense.

Reason 1 – Ongoing user licencing costs and hidden costs

Salesforce has held the title for the most expensive CRM licences for some time now. Even though Dynamics 365 had a price overhaul in December 2016 that increased the price of some user licences, others went down, so that across the range of user licence levels (which generally equate to user permissions) available to an organisation, Dynamics remains cheaper on the whole. The introduction of a Team Member licence for the light users of CRM in your organisation (now at only AUD $10.20) was the game changer for overall cost – allowing organisations to roll out CRM to more users, even if they have light usage.

If you’re considering Salesforce, make sure you understand any additional costs you might incur as you go along.

If you have any integrations with other systems make sure you’re aware that Salesforce API calls are metered. This means you have a certain number of included API calls included (allocated on a per licence basis) and additional costs to expand your limit.  API calls are made every time you share data with other applications – for example, if you have a portal, every time a user accesses a screen or performs a function within the portal, that counts towards API usage. Integration with other systems will also consume an API call every time data is shared. Unexpected, or even your normal level of expected API calls, can hit your back pocket.

Some clients we’ve migrated from Salesforce reported that they’ve been stung by this, so it is worth getting to the bottom of.

Also, look carefully at the costs of extra storage with Salesforce compared to Dynamics. I’m reluctant to publish prices here, because chances are, prices will update and I’ll be caught out. But suffice to say, check out carefully how much is included (usually calculated on a per user basis with Salesforce) and how much it will be to add storage now or later.

With Dynamics 365, not only is storage relatively inexpensive, the integration with SharePoint can save you in storage costs within CRM itself. Data is ‘light’ in terms of storage requirements but documents take up a lot of storage space if you keep them inside of your CRM. SharePoint is an infinitely cheaper option for storage space. Dynamics simply links to the document where it’s stored in SharePoint without the user being aware of where it lives.

Reason 2 – Project delivery costs

Salesforce and Microsoft have very different models for delivery. Microsoft has a huge network of Partners (third parties like us) who do the delivery of their products and services to organisations (so there is a lot of choice and competition). Microsoft focuses on their core business of developing and maintaining the software, and although they support their Partner network in specific projects, you cannot engage Microsoft directly for an implementation. Salesforce, on the other hand has a smaller, less developed, partner eco-system, with the focus of their delivery capability being in house.

On top of that, Microsoft Dynamics is developed using common programming languages like .NET, Java and HTML while Salesforce is built and customised using Apex (their own specific language).

So which project will be less expensive to resource? While Microsoft Dynamics development and configuration specific skills are fairly specialised, they are based on a broader skill-set. Apex skills are unique to Salesforce and scarce. The skills aren’t just needed for the initial implementation, but also for any integrations or App development down the track.  High school economics teaches us that scarcity increases price and Salesforce having a monopoly over those scarce resources means you don’t have the freedom to go elsewhere to find a cheaper price or better service. You’re a captive audience.

As Microsoft Partners, we know there are other companies within the Microsoft Partner network that do what we do, so we have to keep our prices competitive and keep up to date with the latest and greatest. Whilst we compete with each other, we’re a worldwide community too, and share ideas and solutions freely among each other.

Reason 3 – It’s a Microsoft product

There are two strings to this bow. One is familiarity for users and the other is integration with the rest of the Microsoft suite you’re already using.

CRM’s are all about Customer Relationships. And customer relationships are built with emails and appointments. So, it’s no surprise, that a seamless integration between Outlook and the CRM is a deal maker or deal breaker.

In 2014, Microsoft allowed Salesforce to develop some integrations with Microsoft products. Although we’ve never experienced the Salesforce to Outlook integrations, we have worked with a number of clients moving from Salesforce to Dynamics who have reported the integrations are clumsy, and that their impetus to move is largely based on improving this aspect of user experience.

When you think about it, which company is going to be in the best position to achieve seamless integrations? Clearly Microsoft, being the author of both Outlook/Exchange and Dynamics, is going to have a more robust solution and roadmap for the future.  In fact, we’re seeing major advances in that roadmap coming to fruition, with some very intelligent enhancements combining information from emails and CRM to deliver actionable insights. Exciting times.

Other integrations with Office suite applications such as Excel are also limited in Salesforce. You can export a static file, but can’t use dynamic connections to refresh data within the Excel directly from CRM or to bulk update records in CRM from Excel, as you can with Dynamics.

And then when you add the additional and broader capabilities of business intelligence tools such as Power BI, that will span your CRM data and many other applications and data sources, and native integrations with powerful ERP solutions, then the immense power of the integrated Microsoft platform becomes truly appreciated.

Reason 4 – Data ownership – getting out when you want to

Say you end up going with Salesforce, but you’re not happy, or you have some other reason you need to migrate away.  Well, in our experience, it’s not that easy.

Yes, your customer information is yours, so you’d think you could just suck the data out and off you go to your new system. Not so.  To get all of your data out you need Salesforce to open the API for you.  You’ll remember from earlier in the article this costs you.

If Salesforce know that you are not renewing they might not be particularly happy to open the API for you. We’ve heard stories from ex-Salesforce clients that it’s like having your data held for ransom.

With Dynamics 365, the API is open and for free. You can take all your data or some of it, at any time, for any purpose, whether it be for a backup or to migrate to another system. It’s your data to do what you please.

As you can see, it pays to do your homework and look beyond the checkboxes of feature and function analysis.  Any software vendor can develop a checklist of well-chosen features to make their solution look better than another, but as you’ve seen here there are broader considerations at play. Hopefully this article will provoke you to ask the right questions and find the right path for your organisation.