Image Courtesy of Phantogom on Flickr.com

Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce have been competitors for a long time – pretty much since Salesforce’s inception in 1999. It took a few years, but Microsoft eventually jumped on the software-as-a-service (SaaS) train and released its first iteration of CRM in 2003. Fast-forward more than a decade later, and it gets even harder to tell the real differences between the two.

Both are also arguably masters in the CRM space, but who has the better kung fu?

Microsoft Dynamics CRM

MSCRM takes advantage of the fact that it is, well, Microsoft. What I mean is, it’s going to have all of the integration and functionality that any other Microsoft software would have. This includes integration with Microsoft Lync, Sharepoint, and Visual Studio. Lastly, it is all accessible from Microsoft Outlook. On Microsoft’s website www.whychoosemicrosoft.com, the company lists all the other major differences between the two CRMs.

Click to view Microsoft's comparison between the two CRMs.

Click to view Microsoft’s comparison between the two CRMs.

Gartner also releases a Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation every year – and Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics are on the quadrant every single year. The 2012 Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation is no longer available, but here’s a summary captured by Michael Bauer on Axonom.com:

First, let’s define what’s being examined/tested…

 

Sales force automation (SFA) applications support the automation of sales activities, processes and administrative responsibilities for B2B organizations’ sales professionals. Core functionalities include account, contact and opportunity management. Additional add-on capabilities focus on improving the sales effectiveness of salespeople, such as sales configuration, guided selling, proposal generation and content management, and sales performance management support, including incentive compensation, quota, sales coaching and territory management.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Analysis

The top three reasons organizations consider Microsoft Dynamics CRM on-premises is the potential for more-attractive total cost of ownership versus cloud based offerings, integration with Microsoft Outlook and leverage of the Microsoft technology stack, such as SharePoint and SQL Server.

 

Top 3 Strengths

  • Provides accessibility for Microsoft Outlook clients.
  • Integration with the Microsoft technology stack assets…Microsoft SharePoint for collaboration and content management, Microsoft Lync for Presence and Instant Messaging and Microsoft Visual Studio for extended customization.
  • Power View is an extension of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010; contains good reporting capabilities, specifically data visualization and presentation.

 

Top 3 Cautions

  • Relies on solution providers to furnish a complete solution (e.g., incentive compensation, sales configuration and pricing management); users need to do their own vetting of providers.
  • Although Microsoft provides a native Outlook Client for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, for direct server-to-server integration, customers must use partner solutions for Microsoft Exchange Server to Microsoft Dynamics CRM server synchronization to handle tasks, calendar appointments and contacts.
  • New Multidevice Mobile Solution is a cloud service only and has an incremental list price cost of $30 per user; if a sales organizations wants to have a multidevice solution on-premises, it will require a partner solution.

Salesforce

The Gartner Magic Quadrant also had this to say about Salesforce:

Salesforce.com Analysis

The main reasons customers choose salesforce.com is strong brand, innovation and proven track record. Salesforce.com has a strong ecosystem of ISVs; however, adding multiple solutions to fill salesforce.com’s functional “white space” can be expensive. Salesforce.com has customers in all regions of the world, but it needs to continue to increase its geographic support outside its core strength in North America.

 

Top 3 Strengths

  • Offers a proven infrastructure and reliability.
  • Continues to push innovation by increasing the breadth and capabilities available for social media technology, Chatter and mobile offerings, such as the iPad.
  • Offers improved application agility, due to the ease of use of the Force.com platform, which is usable by technically sophisticated business analysts.

 

Top 3 Cautions

  • Unlimited Edition is expensive; evaluate the lower-end editions before committing to the Unlimited Edition.
  • Social Enterprise License agreement represents an opportunity for customers who will experience large subscriber growth and leverage the entire salesforce.com suite; however, companies should be careful not to overbuy subscriptions and functionality they will not need.
  • Relies heavily on AppExchange vendors to provide a complete solution (e.g., lead management, incentive compensation, sales configuration and pricing management); users need to do their own analyses of AppExchange providers, and should not assume that salesforce.com has vetted them.

On Salesforce.com, the CRM provider had this table for prospects to click through and learn more about Salesforce’s functionality.

Click to enlarge.

Click to view Salesforce’s comparison between the two CRMs.

User Experience

User experience is probably where the differences between Salesforce and Microsoft become most apparent. Salesforce has a sleek design – one that is obviously design-forward with careful attention to user experience. While Microsoft’s UV isn’t exactly difficult to navigate, you can’t beat how simple Salesforce looks. Click here to view some screen captures of both products for performing simple tasks.

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We’ve used both CRMs, and they’re both relatively easy to navigate – so no worries there. As far as which one would be easier? We’ll let you be the judge.

In one respect, it’s obvious that Salesforce’s branding definitely has it together. On the contrary, Microsoft never really seems clunky until, of course, a product comes along with a better user interface.

So Which One Should I Invest In?

What it really comes down to are just three things:

  1. Budget: Salesforce CRM is remarkably more expensive than Microsoft’s – and it makes sense. Microsoft is a huge organization and it’s able to provide products to businesses at a reasonable cost. Salesforce can easily be double the price of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and it’s not exactly clear what the price differences are relative to the extra features or benefits you get.
  2. Environment:  The CRM you choose will heavily depend on the tech environment your organization is built upon. If you use Microsoft tools like Outlook to manage email and calendar and your content management system utilizes the .NET platform, Microsoft Dynamics CRM is going to start looking better and better – because all of the integration points are already there. Microsoft makes it pretty easy to use all of its products. Conversely, if your organization isn’t heavily dependent on any Microsoft products and it can afford Salesforce, it would be the better CRM choice (according to Gartner).
  3. Support: Both CRMs require partners and vendors to provide a full, custom solution – e.g. third-parties that are not Microsoft or Salesforce employees. Ultimately, it all depends on which partner, agency, or vendor you get along with best and you like more. It will also come back to the budget question on which third-party you can afford to keep around!

 

 

Asia Matos was the Director of Marketing at ARKE Systems where she oversaw all of the marketing channels and operations for the organization. In her role, Asia managed lead generation-focused content strategy, traffic acquisition, campaign execution, and event planning. She worked daily with content management systems like Sitecore and Wordpress, the analytics platforms of Google Analytics and the Sitecore Experience Platform, and contributed her extensive experience with email service providers like Silverpop and ClickDimensions. Asia was the editor and writer of ARKE’s blog MarketingTechnologyInsights.com. Asia is now the #FlipMyFunnel Demand Generation Manager for Terminus.