Microsoft Dynamics vs. Salesforce: What We Learned from Working with Both CRMs

October 27, 2022
8 min

For 26 years in the CRM market, we have dealt with almost all popular CRM systems. Finally, we set our sights on two obvious leaders: Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Salesforce . Over the course of time, we have explored both platforms as users, partners, and developers, having leveraged their infrastructure to build our own CRM product for commercial real estate – AscendixRE.

This experience uniquely positions us to provide you with some takeaways and lessons learned on the Microsoft Dynamics vs. Salesforce opposition.

What is the Difference Between Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics?

Salesforce is a SaaS-driven model of CRM with a major focus on system connectivity, customizability, and a simplified learning curve. Speaking of the platform’s SaaS nature, which is Software as a Service, I mean that Salesforce has always been a cloud-based, services-oriented platform focusing solely on enhancing Customer Relationship Management, which is why its ticker symbol is CRM.

Microsoft Dynamics 365, on the other hand, is a completely different breed of technology. It is a product suite of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) applications with heavy reliance on IT resources and integration with other Microsoft products.

Microsoft is very much an IT-oriented product. It is sold through their IT department and is bundled with all other tools that have nothing to do with CRM. And they say, “Oh, you want CRM? Well, we'll just plug that in." But when you just plug something in, you put yourself at risk of failure.

Wesley Snow, Co-Founder and President of Ascendix Technologies

So, both Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics offer top-notch CRM systems operating in the cloud. The key difference between Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics is that Salesforce CRM is the only product family receiving the core attention from the company, whereas Dynamics 365 is sold as a part of a bundle and therefore its support may suffer.

Our First Try: The Buildout of a Commercial Real Estate CRM on Microsoft Dynamics

Microsoft is a huge company doing a lot from a product development perspective. There are numerous examples like Xbox Entertainment, Azure Cloud, and other wonderful tools like MS Office that have been wildly popular in the eyes of the broker.

And the latter was a major draw for us to start engaging with Microsoft, as we simply thought that the appreciation of Outlook and Excel from brokers would translate into their opinions on the Microsoft Dynamics platform.

So, we started building our AscendixRE CRM product on Microsoft Dynamics. It has been an excellent run to be an MS Dynamics subscriber for almost eight years. And we had a great deal of success early on with our Dynamics-based application selling it to large commercial real estate brokerages like JLL and CBRE.

But CRM implementations on Microsoft Dynamics 365 are particularly challenging, especially if you want to create products for independent brokers who would rather sacrifice a couple of intricate features in favor of an approachable, easy-to-use interface.

It doesn't matter what you have in terms of the technology stack. It doesn't matter what you have in features and functionality. If you don't pay attention to that ease of use and end-user experience, you fail

Wesley Snow, Co-Founder and President of Ascendix Technologies

Quite anecdotal though, at some point our platform suffered from infrastructure issues and platform glitches. Overwhelmed with the number of such inefficiencies, our support team was really behind in terms of being able to support our customer base, which was much smaller candidly than we have with Salesforce today.

I believe all those glitches in the Dynamics system were the result of the company’s inability to focus on and polish every single product in the whole product family. They’ve got so many things that they’re putting investments in that they’ve neglected the attention to detail on the Microsoft Dynamics platform.

I forgot about those days and it’s easy to do so because we’ve been selling predominantly Salesforce for seven years and we just don’t have those issues anymore.

But back then switching the core infrastructure of our application seemed rather a risky move. Nonetheless, motivated by the customers’ needs for interface simplicity and ease of use, we started a migration away from Microsoft Dynamics to Salesforce.

Why We Finally Chose Salesforce for App Development

When we compared Microsoft Dynamics vs. Salesforce-based versions of AscendixRE side by side, we found that Salesforce was maybe 99 times out of 100 more applicable than Dynamics.

People would select the user experience for AscendixRE on top of Salesforce because it constituted an infrastructure. It was solely based on what they saw before their eyes and was more approachable and ‘playful’.

This experiment justified our previous assumption that no matter what functionality and technology stack you have below the surface, it’s the customer experience that makes people love your product. And that is what Salesforce is all about.

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Which Has Better Integrations Capabilities: Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics?

As I mentioned before, Microsoft and Salesforce are two diametrically different breeds of tools, and so are their approaches toward system connectivity.

Salesforce does an excellent job of creating a core product, but they do not design everything. Instead, they are mindful of being open to third-party partners, letting them do the rest of the job.

Hence, Salesforce launched AppExchange, a marketplace for third-party contributors, and started offering partner licenses for those who want to sell vertical solutions. If you are familiar with how the App Store works for iPhones, where you’ve got all these apps that you can download onto your device, you will easily get a grasp of the Salesforce marketplace.

Just imagine: there are more than 3,400 apps on AppExchange, mostly simple productivity tools like Ascendix Search, which, in fact, can tweak your core product and astronomically enhance your user experience.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has no such concept behind their products. They are a software company first and foremost, so all the solution bundle is designed internally.

In fact, Microsoft does have a similar marketplace called AppSource, but featuring only about 1,000 out-of-the-box integrations, it is not nearly as vibrant as AppExchange.

One reason? Microsoft does not have even close to the market share that Salesforce has. They don’t have as many users and as a result, those that have third-party tools are not all that interested in connecting to a platform like Microsoft Dynamics.

With all that said, Salesforce is definitely a winner in the system connectivity race, which is not about how many third-party tools you can connect to your system, but what output you can receive in terms of user experience. After all, a better and unified user experience always translates into cost savings.

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What We Think About CRM Interface of Salesforce and MS Dynamics 365

Dynamics 365 CRM has an impressive technology stack that fuels its features and functionality below the surface. But unfortunately, its end-user experience and interface leave much to be desired.  At the time we used the platform as the core infrastructure for AscendixRE, the out-of-the-box interface looked overwhelming and complicated, causing extra hassle in educating users how to use it.

Believe it or not, the reason the Dynamics design was so unapproachable, at least when we leveraged their platform as the infrastructure for AscendixRE, is tightly linked to their core operation system Windows. Remember when Windows 8 first came out with all those intricate tiles and other navigation concepts years ago? That was a dramatic change to the way in which they had organized their operating system, and that operating system actually ended up influencing the design of their Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform. A huge mistake.

And despite Microsoft’s constant attempts to make the user experience more refined after realizing their failure, they will not get their system nearly as user-friendly as Salesforce is.

Just in at first eyeball, when our clients look at our Salesforce-based CRM, they see that the environment is more playful, straightforward, and modern. And it is a total win, especially in the commercial real estate brokerage arena.

 

Why Salesforce Offers a More Pleasant User Experience

Salesforce sells solely CRM products, which means the company is totally invested in making the user experience enjoyable. Just imagine the focus that they have on driving revenue through that one value chain.

Not to mention that they’ve got fantastic leadership. Their team is led by Marc Benioff, the CEO who started out and still remains the CEO.

And when you have that kind of focus and you’re not distracted like Microsoft is, you can bring some fantastic products to the table.

How Much We Had to Spend Supporting and Upgrading Salesforce vs. Dynamics

We have done so many implementations on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and now we understand that somebody who does not know Dynamics’s ends and outs would struggle. So did we too.

The issues and the challenges that we had to deal with were so significant that they often left us questioning whether or not we had the right partner.

We used to have a large group of IT engineers to manage and care for the infrastructure, who anyway would always be left behind being unable to cope with growing flows of support requests. Let me remind you of the main reason I see at the core of those deficiencies – the company-wide negligence of the Dynamics platform in favor of other projects.

With Salesforce, we have forgotten about those restless days, and we do not even have a technical department anymore. So, we can go in there and put our energy towards delivering a more refined version of AscendixRE.

Another differentiating point is software updates. Whereas in Salesforce, it is almost a click of the button to upgrade the whole system, in Microsoft, upgrades were something that you had to budget for on a year-over-year basis for a 100,000-seat deal.

I would suggest that they budget $15 to $20,000 a year for upgrades because of how invasive it was. With Salesforce, it is a non-issue even those more significant deals, and there is no need to budget for upgrades as we did in the past.

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Microsoft Dynamics 365 vs. Salesforce: Which System Provides Better User Training

Salesforce revolutionized how CRM companies train their users with a gamified Learning Center called TrailHead, where instead of charging for training content and classes, they train subscribers for free. A genius move.

So, anybody who has got a modicum of interest and initiative can go out there and immediately start training themselves up to be an administrator, a consultant, and a developer. To make the learning path more engaging, Salesforce put badges associated with skills and just made it fun for people to go in there and get these accreditations.

Moreover, Salesforce encourages partnerships with independent vendors that can provide consulting and development services.

Salesforce consultancies like Ascendix can identify system gaps, analyze their health, and provide individual optimization paths. Moreover, they can build individual training plans for better CRM adoption, considering your unique needs.

That is not something that is as widely available on the Dynamics front. Microsoft does not offer such a scope of learning resources and its independent consultants’ base is extremely limited. Its limited consulting resources may result in higher total costs of the solution implementation and training.

Key Takeaway

Having worked with Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365 for some time, we found that the costs related to ongoing maintenance, support, and accommodating for new releases in Salesforce have been far less than on the Microsoft platform (both on-premise and online).

By far, Salesforce has the most expansive ecosystem for 3rd-party applications. As a result, the user community for SFDC is much more engaging, and the amount of supporting documentation for this platform is by far the best in the market.

Thanks to these apparent benefits, Salesforce became a better option for us as consultants and our clients who actively use our AscendixRE CRM. But an in-depth understanding of both platforms helps us provide better consulting services around Microsoft Dynamics to Salesforce migration and data transfer to both systems.

Moreover, this experience enables us to apply CRM optimization best practices accumulated over years of working with both systems. That is why, if you have been looking for a seasoned consultant with a combined knowledge of Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics that can recommend the best way to switch from Dynamics CRM to Salesforce, contact our professionals!

Does Salesforce integrate with Microsoft Dynamics?

You can integrate Salesforce with Microsoft Dynamics using third-party apps or custom CRM integration services. There are over 35 apps and 900 integration consultants available on AppExchange.

Is Dynamics cheaper than Salesforce?

If we compare initial Salesforce vs. Microsoft Microsoft pricing, Salesforce is cheaper. Salesforce Sales Cloud license cost starts at $25 per user/month, while Microsoft Dynamics 365 license cost for sales professionals starts at $65 user/month.  

Which is better, Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics?

Both Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365 have their pros and cons. For example, Salesforce has a more expansive ecosystem for 3rd-party applications compared to MS Dynamics. While Dynamics 365 offers more favorable pricing models for long-term customers. 

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