Customer relationship management (CRM) is a mature tool in most businesses, essential to maintaining contact with clients. All such solutions cover a range of channels, and there are many vendors in this highly competitive market – including SAP, Oracle, SugarCRM, Zendesk, Hubspot and Zoho. The largest names in UK CRM, though, are Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce CRM. The Microsoft vs Salesforce question is perhaps the biggest CRM challenge any senior IT leader – and their management team – will face.

As part of Computing Delta’s ongoing research into Microsoft Dynamics vs Salesforce CRM – and other CRM services – our research team has been asking senior IT professionals about their preferences to help you answer the question…

Which CRM tool should I choose?

Computing Delta’s analysis of this market, with interviews with 300 senior IT leaders who have used these services, is available to Delta subscribers; click here if you do not have access but would like to see the full report in a demo. More information, including comparisons with other vendors, is available in the CRM Report. If you are looking to make a CRM platform comparison, this article provides a brief summary of the two market leaders, Microsoft vs Salesforce.

What’s the difference between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce CRM?

  • Deployment: Salesforce is pure cloud, while Microsoft has on-prem and hybrid deployment options
  • Ease of use: Microsoft is perceived as an easier solution to use in anger for non-technical staff
  • Pricing: Microsoft is significantly higher, starting at more than double that of Salesforce’s basic tier, but ‘Base and Attach’ licenses add flexibility
  • Addons: Salesforce’s AppExchange portal is more populated than Microsoft’s AppSource, but Microsoft is gaining fast
  • Integrations: Dynamics 365 integrates with all existing Microsoft applications, such as Outlook, Excel and PowerBI. Salesforce’s connections to Microsoft are more limited.

Microsoft Dynamics vs Salesforce CRM – the background

Firms in every sector now acknowledge that data is a valuable resource, with a significant and measurable effect on success. Over time technological tools have evolved to make this information easier to access and analyse, even for non-technical staff.

CRM is one tool classically used in every part of an organisation, primarily by employees in sales and marketing who deal with clients as part of their day-to-day roles. Because of its importance to many departments – in addition to these key revenue generators – CRM is increasingly perceived as core to business growth, as well as a way to uncover new opportunities.

One CIO told us, “We use CRM as our single golden source of data for everything client-related”.

'We use CRM as our single golden source of data for everything client-related' Click To Tweet

Both Microsoft and Salesforce have high mindshare in the UK CRM market, with about three quarters of IT leaders responding to our survey saying they were aware of these companies’ tools.

CRM vendor awareness

The software-as-a-service (SaaS) model is replacing traditional on-premises deployments in the CRM space, and both market leaders are taking advantage; Salesforce CRM is pure cloud, and Microsoft is transitioning towards the same. One IT leader said:

“I still see them as two camps. There are the traditional technology companies originally specialising in internal systems that have grown up and gone onto the cloud and now have a CRM module – I would classify Microsoft as one of those, [and] also Oracle. Then you have the pure cloud-based enterprise software solution providers that have a CRM product or CRM suite, such as Salesforce, NetSuite and so on.”

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is primarily a web application, focusing on the sales, marketing and service sectors, with integrations into the wider Dynamics ecosystem. It provides CRM services through five of the 11 core modules forming Dynamics 365: Sales; Customer Service; Marketing; Field Service; and Project Service Automation. Two more modules (Finance & Operations and Business Central), add ERP capabilities.

Salesforce CRM is entirely cloud-based solution, offering significant scalability. Like Dynamics 365, much of its functionality is modular and based on four separate Salesforce products: the Salesforce Platform, Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud. The Salesforce Platform acts as a base layer and the Cloud modules add additional functionality, such as automation and cross-channel customer communication.

Both companies have their own particular areas of strength, such as Microsoft’s simplicity and Salesforce’s continual investment in improving its product. Both companies also have weaknesses in the ongoing Microsoft Dynamics vs Salesforce CRM brawl, with respondents pointing to Microsoft’s high costs and Salesforce’s lack of agility.

Microsoft vs Salesforce – at a glance

Microsoft vs Salesforce comparison table

Microsoft Dynamics vs Salesforce CRM – pricing

Both Microsoft and Salesforce share public pricing information, charging subscriptions on a per-user, per-month basis.

Pricing for Microsoft’s core CRM module, Sales, starts at £49 and includes basic features such as sales execution, limited customisation and limited reporting. The next tier, Sales Enterprise, begins at £71.60 and includes more robust versions of these features, as well as additions such as embedded intelligence and social engagement. The Relationship Sales Plan adds LinkedIn Sales Navigator Enterprise and starts at £91.30.

Previously Microsoft offered a Customer Engagement plan, adding the other four CRM modules. As of late 2019 the company offers new ‘Base and Attach Licenses’, enabling an a la carte licensing model.

Salesforce prices its Sales Cloud, the core CRM module, in four tiers, billed annually. The first is Essentials, suitable for up to five users and starting at £20. The Professional tier is for all team sizes and starts at £60. The Enterprise tier starts at £120 and adds additional features like workflow automation, multiple sandboxes and custom app development.

Finally, the Unlimited tier adds 24/7 support, live video chat, more data storage, expanded sandbox environments and a variety of other Salesforce tools, like Sales Data, SalesforceIQ Inbox and Salesforce CPQ. It starts at £240.

Adding additional modules and services not included in a subscription can significantly increase the amount a customer pays, although bulk discounts are available.

Conclusion

Both Microsoft and Salesforce hold a prominent position in the CRM market, making the Microsoft Dynamics vs Salesforce CRM question a difficult one to answer. Both cover all the expected areas of CRM, with some ERP in the mix as well from Microsoft Dynamics; have excellent integrations with their own products, but struggle when connecting to tools outside their ecosystems; and consistently ranked well on their support for customers.

The major difference in these tools is in price – with Microsoft charging more than double the Salesforce rate for its lowest tier – and their approach to the cloud. Salesforce has a longer history in cloud CRM, while Microsoft is a more recent entrant. However, the gap is closing rapidly and some respondents particularly noted Salesforce’s lack of innovation in recent years.

Ultimately your choice will come down to the business systems you have in place, the features you need and even personal preference.

In the full research, find out what the major trends are in UK CRM; where the major vendors are going next; and how UK IT leaders use their CRM tools in anger.

For more information on Microsoft vs Salesforce – including interviews, case studies and data on how both companies performed in our study – contact Delta today.

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