Microsoft Dynamics CRM: An alternative to Salesforce

Salesforce has been the established leader in cloud-based CRM for a number of years, making it an obvious contender for any company looking for state-of-the-art CRM–but it is not the only choice. And it may not be the best choice, especially for an organization that is invested in Microsoft’s technology such as SharePoint®, Outlook® or Microsoft Dynamics ERP.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM matches Salesforce in overall functionality and exceeds Salesforce in several critical areas. Add the technology considerations–it's a more natural fit in a Microsoft environment, more robust integration with Outlook and other Microsoft applications–Dynamics CRM becomes the preferred choice.  

More user-friendly

Dynamics CRM is easily tailorable to fit the needs and preferences of users at all levels of the organization. In a typical CRM environment, a user profile is set up by choosing the appropriate information to be displayed from a list of possibilities. In Dynamics CRM, unique forms can be developed to fit specific verticals. Users choose the type of customer, and the form automatically changes to enter information relevant only to that industry. This allows for collection of information that is meaningful to you and the customer with cleaner forms, as only necessary fields are displayed. The related Salesforce process is far more labor intensive. Dynamics CRM is easier to configure for reporting, dashboards and forms.

Deployment options

Salesforce is only available in the cloud. Dynamics CRM can operate in the cloud as a software as a service (SaaS) application, may be hosted privately through a partner like RSM or deployed on-premise. It can be migrated between these platforms should business needs or objectives change.

Partners and complementary products

Both Salesforce and Dynamics CRM offer a broad selection of complementary applications from partner organizations, integrated with the CRM platform. These products allow for expanded functionality and more comprehensive information exchange and management around the basic CRM functions. Partnerships are in place with many of the same companies, like InsideView®. In this case, Microsoft is embedding InsideView as its social insights module. Microsoft acquisitions are extending the partnership integrations with the inclusion of MarketingPilot marketing capabilities, Netbreeze social listening tool, and Parature customer care capabilities technology, to name a few.

Industry options

Microsoft has created industry solutions for nonprofits, project management, consumer products and trade promotion management applications, among others. These industry-specific variants help an organization get the most out of their new CRM system, quickly. For example, the tailored Dynamics CRM system is ready to help a nonprofit manage grants, donors, employees and volunteers, as well as customers or clients in one application. Other industries are provided with similar capabilities.


Dynamics CRM traditionally offers less-expensive mobility options than Salesforce, although pricing from both suppliers is fluid. Another difference is the number of devices authorized under a mobile license; Salesforce allows access for one device, while Dynamics CRM provides access for up to three devices, such as a smartphone, laptop and iPad.

Document management

Dynamics CRM works natively with SharePoint, the most widely utilized document management solution. Similar to the native relationship with Outlook, this integration is a significant benefit for users. Salesforce users must toggle back and forth between the two programs.

Pricing and licensing

In most, if not all, situations, Dynamics CRM offers a lower cost solution. Pricing is variable in any competitive situation, of course, but the Microsoft solution is usually more affordable, especially if the online platform is implemented. For Microsoft-centric organizations, Dynamics CRM can be added to an existing enterprise agreement. This makes licensing across an organization much easier and the process of introducing new technology much smoother. Many companies that have enterprise agreements in place may not realize they already have CRM as an option on the contract, should they choose to implement it–they may not need to amend the contract to add Dynamics CRM.

Choose Dynamics CRM

All things considered, Dynamics CRM offers equivalent or superior functionality, ease of use, deployment choice and lower cost. As a native Microsoft product, it fits better, simplifies support and benefits from tighter integration than a third-party product. If you can get all of this at a lower overall cost, does it make sense to go anywhere else for state-of-the-art CRM?