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Published: Nov 29, 2022 13 min read
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Customer relationship management (CRM) systems manage a complex global customer base and help businesses improve their bottom line and capabilities. Here are two of the most popular CRM applications to help you choose.

What is Microsoft Dynamics?

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is much more than just a customer relationship management application — it's a piece of a larger software suite that can be used for customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning.

Features and functionalities

Microsoft Dynamics analyzes data using artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML). Some of the use cases for Dynamics are marketing and sales, commerce, supply chain and finance, but it can be used in most industries, such as manufacturing, financial services, healthcare and retail. Further, it will be easy to use if you're familiar with Microsoft Office products.

Dynamics 365 allows you to build custom applications and websites to meet your needs. With the suitable modules loaded up, it can simplify territory management by automating many tasks. Some of these are:

  • Microsoft Dynamics Marketing automation: This function manages and improves task completion time. It can generate leads, identify audiences, design content and manage workflows and events. It also enhances marketing team productivity and marketing accuracy by helping identify possible opportunities.
  • Marketing campaign metrics: Metrics can help you see how effective your campaign is, and adjust accordingly.
  • Salesforce automation: Automatic contact tracking can organize your contacts for scheduling follow-up sessions by showing you who has spoken with a client and their results. It also develops real-time metrics to create sales visuals.
  • Customer service: An administrative center and service hub, the CRM application allows you to keep customer profiles and improve support and experiences.
  • Field service: Optimizes field representatives and resources. This uses resource scheduling and GPS functionality.
  • Finance: Generate reports, fill ledgers and manage accounts payable and accounts receivable.
  • Human resources: Manages tasks, workflow and benefits, which are automated through an employee self-service website.
  • Supply chain: Identifies and tracks resources and automates orders.
  • Project operations: Connects all loaded modules. Gives leaders real-time insights on progress, resource management and expense tracking.

Microsoft Dynamics pricing

Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers several modules based on your needs. Each module is priced per tenant, user and app.

The Data module provides customer insights and customer voice, with one module for each. Insights pricing is $1,500 per month per tenant and $1,000 per qualified app. The Sales module has five tiers designed for different user needs — Professional, Enterprise, Premium, Relationship and Viva, which range in price from $40 to $162 per month with a fee of $20 for each additional user.

The Dynamics Service module has four tiers. The Professional tier is $50 per user per month and $20 per user per month for each additional user. The Enterprise is $95 and $20, Field Service is $95 and $20, and the Remote Assist is $65 and $20.

There’s a wide variety of additional modules to choose from that range from $50 per month to $1,500 per month. These include marketing, commerce and fraud protection. Supply chain and intelligent order management modules automate logistics and ordering. A finance module and small and medium-sized business modules are available as well.

The user reviews

Most users state that Microsoft Dynamics CRM features an easy administrative experience, and integrates well with Microsoft's other applications. Average ratings are generally high, giving four out of five stars.

Dynamics is expensive, however, because you need to pay for each tenant, user and module. For this reason, it is best suited for businesses with the extra capital to invest in the CRM/ERP applications they need.

What is Salesforce?

With Salesforce, customer service is the focus of the customer relationship management application — it works to improve customer relationships. This is different than Dynamics, which has modules for many different business functions.

For instance, the Dynamics 365 Finance package is designed to assist financial departments with accounting and managing costs while also streamlining payment and collection processes. Salesforce doesn't have a dedicated financial package: Payment, collections and invoicing are included in its Sales Cloud and are oriented on improving customer experiences.

Features and functionalities

Salesforce designed its application to be customizable per client. The interface can be changed to suit the needs of whoever uses it. It also created a platform to improve your sales teams' performance and customer experiences.

Salesforce CRM can also be used in most industries. It provides support, sales, marketing and commerce tools. All applications are cloud-based. This allows authorized users to access information from anywhere at any time. Salesforce operates four different clouds, each with a different fucntion — Sales, Service, Commerce, and Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

  • The Sales Cloud is where sales data is kept. Automated opportunity management, daily task automation and forecasting also exist in this cloud.
  • The Service Cloud stores information about customer concerns, which helps businesses organize, track and resolve issues.
  • The Marketing Cloud automates customer data, engagement, intelligence and loyalty programs.
  • The Commerce Cloud handles payment methods and performs order management tasks.

Each cloud provides data analysis services to help identify areas that need improvement, allowing users to create customizable reports. You can also opt into receiving notices from an automated analytics platform.

One of the most valuable outputs is customer interests and perceptions, as this allows more involvement with customers, since it gives you insight into what they need and are thinking without talking to them.

Salesforce pricing

There are affordable packages for small businesses based on each cloud type:

  • Marketing Cloud Account Engagement: $1,250 per month for up to 10,000 contacts
  • Service Professional: $75 per month, any size service team
  • Sales Professional: $75 per month, any size team
  • Essentials: $25 per month for sales and a support app

There are also several different pricing models for the services provided based on the cloud the service belongs to. Sales Cloud pricing is as follows:

  • Unlimited Edition: $300 per month, with account, lead, contact and opportunity management. Integrate your email integration, mobile app, lead registration and scoring. Collaborate with forecasting and workflow management with 24/7 support.
  • Enterprise Edition: $150 per month with account, lead, contact and opportunity management. Integrate your email, mobile app, lead registration and scoring, collaborative forecasting and workflow management.
  • Professional Edition: $75 per month with account, lead, contact and opportunity management. Integrate your email, mobile app, lead registration, scoring and collaborative forecasting.
  • Essentials Edition: $25 per month with account, lead, contact and opportunity management. Integrate your email and mobile app.

The Service Cloud Prices are as follows:

  • Unlimited Edition: $300 per month sales, support, customizable CRM, web services, 24/7 support
  • Enterprise Edition: $150 per month sales, support, customizable CRM, web services
  • Professional Edition: $75 per month sales, support, and CRM for any team size
  • Essentials Edition: $25 per month all-in-one sales and support

The Salesforce Marketing Cloud includes data and account engagement services that are expensive. They range between $1,250 and $50,000 per month.

The CommerceCloud packages focus on business-to-client commerce and order management. Prices are based on a percentage of merchandise value sold and the number of orders. The B2C Commerce packages are:

  • Plus: 3% of Gross Merchandise
  • Growth: 2% of Gross Merchandise
  • Starter: 1% of Gross Merchandise

Order management also falls under the Commerce Cloud, with growth, starter, and order visibility packages.

Salesforce can be expensive if you need more than one of the cloud-based services. On the other hand, a small business can benefit from the packages designed specifically for its needs. Individual cloud services are best for mid to large-size enterprises.

The user reviews

Reviews are generally positive, with four or five stars out of five-star ratings. Most users say they don't know how they functioned before implementing Salesforce. The interface is generally easy to use, but it takes effort to bring it to the point of usability. Users also need to be trained, since it’s a completely new platform.

The pros and cons of Microsoft Dynamics 365

  • Data centralization
  • UI that reflects all Microsoft products, making it familiar for those that use their software
  • Integrates with Microsoft office suite
  • Modular
  • Native integration with existing products
  • Dynamics can become very expensive as modules are added
  • Those unfamiliar with Microsoft UI may struggle at first
  • Modularity and scalability require more spending
  • Learning the system takes time

The pros and cons of Salesforce

  • Compatible with all browsers, allowing for user preference
  • Focused on customer relationship management
  • Modern and easy-to-use user interface (UI)
  • Mature and easy-to-use marketing and e-commerce platform
  • Manages time more efficiently
  • Simplifies account planning
  • Improves team collaboration
  • Too complex for smaller business
  • Salesforce is expensive; the rates are all per user
  • Salesforce software has a steep learning curve
  • Scalability allows you to overbuild solutions
  • Fewer integrations in Salesforce

How these solutions enhance the customer experience

Businesses face fierce competition — new ideas emerge, existing products and services evolve, and companies enter and exit the markets live waves on a beach. The ones that want to last must find ways to attract customers and clients with excellent offerings and keep them coming back.

The best way to do that is through user experience. CRMs such as Dynamics and Salesforce can improve that experience as they each analyze the customer process, from lead generation to post-delivery follow-up services.

Businesses that use these CRM platforms receive data on the whole customer experience. This allows them to quantify their performance with metrics related to customer satisfaction. Solutions can then be created to develop customer loyalty and preference.

The importance of customer relationship management (CRM) software

Improving the customer experience is the ultimate goal for many businesses. More businesses are using artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI and ML) to improve their internal and external business processes. The competition will eventually tighten significantly more than it is. Only those with the best offerings and experiences can compete in their chosen industry and marketplace.

It's no secret that many businesses close within one to five years of opening. Many more shut their doors after a decade of operations. Those that make it through this gauntlet must find ways to continue growing — which requires funding and revenues. Customer relationship management software isn't cheap, and many newer and small businesses cannot afford it.

Thus, a CRM becomes a critical tool for businesses that make it through their first decade. They have more capital to budget toward CRM software solutions and growth. If clients and customers are dissatisfied with a business, they will find another one that offers the same product. The key to keeping a customer coming back is the purchasing experience, and that is what CRM is designed for.

Which CRM software application is right for your business?

If you use Microsoft products currently and have the budget for it, Dynamics integrates with Outlook, Microsoft 365, LinkedIn and more. While you can add or remove modules as needed, you must pay for each additional module and user.

Salesforce is also expensive, but it is overall less costly than Dynamics. It’s geared more toward customer relationship development rather than being a one-size fits all modular CRM/ERP system like Dynamics. Salesforce can be integrated with other applications and services, but you'll need to purchase additional apps on its AppExchange.

Salesforce benefits smaller businesses because it has solutions designed for them, eliminating having to pick and choose. If you need something the small business package doesn't have, you can talk to Salesforce and customize it.

Dynamics is all about picking and choosing your services. It can also be used in a small business, but you'll need to know what you need and what each module does.

Both CRM applications have the potential to change the way your business runs. The critical difference between them is how they are priced. To decide between Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce, you'll need to take inventory of what you have. From there, consider what you need now and what you believe you'll need in the future. For additional products that meet your growing business needs, check out our recommendations for tax software and recruiting software.