I have worked on several deals involving Salesforce and Dynamics 365 and based on my unscientific observation about 50% of the deals always get taken away by Salesforce. I have always wanted to know what was the reason for this? So I decided that I would go into the world of Salesforce so that I could see how Salesforce seemingly beats the crap out of Dynamics 365 about 50% of the time and here is what I found out.
1. Dynamics 365 is the wrong comparison for Salesforce. Dynamics 365 is Microsoft’s first-party implementation of xRM. By pitting it against Salesforce which has evolved from being just an xRM into a Platform it is like making the customer choose between a brand new engine (Dynamics 365) and a second-hand car (Salesforce). The first may be built with modern technologies in mind but a new engine cannot take you anywhere. A second-hand car, on the other hand, can take you where you need to go. Most of the customers who choose Salesforce over Dynamics 365 believe they are choosing a complete car over a brand new engine.
2. Don’t sell Dynamics 365, Common Data Services, Power BI, and Azure Services as separate components. Sell everything as Power Platform. Salesforce is always sold as a Platform and not by individual products. In my experience, Salesforce Solution Architects never say that Einstein is a separate product. Microsoft Dynamics Solution Architects on the other hand always sell Power BI and Azure AI Platform as separate products.
3. Don’t get bogged down by Microsoft’s overlapping and sometimes competing products. Salesforce Solution Architects never tell the customer that Salesforce Sales, Marketing, Service, Mulesoft, and Artificial Intelligence components are actually separated in the backend or that their Financial Services Cloud is a complication built on top of the Account entity. They always tell the customer that everything is Salesforce. Microsoft Dynamics Solution Architects on the other hand like to emphasize Common Data Services as the glue that binds different Microsoft and partner (e.g. Adobe & SAP) products together. This creates confusion with the customer who thinks it is more difficult to integrate Microsoft and partner products because they are different products and not one single solution.
4. Architect and Design from inside out. Salesforce Solution Architects usually “pressure” the customer to follow their so-called “Industry Standards” in order to reduce any custom effort down to configuration changes only. Microsoft Dynamics Solution Architects on the other hand, usually accede to customer demands which results in a lot of custom components. Many of these Architects still believe that “handyman” customization is a strength of Dynamics 365 products. Even if it is true that Microsoft Dynamics 365 is flexible enough the navigate any type of customization, the customer will always see customizations as additional costs. Also, one of the reasons why Salesforce Solution Architects “pressure” the customer to follow their so-called “Industry Standards” is to make it difficult for the customer to switch back to Dynamics 365. Microsoft Dynamics Solution Architects however will readily make their solution as easy to switch to Salesforce as possible.
5. Focus on the value proposition of Integration using Azure. One of the big weaknesses of Salesforce is Integration. Mulesoft is an overpriced mammoth. Power Platform (everything from Dynamics 365, Power Apps, Logic Apps, Power Automate & Azure Services) on the other hand has a robust set of integration tools such as Logic Apps, Power Automate, Azure Data Factory, Dynamics 365 Export Services that can be mixed and matched with supporting Azure Services such as Azure Service Bus, Azure Storage, Azure Event Hub, Azure App Services, Azure Batch, Azure Monitor, etc. From this list alone Salesforce is supposed to be a dead horse. The big mistake however of most Microsoft Dynamics Solution Architects is that they separate these components when proposing to the Customer which inadvertently promotes a perception of complexity vs Salesforce’s single marketing name — Mulesoft.
6. Focus on Microsoft’s Hybrid Cloud advantage. Salesforce was never built with the Hybrid Cloud or environment in mind. That is why they created Heroku Cloud and bought Mulesoft to fill in the gap. Compared however to the broad scope covered by Azure which involves Enterprise grade IaaS, PaaS, and other XaaS components, Mulesoft is just an overpriced mule, and using it with Heroku to bridge the Hybrid Cloud gap will drive up the price of Salesforce implementations. From a security perspective, Salesforce, Mulesoft, and Heroku don’t have secure environments like Azure Service Environment or Integrated Service Environment which can be used to form the Hybrid Cloud. Salesforce and Mulesoft also don’t have secure and fast private connections like Azure ExpressRoute. They are always dependent on third-parties to provide these services for them. For Salesforce, everything is public. In other words, Hybrid implementations using Salesforce are a round peg in a square hole and Mulesoft is the glue that covers these gaps. One example is the fact that the “best practice” for doing integration calls to get data outside of Salesforce, makes use of a separate session with a fixed integration user. This is in stark contrast to how Power Platform can leverage Common Data Services or Service Endpoint / Service Bus and even use Data Export Service seamlessly from within both the Azure Public and Hybrid Cloud and which can be further secured through the use of Single Sign-On and Managed Identities.6. Don’t price components independently. No one likes to buy a car where there’s a price tag on every part like the wheels, chair, steering wheel, engine, body, etc. Even if the total price would come out cheaper, most people would prefer to buy a car with a single price. Microsoft tends to price Power Platform components and Azure components separately. I believe it is the job of the Solution Architect to consolidate everything into a single priced solution when talking to the customer. This single priced model will reduce confusion and will present a better overall picture of the real cost of a solution.
7. Lastly, go one step further by selling Power Platform and Azure Cloud as a pair or as a single solution. Avoid complications of selling individual products like Dynamics 365, Power Apps, Logic Apps, Power Automate, Dynamics 365 Export Services, Power BI, Common Data Services, Azure Data Factory, Azure Functions, Azure Service Bus, Azure Storage, Azure Event Hubs, Azure IoT Hub, Azure App Services, Azure Batch, Azure Monitor, etc. because this will not only confuse the customer but will provide a perception that your solution is incomplete because it needs different products. The reality is, Microsoft has provided seamless integration and doesn’t view these as separate products but rather as cohesive services and platforms under the Azure family.