What is it?
A CRM with tools for sales, marketing and customer service.
How popular is it?
Microsoft Dynamics had 4 million users worldwide in 2014.
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What does it do well?
Gives you a CRM, marketing and customer service platform that works well with Outlook and SharePoint.
What does it not do well?
It does not work well as a standalone CRM if you are not using Microsoft for everything else. For Google users, Insightly has strong integrations with Gmail and Google Apps.
Who does it work well for?
Microsoft Users that need sales, marketing, and customer service in one package. If you use SharePoint, Outlook, Office and a Windows mobile device, then you’ll get the most out of Dynamics CRM.
Who does it not work well for?
If you don’t use those Microsoft programs, you’ll be missing some key CRM features, such as document management (SharePoint), email integration and offline access (Outlook) and a reliable mobile app (Windows mobile device.)
Price Compared to Competitors?
Type of Solution:
Desktop, Cloud or Mobile
Yes, Company & Customer Service
Average (view reviews)
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Microsoft Dynamics CRM Pricing
- Basic Edition ($30/user/month) gives you basic CRM (accounts, contacts, cases and leads) and reporting.
- Professional Edition ($65/user/month) adds marketing tools, customizable dashboards and workflow automation. It requires a minimum of 5 licenses.
For the purpose of this review, we looked at the Professional Edition because it is the most popular of the three.
Ease of use
Setup – Moderate.
To import contacts, you need to upload .csv, .txt, .zip or .xml file. (explained here) While I found it pretty easy to get started, some of the initial customizations, like turning on document management, took a while to figure out.
Administration – Moderate.
To add a user the system generates a user ID and password, which the user can change later. This seemed fairly simple. (explained here) Other administrative tasks, however, were more difficult. For example, the customization menu (pictured below) is vast and can take a while to grasp. The settings menu, in general, was difficult to navigate with there being a lot hidden menus and options.
End User – Moderate.
To keep the user menu simple, Microsoft uses hierarchies. You start by selecting Sales, Service or Marketing, then pull up a sub-menu option (i.e. contacts, accounts, dashboards). The benefit is you’re not bombarded with 30+ menu options. The downside is you have to do a lot of scrolling and may get frustrated when you’re in Service and trying to find something for Sales.
Help – Difficult.
If there’s one place Microsoft Dynamics CRM falls short it’s their help resources. Microsoft lacks a thorough, up-to-date knowledge center with in-depth articles. While they do have a knowledge base, I found the articles to be very limited and unhelpful (there’s no screenshots, for example). Searching the web for help yielded additional articles from Microsoft, but many were for older editions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
On the plus side, Microsoft Dynamics has adequate phone and web support that is available 24 hours.
Features It Has
Features It Does Not Have
Social Media Monitoring*
Web Form Integration
*Available as an add on
Check out the full list of features here.
Integrations Not Supported
Social Media (LinkedIn)
Phone/VoIP (Vonage, 3CX)
*Integration supported through a third party provider
Check out the full list of integrations here.
Intro / Product Summary
Dynamics is for Microsoft users looking for a CRM solution. It works best if you already use Microsoft programs such as Outlook, Office and SharePoint. Otherwise, you’ll be missing features like document management and offline access. Also, you won’t be able to import contacts as easily.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM is unique in that you get sales, marketing and customer service features. The case manager (pictured below) for customer service agents, in particular, is unique feature. In many CRMs, help desk software is only available as an add on or integration.
Microsoft contact’s management is based around Contacts, which represent your current and potential customers and any other individuals you work with and Accounts, which represent businesses. You can link contacts to accounts and vice versa. When adding a new contact, if you enter in a company name that hasn’t been saved yet there’s an option to quick-save that account. This is a small but important feature as it saves you the hassle of jostling through windows.
Microsoft creates profiles for your contacts and accounts with an activity stream where you can also quick-add notes or tasks related to the client. You can also view or add opportunities or customer service cases using the tables to the right. Microsoft displays a map of the client’s location, powered by Bing, which is a unique feature.
You can create “deals,” or sales opportunities, and link them to accounts and contacts. Each deal has a detailed profile which displays all the key information, stakeholders with contact information and an activity stream with latest updates and notes. There’s also a status bar at the top which shows the progress of the deal, which you can customize with your own deal stages.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM let’s you update the value, probability, and stage of the deal. Taken altogether, this let’s you view your pipeline (pictured below.)
You can create tasks directly on any record, such a contact, account or opportunity profile, which automatically links the task to that record. You can also view a list of all your tasks under “Activities,” with a number of sorting options. One cool feature is that you can quickly pull up reports on your activities. Clicking “Charts” to the far right pulls up a side panel (pictured) with 6 different standard reporting options.
Microsoft Dynamics takes a unique approach to reporting. For one, rather than having a single menu for reporting, you can view reports right from the menu you want to report on (i.e., Contacts, Activites, Opportunities.) Clicking “charts” on the right hand side pulls up a menu clicking an area of a chart pulls up an adjustable side panel where you can choose from a number of standard reports. You can also create custom reports where you can choose any data field on the menu.
These reports are also interactive – clicking on a particular area of a chart brings up the relevant data. For example, if you click on the bottom of your sales funnel, you can view all opportunities that are in the final stage.
If you tend to view the same 5 or 6 reports and don’t want to navigate to different menus pull them up, you can save these reports to your dashboard. Check out the video below for more on reports:
Microsoft has a lot of marketing tools available in their CRM. You can create campaigns to track, manage and analyze the source of leads. You can send mass emails from pre-saved templates. You can also collect leads from web-to-lead forms published on your external website.
For marketing automation tools, you have to purchase the Marketing package, which is an additional $125/user/month. (more info here)
You can separate users into sales territories and use them to assign new leads and opportunities. (explained here)
If you want to attach documents to contacts, accounts or opportunities, you MUST have a Microsoft SharePoint account and integrate it with the CRM. SharePoint is an online document management service that costs $5 to $8/user/month. Then you have to choose which entities in particular (i.e. accounts, contacts) you want to have documents enabled on from the Settings tab. (explained here)
There’s no native project management tools in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Microsoft has a calendar that displays upcoming appointments and service activities (but not tasks or opportunity deadlines.) Ironically, you can add a new activity from the calendar menu, such as a task or phone call, but they will not show up after you save them. Only “appointments” appear on the calendar. I searched the help database to see if there was a way to change this, but did not find any relevant resources.
Invoicing / Accounting
Microsoft has an invoice builder where you can enter your products, apply shipping costs, tax and discounts. There’s no native accounting tools, however.
Desktop/Server Based/Mobile/Offline Access
Microsoft Dyanmics CRM is cloud hosted, so you don’t need to install any software on your computer. You can access Dynamics through your web browser or a mobile device. It does not support offline access, however, so you have to be connected to the internet to use it. The exception is if you integrate Dynamics with Outlook. This enables you to sync your contacts and tasks and view them offline. (Read more here)
You can use Microsoft Dyanmics on a mobile device through the browser. You’ll be redirected to a mobile site (pictured below.) You can access your accounts, contacts, leads, opportunities and more, but the interface is very stripped down and basic. Some of the things it’s missing are the Bing Maps integration, reporting and calendars. There are iOS and Android apps available that look much more like the desktop version. The app, however, won’t work on Android 4.4 or higher, which has been out for over a year.
The only app with decent user ratings is the one available for Windows tablets.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM integrates closely with Outlook. CRM for Outlook lets you use some CRM features within Outlook, such as contacts, tasks and email templates. Any changes you make in Outlook automatically sync with the CRM and vice versa.
Microsoft Social Listening is an add-on that lets you find brand mentions across social media channels and news sources in multiple languages and create reports based on that data. Social Listening is free if you have over 10 users of Professional CRM. Otherwise it’s $100/user/month.
Dynamics CRM integrates closely with other Microsoft products, including Office and SharePoint. Through Pinpoint, Microsoft’s app store, you can find third-party add ons, including VoIP, Project Management and Accounting integrations.
US Based or Not?
Method of Delivery
Microsoft has a support center with FAQ and articles, but I found it difficult to find the answers I needed. There’s also 24 hour phone and web support. I tried the phone support and was able to get through very quickly.
The Bottom Line
If you’re a Microsoft user looking for an advanced and customizable CRM that will work for your sales, marketing and customer service teams, then Dynamics is the clear winner. For $65/user/month, you get a lot of great features, like custom reports, web form-to-lead integration, invoicing and more.
The downside is non-Microsoft users will find a lot of gaps in their features. Also, whether you use Microsoft products or not, there’s a lack of good help resources for set up and administration. This is not a CRM that’s ready to go out of the box.
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Noteworthy Microsoft Dynamics Reviews
Better Business Bureau –F rating for Microsoft Corporation BBB online reviews
Enterprise Apps Today – One habit Microsoft may have over its competition is the willingness to make consistent updates to the current feature set of its CRM. Microsoft Dynamics is a full-featured CRM that is not difficult to install and works seamlessly with other Microsoft products. Users can install the software locally or use the cloud-based version for a reasonable monthly subscription fee. Recent updates to the user interface have really helped improve overall user experience, including tweaks to make the interface look the same no matter which web browser is used to access the application. Microsoft provides would-be customers the opportunity to test drive Dynamics for 90 days before purchasing to make sure the software is a good fit for their business needs. [Read more ]
Reviews.com – Stacy Bennett’s review of Microsoft Dynamics positions the application as a comprehensive, simple CRM to use for small and mid-sized businesses. Installation is just about hassle-free and the updates with the user interface make the system more intuitive than previous versions. In fact, the interface will probably seem familiar for users of Windows 8. Microsoft wins where customer service is concerned. In addition to helpful downloads, an online community and access to technical support, the onboarding and transition process for Dynamics actually serves as a benefit for companies who are looking to adopt a CRM without having it bring their daily operations to a screeching halt. While her overall rating for Dynamics was 4 out of 5 stars, Bennett assigned ratings for a total of thirteen distinct categories. Microsoft Dynamics earned its lowest scores (2 stars each) the following categories: 3rd Party Integration, Email Integration and Inventory Management. [Read more ]
G2Crowd – With more than five dozen reviews in, Microsoft Dynamics CRM earns 3.3 out of 5 stars on G2Crowd.com. Of the reviews tallied, 46 out of 67 were 4- and 5-star reviews. Only 7 reviews (a little more than 10%) were 1-star reviews. The general consensus is Dynamics is a reasonably-priced, functional CRM that will get the job done for small businesses. It works well with other Microsoft products. The learning curve is not so steep that it prevents you from transitioning your sales funnel to Dynamics. The good: “I like that Dynamics has a fairly seamless interface to track pipeline, opportunities, and orders/quotes. It’s easy to get from one dashboard to the next from a sales perspective.” The bad: “The plug-in’s for this system can put a lag on the system causing display and refresh issues. Storage seemed to be an issue when working with a larger employee based company.” [Read more ]