Microsoft or Salesforce:

What is the Best Platform for Your Association?

Within the Association landscape there are multiple AMS (association management software) solutions. That scope narrows significantly when looking at progressive software models that promote the idea of digital transformation. The two most robust and popular Business Platforms used by associations then comes down to Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce, but which one is the best?

Growth Comparison Statistics

Since 2014, Microsoft has focused on its SaaS business, and business is great! They have grown from a $380B (market cap) to a greater than $1.5 trillion-dollar company in just six years. Most of that growth is attributable to their Business Platform. Some of the more popular components of the platform include:

  • Microsoft Office 365. 258 million users. Growing at a 53% rate. Most cloud organizations use Office 365 today. 
  • Teams.  In March of 2020 teams added 12 million new daily users. Today that is 71 million users a day use Teams.  
  • Microsoft Azure Business Cloud  growing at a staggering 75% growth rate 
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)  Microsoft AI and Research has 8,000+ employees working every day to make easy AI available to everyone. (No other company is doing more to make AI easier than Microsoft. No other company is investing more in AI  than Microsoft.) 
  • Microsoft BOT Service – provides an integrated environment that enables you to build, connect, test, deploy, and manage intelligent bots – all from one place. This initiative alone has over 300,000 developers working with it to continually improve your experience.


Microsoft makes many acquisitions each year, and over ¾ of them directly benefit the Microsoft Business Platform.  

Like Microsoft, Salesforce has also grown and is doing a fantastic job. It’s gone from a $60b (market cap) to a $225b company in just 6 years. They, too, have also acquired a few companies. Some of Salesforce’s notable acquisitions include

  • Tableau – A robust reporting and BI Tool
  • Heroku – In 2010 they added this platform as a service (PaaS) that enables developers to build, run, and operate applications entirely in the cloud.
  • MuleSoft – In 2018, they added the most widely used integration platform for connecting SaaS & enterprise applications in the cloud and on-premise.
  • Datorama – In 2018, Datorama joined the SF community. This brings AI enhanced marketing to compete with the Azure based Adobe Marketing Cloud.
  • Krux – Helping marketers by delivering smarter content

Platform Summary

Microsoft’s platform is the fastest-growing, has the greatest number of business apps & connectors, and is the largest platform available to organizations.  Microsoft is accelerating debt-free at a tremendous rate making it very difficult for other platforms to keep pace. Due to its rapid growth, platform connections, integrations, and offerings are always being updated and added. It is also the most affordable, has frequent price drops, and performance increases.

Daily users: 

Salesforce 150,000 business 6 million users. 

Microsoft 1 million business 1.2 billion daily users. 


Microsoft has many more users licensing their software which is why they are much less expensive to use. 

Pricing Models


Both Salesforce and Microsoft offer varying SaaS pricing models. While it is difficult to compare them exactly the same way, Microsoft is typically 2/3 the overall cost of ownership when looking at equivalent features. The key is to look deeper into initial set up costs, licensing, transactions costs, API costs, feature costs, and ROI over the long term. Unlike Salesforce, “Upsell” and “Go Live” cost increases are not part of Microsoft’s plan. Microsoft is generous with licensing and does not halt you like others do if you dip into an unlicensed feature.

Reflected in Dynamics’ price is it’s robust out of the box functionality and inherit Microsoft integration. When associations are quoted implementation costs of a Dynamics based platform, the costs may come in higher than Salesforce. The key is to look deeper at the long-term costs. The cost to add apps is significantly reduced with a Dynamics implementation because so many are already included. Salesforce does not have the same number of included apps with its application. While the extensibility of the platform is comparable to Microsoft’s, the cost of implementing the extended functionality will most likely be much higher.

Salesforce offers basic services out of the box, and they have a sizable AppExchange that allows users to easily extend their platform. The apps there are all designed to integrate with the Salesforce platform. What you may not know is that the AppExchange typically adds a % to the cost of the app. Microsoft has 3 “App Stores” (CRM, Azure, Office) with some overlap and thousands of apps. Unlike Salesforce, there are many hundreds of other app stores that allow you to add apps without commission. Many of the apps in Microsoft’s app stores are free and open source.

To help give you a better understanding of the platforms’ price differences, we have developed the following comparison chart. (note.  Both vendors will negotiate pricing on larger deals.)

To help give you a better understanding of the platforms’ price differences, we have developed the following comparison chart:

Platform Cost Summary

Microsoft is considered by experts to be approximately 2/3 the overall cost of ownership versus Salesforce. That said it is recommended you do your research when considering licensing for each product.  Beware of licenses that will need to be upgraded on the “Go Live” day. When that day comes, it will be too late to shop and negotiate pricing.

2014 talk

Around 2014 Salesforce would say. “We are the most expensive and we are the best”. We agree, in 2014 Salesforce was a LOT nicer looking than Microsoft CRM. Since 2014 Microsoft has not only caught up with equivalent CRM features but the Platform has far surpassed any other platform in the market. Your organization needs more than CRM. It needs an affordable business platform with CRM, Community, Security, Reporting, Content building, and more. With Microsoft, you will have a budget left over to improve the member benefits.

What you will learn one way or the other is that the CRM features are equivalents, it is everything else that will make a difference, especially when it comes to implementation.

Microsoft vs. Salesforce by the Numbers

Both Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce provide equivalent sales, service, and marketing functionality. Both provide customizable data entry form design, easy reporting, social monitoring, app stores, dashboarding, etc. Companies like Altai have added your necessary features such as membership, events, certification, donation and member commerce to Microsoft Dynamics.


To understand what each company is doing in terms of investments, hiring, and giving, review the chart below:

Comparrison Microsoft Salesforce
# of Employees 134,000 29,000
AI R&D Budget $5B 0
Business Platform R&D Budget $19B $2.7B
2020 Annualized Income for the Business Platform* Approximately $88 billion. $17B
Net income(Profit) * $30billion $120 million
Marketing Budget* $4b $5b
Giving $1.4b in 2020 $240 million since starting the company
Tactic to Increase Revenue “Expand our Microsoft 365 offerings to reach new audiences and empower more employees for the modern workplace, protecting data from increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threats and delivering secure productivity and collaboration tools.” Microsoft 2018 Annual Report “Upselling” is the primary tactic listed as per pages 7 and 41 in the Salesforce 2018 Annual Report. “Upselling” was relabeled to “Expanding Relationships with existing clients” in 2020

*The quoted Microsoft numbers are strictly for the Business productivity and Azure App cloud. They do not include gaming or hardware.

Summary. : Both companies are extremely impressive but you will see Microsoft has MUCH more $ to invest back into the platform. Also, Microsoft can write its own platform bs purchase it in stock trades. It is much better to build vs buy when you are the tool maker as the tools will fit together much better

Seamless Integration

The Microsoft Business Platform is designed to seamlessly work together with all the Microsoft tools you already know and use: Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, Skype, Teams, Word, Outlook, etc. While Salesforce does integrate with some of those same Office apps, they are each separate integrations that need to be individually synced. Unlike Salesforce, when linked together, Dynamics 365 turns Outlook into a one-stop-shop for managing member information, scheduling, and email messaging. So much of Dynamics functionality can be completely accessed within Outlook, making it that your core activities can be completed without ever leaving Outlook at all.

Platform Integration Summary

As the original SaaS platform, Salesforce goes to great lengths to ensure that the apps in AppExchange fully integrate with their core platform. But it can’t touch the seamlessness of Dynamics’ integration with all the apps that come with Microsoft Office. If you are currently using or thinking of using Office 365, Dynamics is an app that is included on the Office 365 dashboard. To use it, you simply purchase the required licenses.


Salesforce does a great job of marketing the fact that they were the first to introduce SaaS automation into the marketplace. Salesforce demos are the best. They go thru great, great lengths to make sure that their demos are superb, they make no mistakes during the demo. Salesforce has a team of engineers, scientists, and clinical psychologists researchers working together to develop the best demo practices in the world.

Microsoft is pulling away and not looking back. The velocity at which Microsoft is investing and growing its business platform is astonishing. If you are looking for a true association business platform, the numbers don’t lie, Microsoft has many more features and is more affordable. Let us give you a preview and, we think you will be very pleasantly shocked.

Contact us at to learn more about how the power of the Microsoft Business platform that powers Altai Systems can digitally transform your organization.