Migrating away from Salesforce.com? Beware!

Salesforce.com is not a fan of customers who attempt to leave. I can’t blame them, nobody likes to lose a customer. When you start to lose a lot of customers, it can make you a little desperate, but this does not seem to apply Salesforce.com, I mean in the last year alone their stock has gone up 20 points. They have obviously done an excellent job of convincing business of the value of Cloud CRM. So why are they so hostile about people wanting to leave? Maybe they are just paranoid. Ever since they launched in 1999, they have absolutely “Owned” the cloud CRM space. To succeed they had to win two battles, first was the concept of CRM which many companies had come to think was a waste of time, and the second was that this was Software as a Service running in the cloud, whatever that was. No small feat. But they did win, and are still winning.

rearviewFor years they looked in their rear view mirror and saw no one. Executives became convinced that they needed the product, and Salesforce.com was the only provider. They could charge whatever they wanted, sell it on whatever terms they wanted, and support it however they wanted. But starting a couple of years ago they thought they saw a speck in the rear view mirror. Since then that speck has gotten bigger, and even though it is way behind in cloud market share today, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is slowly closing the gap.

Even a winner can’t win them all

Our free enterprise system will not allow anyone to “own” anything indefinitely, eventually competition sees your success and wants a piece of it. At the same time you are getting new customers, you are losing a few out the back, it is inevitable. The game changes from a 100% new customer focus, to a split of adding new and retaining old simultaneously. The concept of retaining customers is relatively new to Salesforce.com. Sure they have had plenty of customers leave the CRM concept altogether, but not often for competing platforms. At times they seem both confused and angry about the natural phenomenon of losing a client to a competitor. As a former Salesforce.com consultant, turned Microsoft partner, it is easy for me to say “Get over it”, but then again, I am not playing for their team anymore.

If you’re not with me, you’re against me

We have performed several migrations of customers from Salesforce.com to Microsoft Dynamics CRM over the last year. It is, frankly, a pain in the ass. Not that it should be, but Salesforce.com seems to be of the opinion, that if they make it difficult enough for you, you will somehow see the light and remain a happy customer. In reality, their antics cause customers to become even more determined to leave. So why do customers want to leave in the first place? I can’t speak to all customers who leave Salesforce.com, only the ones I know left for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The main reason, which Salesforce.com could actually eliminate, is cost. The annual all-in spend for Dynamics CRM is a fraction of that for Salesforce.com. This is a dilemma for Salesforce.com as the bulk of their revenue is derived from a single Cloud CRM product. Microsoft Dynamics CRM on the other hand is one of a ton of products that Microsoft relies on for revenue and generates such a small portion of their overall revenue they could probably give it away for free with no impact on their revenue today. Maybe this is the source of the paranoia. Could you imagine a Microsoft offer to current Salesforce.com customers “Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is Free for you for the first year”… maybe I will run that one up the flagpole.

The Gotchas

Okay, so based on our experience with Salesforce.com to Dynamics CRM Online migrations, I want to share with you some of the things we have learned. The first thing is you better plan ahead. Unlike Microsoft, Salesforce.com likes to sign customers up to annual, or longer, commitments. Occasionally the renewal bill will prompt a customer to look at alternatives, but by then, it is probably too late. I mean, you have to establish a Dynamics CRM account, get it setup, migrate your data and get everybody trained up… this ain’t gonna happen in a week. I recommend at least 60 days and 90 days is best. So let’s say you had this foresight 90 days out. DO NOT ALERT SALESFORCE.COM THAT YOU PLAN TO LEAVE. This will set in motion a two-pronged campaign. First your sales rep will start hounding you daily to reconsider, also it is my belief the account gets flagged for support making the opening of the API for migration either very expensive or not possible. One of the things Salesforce.com charges you for is API access, coming in at $300/user/year, Dynamics CRM’s API is open by default, for free. Salesforce.com will “do you a favor” and open it temporarily, but unfortunately you have to be a little deceitful in your request for this. Something like “my developer needs access for testing a new application”. Seriously!

Getting to Moving Day!

So the first step is setting up Dynamics CRM and making the modifications to conform to your business. This is actually a great opportunity to improve your processes as well. Then let’s load some demo data and get the staff trained up. You must understand that Microsoft Dynamics CRM is not a Microsoft copy of Salesforce.com, the two platforms approach things a little differently. If your goal was to make Dynamics CRM “the same as Salesforce.com was”, you will miss too many opportunities that Dynamics CRM has to offer. So yes, Change Management is a part of the project. Let’s assume we got through this fine, because you will, and we are ready to migrate. As I mentioned before, we have to get Salesforce.com to open the API, and we unfortunately have to be sneaky about it. But once open, we can suck all of your data over to Dynamics CRM fairly easily. Typically we’ll do a trial migration to make sure everything has mapped over correctly. Often, when clients start seeing their own data inside of Dynamics CRM, they realize a few changes are necessary, so we may tweak the map a few times until all is well. Once satisfied we run a final migration pass. If we pushed all of this too close to the renewal date, we run the risk of the infamous Salesforce.com renewal “gun to your data”. “You must commit to renewal by 5PM today or we will blow your data to smithereens”, or words that make you believe that this is the case. Salesforce.com is not afraid to apply significant sales pressure.

So, should you make the switch?

If I have not scared the crap out of you with the process involved, then there are a few things to consider. I already mentioned the significant cost difference. For day-to-day use via the browser, both programs will pretty accomplish the same things for you. Where Microsoft Dynamics CRM has a significant edge, is with customers who are using other Microsoft products. The Outlook integration for example. Who better than Microsoft to build an integration between two Microsoft products? Salesforce.com’s Outlook integration capabilities, via third-party apps is dismal by comparison. In addition Microsoft’s Lync presence and Lync or Skype click to call capability is also brought natively into Dynamics CRM. If you have large databases with lots of attachments, Salesforce.com is hammering you on additional storage costs. Dynamics CRM integrates with SharePoint, which not only makes all of your documents available to non CRM users, but also, should you outgrow the allocated space, each additional GB is only twenty cents a month. I also think with the latest 2013 release, Microsoft Dynamics has passed Salesforce.com on the mobile front. To counter Salesforce.com’s claims of superiority in Social, Microsoft has integrated Yammer and will be adding InsideView (included in subscription) any day now. And we still have Netbreeze and Marketing Pilot, two new acquisitions coming to the platform soon.

So I think I covered enough for one post, feel free to add your comments below.

Add your thoughts below, just don’t pimp your stuff on my blog 🙂


  1. Mario Araujo

    Hello Steve,

    I found this article while searching for ways to migrate out of Salesforce.com because some of our customers have been asking for it. The fact that they do own their own data has always been a concern that somehow they overcame due to the fact that salesforce.com had, at the time, the best crm solution.

    But this was not the only reason that motivated them to migrate. There were others in what it relates with integration with on-premise systems, the overall bad UI and user experience, etc…

    To your point of migrating from Salesforce.com to Dynamics, I would like to understand what’s your take on building a CRM from scratch. In my experience, both salesforce.com and dynamics are bloated with features users don’t need and lacking specific features for ‘my own way of doing things’. Yes you can customise it, but it normally takes a long time, costs a lot of money to implement and even more to change.

    Forrester recently published a report titled ‘New Development Platforms Emerge For Customer-Facing Applications’ where they make the case for building with this new type of high productivity platforms that will most likely change the economics of this. Some of these platforms will lock you in, so for the purpose of this post, wouldn’t be good options, however there others make a strong point of being open.

    • Steve Mordue - CEO

      Customizing CRM, on either platform, is an expense that needs to be measured against the potential gains. The fact is, that as extensible as these platforms are today, “Customer Relationship Management” is really just a starting point.

      We have created a RapidStart offering for getting our clients up to speed, and ROI, quickly.

      The Forrester report you mentioned alludes to the idea that there will be a diminishing need for hard code work as these platforms seek to include capabilities that can be relatively easily accessed. Similar to how web development for the masses went WYSIWYG.

      • Mario Araujo

        Steve, thank you for your reply. It’s pretty impressive what you can do with your RapidStart service.

        If I may, let me suggest that you take a look at OutSystems as a technological option for custom development in general, but most specifically for Salesforce.com migrations and mobile enablement.


  2. Tomasz O

    Few corrections Steve,
    API access add on is only for customer on low end Professional Edition . Enterprise and Unlimited editions have API access already included. Also Professional Edition customer can use Weekly Data export feature.

    A weekly export service is available to customers on Enterprise and Unlimited Edition. Professional Edition and below, have an export service that can be scheduled on a monthly basis. All is included in your license fees.

    More information in Salesforce public knowledgable.

    • Steve Mordue - CEO

      Yes, the “Low End” Professional Edition Salesforce is the same price as the “High End” Professional Version of Dynamics CRM. To gain access to the API by upgrading to the Enterprise or Unlimited Editions of Salesforce, you will pay exponentially more than even what I mentioned…


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