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The Big Five Cloud Based CRM.  The 'Big Beasts' Part 1


Having visited South Africa recently, this started me thinking about the Big Five beasts of the CRM Cloud world and with a host of CRM applications out there in the cloud and seemingly an endless choice, these are my top five ‘best of breed’ applications you should be considering and unless there are special circumstances, you need to review these systems first.

I have assumed you are looking for between 5 to 25 or more sales and marketing users whilst for under 5 users there are even more applications out there, but be careful.

This blog will consist of two parts, with the first focussing on the two biggest and MS Dynamics CRM.

These offer everything from a single user deployment up to thousands of users and are the dominant beasts of this cloud marketplace. But like every big beast, you need to be wary and hence our choice of animal:-

MS Dynamics CRM

An easy choice since Dynamics is very much an all-in-one package and I frequently refer to Dynamics as the Big Beast.

This application has now been around for a number of years and MS CRM 2015 is the current UK cloud option and I think this is the best version yet, although I do find it still a bit clunky. But this version resolves some of the previous issues with features such as auto-saving and a better designed and easier to understand layout which is less busy and complex than previous versions such as MS CRM 2011.

Just taking it off-the-shelf is a risk since with over 200 entities, it is inherently flexible, but for smaller SME ‘s we find that unless it is deployed as a ‘vanilla’ installation, then much time and effort can be spent on customising and in reducing functionality for the user. At some point, we find that you will need some specialist consultancy to help since the product is so vast and your IT team can easily become lost and not understand the complex interdependencies and the Dynamics ‘way of thinking’.

That said, a truly powerful application and now with extensive additional capabilities available including Social Listening, Marketing Automation and Email Marketing modules.MS Outlook integration is often the key factor in choosing Dynamics and the version includes full Cases and Contracts functionality.


This will depend on if you are using MS Office 365. If you are, it is around £31.20 per user per month on an annual subscription per named User. If not, MS Dynamics CRM Online Professional edition price is £40.50 per user per month annual subscription or from a Hosting Partner such as ourselves, we offer a monthly payment option from £41.50 per month.


You definitely need to consider a CRM Migration Workshop first in order to understand how much you need to customise the application to suit and to estimate the time and effort involved, whosoever does this. Our ebook gives some useful guidelines on allowances for deployment, see below.

Dynamics have a huge channel of Partners from which to obtain help from.

Salesforce has probably the biggest cloud reputation and user base and has been around since 2007: we have likened this to the Rhino. Salesforce can be assertive since they have a direct sales model primarily and we understand can be quite thick skinned, hence the choice of animal. They tend to be very focussed and single minded on Licences revenue, hence again the Rhino analogy.

My view is this is an easier product to use than MS CRM and with a clean ‘look and feel’ for users, it appears to be pretty well liked when customised to fit.


Usually one of the first applications to be looked at and you can start with a pilot of under 5 users from £17 per month, for more than 5 users in our example, you will be looking at theSales Cloud edition for sales and marketing teams at £45 per month per user per month with an annual subscription in advance. offer an extensive range of modular add-ons and anecdotal evidence from clients often mention keenness to upsell towards the Enterprise edition at £85 per user per month. There are a wide range of other third party add-on applications in the Apps Marketplace to keep you in their eco-system.


Salesforce can implement direct, but will often use or recommend their Implementation Partners although it is easier for an administrator to customise at a lower level, but you must still be clear from your Workshop of the modules you will require both now and in the future in order to budget accordingly. consultants tend to average around £850 to £1000 per day although this is similar to MS CRM consultancy rates. More on this in our ebook download.

The Big 2 Conclusion!

Whilst these applications are targeted at SME’s the reason these are Big Beasts is that they really come into their own with their depth of functionality when being deployed across larger enterprises. For the target market mentioned earlier, they are eminently suitable, but you do need to allow in my view for external consultancy and certainly it is good to budget for as mentioned in a previous blog.

With these applications, not allowing for external consultancy and training is in my view creating a false expectation and relying too much on vendor marketing messages. Having committed to an amount of £400-600 annually per licence in theory for the next four or more years, any consultancy and training investment is small in comparison to the overallTotal Cost of Ownership and your need for successful adoption.

These then are my two Big Beasts and as with the Elephant and the Rhino my conclusion is that you do need to be wary of the implications and danger of underestimating the amount of time and effort involved in matching these applications to fit your needs and processes.

Next week, I will look at some of the “Market Challengers” and we will be publishing our ebook on this market place with a more detailed view and some key deployment guidelines on each of the applications.

Download The Big Five Cloud Based CRM eBook

by Gary Perkins

18th November 2015