Blog / Let’s compare Dynamics 365 Business Central CRM to Dynamics 365 for Sales

Let’s compare Dynamics 365 Business Central CRM to Dynamics 365 for Sales

Feel like you're herding cats? Implement the right CRM and get your sales team on the same page

We frequently get questions from prospects and customers about options for CRM (Customer Relationship Management). These people are often new to CRM and are in the lower end of mid-market organizations with five to 20 administration users on the system and have several salespeople scattered across multiple locations.

In this blog we’ll discuss a practical comparison and starting point for those organizations needing a CRM solution based on a Dynamics 365 solution and integrated to a Business Central ERP system, of which there are two (we have utilized both the Dynamics NAV CRM module and an older in-house version of Dynamics CRM for managing sales activities).


Implementing CRM for the first (or second) time is often more of a political exercise than a technical one

It is on this point that the Business Central CRM module becomes a competent competitor to Dynamics 365 for Sales. As anyone who has ever tried to get salespeople to utilize CRM for the first time knows, you might as well try to herd cats. In my experience, salespeople are not always detail-oriented and will actively or passively resist any effort to make them schedule and track their activities.

So how do you get a CRM system implemented for the first time?


The first step is understanding what is available from a CRM system

Dynamics 365 for Sales has far more ultimate capability than the Business Central CRM but we want to remind you of the “80/20” rule. You are likely to get 80% of the benefit you need by undertaking the first 20% of the effort. At this point, both systems offer very similar functionality. In summary, you can track tasks and activities. Appointments can be synchronized to Outlook, albeit with different levels of functionality. Opportunities and quotes can be created. Price lists can be utilized. Lists can be created for marketing activities for mail or email merging.

To simplify, I will summarize these capabilities into three categories – opportunity management, marketing, and sales process management.


Opportunity Management is generally the most important thing you want out of CRM

Every organization needs to be able to track its sales funnel. The very least you should expect, and have the right to expect, is to have your salespeople track opportunities and related quotes. This is easy to manage and inspect, and it won’t take much time. Salespeople with nothing to show won’t enjoy sales meetings as you discuss other representatives’ sales funnels. But the best salespeople will always want to track opportunities.

The Business Central CRM does this very well and, in some ways, is better and has a simpler process than Dynamics 365 for Sales. First time adopters should want “easy to use.” Business Central offers that.


Marketing matters to the marketing department, not so much to sales

Yes, the salespeople want the leads but it is the marketing department that will love the ultimate capability of Dynamics 365 for Sales (or Dynamics 365 for Marketing), even though Business Central CRM has some solid marketing capability, especially for those who want integrated and detailed product sales information – for example, think about sending mailers to everyone who bought a widget last year. It helps to be connected to an ERP system to get that information.

Dynamics 365 for Sales also has much better integration to social media and websites, if that capability is important to you. Otherwise, evaluate how basic your marketing efforts are or are likely to be. Basic needs only? Business Central CRM will work for you. For more advanced needs, you need Dynamics 365 for Sales (as a side point, this is not a discussion about Dynamics 365 for Marketing, which can be a very comprehensive and expensive solution for larger groups).


Sales process management is usually the point at which CRM implementations blow up

This is especially true if the sales manager has never worked with an advanced CRM system like this and there is not adequate executive backup. Tracking and managing activities in an attempt to measure performance is a very difficult thing to do. If you measure your sales department’s success by sales dollars and number of deals, managing by opportunities will work well for you. If you want to measure the activity of your sales personnel as a predictor of future success, you will need to implement sales process management.

Dynamics 365 for Sales does a better job of managing sales process management than Business Central CRM, which, using the “80/20” rule, does a creditable job of this.


So which one should you pick?

Choose the Business Central CRM if:

  • You want to manage by opportunities and related quotes
  • The full integration to all product detail sales history is of value to you
  • You sell mostly to businesses and not retail
  • Your marketing requirements are basic and do not involve social media
  • Integration to Outlook and management of sales activities is not high on your list
  • Your sales manager has never worked with a fully automated CRM system
  • Total Business Central administration users are less than 20 and most sales cycles are straightforward.

Choose Dynamics 365 for Sales if:

  • You realistically see significant growth or change in your CRM requirements, which would likely mean you need to move to a more capable system in a few years. You are better to start simple with Dynamics 365 for Sales and implement additional capability in the future than to switch systems.
  • You need more advanced marketing capability, especially around social media, which is often critical to any market similar to retail.
  • A smooth and comprehensive integration to Outlook is extremely important.
  • Management of sales activities is very important and you expect to do this in the next couple of years.
  • You have the necessary support you need from sales management and executives to make the system stick.
  • Total number of Business Central administration users are up to 30 or higher and you believe you have more complex sales cycles.
  • You want to integrate to a website to capture clicks, activity, and conversions.


This blog is not an exhaustive comparison of the solutions nor a complete list of all features. But hopefully the details we’ve provided can help you figure out which system would work for you, assuming you are starting with a Dynamics 365 Business Central system or working with Dynamics NAV and wanting to implement CRM for the first time.

For further practical suggestions on what would work for your organization, please contact us.



*Do you know all the advantages a multi-tenant system like Business Central can give your business? We broke it down for you in our previous blog. This has enormous implications for the future if you are considering a new accounting or ERP system. Read all the details here.