Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales – Account Profiling

Learn how to use Dynamics 365 to improve your team’s ability to profile accounts.

 

A common struggle among sales teams is effective account profiling. Account profiling is the process of identifying key data points about customers and prospects and can help your sales and marketing teams more effectively target the right accounts. How many times have you reviewed a customer or prospect account with a sales rep and learned that some of the basic profiling is incomplete? If you answered never, you are among the most elite sales organizations in existence. Most struggle with this seemingly basic sales task — but why?

There are many reasons such as a lack of tools to help profile accounts, improper training, failure to set account profiling as a goal, and not managing compliance, among others. Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales can solve this challenge.

Begin by identifying the key profiling items that your business needs to better understand an account and to better market to accounts. Some examples of profiling items include industry, revenue, lines of business, competitors servicing the account, key contacts, etc. Next, place a score on each item with the goal of a fully-profiled account having a score of 100. For example, profiling the lines of business may be assigned a score of 10 points.

Next, develop a plugin or workflow that will review the account records in Dynamics 365 and keep an Account Profile score:  

On top of this base profiling system, you can develop goals using the goal management module to track the teams performance. Additionally, dashboards, reports, and alerts can be created to give the team awareness of the profiling goal and goal progress.

Having an effective account profiling tool can help your organization finally make progress toward this key sales initiative. It will also help identify the key accounts you should be targeting and enable marketing to perform more effective targeted messaging to your accounts.

Here’s a video we produced covering the topics in this blog:

 

If you would like assistance in implementing an account profiling tool in Dynamics 365 for Sales give Strava Technology Group a call at 844.8.STRAVA (844.878.7282).

By |2018-10-15T14:30:31+00:00October 15th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Training Best Practices

Proper Microsoft Dynamics 365 training is absolutely paramount to a successful rollout. In this article, our team at Strava Technology Group shares best practices from our 15+ years’ experience with Dynamics CRM/365.

Developing your training plan should begin early in the project — during requirements analysis. It is important to assess the user base and the levels of training needed as well as logistics, training documentation, etc. We begin development of the training plan during the planning phase of the project.

Planning Your Training

Training should be done by functional group, and synergistic groups should be combined so each knows the full process. For the initial training, we recommend in-person delivery unless it is just not possible. Think about the different functional areas that Dynamics 365 will be deployed to and break them into groups (Sales Support, Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, etc). Then, draw lines to the groups that should be cross-trained (like Sales and Sales Support). It is important for groups that interact to understand each other’s processes and use of the system. We have found that the ideal class size is 10-15 users per session — above that, it becomes more difficult to control the room and stay on point. Plan not only a trainer, but a room monitor to provide one-on-one assistance to users during the classes.

Hands-on is Essential

Every training should have a hands-on component; in fact, the proper ratio is 1/3 instructor led content to 2/3 hands on exercises. People often learn best by doing, so having effective hands-on time is very important to reinforce learning.

Training Materials

Every training should include custom training materials that show the use of the system and the business process. All of our training programs come with custom documentation that is not only valuable for the initial training, but as a take away tool for the users and for new employees.

The Four Hour Rule

We have found that the maximum single class should be no longer than 4 hours. Our classes are typically 2-4 hours in length.

Management & Executives

One significant deficiency we see in implementations we were not involved in is failing to engage the management & executive teams. They will use the system differently than end users and need their own training separate from the end user content. There are some great tools in Dynamics 365 for the managers and executives including Goal Management, automatic notifications on KPI’s, dashboards, and more. We always engage the management & executive teams and provide training uniquely to them.

Business Process

Training should be based on business process. Dynamics 365 is a large platform with many ways to accomplish tasks — training should include the business process and show one way to accomplish each task. The business process is equally or more important than the technology. If you don’t specify the detail on how users are expected to perform tasks, you are leaving it up to them to decide. This will cause lack of consistency and downstream challenges with reporting. Let’s look at some examples — when a lead is assigned to a sales rep, what are their follow up requirements, how will the record get updated, and when and how should a lead be disqualified? Not providing details on the business process will put the project in jeopardy.  

Training Tools

We utilize several tools to develop our training programs. One is the customized help facility in Dynamics 365. This allows you to create contextual custom help pages that are in-line in Dynamics 365. When a user clicks for help, your custom help pages display and enable you to build in your business processes vs generic Dynamics 365 help content. We highly recommend leveraging this tool when developing your training approach.

Here’s an infographic we developed to help you and your team remember these essential tips:

Need help training your user base? Strava Technology Group offers expert training services led by trainers with many years of experience. Give us a call to discuss how we can help provide training to your users — 844.8.STRAVA (844-878-7282).

About the Author: David Buggy is a veteran of the CRM industry with 18 years of experience helping businesses transform by leveraging Customer Relationship Management technology. He has over 15 years’ experience with Microsoft Dynamics CRM/365 and has helped hundreds of businesses plan, implement, and support CRM initiatives. To reach David, connect with him on LinkedIn. To learn more about Strava Technology Group visit www.stravatechgroup.com.

By |2018-10-15T14:04:00+00:00October 15th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Training Best Practices

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Training

Proper Microsoft Dynamics 365 training is absolutely paramount to a successful rollout. In this article, our team at Strava Technology Group shares best practices from our 15+ years’ experience with Dynamics CRM/365.

Developing your training plan should begin early in the project — during requirements analysis. It is important to assess the user base and the levels of training needed as well as logistics, training documentation, etc. We begin development of the training plan during the planning phase of the project.

Planning Your Training

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Training should be done by functional group, and synergistic groups should be combined so each knows the full process. For the initial training, we recommend in-person delivery unless it is just not possible. Think about the different functional areas that Dynamics 365 will be deployed to and break them into groups (Sales Support, Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, etc). Then, draw lines to the groups that should be cross-trained (like Sales and Sales Support). It is important for groups that interact to understand each other’s processes and use of the system. We have found that the ideal class size is 10-15 users per session — above that, it becomes more difficult to control the room and stay on point. Plan not only a trainer, but a room monitor to provide one-on-one assistance to users during the classes.

Hands-on is Essential

Every training should have a hands-on component; in fact, the proper ratio is 1/3 instructor led content to 2/3 hands on exercises. People often learn best by doing, so having effective hands-on time is very important to reinforce learning.

Training Materials

Every training should include custom training materials that show the use of the system and the business process. All of our training programs come with custom documentation that is not only valuable for the initial training, but as a take away tool for the users and for new employees.

The Four Hour Rule

We have found that the maximum single class should be no longer than 4 hours. Our classes are typically 2-4 hours in length.

Management & Executives

One significant deficiency we see in implementations we were not involved in is failing to engage the management & executive teams. They will use the system differently than end users and need their own training separate from the end user content. There are some great tools in Dynamics 365 for the managers and executives including Goal Management, automatic notifications on KPI’s, dashboards, and more. We always engage the management & executive teams and provide training uniquely to them.

Business Process

Training should be based on business process. Dynamics 365 is a large platform with many ways to accomplish tasks — training should include the business process and show one way to accomplish each task. The business process is equally or more important than the technology. If you don’t specify the detail on how users are expected to perform tasks, you are leaving it up to them to decide. This will cause lack of consistency and downstream challenges with reporting. Let’s look at some examples — when a lead is assigned to a sales rep, what are their follow up requirements, how will the record get updated, and when and how should a lead be disqualified? Not providing details on the business process will put the project in jeopardy.

Training Tools

We utilize several tools to develop our Microsoft Dynamics 365 training programs. One is the customized help facility in the product. This allows you to create contextual custom help pages that are in-line in Dynamics 365. When a user clicks for help, your custom help pages display and enable you to build in your business processes vs generic Dynamics 365 help content. We highly recommend leveraging this tool when developing your training approach.

Need help with Microsoft Dynamics 365 training? Strava Technology Group offers expert training services led by trainers with many years of experience. Give us a call to discuss how we can help provide training to your users — 844.8.STRAVA (844-878-7282).

About the Author: David Buggy is a veteran of the CRM industry with 18 years of experience helping businesses transform by leveraging Customer Relationship Management technology. He has over 15 years’ experience with Microsoft Dynamics CRM/365 and has helped hundreds of businesses plan, implement, and support CRM initiatives. To reach David, connect with him on LinkedIn. To learn more about Strava Technology Group visit www.stravatechgroup.com.

Top Behavior of High-Performing Sales Reps

At Strava Technology Group, we’ve done research that shows a large disconnect between buyers and sellers. In this video, we cover the disconnect between buyers and sellers on the first call:

When your company implements Microsoft Dynamics 365, you’ll be incorporating programming that drives business and encourages sellers to interact with buyers in a way that meets buyers’ needs. At Strava Technology Group, we want your business to succeed. We’ll show you the difference Microsoft Dynamics 365 can make for your business. Contact us today to learn how we can start your digital transformation at 844.8.STRAVA (844-878-7282).

By |2018-09-14T13:43:05+00:00September 14th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

FastTrack: Rapid, Fixed Cost Implementation Service for Microsoft Dynamics 365

At Strava Technology Group, we offer more than 15 years of experience providing implementation services for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 365. However, understanding the different needs of businesses of all sizes, we have developed one of the world’s most advanced rapid implementation services — FastTrack.

Applying our FastTrack service for Microsoft Dynamics 365 to your workplace can help synthesize your business’ data and streamline your team’s customer-based performance, enhancing your ability to manage data, keep in contact with your clients, plan meaningful projects, and, ultimately, make money. Want to learn more about our implementation solutions? Call 844.8.STRAVA (844-878-7282).

By |2018-09-13T13:03:05+00:00September 13th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

FastTrack Implementation Services for Microsoft Dynamics 365

FastTrack for Microsoft Dynamics 365

FastTrack implementation services for Microsoft Dynamics 365

Announcing FastTrack Implementation Services for Microsoft Dynamics 365. FastTrack is a fixed cost/scope, rapid implementation service that gets your company up and running quickly and cost-effectively. We offer FastTrack for Dynamics 365 Sales, Marketing or Service.

Why a “rapid” implementation approach works – There are several things coming together in the CRM space that enables a FastTrack model to work very well. The Dynamics 365 solution has been greatly enhanced over the last several years, more and more functionality has been added to the product that previously would have required significant customization or even custom programming. Examples include Project Service Automation, Field Service, AI & Machine Learning. Also, significant improvements in the backend of the platform enable us to shift our focus from customization to configuration which can be done in a rapid approach.

Customers are demanding a lower cost, quicker time to value implementation model. I wrote a blog a while back “The Days of expensive, complex CRM implementations are coming to an end” With the shift to the cloud came a shift in how companies invest in technology, from capital expenditures (heavy investment upfront) to operating expenditures (pay over time). This is also causing organizations to re-examine how they consume professional services. We invented a new category – Professional Services as a Service (PSaaS). This allows organizations to consume professional services in a similar way to how they consume the technology.

Beware! Not all “rapid” implementations are alike! We built FastTrack based on 15 years experience implementing the Dynamics CRM/365 solution. We know what works and doesn’t. The old adage you get what you pay for is very true in professional services engagements. Putting budget/cost over a clear path to success is a fatal mistake for the project. Most rapid models for Dynamics 365 are too rapid, they are missing key elements that are required to successfully implement an enterprise-class CRM solution. An example is around new business development and lead management. Most rapid offerings jump right to configuring the lead screens and largely leave it to the customer to determine the processes. The big missing piece is consultative guidance on the process that will be implemented along with the technology. Key elements are not addressed such as what is the qualification criteria for leads, required follow up and touchpoints by the salesperson, what is the trigger for a lead to convert to an opportunity, how will management monitor lead follow up. Also most rapid models do not spend near enough time on requirements analysis. Requirements analysis are critical to success with any CRM project. Ask just about any company that has had a failed CRM implementation, they will cite lack of proper requirements analysis as a failure point. Our FastTrack model begins with a planning session to take you through all the key elements of a successful implementation with a focus on requirements and business process.

Phasing is important. In a lower cost, rapid model some more complex use cases cannot be accomplished in a phase 1 rollout. We find that in most cases in a phase 1 your users are not ready for more complex use cases, they need to accomplish the basic blocking and tackling of CRM first. It is important to have a phased plan for any implementation. Our road mapping services are very helpful to plan and execute the longer term deployment model.

Is FastTrack a good fit for you? The sweetspot client for FastTrack is typically one not using a current CRM system, does not have overly complex sales, marketing or support processes and does not need integrations with other systems. We also find that smaller projects are a better fit for a rapid implementation model (a few users to around 20). If your implementation is larger but feel a rapid model is a good fit we are happy to discuss it with you.

We are there for you ongoing – Another key component to our FastTrack model is the ongoing engagement that is included – Total Solution Management. Total Solution Management is a comprehensive managed service for Dynamics 365 that provides ongoing support, configuration/enhancement services, training and consultative guidance. This keeps the project moving forward over the longer term roadmap and assures the solution stays aligned to the business and driving value.

Is it time? If your organization needs a Sales, Marketing and/or Customer Service solution but cannot spend the average $2000 to $5000 per user in upfront implementation services let’s talk! We have been able to reduce Dynamics 365 implementation budgets by up to 70% without compromising value. Click here for more information on FastTrack, call us at 844.8.STRAVA (844.878.7282) or email us at info@stravatechgroup.com

Dynamics 365 October 2018 Release Notes

Dynamics 365 Release notes

Dynamics 365 Release Notes

Microsoft has published the release notes for the October 2018 update to Dynamics 365. There are 90+ new capabilities being added to the platform, lot’s to look forward to. In this post we highlight the new functionality being released to the Marketing, Sales and Service areas of Dynamics 365. To review the full release notes, download the release notes document – Microsoft Dynamics 365 October 2018 Release Notes

Dynamics 365 for Marketing

Account Based Marketing – Allows you to target high-value accounts as a segment and create personalized content and measure the engagement as the campaign is executed.

Account Based Marketring

New Account Based Marketing functionality

Social Listening for Campaigns – Add relevant social tags to journeys, events, and other entities enabling you to view responses to campaigns. A social tab will be added to each journey and event. A new dashboard for social insights will also be available.

Marketing Calendar – A mobile-friendly responsive marketing calendar that allows marketers to track marketing activities and events.

Dynamics 365 for Marketing Calendar

Dynamics 365 for Marketing Calendar

Deep LinkedIn Integration – Run journeys and specify targeting on LinkedIn, leverage interactions for scoring and segmentation

Video Content using Microsoft Stream – Add rich video content to marketing communications

 

Dynamics 365 for Sales

Playbooks – A new capability to automate sales actions.

Microsoft Teams Integration – Enhanced integration with Teams allows connection of a Teams channel to any Dynamics 365 record.

Who knows whom connection graph – This new feature enables sellers to identify colleagues within their organization who can introduce them to leads or contacts

Predictive Lead Scoring – A machine learning model that scores leads on a scale of 1-100 based on likelihood to become an opportunity

AI for Sales App – The new AI for sales app provides useful insights from sales data in Dynamics 365. The app will help sales managers evaluate and improve the performance of their teams. Examples include currn measurement, pipeline and relationship health scores.

 

Dynamics 365 for Service

Service Scheduling powered by Universal Resource Scheduling – This is a new service scheduling solution built on the Universal Resource Scheduling tool.

Similar Case Suggestions – Utilizing Microsoft Text Analytics API’s the system will suggest similar cases to enable faster resolution

Knowledge Article Recommendations – Also using Microsoft Text Analytics API’s knowledge articles will be recommended to help resolve cases

Omni-channel Engagement Hub – A new cloud-based service that enables customers to instantly connect and engage via live chat and SMS

Portal Improvements – Several improvements have been made to portals:

  • Embed PowerBI visualizations
  • Manage SharePoint Documents
  • Simplified customization

Microsoft continues to make big investments in the Dynamics 365 platform. We are excited about the new functionality being released in October! To review the full release notes, download the release notes document Microsoft Dynamics 365 Release Notes.

If you have any questions or would like to see a demonstration of Dynamics 365 call or email anytime – info@stravatechgroup.com / 844.878.7282

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Overview

Business Central

Dynamics 365 business central

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Overview. I attended a 2 day deep dive on Business Central at Microsoft in Manhattan and wanted to share an overview of this new offering. Microsoft Business Central is a full, cloud-based ERP & accounting application. It is the cloud version of Microsoft Navision which has been available for many years. The market for Business Central is companies that need much more than QuickBooks but are not an enterprise organization (or those who don’t need Enterprise ERP functionality). The solution is great for organizations who need robust sales (quote to cash), accounting, purchasing, warehouse and light manufacturing capabilities.

There are 3 levels of licensing, Team Member, Essential, and Premium each with different price points.

Main areas of functionality:

  • Invoicing
  • Purchasing
  • Opportunity Management
  • Budgets
  • Finance
  • General Ledger
  • Accounts Receivable
  • Accounts Payable
  • Project Management
  • Fixed Assets
  • Purchasing Order Management
  • Resource Management
  • Workflow
  • Contact Management
  • Simple Inventory
  • Advanced Sales (SO)
  • Advanced Inventory (stock)
  • Distribution

Team Member – $8 – light use, approve Time & Expense, read business reports, lookup customer and inventory data

Essential – $70 – All main features except manufacturing and service order management

Premium $100 – All main features including manufacturing and service order management

Microsoft nailed the user interface, it is clean, easy to navigate, simple to personalize and offers powerful features like Excel integration on list views. The documents like invoices, quotes etc. are all based on Microsoft Word, easy to maintain.

One of the big “WOW” factors is the Outlook email integration. When you send or receive an email in Outlook you can click the Business Central icon to display information like sales, open orders etc. The Outlook integration works in the full desktop version of Outlook as well as Outlook Web Access. You can perform end-to-end workflow without ever leaving Outlook. For example quote to cash. A sales rep receives an email asking for a quote, without leaving the email she can generate a quote and send it. If the recipient replies and asks to place the order you can click one button “Convert to Order or Invoice”. Very powerful and will become the gold standard in my opinion.

You can invite your accountant to use Business Central as well without additional costs. The downside is that most accountants will not yet be familiar with Business Central like they are with QuickBooks.

The mobile app does not disappoint, it is a full use application designed for mobile devices supporting Apple, Android and Microsoft mobile devices.

There is solid integration with PowerBI and even free content packs available with a lot of prebuilt dashboards and reports. You can easily add a PowerBI chart to many areas of Business Central.

Intelligence is also at work in Business Central. An example of this is when quoting an item, if the quantity quoted would exceed the available stock a warning is displayed. Quick Insights is a component of Power BI which provides additional insights based on trends, historical and provides forecasts. The insights feature is built on a growing set of advanced analytical algorithms developed in conjunction with Microsoft Research that we’ll continue to use to allow more people to find insights in their data in new and intuitive ways. I love the send to PowerPoint function. If you are going to a meeting and need to present reports/charts this is a great feature. It pushes chart data right to PowerPoint and makes the charts live so if you have Internet access you can drill from PowerPoint right to Business Central. There is even an image analyzer tool. The image analyzer will scan an image of an item and recommend substitute items along with a confidence score. This is part of the Cortana intelligence integration.

PowerApps and Flow can be used to build simple apps (like a mobile inventory app) or to connect Business Central to other systems/cloud services. Of course, there is integration with Dynamics 365 for sales to share Account, Quote, Order, Invoice, Product data and other data elements.

Microsoft is unifying business applications in Dynamics 365 enabling organizations to reduce the number of systems in use. This solves a lot of challenges around better management of workflows/business processes, better ability to market and much better business intelligence capabilities. You will see this platform take off and grab large chunks of market share over the next few years.

I am very impressed with this offering, if you have not seen Business Central yet and are thinking about replacing your current ERP/accounting system I would be happy to show it to you. Contact us to schedule a live demonstration.

About the Author: David Buggy is a veteran of the CRM industry with 18 years of experience helping businesses transform by leveraging Customer Relationship Management technology. He has over 14 years experience with Microsoft CRM and has helped hundreds of businesses plan, implement and support CRM initiatives. In 2017 he founded Strava Technology Group, a firm that is focused on helping businesses achieve success with Microsoft CRM and Dynamics 365. To reach David connect with him on LinkedIn. To learn more about Strava Technology Group visit www.stravatechgroup.com

By |2018-06-04T12:38:42+00:00June 4th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Microsoft Dynamics for Marketing vs ClickDimensions

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing vs ClickDimensions, an initial comparison. Microsoft has released their Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing module, this article is an initial review of the module and high-level comparison to ClickDimensions (the other mainstream marketing automation option for Dynamics 365).

Availability – There are a few different subscription options for the Marketing module. Let’s first compare the pricing models between Dynamics Marketing and ClickDimensions.

Dynamics Marketing is priced based on the number of contacts. There has been a lot of um let’s say feedback on this model. As a partner we work with many Dynamics 365 clients, we see even small businesses that have lots of leads/contacts in their Dynamics database. Often times there is a large number of leads/contacts that will never be marketed to, under Microsoft’s pricing model you are paying for these leads/contacts even if you don’t market to them. The upside to Microsoft’s pricing is that there are no upcharges for functionality, you get all the goodies with any subscription level.

ClickDimensions has two pricing/subscription levels, Basic and Advanced/Business, different levels of functionality. Also, the levels include certain numbers of email sends, Basic includes 50,000/year and 200,000 with Advanced/Business. An email send is each copy of an email you send, for example, if you have the contact Bob Smith in your database and you send 4 different email campaigns that include Bob that is 4 email sends. Basic is priced at $499/month, Advanced/Business is $699 per month. You can purchase additional email sends ($100 for 100,000, $200 for 200,000 etc.)

The Advanced/Business subscription level adds functionality – Automation, Landing Pages, Lead/Contact Scoring, Event Management, Surveys and Subscription Management. For a fair comparison with Dynamics Marketing you should use the ClickDimensions Advanced/Business subscription level.

ClickDimensions also offers Social Engagement that is an add-on, $250/month for Basic and $600/month for Business. Microsoft includes their Social Engagement tool in the base price of Dynamics Marketing. The Social components of each solution are different so look at each closely to determine which solution meets your Social needs.

Microsoft Dynamics Marketing Pricing/Packaging

Standalone – The Marketing module is offered as a standalone option. This is a differentiator, ClickDimensions is only available as an add-on to Dynamics 365. The standalone marketing module also includes Microsoft Social Engagement, Voice of the Customer for Microsoft Dynamics 365, 1 Portal, Non-Production/Production Instance, and Storage. Pricing is $1500 for the base package with 10,000 contacts. You can add more contacts for $250/month for 5000 contacts.

“Attach” Plan – If you already have Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement plan licenses you can attach Dynamics Marketing to your subscription for $750/month, 2000 contacts included. Additional contacts cost $600 for 1st 8000, then $250 for each additional 5000. If you already have Dynamics 365 application licenses (like Sales Enterprise vs the full Customer Engagement Plan licensing) you can attach Marketing for $750/month, includes 10,000 contacts and $250/month for each additional 5000 contacts.

If you license the Marketing module standalone you get Microsoft Social Engagement, Voice of the Customer for Microsoft Dynamics 365, 1 Portal, Non-Production/Production Instance, and Storage. If you are a Customer Engagement Plan customer you get portals, Social Engagement with your Customer Engagement subscription. If you have the Sales app. licenses you don’t get Social or Voice of the Customer, they can be added on to your subscription.

Dynamics Marketing limits the number of emails you can send monthly, 10 times the number of contacts in your database each month. You can also have up to 100 active customer journeys.

To truly compare pricing you will need to know the number of leads/contacts in your database and the number of emails you plan to send annually.

Confused? We can help you determine the proper solution and subscription level.

Functional Differences

ClickDimensions leverages standard Dynamics 365 functionality (Marketing Lists for example). ClickDimensions looks and feels like any other area of Dynamics 365.

Dynamics 365 Marketing is deployed in the new Unified Client (if you try to access the functionality via the standard browser interface you will be confused as all the functionality is not there(at least not that we could see). There is no clear instruction on this, to access the Marketing functionality log into your portal – login.microsoftonline.com, click on Dynamics 365, then find the tile for Marketing, this will get you to the unified client.

Microsoft Dynamics Marketing Capabilities

Microsoft Dynamics Marketing Capabilities

ClickDimensions Capabilities

ClickDimensions Capabilities

I have used Microsoft CRM/Dynamics 365 for over 14 years, the Marketing module is different. Yes, it looks very new and fresh but that comes with a learning curve. When I first logged into the Marketing tool I could not easily perform simple tasks (like building a segment, more on that later). I had to revert to the documentation.

Things are different and the standard Dynamics 365 entities are not used in some areas. For example, Marketing Lists. If you have put a lot of time and effort into building Marketing Lists and try to use them in Dynamics Marketing you will likely be upset as you cannot use them unless they are set as a “subscription list” (not that we could see anyway). Here comes the new “fresh” functionality… lists in Dynamics Marketing are called Segments. Ok, no problem I go over to the Segments. You would think that Segments are built using Advanced Find right? Nope… whole new system for querying and adding Leads/Contacts to a segment. Again if you spent a lot of time and effort building Advanced Find queries you cannot use them (again not that we could find). Going to a Segment and then clicking on Definition will let you build a segment:

Dynamics Marketing Segment

Dynamics Marketing Segment

You can build your query one of 3 ways, Designer (point and click), Flow or Query. I cannot understand why the standard entities like Marketing Lists and Advanced finds are not used. Now users need to learn multiple ways of querying.

ALSO – I found the Marketing module not to work with Microsoft Edge…. I had to open it in Google Chrome.

You cannot just pull together a list and send an email, you must build a Journey even for one-off emails. The Journey functionality is nice and I think will ultimately prove to be a good tool. ClickDimensions has very similar functionality in their campaign automation (very similar UI for building Journeys/campaign automation).

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing Journey

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing Journey

Pages, Forms and Websites are pretty nice in Dynamics 365 Marketing. Very visual and drag/drop based editing. LinkedIn lead generation is also built-in allowing you to create forms on LinkedIn to collect leads. There are some advantages in these areas over ClickDimensions in our opinion.

Reporting in Dynamics Marketing is good with some builtin dashboards. There is a PowerBI content pack also available however we could not get it to connect to our Dynamics Marketing instance. ClickDimensions also has builtin dashboards available as well as a PowerBI content pack, builtin views.

Microsoft Dynamics Marketing Dashboard

Microsoft Dynamics Marketing Dashboard

All-in-all we are impressed with the Microsoft Marketing offering, especially for a V1 release. I like that it is available as a standalone application for businesses that are not ready for full CRM or just need a marketing application. I am not thrilled about the pricing model (based on leads/contacts), that will limit sales in a lot of accounts who are smaller but with large databases.

I admit I am biased having used ClickDimensions for a lot of years. I try not to let that sway my opinions. I am a Microsoft and Dynamics 365 evangelist, I love what Microsoft is doing with the Dynamics 365 platform but our job and first loyalty is to our clients and to help guide them to the best solution for their needs/requirements. From where I sit today we will need to spend more time with the new Marketing module and will be writing additional reviews on the solution.

If you would like guidance on selecting the best marketing automation platform for your business, a demo of Dynamics Marketing or ClickDimensions please reach out to us – 844.8.STRAVA (844.8.7282) or email me at dbuggy@stravatechgroup.com

About the Author: David Buggy is a veteran of the CRM industry with 18 years of experience helping businesses transform by leveraging Customer Relationship Management technology. He has over 14 years experience with Microsoft CRM and has helped hundreds of businesses plan, implement and support CRM initiatives. In 2017 he founded Strava Technology Group, a firm that is focused on helping businesses achieve success with Microsoft CRM and Dynamics 365. To reach David connect with him on LinkedIn. To learn more about Strava Technology Group visit www.stravatechgroup.com

By |2018-04-20T16:15:05+00:00April 20th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Why Microsoft Dynamics CRM/365 Projects Fail, a Microsoft Partners Perspective

CRM implementation projects are complex and riddled with landmines that can cause significant issues or even failure. In 2001 Gartner published one of the first studies examining failure rates of CRM initiatives, they found that 47% of projects failed or failed to meet expectations.

Over the last decade and a half failure rates have not decreased substantially. We have discovered, and most industry analysts agree, that there are a limited number of core reasons for CRM project failure. The reasons change a bit from enterprise to SMB and slightly by industry but all stem from the same high-level reasons. In a lot of cases, the failure can be attributed to the typical CRM project lifecycle.

Typical lifecycle of a CRM project

Many businesses retain a Microsoft partner or consultant to help with the implementation. A budget is set for the project but often it does not reflect the true effort needed to successfully implement a complex solution like CRM. It is also common that the Microsoft partner/consultant basis their estimate on a time & materials basis, this creates a significant risk to the company as it bears the cost for any inaccurate estimates or “scope creep”.

Implementation begins and often times, very quickly, necessary items are discovered that are not accounted for in the estimate. The choices are to increase the budget to cover the additional necessary items or to forego these items (and the associated value).

At the end of the implementation, the Microsoft partner/consultants role is typically scaled back to a reactive support role. The most common support models offered by partners/consultants are hourly time & materials based support or a fixed-cost support agreement for “break/fix” support. Many businesses that implement a CRM solution do not have the internal resources or bandwidth to adequately support & maintain the solution. The business may not at this point be realizing the expected value of the solution (in some cases because those additional items discussed above were left out) and will not provide additional funding to enhance the solution.

Unless you have a dedicated CRM administrator and champion on staff, a “break/fix” type support contract will not provide the necessary level of service to maintain the solution. During design/planning for the implementation, it is impossible to capture all the necessary configuration/customizations that will be necessary to achieve success. Most often these items are discovered after testing and/or go-live. The problem is at this point there is no budget to further enhance the solution.

Even if the company does have a dedicated CRM administrator and champion on staff they most often cannot cover the entire solution. There are many layers of technology to a CRM solution, it is virtually impossible for a single resource to possess all the necessary skill sets to support the entire solution.

This is a “rock and hard-place” situation. The company will not provide any more funding for the CRM project as they are not realizing the expected value. The CRM solution will become static and not be enhanced thus the expected value may never be achieved.

Finally, critical items needed for success never make the radar. These items include ongoing user adoption monitoring/management, ongoing solution road mapping, management & executive engagement etc.

With collectively over 60 years of experience helping businesses achieve success, we wanted to develop a service that reduces risk, mitigates the failure points and helps assure success with Microsoft Dynamics CRM/365. Total Solution Management is a managed service specifically for Dynamics CRM/365. It is designed to solve the typical challenges that lead to failure in CRM projects. Our service is fixed cost providing a predictable budgeted expense, includes unlimited “break/fix” support, provides ongoing enhancement services, user adoption monitoring & management, training, ongoing road mapping and more. With Total Solution Management, you are gaining an entire team of highly experienced professionals in all areas of Dynamics CRM/365 to support and maintain your solution. No on-staff CRM resources are required however if you do have a CRM administrator/champion on staff we work closely with them and become their team.

NO COST REVIEW OF YOUR SYSTEM

We offer a no-cost review of your CRM implementation. During this collaborative session, we revisit the goals and objectives of the project, determine what’s working and not, do a technical level review of your Microsoft CRM/365 system and educate your team on how to get more out of your investment.

The outcome of this session is a written report summarizing the current state of the system, desired future state, a road-map on how to achieve future state and any technical level issues we identify.

We are so confident that our Total Solution Management service will provide great value to your organization that we require NO upfront term commitment. We welcome the opportunity to discuss our service with you.

Contact Us for more information or to schedule your no-cost system review.

By |2018-04-15T01:37:24+00:00April 10th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments
Load More Posts