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Customer Relationship Management for Sales Part 2: Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Microsoft has their own Customer Relationship Management tool – Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Starting at $60 per month with a 30-day free trial, Dynamics CRM is a helpful tool for sales teams.

The strongest selling feature for Dynamics is the integration with other Microsoft products. This is great if you use Office 365 with Outlook and SharePoint, etc. If this is the case then Dynamics can work well for managing your sales process from start to finish.

A handy feature is the Outlook integration. It has the ability to track emails, appointments, tasks and contacts. For legacy Outlook users this keeps things familiar and makes life very easy. I also like the ability to take notes with OneNote during a call and have that saved with the contact's record.

Mobile capabilities are impressive with the right tablets and phones. It’s great for outside sales reps on the go. Team collaboration with the integrated Microsoft products is also helpful for closing more deals.

For managers Power BI is a tool that has informative, interactive dashboards with customizable reports. It’s easy to use and an excellent tool for Sales Managers to monitor results and provide feedback to reps.

Unfortunately, Dynamics CRM can be complicated to learn and clunky. My personal experience in learning to use it was somewhat painful. It was one of those "once you know how to use it, it is quite easy" experiences. In short, I did not find the software to be intuitive. This can definitely be a roadblock to adoption by your sales team.

The product has a significant customization capability, but that can get costly to set up. One of my high tech clients took it upon themselves to do their own customizations. Even they found it challenging to make them, so beware. If you do decide to purchase Dynamics CRM, make sure that you hire assistance for the setup and customization.

Overall, if you like Microsoft products and currently use them, this may be a good tool for you. However, setup time and cost, plus the time involved to get a sales team up to speed are factors that must be considered before making a buying decision.

Rating: 3 / 5

Customer Relationship Management Options for Sales Part 1: Salesforce

Monday, May 23, 2016

For salespeople and managers, tracking sales efforts is vital to success. At its most basic, using CRM allows you to track sales activities and corresponding results. Used effectively, using CRM will allow you to refine and optimize your sales and revenue generation processes towards reaching your sales goals on a reliable and predictable basis.

Over the course of the next few months I’m going to review several CRM options. Hopefully this will be helpful in pointing you in the right direction toward choosing the one that is the best fit for you and your team.

Let's start with Salesforce.com, one of the most widely used and recognized sales tracking tools.

Salesforce starts at $25 per month with a 30-day free trial. The fees vary based on number of users etc., so get clear on that so you can derive your costs.

The dashboard allows users to see an overview of their day at a glance, including their tasks and calendar. There are a variety of reports available which reps and managers can run to see their sales opportunities, new business won, and existing accounts. I find the dashboard to be quite readily customizable. You don't need any technical knowledge to do so, just some patience with clicking on drop downs.

It is easy to add new leads, and track tasks and activities connected to them. Because it can integrate with Outlook, all correspondence can be attached to that record for easy reference and increased productivity.

Excel tracking can be eliminated by using the opportunity forecasting tool. Reps can identify where to focus their sales efforts based on what is in their sales pipeline.

Collaborating with other reps can be done through the Salesforce Chatter tool, which works far better than email.

Managers are able to readily analyze sales activities and results across the business and eliminate the need to track down individual reps for information. They can also easily communicate where sales are now and where they are trending.

The bottom line... Salesforce is a robust CRM tool that will do just about anything you ask it. It has numerous bolt-on options to increase functionality and just about every sales automation app out there will interface with it. The only downside I've experienced is that to make it really hum you'll need a third party integrator to ensure all of the bolt-ons you want are connected properly so they function as desired.

Rating: 4.5 / 5


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