Dynamics CRM Sales Productivity – get even better by combining the best
In October, Microsoft launched a new bundled cloud solution for sales and marketing departments that combines Dynamics CRM Online, Office 365 and Power BI, which they have called “Sales Productivity”. With the bundled system, Microsoft customers get access to Office 365 products including Outlook, SharePoint, Lync, Skype and Yammer, and a full suite of business intelligence tools, on top of Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM Online solution.
Although the these products were already integrated some years ago, this new bundling offers a much lower price tag that Microsoft claims is “50 percent lower than comparable offerings in the industry,” according to a company statement.
The pricing currently is planned to run until June 2015 and offers superb value for money – at £42.79 ($65), the combined products are just over £2 more per user per month than subscribing to Dynamics CRM. That’s about two thirds of the price of buying each product separately. Even better, for users already on Office 365, to upgrade to CRM and Power BI costs only an extra £28.09 ($45) pupm.
Class leading functionality at a really competitive price
This combination deal is squarely aimed at other CRM vendors – specifically Salesforce.com – and by leveraging and integrating their other products, Microsoft creates a whole that is far more than just the sum of the constituent parts. Sales Productivity is a comprehensive solution that makes it easier for salespeople do their jobs – by avoiding always needing to switch between multiple applications to perform different tasks.
Fred Studer, General Manager of Dynamics Product Marketing at Microsoft, explained the thinking behind the new combination: “Users were just intolerant of having to get out of an application to go into another application. They didn’t want to have to get out of their sales app to go into a social app, to get out of their sales app to get into a marketing app.”
By combining Word, Excel and the collaboration and social capabilities of Yammer, Lync and Skype within Dynamics CRM, and then overlaying the whole database with the analytics and visualisation tools in PowerBI, Microsoft has created a very compelling and great value product. Other CRM vendors have a big problem replicating this functionality in the first place, and cannot compete at all at this price point. Studer says that “We love that Salesforce.com recognises that there’s value for their customers in using Office 365, but they have nothing seamlessly integrated at this point…If you’re a Salesforce customer and you have everything included in the bundle, you’re probably paying at least $300 per user, per month.” Microsoft have produced some price comparisons for the base products here.
“[Sales Productivity is] CRM for everybody,” Studer said. “Whether you need it for sales, whether you need it for marketing, whether you need it for service, whether you need it for analytics, whether you need it for social. We have basically integrated all these components to really blur the line between the classic silos of sales, marketing and service, just as examples.”
So what does Dynamics Sales Productivity actually do?
Put simply, the way Microsoft has integrated all of its products just makes it incredibly easy to do some pretty powerful things – including searching and finding information either stored in system or in people’s heads, using that information in team selling while following company-wide processes, and producing stunning data analysis, visualisations and insight.
Embedding social tools within Dynamics CRM
The Office 365 suite includes Skype and Lync for telephony and instant messaging, as well as Yammer. Yammer is a private in-company social network that gives colleagues within your organisation a central place to post conversations, create and edit documents, and share information without sending a single email or attending any meetings. By embedding these within Dynamics, employees can see posts in a newsfeed on their Microsoft Dynamics CRM account, contact , opportunity or service case pages whenever people update customer info, and they can join in the conversation with their own posts.
This brings wide group knowledge to a specific focal point, and can provide really useful collaboration, for instance when someone wants to call out to find out some key info at short notice, or make a quick announcement to anyone involved in a particular customer situation.
And of course, by having Lync and Skype available from within Dynamics, individual conversations can be had directly via IM, with the text recorded against the relevant CRM records, or by VOIP telephone conversations using simple click-to-call.
Document and records management using SharePoint embedded in Dynamics CRM
Dynamics CRM can store documents within the database, but far more elegant and useful solution for unstructured data is to use SharePoint. For a few releases now, Microsoft has linked SharePoint and Dynamics so that, or instance, when an account or contact or case or opportunity or some sales collateral is created in Dynamics CRM, a parallel storage area is created in SharePoint and the two are directly linked. Thus, documents can be stored automatically in SharePoint and managed from within Dynamics by using the embedded document management capabilities of SharePoint.
This combination makes it very simple to search and access documents and structured data, as well as share and collaborate more effectively. It also means you can protect important stored documents in SharePoint from unauthorised access or use.
Bring your CRM data to life with PowerBI
Business Intelligence is aimed at getting useful insight through some clever visualisations – these enable users to look at combinations of data in various ways to spot patterns and trends, and use this insight to take effective action.
Microsoft Power BI has been an add-on to SQL Server for some time, but now it’s available in Excel as part of Office 365 and thus part of the Dynamics CRM Sales Productivity pack.
So what does Power BI do? In short, it allows deep data aggregation and selection, and then can display analysis via advanced charts, graphics and maps. Put simply, take anything you can chart in Excel, think what other data you could add to it, and then imagine if you could make it stunningly visual and informative.
For a ten minute walkthrough of Power BI and what it can look like, please go toPower BI walkthrough. Advanced warning – please turn your PC volume down before viewing – many apologies but I didn’t choose the music or its volume…… For those of you that would prefer to look at the visualisations rather than the process of building the initial datasets, jump to about 3:30 and go from there.
Power BI can even plot 3D bar charts onto maps and then let you make a time-lapsed movie where you can pan in and out of key areas of interest showing how the data changes over time – to see this go to the above walkthrough and jump to 8:22.
Dynamics CRM has been integrated with SharePoint, Yammer, Lync and so on for some time; however, this bundled pricing deal, including Power BI, offers superb functionality at a really good price. It is a bold statement from Microsoft and one which is already enabling their customers to build some very effective solutions for their staff.
For more details on the offer and pricing, please go to Dynamics CRM and Sales Productivity pricing details.
It currently runs till the end of June, 2015.
Read more about how to make Microsoft Dynamics CRM work for you at imgroup.com
© Steve Sydee, 2015
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