Prior to modern CRMs or ERPs, successfully tracking customer information and accurately planning day-to-day business activities was as much of an art as it was a science. While some small firms may still use antiquated methods, few businesses today are still heavily relying on Rolodex entries, handwritten forms, or database applications that don’t play nicely with other software.
Vastly improving on these methods are modern solutions, like Microsoft Dynamics 365, that are designed to improve a business’s relationship with customers by indexing information as well as analytics to maximize engagement. However, there is a challenge: despite broad implementation, businesses find that users regularly ignore their ERP or CRM system in part or in whole. The 2018 Sales Operations Optimization Study conducted by CSO Insights found that only 47% of study participants reported a CRM adoption rate of greater than 90%. Maximizing the potential of CRMs and ERPs should be a high priority for businesses and organizations– high adoption rates paired with a rigorous sales process can lead to improved and more predictable sales results.
Microsoft is addressing this challenge with Dynamics 365. For those that are already using Microsoft Dynamics, whether CRM, NAV, GP, or AX, you may be wondering if it’s time to upgrade. Or, you could be stuck, like many other organizations, wondering how to entice users to take full advantage of the system. In this blog we’re going to explore how Dynamics 365 empowers sales teams, and look at soon-to-be-released features of the October 2018 update.
Dynamics 365: A Business Solution Your Sales Team Will Actually Use
When a system that’s supposed to improve productivity feels cumbersome, successful streamlining of business processes either doesn’t come completely to fruition or outright fails. This is a common problem that organizations face when implementing CRMs or ERPs.
Each CRM and ERP system has a learning curve, and users commonly report struggling with understanding and applying certain tools. Essentially, this is because the high number of features found in most systems works against successful adoption by overwhelming users. This results in end users effectively abandoning features, hence making the software less effective.
For Microsoft, this is an issue reported for teams that outgrow Dynamics GP or NAV and move to AX to facilitate an expansion. In general, it’s difficult to get users excited about such robust software, which also puts a handicap on training.
Dynamics 365 addresses pain points found in many solutions on the market. When it was first released back in 2016, Dynamics 365 did much the same for the platform as Office 365 did for the Microsoft Office suite. In addition to moving to the cloud, Dynamics 365 merges the separate components of Microsoft Dynamics into a single solution aimed to best engage the average user. One of the biggest reasons Dynamics 365 is a major improvement is the user-centric focus– Dynamics 365 was designed to engage sales staff with an intuitive interface.
Perhaps the biggest complaint of the modern ERP and CRM system is that it mostly just organizes information for sales users and creates what some feel is just “busy work.” Dynamics goes far beyond simply offering data-entry technology by automating key sales features. This ensures that sales reps have more time to tailor their approach for each customer relationship.
In addition, Dynamics 365 fully integrates with Office 365 and LinkedIn resulting in convenient access to familiar tools and applications. This streamlines the sales process leading to increased productivity and adoption. Having to switch between apps to enter data decreases a seller’s output. Research shows that workers lose 40 percent of their productivity when they have to switch tasks. Dynamics 365 can lead to a 15% to 20% reduction in administrative time, resulting in an average gain of 53 minutes per day for each seller.
A seamless, all-in-one solution, like Dynamics 365, gives sellers a more complete picture of their customer relationships. Having to cull data and interactions from multiple applications leads to disconnected information and processes making it difficult for sales teams to get a full picture and clear understanding of their buyer relationships.
Dynamics 365 exists beyond boundaries that define traditional CRM or ERP functionality with tools aimed to be more effective without the need to be confined to either category. In turn, this has made Dynamics 365 more useful than any single solution and vastly improves on the functionality of paired Dynamics products (for example, using NAV and CRM side by side).
New Sales Features Coming to Dynamics 365 Starting October 2018
Microsoft has announced plenty of exciting new features to look forward to in the upcoming Dynamics 365 update. While these features and tweaks are being implemented for various departments such as marketing, finance, service, and others, arguably the most important changes are coming to sales. Microsoft’s sweeping expansion to the sales suite modernizes and extends sales processes and applications with meaningful data at the core.
The Dynamics 365 AI for Sales app is just one of many new features designed to help evaluate and improve performance. As sales becomes an ever-increasing challenge for the people in these roles, data collected and used by management to coach is only so useful. By incorporating AI into sales and providing useful insights to the salesperson – not just management – the value of the system extends beyond mangers to the people who use it most.
The new Dynamics 365 AI for Sales app provides better tools for performance analysis as well as benefits sales members with insights for how to best prioritize the most pertinent leads by running advanced analytics. The user-centric interface is a result of customer-focused design; by applying machine learning to customer needs and putting the information directly in front of sales staff, productivity of team members increases.
In addition, while perhaps not a direct benefit to sales staff, the next iteration of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central will tether finances from your sales efforts and other business components into a structured system with real-time reporting. This will improve communication between sales team management and upper management and provide management closest to the sales staff with more time to spend on important tasks, rather than explain every inevitable hiccup to upper management.