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How Microsoft Dynamics CRM Crushes 3 Sales Productivity Killers

May 19th, 2015 Ashley Harbaugh No comments

A sales team’s ability to meet their goals is a direct indicator of business health – if sales are up, the company will flourish; if sales are down, the company will flounder.

No matter how fantastic a product or service that the company offers, if successful sales are not happening on a consistent or growing basis, then the company is on its way to stagnation or, worst case scenario, failure.

Creating an environment for salespeople that enables them to focus completely on selling is crucial toward getting those sales quota numbers met. But too often, salespeople’s time is gobbled up by tasks that don’t add value to their selling efforts.

According to the sales and marketing leaders surveyed in Docurated’s State of Sales Productivity Report, they report that only 32% of their sales reps’ time is spent selling and pitching. The rest of their time is spent on CRM/admin/reporting (20%), searching for or creating content (31%), and other (17%).

By helping salespeople streamline and automate time-consuming administrative tasks, businesses help their reps gain more time to dedicate to making and closing deals. Implementing a CRM system that consolidates sales information is a major step in accelerating sales productivity.

Check out how Microsoft Dynamics CRM eliminates three painful drains on a salesperson’s time and energy.

Problem #1: Lack of Accessible Information

“I know I saw that brochure somewhere” – being able to send prospects the right content at the right time is an important part of effectively engaging the prospect, as effective engagement leads to higher sales conversion rates.

But unfortunately, without a designated storage repository for sales collateral, salespeople waste valuable time trying to pinpoint where specific pieces of material reside, or trying to re-create it. As the Docurated report found, sales reps spent about the same amount of time searching for content as they did selling.   

Microsoft Dynamics CRM solves this challenge with the Knowledge Base. The Knowledge Base is essentially a virtual library in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, allowing reps to upload and store articles, product guides, data sheets, and other types of collateral. Reps can search for content either by browsing through the category hierarchy that administrators set up, or they can search by identifying specific parameters, such as by keyword, title, subject, etc.

Lack of Accessible Information

Lack of Accessible Information

Microsoft Dynamics CRM allows sales reps to use already created and stored templates and articles, which helps them provide answers and information quickly and easily.

Problem #2: Time-Consuming Administrative Tasks

Without a sales database in place, salespeople are forced to keep their own records – which means salespeople burn massive amounts of time manually compiling and consolidating notes and communication, and creating reports. This process is also unreliable in that information can easily be missed or undocumented, causing gaps in the sales cycle that lose prospects.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM keeps sales data right at a rep’s fingertips, making it quick and easy to add lead information (notes can be entered as quickly as a sales rep can type), and to view past interactions with the prospect. In Dynamics CRM, salespeople can also schedule follow-up activities, as well as set up reminders and alerts on items that need to be completed.

With a prospect database making information easy to reference and update, and timely alerts that help keep track of activities related to each individual prospect, Microsoft Dynamics CRM gives salespeople the insight needed to make meaningful connections, and the push to action.

Time-Consuming Administrative Tasks  

Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides an in-depth look into prospects, allowing sales reps to enter and upload all relevant information for easy access.

Problem #3: Moving In and Out of Different Systems

For salespeople who have to work in different systems, it can be a serious headache toggling back and forth. System integration is key to work efficiency and data accuracy.

As a Microsoft product, Microsoft Dynamics CRM has the distinct advantage of being able to integrate across the Microsoft Office suite. For instance, data from Dynamics CRM can be exported into Excel for closer examination.

In addition to Excel, the integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Outlook is an important time-saver in linking incoming communication (email) with the CRM database in just a click of the button. For instance, a sales representative can convert an email to a lead or opportunity, with the information provided by the customer populated into a new CRM record.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM also enables sales reps to track their email communications, and link those emails with either the customer’s individual contact record in CRM, or the company account, or even a specific case. After selecting the “Track” button on an email, a sales rep can then click “Set Regarding”, which gives him options to link the email with the account or contact record in Dynamics CRM that he wishes. The sales rep can then view and reference that email in Dynamics CRM.

Not needing to switch out of Outlook to enter lead information saves the salesperson not only on time, but it also ensures that the lead details are all stored. When shifting information to a different system, bits and pieces can get lost – but that’s not the case when it’s directly captured from the source.

Moving In and Out of Different Systems

Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s seamless integration with Outlook allows sales reps to track communications with prospects and clients. This communication record ensures that sales reps are always fully informed of past interactions with the individual, and can leverage that communication for more personalized offers and service in the future.

Setting Sales Up for Success

No one likes wasted time – when sales teams are able to more efficiently and effectively engage with prospects and customers, winning results ensue. Helping them make the best use of their time with the right tools is a critical support not only for the team, but for the business as a whole.

For more information on how Microsoft Dynamics CRM optimizes selling processes, please email us at CRM@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Marketing Coordinator at Ignify. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

New Features in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Spring 2014 Release

April 29th, 2014 Brianne Schaer No comments

Focusing on the customer, check. Continuing to enhance cloud computing software, check. Working with industry leaders to enhance social and mobile functionality, check. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is undergoing many changes that keep the software at the helm of CRM solutions while continuing to win top industry awards.

The spring wave of updates is a promising cluster on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Roadmap (pictured below). Updates in marketing, sales, customer service, social, and platform will revolutionize business practices and create a new level of functionality for your CRM use. The Microsoft team kept the following three goals in mind when investing in updates for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013:

  • Smarter marketing—the ability to create engaging campaigns and review results.
  • Effective sales techniques—salespeople must focus on important items to close more deals, faster.
  • Universal customer service—businesses must provide responsive, relevant customer service everywhere.

Source: “What’s on the 2014 Roadmap for Microsoft Dynamics CRM?”

The functionality being released in the 2014 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Spring Wave focuses on helping customers market smarter, sell effectively, and provide customer service everywhere.

This summary of the Spring 2014 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Release Preview Guide highlights the key features and upcoming functionality of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Marketing

Changing consumer behavior has marketers working to build campaigns and programs that address fluctuating needs. Marketers must be able to engage customers, build pipeline, and demonstrate impact—all possible with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The design and layout is very intuitive to any person who has worked with Microsoft programs, like Excel and Outlook, in the past. New features in campaign management, lead lifecycle management, email marketing, etc. make planning, executing, and analyzing campaigns a breeze. Microsoft Dynamics Marketing is also fully integrated with Microsoft Office 365—one sign-in can be used on all services.

Scalable email marketing and Power BI reports help marketers to personalize their outreach to potential and current clients, and then analyze the data in a visually pleasing and easy-to-understand way. Email marketing now features tracking results within Microsoft Dynamics, a scalable platform to send millions of emails to customers each day, and cross campaign rules that control how many emails each client receives. Power BI reports use Excel based reporting tools to measure the effectiveness of a campaign, including Campaign ROI reporting.

The ability to visually analyze marketing data enables companies to better evaluate marketing spend and results, leading to more effective and cost-efficient marketing strategies.

Sales

Microsoft Dynamics CRM on tablets help sales and customer service representatives access customer and prospect data any time, in any place.

CRM tablet app enhancements provide for some much needed developments in making Microsoft Dynamics widely available on any device. Notes, tasks, contacts, accounts, and lead data can be updated anytime, anyplace, with the swipe of your finger. Wireless connectivity is not even required to access data, as it is cached for offline viewing.

Insights, a feature available through a partnership with InsideView, helps sales and account management professionals engage with prospects by providing real-time company and contact information from a database of 30,000 sources. Company and contact profiles, breaking news, and social profiles can all be accessed through Microsoft Dynamics CRM, minimizing research time and maximizing engagement with leads and prospects.

Customer Service

It is absolutely necessary to put in a considerable amount of time and energy to provide the highest quality of customer service, considering that 86 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. Microsoft Dynamics CRM alleviates some of the pressure of customer service management via new features designed to link customers to the appropriate departments and customer service representatives to ensure satisfaction and retention.

New case management features allow customer service reps to more effectively organize and oversee cases. For example, a customer service rep can easily coordinate the work on a case that requires multiple teams or affects multiple customers by opening a primary case (called the parent case) and then creating a secondary case (called the child case).

New features in enterprise case management include updated case forms that allow users to merge cases, jointly review parent/child cases, review entitlements, and add a Timer to manage Service Level Agreement’s. Entitlements can provide guidance to service representatives as to how much support to provide for particular customer requests. Of course, this is all fully functional on tablet devices as well, so you can monitor high priority Cases and Queues or route items on the go.

Parature

The Parature Portal enables companies to provide customers with 24/7 support, offering an in-depth, searchable Knowledgebase for customers to access, and the ability to submit a help ticket if they need further assistance.

Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Parature in January has launched Microsoft Dynamics CRM software well into the realm of cloud computing for customer self-service. Distinct features such as 24-7 support and mobile self-service ensure consumers are always able to access company information and customer service features. This makes closing hours virtually non-existent, as even real-time chat options allow customers to make contact at their convenience.

The Parature Portal integrates with your current company website to deliver answers to customer’s most common questions through its web-based help center. Additionally, the Parature Knowledgebase is easily customizable to organize information by importance and relevance during searches. This self-service solution provides answers to common questions and support issues, as well as downloads including forms, how-to videos, and more.

And if a customer still needs additional help after using the Knowledgebase, they can simply submit a help ticket that informs them of the progress made on their question or request, and then sends them an email once an answer is available.

Social

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is growing to match the rapidly evolving social media landscape—and it’s doing a pretty good job at keeping the pace. Since most customers are already 70 percent of the way through the sales cycle before they make any contact with a retailer or distributor, it is imperative for a business to monitor its social media presence.

Microsoft Social Listening tracks products, brands, competitors, and campaigns across various social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. This tool not only tracks your brand or product to learn its global footprint, it also compares your product with its competition. Alerts can also be set up for when posts receive more or less impressions than expected.

A Social Dashboard within Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides social media analytics and insights most relevant for the user’s role.

Social Insights is another tool that can be added to you CRM dashboards and forms. Social Insights include charts and graphs that represent trends and information regarding customers, campaigns, and competitors in the realm of social media.

Implementation

The new features in Microsoft Dynamics CRM are designed to allow users to pick and choose which ones are best suited for their individual needs. This can alleviate some concern around having to learn to use a whole set of new features that are mainly applicable to certain departments.

Ignify’s implementation team is skilled at determining which functionality is most practical for your business needs. Ignify’s trained team members can implement a software solution based on your sales, marketing, and customer service needs. Please email CRM@ignify.com for more information.

Brianne Schaer is an Assistant Copywriter at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of CRM, eCommerce, ERP, and Point of Sale software solutions to organizations. Ignify has won the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2013, 2012 and 2011. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.

3 Tips for Ensuring CRM User Adoption

July 22nd, 2013 Ashley Harbaugh No comments

With Ignify being both a Microsoft Dynamics CRM vendor and user, a recent article in CRM Buyer magazine titled “CRM Vendors are the Worst CRM Practitioners” definitely caught my attention.  Tell us what you really think, CRM Buyer.

The core argument of the article, an argument that is 100% correct, is: “If a vendor can't effectively use its own application, how are you going to do it?”

How can customers trust a vendor to implement and configure a CRM system if the vendor doesn't fully understand or use it? How can a customer truly learn about, and benefit from, the powerful sales, marketing, and customer service functionality that a CRM system offers if the vendor doesn't appreciate, or act on, those benefits themselves?

Ignify fully recognized how important Microsoft Dynamics CRM was as a customer relationship management tool, streamlining and consolidating sales and customer service data and processes. And Ignify also recognized that in order to guide our customers toward success with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we as a company needed to know the system inside out. To understand the mindset of a Microsoft Dynamics CRM end user, we knew that we needed to be an end user as well.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is the core of Ignify’s sales and customer service operations, supporting our team members with crucial data and insight into our company’s processes.

Read our three tips for ensuring successful, across-the-board adoption of your CRM system in your organization.

1. Treat CRM as a Discipline, Not an Application

According to the article, “One of the main reasons SMB CRM users drop their vendors is because they don't engage with their CRM application, and that's because they're treating it like an application and not a discipline – just as their vendor does.”

Yes, a CRM system is technically an application. But instead of looking at it as just a piece of software, it’s important to look at it as a key business element.

Ignify has incorporated Microsoft Dynamics CRM into the business by structuring the company’s sales processes on it. For example, if a lead comes in, it is first sent to lead management team members who first research the lead contact, and then assign the lead to the correct salesperson. The salesperson is then responsible for updating contact information with further details, as well as tracking communication.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is the gatekeeper of sales information, with the entire sales team recognizing this and acting accordingly. In fact, a motto of the sales team is, “If it’s not in CRM, then it doesn't exist.” If a sales team member does not keep his or her data fresh and up-to-date, then the executive management team is not able to identify or provide the resources that the sales team member needs.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM consolidates all sales data in one place

Microsoft Dynamics CRM consolidates all sales data in one place, providing a central database for lead and opportunity information, customer information, etc.

2. Get Executive Buy-In

Team members follow the example of their leaders. If their boss uses a particular application, and if the boss expects them to use that application as well, then the team is going to use it – period.

As explained in the point above, if an Ignify executive cannot see what the status, or progress, of a deal is, then he or she cannot provide the support that will best help the sales representative. In fact, when sales meetings occur at Ignify, the Ignify Microsoft Dynamics CRM system is the main focal point of the meeting. The executive team runs down the list of sales leads and opportunities in the system, and then asks questions based on the information there.

To ensure that your team members organization-wide successfully use CRM, you need to make sure that each member of your executive team is on board. Confirm that your executives recognize and understand the value of a CRM system – enhanced visibility into the sales pipeline; lead management automation; in-depth analytical and reporting capabilities; etc. If an executive fully appreciates how important a CRM system is as a business tool, then they’re going to use it.

Dashboard and chart capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM

By showing executives the in-depth, powerful analytical and reporting tools within a CRM system (such as the dashboard and chart capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, pictured above), you communicate the business value of the system. And the sooner that value is recognized, the sooner you will get them on board.

3. Make Sure CRM Works with Employees’ Processes

We are all creatures of habit – it can be tough learning new things, or changing up routines. When selecting a CRM system, you want to choose one that’s intuitive to how your company works – a system that will easily and smoothly fit into your employees’ work lives. Because the less disruption that a CRM solution’s implementation causes a company’s individual workers, then the more quickly they can transition to the system.

Since Ignify is a Microsoft shop, Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s ability to integrate directly to Microsoft Outlook was a hugely valuable asset. Being able to access the CRM database right from Outlook, as well as the ability to track emails to customers and prospects with just a click of a button, saves time and keeps sales reps on top of tasks. Since the Ignify team uses Microsoft Outlook on a daily basis, having Microsoft Dynamics CRM within the Outlook application itself made it easy to incorporate Microsoft Dynamics CRM into their daily habits as well. And because the Ignify team is so well-accustomed to Outlook, Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s integration tools with Outlook provided team members additional familiarity with the CRM system.

Walking the Walk

By using Microsoft Dynamics CRM to support business processes, Ignify understands not only the software itself but also the mindset of the end customer. What better way to grasp the needs, concerns, and wants of a Microsoft Dynamics CRM customer than by being a customer yourself?

As the article states, “When you can’t capitalize on CRM, it sends a message that no one can. Instead of paying lip service to what CRM ought to be, vendors need to assert their expertise, walk the walk, and take pride in setting the pace as the world’s best CRM practitioners.”

Ignify knows how a CRM solution can take a business to the next level. Does your CRM vendor?

If you have questions or would like more information, please email us at crm@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, and eCommerce software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 5 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine and ranked as one of 100 most innovative companies in the world in the Red Herring Global 100 in 2011.