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Adopt Microsoft Dynamics 2016 to Improve Your Sales Visibility

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Microsoft Dynamics 2016 updates drive extra sales by offering better sales pipeline CRM visibility and CRM insights.

When business leaders use the phrase “the story behind the numbers”, they’re not talking about the bottom line or the profit margin. Rather, they are asking what delivered those numbers – the actions and practices that led to success.

Why? So the business can do more of them.

How Microsoft Dynamics 2016 brings you the story behind the numbers

In today’s connected business, it’s software that delivers those stories – most frequently, CRM-savvy software like Microsoft Dynamics. The new 2016 updates serve to make the sales team even more competitive … by shouting those stories loud and clear from the sales pipeline. It’s about increasing visibility of your success!

So what are these updates? Let’s take a look.

Cortana integration: a helping hand for important questions

Microsoft Dynamics 2016 hooks up with Cortana – the Redmond giant’s software personal assistant launched alongside Windows 10. If you’re getting flashbacks of Clippy the Infuriating Paperclip, don’t worry – the new software is unobtrusive and general-purpose, answering problems rather than providing in-your-face advice.

Cortana integration lets you ask questions of your sales pipeline CRM in natural language.

A few years back, queries like “Show me all customers who’ve spent over £10,000 in all time but nothing in the last 12 months” needed report-generating skills. Today, salespeople can answer that question in a much more straightforward way, embedded within their everyday sales activities. Making it far more likely that illuminating questions have the opportunity to be asked.

Excel experience: keeping Excel in the loop

The 2016 updates also bring Excel into the mix – recognising that while the sales pipeline CRM in Microsoft Dynamics provides plenty of numbers, tried-and-tested spreadsheets are still widely used across all departments. Whenever you connect data, you add visibility.

The benefits add up wherever sales performance would be improved by information not stored directly within Microsoft Dynamics. Perhaps a shared spreadsheet contains forecasts for a prospect’s sector, or the prospect’s growth curve against its peer group? That information can make or break a sales call.

Marketing automation: linking Sales and Marketing

Sales and Marketing teams always want to strengthen their relationship – and new, tighter integration between Microsoft Dynamics and marketing automation systems help. Other updates let Sales not just connect, but collaborate with Marketing to gain richer insights about their  prospects while prioritising conversion of leads into actual sales.

A June 2015 Sales and Marketing Alignment Survey found that 73% of respondents felt Sales and Marketing alignment was critical to the overall success of their company… and yet only 17% of them were aligned.

This helps both teams achieve greater sales pipeline visibility and deeper customer insight.

On the go: CRM app for outlook

Microsoft’s strategy is to align with how and where salespeople want to work and in the new updates, they are delivering key sales capabilities within Outlook desktop and mobile browser, making it even easier to stay productive.

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM App for Outlook makes it easy to track emails, add contacts from within an email or even create new records to track emails against the browser on PC or Mac or mobile browser on the user’s phone.

This helps Sales to achieve greater sales pipeline visibility, wherever they are, whenever they need it.

And that’s visibility for you

Visibility can provide Sales with the ability to update their pipeline more meaningfully, reconnect with cold leads more effectively, and put far more information about their leads and prospects to profitable use.

So if your sales teams aren’t benefiting from increased visibility and integration with marketing, take a lot of what Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 can bring to the party. Even if you’re not using it already!

Takeaways:

  • 73% of a survey’s respondents feel that Sales and Marketing alignment is critical to the overall success of their company.
  • Gain sales pipeline visibility, better quality leads, streamline processes and more with a CRM system that enables improved sales and marketing integration.
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 now offers machine learning intelligence with Cortana Analytics integration to enable your sales teams to work smarter while increasing cross-selling opportunities through improved customer insight.
  • A properly integrated and intelligent CRM system will not only encourage collaboration between sales and marketing, but enables sales to benefit from shorter lead conversion times.
  • Track the customer journey, and turn cold leads into hot prospects with a better understanding of what motivates each customer.

While Microsoft Dynamics 2016 updates can help your business, you should always use a system that gives you the best view of your pipeline. Find out how by watching this webinar: One Step Ahead: Getting your CRM Specification Right

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Sales + Marketing = the strategy for business growth

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Modern CRM systems enable the alignment of Sales and Marketing – discover how this equates to business growth.

Ask salespeople if they work in marketing, and their response would be a resounding no. Ask a marketer if sales is part of marketing and quite a few would agree with the notion, but in practice they’d still see the two functions as sitting apart from each other. With a modern CRM system these silos can be broken down, requiring Sales and Marketing to collaborate.

Furthermore, the two way flow of information between sales and marketing allows for the necessary level of interdepartmental integration, as organisations strive to become more consumer-centric. Marketing can also conduct research and segment customers in a way that can help salespeople to better understand and target particular types of customers.

“The key to modern business is [about] ensuring that throughout an organisation all departments are working towards a common objective, albeit through different means”, writes CRM consultant Paul McLaughlin in his Linkedin Pulse blog, ‘The benefits of sales and marketing alignment’.

He adds that Sales and Marketing are the “engine driving most organisations, but other departments can also benefit from better inclusion, notably the customer support arm.”

Modern CRM systems

The best way to achieve sales and marketing alignment in order to make Sales + Marketing = the strategy for business growth is by implementing a modern CRM system because:

  • It will enable your organisation to create a transparent pipeline by giving staff with access rights to a CRM database the ability to know what other people within their own and other departments are doing. Managers can then use this information to develop more efficient processes, and it enables them to gain insight in order to develop their strategy for business growth.
  • It will offer a single view of the customer, from a single data source: According to McLaughlin, whose Linkedin Pulse post was published in April 2015, “30 percent of marketers feel that a disparate data source is the main reason they fail to glean useful information about their target audience”.
  • Collaboration improves customer insight: When all of Sales and Marketing, for example, work together and connect to each other through a modern CRM system, they become more effective and efficient because it becomes easier to collate and share data for the development of customer insight.
  • The ability to access a complete history of existing and previous customers can enable sales and marketing to work as one as a team, allowing them to work together to increase revenue by targeting prospects, customers and markets that are likely to deliver the highest profitability.
  • Remembering to support your customers and to learn more about them can improve sales, retention and loyalty rates. With a modern CRM system you can cross-sell and up-sell to new and existing customers in order to generate new revenue streams and sales opportunities.

You can also score your sales leads, according to their Net Present Value or according to how likely they to become advocates of your brand by applying a Net Promoter Score. Marketing can also support sales by qualifying the leads and by helping sales to understand customer needs, wants and desires. This analysis can be based on transactional history, demographics and on the scores. This saves time and money, while allowing sales and marketing to define its strategy for business growth.

Discover more about how a CRM system can help your business achieve growth by downloading your free eGuide ‘The Ultimate Guide to: Driving business growth using CRM’ today.

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What We Can Still Learn from Old School Sales Guys

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The greatest salespeople aren’t always the greatest CRM experts… and it doesn’t always matter.

Every sales department has one. And, sadly, new recruits born into a world of web often sneer at them. The experienced sales executive who prefers landlines to telepresence, remembers the birthdays of his clients’ children and writes stuff down on paper. Yes, that guy.

The guy who’s kept three £250k accounts loyal for a decade.

Salespeople who started work in a different decade aren’t always familiar with CRM technology and, sometimes, it frustrates their (often younger) colleagues charged with getting the most from their IT investment. To the point where our traditionalist hero – let’s call this hero Bob – ends up excluded from departmental strategy, with the millions of business pounds he brings in, ignored.

Can I change your perspective a little?

Bob isn’t anti-CRM. In fact, he’s the most pro-CRM guy you’ll ever meet. (He just doesn’t always do it through software.) It’s important that you can make sure his decades of learning becomes part of your CRM’s ongoing improvement programme, leading to a positive effect on conversions.

1. Attitude leads to opportunity.

The first time Bob met his client, Fred, he didn’t talk business. A chance meeting in the golf club led to a phone call, then a lunch. Over the steak sandwich, Bob asked Fred about his background. Where he went to school, how he got started in business and the glass extension he’d just added to his house.

Along the way, he learned Fred was friends with the CMOs of two companies on his hit list. Before coffee, he had those names in his notebook.

To today’s goal-focused, results-oriented salesperson, Bob’s approach might sound meandering. But look closer: doesn’t it sound a lot like a CRM nurturing pathway? Bob’s first task was to establish rapport and learn something about his prospect, which is also the purpose of a well-written blog or email marketing campaign.

So while Bob doesn’t think much of computers, his attitude towards Customer Relationship Management is spot-on. The right approach to CRM opens up opportunities far beyond one prospect.

2. Read the situation before acting.

After lunch with Fred, Bob dropped him a note of thanks and said he’d call again next month. Nothing else. Bob’s primary ethos is never make your client feel uncomfortable.

After a few lunches and coffees, Fred started asking what Bob would do about a problem facing his finance department. Bob thought for a few minutes, then asked if he could visit the team to gather information. Still no sale. But the time was right to move closer.

Nurturing sometimes looks like timewasting because some of those nurtured prospects never become customers. But sales is a numbers game. One percent of lunch dates turning into £100k accounts still adds up.

Someone you just met isn’t ready to make a buying decision. How many times have your less experienced sales team lost a hot prospect by drilling them with offers too soon? It’s just as applicable to an e-CRM strategy, from first cold mailing to final contract.

3. Connect through connections.

The following week, Bob called those two connections of Fred’s. He’d heard great things about them and wondered if he could buy them a coffee. Both accepted.

In his highly advanced CRM user interface, (a battered old leather notebook), Bob scribbled out “cold suspect” next to both names and wrote in “warm lead”.

The right CRM application lets you do a lot more than just contact people. It helps you build a relationship in the most effective way. Some are even able to map connections between people and show you the easiest approach pathway.

Flexibility and openness characterise Bob’s approach. A connection through another connection is a lot more valuable than a cold call. It’s messy, it’s chaotic, it’s human and warm. If the digital natives on your team have trouble with this, your most experienced salespeople may be the right people to train them.

4. Keeping customers means more than winning them.

Sales Directors often trumpet their big acquisitions louder than their long term retentions, which is a shame, because Bob’s trio of long term customers delivers a profit margin of 30% every year. Contrast that with the three years it takes a new client to break even. Turnover is good, but profits are better.

Every sales person knows it’s easier to win new business from an existing client than a cold lead. So keep congratulating your young team on each big win, but make sure they’re not neglecting last year’s client win. They need to learn the importance of maximising Customer Lifetime Value.

5. Formalise the methods – but don’t freeze them.

Bob likes the golf course but he always checks whether a new prospect prefers football. Expert users of CRM software have a tendency to formalise “what works” in terms of “hard aspects” rather than “soft aspects”.

This is another approach Bob uses that’s perfectly in tune with best-practice CRM. His methods don’t change from sale to sale, but his execution does. Rather than blasting all prospects with the same offer, he adapts each touchpoint to a situation he knows the prospect will prefer. All of this contributes to a sky-high conversion ratio.

6. When the time’s ready, “make the sale” to Bob.

Bob isn’t technoid, but he’s pragmatic. When he sees something working, he adopts it. So when he realises the wealth of client information in his notebooks can do more for the company as part of its CRM database, make the time to help him put it in there.

As a closing exercise, take Bob’s numbers from last year and calculate your jump in sales if every new client win delivered the same billings at the same profit margin. 30%? 100%? You can do it – with Bob’s help. That’s why Bob might be your CRM system’s greatest asset.

Your old-school sales guys aren’t just sales executives. They’re mentors for the next generation. Your CRM application is just waiting to make use of their knowledge.

Start applying some old-school knowledge to a cutting-edge CRM system by downloading your eGuide now: The ultimate guide to: upselling and cross selling

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