Sales run the risk of reduced productivity and efficiency if they don’t embrace the far-reaching potential of CRM.

On paper, the adoption of CRM by Sales should be a ‘no-brainer’. Its toolset is designed to aid sales efficiency, enabling teams to close more deals, increase sales and improve forecast accuracy.

But there is a very real problem.


  • Embrace CRM automation to boost sales efficiency and productivity.
  • Boost forecasting and reporting effectiveness.
  • Bring Sales and Marketing closer into alignment to realise their full potential.
  • Allow Sales to access vital information via mobile solutions to maximise their sales success wherever they may be.
  • Offer full and proper training to ensure your sales team buy-in to your CRM platform.

Only 4% of companies don’t achieve ROI from their CRM system within the expected time. Uncover real CRM results, download our 2016 Benchmark Report: Measuring CRM Success.


A new blog on how the right CRM customer experience can retain customers, not just attract them. Read more

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!


  • 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


Discover how the role of the modern CIO shapes modern CRM systems that bridge Sales and Marketing.

Traditionally CRM has been seen as a sales tool, but modern CRM systems span all of the functions within an entire enterprise. Modern CRM systems particularly concentrate on aligning Sales and Marketing to permit the undertaking of customer data analysis and the generation of customer insight.  Modern CIOs can make this happen because their role has become less about fighting fires and delivering technical support than it used to be. Their remit is now more strategic.


The CRM Goal

The key goal is to have the ability to obtain a single view of each customer, which can allow sales or contact centre staff to cross-sell and up-sell additional products and services that are similar to the ones the customer has either just bought or previously purchased from the company.

Modern CRM is about ‘people, processes and technology’. It helps businesses to use a combination of its human resources, its operational and transactional processes, as well its technology to get closer to each customer or customer segment.

The technology aspect of it can’t just be implemented off-the-shelf and then expected to work. So Chief Information Officers (CIOs) need to work with their marketing counterparts to deliver an effective and efficient CRM strategy that will enable the business to increase revenues by:

  • Providing products and services that fit the needs, wants and desires of each customer or customer segment.
  • Using transactional history and data analysis to get to know each customer better, so that customers believe you know what they’re about and what they are likely to want whenever they call a contact centre of sales department.
  • Recording interactions with each customer. These interactions may come from a variety of sales and marketing channels, but they can be used to develop a ‘relationship’ with each customer in order to be able to cross-sell and up-sell to them.
  • Reducing the time required to close a sale. When Sales and contact centre staff know more about each customer, they can deliver a higher level of customer service and satisfaction. There’s also no guessing about what an existing customer wants; customer insight can inform a salesperson, for example, about what to offer a customer and how to close a deal. Similarly, a contact centre will be able to better resolve any customer issues.
  • Creating more loyal customers. Modern CRM enables organisations to capture the data required to paint a detailed picture of their customers and achieve their organisational goals through on-going analysis. For example; an organisation may wish to increase brand loyalty though making more informed decisions regarding the development new products and services. A correctly implemented CRM system can provide them with the necessary tools to achieve this


The modern CIO

With the growth of shadow IT and cloud computing, marketing has more choice than ever before and it can bypass the CIO in the process. Jay Henderson wrote about the changing role of the CIO in October 2012 for DestinationCRM magazine:

“CIOs should take the reins, give marketers the space they need to experiment, and if outside vendors are needed, make sure IT is the one managing those relationships. CIOs should also consider leveraging cloud infrastructure and SaaS solutions, which tend to shorten implementation time, as well as pre-integrated solutions, to minimize custom-built applications wherever possible.”

He adds that IT has to be at the heart of a customer-centric approach. CIOs therefore should:

  • Build a relationship with their Marketing Directors/Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs);
  • Understand the needs of the business, of sales and marketing the CIO can make better and more informed back-office technology-related decisions;
  • Ensure that any cloud services don’t compromise the organisation, while allowing sales and marketing a certain amount of freedom to use the cloud services they require;
  • Become involved with strategic business planning and develop not just technical skills, but soft business-related ones;
  • Focus on the desired business outcomes of the organisation because the ability of an organisation to develop and deliver new applications and services to market more quickly than any competitors can lead to the development of a competitive advantage.

CIOs should also note that Gartner predicts that “CMOs will influence more of the IT budget by 2017, [and so] the onus is on CIOs to ensure that marketers make the right purchases”, says Henderson. CIOs therefore need to begin this journey by understanding the front and back office needs of Sales and Marketing. Such a collaboration as this will improve their performance through heightened sales and customer satisfaction. The entire organisation will then become more profitable. So modern CRM systems help enterprises to have a promising future – that is if modern CRM systems are implemented correctly.

Discover more about how modern CRM can drive growth in your business by downloading your free eGuide ‘The Ultimate Guide to: Driving business growth using CRM’ today


Sales Force Automation (SFA) used to be the primary tool for salespeople. It helped organisations to manage and support their sales representatives, and it generally consisted of contact management, opportunity management and pipeline management. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) arguably evolved from it, but with some differences.

CRM concentrates on using data to create a 360 degree view of potential and existing customers. The purpose of this data-driven insight is to enable organisations to develop new offerings, to retain them and to inspire loyalty by encouraging customers to buy more of the same or related products and services.

Time showed the need for a higher degree of integration, co-operation and customer data-sharing between Sales and Marketing – thus improving the ability of marketing to segment customers, to develop new products and services, and to develop new marketing and communications channels. This integration also enables sales to increase its performance through cross-selling and up-selling propositions based on a single view of each customer.

Modern CRM systems

Modern CRM systems are increasingly about how to use big data analytics to gain a deeper level of customer insight than was possible a decade ago. To earn customer loyalty, organisations have to learn about customers’ habits through an increasing array of channels: the web, mobile, email, social media, e-commerce, contact centres and through bricks and mortar outlets.

Are your teams CRM-ready?

One of the traditional reasons why CRM fails, falls down to resistance from those that are going to use a modern CRM system. People and process design come before any successful implementation. Effective communication about the benefits of modern CRM systems, training and the development of a new collaborative culture are essential before the technology can be used effectively.

Improving performance

The benefits of a modern CRM system include…

  • Easy access to lead intelligence for sales from one location and in a way to enable sales and marketing to share customer insight – including customers’ transactional histories.
  • Better sales and marketing alignment by applying and sharing metrics to show how each function is performing. This information can be used to develop new sales and marketing strategies, and realistic goals and objectives that have to be:
  • Specific,
  • Measurable,
  • Attainable,
  • Realistic
  • Time-based.
  • Help Sales prioritise its pipeline through segmentation – say for example into key accounts (highest value customers) – and by making customer trends more visible. This can enable salespeople to target customers more effectively.
  • Closed-loop reporting lets marketers improve their marketing campaigns. By sharing sales and campaign data marketers can determine which campaigns are most successful and look for insight as to why they are achieving their goals and objectives.
  • The automation of simple, repetitive tasks and processes. These tasks and processes may be administrative, transactional, or related to specific activities such as e-commerce, inbound contact centre management, etc.
  • Improved campaign and project management because a number of modern CRM systems employ a dashboard to make the metrics associated with a project or campaign more transparent and as available in real-time as possible to enable better decision-making. Campaigns and projects often need tweaking. Dashboards make this possible.

In conclusion

  • With a modern CRM system such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM it becomes possible for Sales and Marketing to see each other as partners.
  • To achieve this collaboration there needs to be a high level of systems integration across all of an organisation’s functions – not just between Sales and Marketing, but also with finance and logistics for example.
  • Together these departments can become even more profitable than if they were to maintain a culture of us and them. Modern CRM systems make this possible.

Discover how CRM can help your business grow by downloading your free eGuide The Ultimate Guide to: Driving business growth using CRM today.


Motivate your team to get the most from your CRM and sales department by understanding that it’s about the process as much as the product.

It’s hard to recruit great salespeople. Harder still to keep them great.

It’s important that you get the most out of your CRM and sales team. While CRM can do it, the product is only half the story.

To get the most from Customer Relationship Management, you have to get your salespeople not just using it, but liking it.

Liking the way it delivers sales targets. Liking how it helps them succeed.

Here’s how.

Show them that not all old leads are cold leads when it comes to CRM and sales.

Cold doesn’t mean dead. It just means someone wasn’t ready to buy yet. What if:

  • You know which “cold leads” still click every newsletter?
  • You know it takes 21 calls to get an appointment – and 500 cold leads are on twenty?
  • You know cold leads warm up after their annual trade event?

Many CRM applications can provide such out-of-the-box insights. They’ll get your salespeople warmed up as fast as those unexpected prospects.

Remember KISS – Keep It Simple, Sales.

Complexity gets in the way. There’s no surer way to hamper adoption than to make users think the old way was easier. So double check:

  • Main charts and functions are reachable with a click.
  • Any journey through a task is easy to understand.
  • Everything integrates with the natural application for that task – such as Microsoft’s Outlook for email campaigning.

Today, some of the best lessons in ease-of-use within CRM and sales come from mobile app design.

Get that data to go with mobile access.

Salespeople are big mobile users. So a CRM application that plays well with their phones and tablets – especially those they own at home – will see greater use. It enables:

  • A sense of ownership. Mobile devices are all about the personal.
  • More work hours to be put in as staff can now log in from anywhere.
  • A sense of empowerment – you’re letting them do things their way.

And maybe, just maybe, all that leads to greater sales numbers. Make CRM mobile.

Find the boring bits and take them out of the loop.

A powerful application makes it easy to load up on menial tasks too. So actively look for things to automate. Here are some ideas:

  • Keep in touch. Set follow-up calls automatically.
  • Campaign chasers. Calling people who clicked the newsletter? Deliver lists to salespeople’s desktops.
  • Event dates. Find the big trade days in each sector and automatically schedule appointment-setting calls a few days before.

A great deal of sales can seem quite time consuming. The best CRM practices will save you a vast amount of time.

Show them opportunities in social media.

The formula for happy, successful salespeople is simple: keep them supplied with quality leads that you have found from various places. There are many opportunities for this, such as:

  • Getting your prospects’ social media handles.
  • Connecting not just to prospects, but prospects’ customers.
  • Looking for common denominators in what they click, post, share and follow.

The best CRM applications know social media backwards – but many companies underuse it.

Say it in pictures, charts and graphs.

A good chart or graph can foster understanding in CRM and sales that drives double-digit jumps in conversions.

  • Ask your people what information from the weekly report they use most and give it to them on-demand, in real time.
  • Choose graphics that can be used by easily by both Team Leaders and Sales Executives.
  • Don’t limit yourself to pie charts and bar charts – scatters and circumplexes have clinched many a consultant’s sale too.

When you need to present data, do as much as possible in graphics. A good CRM setup will give you the tools.

Demonstrate the power of all in CRM and sales.

Imagine you have ten salespeople:

  • If two are using CRM, those two will find it hard. Usage will drop to zero.
  • If five are using CRM, that five won’t get full value. They’ll use it under duress.
  • Once six are using CRM, it’ll persuade those who aren’t to get on board.

The outputs of a CRM system – ideas, insights, opportunities, conversions, closes – are only as good as the data you put into it. So take care to get every lead and every action where it belongs and make it easy to do so.

It’s the process, not the product.

Above all, remember CRM isn’t a product.

For the people who use it – nurturing leads, chasing closes, maxing-out conversions – CRM is a process.

So when you choose your CRM partner, make sure they focus on how things are done within your organisation. Match product with process and your results from CRM will be sky-high. Ready to look up?

Once your team is motivated, you’ll need to make sure they have the knowledge to make the most of your CRM system. Discover how to increase your sales with your free eGuide The ultimate guide to: upselling and cross selling