CRM has become the new “must-have” for any sales organization in the past few years. It is not the next fancy software you will make your people use (and they will hate it), but a tool that seems to be a part of the daily life of any salesman, marketer or customer service agent.
CRM may be a popular platform for managing leads and opportunities, customer and partner relationships, and any marketing planning and ongoing activities. It may also give all the information that Customer service dept. needs to deliver happy customers. But how do you know if this software is going to work for your organization at all? How can you be sure it will cover all your sales processes? Will it be accepted by your marketing hippies? Does your service team have the patience to learn how to use it and then continue using it?
There’s only one way to know it: TRY before you BUY.
That’s right. Try the platform first and if it looks like an app your people would think about adopting, then consider further steps as buying it. As any other software, there is no such thing as “one size fits all”. The fact that your friend got this CRM or your rivals get this brand new app to manage field service surely doesn’t mean it will work for you as well. So yes, you have to try it on your own.
How do I start with CRM?
What I usually tell people when they ask me what is the first thing to do when considering CRM solutions, is to think about the tools they are already using. Every day, we are struggling among various software applications. Many of them, like Microsoft’s Office 365 for example, surely have some CRM functionalities. And if you are a micro or small business it would be some good start for your CRM-ization.
If you have decided on a real, standalone CRM platform, then you can start and choose from the numerous free CRM solutions online. Most, if not any of them, are cloud-based so there is no need to download. The setup process is easy and would definitely be a good way to learn about the CRM concept as a whole and what the benefits of using CRM are.
This is applicable if you have a small sales team and your sales process can be qualified as “standard”.
When should I use MS Dynamics 365?
If your organization’s sales and marketing processes are more complicated though, you should consider one of the more complex CRM platforms by the bigger CRM vendors. Being one of the top players on the market, Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 for Sales (previously Dynamics CRM) might be a smart choice. It embeds numerous functionalities and would be helpful if you need to cover all the marketing or any other pre-sales activities as well as the entire sales cycle. Dynamics 365 has a 30-day free trial version which actually includes the full functionality of the solutions. You can enter your data, play with dashboards and analysis and it will work as it is. As this is a Microsoft solution, you can also connect it out of the box will all other Microsoft products you might be using within your organization like Outlook, Sharepoint, Office 365, Skype or any other Dynamics product (AX, NAV, GP). It can also be seamlessly integrated with any other systems, for example your Marketing automation software or Social Media management system, so you can get the full picture. Another thing is that if any customizations are needed, they can easily be developed by your IT admins or you can work with a Dynamics 365 partner to deliver the specific features.
NB! CRM is not a universal cure for your ineffective sales or marketing activities or poor customer service. But it will definitely help you optimize the sales process and increase the effectiveness of your marketing. It’s worth giving it a try. Start here with your free 30-day trial of Dynamics 365 and let me know your thoughts.