CRM Vendor News

Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Salesforce? A question faced by business leaders

Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Salesforce? A question faced by business leaders thinking about the heartbeat of their company. They want to take what they think is the easy road and grab onto a package that perhaps has a ton of buzz, is sexy or one of their peer firms use or maybe they don't want to consider all the value that services brings to the transformation. Microsoft Dynamics CRM soars with an excellent services consulting team. Technology + People + Process .... 

Why? Because there is so much choice! AND choice requires decisions and decision means a tighter fit for your way of doing business and a competitive edge in the marketplace. 

Believe it or Not when it comes to CRM, it is not just the application. Nor the bells or the whistles, or the backend database, it is about a partnership with the vendor and the services provider AND all the great technologies. A partner who is going to be with you through many years of growth. 

Recently I saw a great blog post about great companies switching away from Salesforce to Dynamics CRM.

As quoted in the article

"While each of these companies have unique customer engagement needs, they all have some things in common: the need for increased productivity, the desire to engage more deeply and consistently with their customers, and faster time to value."

So as you consider your options, consider how much choice and at what price. For in today's world there is so much want and even more need for flexibility and options despite how overwhelming they can sometimes be.

  • Tablet Access
  • Mobile Access (Windows, Apple, Android)
  • Web Access
  • On Premise options
  • Outlook (integration and distributed processing)
  • PowerBI (and Power Pivot, Power ...)
  • Excel (Input and Output, with Dynamic Security)
  • Word (mail merge integration)
  • Cortana (Voice to CRM)
  • Kinect  (For those really into the cutting edge working with services) 
  • Did I mention? Microsoft Social Engagement and analytics 
  • Dynamics Marketing (The Enterprise CMO application)
  • Advanced KBA and Services Management (Socially enabled tweets to case) 
  • Document Management (SharePoint integration)
  • Yammer (Internal Social, integrated groups to accounts)
  • Lync or Skype (presence enabled OOB and click to call)
  • Call Center Unified Service Desk (USD)

and a large database of solutions that meet needs that use to require custom everything such as compliance tracking, verification, facilities management, scheduling, and I can go on.

I can't believe that after 10 years of working with this product I am still continually finding great things to love about it.

Yes, it is not perfect, but then that is what requests via CONNECT to the product team are all about and with major upgrades coming out faster and faster. I get more excited every day not only about all that is currently available, but the proven pattern of growth from Microsoft and The Dynamics CRM teams.

Convergence: It is that time of year again! #CONV2013

I won't be at Convergence this year, but I wanted to go ahead and share some getting the most out of the event tips and tricks. because Convergence isn't just about great sessions and learning, but it is also about


1)      Networking

2)      Meeting the Third Party Providers and ISVs who partner with Microsoft on Dynamics CRM
and add value add

3)      Meeting the Microsoft CRM Support Team and technical resources (bring your questions)

4)      Meeting the Microsoft CRM Developers and development team (there are new faces to watch for)

5)      Meeting other Microsoft team members

6)      Communicating with other CRM users (Look for CRMUG)

7)      Listening and learning from Authors, Field Experts and great consultants


So In my many years going to and presenting at Convergence I offer you the following



1)  Know which sessions you want to go to before you go and have a backup option
(sometimes sessions are sold out)

2)  Know who the speakers are: Ask or search the net or read their blogs, being great at what you know doesn't mean you are a great speaker. Look for both!

3) Use Twitter during the conference to keep up with the live session buzz and to connect with other CRM tweeters. My guess is the tweet tag will be #conv2013 or #conv13

4) Know the level of the session: They can range from 100 to 400 and have a lot to do
with presenter and audience. Convergence has both sales sessions to show what is new and deep technical sessions to get you up to speed fast so you have to know how to pick them.

5) Go to the parties and don’t stay at one. Roam from one party to the next and check out the culture, the mood, the tone, the side talks, the buzz

6) Talk to Strangers

7) Eat with people you don’t know and when you sit down, talk to them

8) Make time to visit the bookstore (even if to just see what CRM books are available)

9) Make time to visit the booths (I have had more great technical talks with CEOs at
trade shows than anywhere else)

10)  Go to some non-CRM Sessions such as Office, SharePoint and BI – products that work
great together with CRM

11) Go to some business sessions – they have some incredible leaders presenting on
leadership, change management, etc. Many are well recognized business book
writers. (loved hearing Malcolm Gladwell a few years back)

12)  Setup a Meet the Expert Connect session and have a one on one with a developer,
business leader, or other resource. A few years back I met with the development team working on a key feature in the newest version of CRM. What a blast to get their perspective.

13)  Attend the Pre-Convergence CRMUG Day, the sessions are smaller and the content incredible.

14) Bring business cards, share your business cards, collect business cards AND schedule time when you get home to follow up. Not just the week after, but again two weeks after and a again after 2 months, etc. Networking is about meeting and then building relationships that offer win/win value to both people.

15) Share what you know! Evaluations make a HUGE Difference in the world of Microsoft. Peer to Peer sharing makes a HUGE difference in the success of Dynamics CRM.

16) Attend the last session of the day and the event. Those speakers are sometimes the best, because they draw out the day.


Social Tips

1) It is New Orleans! Get up on the balcony and share the fun of throwing beads at people.

2) Plan to eat incredible food.

3) Don't plan on sleeping too much, but don't burn up all the brain cells so you don't have time to learn.



CRMSoftware.TV : A new way to decompress?

Although most of us would not like to admit it, we all like to crash and decompress in front of the TV. Please welcome a new way to decompress CRMSoftware.TV.

This week Lauren Carlson, CRM Analyst, interviews David Pennington on exactly where Microsoft is investing when it comes to the many social marketing venues and applications. As well as how this plays in the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

A quick lick of the upcoming ice cream!

Dynamics CRM mature

You know that Microsoft Dynamics CRM has really come of age when not only are their over 1 million licenses sold for the product, BUT you start stumbling on information on Dynamics CRM in places like eHOW.

Take for instance this little video on Microsoft Dynamics CRM v4.0 Certification

or this one on How to Work with the Microsoft Dynamics CRM eBook 

and of course YouTube is PACKED with more Dynamics CRM information and noise than most people know what to do with.

IE 8 and CRM - Something you might not know

PowerObjects had a great little blog post on Internet Explore 8 when it came out highlighting a few of the cool NEW features that are worth learning about if you are using Dynamics CRM.

Now that IE 8 is part of your everyday routine (and you are thinking about IE 9) take a look at this post on some of the features that might have slipped your notice in what you ALREADY have.

Oh and in terms of security (for those of you running other web browers)

"Testing conducted by the independent NSS Labs found that IE8 provided signifigantly better malware blocking capabilities than Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome and Apple Safari."

Advanced Marketing and Dynamics CRM

It is not easy to grow a business these days, but when you have years and years of experience and tons of connections and there is a good need, it is often the right thing to do.

John Gravely and his team have just that company with ClickDimensions.

On June 1st, join John to hear some of that great experience as he presents REAL stories of MARKETING with Dynamics CRM. This is a premier event for marketers (not sales people who do a bit of marketing)Offering True Stories of Marketing with Microsoft Dynamics CRM

This live workshop will include examples of real world campaigns where Microsoft CRM was used to:

  • Double a newsletter list in two weeks using a unique approach toward email marketing and lead scoring
  • Develop an easy way to improve web traffic by understanding the quality of visitors by traffic sources
  • Implement a strategy for creating great content that positions your firm as a leader
  • Apply simple tips for search engine marketing and search engine optimization
  • Provide sales with easy to use automated prospecting and marketing tools to make them more effective and efficient
  • Identify how to best use the right social channels to drive business value

It should be fairly interesting as there is so much more that can be done both with the built in features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Marketing AND with some of the incredible ISV offerings that tie the power of the internet, statistics and technology with the CRM platform.


Business Card Scan Options for Dynamics CRM

When it comes to learning Dynamics CRM one of my favorite blogs to keep up with is Richard Knudson's Dynamics CRM Trick Bag and as I was catching up I caught a quick little tip at the bottom of one of his posts.

He was summarizing Convergence and low and behold a favorite subject of mine appears. Business card scan options for Dynamics CRM. It always made me sad that Corex cardscan evaporated, because I really liked their integration and devices. Anyway here is a clip from Richard's post.

"What are the best card scanners for CRM?  (How could this topic NOT be included in a Convergence summary article?) Here are the two I’ve had personal experience with, and have recommended to clients who’ve had success with them:

Too Busy to Travel? Decisions 2011 is coming to your desk (FREE)

Over the last couple of years I have participated in the MSDynamicsWorld Decisions conference and the first year it was pretty cool, but a little light by the second year the speakers and vendors were really starting to get the format and now VIRTUAL CONFERENCES are well just hot. (Hey, just checking out the technology is cool)

Yes, the world is noisy, people are busy - but given that Decisions 2011 has one full day packed with great CRM Speakers I am helping to spread the world. Last year I heard and shifted my perspective when listening to a talk on Dynamics CRM and the marketing features (how to really leverage what is there) and this year who knows what I will learn.

SO Mark your calendars as June 17th is CRMDAY!

CRM Day 

and for those of you also working with the other products within the Microsoft Dynamics Family you might be interested in these virtual conference days as well.

  • June 14 - AX Day 
  • June 15 - GP Day 
  • June 16 - NAV Day 

  • Microsoft Convergence: The beginning of the last day

    The last day of Convergence and I must admit it has been quite a conference. What has been interesting, to an old timer like me, is that the whole feel of the event has evolved.

    With 8,500 users, a great green bent and the economy considerations it is amazing how things change.

    The sessions I attended yesterday were good interactive events. In fact during one hour I double dipped and attended two and still got a ton of GREAT input from each. Now given I was only in each session 50% that is saying a lot. (Perhaps next year technology will allow the true multi-tasker in me to watch one while I participate in the other. (yes, I can do that don't argue) )

    I have to reach out and give kudos to Ben Vollmer who managed to not only present a technical, non technical with just the right amount of each session (and no canned koolaid) but who also did it from 4:30-5:30 before drinks/dinner, after a long three days with his usual sense of humor. And although I will probably regret posting this - he also allowed me to paradigm shift back into a real appreciation for senior CRM developer mindset.

    Thinking CRM successfully is a hard skill to master and should never be underestimated if and when you are ramping up any new staff. (no matter how young, old, experienced or what their background)

    The other sessions I attended yesterday included

    • IDCRM05 Marketing Automation
    • IDCRM06 Integrating with Microsoft Dynamics CRM
    • CSCRM11 Driving Business Success with xRM
    • CSCRM08 Extending CRM to fit your business

    and I presented with IDCRM03 Is the Customer Always Right? with Heather Thigpen from IHS

    After sessions it was the more traditional vendor, partner customer and/or prospect appreciate night. I started over at the Core Motives cocktail meetup because I have been meaning to get to their booth and spend some time with them. Thanks to Scott Sewell from Customer Effective for alerting me to where they were. Not only was it a great place to connect with other CRM peeps and get answers to tough technical questions, but I even managed to get to see an informal, impromptu demo on the product. Usually a big (what at a party!!!) but handled so well I was appreciative. Thanks Rhett!

    Heading from Slice to hook up with an old associate, Joe Stuckey, a couple of us went over to the Client Profiles event. Kudos to Client Profiles for encouraging knowledge sharing even with those not directly in their prospect or customer audience. Client Profiles is the company behind CRM4Legal, a Microsoft Dynamics xRM product that meets all the CRM needs of the big legal firms.

    Time for another full day!! Hopefully my voice will hold out through the time I am presenting later this afternoon.

    A Smile for a Saturday

    One of the reasons I started this blog was to share information on Microsoft Dynamics CRM with those who might also share back.

    It gives me great joy to find answers when I am stuck with a question on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and the fact that I can easily share that joy is something I can't resist.

    What I wasn't expecting was some of the other side effects. Today I had a little surprise. I was listed as one of 27 CRM Thought leaders to read and follow. Definitely added a smile to my wintery, yet sunny Saturday morning.

    Microsoft Dynamics CRM v4.0 Launch in Dallas

    The Dynamics CRM launch today started out with a professional speaker, with years of "CRM" background and experience. My jury was out with regards to if this approach would be what the audience was interested in, but what I found as an audience member is that Mr. Pepper (of Pepper and Rogers) really offered some great insight. I like the approach.

    One of the key barriers that I often run into in the field is this whole concept that many business owners and team members do not necessarily understand how much they can really benefit from investing in the organization and further management of relationships. We all hear statements in this arena so often that we tend to develop a deaf ear.  For instance the term "Great Customer Service" is so over used that we rarely give the statement the time of day.

    I was also surprised at this launch to see the starting slide actually portray a worry. Yes, the statement that the statistics are still showing CRM adoption failures in the marketplace across all available technologies and vendor products and Microsoft is acknowledging this. They  acknowledge, the vendor (Microsoft) has a commitment focused on impacting (reducing) this long existing statistic on failure rates for CRM Adoption.

    How? What are they doing?

    They are offering choice and options when it comes to how you input data, how you access data, how you see data (through Excel or reporting or portals) and the learning curve for end users who just want to get their job done.

    In terms of the Launch. We are now in the middle of the demonstration and the presenter is extremely professional, but I have to state my number on complaint that has continued through the last numerous presentations (including Convergence). When showing the product the audience can not see the tiny type on the screens. SO if you are a presenter and you are going to demonstrate the product might I suggest you tap into the new VISTA features that include screen magnification :) Yes, I know I have old eyes - but I did an informal poll and the people around me agree!

    Interesting Announcements

    I am listening to one onf the keynotes here at Convergence and it is interesting to note that Microsoft is offering Keyword Integrated Marketing Services between Microsoft adCenter and Dynamics CRM. Makes sense and pretty cool.

    Of note Microsoft adCenter populates search engines and manages advertising via the internet.

    The webservice offers a ton of depth and functionality.

    The Rand Group's Lunch and Learn Series

    For those of you who are in Texas (or who are visiting) take a look at The Rand Group's new Lunch and Learn Series. The series has a keystone product of Dynamics CRM but is focused on Business.  There is limited space available so if any of the subjects are of interest register soon by dropping us an e-mail.

    Tuesday        March 4 - Houston

    Wednesday   March 5 - Austin

    People, Process, Technology: Getting the Right Mix

    Presenter: Anne Stanton, Director CRM Practice

    Keystone Product: Microsoft Dynamics CRM

    Tuesday        5-6-08 Houston

    Wednesday   5-7-08 Austin  ------------------------ The Authenticity of Relationships

    Speaker: Kenan Doyle Branam (Tentative)

    Tuesday        8-5-08 Houston

    Wednesday   8-6-08 Austin ---------------------------Sales Process Designing

    Speaker: Jack Warenthien (Tentative)

    Tuesday        10-7-08 Houston

    Wednesday   10-8-08 Austin --------------------------Social Networking: Technologies Impact

    Speaker: Anne Stanton, Director CRM Practice

    1st Edition of CRM Lady News - Jan 2008

    Subject: CRMLady News - Jan 2008 







    The Fear of Change

    The fear of change is so significant that it can bring the best and the brightest staff members to a stand still.

    It can turn a minor process into a major project.

    It can create subtle leaks in moral and "staff rivalry" battles that are distracting and pesky.

    Within your company do you know how change, as a driving force, gets throttled?

    New to the Market is a little book that can be read in 30 minutes. It is a light read, crafted around a story.

    Our Iceberg is Melting by John Kotter is well worth the investment in time!



    Quick Links

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    CRMLady News

    January 2008   Issue: 1

    Over the last few months I have met wonderful people in Texas and I have reconnected with others around the world who I originally met through various e-mail, events and travels.  This e-Newsletters is the first of many value add and reach outs for us to share great knowledge and to stay in touch.

    What is Relationship Management 

    It doesn't require a computer or technology! What it does require is a person or people who find value in knowing other people. There are those that are experts at knowing and remembering details on everyone and  others who prefer to have a little book, a computer or a PDA to keep track. Relationship Management is not an ugly "sales" word (although it can be to some) it is simply a set of two words that defines how we organize the information we know about each other.



    On The Road


    Orlando - March  10-14th





    Are you Ready to Do More?

    If your firm would like to centralize and organize contacts, clients, vendors, suppliers, customers and more using Outlook, Microsoft Dynamics Customer Relationship Management software, and the Office Suite drop me a note.



    Anne Stanton
    The Rand Group

    The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway. All postings and code samples are provided 'AS IS' with no warranties, and confers no rights. - Anne Stanton

    © Copyright 2008

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    Looking for a Dynamics AddOn?

    Robert Anderson has recently created a new website focused on all the great add-ons that you can mix with the Dynamics products. Do you have a favorite third party product that you want represented? Are you looking at adding a third party product to your base Dynamics product?

    Check out the site at : 

    Robert notes "I am hoping it can assist the Dynamics community by having an online, searchable catalog of add-ons, complete with ratings and comments.  It’s only been up a month and already over 200 ISV’s have added their offerings! "

    Big News at Sage Software

    Should Microsoft Business Solutions be concerned, interested, worried, happy, not in the least bit surprised?

    "Sage Group plc today said that its North American chief executive and chief financial officers have left the company. Sage CEO Ron Verni and CFO James Eckstaedt left following a board review of Sage's North American business" From yesterday’s press

    What is even more of a factor is that these are not the only two executives that are no longer with Sage Software North America as of yesterday. Key often quoted senior executives including MacDonald and Foster are also no longer representing Sage Software North America. Talk about change, it will be interesting to see if these moves really bring about the desired changes.

    Did the news hint at these changes at all?

    Press from two days ago no less From October 10th

    From September 2007’s Economic Times press

    Amazing what a couple of months can do as here is an article of information in CRN Magazine from May 2007 and no hint, not even a read between the lines.


    Before I get back to the regularly scheduled program

    I will get back to the regularly scheduled program (tips on microsoft dynamics crm) in a minute, but before I do that I thought this was not surprising, but interesting.

    "--As CRM Slows, Makes Platform Play Facing a saturating market for CRM on-demand, wants to reinvent itself as a platform company, and thinks it has the technology to do it."

    I would also tend to argue with the statement "CRM is slowing".. I have yet to see a company really nail the total customer service/customer massaging/tracked and utilized full contact communication piece while also doing it really, really well.

    This comes from a combination of the world still being in technology transition when it comes to the totally bundled does everything solutions and the general CRM vendor struggles with tying into the management thinking at client sites where process is ever changing due to the nature of business process maturity and fine tuning.

    General CRM Software

    Talking of look and feel of CRM applications. I have used a number of different customer relationship management software applications. It is one of my favorite categories of software.

    I have seen applications that can do absolutely everything I can possibly think of and more and yet some of those have just not motivated me. Why?  because they look like they are written using the older tools. The data entry boxes are less graphical, they have built-in "codes" as opposed to easy to learn user language and they hint at proprietary code that is inflexible and won't interface.

    As the world of applications converges is your software ready? 


    For the last few weeks I have been trying out Facebook. I tend to push myself to learn a new application every few weeks and this month it happens to be Facebook. Now I started facebook with business contacts (I know most people use it for social  networking, but I focused it on business) What is interesting is who has pro-actively found me in facebook and then what their facebook networks have contained. Some were definitely all business and have a number of business networks while others were mostly social. I even managed to learn a few new things about my family.

    All and all I find facebook a really strange application. It forces me to think differently and definitely doesn't have that portal, one place for everything, feel to it. In fact I would dare to claim that it is not even intuitive.

    Given it is designed for the younger generations I wonder if some of our frustrations with Microsoft Dynamics CRM is more human (old age) issues than application issues.

    People want that one screen concept and yet rarely does the younger generation stay still long enough to look at one screen. Even without a desktop of monitors they have their cell phone, their iPod, an XBox 360, a playstation, a laptop and depending on how technical, they perhaps built a custom gaming machine in their spare time. For the younger generation who is less technical they could care less about building a machine (or security for that matter) They just want to do everything at once now.

    So is it possible to combine the technology application offerings to meet the needs of the very old, the middle age and the next generation? or will the generation gap get in designers way?

    Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live

    At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference Microsoft announced the upcoming release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM LIVE.  As with all things software, new releases are always around the bend and of course that wanted new feature.

    What is fascinating about Microsoft Dynamics CRM to me is that I continue to find buried "features" and cool stuff.  The product is well designed to grow with a company.

    The toughest part is starting that growing cycle. Out of the box the product needs configuration. Oh you can use it pure vanilla, but most companies quickly find that they can do a few configurations and make it mold to their business model.

    CRM LIVE offers powerful configuration, as does Microsoft Dynamics CRM SBE and Professional.

    Configuration can be broken down into parts.

    The first is simple data entry. You need to spend the time to enter the data that applies to your basic business model. This includes the product catalog, the service categories, fiscal year end date, CRM users, security roles and more.

    The second part of configuration is what data do you want to capture and how do you want to capture that data. What do you want your data entry screens to look like and do you have any unique field requirements. The entry screens are very robust in a vanilla mode, but in the services industry few firms capture freight and shipping data and as such these fields can be turned off.   

    Another part of configuration is how do you want to slice and dice your data and what type of views are you interested in. These views look like Excel Spreadsheets (and actually tie to Excel for analysis). The software comes with numerous pre-defined views, but you can also setup your own. You can do this as a configuration option (new company wide views for everyone) or you can create personal views on the fly using advanced find.

    Configuration also ties into setting up work flow rules and automation. The workflow engine is a powerful feature of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Workflow includes everything from an automated sales process to asking the software to automatically send an e-mail when a new contact is added. It can be as simple as outlook rules   and as complex as a set of code. The tool has incredible potential all from Configuration!

    Notice that in all of the above I have not mentioned CUSTOMIZATION. To me customization is writing .NET code, extending the existing software and even writing Jscript. It also needs to stay appropriately in its place. Managing custom software is a responsibility that companies need to accept with their eyes open.

    FrontRange, What are you thinking?

    So FrontRange is getting their feet under them, with new management and one of the first announcements I have seen from them released today. So first there is a new consolidation of product names..

    • Goldmine Corporate
    • Goldmine Premium
    • Goldmine Enterprise Edition

    No more Standard Edition and no more stand alone edition?

    The company has placed a strong emphasis on advanced customer needs and more sophisticated customers. What this and the following says to me, is the small and microsmall customers might not be their niche.

    Take for instance that "Maintenance for the first year is required and will be 20% of retail price with a minimum of 5 user license which is $595 for GoldMine Corporate Edition and $695 for GoldMine Premium Edition."

    It is a fairly rare customer that will purchase VENDOR maintenance when they have a great reseller to support them, so why the requirement? AND to do CRM right, well often times you need a good reseller. Someone who understands your business and technology and can work with you to make it all work together. So what is happening to the FrontRange Reseller channel?