The ultimate Guide to Microsoft Dynamics 365

Your one-stop guide to Microsoft Dynamics 365 as a CRM

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is not always top of mind for those responsible for searching for a CRM in SMEs, but we think smaller-sized businesses could be missing out by not considering its plethora of features and benefits. This complete guide will offer an overview of this sales, marketing, and customer service platform and key considerations for those weighing up their CRM options.   When it comes to software providers leading the charge in the digital and AI-powered revolution, Microsoft is ahead of the rest, delivering cutting-edge CRM technology that is transforming businesses’ commercial operations. Helping businesses drive efficiency and effectiveness in their sales and marketing and deliver greater value to existing customers.   In this comprehensive guide to Microsoft Dynamics 365, we’ll delve into everything you need to know about Dynamics 365 CRM, detailing its powerful features and summarising its many benefits. We’ll also touch on the implementation process and the critical subject of user training. Call it your whistle-stop tour of Dynamics 365 CRM!  

 

Key features and capabilities of Dynamics 365 CRM

Dynamics 365 CRM offers many features and capabilities to help businesses manage customer relationships effectively. It does this in an ultra-efficient way by stripping out many manual tasks using a range of AI tools. This is a distinct advantage for SMEs, who often have lean teams and budgets and can struggle to scale their sales and marketing to drive growth.  

AI CRM tools

Dynamics 365 predictive AI tools benefit many areas of the sales and marketing function, from sales forecasting, lead scoring, and customer insights to customer conversation analysis, segmentation and targeting tools. The complete suite works as an ‘efficiency toolkit, automating manual tasks and driving team productivity. Curious to find out more? Read this article for further details on the AI tools in Dynamics 365 sales.  

Reporting capabilities

Another feature that appeals to organisations that want to monitor their sales and marketing pipeline tightly is customisable dashboards. These allow users to track key performance metrics and monitor sales activities in real time, seeing precisely the data they need and only that. By stripping away unnecessary report KPIs, sales and marketing leaders can focus on the metrics that matter for their role and their teams, helping manage performance. The better they manage their performance, the more effective their growth efforts will be.   These customisable dashboards are delivered through robust reporting and analytics functions, enabling SMEs to generate custom reports, analyse data trends, and gain insights into their sales and marketing performance rapidly and accurately. This speed and agility are other significant benefits for smaller organisations that want to adapt to changing conditions internally and externally quickly. And make impactful data-driven decisions based on facts, not gut.   All too often, rapidly growing SMEs still operate a ‘from the gut’ decision-making process that can hold them back. The success rate is significantly heightened by transitioning to a data-driven and fact-based approach.  

Seamless integration

Another feature that we love to harp on about is how Dynamics 365 CRM offers seamless integration with other products in the Microsoft ecosystem, including but not limited to, Office 365, Power BI, Teams, and Azure. But why does integration matter? A seamless connection of your CRM to your other software platforms and data sources drives efficiency. There is no hopping around from application to application, and workflows are streamlined, which is efficient and improves team collaboration. This cross-functional collaboration between sales and marketing has never been needed more than in today’s uber-competitive global marketplace. Speed, collaboration, efficiency, and agility are all the hallmarks of a successful winning team!  

Centralised CRM

Another core benefit that has yet to be mentioned is the way it offers a centralised customer data system and removing data vacuums or siloes. This central holding and flow of data around the organisation is critical for allowing sales and marketing to deliver personalised experiences, anticipate customer needs, and provide timely support, ultimately leading to higher customer satisfaction and better sales and marketing conversion and win rates.   Picture this: Your customer services agent logs customer enquiries on a separate database, but all that useful customer information is sitting on Joe’s spreadsheet in another drive. So, how can sales and marketing easily and quickly understand customers’ needs? Well, they can’t. They have to ask customer service and account managers for that detail. How much easier would it be if all support interactions with the customer service team were logged in their records?   Without this single source of truth, sales and marketing are in grave danger of misfiring their communications. In the best-case scenario, they mistakenly send irrelevant communications that the recipient finds annoying. In the worst case, they send communications that contradict the message told to them by customer service. Read more about why a single source of truth matters for business data.  

What customisation and configuration options are there in Dynamics 365 ?

Dynamics 365 CRM offers a wide range of customisation and configuration options that enable SMEs to tailor the platform to their exact needs. Whether that’s creating custom entities, fields, and workflows within the system, these workflows are critical for automating and streamlining your processes.   The high level of customisation offered by Microsft Dynamics 365 CRM makes it a winning interface and user experience. Your users won’t dread using the system. So long as they are appropriately trained, they will love their new CRM platform. From experience, folks say negative things about Dynamics 365 when the system has been poorly designed and poorly configured, which ultimately works against employees, not with them.  

 

Understanding the different modules and apps in Dynamics 365 CRM

Like many other mainstream CRMs, Dynamics 365 CRM consists of different modules and apps tailored to the various aspects of customer relationship management. Let’s start with the core module: sales. Dynamics 365 Sales helps businesses manage their sales pipeline, track leads and opportunities, and forecast sales revenue. As outlined earlier, this is jam-packed with AI tools that streamline processes and help the sales team focus on the most critical revenue-generating activity.   Dynamics 365 users can add to the Dynamics 365 Marketing module, which enables the marketing team to plan, create, and execute highly targeted marketing campaigns, track campaign performance, and generate leads. As we’ve mentioned, the integrated nature of the full suite means marketers can craft highly personalised campaigns that deliver better engagement and conversion rates.   Additionally, Dynamics 365 users can add the Dynamics 365 Customer Service module, designed to help businesses manage customer inquiries efficiently, track service requests, and provide timely support—better customer service results in greater customer loyalty and positive word of mouth.  

 

Understanding Dynamics 365 Licensing

Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides a multi-tiered licensing model which to the uninitiated can be a little overwhelming. Whilst choice and flexibility are great features of Dynamics 365, this wide choice can admittedly make it a little confusing, but a good partner can help you navigate the the options and ensure you get the best value.
Despite the wide choice, Dynamics 365 licensing is very flexible with mix and match options. Once key benefit is that  it’s based on on the functionality required, rather than how you access the system.
We have saved countless organisations thousands of pounds annually by helping them select the right licenses. If licensing has got your head in a spin, just speak to us by requesting a Dynamics 365  license review.  
 

Training employees on your Dynamics 365 CRM

Failing to train your employees on Dynamics 365 will not end well and is a fast way to CRM implementation failure. Alarmingly, this vital stage of the implementation process is often overlooked and not invested in enough.   It is critical to deliver training to your employees so they can confidently use the platform from the get-go. It also doesn’t harm to offer refresher training to users- as things do change, software releases can mean changes to features, functions, and interface representation.   Whether that’s one-to-one training, group workshops, in person or remote, you must be confident that your team has the knowledge and skills to navigate your new Dynamics 365 system.   It is advantageous to have a certified CRM training partner to upskill your teams. It is also advisable to appoint a ‘super user’ who can be a point of call for employees once that training has been completed. Read more about why Dynamics training is a smart more. Look for a Microsoft-certified partner for Dynamics 365 training and conduct thorough research. A good partner is worth its weight in gold! Find out how in this article. Why a good CRM partner is worth their weight in gold.    

 

How to implement Dynamics 365 CRM in your organisation

Implementing any CRM into your organisation requires careful planning and execution, whether replacing a legacy CRM or your first CRM platform.   CRM implementation is a complex topic that we have discussed at length in other articles. You may find some of the following articles helpful. How to implement a CRM system a 10 step guide How a CRM project should be managed   The 10 key areas of any CRM implementation project:

Step 1 – What are the goals and aims? 

If you are replacing a legacy CRM, is it a like-for-like change, or do you need an upgraded system? What pain points do you want to remove with this new system? And think about what good looks like to you. Also, consider how it will help you achieve your business goals and objectives. Alignment to your overarching strategy at an early stage is critical.

Step 2 – Identify your Processes  

Define what you want the CRM to fix in relation to your existing processes or do for you, and know which modules you will need. Is it just a simple sales CRM you need? Or do you need an all-encompassing sales, marketing, and customer service suite—all the bells and whistles?

Step 3 – Build your CRM team 

Consider who will be involved in the CRM implementation internally. Identify who will be responsible for this project and the budget. This is also known as a ‘project sponsor’ – more often, this is a senior decision maker. You will also need a project manager, the main point of contact and an individual responsible for ensuring everything stays on track; on time and budget. They’ll be the person who pulls together resources to make things happen and reports back to the project sponsor.  In addition, a system administrator or a ‘super user’ is also required. This person will become the CRM expert in-house once the system is live. Lastly, remember your end-users. They need to be involved in testing and know from their day-to-day activities what the system needs to do. So listen to what they have to say; listen to their woes!

Step 4 – Map out your processes 

Think about what your existing processes are and how you want them to be in the future with the help of this new system. You’re likely wanting to improve productivity and you will discover a number of ways to do this as you progress through the project and discover the tools available to you. By mapping out this overview of your processes, you’re more likely to get an end product that fits the bill.

Step 5 – Data Migration 

At a certain point in the project, you are going to have to move your data, and that means ALL relevant customer-focused data, whether they currently sit in separate systems, spreadsheets, or Google Sheets. This milestone also offers the perfect opportunity to clean up your data. A CRM cardinal sin is to import poor-quality data into your new system.  We also advise you to have your CRM partner carry out a trial data migration so you can flag and fix any issues before they become major issues in the go-live environment.

Step 6 – System integration 

Another technical aspect of the CRM implementation process is system integration, which requires you to consider what other systems you need your CRM to integrate with. Think about where you need to move data backwards and forwards from. Perhaps, you need your customer service module to link to your accounting system. You may want to link it to Microsoft Office or Google. It’s now standard practice to create this ‘single source of truth’.

Step 7 – Selecting a solution / partner 

When you’re ready to select your platform, there are many considerations to be made. Is it fit for purpose? Is it within budget? Is it good value for money? How and where will people use the system? Can we adapt and scale the system easily? What cost is associated with that? These are just examples of questions you need to ask this stage. We dive into the full list in this article; Choosing the best CRM for your business. If you decide to appoint a partner, then again, due diligence is paramount. Ensure they have the credentials, experience and skills to be able to support your type of business. And ensure you full understand what a CRM partner can do for your business.

Step 8 – Define project scope 

In this scoping phase, you will need to consider what features and functions need to be included. Look at your processes and the goals you set, then design the plan to achieve them—detail who is doing what and when. It is advisable to have a CRM partner or consultant to help you with this task, as you need to get it right. Getting the CRM project scope wrong can be a costly mistake. At this stage, a CRM partner often delivers a proof of concept system – a slimmed-down version of a possible end solution. This is vital for knowing that your partner/consultant has understood the brief fully and interpreted it accurately.  Sometimes, a partner/vendor creates a ‘minimal viable product’ or ‘MVP’ at this stagea working solution that people can use from day one in a live environment. It offers more functionality than the proof of concept.

Step 9 – Creating a user adoption plan

Another topic we are passionate about is user adoption. Poor user adoption is one of the major reasons that CRM projects fail. It is a wasted, costly investment if your employees do not use your new CRM as intended. There are many ways to reduce the risk of this type of failure. First, ensure you build a system for your users and then show them how to use it. Train them to navigate new processes and the new system easily. Listen to our podcast on user adoption – it’s an eye-opener.

 Step 10 – Testing 

Testing is vital. A good CRM partner will ensure your users thoroughly test your new system before your new CRM goes live. The objective is to find problems and system bugs and interrogate the platform as much as possible. At this point, we also recommend trial migrating your data; it makes the user testing process more effective and ‘real’. Once you have ironed out the issues, you are then in a position to go live. Congratulations!    

 

Best practices for using Dynamics 365 CRM effectively

We’ll finish with some basic rules that, based on our experience, will ensure you implement and use Dynamics 365 well:

  1. As we stated in the implementation section, set your goals and objectives. Be clear about what problems your new CRM is going to fix and ensure those align with your business objectives.
  2. Invest in training. Training is a crucial component of successful user adoption. There is zero sense in ploughing investment into a system that will not be used to its maximum potential.
  3. Data quality is a critical consideration. Wherever you are in your CRM journey, data matters. Data is the lifeblood of your system. Without it, the CRM is redundant. So look after it. Cleanse it, update it, and leverage it as best you can.
  4. Ongoing management. Remember that, as with all things business-related, things change. So, it’s no surprise that your CRM will have to change over time. What works for you right now may not be fit for purpose five years down the line. But, with careful adaption, you can ensure your flexible Dynamics 365 CRM continues to serve you well.
  5. Scalable, flexible, and powerful Dynamics 365 CRM is the full package and offers many benefits to SMEs to drive sustainable growth. It is perfect for growth-focused and ambitious smaller organisations.

This completes our Ultimate Guide to Microsoft Dynamics 365. To explore if Dynamics 365 could be the right CRM platform for your SME, contact us on 0808 167 4255.  

 

ABOUT ROCKET CRM

Rocket CRM is a Microsoft Dynamics 365, and a platinum ClickDimensions accredited partner, helping small to medium-sized businesses and charities harness the power of scalable CRM technology. Our mission is to make powerful CRM software simple with custom-built, user-focused solutions.

Website: rocketcrm.co.uk

Podcast: RocketPod

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