Thursday, April 06, 2006

Analyzing your Microsoft CRM Sales Pipeline

Having worked with lots of different sales organizations over the years I've observed that, among other characteristics, effective sales organizations constantly review and analyze their sales pipeline. They're never satisfied just to implement a sales methodology and hope it all works out; they're constantly reviewing the pipeline and figuring out where to make adjustments.

Of course, finding the right analytical toolset, training your sales managers in it, can be challenging. Luckily, Microsoft CRM 3.0 offers some terrific out-of-the-box solutions. One of my favorites is dynamically linking Microsoft Excel to CRM and analyzing sales pipeline data in pivot tables. To the uninitiated it may sound difficult, but the truth is ... nothing could be easier. (well, other than doing nothing and selling less).

Follow along with the instructions below to see how easy this is in Microsoft CRM 3.0:

1. In the Microsoft CRM Sales for Outlook client, click Advanced Find in the CRM toolbar.
2. In the Look for list, select Opportunities. I generally review open and historical opportunities together, but if you want to limit opportunities in any way, do so here using select clauses.
3. Click Find.
4. Click the Microsoft Excel icon in the Advanced Find toolbar.
5. In the Export Data to Excel dialog box, click Dynamic PivotTable, and then click Select Columns. Select the fields of data you're interested in reviewing. If you're following along with me, select Owner, Potential Customer, Status, and Total Amount.
6. Click OK.
7. Click Export, and then click Open.
8. In the Query Refresh dialog, click Enable automatic refresh.
9. Using the PivotTable Field List dialog box, drag Total Amount to Drop Data Items Here, Owner to Drop Page Fields Here, Status to Drop Row Fields Here, and Potential Customer just to the right of Owner.

Now, each time you open this worksheet in Microsoft Excel, your data will be dynamically updated from Microsoft Excel. The power, of course, is the flexibility users have in selecting the data they want to analyze. The permutations are endless, but the results are almost always the same: a stronger, better organized and understood sales pipeline.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Integrating Microsoft CRM with the new Windows Desktop Search

Question: How often do you or your Microsoft CRM users open up CRM each day to search for a phone number or an e-Mail address?

Answer: A lot.

It's very easy to forget when you're steeped in the complex functionality of Microsoft CRM, that users use Microsoft CRM on a minute-by-minute basis to access important but simple information. For me, for example, Microsoft CRM is my roledex. I need a phone number, an address, an e-Mail address, I go into Microsoft CRM.

As improved the number-per-clicks-per-action ratio is in 3.o vs. 1.2, it still can take users 3 - 4 clicks to get something as simple as a phone number. Multiply that by the number of times users need to look up information daily, you quickly grasp the size of the issue I'm talking about. Luckily, there's a GREAT solution.

Joris Kalz, a PSM for Microsoft in Germany, made available a terrific integration between the new Windows Desktop Search (WDS) and Microsoft CRM 3.0. I've implemented it internally at Solutions Consulting Group and we love it. First, WDS is awesome! It's actually a terrific tool, and I like it much better than Google Desktop. Secondly, Jori's integration to Microsoft CRM 3.0 is seamless and quick. You can download instructions and source currently on Joris's blog here. I highly recommend it. Here's a look ....

Monday, April 03, 2006

Microsoft releases CRM 3.0 Mobile

Microsoft released CRM 3.0 Mobile today ...

Unfortunately, CRM 3.0 Mobile only supports GPRS, which means, for example, Treo 700w users such as myself on Verizon can't sync via Verizon's broadband network. Verizon supports EV-DO, which is much faster than GPRS.

Knowing Microsoft, I'm sure they had good business reasons to do this ... I just haven't a clue what they are. The Treo 700 is a blackberry-killer. I should know - I've had mine for a few months now and I love it. My e-Mail, appointments, contacts, and tasks sync wirelessly where ever I am. Sync-ing wirelessly like this, versus in a cradle, is an ENORMOUS deal. It's so much easier and convenient. The thought of CRM 3.0 Mobile on a Treo 700 synced wirelessly had my heart pounding - we'd sell em' like hotcakes. Oh well.

Nonetheless, I'm still excited to get CRM 3.0 Mobile installed and our salespeople using it. I'll put out updates on how our implementation of it goes.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

"Notes from the Field" Begins ...

I've been considering doing a blog on Microsoft CRM, but there'd seemed to be a lot of terrific ones out their on the subject, so I hesitated. A good number of those blogs are from members of the CRM development team and are packed with great information and terrific technical insights. Yet, their focus is on making Microsoft CRM a great product, whilst I (and, lest I forget, my incredible colleagues at SCG) are focused on making Microsoft CRM work for our clients. And, as I suspect you've guessed, making CRM "work for our clients" isn't even half the time about getting it installed properly, cleaning out the errors, and setting up the bells and whistles. It's about making sure Microsoft CRM does what it's designed to do ... make businesses work better.

And to do that, you need a person like me who's personally implemented Microsoft CRM umpteen (technical term) times and works with Microsoft CRM customers everyday to help realize its full potential. And let me tell you, there's a whole lot of potential. Microsoft CRM 3.0 is an incredible product/tool/system; it's a Ferrari, no doubt about it. You just need a greasy-hand'd Ferrari mechanic like me to help you out.

So - there's the experience I'm trying to capture, and hopefully along the way, pass on some valuable information to any folks who are interested to listen. "Notes from the Field" people is what it's all about.