The sales pipeline: for most Dynamics 365 for Sales users, it consists of a list of accounts, opportunity forms, and maybe a list of standard activities for each phase of the pipeline.
But there are literally dozens of technologies to aid sales managers, reps and marketers with generating better leads, improving win rates, accelerating deals and expanding margins. If you’re not using them, then you’re like a carpenter that isn’t using power tools.
In this article we’ll take a quick look at a few of the more important solutions (you can see some categories on the nearby image) to further automate your selling process.
Lists, Research and Sales Intelligence
Finding and qualifying leads is critical for any sales process. Options for building lists and enhancing them with data include:
- LinkedIn Sales Navigatorwhich now integrates with many CRM solutions and is now much more than just a social network of business contacts
- Proven generalists such as Demandbase – which integrates with most CRM solutions
- Emerging AI solutions that capture contacts and notes during conversations and add them to your CRM solution for you, such as Microsoft’s Viva Sales
- On top of these, there are numerous industry specific databases ranging from new construction starts, to restaurants, hospitals and government projects going out to bid. Whatever your industry is, there’s at least one custom database that you should be exploring and integrating into your CRM.
- And don’t overlook other public sources such as local business lists, press releases and more.
- Fully leveraging these might require an individual dedicated to data analysis to enter, research and cleanse data (if you don’t have one on your team, make sure you partner with someone who does).
Record Import Solutions
Got a list of leads from one of the above sources or from a recent trade show? The next step is to get it imported into CRM. The problem is that the native import features either import everything (including duplicate records) or nothing (duplicates are blocked, but they may contain additional important information). Import solutions include:
- ClickDimensions – if you’re already using ClickDimensions, you have a powerful data import solution that can import and enrich data.
- If you regularly need to import or sync data, you should consider an integration solution such as KingswaySoft, Tibco Scribe or one of the many other integration solutions.
The leads that convert at the highest rates are the ones who are looking for your services. To find them, you need a great content marketing strategy (blogs, social posts, webinars, events and public speaking, etc), an excellent website, search engine optimization, referrals, partners, pay per click campaigns and excellent networking processes.
- At the heart of all of this is a create marketing automation platform (MAP). ClickDimensions and Dynamics 365 for Marketing are both excellent choices, but tend to appeal to different sizes of company.
- Companies often overlook their employees as a great source of referrals, or they tend to make it difficult to track them. A simple solution built with a Microsoft Form integrated with Dynamics 365 for Sales can be all it takes to accelerate your referral engine.
- If you sell through partners and you don’t have a partner portal, you’re missing an enormous opportunity to expand your pipeline. Using Power Pages you can quickly create a lead-sharing portal.
Most marketing departments generate far more leads than the sales team can possibly follow-up. And sales teams want to focus their time on the leads that will deliver the greatest bang-for-the buck.
- Marketing qualification starts with good data. Remember to do a good job with the items under Lists, Research and Sales Intelligence to capture good data.
- Then expand on this data with all the data you capture through your MAP (in the Lead Generation section), including: email opens, clicks, page visits, download requests and more.
- Qualifying leads can be a matter of simple rules-based triggers (ie “if a lead requests a call from a rep, qualify it” or “if a dormant lead downloads a new white paper, qualify it”), which can be managed with Power Automate.
- More sophisticated statistical scoring can be used for large lead lists. ClickDimensions includes lead scoring, as does Dynamics 365 for Sales (be sure you have the right version).
Sales Qualification and Pipeline
Now those precious leads are in the hands of the sales team. But they need further qualification and nurturing to get them through the pipeline. Sales skills are critical, but they’re not enough in today’s world.
- Reps will want to know who in the organization already knows the contacts they are reaching out to. The Who Knows Whom functionality can be a huge boost to early stage relationships.
- Your marketing team is creating great collateral. It should be stored in SharePoint and made available on user desktops via OneDrive Sync.
- The opportunity form should be carefully configured, including one or more business process flows to prompt sales reps through a simple but thorough return engineering process.
- Remember when we talked about lead scoring earlier in this article? Well if you have a large pipeline of opportunities, it works for them too and can help your sales team with prioritizing their work. You can further enhance this with Relationship Analytics to understand the health of every opportunity in the pipeline.
- A sales cadencing solution is a great way to reduce the administrative workload on your sales team, and maximize their time talking to prospects and customers. The Sales Accelerator (part of Dynamics 365 for Sales) is a good option. Third party cadencing solutions exist, but none of them (that I am aware of) integrate well with Dynamics 365 at this time.
- And when you combine Dynamics 365 with telephony, such as what is available in Microsoft Teamsyou can use Conversation Intelligence throughout the sales lifecycle to capture important information and provide real-time coaching to reps.
But Wait … There’s More
All of this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what you can do with the Microsoft product line and third party applications.
Where is best place to start? Great question, and the answer depends on which parts of the process are the biggest gaps for you. The correct answer is never, “turn them all on and let’s see how it goes.” Be strategic. Evaluate your processes and gaps. Choose a single area and start a cadence where you will introduce new approaches on a quarterly or bi-annual basis.
Want to dive deeper and ask questions in an open forum? Join us on on Sep 14 at 1pm EDT for a webinar (or signup to get a link to the recording). Click here.
Want some help with prioritizing and planning sales process automation tools? Contact C5 Insight today.