As a Vice President of Sales, I’m always on the lookout for ways to better enable my high-performing sales team to be just that–high performing. I’m a big proponent of personal coaching as well as skill- and behavior-based training. However, these days you can’t ignore technology as a big part of maximizing your sales team’s efficiency. So, I’d be remiss to not check out Microsoft’s newest contender for sales automation, called Microsoft Dynamics 365. (Of course, it helps that we’re a big Dynamics partner and get access to the latest and greatest stuff!)

At eimagine, we’ve been using Microsoft Dynamics as our CRM system for years. Dynamics 365 represents the next evolution in Microsoft’s Dynamics series of products. Basically, Dynamics 365 is a unified cloud service to help run different areas of your business such as project management, finance, customer service, and–of course–sales. I took a look at the sales side of things recently, and wanted to share my thoughts…

First Impressions

My first impressions? Dynamics 365 is very familiar. Some items have been moved around, but users of Dynamics CRM or CRM Online will feel right at home with the navigation and layout. But don’t let that fool you. Behind the scenes, there are some fantastic new features and improvements I noticed. Here are a few of my favorites.

Search Done Right

Searching across different types of records is nothing new for Dynamics. However, it’s been revamped for Dynamics 365, and they’re calling it “Relevance Search.” First of all, it provides one unified list of results instead of the multi-column list of prior version. It also gives you a new set of filters to find the records you’re looking for quickly. It’s a great addition to quickly filter by entity type, owner and date so you can narrow down your choices. Entities are even color-coded so it’s easy to distinguish between types of records in the single list.

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It’s In The Details

Microsoft rounded out their prior offering by adding some small, but great, details. There are a lot of these in Dynamics 365. For example, it now displays how long a deal has been sitting in a business process stage. This is something that is not easily tracked in past versions of CRM, though it can be very important for ensuring deals don’t get stale. Similarly, you can see how long the sales process as a whole has been active. In addition, the Command Bar button have been re-ordered, which helps put the most useful actions right in front of you. It’s little things like this that make the system easier to understand, train and use.

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Insightful Data

Incorporating InsideView for company data and research was a great move made by Microsoft in prior versions of CRM. However, in my experience it could be a little clunky to use. In Dynamics 365, it has the same great abilities but has been completely streamlined. It feels more like a built-in part of the system rather than an add-on. It’s easier than ever to sync data to your records and research what’s going on with your top prospects at a glance.

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Smart Assistance

The new Relationship Assistant feature is without a doubt the coolest thing I’ve seen in Dynamics 365. It’s a “virtual assistant” that helps you manage your accounts, prospects, etc. For example, it might pop up and remind you if you haven’t had any activity with a customer in a certain amount of time, and recommend actions for you to do. It comes with a lot of great features out of the box, and you can fully configure it based on your needs. For those who might be familiar, it reminds me of “Google Now” cards, but driven directly by your sales data. For me, this can replace a lot of administrative work gathering status updates with sales reps and maintaining custom workflows to generate reminders. This is definitely a game changer! I can’t wait to explore it in more detail.

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Clearly, I didn’t do an exhaustive deep-dive into Dynamics 365… But maybe you have. Tell me your new favorite features in comments below. Or, I’m always up for a talk on sales process automation. Look me up if you want to have a conversation!

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