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How Partners Can Add Value to Office 365 Services with Dynamics CRM

As Microsoft partners look for new ways to build their service value with Office 365 customers, adding Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online support services is a natural progression.

For those partners whose focus has been on infrastructure services, it's a big transition. To bring the full value of Dynamics CRM Online to your customers, business process guidance should be a part of the services you deliver.

Build Your Expertise and Focus
As with all business applications, Dynamics CRM Online requires a commitment of time and money to build your expertise. Dynamics CRM Online includes sales, service, marketing and social functionality, so there is a lot to learn.

By leveraging other partners, you don't have to master it all at once and you can build your expertise over time. Take a systematic approach to get started on the right path.

  • Use it in your business. As part of their Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) benefits, all gold and silver competency partners have access to internal use rights of Dynamics CRM Online. Check the MPN Web site for program specifics. As with any solution, you will better understand its strengths and limitations when you use it yourself.

  • Invest in training. There are multiple levels of Dynamics CRM certifications that you can achieve (again, check the MPN site for details). When you have decided what is right for you, encourage everyone on your team to learn about the product so that they will recognize opportunities.

  • Participate in the CRM community. There are several active Dynamics CRM communities that provide excellent sources for training, as well connections for partnering. The Dynamics CRM User Group Community (CRMUG) serves both customers and partners and hosts an annual conference; the 2014 event is coming up soon.¬†Another event this month is eXtremeCRM in Las Vegas.

  • Partner to get started. You can build your expertise by working with a partner in your area. Of course, there has to be something in it for the other partner. You could bring them the opportunities when development work is needed or hand over opportunities that are above your skill set. By helping them grow their business, it's a win-win.

  • Build a vertical expertise. A common practice for Dynamics CRM partners has been to take configurations built for a single customer and roll it out to an industry. The opportunities for Dynamics CRM run across the organization. For a primer on the many ways that Dynamics CRM can be used, check out the whitepaper, "24 Wildly Creative Ways Companies Use Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Drive Revenue and Serve Customers."

Lessons Learned from Dynamics ERP Partners
When Microsoft's CRM solution was originally released in 2002 (remember version 1.2), Dynamics ERP partners led the introduction to the market. Much has changed since those early days, but there are still lessons to be learned from those who made the mistakes of transitioning to the new line of business.

Three important lessons that ERP partners learned the hard way included:

  • The decision makers you currently work with are not likely to introduce you to the sales team. Microsoft sales teams and Dynamics ERP partners mistakenly thought that their connections in the accounting department would be easy to expand. They depended on those relationships to open the doors to the sales department. While you may get lucky, your marketing should not be dependent on warm introductions.

  • Adoption is critically important to implementation success. The success of a Dynamics CRM implementation depends on the centralization of all customer data. If only some of the sales teams are using it, it's doomed.

  • Training, training, training. Aligned to the last point, training is critical. Yes, Dynamics CRM Online is easy to use, but old habits are hard to break. Your customers need to be told upfront how important user training is for the business to realize the full value of Dynamics CRM.

As a gateway onto the business process consulting world, Dynamics CRM provides a great opportunity. Your business is built on service, so Dynamics CRM really is a natural progression for your business growth. You've walked in those shoes and, with the right preparation, can bring tremendous value to your customers.

How are you bringing new value to your clients? Add a comment below or send me an e-mail and let's share your story.

Posted by Barb Levisay on October 01, 2014 at 1:06 PM