By Pat Hinds
I was working with one of my customers and training their staff on a roll-out of a Microsoft Dynamics Sales Force Automation/Customer Relationship Management software application. This is the customer’s second iteration of the application and the response of sales people was very positive. The company did a great job of structuring the account information and preloading the data to make it efficient for the sales reps to query the information. The customer also built a solid framework to allow for easy input of funnel data and allow the managers to view the data.
The one weakness that I saw in this implementation was the way that the customer contact data was managed. The customer left all the contact data in Microsoft Outlook and the rep is expected to sync the data between Outlook and Dynamics with the sync feature. The sync works fine, but the rep now needs to manage two databases of customer contact information. The three key areas of a sales-based CRM are account, contact, and opportunity management; as a result it is key that all three areas need to be well thought out and fully implemented prior to launch.
It is my recommendation that companies consider taking MS outlook out of the sales organization and rely exclusively on the CRM for contact management. This will allow companies to associate a customer and prospect contact information directly with an account record allowing for more effective customer relationship management. This strategy will not be without its challenges as Microsoft Outlook and Exchange features are used on a daily basis and integrated in many company processes. When you implement a CRM you need to make a decision as to what is your long term strategy, Outlook or your CRM, and which application will have the long term impact on your sales productivity.