Mobility to Empower Sales – With Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

Written By: Michael Ramatowski, Ben Harrison and Rokas Varanavicius

from April 9, 2013

The last thing a salesperson wants to hear before walking into a customer’s office is, “Your company’s service is getting worse and worse by the day.  Yesterday’s shipment arrived late and on top of that … included the wrong items.”  That well-planned sixty minutes of precious fact-to-face time with a customer who is a perfect prospect for a new product or service will now be spent doing damage control.  Given the customer’s history and relationship with the organization; there was confidence in the ability to cross-sell into this account and make a big impact on the quota. The next grueling hour is spent trying to figure out what happened on an unplanned and uncomfortable conference call with the service department – from the customer’s office.  Attempts are made to chase down information and develop an on-the-fly plan to keep the customer happy.  If only these issues were known before hand, the impact to the customer could have been minimized sooner and more a productive meeting could have been held as planned.

Having access to everything about a customer or prospect’s relationship with the organization is what Microsoft calls a “holistic view.”  A holistic view assures that every team member is informed about all interactions between the organization and the customer which is one of the most impactful benefits Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers.

The challenge for sales people is having access to that holistic view when and where needed.  Compiling information is great, but its value is greatly diminished if salespeople can only access it from the office or if getting to the data remotely is slow and cumbersome.  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 includes significant enhancements around “mobility.”   Now, customer-facing team members can be better prepared and have convenient remote access to critical information wherever it is needed.   Empowered with information, team members can plan a strategy for each meeting and stick to it rather than being blown off course and losing control.

Enhanced mobility features to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 will be released in stages over Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 of 2013.   The following features described based on current information available at the time of writing this article and are subject to change.

Cross Browser Support
Microsoft has incorporated cross-browser functionality in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 with its Polaris release, offering users access to live information and a great user experience over a variety of devices and browsers.  The chart below details the latest information regarding platforms and browsers supported.  The minimum screen resolution required to access Microsoft Dynamics CRM on a device is 800×600.

Cross-browser functionality is free, requires no installation on the mobile device and presents information through a rich user interface with the same look and feel as the current Internet Explorer version.  Powerful features including Dashboards, BING Maps imbedded to customer records, and a “flatter” user interface to deliver a Microsoft Office 13 look and feel are included with this version.

For CRM users with an unsupported device, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Mobile Express delivers Microsoft Dynamics CRM information through an HTML 4.0 application.  This web-based solution requires no installation and includes a UI configurator, so the application can be configured to the unique needs of an organization’s users with out-of-the-box tools and functionality.  Microsoft is moving towards the HTML 5 platform which will expand access and native support as well as full functionality to more devices moving forward.

Windows 8 Application
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 will include a Windows 8 application that has alert notifications to prompt users when action is required of them – mobile charts and dashboards, activity feeds, and the Windows 8 look and feel.

Other Mobility Options
Organizations that require more robust mobility features can leverage Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) who offer add-on functionality for smart client support for iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Windows phones and tablets.  Other powerful features include the ability to utilize in-app web browsing allowing users can utilize resources like SharePoint, web applications, and internet websites as part of their mobile experience.  Some ISV’s offer the ability to work on- or off-line.

Process Controls
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 includes a Process Control Customization Tool – empowering organizations to define critical activities that must be completed in each sales phase of an opportunity before the opportunity can progress to the next phase.  The tool guides on-the-go users through the sales process – checking off activities as they are completed to reinforce the organization’s selling process and foster consistency in forecasting.  Powerful Lync and Skype integrations offer users who work with a laptop or PC the ability to connect a call and record a record of it in Microsoft Dynamics CRM with one simple click.

The mobility features in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 will help organizations avoid disastrous sales meetings like the one described above.  Armed with information, sales people can increase their effectiveness while working away from the office – and while in front of customers and prospects.  Enhanced efficiency, increased sales, and higher customer satisfaction results will further increase the value that Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 delivers to its users.