Improvements we are Hoping to see in Dynamics 365 for Sales
Dynamics 365 for Sales has been on my mind lately and the role that technology plays in evolving the sales arena. Over the past 20 years, I have worked with various sales applications including Maximizer, Goldmine, Act! Sales Logics, SugarCRM, Pivotal, and Salesforce.com, as well as bespoke applications built for specific industries such as banking and training.
Of course, I couldn’t talk about these applications without mentioning that the main sales application I have worked with since 2003 is Microsoft Dynamics. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I am a Microsoft fanboy. I have worked with Microsoft technology since my first IBM compatible PC ran on MS-DOS.
Let me say the following with this backdrop in mind considering my 20 years of experience working with Microsoft Partners and have explicitly dedicated my career to Microsoft Business Applications.
What has happened to Innovation in Dynamics 365 for Sales?
If you spin up a trial of Dynamics 365 for Sales today, is it much different than 20 years ago?
Let’s put aside what you get out of the box with the Power Platform, including the user interface (UI), Flow, PowerApps, Business Process Flow, Dashboards, Views, and Charts. Strip everything out that is provided with the platform, even the integration to Office 365 Applications and Azure.
Without installing add-ons, either by Microsoft or ISVs, we are left with the following when it comes to Dynamics 365 for Sales:
- Sales Territory
For reference on what Dynamics was like in the early days this, you can check out this book written by John Gravely and Laura Brown.
In this list, I have left out what is considered CORE, that is:
- Phone Call
Account and Contact
Sales have evolved massively in recent years. Let’s take social sales as an example.
Account and Contact records still perform their initial function of allowing you to store and retrieve data about legal entities – living and breathing people. But when looking at the out of the box fields in these two entities, a huge gap I see is that there are ZERO references to anything about Social in today’s context. Not a single field on the Account references a company LinkedIn URL, Twitter Account, or Facebook Page.
On a Contact, there is no reference to a person’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram Account. I expect the argument is “Well there are so many social media addresses one can have, we can’t have a field for everything.”
My answer to that would be that a clear few have risen to the top of the pile, and apart from unique players in China and maybe Russia (which could be mitigated with a label change), there’s an opportunity to add fields to capture the key ones.
On these two entities, we see fields persisting like Address 1: Fax, Assistant, Assistant Phone, Gender, Manager, Marital Status, Spouse Name and FTP Site that I expect is used by less than .1% of the install base.
Account and Contact records could be so much more diverse in the way we model people and legal entities in a modern world.
Quote – Order – Invoice – Product Catalogue
These entities have had little change over time apart from some work done on the Product Catalogue a few years ago. Feedback from users has always been that an excessive number of ‘clicks’ are needed to do anything remotely productive, and in my experience, these entities have never been used widely across businesses.
I think they could be done right, but it would need a team to stand up and look at this part of with fresh eyes and ask the question: what does a modern business or even better – the business of the future look like in respect to this part of sales software?
Most Dynamics implementation consultants only know this part of the system exists in theory, as they have studied it to pass a Microsoft exam; very few would have used it practically.
Opportunity and Lead
I will admit that the Opportunity entity has had a little love recently with the added ability to represent sales stakeholders, but that’s about it. We have been stuck with a ridged close out process until very recently.
We live in a modern world of sales, the concept of an opportunity has changed so much. For example, what role does e-commerce play? What about sales that reoccur from month to month like Software as a Service (SaaS) software, or sales that are sold at a point in time but realized over a period.
This is just the start of the thinking that needs to be done to transform the concept of opportunity.
If we look at Leads, let’s first put aside the debate as to if they are necessary at all when one could use the Contact entity.
I do think we need a “clean up” data area that Leads is often used for. However once again sales have changed, and now we have a much better understanding of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs).
We have multiple ways data can enter the system from an integration perspective when we consider sales, but this has not had any changes to the Lead entity from yesteryear.
Where is the chatbot integrated directly to sales to notify sales reps that their customer is engaging on one of the company’s digital asset such as Facebook, LinkedIn or their website?
There are so many ways this could be improved.
Considerations for the future of Sales Software
I think the following is needed:
- Dynamics 365 for Sales need to hit refresh and carry out research with a growth mindset
- Modern communication patterns should be incorporated into Dynamics 365 for Sales
- Social sales need to be embedded into the core of Dynamics 365 for Sales
- Modern Communication channels need to be standard – WeChat, WhatsApp, Hangouts, and Messenger
- Research and redesign to allow ISVs to take Dynamics 365 for Sales and create industry targeted extensions
To wrap this up, I have the following outstanding questions:
1. Why is Dynamics 365 for Sales not the most sought after salesforce automation tool in the world?
Dynamics 365 For Sales has not Changed in 20 Years… Why?
3. How could a redesign of Dynamics 365 for Sales not only be targeted at enterprise and mid-market but SMB as well?
I would love to see your ideas in the comments.
How would you redesign Dynamics 365 for Sales?