How Deep Is Your Love…
Regular readers of my blog have probably noticed a distinct lack of activity over the last 6 months. The reason is very simple. The whole Microsoft UK Dynamics sales team (myself included) have been incredibly busy selling CRM into the Enterprise & Corporate market. Here in the UK we closed out our financial year at the end of June slightly over budget, with my own sector (Financial Service, which includes Banking, Insurance & Capital Markets customers) 130% over budget.
I have been in my current pre-sales role for a little over six years now (since CRM 3.0 was in beta in fact), and although I can’t divulge any names I can tell you that collectively, three of the biggest UK financial institutions now have almost 40,000 seats of Microsoft Dynamics CRM deployed. It is particularly gratifying since all of these organisations were existing Oracle & Salesforce.com customers, and yet we were able to come in and demonstrate some real differentiation to win the day.
I get asked quite often, how we are able to win these extremely large, strategic deals, and although the sales cycle is usually pretty lengthy (6-9 months typically), it really does come down to a few simple propositions, which I call the “Five Ps”.
- Productivity – The number one reason every time is the power of a fully integrated CRM capability in the number one business productivity tool. Although I get a little bored of demoing the CRM for Outlook features at almost every customer meeting I go to, it never ceases to amaze me how profound an impact this has on the day-to-day effectiveness of business folks using CRM. Yes, I know that you really mustn’t use the minimum desktop spec if you actually want to get work done, but take a fairly up-to-date machine with dual-core processor and 4GB of RAM (most hardware from the last 4 years meets this spec.), running Windows 7 and IE8 (or even better IE9), and you have the ultimate Line of Business tool.
- Products – I usually joke with my team that I can pretty much walk into a customer, take a look at what Microsoft software they have/haven’t deployed, then predict with a high degree of accuracy if they are likely to purchase Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Although we would like every company to use our product, the truth is we have made some strategic bets on other Microsoft technologies (Office, SharePoint, Lync, SQL, Exchange, Active Directory etc.) so that we don’t have to build those capabilities ourselves. For customers who choose not to invest in the rest of our stack, selling CRM is an order of magnitude more difficult. Conversely, the more of these products a customer has, the more compelling the argument “Why Wouldn’t You Buy Microsoft Dynamics CRM?”.
- Price – Even though prices in the UK went up on July 1st to make up for the ever-changing Sterling/EURO exchange rates caused, in part, by devaluation quantitative easing by the Bank of England (p.s. that is my personal opinion and not that of my employer etc., blah, blah, blah…), but even so, we’re still “as-cheap-as-chips” when compared with Oracle & Salesforce.com. Even the biggest financial services companies in the world like a bargain.
- Platform – Once customer get over the initial Outlook/Stack/Price euphoria, and settle into a more cynical state of mind, I usually bring out my secret weapon. “The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Platform”. Yes folks, who would have guessed that Microsoft knows how to build world-class platforms? If you compare this with something like Force.com (the Salesforce.com underlying platform), we really do have a massive advantage. Now it get’s a bit techie at this point, so I won’t go into the detail here, but suffice to say I rarely lose the platform argument.
- Pre-Sales – I’m not really blowing my own trumpet here (honest), but having a passionate, enthusiastic, knowledgeable pre-sales resource who can handle themselves equally well in front of a C-level exec as they can in front of enterprise technical architect (and all points in between) is a must-have. Ultimately people buy from people, and because nobody trusts a salesperson (hey, their job is extract money from customers), it really is down to pre-sales to establish the notion of “Trusted Advisor”. Pre-sales is a discipline in its own right, with its own particular (some would argue, peculiar) skills, and more often than not this should be a full time role. Just taking a great CRM implementation consultant off-the-bench and expecting them to be a great CRM pre-sales consultant is, more often than not, a recipe for disaster.
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