Friday, September 12, 2014

Seeing Your CRM 2011 System in CRM 2013

If you are running CRM 2011 and are starting to think it is time to migrate to CRM 2013, there is a quick way to see what it will look like and to see if any of those tricky customizations will break. Minimal technical knowledge is required and it gives you the chance to review the system and document the issues before getting those expensive consultants involved.

Step One: Spin up a 30 Day Trial

The first thing we need is a CRM 2013 environment for us to review. These days this is quite easy and will also give you access to all the Office 365 goodness to try out as well. Start here and follow the prompts. The process used to be a little awkward, jumping between Office 365 and CRM, but this has been improved a lot in the last week or so. In about five screens, you will have an Office 365 account and a CRM Online trial instance.

Provisioning also used to take a few minutes but, on this occasion, it was almost instantaneous.


Step Two: Create a Solution File in Your Existing CRM 2011 Instance

This is the most technical step but still reasonably straightforward. Log into CRM as someone with the System Administrator role and go to Settings-Solutions and click the New button.


This record will contain all the bits and pieces of our system we want to review in CRM 2013 (once we add them in).

Give it a sensible display name and (non-display) name, add in a publisher (the default one is fine) and put in a version, say, 1.0, then hit the Save button. You should have something like this:


You now go through and, for each component type, add in the bits you want to try out. A good place to start is Entities (the different record types in your system). Pick the key entities you want to bring into 2013 e.g. Accounts, Contacts, Activities etc. When you add then in, a message box may open up referring to dependencies. Add these into the solution as well.

If you are unsure about all the other stuff, just stick to entities and you will be fine. If you want to remove a component from your solution, use the Remove button, NOT the delete button, otherwise you will delete the entity from your system!

Step Three: Export Your Solution

When you are finished, click the Export Solution button and follow the prompts, publishing and adding in any other required components. The system will sit and done nothing for a few seconds and then give you a zip file to save. This is your system (without the data).

Step Four: Import the Solution File Into Your CRM 2013 Instance

CRM 2013 is compatible with CRM 2011 solution files (mostly) so it is a case of getting past the smiling lady on the pop up screen and going to Settings (now up the top of the screen).


Then to Solutions.


Here you can import your solution by hitting the Import button. Again, follow the prompts and, if everything goes ok it will load in your system (maybe with some warnings, which you can ignore). If it errors, this is probably the end of the road as there is something complex in your solution file which the conversion cannot handle.

Assuming it has gone in though, close down the browser, re-open and get back to CRM 2013 and you should see your system in the new environment.


I am involved in a few upgrades for clients at the moment and, while the actual upgrade involves a lot more than the above procedure, if you want to get an idea the look and feel and whether specific customisations will translate to the new environment, this is a great non-invasive way to do it.

This is also a great way, as a consultant, to get people exited about upgrading and can be done easily in less than half an hour while on site. Within an hour you can migrate the system and set up a couple of users for the client to log in as and explore. Enjoy.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Salesforce: Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

Another three months has passed and another set of results are available for review. In the previous analysis, I predicted how Salesforce would fare. I did not do that this time but will have a go for next quarter. Also, I will use my newly discovered method for predicting the Salesforce subscription numbers in this review.

The Numbers

Salesforce have revamped their web site, including the financials, removing the historical financials PDF which was increasingly out of date. Five years of financial data are available, eight years of annual reports and the SEC filings.

Here are the numbers for most recent five quarters.

  2014 Q2 2014 Q3 2014 Q4 2015 Q1 2015 Q2
Revenue 957,094 1,076,034 1,145,242 1,226,772 1,318,551
Subscription Revenue 902,844 1,004,476 1,075,001 1,147,306 1,232,587
Revenue Cost 217,717 268,187 273,530 292,305 307,831
Operating Cost 779,234 905,778 975,458 989,808 1,044,154
Salesforce Income 76,603 -124,434 -103,746 -96,911 -61,088
Revenue Growth # yoy 225,445 287,636 310,561 334,139 361,457
Revenue Growth % yoy 31% 36% 37% 37% 38%
Revenue Growth % mom 7% 12% 6% 7% 7%
Total Cost % yoy 34% 39% 46% 37% 36%
Staff 12,571 12,770 13,312 14,239 15,145
Staff Growth (yoy) 43% 37% 36% 38% 20%
Margin 8.00% -11.56% -9.06% -7.90% -4.63%
Growth Difference -3% -3% -9% 1% 2%
Cash 579,881 651,750 781,635 827,891 774,725
Accounts Receivable 599,543 604,045 1,360,837 684,155 834,323
Cash/AR 97% 108% 57% 121% 93%

Staff growth is significantly down, to about half of the rate previously, which is very surprising. one to watch.

As for profits, they made a 61 million dollar loss which, apart from that one quarter where they got a tax break, means Salesforce has not made a profit for three years.


With a strong correlation of transactions to subscribers, I derived the formula:

Transactions = 150.27 * Subscribers – 40,000,000. So, for example, when there was 53 million transactions, back in September 2006, the predicted subscriber count is around 619,000. We know that the subscriber count at that time was around 556,000, which means we are about 10% off.

The trust page tells us the highest recent level of transaction was July 22, 2014 which had 2,037,819,946 transactions. This gives a subscriber count of 13.8 million. This is a LOT of subscribers but, if it is true, it means the average revenue per user per month is $32, which is not even a Sales Cloud Professional subscription. It also means that, on average, Salesforce loses just under $1.50 per subscriber per month.

Revenue and Cost Growth


Revenue growth remains solid and appears to be accelerating slightly. Salesforce have also got their revenue growth above their cost growth, which means they are heading back to profitability. In terms of the difference between the revenue growth and cost growth being 2% or more, this is the first time it has happened in about five years, so it will be interesting to see how this progresses next quarter. If they are not careful, it might become a habit.

In the above graph I have also added four-period moving averages. This is an average used to look for trends in movements. As can be seen, the moving average for Cost Growth has remained above the average for Revenue Growth for the last four years. However, now they are approaching and, if they cross in the future, it will be a good sign for Salesforce.

Cash and Accounts Receivable


Despite optimism about the decrease in Accounts Receivable and increase in Cash in the previous quarter, this trend has reversed this quarter, which is a pity. I also mentioned in the last review that historically, Cash ran above Accounts Receivable and now they seemed to be coming to a similar level. By adding in the four period moving averages, we see this to be the case. We also see that Accounts Receivable, for the first time has nudged above Cash in terms of the actual amounts and as an average. For me, this is not a good sign. As I mentioned last time, cash in the bank is a better asset than money owed to you by customers.

Earnings Call Buzzword Bingo

The rule is the words on the list have had ten or more mentions in the past five periods with the text used being the call transcript after the introduction and up to, but not including, questions.

  2014 Q2 2014 Q3 2014 Q4 2015 Q1 2015 Q2
Number of words 3500 3700 3700 2400 4731
Customers/Customer 40 39 25 22 38
Revenue 37 37 29 19 27
Cloud 23 31 14 15 22
ExactTarget 24 21 15 7 8
Platform(s) 19 21 12 10 13
Service 14 19 13 13 15
Sales 14 16 4 6 6
Growth 12 14 12 9 18
Marketing 12 12 11 5 10
Cash 10 10 16 10 11
Mobile 11 7 5 2 8
Operating 9 7 10 11 11
Enterprise(s) 6 7 3 8 10
Social 9 6 3 2 4
EPS 10 5 6 6 6
Salesforce1 0 0 11 6 7
Dreamforce         11

Quite the word-fest this call, with CEO Marc Benioff, President Keith Block, Executive VP Graham Smith, and CFO Mark Hawkins all speaking.

Dreamforce is a new term this quarter (it is coming up in October, so this makes sense). Social has dropped off the radar, presumably because Salesforce is no longer the Social Enterprise. Similarly, EPS (Earnings Per Share) is falling out of favour as a measure for the earnings calls. The three most popular words, as usual are “Customer(s)”, “Revenue”, and “Cloud”.

One phrases of note: “running their entire business right from their phone” (two mentions). This is Marc’s vision of the future. Run it from your wristwatch, I say.

One word conspicuous in its absence was ‘profit’. It was not mentioned in the transcript once, nor in the question and answer session.

Google Trends

As usual, I pump “Dynamics CRM” and “” into the Google Trends analyser and see what comes out.


Red is “” and blue is “Dynamics CRM”. Dynamics CRM is flattening out while continues to drop.

Insider and Institutional Sales

According to Yahoo, this is how we stand, in terms of insider and institutional sales.

  2014 Q2 2014 Q3 2014 Q4 2015 Q1 2015 Q2
Insider Sales 0.50% 0.50% 0.50% 0.50% 0.40%
Institutional Sales 3% 2.75% 2.72% 2.71% 2.67%

It seems, in both cases, while shares are being offloaded, the rate it is happening is slowing down. Perhaps attitudes are changing towards the future of the stock.

Looking to the Future

Salesforce predict the next quarter will have revenues between $1.365b and $1.370b and a loss of between $80-86m.

I think revenues will be closer to $1.4b and the loss will be around $40m so we will see who gets closer.


If we listen to the earnings call, if would be easy to think Salesforce is a company going from strength to strength and there is no denying, for a company their size, they do have enviable revenue growth. However, no matter how it is dressed up, financially, it is a bit of a mixed bag. Obviously three years of unprofitable business is bad and a degradation of the quality in the assets is bad but then we have the improved sales/cost growth and slowing of the insider and institutional sales.

The lack of profits is often explained away by saying that Salesforce is making a loss so they can aggressively target market share. Similarly, I imagine the improved sales/cost growth could be explained by the degradation of assets i.e. relaxing payment terms in order to win more business. How sustainable these practices are I do not know but living in denial by not even talking about profits or the lack thereof is a recipe for disaster.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Playing With CRM Data In Excel

In terms of Microsoft software, my second passion after CRM is Excel. I have used Excel to solve Maxwell’s equations, valuing the entire New York and Australian stock market for bargains and I use it to manage the household budget. Here are some graphs from the spreadsheet solving Maxwell’s equations.


Excel has come a long way since I put this spreadsheet together and the new BI tools make Excel ideal for analysing CRM data.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

Firstly, I owe a big thanks to Jukka Niiranen for two posts in particular. They are here and here and are the essentials for connecting Excel to CRM. Thanks to Jukka, I now get Excel to talk to any Dynamics CRM implementation, regardless of deployment mode. What is annoying it I did not read these sooner, given he wrote them over six months ago. I will summarise the main takeaways of Jukka’s blogs below in regards to connecting Excel and Dynamics CRM and update them.

Closing the Loop

You may remember, a while ago I showed a way of getting Power View into CRM.  I tried replicating this for this blog post and I struggled. It seems the newer versions of SharePoint online do not like displaying files in an iframe which trips up my old trick. The dream of creating an Excel spreadsheet of CRM data, which can be refreshed, and have it displayed in a dashboard, is not quite possible for CRM Online but maybe soon.

***STOP PRESS*** Speaking to Mark Rettig of Microsoft, he reminded me of the trick to get the spreadsheet to work. Change the end of the URL to say “…=embedview”.

Connecting CRM to Excel

The obvious way to connect CRM data to Excel is via the CRM export. On practically any list of data in CRM you can export the data to Excel.


There are two main options for exporting data: static and dynamic. Static copies the data and dumps it into Excel. It works for any deployment method but to refresh the data, you have to export again, which is annoying. This is where the dynamic export comes in.

A dynamic export does not copy the data but rather creates a FETCH query in the Excel spreadsheet which retrieves the data when the Excel file is opened. The main drawback with this method is it needs the Outlook client to broker the connection. So what do you do if you do not have the Outlook client?

OData Connections

The next best option is the Organization Data Service. This provides an OData (REST) connection to the data in CRM and is one way developers chat to CRM. For those of us who cannot code, we access this via the web address at Settings-Customizations-Developer Resources.


You can stick this into a browser and it will return a list of CRM tables. You can even add a table to the end of the URL, say AccountSet, and you will get an RSS feed of the Accounts in CRM.


Fortunately, Excel understands OData, so all we have to do give Excel this address, a login and password and we have a dynamic connection.

Out of the Box Excel OData Connections

For Excel 2013, in the Data tab of the Ribbon, in the drop-down for ‘From Other Sources’ is an OData option.


Selecting the OData option asks for the URL, login and password, as expected.


This works for on-premise IFD implementations but consistently fails for CRM Online.


Apparently, Excel’s standard OData connection does not support passing through the Live ID or Office 365 credentials. Until Jukka’s articles, this had me stumped.

Excel’s Power Query

There are a whole bunch of new and exciting add-ons for Excel. One of these is Power Query, which can be downloaded here.

Power Query provides a whole range of new data query options like Online Search (which lets you search online data sources), MyData database source and, of course, OData in the ‘From Other Sources’ option.


Unlike the out-of-the-box OData connection, this one plays nicely with CRM Online.


What To Do With the Data?

Out of the Box, Excel 2013 comes with Power View, allowing you to display and manipulate your data in new ways (image care of Jukka).


Another add-on from Microsoft, currently in ‘Preview’ is Power Map, downloadable here (previously called Geo Flow). With Power Map, you can take data with address fields and Excel will use Bing Maps to plot your data. In this image, I take a few thousand account records from CRM, using the OData connection, plot their location and color-code them based on their industry.


The tool also allows you to create video fly-overs of your data for presentations and add soundtracks and commentary. There is also a layering option so you can overlay different kinds of data and compare them.


Microsoft is investing a lot of money into the Excel BI tools so, if you have a CRM system, and want to gain insights from the collected data, Excel is a good place to start. In the past it was difficult to get Excel to work with CRM Online but, this seems to be a thing of the past and, with tools like Power Map, it is possible to present and explore data in new ways. I strongly recommend upgrading to Excel 2013 and checking out what is available.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Getting Demos for Social Listening and Dynamics Marketing

It is exciting times in Dynamics CRM with Microsoft’s acquisitions getting released in the wild. The two big ticket items are Social Listening (social monitoring tool) and Dynamics Marketing (a comprehensive marketing management tool).

Both of these are available from Office 365, but what if you want to try before you buy or you are a partner seeking to demonstrate the Social and Marketing goodness to your customers and prospects? It is not easy to work out the options available so here they are.

Options For Microsoft Partners

As a gold partner, you get access to both products as part of your internal usage rights, as well as Dynamics CRM. Partners receive special codes to use in an Office 365 subscription. If you do not have your codes, get in touch with your PAM (Partner Account Manager). This, of course, is not ideal for demonstrations because it is one instance for all prospects but it is better than nothing.

There are also the TAP (pre-release) programs which give early access to the new releases of the software although these are generally held under a non-disclosure agreement so you cannot use these for demonstration. Again, if you are not aware of the TAP programs, for you and your clients, ask your PAM.

There are also training materials on PartnerSource for Dynamics Marketing to gain more information.


Options For The Rest Of Us

For non-partners, there are plenty of ways to gain information. For Dynamics Marketing, a good start is the Microsoft Dynamics Marketing page. From here you can see a video overview and do a guided walkthough. However, as of writing, this is as good as it gets. I know of no time-limited or function-limited demonstration for Dynamics Marketing. Perhaps this will change with the fall release of CRM.

For Social Listening, there are plenty of training materials and videos. There is also a Microsoft Social Listening page. From here, you can also do a guided walkthrough but, unlike the Dynamics Marketing page, once you start the walkthrough, you can select a 30 minute trial.


The configuration is locked down but you do get to play with the social analytic tool. If your time runs out, rinse and repeat for another 30 minutes.


The information and demos for Social Listening and Dynamics Marketing is a little scattered and, while there is no available demo for Dynamics Marketing, there is information available to give an idea of what the product looks like and what it can do (not to mention many videos on YouTube for Dynamics Marketing and Social Listening).

Social Listening does have a trial and also lots of information in the form of training materials and videos and, if this is an area of interest, is well worth checking out.

I expect that, eventually, like Dynamics CRM, both of these products will have time limited trials available in Office 365 but, until then, hopefully, these materials will see you through.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Gartner Trajectories for Sales Force Automation

A couple of years ago, I showed how the various CRM products had moved through the Forrester and Gartner magic quadrants, showing which products were on the rise and which were being left behind. I did not do one in 2013 because I was waiting for Forrester to release their CRM report but it never eventuated (or I never saw it). Gartner continue to release the magic quadrant for sales force automation so I thought I would take the last three years and see how the main players are tracking. If you want a copy of the latest report, you can get it from here.

The Rules

I soon noticed that if I included every CRM product reviewed by Gartner, the graphs got a bit messy when overlayed with each other so my rule is to only include CRM products which have been in the ‘Leaders’ quadrant (the top right) in at least one of the three years. This brings the competition down to a five-horse race:

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online (Gartner reviews them as distinct products)
  • Oracle (Siebel CRM)
  • SAP (CRM)

The Graph

Here it is by way of the GIMP editing tool. Part of the ‘rustic’ nature of the graph was Gartner choosing to switch format between 2012 and 2013, part of it is also the quality of the graphs I obtained through searching online and part of it is my limited graphical editing skills. Let us consider this a springboard from which to leap when I repeat this exercise next year.

The progression goes from 2012 (the red dot), through to 2013 (the yellow dot) through to 2014 (the green dot). The horizontal axis is ‘Completeness of Vision’ (the strategic view behind the offering) and the vertical axis is ‘Ability to Execute’ (roughly speaking its alignment to market demand, and how easy is it to get in place and work with it).


The Results

Microsoft Dynamics CRM

As with all players, Microsoft Dynamics CRM has moved closer to the centre of the quadrant. I interpret this to mean the difference between products is narrowing, rather than one product accelerating away from the pack. The product is still within the Leaders quadrant. Where Microsoft Dynamics CRM has lost ground is in the ‘Ability to Execute’. Part of this may be the normalization of the products and perhaps it is also the overhaul of the look and feel and the stretch into mobility/touch compatibility. Gartner also suggests Microsoft Dynamics CRM is still a product which wins over the IT department but not necessarily the VP of sales.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

The one product which has improved its position over the three years. The cloud version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is now part of the Leader’s quadrant, moving in from the Visionaries quadrant, improving chiefly in ‘Ability to Execute’. Looking at the Gartner report and comparing the comments made against the on-premise offering, it seems the differentiator here is the price of CRM Online. At $65pupm for the ‘Professional’ version, Gartner considers this pricing level to be aggressive.

Oracle (Siebel CRM)

The grand-daddy of CRM systems, Siebel has slid out of the Leaders quadrant and fallen into the Challengers quadrant, losing heavily in ‘Completeness of Vision’. Gartner speaks of one strategic weakness with Siebel which is the limited go-to-market strategy. With Oracle Sales Cloud being the primary focus for Oracle (Gartner’s words, not mine), while investments will be made to maintain existing client bases, Gartner suggests new customers will go to the simpler to implement Oracle Sales Cloud, leaving Siebel little room to move in obtaining new customers.

Still ahead of the pack but, like the others, closer to the centre than in previous years. In their case the slide is even across both axes suggesting it is normalization rather than an inherent weakness. In terms of Gartner’s commentary, the areas of caution for the product are

  • Salesforce’s high price, relative to the market
  • The object/data-oriented approach of Salesforce1 as opposed to a task-oriented approach i.e. data capture vs process enablement
  • A lack of a European data centre limiting access to the European market


Like Siebel, SAP has slipped into the Challengers quadrant, losing equally on both axes. Also, like Siebel, Gartner calls out the complexity of implementing this on-premise solution. In terms of the cautions, the story reflects that of Siebel; with SAP’s Cloud for Sales offering, there is limited room to move in acquiring new customers for the on-premise offering. Like Dynamics CRM, Gartner also considers SAP to be a solution yet to win the heart of the VP of sales.


Salesforce is certainly still ahead of the pack but all products are closer to each other than in previous years. For the on-premise behemoths (Siebel and SAP CRM), there is a question of future viability beyond their existing client bases. This should act as a cautionary warning to Dynamics CRM. Microsoft need to carefully balance the promotion of their on-premise and online options to ensure both have growth and the online offering does not cannibalise its brother.

Another clear message is the focus in obtaining new customers needs to be the VP of sales and, I would argue, the VP of marketing. IT products are considered for their ability to directly help the generation of demand and sales these days, rather than simply their ability to be managed effectively. While salesforce has a strong history of targeting sales within the new prospective organisations, Gartner suggests this is an area of improvement for the other vendors.

Finally, the good news story is Dynamics CRM Online, battling the tide and improving its position over the three years. Gartner admit that the Dynamics CRM online and on-premise offerings are ‘relatively the same’, so I expect to see the their two dots approach each other as time goes by. With the additional of Social Listening and Dynamics Marketing, it will also be interesting to see if this influences the position of the two products compared to their competition.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

CRM vs CEM: Two Sides of One Coin

While most people reading this will be familiar with the acronym ‘CRM’ (Customer Relationship Management), others may not be as familiar with CEM (Customer Experience Management). In my reading of CRM articles, CEM is getting increased coverage, with some authors going as far as suggesting it will replace CRM, so I thought I would write a blog exploring the two.

What is CRM?

For a discussion on what is CRM, check out my blog article from five years ago, covering precisely this. The article stands up quite well, I think. In essence, there is the philosophy of CRM (delighting customers by anticipating their needs) and the technology of CRM (the systems to capture the customer needs to assist in employing the CRM philosophy).

What is CEM?

Also called ‘CX’ (Customer Experience) is the management of the experiences a customer has with a vendor. The marketing folk refer to this as ‘Service Design’. As with many things in life, if CEM is done well it is imperceptible; if it is done poorly, it can be torturous. 

A good example is ordering pizza online (or, at least, my experience of it). You select the deal you want, pick the pizzas and pay. A short time later a meal arrives at the door. Simple, effective and precisely what I need, when I need it.

In terms of CEM horror stories, this is one I came across recently about a poor guy trying to disconnect his Comcast cable service (internet service).

It is painful to listen to but is a great example of a poor customer experience.

The Commonalities of CRM and CEM

Previously in conversations I often referred to CRM and CEM as one in the same but they are not (thank you David Berry, the most philosophical of the CRM MVPs, for the conversations that made me examine this position). CRM and CEM are designed to achieve the same outcome, to align the products and services to the needs of the customer and ensuring the business interaction is as smooth and consistent as possible, they just go about it in different ways.

In the case of CRM, this is done by

  • encouraging transparency and consistency in customer interactions
  • capturing feedback from customers to assist in improving processes
  • centralising information so all parts of the business have a full picture of the customer and their needs

In the case of CEM, the exercise involves mapping the customer touch-points (how they interact with a vendor) and then ensuring these are aligned to the customer’s expectations and the values of the vendor.

In our Comcast example above, our hapless customer wonders if the service agent has a series of questions they must get answers from in order to proceed i.e. a CRM system. However, while the CRM system may capture some elements of this disastrous interaction for future improvement, it is the CEM which lets Comcast down. It is clear, while the service agent is all for trying to retain the customer, they are failing to give the customer what they want i.e. disconnection. The interaction is all about Comcast and nothing about the customer.

This customer will never go back to Comcast after this interaction, whereas if the service agent had simply recorded the non-answers and marked a flag in the CRM system for a follow-up in a few months time, all parties would be satisfied. If Comcast had emphasized a customer-focus, rather than a retention focus and mapped the scenario of a frustrated customer and the appropriate way to deal with them i.e. listening with respect, this PR disaster would never have happened.

The Differences of CRM and CEM

The key difference, as I see it, is the focus. In the case of CRM systems, the focus is on ensuring the user can perform the interaction as efficiently as possible and capture the key information needed to ensure the business can be managed effectively. The idea is, if the user can do their job efficiently and effectively, they will have time to give the customer the attention they need and the information on hand to make the interaction delightful.

The focus for CEM is not the user, but the customer. CEM ensures the experience for the customer is efficient and effective. While long waits on the phone to talk to a customer representative may be inevitable, given the resources available, an alternative is to offer the customer a call back service or encourage them to check an online FAQ while waiting. This is an example of improved CEM.

What Can Help Customers Most? CRM or CEM?

Accenture conducts an annual Global Consumer Pulse Survey. The latest survey (2013) has some insights on what frustrates customers globally with customer services:

  • 65% of customers were extremely frustrated contacting a company multiple times for the same reason
  • 62% of customers were extremely frustrated being on-hold for a long time when contacting a company
  • 60% of customers were extremely frustrated dealing with employees who were unfriendly or impolite
  • 58% of customers were extremely frustrated having a company deliver something different than they promise up front
  • 55% of customers were extremely frustrated having to repeat the same information to multiple employees of the company or through multiple channels
  • 52% of customers were extremely frustrated with dealing with employees or self-help sites/system that cannot answer their questions

and for marketing/sales practices:

  • 60% of customers were extremely frustrated having a company promise one thing but deliver another
  • 54% of customers were extremely frustrated with realizing that a company cannot be trusted on how to use personal information provided to them

In terms of which can help most, the CRM system or CEM, it is a bit of a mixed bag. A better designed CRM system can help with:

  • Automated escalation and notification processes to ensure a customer does not need to contact a company multiple times for the same reason
  • Ensuring a customer’s information is readily available so a customer does not have to repeat themselves
  • Ensuring personal information is secure and only appropriate information is shared within the organisation and outside of it

CEM can help with:

  • Ensuring there are options other than being on-hold
  • Ensuring service agents are respectful and actually listen
  • Aligning brand promise to service delivery
  • Ensuring, if a question cannot be answered, there are options to escalate so that it can

This shows it is not CRM or CEM but CRM and CEM. Both work together to ensure an optimal outcome for customers.


While the terms ‘CEM’ and ‘CX’ are relatively new (going off Wikipedia, about ten years), the idea of Service Design is much older (about 30 years) and, of course, as an ad hoc activity, older still. Similarly, the idea of ‘database management’, as it was called in the eighties or CRM as we know it today has been around formally for a few decades but as a practice for much longer.

Both aim to make the interaction of customer and vendor as smooth and as pleasant as possible with CRM systems focussing on managing the process from the employee’s side and with CEM managing the process from the customer’s side. Both are necessary for the best experience and a failure of one cannot compensate for the other.

As interactions channels go online and become social, the CRM technology will extend and overlap with the traditional domain of CEM. A good example of this is a customer portal. Often this is a technical extension of the CRM system but the experience of that portal is pure CEM.

My prediction is, as these areas overlap more and more, they will combine to become a uniform discipline, complementing each other, rather than one taking over the other. CRM is not dead and CEM is not a re-badging exercise; they are distinct pillars supporting a common goal and CEM is definitely something CRM consultants will need to consider in the future.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Book Review: Packt Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Marketing Automation


Introduction and Disclaimer

It must be the season for it because I have two book review requests backed up which I have sat on for a few weeks. Finally I have two seconds to scratch myself so here is the first one for Packt’s Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Marketing Automation (the second is for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Unleashed which I will blog about in the upcoming weeks). As usual my compensation is a free copy of the book. Here is the link and this is what it looks like.


In terms of the authors, Alok Singh and Sandeep Chanda, I do not know them so extracting a free drink for a good review will have to wait until the second book review.

Overview and Structure of the Book

The book is reasonably short (128 pages) compared to many of the weighty CRM tomes out there and the chapters are:

  • Preface
  • Chapter 1: Getting Started with CRM Marketing
  • Chapter 2: Segmenting with Marketing Lists
  • Chapter 3: Marketing Campaigns
  • Chapter 4: Campaign Response and Performance
  • Chapter 5: Marketing Metrics, Analysis, and Goals
  • Chapter 6: Enhance CRM Marketing with Marketplace Solutions


The claim is the book is for new marketers looking to understand the essentials of sales management and for veteran marketers wanting to create advanced marketing strategies. This is a big claim in that it is a lot of ground to cover.

Given the inherent limitations of Dynamics CRM for mass communication e.g. a lack of an html editor for outbound emails, it is good to see that the final chapter reviews the, arguably, two most common CRM add-ons to assist with mass email marketing: CoreMotives and ClickDimensions. Two obvious omissions are ExactTarget (possibly because it is now owned by Salesforce, although my understanding is the management are still autonomous and will be supporting Dynamics CRM in the foreseeable future) and Dynamics Marketing (perhaps it was too new to be included).

Chapter 1: Getting Started with CRM Marketing

The chapter begins with its definition of marketing: “The process of engaging with the target customers to communicate the value of a product or service in order to sell them”. Having a wife who has worked across the length and breadth of marketing, I object to this definition. It does not cover things like brand marketing (communication of the values and beliefs of an organisation) and pull marketing (communicating with an unknown audience). It does provide a reasonably good definition of product push marketing which is the strength of traditional CRM systems or, if you like, direct marketing.

The chapter does touch on social media, which is good and, given, pre-Spring release this was a weak area for Dynamics CRM, it will be interesting to see if this is covered in more depth later on in the book.

The chapter then goes on to cover some of the key challenges of marketing, giving a quick overview of how CRM system can assist in tackling some of them.


There are a few more lines about what marketing is e.g. “the marketing team owns the message and the sales team owns the relationship” which jar with me but the idea that sales and marketing (and, in my opinion, most other areas of the business) can benefit by sharing information in a central system is a sound one.

The basics of the sales funnel are covered and the idea of sales stages is introduced although specific sales methodologies e.g. Solution Selling is not touched on. The summary suggests the sales funnel review was a ‘deep dive’ and, while it is a good summary of the key elements in sales funnel management, the depth is arguable.

Overall, despite my misgivings, a good summary of the elements of sales management and marketing as it relates to a traditional CRM system.

Chapter 2: Segmentation with Marketing Lists

This chapter covers Dynamics CRM Marketing Lists and begins with some of the key limitations of Marketing Lists e.g. only certain entities can be used, a list cannot have multiple entities etc. To this day, while we can specify an entity in CRM as being ‘emailable’, this does not make it available to be used with Marketing Lists.

The chapter then talks about how to populate static Marketing Lists i.e. lists with specific members as opposed to rules-based lists. It talks at using CRM’s Advanced Find functionality but does not go into detail as to how so you do need to be familiar with the Advanced Find functionality of CRM before tackling this part of the book.

The chapter, again, covers some of CRM’s limitations although does not mention the lack of visibility of dynamic lists against the contact or that, for email, you are forced to use email address 1.

In terms of a high-level summary of Marketing Lists, the chapter does well but, again, we do not venture too deep e.g. the construction of Advanced Find queries.

Chapter 3: Marketing Campaigns

The chapters do wonders for putting me off in the first paragraph. In this case the opening line is “A campaign is the actualization of your marketing strategy; all the careful planning and ideation that go into marketing is brought to life with a campaign". ‘Actualization’ and ‘ideation’ are real words although a proper marketing strategy is more than just a marketing campaign. The word ‘ideation’ just means the ‘generation of ideas’ and has been around for about 200 years. I am not a fan of the word but perhaps this is me being fussy; ‘thought’ strikes me as perfectly serviceable in this context.

Moving on from my pedantry, the chapter provides a summary of CRM Marketing Campaigns, including Quick Campaigns. The essentials for setting up a campaign are covered and, again, finer details such as setting up an email template are mentioned but not explored. The storage of activities against individuals, and the interdependence of Word and the Outlook client are not mentioned.

The chapter provides a reasonable summary of the key functions and operations of campaigns.

Chapter 4: Campaign Response and Performance

In my opinion, there is no room for contractions in formal documents. So when I see “Any marketing campaign doesn't end with the successful execution…”, I see red. Again, this may not be a big deal to you but immediately puts me off.

Campaign responses are a small passion of mine (it obviously does not take a lot) because no one uses them to their full potential. The trick to unleashing their power is to realise a campaign communication e.g. a phone call or email can be directly converted to a campaign response. The way most people use them is to click ‘Add New Campaign Response’ and then drive themselves nuts filling in all the fields. Thankfully, this chapter covers both methods of creating a campaign response and a third (creating a campaign response automatically from a reply).

The chapter also covers converting a campaign response to a lead or opportunity, which is also often overlooked but essential for transparency on the opportunities generated from a specific campaign.

So far, this is my favourite chapter in the book in that it covers how to properly manage campaign responses. Well done authors.

Chapter 5: Marketing Metrics, Analysis, and Goals

This chapter reviews key marketing measures commonly employed to assess the effectiveness of direct marketing campaigns. It then talks, albeit briefly, on the out of the box charts available to measure some of these metrics. The creation of new charts is not covered but the use of the report wizard is reviewed, as are the out of the box marketing reports and dashboards. Personally, I am not a huge fan of the report wizard as it is severely limited, compared to the full SSRS development suite. I would have preferred to see a quick review of chart and dashboard creation here, or the use of Excel to bring the data into an alternative analysis tool but this was not the case.

A high level review of goals management is also included in this chapter with some friendly screenshots to help in setting them up. Given the complexity of goals though, even this may be insufficient for the less experienced user.

Arguably the lightest chapter in the book but one that does give a taste of the BI tools available in CRM.

Chapter 6: Enhance CRM Marketing with Marketplace Solutions

ClickDimensions and CoreMotives are reviewed with some of the elements which are not available out of the box being covered (although many are now available via Dynamics Marketing).

It is not a bad high-level summary and I learned a few things about what can be done with CoreMotives. However, the overview is not exhaustive. For example, survey and form management in ClickDimensions is not covered. Also, costs and licensing are not summarised.


As a high-level review of the Marketing module of Dynamics CRM 2013, the book does reasonably well and certainly goes deeper than, say, Microsoft’s free User Guide. As a guide for strategic marketers especially those who are already familiar with CRM, the book will leave the reader wanting. Also, this is not a book for developers. There is no code in this book, nor references to how a developer accesses the marketing functionality from the back end.

Finally, despite speaking at the growing importance of social media to marketers at the start, there is little content about how this can be handled in CRM e.g. Social Listening or Parrot.

Is it worth $14? My thinking is, if you need a book which covers all of the functions of CRM, you are better to go with the ‘weighty tomes’ mentioned at the start e.g. my next book review, “Dynamics CRM 2013 Unleashed” costs $38 for the e-book and is over 1,000 pages in length. However, if you need a high-level review of Dynamics CRM’s out of the box marketing capability, $14 is not a lot to spend.