Customer buying cycles are radically changing, and CRM software has to evolve to keep up. In an interview at Convergence 2013, Seth Patton, Senior Director of Marketing for Microsoft Dynamics CRM gave his thoughts on customer buying trends, the changing role of marketing, and how Microsoft Dynamics CRM plans to embrace these changes with the acquisition of MarketingPilot, NetBreeze, and Yammer.
First of all, we have to set the scene. Whether it is B2B or B2C, customer buying cycles are changing. It used to be that CRM systems were set up to enable the salesperson, who had face to face interactions with the customer. That is still important.
But there is one statistic Seth brought out to highlight what has changed: ““If you look at the buying process as 0 to 100 percent, on average it's a full 57 percent into the buying process before a prospect even engages with a vendor.”
What Is Happening During that First 57% of the Buying Cycle?
Seth encouraged me to think about my own buying experiences. For example, what would I do before walking into a car dealership now that I would not have done in the past?
I would search the web. I would use social media and social networks. I would read reviews.
So organizations need to ask themselves: “How do we change our systems to better engage with customers in these different ways?”
“In layman's terms, customers have more choice; they have more power. Organizations are having to change in order to meet the needs and choices of customers and be able to interact with them when and where the customer wants. I think fundamentally that is the big change. We could talk about technology, we could talk about improving productivity, but I think the bigger change is this new customer,” said Seth.
So what group within the organization is typically responsible for that first 57 percent of the buying cycle? Marketing.
The Role of Marketing is Changing.
Marketing does not just mean being in charge of the website. It is about social, it is about video, it is about turning customers into future advocates.
Seth encouraged me to think about the true value of a customer that we acquire in this day and age. It is not just about getting a customer to buy. It is just as much about getting customers to be future advocates. And if we think about that philosophy from the moment we interact with them we start to think about how we might do it differently throughout the whole process.
Seth continued: “As we look at the rising importance of not just marketing, but marketing working closely together with sales and service across the customer lifecycle of attracting customers, retaining them, creating future advocates, then getting to know those customers better and having the ability to have great interactions across those touch point becomes more important.”
That is where your CRM system plays a role. CRM is the tool that going to allow you to track those relationships at any given point along the continuum.
Can Microsoft Dynamics CRM Meet the Needs of the New Customer?
Seth admitted: “When we looked at the new marketer and the new customer engagement model there were a couple of key areas in which we felt that, for us to achieve our vision and help our organizations achieve their visions, we needed to make investments.”
Those investments were the acquisition of three products to enhance Microsoft Dynamics CRM – MarketingPilot, NetBreeze, and Yammer.
What Is MarketingPilot?
According to Microsoft, “MarketingPilot provides integrated marketing management solutions which allow organizations to better understand their customers, manage and streamline marketing operations, and create automated and measurable multi-channel marketing campaigns.”
“If you look at MarketingPilot, it is squarely centered on helping improve the marketers' ability to better interact with customers and measure data in a way that they actually know which things that they are doing are working and which things are not. There is tremendous pressure to help grow top‑line revenue while also managing costs. So not only does MarketingPilot allow you to do a better job of executing marketing campaigns and customer engagements, but it also streamlines your internal processes, manages budgets, and makes you more efficient.” Said Seth.
Seth gave an example of how the PGA Tour uses MarketingPilot to manage media sponsorship. They can show their sponsors analytics to prove the relative value of different sponsorship options, such as TV time slots. They are using MarketingPilot as a tool to literally drive million-dollar deals.
How Much Does MarketingPilot Cost with Dynamics CRM?
Microsoft completed the acquisition in October 2012 and has not announced pricing and changes to licensing. They did announce at Convergence 2013 that they have made the first new release since the acquisition. Version 15 is an online service available in the United States, purchased as a stand-alone offering. It features a simplified user experience, has a familiar look and feel, and seamlessly works with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
We can safely guess that over time it will be more than just two products working great together.
Seth was able to tell me: “We're going to be looking at ways for customers to purchase them together as well as stand-alone. We intend to continue MarketingPilot as a stand-alone for marketing organizations that want that, but also allow companies to purchase together with Dynamics CRM.”
What Is Netbreeze?
Netbreeze is a tool for social listening, monitoring, and analysis.
According to Microsoft, “Netbreeze delivers cutting-edge native language analytics combined with data mining and transactional and text analysis capabilities.
“In this world of the new customer you need to know what customers are saying, what they are thinking. You need to be able to quickly respond to things, both positive and negative. Netbreeze basically gives us the ability to do that and be able to act on it.”
A strength of Netbreeze, compared to other similar vendors, that was mentioned several times at Convergence 2013 is their global approach in terms of languages.
Since Microsoft Dynamics CRM is used by 3 million users from 39,000 customers in over 80 countries this type of global approach made the Netbreeze acquisition a good fit.
How Much Does Netbreeze Cost with Dynamics CRM?
Microsoft just recently announced the acquisition and they have not yet announced pricing with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, but it is coming soon.
What Is Yammer?
Yammer is a leading provider of enterprise social networks
Seth Patton is a self proclaimed Yammer lover.
“I love Yammer so I can talk about it from the user perspective. It surprises me how much it has changed the way I communicate. Yammer is amazing for internal communities and internal communications as a way to complement and sometimes even replace email.”
Seth commented that Yammer really is now the fastest way he can:
- search for people who have information that he might need
- quickly get an answer or a response to a question
- contribute to groups and communities of people who share topics of interest
- quickly filter the things that he wants to track and stay on top of things he cares about.
“It really is that social sort of conversation layer across all of the stuff that I do today that I used to do when I was in email. At the end of the day I have to check email but that's not how I'm collaborating and getting things done.
Seth feels that Yammer is completely changing the way people work. He encouraged me to think about it in terms of sales people, or marketing people, or customer service people, being able to get information about an opportunity or a customer. Again, it is serving that New Customer in a new way.
And Yammer is right inside the Microsoft Dynamics CRM application.
How Much Does Yammer Cost with Dynamics CRM?
The acquisition of Yammer was announced in June 2012 and they announced native integration with Dynamics CRM in October 2012.
You still need to purchase Yammer separately from Dynamics CRM; there is a free version and a premium (paid) version. But the two products work together so that when you install Yammer within your Dynamics CRM environment, it just shows up within the CRM application.
Bringing It All Together.
Seth summarizes it this way: “So if you think about Yammer together with Netbreeze together with Marketing Pilot with Dynamics CRM at the back end making all this stuff work together, it is pretty powerful in terms of that social story.
It is internal social collaboration tied together with external sentiment listening and then the ability to execute social media campaigns and bring it all together.”
No doubt it is this strategy and vision that has helped Microsoft Dynamics CRM see 30 percent year over year growth. Microsoft Dynamics CRM can confidently look toward the future and embrace the changing buying cycles of the New Customer.
By Anya Ciecierski, CRM Software Blog Editor, www.crmsoftwareblog.com