Platform vs Best of Breed – Is Chasing Unicorns Creating Sales App Spaghetti

How to use Dynamics 365 and the power platform to do more with less

Author: Chuck Ingram

At Home – Three years ago I thought my cable bill was really getting out of hand.  Like many others – We “cut the cord” for cable in my house.  Less subscriptions, watch only what we need.  Awesome right?

Increasingly the things we wanted to watch were on different subscription platforms, Lasso on Apple plus, Ozark on Netflix, Reacher on Amazon, Soccer on Paramount.  Things that used to be on “Free” network channels made me sign up for services to watch.   Pretty soon we were paying just as much if not more than cable.  It also started to get confusing. What shows are on what platform, where to keep all the passwords? My TV used to have a simple guide. Not it feels patched together…   It’s started to look like spaghetti.

At Work – We are seeing a similar trend with Sales Apps.   There are over 14000 martech and sales apps out there. That is up from mere hundreds just a few years ago.

According to Gartner – The average company – has 11 to 14 pieces of sales technology. Gartner also shared that the sellers at about half the companies they talked to thought that technology was a hindrance not a help.  Spaghetti?

This blog will take a look at sales app spaghetti and see how we can do more with less with a platform approach versus a best of breed approach.

 

Who Spilled all the Spaghetti?

Pandemic changed our expectations around technology. If I need something tell Alexa if I’m going for a walk my Apple Watch says hey are you going for a walk do you want to track it? I need a ride an app figures out where I am and brings it to me.  We won’t even talk about how chat gpt is changing things.

That left poor CRM quite exposed.   For over 20 years customer relationship management software has been the poster child Bad IT projects that do no good for the business or the users.

You see CRM was a lot like the rental car agent on Jerry Seinfeld – after many keystrokes – the agent said while Jerry and Elaine had a reservation – they didn’t have a car for them.  Jerry quipped – they were really good at taking the reservation but not so good at delivering the rental car.   Similarly – CRM software is pretty good at taking the information that you give it but really bad at giving you the insights people need at the time they need it.

Recovery from the pandemic – – investments, good economy, employee empowerment all led to demand for change and investment and change.    Hence the acceleration of the sales and martech unicorn.  Need to prospect better? There is an app for that. Spaghetti. Need to plan your accounts? There is an app for that. More spaghetti. Need to coach your team on their sales call performance?  There is an app for that. More spaghetti. Need to give a customer a price?  There is an app for that. More spaghetti.

 

How is it Spreading so Fast?

For a while, these apps breathed new life into the sales martech space and even into CRM. After all CRM was being fed information from these apps.   We even started to see CRM move from a system of engagement so to speak to a system of record and a lot of cases.

Customers clearly want to buy differently than they did before the pandemic and these apps started to help us to meet those expectations.

Interestingly most of the “unicorns”  They make these sales apps are private equity funded. PE funded – demand for ARR – more features.  Duplicate CRM features and duplicate each other’s features.

 

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Interestingly most of the “unicorns”  that  make these sales apps are private equity funded or even public.   The increasing demand for more “ARR” (Annual recurring revenue) and to focus at the time for growth at all cost drives guess what – more features.  This became part of the problem with CRM in the past. Ultimately we started to see duplicate CRM features and duplicate Unicorn features of each other.

So, lots of customers end up with lots of apps and have tremendous feature overlap and they end up using only a few features from each one.  And the Poor IT team is left to try to connect the ends to all those spaghetti pieces.

In fact if you’re an IT professional you may be feeling heat from your business because your text acts not able to answer the questions the business needs answered.

 

And Now We Have to do More with Less…

As the post pandemic hyper funding hangover, supply chain, and other economic headwinds start to hit – companies are starting to wonder if they should look at a best of breed approach like they’ve been doing that’s resulted in sales app spaghetti or they should take a look at a platform approach.

 

It’s Time to Look at Dynamics 365 and Power Platform a Different Way

There’s an incredible power in asking the right questions.   If someone asks for a hammer – You can just give them a hammer.  Or you can ask them what kind.  What if you went a little deeper? What are you trying to do with the hammer? Well I’m trying to hang up a delicate piece of art that’s been in my family for many years.   That certainly might change your answer about the good old hammer.

Many of us are in the consulting business.  The confluence of so many technical solutions, committee-based buying, and the pressure to keep lots of consultants busy has sometimes driven folks in our industry to sell giant projects with giant hammers.

If someone asks for a CRM that has Accounts contacts and opportunities – is there another question we can ask?

Nobody does Accounts or contacts or opportunities. Those are tables in the database that end up being forms in an application called CRM.

 

Nobody wants to do CRM.

What if we ask a different question? What are you trying to do?

Trying to get ready for meetings, trying to plan my week, trying to forecast the business, trying to build quotes.

Instead of checking a box on an RFP that we have accounts, contacts and opportunities –  we can help make sure that the person has the right insights at the right time to make that task not just functional but easy and enjoyable – like the tech that they use at home is.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform can be a great choice for organizations because they offer a wide range of business applications and tools that can be used to support a variety of business processes and needs. These applications and tools are integrated, so they can work together seamlessly, which can make it easier for organizations to manage their operations and data.

One advantage of using a platform like Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform is that it can provide a single, unified solution for a variety of business needs, rather than requiring organizations to use multiple, separate systems to support different processes. This can help to reduce complexity and improve efficiency by eliminating the need to switch between different systems or manually transfer data between them.

Additionally, because Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform are developed and supported by Microsoft, organizations can rely on a single vendor for support and updates, rather than having to manage relationships with multiple different vendors. This can help to reduce the overall cost of ownership and make it easier for organizations to get the support they need.

 

How to Get Started

Experience starts at the edge.  Your People need contextual insights that help them market sell and serve. And the edge is often low code supported by AI.

Bring the people who go to market strategy, the people who own the technology, and the people who use the technology to walk out they go to market strategy on a day-to-day basis together.

Use design thinking to identify the core processes

Identify digital friction – where is the technology getting in the way.

Envision solutions using dynamics 365 and power platform – that can deliver rapid return on investment by making the task functional, easy and enjoyable just like at home.

CongruentX has a program called gets CRM that does just that.  We have a tech enabled framework that helps our clients get CRM right in 30 days without starting over.  You can actually grab the framework if you click here.

 

Conclusion

Wrapping things up – There are an increasing number of sales and marketing technology  apps in the market, similar to how there are multiple streaming platforms for TV shows and movies. This can lead to an overwhelming number of apps for sales teams to use and manage, similar to how it can be confusing for consumers to keep track of which shows are on which streaming platforms.

We talked about how private equity funding, which often focuses on growth which drives additional features, contributes to the proliferation of similar apps and associated overlap of features.

Using a platform approach, such as Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform, can help reduce the number of apps needed and make it easier to manage and get insights from the data.

We also talked about a framework that can help you get moving in the right direction in as little as 30 days – without a bit IT project.

Question for you…what would an inventory of features that your team uses look like? After you did some thinking with your team – what additional features do you need to make their work functional, easy and enjoyable.  Chances are you can cancel a couple of subscriptions and use Dynamics 365 Sales with the power platform to give your team a better experience with less subscriptions (spaghetti) to sort though.

 

Set up a call with congruentX.  It only takes a 20-minute call to learn more and reduce the spaghetti.

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