By Linda M. Rosencrance / Top Tech News. Updated September 23, 2014.
To further differentiate itself from competitors like Salesforce.com, Microsoft has added a host of new features to the latest version of its Dynamics CRM application. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015, which will be released in the fourth quarter of this year, aims to improve collaboration between sales and marketing teams, and eliminate redundant efforts.
Dynamics CRM 2015 also promises to give sales and marketing professionals the tools they need to deliver outstanding customer experiences. By aligning efforts around key objectives, Microsoft says companies can boost customer engagement and drive sales success.
Let's take a look at some of the new features in Dynamics CRM 2015.
The new E-mail Editor enables marketers to select easily from pre-defined templates or create e-mails from scratch using an interactive drag-and-drop build process. For expert users of CSS (cascading style sheets) and HTML, there's also an advanced editor for creating more sophisticated documents.
Campaign Management Console
The Campaign Management Console has been updated to include complex multi-condition triggers to fine-tune responses and embedded cross-campaign offers, as well as A/B testing. To be sure that their efforts are delivering the expected results, marketers can easily set up and run A/B tests that have different objectives, with results displayed via real-time analytics.
Sales & Marketing Collaboration
The Sales Collaboration Panel allows sales people and managers to provide input into campaigns and targeting. This new functionality enables appropriate people on the sales team to can gain visibility into campaign activities and control communications targeting their customers. They can also set up and receive alerts based on their interactions.
Guided Sales Processes
In addition, the updated release improves features related to business process management (BPM) that originally debuted with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013. The new version includes a branching capability so organizations can implement complex business processes. "The branch selection is done automatically, in real time, based upon rules defined during the process definition," Microsoft explains.
For example, when a company is selling products or services, it can configure a single business process flow, which ultimately splits into two branches -- one specific to products and the other for services.
With Dynamics CRM 2015, Microsoft says sales teams will be more effective thanks to new features for bundling products and recommending related products for cross-sell and upsell opportunities. Sales managers can easily configure product offerings that bundle related products together. They can then provide tailored price lists so sellers can position the best products at the best prices.
"Salespeople can see suggestions for cross-selling and upselling, and get recommendations for accessories or substitutes, right on the opportunity form while they are working their deal," Microsoft said.
Quick search has been improved so it's faster and easier for users to find customer records. The enhanced search capabilities offer users a quick way to find and navigate to records by letting them enter keywords in the search box on the navigation bar. The search box supports using an asterisk (*) as a wild-card character, so users can search across record types and get full lists of matching search results.
Field Level Security
Most businesses have at least some sensitive data that should only be viewed or edited by certain users. Field-level security enables companies to restrict access to custom fields and now, to other fields, as well. For instance, a company admin can setup the CRM system to enable salespeople to view the account-number field, but not change it.
Improved Customer Experiences
Overall, many of the new features in the 2015 version are focused on closing the gap between marketing and sales, with the goal of providing better customer experiences.
Analyst Ray Wang of Constellation Research Inc. explained how important this focused process can be. “Organizations need tools to track the customer interactions from marketing to sales and back." In addition, they need to be able to easily collaborate on leads and opportunities, and "measure the metrics that matter to both sales and marketing.”
With a host of new functionality, Microsoft is betting Dynamics CRM 2015 has what it takes to get the job done.