Getting the Most Out of Your CRM Online Trial – Converting Your Trial Account to Paid Subscription

This is the final entry in a series intended to help you effectively evaluate your free 30-day trial of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. The four previous entries are

If you have already registered for a free 30-day trial of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, and have been following this series, then congratulations! You’re one step closer to improving your business’ efficiency and effectiveness in a plethora of ways.

If while evaluating your trial, you decided that CRM Online is right for you, then it is time to turn your trial account into a paid subscription. One of the great aspects of this doing this is that the transition between the two is seamless. All of the work that’s gone into importing your company data into your trial to see how it works is not wasted. You can carry the data from your trial organization to your paid subscription. You do not have to, but it’s great that you have the flexibility to do so.

One item of importance that I’ve tried to stress throughout this series is this: CRM Online is a framework. Sure, it is great as a stand-alone product right out of the box, but it can molded to be much more. It can be customized and modified into a tool designed strictly for your business.

I’ve tried to help you grasp this to some extent through various exercises and walkthroughs. But you might benefit from some assistance from a group of professionals who really are artisans when it comes to CRM Online.

One solution that might be right up your alley is our Quickstart Deployment Packages. With our assistance, we can help you squeeze every last drop of productivity from CRM Online. We offer four different packages so that you can choose a package that best suits your business.

In this series we mentioned the Success Portal, and how it is a powerful reference tool that you can use to improve your CRM Online proficiency. If you found the Portal useful, then you may be interested in our prepaid consulting time. It can be purchased with one of the Quickstart Deployment Packages, or separately. Either way, you dictate how your hours are utilized, from configuration and customization assistance, to one-on-one assistance over the phone.

If you wish to inquire about purchasing a CRM Online Quickstart Deployment Package, prepaid consulting time, or simply want to talk to us to see how we can help your business please contact us.

Toll Free Phone:                 (800) 836-5147
Sales:    sales@xrm.com

Thanks for trying out CRM Online. Be sure to check back in here for more great tips and information.

Cheers!

-xRM.com

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Getting the Most Out of Your CRM Online Trial – Sample Data as a Training Tool

It’s our third entry in this series and we are well on our way to effectively evaluating our free 30-day trail of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. We got started by understanding that CRM Online is a framework that we can use to build an environment that suits our business’ needs. We also explored the application from the perspective of multiple users with different security roles. Next, we are going to explore the one of the most effective tools for helping us evaluate CRM Online for our business: sample data.

When we sign in to our trial environment for the first time, we see dashboards featuring graphs and records. These graphs and records are complete with the default sample data that automatically comes installed in our trial.

The default sample data set contains records for each of the following entities:

  • Account
  • Article
  • Campaign
  • Case
  • Contact
  • Goal
  • Lead
  • Opportunity
  • Phone Call
  • Subject
  • Task

To learn more about this sample data, check out this blog post: “Practice Makes Perfect”. 

How do we further leverage sample data beyond something that’s just there to familiarize us with a new application? We create our own sample data by using templates. The default sample data is useful, but quickly becomes generic once we need to see how CRM Online will work for our business in very specific ways.

What if you want to see how the Product Catalog functions? What about quotes, orders, and invoices? Luckily, creating sample data for other entities is quite simple. If you are the system admin, just navigate to Settings > System > Data Management and click Templates for Data Import.  

 Getting the Most Out of Your CRM Online Trial - Sample Data as a Training Tool

As you can see, we can create sample data for many more entities other than the 11 offered in the default sample data set. Using these templates make importing the data into CRM Online much easier. It’s important to note that we don’t need to enter a value for every field in the template, just the required fields and the ones that are relevant to us. Creating sample data this way allows us to generate data that is relevant to our business, thus furthering our ability to properly evaluate CRM Online.

Now that we’ve downloaded some templates to create our own sample data. We should take this opportunity to create not just some random records, but a potential training tool for our future users. More than just one-time use sample data, they can be used by any new users to help familiarize them with CRM Online in a meaningful way unique to our business.

Another tip that may be helpful when we create sample data on our own: we need to be sure to differentiate sample records from real data. For example, any name or subject of a default sample record is followed by “(sample)”. I find it helpful to copy this technique when I create my own sample data, as it prevents me from confusing real and sample data. It also makes it easy for me to create views and lists of sample data using the Advanced Find tool in CRM Online. For example, if I want a view that displays only sample accounts, I create a new personal view and set the logic to Account Name, Contains, and “sample”. 

 Getting the Most Out of Your CRM Online Trial - Sample Data as a Training Tool

Once we no longer need our custom sample data in our data base, we can easily remove it by deleting all records from the same import. See our “Practice Makes Perfect” blog as referenced above.

We’re getting closer to fully evaluating the value of CRM Online for our business. Check back soon for the next entry in this series!

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Developer Alert: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 SDK v5.0.13 released

Microsoft has updated the Software Development Kit (SDK) for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 to version 5.0.13. This update addresses Polaris and UR 12 and is now available for download from MSDN downloads as well as from the MSDN library.

The updated SDK makes Yammer Integration, extended browser support, enhanced Activity Feeds, and the updated user experience available to developers, report writers, and system customizers. The new version of the SDK also supports Microsoft Visual Studio 2012.

For more information about the new update, please refer to the SDK v5.0.13 announcement as well as “What’s New for Developers,” which includes a very detailed description of all of the changes Microsoft has made to the SDK in v5.0.13.

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New User Interface, Still a Classic

One of the many great things about the Polaris update to CRM Online is the amount of information provided to users in a single window. This allows you to view data in one central location. Of course, if you prefer the classic view that’s perfectly fine as well. Simply click the ellipsis at the top of the window and select Switch to Classic.

 New User Interface, Still a Classic

This brings you to an interface that resembles that of pre-Update Rollup 12. You have access to the ribbon and all of its options, as well as the navigation pane on the left.

 New User Interface Still a Classic

This is great for users who wish to stick with what they’re familiar with. Also, classic mode gives users access to the navigation pane, which doesn’t seem to be available in the Polaris interface. So if you want to view this lead’s connections, you need to switch to classic mode. Oh wait…

 New User Interface Still a Classic

Clearly we did not notice the left side of the window in Polaris where it says “Navigation”. Let’s see what happens when we click it.

 New User Interface Still a Classic

It’s the navigation pane! Without leaving the Polaris interface, or opening another window for that matter, I have access to the same information that I did in classic mode. This navigation bar will also reflect customizations made in the form editor.

Check back soon for more tips about Polaris and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

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Hey Microsoft. Where Is My Toolbox?

The recent Polaris update (Update Rollup 12) made a number of changes to the user interface of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and CRM Online. As part of the new Polaris interface, the sitemap and navigation pane have been cleaned and simplified. However, humans are notoriously change-adverse, and as humans, we may find it difficult to adjust to some of these UI changes.

 Hey Microsoft. Where Is My Toolbox?

You may notice upon signing in for the first time that the Tools group in the Workplace area (which contains sub-areas like Calendar, Imports, Duplicate Detection, and Service Calendar) does not appear by default. However, you can add it very easily by navigating to File > Options.

When the Set Personal Options window opens, select the Workplace tab, and then check the Tools box. This enables the Tools group in the Workplace area, as seen in the Preview pane. Click the OK button to close window.

 Hey Microsoft. Where Is My Toolbox?

Back at the Workplace module, you may notice that some of the existing groups, like Sales and Service, have been simplified. Basically, some of the sub-areas that were present before Update Rollup 12 no longer appear by default. This has cleaned up the groups significantly. You can still access those sub-areas though by navigating to the respective modules, as seen in the images below.

  Hey Microsoft. Where Is My Toolbox?

You may have also noticed the various sub-areas in the Sales and Service modules. Before, these appeared in a single group, which resulted in a long list of items. It was messy and unorganized. They have now been organized into various groups making it easier to find pertinent items.

For more Dynamics CRM help and tips, check back soon and refer to our Success Portal.

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Internet Lead Capture ends today

Microsoft announced a while ago that it planned to discontinue Internet Lead Capture (ILC) Friday, February 15, 2013. That date has arrived.

ILC provided a way to collect data submitted by potential customers on the web and save the data in new records in CRM Online, but it had some limits. ILC was only available for CRM Online (no other deployment models of Microsoft Dynamics CRM); it only worked with a limited set of entities (such as Leads); and, it only worked with web pages created by ILC for ILC.

xRM Web Gateway is a great alternative to ILC. It’s inexpensive, and it’s created by xRM.com, a leading Microsoft partner experienced in extending the functionality of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. xRM.com first created xRM Web Gateway during the time of Microsoft CRM 3.0, before CRM Online or ILC even existed, and has updated it several times as Microsoft Dynamics CRM has evolved.

The newest version of xRM Web Gateway, xWebGateway2011, works with all deployments of CRM Online, all deployments of partner-hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and all Internet Facing Deployments (IFD) of on-premises Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It also works with any entity, even custom entities, and it works with any existing web page, as long as the web page has an html form that lets visitors enter data.

You can read more about the benefits and features of xRM Web Gateway here.

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Getting your sales team interested in CRM Online 2011

At this point in its lifecycle, there’s no doubting that Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is a powerful and flexible product, or that it’s here to stay. When you combine the feature set of the application with its low cost and familiar interface, subscribing becomes a no-brainer for most businesses. Most newcomers to Microsoft Dynamics CRM have seen it in action before, usually in some kind of technical demonstration by a sales representative. When they do make the leap, they’re usually eager to begin taking advantage of the tools they were shown, but how can they do that?

It’s quite simple actually; if you store your sales and customer data inside of its database, then CRM Online 2011 will automatically analyze the data and you’ll be able to use all of the advanced features included in the application.

That being said, have you ever tried to convince a salesperson to ditch their current methodology and adopt a new process? If you have, you’ll know it can be like talking to a tree—there’s simply no interest. Despite how simple and pain-free it is to enter data into Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and the online version, CRM Online, some people still need to see a personal benefit before they begin dedicating any of their time to entering data into the application.

If you do find yourself running into this issue with your team, here are some tips you can use to get them interested in adopting Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Reporting Capabilities

First off, you should aim to demonstrate the reporting capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Most people, even CRM users, are ignorant of the flexibility and power of reports the reports in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Reports are generated on-demand or on an automated and customizable schedule. Because these reports can be generated on-demand, you can quickly create a report for a user who has never used them before but who has still been tracking their data in CRM. We’ve found that a large portion of salespersons were manually constructing these reports already in some sort of legacy system, or even with pen and paper! As soon as you show them a system that automates the process, they jump for joy.

Sales Pipeline report

Speaking of reports, make sure you demonstrate the Sales Pipeline report to your users. This specially crafted report is designed to give you a top-down overview into your entire sales process. We recommend pulling your whole team together for this demonstration, as it can be a great motivator for them to see their combined efforts displayed in the Sales Pipeline. Reports such as the Sales Pipeline require that accurate data is entered by all your users, or the pipeline itself won’t be accurate. You can also use an advanced report in Microsoft Dynamics CRM to demonstrate the figures of a salesperson whose sales have increased since adopting Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This should both keep your current users interested in the application and spark an interest in some users who may have been ignoring it before.

Workflows

Salespeople around the world know that building rapport and trust with a potential customer can be one of the most difficult pieces of the sales puzzle. One of the easiest ways to build rapport is simply by being reliable. If you track your upcoming appointments and various deadlines in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, it will automatically remind you as the date approaches. Do you want to send all of your customers an e-mail on their birthday, but have too many birthdays to remember? That’s no problem; you can create a workflow that would automatically e-mail a contact on their birthday, using an e-mail template that fills in their key information with a few kind words. This same process can be applied in a myriad of different situations, such as a holiday greeting or a three-month, post-purchase follow-up.

Social Activity Feeds

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is packed full of features. We still regularly discover different things about the application after nearly a year of using it. As if that isn’t enough, Microsoft regularly adds new features to the application through major service updates. One feature that was recently added and seems to be sparking a fair bit of interest among salespeople is social activity feeds. These feeds allow users to garner a quick overview on the moves their customers and other users have been making out in the field.

Leaders should lead

One of the easiest ways you can draw attention to the power of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is by having your team leaders use and learn the application. It’s simple: If users see their leaders using and benefiting from Microsoft Dynamics CRM, they are more likely to be interested in the product as well, if only to see how they can take advantage of it too.

CRM Success Portal

Despite taking all of the actions we just recommended, some of your team members may still hesitate. For them, the system can seem too complex to learn, and they don’t want to read a manual either. That’s why we at xRM developed the Success Portal for Microsoft Dynamics CRM users, a web site full of helpful tutorial videos aimed at combating this exact issue. It’s a true treasure trove of help. We also extend the invitation to all of our partner-hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers.

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Getting the Most Out of Your CRM Online Trial – CRM for Outlook

At this point in our evaluation of our free 30-day trial of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, we have conducted most of our analysis from an internet browser. However, we heard that Microsoft CRM will work within Outlook as well, allowing us to utilize virtually all CRM Online functionality from the familiar Outlook client that we use every day in our office. Luckily, we do not need to purchase CRM Online to try CRM for Outlook; we can use our trial organization to see if it’s right for us.

Before we can add our organization to Outlook, we must first install the CRM 2011 Outlook client. There are two ways of doing this, both are very easy. However, there are a couple of important things to know before we install the client.

First, we have to make sure that we have administrator rights on our machine. Second, if we already have the CRM 4.0 Outlook client, and have updated to CRM Online 2011, we must uninstall the CRM 4.0 Outlook client. Thirdly, the Outlook client for CRM Online 2011 is compatible with Outlook 2003 with Service Pack 3, Outlook 2007, and Outlook 2010. Lastly, if we currently have Outlook 2010, we have to determine if it is 32-bit, or 64-bit.

The first way we can install the CRM 2011 Outlook Client is through the “Get CRM for Outlook” button, located below the ribbon in CRM Online, as shown below. This button automatically appears when we log into CRM Online, if we do not already have the client installed. By clicking the button, an automated installation will begin. However, this button will not appear if it has been closed previously by clicking the “X” on the far right side. It also can be disabled for all users by our system administrator, in which case, it will not automatically appear upon signing in.

 Getting the Most Out of Your CRM Online Trial - CRM for Outlook

We can also install the CRM 2011 Outlook Client from the Microsoft Download Center. If we are using Outlook 64-bit, we’ll click the Download button on the top (CRM2011-Client-ENU-amd64.exe). For the 32-bit Outlook, we’ll click the Download button on the bottom. We will be given the option to save the file locally or to run it. Then we will be led through a simple, step-by-step, installation wizard.

 Getting the Most Out of Your CRM Online Trial - CRM for Outlook

Once we complete the wizard, we can access all of our CRM Online information in a single application, because all of the data is automatically synchronized between Outlook and CRM Online. Any record that is synchronized with Outlook will also be available on any web enabled mobile device, such as Windows Phone, Blackberry, and iPhone.

Another great tip to know when evaluating the CRM Online trial is that we can connect to multiple CRM Online organizations from Outlook. Let’s say that we need to sign up for multiple trials simultaneously, with each one serving a specific purpose. We can then access each organization from Outlook without having to sign out and sign back in to navigate between the two. See the two screenshots below. I can navigate between the organization named “Success Portal”, and the one named “xRM.com” right from Outlook.

 Getting the Most Out of Your CRM Online Trial - CRM for Outlook

 Getting the Most Out of Your CRM Online Trial - CRM for Outlook

Another benefit of using CRM for Outlook is it allows us to automatically track e-mail messages, contacts, and appointments.

Finally, if at any point we experience an issue installing or configuring the CRM 2011 for Outlook client, we can refer to the CRM for Outlook Configuration Troubleshooting Wizard.

Hopefully by this point in your trial of CRM Online you are close to determining whether or not this application is right for your business. Stay tuned for our final entry in this series: “Converting Your Trial Account to a Paid Subscription”.

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Quick tip: Using Excel with Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Have you ever had issues opening exported Microsoft Dynamics CRM data in Microsoft Excel 2010? This can be a frustrating occurrence, but one that may be easily resolved.

The issue:  opening a Data Import template or XML Spreadsheet 2003 file for reimport fails with Microsoft Excel 2010. Basically, Data Import templates and files configured for reimport are in XML Spreadsheet 2003 format. So if you try to open an exported file in Excel 2010, you may be unsuccessful. This issue is not observed when the files are opened with Microsoft Office Excel 2007. The simple resolution to this problem is to first save the file. Once you have saved it to a location specified by you, you can then open it successfully in Excel 2010. If the problem persists however, there a few more things you can try.

The first is you can add “login.live.com” and “signin.crm.dynamics.com” to your browser’s trusted sites. In Internet Explorer, you do this by opening the browser and navigating to Tools > Internet Options from the Menu bar. In the Internet Options window, click the Security tab, click the Trusted Sites icon, and click the Sites button. From here you can add the Microsoft Dynamics CRM URLs.

The second option is to unblock the security in the downloaded Excel file. To do this, right-click the downloaded file, and then click Properties. In the General tab, for Security, click Unblock

The third option is to enable Protected View for files originating from the Internet. To do this:

  1. Open Microsoft Excel 2010.
  2. Click the File tab, and then click Options, which opens the Excel Options window.
  3. Click Trust Center in the left pane, and then click the Trust Center Settings… button.
  4. The Trust Center window opens. Click Protected View in the left pane, and then check the box labeled “Enable Protected View for files originating from Internet
  5. Click the OK button. 

Quick tip: Using Excel with Microsoft Dynamics CRM

For more news and tips regarding Dynamics CRM 2011 and CRM Online, check back soon!

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