What do you get with a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Trial?

Microsoft provides free trials of Dynamics CRM Online. The trials provide you access to all of the features and functionality of CRM Online, last for thirty (30) days, and allow up to 25 user licenses, which you can assign to other users in your company. After 30 days, your trial organization expires. Microsoft gives you another thirty days to convert your expired trial organization to a paid account before it deletes your data and customizations from its servers.

Create your free Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online trial.

The CRM Online trial can be an excellent tool for determining how well Dynamics CRM Online meets your business’ needs. The trial gives you access to all CRM Online features and lets you import your data and contacts and customize it to incorporate your business logic and workflows. However, while Dynamics CRM has a reputation for being one of the easiest CRM applications to use, mastering it during the trial can feel a bit like translating ancient Greek if you don’t have much experience with CRM. Fortunately, Microsoft provides a few resources to help you get started with your trial.

The first of these resources is the “Get Started” pane. When you first log in to your CRM organization, you will see the Get Started pane presents options that can help guide you through important setup and configuration steps for Users and Administrators. In the “For Users” section, you will find links to guide showing you how to add Accounts and Contacts, set up email accounts, and a More” link that will take you to additional guides that explain other common tasks in CRM Online. In the “For Administrators” section, you can learn how to add Users and customize their privileges and settings, as well as how to perform other critical administration tasks. In the “Configure” section, you can learn how to configure dashboards, turn off the Get Started pane, and install or remove sample data. Until you disable it, the Get Started pane appears at the top of your Dashboard each time you log into your CRM organization. If you have already hidden it, you can show the Get Started pane by clicking the small arrow above “what’s new.”

 the Dynamics CRM Online Get Started Pane

The Get Started pane is a great starting point, but it is not the only resource that Microsoft provides. Through its Microsoft Dynamics CRM Customer Center, Microsoft offers product support resources, including a support blog, community forum, and knowledgebase of articles that cover frequently asked questions and common issues. You can access the Customer Center by selecting Help from the FILE tab in your CRM Online organization.

 Access Help in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

The final resource that Microsoft offers is online training as part of its Business Ready service plans for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Unless you have already invested in Dynamics CRM, you are not likely to want to invest the time and money into Microsoft’s online training program.

If you sign up for your Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online trial with a Microsoft partner, your partner may provide you with additional training resources. For example, xRM.com offers three training resources that can help you get up and running quickly with CRM Online.

The first of these resources is the free “Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics CRM” webinar. The webinar covers the basics of navigating around Dynamics CRM and using its most common features. At the end of the webinar, the CRM instructor from xRM opens the forum to questions that the webinar attendees have.

The second resource is the Success Portal. The Success Portal is an online library of more than 250 training videos dedicated to Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Success Portal accounts are free if you indicate xRM as your Partner of Record, which only takes a minute and is free to do.

The third resource is xRM Quick Start CRM Training. xRM Quick Start CRM Training is an affordable and customizable training program designed to help new CRM System Administrators or company trainers master specific tasks or functions in Microsoft Dynamics CRM quickly. Visit the xRM Quick Start CRM page for more information and current pricing.

xRM is a Microsoft Partner that specializes in CRM and private cloud solutions. Visit www.xrm.com to learn more about its Microsoft Dynamics CRM training and other services.

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What is the Microsoft Dynamics CRM TestDrive?

What is the Microsoft Dynamics CRM TestDriveThe Microsoft Dynamics CRM TestDrive is an interactive demo that illustrates many of the most common functions and features of Dynamics CRM Online. The purpose of the TestDrive is to provide perspective Dynamics CRM Online users with a guided experience that mirrors the way that CRM users in several different roles will utilize CRM on a daily basis. 

The TestDrive begins by asking visitors to select one of four different roles: Sales Representative, Sales Manager, Customer Care Representative, and Customer Care Manager. Next, you are asked to select the number of people who work in your company and the place where you work most often. Make sure that you select 10-25 or more employees or you will not get to experience the full TestDrive. Instead, you will be sent to a different page that urges you to download the CRM Outlook plugin.

Once you click “Start TestDrive,” the TestDrive interface will provide a guided tour through sample activities that each of the four roles might undertake in a day. I chose Sales Manager, so the TestDrive presents me with three activities that a sales manager might wish to complete: Quarterly Review, Opportunity Review, and Advanced Sales Analysis. Flashing orange circles guide me through the steps of the indicated process.

No matter what your position is within your company, it is a good idea to select each of the four roles to get an idea of what employees in various roles will experience if you adopt Dynamics CRM Online.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online TestDrive

Clicking the “Find a Partner” button in the bottom right corner will connect you with a Microsoft Partner, such as xRM.com, in your region with a proven record for helping companies successfully manage a new CRM Online deployment.

Select a partner such as xRM.com to help set up your trial.

The next step after completing the TestDrive is to request a trial. A Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online trial provides you with the opportunity to use CRM with your workflows and data.

Once you have created your own trial of Dynamics CRM, make sure to attend the Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics CRM, a free one-hour webinar presented by xRM. xRM also offers a free CRM training library called the Success Portal. Request your own free Success Portal Account. Both resources can help you properly utilize your CRM trial and help you determine if Dynamics CRM Online will meet your business needs.

I am ready to start my own Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online trial.

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How to Capture Leads Directly Into Your Microsoft Dynamics CRM System

If you have Microsoft Dynamics CRM, it is the central tool that you use to manage relationships with your customers. Your website is one of the key marketing tools at your disposal as no other medium allows you to reach as many potential customers as cheaply. It would be great if the two could function together to grow your business. Because Dynamics CRM does not have a built-in method for capturing leads, getting the information from your web forms into CRM can be a hassle. A third-party solution is required to collect the leads and input them automatically into CRM. xRM Web Gateway is one of the most affordable and capable solutions on the market for turning your website into a potent lead-generating tool.

xRM Web Gateway is a plugin for Microsoft Dynamics CRM that captures leads, contacts, and other information from your website and records them directly in CRM. This affordable solution allows you to map the fields of your web form to any entity or attribute in CRM, including leads, opportunities, and contacts. It also works with custom entities, allowing you to capture information for any custom entity you wish, such as catalog requests, membership applications, and newsletter subscriptions. Web Gateway also works with any existing web forms that you already have; simply point xRM Web Gateway to the URL or upload the file directly. If you don’t currently have any web forms on your web site, you can use one of the many inexpensive or free web form generators available. Or, if you have a web developer in house, you can code the web forms yourself.

The image below shows a custom web form created for Green Leaf Energy and is used on its “Contact Us” page. Each of the fields on the form (“First Name,” “Last Name,” “Email Address,” “Phone,” “Company,” “Country,” “How can we help you today?” and “How did you hear about us?”) are mapped to attributes of the Lead entity in Green Leaf Energy’s Dynamics CRM Online organization.

How to Capture Leads Directly Into Your Microsoft Dynamics CRM System 01

xRM Web Gateway also has a useful field validation feature that helps prevent your web visitors from entering data that exceeds the parameters of CRM. The dynamic field validation detects when a user has inputted data that exceeds the parameters of CRM for string data MaxLength, numeric data ranges (MinValue and MaxValue), and DateTime ranges (MinDate and MaxDate) and notifies the web visitor via an error alert. This feature works well in combination with data validation built into the code of the web forms. In the form above, the data validation settings of the web form require that phone numbers have 10 digits (555-555-5555) and that emails include the “@” sign and a domain (such as xrm.com). If a visitor inputs incorrectly formatted or incomplete data, the web form will require the person completing the form to correct the data that he or she has inputted, ensuring that all of your leads contain usable data.

Because xRM Web Gateway works with any lead in CRM, you get the flexibility to use it to capture any information that you need from the web. You can use xRM Web Gateway to collect leads from your website visitors, contact information from interested volunteers, applications from perspective members, registrants for your webinar, or signups for your newsletter. You can also create custom workflows in CRM that notify your people of the leads assigned to them of the new applications that need processing, register attendees, or add recipients to your mailing list. The end result is an affordable solution that helps you capture leads, contacts, and other information about your customers online and feed that information directly into CRM where your internal workflows can take over.

Technical Information

Web Gateway works with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and Dynamics CRM Online.

Pricing

Click the banner below for more information about current pricing and features.

xRM Web Gateway lead capture tool for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

To learn more about Microsoft Dynamics CRM or explore other innovative solutions, please visit www.xrm.com. xRM is a Microsoft Partner that specializes in CRM and private cloud solutions.

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Update Rollup 14 Released Today

On July 11, 2013, Microsoft released Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Update Rollup 14 for on-premises and partner-hosed deployments. While Update Rollup 14 does not include any user experience changes or new features, it does address several known issues that some Dynamics CRM 2011 users had been experiencing.

The update rollup applies to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Server, Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Microsoft Office Outlook, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Language Packs, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 E-mail Router.

The update can only be installed on machines that are running Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Update Rollup 6 or later.

The following is a list of some of the improvement and hotfixes that are included in the update.

  1. Better user and team caching performance
  2. CRM ribbon no longer disappears in Outlook 2007 clients.
  3. “Show Selected Views” now works in the CRM dashboard.
  4. Description field and notes now display correctly during Print Preview.
  5. Fixes the column formatting problem that some users experienced when conducting Quick Find searches in Outlook.
  6. Once again allows you to add a mail template in CRM (error caused by UR12).
  7. Solves the memory errors that occurred in 32-bit CRM for Outlook when the user went offline.
  8. “Show only my records” now shows only the user’s records and not all records in a lookup dialog.
  9. Prevents users who lack the Publish article permission from publishing articles.

For a complete list, consult the Update Rollup 14 knowledgebase article.

Download Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Update Rollup 14.

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You’ve got a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online trial. Now, what should you do with it?

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Trial

Free Microsoft Dynamics CRM TrialMicrosoft offers free 30-day trials of Dynamics CRM Online. The trial offers a potentially good avenue for evaluating CRM Online for your business’ needs. I say potentially, because many trial subscribers do not use the trial effectively. Dynamics CRM is a powerful and complex piece of software that is frequently intimidating. New users often create new trials, sign in once and then never use them again. However, the potential of a trial to help decision makers evaluate software is undeniable as long as the decision makers use the trial effectively.

Sign up for a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online trial here.

Unless you have worked with Dynamics CRM in the past or have considerable experience with CRM applications in general, you will most likely have a difficult time determining if it will be a good fit for your business. Larger companies can hire CRM consultants to gather requirements, analyze the solutions gaps, and create strategies to bridge the gaps, as well as deploy, configure, and customize the solution. Small businesses generally have to rely on one CRM champion to perform all of those steps.

To evaluate Dynamics CRM in a trial environment, you have to use the software as you will use it once you purchase it. A good first step is to conduct your own requirements gathering.

  1. Is my current CRM system meeting my needs?
  2. Is Microsoft Dynamics CRM a better fit for my organization?
  3. Do I have data that needs to be migrated?
  4. Do I have email marketing, CPQ (configure, price, quote), or other legacy systems that need to be integrated with CRM?
  5. How many user licenses will I need?

A little guidance can go a long way towards helping you determine if Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a good fit for your organization. The “Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics CRM” webinar hosted by Microsoft Partner xRM is an excellent place to start. The one-hour-long webinar provides an opportunity to learn the basics of what Dynamics CRM can do. The webinar begins with an overview of the basic functions, design, and layout of CRM and concludes with a question-and-answer session that gives you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about Dynamics CRM.

Register for the Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics CRM webinar.

 Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics CRM webinar

xRM also offers another educational resource that can be  boon to new CRM users: the Success Portal. The Success Portal is a library of more than 200 Dynamics CRM training videos that are arranged in six different courses that cover setup, configuration, use, customization, etc. Success Portal accounts are free for companies that name xRM.com as their partner of record.

Register for the Success Portal.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM training videos

The webinar and Success Portal will prepare you to make an informed decision about the suitability of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online to meet your business requirements. If you decide during the course of your trial to purchase CRM Online, xRM also offers a more advanced training program called Quick Start CRM Training. The flexible four-hour-long training program is designed to increase the comfort level of new system administrators or users, helping them get up and running quickly.

Click here to learn more about how Quick Start CRM Training can help your organization.

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