What is Microsoft Business Contact Manager for Outlook?

Recently, several of Microsoft Office 365 subscribers have asked us at xRM what Business Contact Management is after a representative at Microsoft recommended it as a possible solution for their customer relationship management (CRM) needs. The Business Contact Manager (BCM) for Outlook® is a free add-on for Microsoft Office® Outlook that can meet the needs of some small business owners who have limited CRM requirements.

Small business owners frequently use Outlook as a central place for storing information, both personal and business. This innovative add-on makes it easier for users, specifically for small business owners, to manage their business relationships more effectively, while still giving them the option of storing their personal data, like calendars, in Outlook itself. Overall, Business Contact Manager for Outlook is helping business owners improve their customer service, sales, and marketing.

Business Contact Management and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Features Compared

Feature Business Contact Manager Microsoft Dynamics®
Price Free* $44/user
Contact & Activity Management Included Included
Account Management Included Included
Lead Management Included Included
Marketing Module Not automated Automated
Case & Service Management Not included Included
Workflow Integration Not Included Included
Excel Exporting Capabilities Included Included
Dashboards & Reporting Module Limited Included
Customizable Data forms Limited Unlimited
Marketing Activity Tracker Included Included
Remote Access Not included Included
Database Microsoft SQL Server Express Microsoft SQL

*Microsoft Office 2010 or 2013 Home and Office or Professional license required.

Business Contact Manager comes with a free SQL database that holds 10GB in storage and is responsible for managing interactions between potential and current customers by organizing customer accounts via keeping track of emails, documents, and phone calls.

Microsoft released the first version of Business Contact Manager in 2003, but now there is a 2013 version which actually provides more tools to the user. In this 2013 version, you can connect your Contact records with the Account records, which lets you see how your business relationships develop over time. Another great feature is the customizable business forms. The ability to modify your forms lets you dictate how your data is organized. For example, now you can customize how you organize your contacts’ information by assigning tabs and filters to those contacts. Another great attribute this tool provides is synchronization. Business Contact Manager lets you view and edit your business contacts from Outlook, SharePoint, or Windows Live Contacts, while keeping record of any changes made to a contact.

Business Contact Manager can help you stay on top of the sales cycle. For instance, you can set up your own rules as to how a lead should be pursued and the system will prioritize them for you so that you can focus on the most important task first. You can also arrange your customers and products, letting you focus your attention to top customers and top-selling products. The abilities of Business Contact Manager extend beyond prioritizing and sorting, however. There is also an option for sales pipelines and sales funnels so you can visualize your business situation which you can then insert into Microsoft Excel® for numerical reports. The connection to Excel is another benefit for anyone trying to connect data with a contact, basically making the BCM an even better place for data sharing and storage.

In addition to sales, marketing is made easy for small business owners with Business Contact Manager. Within the system, you can create and track marketing activities like customer calls, target mailings, and campaigns. Moreover, BCM provides tools so that you can distinguish between active and inactive customers and focus on marketing to those interested in your offering, thus, making mass marketing campaigns more effective. While supporting your marketing efforts, BCM tracks the results of your marketing campaign, so that you are able to closely monitor your progress.

Downloading Business Contact Manager

So how do you get a hold of this gem? It can be downloaded for free from Microsoft’s Download Center if you have Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010 or Office Home and Business 2013, Office Professional, or Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013 (stand-alone editions).

In our next post, we will compare Business Contact Manager and Microsoft Dynamics CRM and help you decide which one better meets the needs of your business.

Read More

Microsoft Announces Pricing for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Fall ‘13

In a surprising move, Microsoft has abandoned the one-price-fits-all strategy for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online that it has embraced since the service debuted in 2008. Gone is the simple $44 per user, per month rate. In its place is a three-tiered pricing strategy designed to give CRM users more options and make Dynamics CRM Online more flexible. Microsoft will offer the three new licenses (at $15, $30, and $65 price points) beginning around October 2013 with the rollout of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Fall ’13.

The new pricing structure is part of a major redesign of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM product line for 2013. Previously codenamed “Orion” (now deprecated), the official product names are “Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Fall ’13” for the online version hosted by Microsoft, and “Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013” for the on-premises and partner-hosted versions. This redesign includes a shift to a “result-driven user interface,” as well as MarketingPilot integration, Yammer integration, and Netbreeze integration. Crucially, the 2013 release will also feature vastly improved mobile CRM functionality at no additional cost!

Here is how Microsoft describes the three licenses that it is introducing in the fall:

Professional ($65*) For the core CRM users, who need the full capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM including sales force automation as well as marketing and customer care. We believe most users will find this license best fits their needs.

Basic ($30*) For sales, service and marketing users who need to manage accounts, contacts, leads, cases and access custom applications as well as for business analysts who require reporting capabilities.

Essential ($15*) For light-weight users who need to access custom applications developed in house or by our vast network of partners.

(*) CRM Online list price shown per user per month in USD, actual pricing might vary by geography. Other fees may apply for add-on services such as additional storage, testing and production instances. Prices are exclusive of any fees you may incur to procure Internet connectivity.

Source: http://community.dynamics.com/crm/b/crmconnection/archive/2013/07/08/introducing-a-more-flexible-and-personal-way-to-buy-microsoft-dynamics-crm-online.aspx#.Udr6mzvqlrU

The game plan that Microsoft is employing appears to be to match the feature set of Salesforce.com while also providing outstanding value. It is clear that Microsoft intends for the Professional license ($65) to go toe-to-toe with Salesforce.com Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud. The Basic license ($30), meanwhile, provides the core features of a modern CRM system. You are essentially getting everything that the current Dynamics CRM Online provides, for $14 less per month (CRM Online is currently $44). Finally, the Essential license ($15) provides a lightweight license to leverage as a platform for custom line-of-business applications. Microsoft has stated that companies can mix and match the three license types within the same organization, providing a lot of flexibility and value.

At xRM, we are looking forward to the upcoming release of Dynamics CRM, and we think that the new pricing licensing options should benefit many businesses.

Read More