BY CHRIS JONES | AUGUST 22, 2023 | 9 MINUTE READ
In today's digitally driven business landscape, integrated solutions are the key to unlocking optimal revenue operations. Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Customer Engagement and Sales Insights have emerged as potent Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Sales tools for creating a Revenue Operations function. Businesses can construct an intricate web of systems that work seamlessly by incorporating elements like finance, pricing strategies, proposal management, digital contract signatures, document management, marketing automation, and deep customer insights. Additionally, with Power Platform and Dataverse integration, businesses can further enhance their data insights and solution interoperability.
Still, even in the digital era, integration isn't just about technology—it's about aligning business processes for enhanced functionality. Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Customer Engagement and Sales Insights are spearheading the transformation of Revenue Operations (RevOps). But there's a critical precondition: businesses must deeply understand their requirements and streamline processes before deploying technology.
A Holistic View of Revenue Operations
Revenue Operations, or RevOps, aims to align sales, marketing, customer operations, finance, and data analysis operations across the customer lifecycle. Its goal is to drive revenue growth by breaking down silos between these functions. Microsoft D365 Customer Engagement acts as the central hub in this setup, providing a unified view of customers, while Sales Insights brings valuable data-driven recommendations for sales optimisation.
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The Importance of Strategic Objectives and Business Requirements
The success of a RevOps function isn't determined solely by the technological tools employed but by how effectively they mirror a company's operational needs. Investing time in understanding strategic objectives and defining business requirements ensures that the D365 tools will be used to their fullest potential, tailored to an organisation's unique demands.
A simple 3 step methodology works well for process transformation.
1. Understand your AS-IS process: Identify what works well but, more importantly, what doesn’t work well.
2. Define your TO-BE process: Using strategic objectives as your guide, seek buy-in with the teams, and work with them to redefine the ineffective steps of the processes whilst maintaining the effective steps when creating your streamlined processes. Remember that these are your ideal processes and will guide you in evaluating the most appropriate technology and functions to support them.
3. Implement your streamlined processes in a Phased approach: To be effective, transformation must be people-powered – your team should understand the benefits to them and the business and be the centre of the definition, implementation, go-live and continued improvements. However, they still need to run your business! Therefore, avoid a ‘big bang’ approach and use an agile approach. Prioritise the processes to be streamlined, for example, using strategic priorities or the fastest return on investment. Don’t worry about the initial prioritisation too much, as you’ll reprioritise as you learn about new technology or as the business strategy evolves with your transformation success. You may even plan multiple phases for the transformation of a single process.
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Smooth and Measurable Sales Process at the Core of the Business
It doesn’t matter how many leads the marketing team generates or how good your products are; your business will not meet your targets if you have a dysfunctional or unclear sales process.
The Sales process is the critical process at the heart of your business with which all your other processes ultimately intersect. If you do not clearly define and communicate the sales process, there will be problems as you transform subsequent processes. You do not need to change with a big-bang approach and can execute the transformation in phases. You must be clear on your ideal TO-BE process, review and refine it after every transformation phase, and ensure it’s well communicated to the organisation.
When defining your Sales process, remember the critical elements that determine the process and must also align with each other.
Business strategy: This informs prioritised strategic objectives and affects business requirements. A business must also be expected to pivot or evolve its strategy. Always keep current strategic goals at the forefront of definition and communication, especially important for later phases of a transformation programme.
Aligned process stages and business gateways: You must ensure that all teams are aligned on the sales process stages compared to existing departmental processes to be transformed later. For example, do all agree on steps when a sale is booked, invoiced, and completed, and how does this align with the commission payment?
Sales commissions and bonus incentives: Aligning the sales process with commission and bonus incentive plans is especially important. These plans will influence the sales team's behaviour, and if the incentives are at odds with the sales process, then expensive mistakes and misses can occur.
Common requirements and data terminology: You must consider the needs of existing processes to be transformed later. Suppose the new process does not provide the current process's data, documents, or notifications. In that case, the overall process can quickly fail, leading to further misses, mistakes, costs, or loss of revenue.
Once you have defined your processes and transformation programme, D365 Customer Engagement and Sales Insights is an ideal platform to support your sales process. The low code / no code capabilities of D365 make it easy for non-developers to create an effective solution to support the defined process.
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Effective training is essential to any transformation project, especially to drive excellent user adoption in software implementations. Training can often be a secondary consideration or not given sufficient resources. To elevate learning, the Knowledge Team (KT) is a critical resource within the Revenue Operations group.
Not only do the KT provide effective learning for internal teams to ensure transformation programmes are effectively communicated and understood, but the same highly effective learning for products, critical operations, and processes must also be provided to customers and partners to ensure smooth revenue delivery.
To provide and manage consistent, practical, and effective training, whether remotely or face to face, the KT should implement and maintain a Learning Management System (LMS), and their responsibilities must include regular internal and external communications. A well-documented vision and evolution of processes are critical to managing and delivering effective learning and adoption that drives productivity improvements to increase revenue.
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The Financial Backbone
Whether your organisation requires the enterprise D365 Finance & Operations (F&O) or D365 Business Central for SMB, both are comprehensive solutions for financial management. The deployment becomes more impactful when configuring a company's fiscal policies and procedures. By mapping out financial workflows, from invoice approvals to budget allocations, businesses can tailor Business Central to their precise needs.
Either solution is the finance backbone, interfacing seamlessly with the other D365 solutions. This combination enables real-time visibility into financial data, making forecasting more accurate. Whether it's about recognising revenue or projecting cash flow, these integrations equip businesses to make data-driven decisions swiftly.
Often, the simple elements of integration provide very effective streamlining. For example, on closing a deal in the Sales Hub module of D365 CE, a sales order will be transmitted to finance for review, generating a new customer account and invoice without any further data entry by the finance team. The invoices and payments will also be visible in the Sales and Customer Services hubs of D365 CE. This means the sales and customer operations teams are constantly updated with the latest information without requesting help from the finance team. This simple example saves significant time and cost by removing effort and delays in response whilst generating revenue more rapidly.
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Streamlined Pricing, Proposal, and Contract Management
Before jumping into technology, companies must define pricing strategies, discount policies, proposals, and contract workflows. By mapping these processes clearly, D365 can be configured and integrated with specialist document management and digital signature solutions to automate and expedite proposal creation, pricing adjustments, and digital contract signatures in significantly shorter timelines.
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SharePoint: More than Just Document Storage
Though SharePoint is often seen as a document repository, its true potential lies in facilitating document-driven workflows, enforcing standards, and maintaining security access for confidentiality and privacy. By understanding how documents like contracts, proposals, sales plays, and marketing collaterals are created, reviewed, and approved, SharePoint can be customised to drive these workflows seamlessly.
Marketing Automation: From Lead to Conversion
Marketing automation is not a one-size-fits-all. Companies must first define customer personas, lead scoring criteria, and nurture paths. It’s essential to determine the responsibilities and handovers between sales, marketing, and customer success teams for these nurture paths, paying close attention to how these align with the core sales process and commission and bonus incentive plans. With these in hand, marketing automation can be tuned to ensure every lead is engaged with relevant, timely content.
Automated marketing tools interfaced with D365 CE ensure that lead nurturing and client communication happen seamlessly. It not only helps in maintaining consistent brand communication but also in monitoring campaign performance, paving the way for informed adjustments.
And whilst many marketing automation solutions can be integrated with D365, it’s essential to understand how the marketing automation solution supports your defined processes and objectives and whether they align with the core Sales process supported by the D365 Customer Engagement CRM solution. The core architecture of different solutions often varies, leading to complex integration projects that distract the business. The advantage of D365 Marketing is the ‘plug and play’ nature of the data architecture. When you implement, you require limited attention to data integration and can focus on configuring your streamlined business processes. If you have limited technical resources, focusing on business processes is a massive benefit to realising business objectives.
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Gaining Real Insights from Sales Performance and Customer Data
Sales and Customer data is only as valuable as the insights drawn from it. By first identifying what metrics and KPIs are critical to business success, D365 Customer Insights and D365 Sales Insights can be tailored to highlight these, offering actionable insights rather than overwhelming data.
D365 Customer Insights, an advanced analytics solution, can provide a unified view of customer data, generating personalised insights to enhance customer experiences.
D365 Sales Insights is designed to empower sales teams with actionable insights derived from data using advanced AI capabilities. It provides sales teams with a clearer understanding of their customers, helps prioritise tasks, and streamlines operations, leading to better sales outcomes and improved customer relationships.
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Power Platform and Dataverse: Beyond Default Integration
The real power of Power Platform and Dataverse lies in their adaptability. Rather than sticking to default integrations, businesses should first define their inter-departmental workflows, data-sharing needs, and reporting requirements.
The Power Platform, comprising Power Apps, Power Automate, Power Virtual Agents, and Power BI, coupled with Dataverse, acts as the glue that holds the integrated solution together. Power Apps can create custom business applications, Power Automate can streamline repetitive tasks and paperless processes, Power Virtual Agents can develop sophisticated chatbots, and Power BI can transform raw data into meaningful insights. Dataverse provides a unified and scalable data platform across the entire connected solution.
Both elements' power, reach, and ease of use ensure that data flows seamlessly between different functions, providing consistent and up-to-date insights.
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Delivering Tailored Insights to Business Leaders
Leaders need information, not data. By understanding what business leaders require for decision-making, from sales performance and forecasts to customer satisfaction scores, D365 can be configured to deliver these insights in a digestible format, ensuring leaders have what they need when they need it.
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In a world that's moving towards integrated systems, the combination of Microsoft D365 Customer Engagement, Sales Insights, and other modules backed by the Power Platform and Dataverse offers businesses a formidable toolset. Not only does it streamline operations, it also ensures that companies are always ahead in decision-making and customer engagement.
Integrating Microsoft D365 for Revenue Operations is about driving efficiency, automation, and insights. However, its effectiveness is rooted in the preliminary understanding of business processes. By mapping out and streamlining these processes, businesses ensure that their technological investments are aligned with their operational needs, paving the way for fundamental transformation and genuinely realising the promise of RevOps – enhanced revenue generation through operational excellence.
If this overview resonates, feel free to contact me to discuss how I could help you transform your revenue operations.
CHRIS JONES, FOUNDER & DIRECTOR, JBSO GROUP
Chris has experience in several CRM solutions and sales operations, including creating Sales and Revenue Operations 'from the ground up' and transforming existing functions. Most recently, he created a new Sales and Revenue Operations function within Coats PLC using Microsoft D365 technology, was a member of the Microsoft D365 Customer Advisory Board, and worked with Microsoft Customer Insights and Sales Insights Product Groups to provide business requirements and test & refine new features.
This article is also published LinkedIn: Understanding Before Implementing: Harnessing Microsoft D365 for Streamlined Sales and Revenue Operations (LinkedIn)