CRM: Why your company needs one!

August 26th, 2014

Why do you need a CRM system within your organization? Well, to start, CRM first stands for Customer Relationship Management, which is exactly what it does. A CRM tool is intended to help track interactions with current and future customers for the entire company.

Customer relationship management

What value can a CRM system bring and how do you know what to look for? Here is a list below:

Maintain Institutional Knowledge

One of the most valuable aspects of a good CRM is to have a repository of information about your company’s opportunities and customers. This is probably one of the most overlooked aspects of a good CRM. Using a shared spreadsheet on a network drive just doesn’t cut it. A disgruntled employee might delete the file. Invest in a platform with role-based security.

Coordinate Across Departments

It’s about more than just sales and salespeople. Have you ever called a customer to talk about your new offering only to find out that they are having a major problem right now?  Most of us have had that happen. Ensure that your entire organization uses the platform to document customer interactions. Of course, your salespeople need the discipline to check the system before contacting the customer.

Tight Email Integration

Most of your communication is likely via email. Don’t make your team jump through hoops to capture email conversations in the CRM. If you don’t have seamless integration with your email system, you are either using an antiquated email platform, or a soon-to-be-outdated CRM platform. Once you type the client or prospect’s name the system should forever link that email to their CRM record.

Native Mobile Support

I don’t need to convince you that mobile is essential. If your team can’t access what they need from tablets and smartphones, then you’ve made a bad investment. When the customer calls while you are on the road, you should have easy access to everything about their account.

Effective Follow-up and Automation

The greatest value in an effective CRM platform is the ability to remind sales reps to follow-up with opportunities at the right time.

Know the Three Things You Need

Focus on the most important elements that tell you “which opportunities are real.” For my money, you should be tracking 1) What problem is the customer trying to solve; 2) Why is it important for them to solve that issue with urgency; and 3) How will they measure success of the solution. If you have that information, you are 90% of the way toward successful, same-side selling.

To view the original article, click here.

Tableau: Building the Next Generation of Data Analysis

August 20th, 2014

Helping people see and understand their data drives everything Tableau does. Put together an Academy Award-winning professor, a brilliant computer scientist at the world’s most prestigious university and a savvy business leader with a passion for data. Add in one of the most challenging problems in software – making databases and spreadsheets understandable to ordinary people, and what are the results? You have just recreated the fundamental ingredients for Tableau’s products. At Tableau, they are continually growing and building their technologies for the future.

What are some new features that they just unleashed?

Story Points
Create compelling, interactive, data-driven stories. Assemble sheets and dashboards into a narrative arc that tells the story in your data. Capture key insights with annotations, highlights and filters. Add descriptions to emphasize findings. Make your story interactive to encourage further exploration.

New Map Designs
Maps are critical to geographic analysis and have received a major overhaul in Tableau 8.2. This includes new map designs produced in collaboration with Stamen, worldwide detailed levels of zoom, an improved mapping server and support for high DPI displays.

Later in the road map, icons may be used instead of position marks making it easier to read.


Visual Data Windows
Tableau redesigned the data connection experience from the ground up. Connect to multiple tables, add joins with one click, and preview your data to make sure you’ve got what you need. You can also modify field properties, add data source filters and extract your data.


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Video Overview: Microsoft Social Listening for Marketing, Sales and Customer Service

August 13th, 2014

Microsoft Social Listening is a powerful new service that your organization can use to monitor social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. Whether integrated into your customer relationship management (CRM) solution or into a stand-alone one, Microsoft makes it easy to make social part of everything you do.

Watch the video below to learn how your marketing, sales and customer service teams can use Microsoft Social Listening to track products, brands, competitors and campaigns globally and in real time to gain a true understanding of your customers and your business across the social web.

Social for Everyone

August 6th, 2014

Social has changed the way people engage and communicate. Today’s customers are more informed and getting their information in new ways and from new sources. 2Decisions are influenced by discussions online and user reviews. In fact, 75% of B2B customers are likely to use social media to influence their purchase decisions, and customers are over 60% of the way through the sales cycle before they contact you.

Most of today’s social listening tools, however, are so complex and expensive that they’re only available to an elite few —which means relevant information rarely gets to the front lines who need it. How can you get this valuable information?

Microsoft Social Listening is a powerful new service that your organization can use to monitor social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. Use Microsoft Social Listening to track products, brands, competitors and campaigns globally and in real time to gain a true understanding of your customers and your business across the social web.

Who can benefit from Microsoft Social Listening? Here is the breakdown below:

Social for Marketing

  • Campaign monitoring: understand what people think of your marketing messages on social media in real time.
  • Brand and product sentiment: learn what people really feel about your business.
  • Top influencer tracking: Identify who is most actively talking about your brand, products and services and how influential they are.

Social for Sales

  • Target account tracking: Monitor key developments at your top accounts.
  • Competitive intelligence: Gain important insights about your competitors.
  • Social buying signals: Spot purchasing signals and generate leads from the social web.

Social for Service

  • Real time alerts: quickly identify customer issues and trends.
  • Social customer service: engage with customers and resolve issues across the social web.
  • Display social charts and posts within Dynamics CRM dashboards or accounts.

Social insights can facilitate amazing customer experiences, ensuring that messages resonate while highlighting trends that impact your brand. Whether integrated into your customer relationship management (CRM) solution or into a stand-alone one, we make it easy to make social part of everything you do.

Video: Quick Tips for CRM for Tablets

July 30th, 2014

Watch this video and learn some quick tips about maximizing your CRM on a tablet.

30 Tips from Microsoft for Moving Your Data into a CRM

July 23rd, 2014

Microsoft Dynamics has spent the last 17 years working on integration of CRM, marketing automation and ERP. In those years, they’ve collaborated with thousands of different customers’ integration projects and all the data that comes with it.

Read these great tips provided from them that will help you move your data into a CRM:

1. Define the word ‘integration” so everyone in your company understands it
2. Assume that people don’t understand and need more explanation
3. Have a common goal and stick to it
4. Aggregate your data in stages, not all at once
5. Have milestones along the way with metrics to monitor the results
6. Know that your budget may not include 100 percent of the costs (there are always hidden surprises)
7. Be open about the possibility of outsourcing certain functions
8. Clearly understand each of the systems involved in your integration project
9. Reality often varies from the documentation
10. Anticipate inconsistencies
11. Many integration tasks are one-time events
12. It may be more cost-effective to bring in an experienced installer
13. You can’t get where you’re going unless you’ve carefully mapped your way there
14. Involve stakeholders every step of the way
15. Bad data discourages user adoption
16. “Good” data is good in the context of the system currently using it
17. Cleaning data properly requires multiple passes, processes and vigilance
18. You’ll be more efficient if your processes can serve you again and again
19. Break the project down into manageable tasks and prioritize
20. Be careful to only make changes that will survive the next vendor upgrade
21. Use APIs wherever and whenever possible (this creates flexibility)
22. Resist achieving performance increases by going “directly to the data”
23. Exercise caution when deciding to replicate data instead of integrating it
24. When you must replicate, include an intermediary quality assurance step so you don’t transfer bad data
25. Manage your user’s response to your system first and foremost (it’s valueless unless they use it)
26. Find champions within the user base to help promote your cause
27. Commitment to specific results is critical, but remember that preserving some agility always helps
28. The real measures of success are the results users get from using your integrated solution
29. The best way to prevent users’ fears is to keep them involved and hands-on as much as possible
30. Your project is only successful when your users are successful

To read the original article, click here.


White Paper: CRM in the World of Buyer 2.0

July 16th, 2014

In a rapidly changing business world, sales organizations are under intense pressure to differentiate both their offerings as well as the customer experience. Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides an exceptional platform for companies to raise their game by supporting three key drivers of competitive advantage for sales in today’s world of informed buyers.

In the white paper, CRM in the World of Buyer 2.0 you learn more about:99

Sales Process Enablement

The ability to implement and evolve the sales “playbook” for better execution.

Sales Agility

The ability “serve up” just in time customer intelligence and provide context-based methodology guidance in real time.

Sales Mobility

The ability to provide anytime, anywhere access to vital CRM information for “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) workforce.

Click here to read the white paper.

Is Marketing Automation the Right Fit for Your Organization?

July 9th, 2014

Are you considering implementing a marketing automation tool at your organization? Here are the top benefits that will aid you in your decision.Businessman circling a marketing bubble

It’s a time saver.

You can create multiple campaigns and posts ahead of time and schedule them for a time and date in the future.

CRM integration.

Rather than having to manually segments customers based on their needs and preferences, some marketing automation solutions allow you to simply create restrictions that will allow customers to be automatically separated. This can be integrated with your current database of customers located directly in your CRM system.

Make the most of your staff resources.

With an automated solution, a single staff member can execute complex and ongoing campaigns and can connect with many more customers than would be possible manually.

Maintain consistency.

If you have automated posts or tweets scheduled, your account stays fresh and up to date so visitors know that you are an active and engaged business. A stale or inconsistently updated social media account may be the sign of a business that cannot properly manage its customer communication or, worse, does not view it as important.

Detailed reporting.

A great solution will provide you with detailed graphs, statistics and other report data that you can analyze in order to optimize your future campaigns. Having data from your campaigns automatically collected and organized makes it simple to review this essential data.

Save money.

If you are looking to efficiently manage your budget, marketing automation can be an ideal solution. By reducing the need for staff to spend as much time and effort creating and distributing messages and collecting data, you can make the most of your resources.

Brand awareness.

Allowing customers to interact with your business in multiple ways makes it easy for customers to reach you in a way that is convenient for them, and it increases your visibility which helps to draw in new customers. Some automated marketing solutions even offer multiple channels in a single solution.

Not a techie? No problem.

Marketing automation is simple even for people who are not technically inclined. With most automated marketing solutions that are now available, you do not need any coding or design experience to create great campaigns. Most solutions offer ready-made templates, easy to use editors and helpful information to guide you through the creation and distribution processes.

Easy nurturing.

No longer do you have to only connect with each lead manually, which can be time-consuming. An automated marketing solution can help you reach out to a potential lead right from the beginning of their interaction.

Customer profiling.

Marketing automation helps you to build more useful and detailed customer profiles. An automated solution is always gathering information based on customers’ purchases, email opens and responses, selected preferences and more. All this data is stored for future use, to allow you (and your handy automated marketing solution) to reach out to each customer more effectively.

To view the original source, click here.

eBook: 5 Cool Things You Can Do with CRM for Tablets

July 2nd, 2014

The first step of course is to install the Microsoft Dynamics CRM app on your tablet from your device’s app store. Once installed, you can now get started! Make sure that you connect to your CRM web address and sign in with your username and password.

Next, read this handy eBook from Microsoft and learn about the 5 cool things you can do with CRM on your tablet by clicking here.


eBook: 10 Keys to Entrepreneurial Success

June 27th, 2014


Learn all the secrets to Pat Sullivan’s success in his eBook. Click here to read it!

As a two-time Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Pat Sullivan has distilled the critical career lessons that drove his remarkable success.

TopLine Strategies is an unabashed supporter of Sullivan and his work. He is a great friend and a strong supporter of TopLine Strategies.

“TopLine Strategies is actively engaged with many of the firms where I have served as a director. Take my word for it – when it comes to business analysis, CRM, revenue related systems and IT staffing – the team’s award-winning services are second to none,” said Sullivan.

Enjoy his eBook! And please let us know if you have any feedback about his eBook that you would like to share.