Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

Advanced e-mail marketing webinar coming up, register now!

Due to the great success of our past webinars, we've decided to continue holding one webinar each month through the end of the year! With that said, I'm very excited to announce the details behind our new upcoming webinar on August 23rd at 10:00am Central time.

Advanced E-mail Marketing within Microsoft Dynamics CRM Using ExactTarget's E-mail Platform
Don't you wish you and your salespeople could tell which prospects opened and clicked on the marketing emails sent from your Microsoft CRM system? Wouldn't it be great to see each individual's responses to your various e-mail marketing efforts directly within the context of all your other CRM data? Shouldn't you be able to access of your key e-mail marketing data directly within Microsoft CRM without having to log into different systems?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, join this webinar to learn how to improve your e-mail marketing and sales efforts by combining Microsoft CRM with ExactTarget's e-mail marketing add-on. As the market leader in on-demand email software solutions, ExactTarget has over 5,500 customers worldwide and best-of-class technology to help you create, deliver and manage professional e-mail marketing initiatives. With Sonoma Partners as their technology partner, ExactTarget developed integration software titled "ExactTarget for Microsoft Dynamics CRM" that allows you to seamlessly access their powerful e-mail marketing tools directly within Microsoft CRM.

With "ExactTarget for Microsoft Dynamics CRM", you can:
- Measure and report on email opens, clicks and bounces
- Deliver personal and relevant content
- Manage profile changes automatically
- Honor opt-out requests for CAN-SPAM compliance

This one hour webinar will give you some background on the "ExactTarget for Microsoft Dynamics CRM" product, and then provide live demonstrations of the integration software working within Microsoft CRM. We'll also explain how you can engage with Sonoma Partners and ExactTarget to setup and deploy your own e-mail marketing campaigns with Microsoft CRM.

I am really excited about this event because the ExactTarget integration software with Microsoft CRM is simply amazing! The direct email feature in Microsoft CRM is nice, but it has some limitations such as:

  • All emails are sent through your mail server, so you need to be very careful about sending large volumes of email.
  • The template editor is somewhat limited and it is tricky (and/or) impossible to include conditional content in the email.
  • Email open, click and bounce data isn't captured or reported on.

Because they're the market leader in e-mail marketing, ExactTarget has answers for all of these issues. And since our company Sonoma Partners helped ExactTarget build the integration software, we know it's technically sound! We've been using the "ExactTarget for Microsoft Dynamics CRM" integration software on our live production system for about 4 or 5 months now and it works like a charm. Here's a quick teaser screenshot that shows how users can send ExactTarget emails to all the records attached to a marketing campaign directly within the Microsoft CRM user interface.

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If you're interested in attending, register now as this event will absolutely fill up! If you can't wait for the webinar and you want to talk about the ExactTarget integration for Microsoft CRM, please contact us and we'll give you all the details.

Yes, we are updating the Microsoft CRM book for Titan

We received a great email last week, and I wanted to share it:

"Mike – I just wanted to drop you a line to let you know that out of every CRM book out there, yours is by far the best. I’ve recommended it countless times to numerous clients. Are you planning on revising it for CRM 4.0?"

vote First, thank you so much for the compliments about the book! And yes, Jim and I are updating the Working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 book for Titan. We probably should have started the writing process sooner, but unfortunately we are just now getting into the process of updating the table of contents and deciding what material to include. When we finished the CRM 3.0 book back in early 2006, it required lots of long nights, weekend work, grumpy wives and screaming kids to get it done on time. I vowed that next time I would start writing earlier to avoid all that non-sense but...I am afraid I'll be in the same boat again this November trying to get this sucker out the door on schedule!

In regards to the updated book contents, we have some tough decisions to make over the next few weeks. Titan will have tons of great new functionality but we're not allowed to make the book any longer (due to page count limits). Consequently, we will have to trim some of the existing material in order to cover the new Titan features. At this point, we're pretty confident we will drop all of the old Chapter #11 titled "Integrating with Additional Applications (custom Web site and SharePoint)" and then increase the lengths of the other chapters. We're also considering dropping some of the material we covered in Chapter #2 titled "Setting Up Your System" in order to make room for new features.

Since we're still finalizing the outline, we're open to suggestions on what people who would like to see. Please vote with blog comments and let us know what you're thinking. For example, we're curious to get feedback on the following topics:

  • We didn't have any room to cover Marketing or Service Scheduling in the 3.0 book, and we're planning on cuttings these modules out of Titan book too. Any strong objections?
  • How much time should we spend on multi-lingual and multi-currency? My gut is that it these features are very important to some customers, but not at all important to most companies in the USA. With that in mind, we're wondering how valuable it would be to cover these topics in exhaustive detail.
  • Are there any specific code examples you want to see included? We're trying to decide if we should update the 3.0 examples (the easiest option of course) or if people want to see new examples (more effort but more benefit for our readers). If you want to see new code samples, please give us specific examples of what you want.
  • How much time (or pages) should we invest to review Microsoft CRM Live specific functionality and its related issues?
  • Is there any need and/or desire for more business level discussion about how to plan and setup the system?

 Thanks in advance for all your help.

Using Microsoft CRM as an Application Platform webinar...recording now available

Today was a tough day at the office for me. We conducted our live webinar titled "How to Replace Your Custom Software Application with Microsoft CRM 3.0 as a Business Software Platform". The good news is that the webinar was very popular and we completely sold out the event again. The bad news is that we had some technical difficulties with LiveMeeting so our attendees didn't get the typical Sonoma Partners best-of-breed experience.

Since we did have some problems with the live event (and consequently the recording would have had problems), we decided to conduct the webinar again this morning with no one in the audience. By recording this second presentation (with no tech difficulties) we can let people who are interested view the recording and experience the event as we originally intended. This recording is now available for you to watch:

View "How to Replace Your Custom Software Application with Microsoft CRM 3.0 as a Business Software Platform" Webinar

If you have any questions or comments about the webinar, please don't hesitate to call our office at (312) 627-0700 or contact us via our website.

On a side note, as a small token of appreciation for the webinar attendees who sat through the less-than-ideal live event this morning, we are sending everyone one of these sweet Sonoma Partners / Microsoft CRM journal books and a Microsoft Dynamics t-shirt. Nice!

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Partner conference wrap up

Well despite my best intentions, I wasn't able to write any blog updates last week during the Partner conference. If you've never attended a Microsoft conference before, it might seem hard to believe but it is difficult to find just 30 or 40 minutes of time where you can just sit down and write.  The conference events start early in the morning and runs non-stop throughout the day. Since almost everyone from the Microsoft CRM ecosystem is in one spot for the week, I try to take to advantage of that and book as many meetings as possible to catch up with folks I might not see too often. You also need to spend some time to hit the Expo floor and just poke around for anything interesting there. And when the official conference events wrap up around dinner time, the real fun begins. There are tons of parties and social events in the evening and therefore getting to bed before 1:00am is a unusual occurrence! Well enough about my sob story, let me try and wrap up my thoughts on the event:

  • Once again, Microsoft CRM was one of the major stars of the conference! Microsoft COO Kevin Turner had only one product demo in his opening keynote on Tuesday, and guess which one of the thousands of Microsoft products got the honor? Yes, Microsoft CRM. 
     
  • During that same Kevin Turner keynote, Microsoft did something I NEVER thought I would see. Microsoft announced HARD dates for when they will ship products...and I'm talking about major products here. Kevin said they will ship Visual Studio 2008, SQL Server 2008 and BizTalk Server 2008 all on February 27th, 2008. I almost fell out of my chair when he said that. Usually they will say stuff like "later this year" or "first half 2008", so for them to give a very specific date is really shocking. And really exciting too I might add. On a side note, I asked one of the Microsoft CRM developers what he thought of this hard date announcement and his response was "I am glad I am not on that team" so I am sure there will be lots of long nights and cases of Red Bull for those developers over the next six months.
     
  • The big news of the conference was that Microsoft announced its Live CRM pricing. There is so much to talk about on this topic, I am working on a separate dedicated blog post just to cover this news in detail.
     
  • In addition to the pricing announcement, Microsoft released information about the Live Customer Early Access Program. If your company is interested in getting on board with Titan before it goes live to the public, please contact us and we'll try our best to get you into the program.  You can also try to apply at http://www.crmlive.com.
     
  • Beyond the CRM Live pricing announcement, the energy around Microsoft CRM Titan is incredible! Of course there were several closed door meetings on Titan, but it was great to see that there were three public sessions on Titan at the event:
    • MBS003 Prepare for "Titan" - Part 1: Build Business Value and Revenue Opportunities with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and the Microsoft Integrated Stack
    • MBS008 Prepare for "Titan" - Part 2: Build Business Value and Revenue Opportunities with Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM and Software Plus Service
    • MBS011 Prepare For "Titan" - Part 3: Compete and Win in the CRM World
       
  • Denver was a near-perfect host city. The weather was flawless, except for some light rain on Monday night that caused me to miss Huey Lewis and the News (yes, Huey Lewis and the News) performing at Invesco Field. Like San Diego, most of the bars and restaurants are within walking distance of the Denver convention center so it is very convenient for attendees. In addition we were able to book a hotel right next to convention center so that made our lives easier too. The only other minor complaint about logistics was the ridiculously long security lines at the airport when I left, but we obviously can't lay blame for that on conference organizers.
     
  • I was lucky enough to receive an invite to participate in the Worldwide Partner Conference Invitational golf event at Bear Dance golf course on Monday. The course had amazing mountain views, and it was a first-class event from start to finish. How did I hit 'em? Don't ask. I know that golf doesn't sound like work, but I really did make some great business connections at the event...at least that's my story with my wife. :)
     
  • Microsoft setup some time for us to meet with CRM industry analysts so that they could get a partner perspective on Titan and CRM Live, and that was interesting to say the least. One publication was very insightful and asked lots of questions regarding the CRM industry and marketspace. Another group spent 15 of our 30 minutes getting coffee and unfortunately I think they might have had a little anti-Microsoft agenda. How do I know? At the end of the meeting I asked the publication if there was anything else I could help with and they said (no joke) "Not unless you have something negative to say about Microsoft". Yikes.
     
  • I didn't spend too much time in the Expo, but here are some quick observations:
    • Microsoft had the Surface table there, and it did look cool. However, it was behind a rope line so they were not encouraging people to play with it. Even if they did let us play with the Surface table, it would not have mattered because the line just to see the thing was massive.
    • A company from the United Kingdom called TeamKnowledge had a somewhat interesting call scripting add-on for Microsoft CRM called TK Dialogs. Unfortunately I have no idea what it costs, and the person I spoke to at the booth wouldn't even give me a ballpark number.
    • SiteCore has one of the most unique user interfaces I've ever seen within a web browser. They totally mimicked the Windows UI with Internet Explorer, and it looks real sharp. If I ever need a web content management system, I would definitely look them up.
    • I can't get over how many Microsoft CRM add-ons/ISV's I saw at that the show. It seems like every Tom, Dick and Harry has an add-on nowadays! That's great for customers, but I must admit that it is difficult for Partners to stay up to speed on all these various add-ons.

Below are some of the pictures I took at the event, I particularly enjoyed the giant bear standing outside the convention center window.

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Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM Preview video and the new Resource Center

The Partner conference doesn't even start until tomorrow, but there's already some news about Titan coming out! I was poking around the Digital Worldwide Partner Conference website this morning and I found this short 3 minute video that previews easy on-the-fly customization of Dynamics Live CRM. Microsoft CRM GM Brad Wilson conducts the demo and you can get a peek at the new Titan system, although the video of the software screenshots are somewhat grainy. Brad also lets the cat out of the bag regarding the new "Resource Center" that will appear in Titan...very cool! Brad describes the Resource Center as "building an area to provide more tips and techniques for our customers to use." 

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Sonoma Partners recognized by Microsoft as a member of the 2007 President's Club

The past week has been slow for blog posts because I've been out on vacation for the 4th of July. However, I expect things will really ramp up over the next week as I'll be at the Microsoft Partner Conference in Denver from Sunday night through Thursday morning. You can bet there will be LOTS of news about the next version of Microsoft CRM code-named Titan, and there will also be some news about the upcoming Microsoft CRM Live service offering.

One piece of Sonoma Partners news that did happen this week when I was out is that Microsoft awarded us as a member of the 2007 President's Club! Here's the official description of what the President's Club means:

The 2007 President’s Club program recognizes exceptional sales and customer add performance for Microsoft Dynamics solutions during the Microsoft 2007 fiscal year which spans July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2007. President Club recognizes the top 5% within each region. US partners can qualify for President's Club with $500,000 of President's Club Sales.

What does that really mean? It just boils down to the fact that we sold a LOT of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 in the past 12 months...and we're looking forward to doing even better in 2008!