Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

Sales and Marketing webinar recording posted

This morning we conducted our webinar titled "Improve Sales and Marketing Effectiveness with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0". If you weren't able to attend, we posted the webinar recording on our website:

Improve Sales and Marketing Effectiveness with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0
The most effective customer relationship management systems make it easy to capture, store, use and share customer data. If you're like most companies, you want a CRM system that's powerful, yet so simple to use, that you'll wonder how you ever managed to successfully market and sell without it.
Join Mike Snyder, principal of Sonoma Partners and co-author of Working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0, for a webinar presentation of the sales and marketing functionality within Microsoft CRM, including:

  • Tracking and viewing customer information and account activity
  • Creating timely forecasts and accurate reports
  • Working seamlessly with Microsoft Outlook, Excel and Word
  • Developing and managing marketing campaigns
  • Email distribution tools using ExactTarget

Original Event Date: Thursday March 20, 2008
Duration: 55 minutes
View recording now

Here's a list of the questions that were asked (and answered) during the webinar...check out the recording for our answers.

Asked: Can you have the system automatically start the sales process workflow?

Asked: What kind of hourly email send rate can ExactTarget produce?

Asked: When emails are tracked in CRM, do they have to have the numeric code that shows up by default? I don't want recipients to see the CRM number, looks hokey.

Asked: What kind of hourly email send rate can ExactTarget produce?

Asked: Does the new email mail merge functuion support images?

Asked: my company has the IT platform that fits microsoft products, but my partner business uses a lotus notes environment. they most likely will need as their tool. does MS CRM 4.0 have an interface to integrate forecast reporting?

Asked: Where/how can we contact you/your firm to demo CRM Live?

Asked: 1-to-1 email marketing possible? i.e. customized documents attaching

Asked: Can you point us to some good resources for building a "CRM culture" in an environment that's never had CRM, and anything you recommend from Microsoft for the implementation process (needs analysis, configuration tips, user training)?

Asked: Do you have contact info for ExactTarget?

Asked: Thank you so much. I wish we'd worked with you instead of another provider!

Asked: Thank you!! Great presentation

Using the Native CRM 4.0 Import for Lookup and Picklist Values

I have recently been asked if you could use the native Tools-Import functionality of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 when importing records with lookup and picklist values. My answer was "of course", as I use it all the time with our production CRM system internally.

However, I never really thought about what I was doing, since it just happen to work for me the first time. I suspect that one of the reasons for my apparent success was that I started by exporting from a view (or advanced find) and used that as my data source template, which CRM in turn used an automatic data map for me. I decided to do some quick research and detail my findings in hopes that it is useful for others trying this.

Here are some key things to consider when importing with the native Import functionality:

  1. You need to have CRM automatically map the data map for your import. To do this, ensure your import columns match EXACTLY the attribute display name. The easiest way to do this is to export from a view or advanced find. Ensure the related records or picklist values exist in the system prior to import.
  2. You can use the display value or the actual value of the lookup or picklist record. For lookup relationships, the display name will be the primary attribute and the record GUID will be its value. For picklist attributes, the display name will be the name shown to users and its value will be an integer.
  3. Ensure you have all required fields in your source data file.
  4. Save your source data file in the CSV format and then run through the native import process.
  5. All records imported through the native Import functionality will be owned by you. If you need the records owned by someone else, you should either use an alternate method of import or simply reassign the records after you get them into the system (manually or with a workflow rule).
  6. If your name (for either the lookup or the picklist) has duplicates, the record will not be imported. You will receive an error similar to A duplicate lookup reference was found. You can avoid this by specifying the GUID (record id of the referenced value) or integer (identifier for the picklist value) instead of the name. Keep in mind that only the record with the duplicate name will fail, not the entire import.

Here is a quick example of importing contacts associated to different parent account records. Let's say that the following two accounts, Contoso and Fabrikam, already exist in your Dynamics CRM system. Fabrikam's record id is 072AA102-11F5-DC11-8C5D-0003FF1FCD52. You now want to import the following 5 contact records from Excel to CRM, and each belongs to one of those two accounts. The Excel file is shown below. This file will show you that you can use either the Parent account's name or identifier and the import will still work fine.

Save your file as a CSV file and then back in CRM, click Tools, then Import Data. Select the CSV file and then click Next. Select the record type (contact in this case) and you should see Automatic dynamically listed for the Map. If you do not see this, then one of your columns does not exactly match an attribute for that record type. Go back and correct your source data file.

Finish the import wizard steps, and then from the Workplace click Imports and you can then monitor your import status from here. The next image shows the actual import record. This record tracks your settings from the Import wizard, as well as what records failed or were created successfully.

Once complete, you will now see your new records in the contact grid.

Of course, the native Import functionality wasn't meant to solve all import challenges. When you find that you have stretched its capabilities, consider the free Microsoft Dynamics CRM Data Migration Manager (DMM) tool, a third party tool like Scribe, or write your own import (using the supported CRM API's of course).

Convergence wrap up

I am wrapping up some emails and getting ready to start the week tomorrow. Since I was out of the office all of last week at Convergence, I expect that tomorrow will be busy! Therefore, I want to post my final thoughts tonight on Convergence 2008 (otherwise it might never get done):


  • Steve Ballmer keynote: Steve is a great speaker and I think he is one of the most direct and straight forward executives I have heard. When he gives his opinion, it isn't full of "corporate speak" and "marketing fluff" and I really appreciate that. Overall I thought his keynote was interesting but I wish he showed more software demos! On the plus side, the two demos that he did show were both for Microsoft CRM.
  • Kirill Tatarinov keynote: This was the first time I heard Kirill speak and I thought he was solid. The demos were for ERP products, but I did think they were pretty interesting.
  • Kevin Schofield keynote: I wasn't able to attend this in person because it was on Friday and I had already left. I plan to watch the recorded version in the next few weeks, again hoping for cool demos.
  • Sold out sessions: I was very disappointed at the multiple stories I heard about "sold out" sessions where our customers and prospects were not able to attend a breakout session/event. Considering the amount of time and money people invest to attend the conference, I think this is simply in-excusable and I hope that Microsoft corrects this in the future.
  • Book launch: We used the Convergence conference to launch our Working With Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 book and it was a great success. On Wednesday, Microsoft gave away approximately 1,500 copies of the book to everyone who attended the Microsoft CRM sessions presented by Brad Wilson (see photo where they put a book on every attendee's chair). In addition, the CRM product team gave away some copies of the book at the Expo trade show. We followed the book giveaways with a Sonoma Partners' celebratory party on Wednesday night, and that event went off perfectly.


  • Space shuttle: On Monday night/Tuesday morning there was a space shuttle launch at 2:30am. I thought about attending the launch in person but the late night timing was too much for me to handle. Amazingly, I woke up in my hotel room at that time and I was able to see the shuttle launch from my window on the 11th floor. Unfortunately there was a heavy cloud cover that night so people could only see the shuttle for about 10 seconds before it disappeared into the clouds! I also heard some horror stories about traffic jams on the return trip for those people who attended the launch in person.
  • Location: This was my first event in Orlando and overall it wasn't too bad. The weather was good, and I was able to walk back and forth between our hotel and the convention center (this is key!). I still think San Diego was the best Convergence location, but Orlando definitely beat Dallas as a Convergence host city. I learned this weekend that Convergence 2009 will be in New Orleans. Now THAT is a city that knows how to host a convention! I attended the Microsoft Partner conference in New Orleans in 2003 and it was one of my absolute favorite events. Convergence 2009 should be outstanding.
  • Logistics: With more than 9,500 people attending from 60+ countries, I can't even imagine how complicated it is to host an event like Convergence. I would say that the event logistics ran pretty smoothly but I did have problems connecting to the WiFi network (too many users) and eating (lunch hall closed at 12:30pm one day!).
  • Overall: Convergence is a "must attend" event for anyone who's serious about Microsoft Dynamics, and I had a great time! I spent most of the week meeting with customers, prospects or people from Microsoft so I only attended one session (about Microsoft CRM of course!). The conference does take a toll on you physically as you start around 7:30am and one can can easily go until 1:00am (or later) on almost every night with the various dinners, parties, etc. Do that five days in a row, and you can imagine how I felt on Friday! However Convergence was worth every single dime we invested, and I'm already looking forward to next year's event.

Convergence initial thoughts: Mobile Express for 4.0 coming soon

Today was the Partner day at Convergence 2008, and I wanted to quickly share some Microsoft CRM news. Brad Wilson and Christian Pedersen from the CRM team made the following announcements:

  • Microsoft will release an updated version of Microsoft CRM Mobile Express that will be compatible with the 4.0 version. Timing of the release is "very soon".
  • Microsoft will release a BizTalk Adapter for CRM 4.0.
  • The next release of Microsoft CRM is planned for the second half of calendar 2009. They said we should expect to see new major releases approximately once every two years.
  • Microsoft CRM Live will release updates approximately every six months:
    • R1 - Open access coming soon
    • R2 - Online marketing / search word integration
    • R3 - Multiple language support
    • R4 - Timed with the next major release of Microsoft CRM
  • All Convergence attendees will get a free 30 day trial of CRM Live.
  • Microsoft partners will get a free 12 month subscription to CRM Live for internal use/demos/etc.

That's about all of the CRM news for today, and I'll try to post as more news as we get it this week.

The new 4.0 books are here!

I returned home from work today to find I received a large package from Microsoft. Much to my surprise, I received my author copies of the new Working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 book! I flipped through the book and everything looks good, and I am excited to start sharing copies with our customers and prospects. The timing is actually perfect because I have a sales demo tomorrow, and now I can hand our prospect a brand spankin' new copy of the book. says the book will be published March 10th (next Monday), so it will be available before you know it. And of course if you're attending Convergence next week, you can get a free copy of the book at several different places.

Convergence just a week away, free book giveaway

This time next week, we'll be in sunny Orlando, FL for Convergence. In my opinion, Convergence is a must-attend event for any customer, prospect, vendor or partner serious about Microsoft Dynamics. I've attended Convergence for the past few years and I'm really looking forward to this year's event.

Back at Convergence 2006, Microsoft gave away several thousand copies of our Working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 off the press. I am very glad to report that Microsoft will give away a few thousand copies of our newly released Working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 book at Convergence 2008. To my knowledge, this will be the first chance to get a physical copy of the book. We have not seen a finished printed copy of the book ourselves, so we're eager to see them! The books will be given away at the following locations (subject to change without notice):

  • CRMGEN The Power of Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Customer Choice   Valencia BC  Wednesday 10:30am
  • CRMGENR The Power of Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Customer Choice   Valencia BC Wednesday 3:15pm
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Kiosk/Tradeshow booth on Thursday and Friday

In addition to the great product learning opportunities (and free books), Convergence offers an unparalleled chance to network and make new contacts. One vendor that we have worked with several times is Upward Momentum, and Chuck Nealis from Upward Momentum will be at Convergence. They recently launched a new product called CRM-XT that allows partners to develop, manage and maintain computer-based-training on behalf of their ERP and CRM customers. Contact Chuck to setup a personalized demo. If you're not a partner, but you'd still like to understand how interactive training can help with your deployment, Chuck and Upward Momentum can help with that too. You can schedule a meeting with him by searching for "upward" in Convergence Connect.