Archive for May, 2010

h1

Microsoft Sues Salesforce.com over Patent Infringement

May 30, 2010

You might have seen in the news that Microsoft has filed a lawsuit against Salesforce.com alleging that Salesforce has used Microsoft patents without license.  Microsoft has only filed lawsuits like this three other times in its history, so it was a bit funny this week that Mark Benioff demonized Microsoft as “alley thugs” in his investor conference call.  Beyond the name calling, Benioff went on to say, “Personally, I’m just disappointed to see this from a former leader of our industry, but it’s imminently resolvable, and it’s not material to our day-to-day business. It’s basically a no-impact situation. It’s not something that, I think, anyone needs to make anything of. I think it probably has more ramifications for other cloud vendors than it, honestly, does for us because we’re strong.”

If I were on a conference call with investors, that’s probably what I’d say, too…but if you dig a bit deeper into the actual patent violation suit, this may pose a big problem for Salesforce and its ability to retain its user interface and current feature set.  Eight patents are included in the lawsuit.  None of the patents violated really have anything specifically to do with CRM itself of anything in the Dynamics line.  The patents in question are for pretty basic things — like the automatic updating of software.  Here’s the summary from one of the patents:

Creators of computer software provide the most up-to-date versions of their computer software on an update service. A user who has purchased computer software calls the update service on a periodic basis. The update service automatically inventories the user computer to determine what computer software may be out-of-date, and/or need maintenance updates. If so desired by the user, the update service computer automatically downloads and installs computer software to the user computer. By making periodic calls to the update service, the user always has the most up-to-date computer software immediately available. The update service may also alert the user to new products (i.e. including new help files, etc.), and new and enhanced versions of existing products which can be purchased electronically by a user from the update service.

So, back on December 1, 1998 when this patent was granted, automatic updates for software wasn’t something that everyone had.  Back in 1998, it’s possible that you didn’t have high-speed internet at your office, and it’s likely that you didn’t have it at home.  Microsoft pioneered that technology, and automatic updates provide one of Salesforce.com’s biggest strengths.  The whole “no software” concept is centered around their ability to deliver updates quickly and without the users intervention. 

The eight other patents in the Microsoft suit deal with a variety of underlying web and computing technologies, including “Method and system for mapping between logical data and physical data,” and “System and method for providing and displaying a web page having an embedded menu.”

We’ll see how this lawsuit plays out, but I suspect that Salesforce has picked a fight that it should have tried to avoid.  This fiscal year, Microsoft spent 9.5 billion (with a ‘b’) on research and development.  That’s more money than Salesforce has made.  Ever.

Advertisements
h1

Adding Sales Literature

May 29, 2010

Leaflets, sales slicks, price lists, galore!  Keep this stuff handy in the Sales Literature feature, and you’ll never have to go hunting for that price list again.

Sales literature can be associated with any product, and associating your sales literature will make easy for your salespeople to bring up product-specific documentation.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Click Sales on the Navigation Pane, and then click Products.
  2. Open an existing product or click the New button to create a new product.
  3. On the left, click Sales Literature.
  4. Click the New/Add buttons on the Actions toolbar to link sales literature to this product.

Tips & Tricks

  • If you need more complex document management, consider integrating Sharepoint into your CRM database.

 

h1

Viewing emails attached to CRM records

May 29, 2010

Once you’ve tracked an Outlook e-mail in CRM, you can view that e-mail under the associated record’s history. E-mails that are sent directly in CRM can also be viewed under a record’s history.

Tracking e-mails, of course, does have disadvantages. For example, if all of your messages are tracked, your boss will know whether or not you have been e-mailing prospects on a regular basis.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Open a record.
  2. On the left, click History.
  3. In the date range drop-down, select a range of dates for history entries.  The default only shows history entries for the last 30 days.
  4. Double-click an e-mail history to open it.

Tips & Tricks

  • Attachments to e-mails will likely be available on history entries.  Open a history record, and then click the Attachments tab to see any files that were originally attached to the e-mail message.

 

h1

Entering a new opportunity

May 20, 2010

So you’ve found potential sale?  Good for you!  You’ll want to enter the potential sale into your database as an opportunity.

An opportunity is a record that contains information about a sale with a contact or account in your system.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Click Sales on the Navigation Pane, and then click Opportunities.
  2. Click the New button on the toolbar.
  3. Enter information about your opportunity and click Save and Close.

Tips & Tricks

  • When creating a new opportunity, you can add products from the product catalog by clicking the Products option on the left.
  • An opportunity’s dollar value can be automatically calculated based on the products selected and the price list chosen.  Or, you can manually write-in a dollar amount.

 

h1

Sending a direct e-mail merge

May 15, 2010

Sending a direct e-mail merge

Once you have your template ready, you can send an e-mail merge to a single person or a group of recipients directly in CRM.

Sending a direct e-mail is the quickest and easiest way to do an e-mail merge in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  (Other ways include using Workflow and using the Word mail merge feature.)

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Highlight a group of records.
  2. Click the Direct E-mail button on  the Actions toolbar.
  3. Select an e-mail template, select a range of recipients, and click Send. (It’s really that easy.)

Tips & Tricks

  • It’s a good idea to send mass e-mails to test group within your company before sending to the general population.
  • If you are sending hundreds of emails (or more), then you should use a third party to deliver the messages.  Sending through your Exchange server could end up putting your organization on spam blacklists.

 

h1

Entering a new lead

May 7, 2010

A lead is a potential customer that you have not qualified yet.  Think of leads as people on a spreadsheet, business cards left in a punchbowl at a conference.  They’re people without faces.

Once you know that the potential customer (1) has a pulse and (2) has expressed some interest in purchasing your product/service, then you should convert the person to a contact with a pending opportunity.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Click Sales on the Navigation pane, and then click Leads.
  2. Click the New button on the Actions toolbar.
  3. Enter information about the lead.  Click the Save and Close button.

Tips & Tricks

  • Notes entered on a lead record will not transfer to a contact record when the lead is qualified.  So if you are engaged enough with a lead to make notes, then it’s time to convert the record to a contact.
  • You may want to enter new contacts as leads and then convert them to contacts immediately.  This way,  you can enter information about the contact, company, and a pending opportunity all on one screen.  This is generally easier than creating a separate company, contact, and opportunity record.

 

h1

Creating a direct e-mail template

May 2, 2010

E-mail templates are really useful if you want to send the same e-mail to a bunch of recipients.  E-mail templates can be set up and sent out directly in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Click Settings on the Navigation Pane, and then click Templates.
  2. Click E-mail Templates.
  3. Click the New button on the Actions toolbar.
  4. Select your template type (usually Contact or Account) and click OK.
  5. Configure your template and click Save and Close.

Tips & Tricks

  • Click the Insert/Update button to insert field placeholders into an e-  mail template.
  • See the next page for instructions on what to do with e-mail templates once you have created them.
  • For a better e-mail system, check out CoreMotives.  More information is available at http://www.coremotives.com.