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Dynamics 365 is the bright future of CRM and ERP, but moving from the on-premise model to the cloud has presented some interesting challenges for partners.

In the traditional on-premise world, partners sold and collected their margins on software and enhancements through a loyal client base. Partners collected the full value of their fees for services rendered, including implementation, integration, and data migration. The lengthy sales cycle included several face-to-face client meetings for requirements gathering and customized product demonstrations, followed by detailed proposals, statements of work, and contracts.

Marketing of these services followed traditional methods such as direct mail, email campaigns, and telemarketing, all of which required purchasing relevant lists and maintaining a prospect database. In the absence of social media, a partner’s outreach was limited to the members of those lists.

All that is history now with Dynamics 365 on the scene. For Dynamics 365 partners, your delivery model is different. The pricing model is different. The purchasing model is different. The sales cycle is different. Your buyer is different, too! The new Dynamics opens up a world of opportunity for partners. Here is a little insight into how the differences will impact you…

The Cloud-First Difference

Dynamics 365 was built in the cloud. It’s a subscription-based, pay-as-you-consume model that combines the best of Microsoft Dynamics ERP and Microsoft Dynamics CRM functionality into a fully integrated solution. In the traditional on-premise world, companies purchased and owned the software for as long as their annual “enhancement” fee was paid. Owning the software meant purchasing and maintaining the required hardware and infrastructure, and upgrading the software as new versions were released. In the Dynamics 365 world, those additional costs are eliminated.

Dynamics 365 offers an exciting range of new features and functionality. From the wide range of business process apps, machine learning and analytics apps, Dynamics 365 is far more appealing than the disparate on-premise applications that would have to be cobbled together to provide the same level of functionality.

And therein lies the benefit that partners who have added Dynamics 365 to their offerings can leverage. Beyond the functionality, there is also the promise of a shorter sales cycle and the possibility for regional partners to become national partners, since as a cloud solution, there are no geographic barriers to selling Dynamics 365.

Selling Dynamics as a Service

For the customer, the SaaS (Software as a Service) model of Dynamics 365 means freedom from the initial cost of purchasing software and hardware, as well as the costs associated with ongoing maintenance and upgrades. For partners, on the other hand, it’s more difficult to weigh the pros and cons. As we transition away from an on-premise model, partners will likely focus more on revenue from consulting services and will potentially benefit from a higher volume of sales, given a shorter sales cycle.

The pay-as-you-consume model that is integral to the SaaS model should benefit both customers and partners. For small organizations, the initial software and hardware costs of on-premise Dynamics were prohibitive. Dynamics 365 will be more affordable for companies with only a few users and equally attractive to enterprises with thousands of users. This will drive business to Microsoft, and to Microsoft partners, at both ends of the spectrum.

A Shifting Marketing Strategy

In the same way that traditional on-premise Dynamics partners were (and maybe still are) fixed in their ways, on-premise buyers were (and maybe still are), too. To some extent, traditional buyers set an expectation, for example, that partners would meet with them face-to-face and conduct lengthy product demonstrations. And partners complied.

But a shift in this paradigm had already begun well before the release of Dynamics 365. Partners were finding that by the time potential buyers came to them, they were already very well educated about the products and services from doing their own research. Many had often already decided that Dynamics was their product of choice. This realization forced partners to understand the value of Internet and social media marketing as avenues for reaching their audience.

The release of Microsoft Dynamics 365 has perpetrated an even greater seismic shift in marketing. Young buyers are fully at home on the Internet. They are confident in researching and buying products and services online, so if your marketing does not cater to this audience, your chances of success are slim.

In order to market a cloud-based service to a younger demographic, make sure your marketing strategy is reflective of the changing business model with these tips:

  • Create a responsive website. Your site needs to look as good on a tablet or a smartphone as it does on full-size screen because your customers are always on the go. Make sure that visitors who like what they see can get the information they need (like your phone number, your pricing details, etc.) quickly and easily otherwise you will lose them to a competitor.
  • Focus on content. Your digital content is important because it helps search engines find you, it builds customer trust, and it adds value to your product or service. It’s not enough to post a few pages of static content. Consider blogging (with an eye toward your SEO) frequently to gain that competitive edge.
  • Get listed on AppSource. The AppSource marketplace is growing quickly and it’s a great resource to help prospects find your Dynamics 365 solution easily.
  • Get social. Push your digital content out on multiple social media channels and engage with your audience. This will enhance your search engine ranking, drive traffic to your website, help your buyers find you, and educate your audience.

Planning for the Future

Establishing a Dynamics 365 practice, like any new venture, requires not just a comprehensive and coordinated plan, but patience as well. Ask questions. Do your research. Find out who your customers are and what they are looking for from you. Once you have a plan, make sure to allocate sufficient funds and resources to see it through. And then, stick with it!

This post reflects today’s landscape, but we’re always on the lookout for the next big thing at Marketing Monarchs. At the risk of sounding overly philosophical, we would speculate that change is inevitable in a mobile world. Are you ready?

Are you ready to capitalize on the Dynamics 365 opportunity? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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