I think I beat up the team pretty good with my last post on the licensing model for Microsoft Dynamics for Marketing. But there are a few other areas that deserve some attention too, that are going to keep this otherwise awesome product from being relegated to the, “That’s too bad, I would have bought It” category.
First, I had a few people reach out to me privately after my last post, along the lines of “Aren’t you worried that you are pissing off Microsoft?”. Frankly, they should be pissed off, but not at me. I’m pissed off! With all of the herculean efforts that James Phillips and his team are putting into “raising the bar” for business solutions, they should all be mad as hell that the result of any their awesome efforts will be DOA, because of some bits of sheer stupidity. I have leveled my concerns to anybody at Microsoft who is even remotely attached to this product, but to be honest, I was not feeling a sense of urgency. So yes, I will use every tool at my disposal, to apply enough pressure, until they act, for me, partners, customers and themselves.
What is a Lead?
Dynamics 365 for Sales assumes a specific process. Sure, you can change that to whatever you want, but as we always tell our clients, you may want to understand the wisdom first. Leads are their own thing. They sit next to, but not in the way of, real business. If you have an identified target customer base of 100 companies, then you probably don’t need Leads at all, you should investigate Account Based Marketing. But most of our customers are driving efforts to get as may people as possible, to peek in their front door. Email campaigns, webinars, attending or sponsoring events, etc. All of these activities are designed to generate “people of interest”. There is no specific business Opportunity yet. Dynamics 365 for Sales assumes that these types of people are Leads, and that you will get them into the system as such.
Once a Lead is in your system, you would have a “Process” for moving that Lead towards becoming an actual customer, or disqualifying them and moving on. What that “Process” is, will vary significantly from one business to another, but typically it will include: Marketing efforts. Drip campaigns, more events, telesales, waiting outside of their office, etc. At some point in your process, you hope that a Lead crosses a threshold, and becomes either a Marketing Qualified Lead for the Sales team to take over, or gets “Qualified” straight into an Account, Contact and Opportunity for real business. Once qualified, it joins the ranks of all of your other Accounts and Contacts that you actually do business with and have a relationship with.
A Contact that has been created by Qualifying a Lead, may still be the target of ongoing marketing efforts, but these will be more specific efforts, towards generating new Opportunities. Accounts and Contacts will generally represent your existing customers (with the exception of Account Based Marketing), but may also include many other types of Businesses and People, including Vendors, Partners, Influencers, etc.
It is pretty clear from the above description that Dynamics 365 for Sales was built for the journey to start with Leads. This is not a new concept, nor is it exclusive to Dynamics 365 for Sales, it is CRM 101. But Dynamics 365 for Marketing was hard-wired to market to Contacts. You cannot even engage with Leads using Dynamics 365 for Marketing. How did this left-hand not know what the right-hand does? Myopia.
The teams that built, and designed the licensing model for, Dynamics 365 for Marketing, over-focused on the competing solutions, without regard for their own adjacent solutions. It was built as though it would only ever be, a standalone solution. As a standalone solution, it measures up to the competing solutions rather nicely. Most of them use terms like Contacts, to refer to what Dynamics 365 for Sales refers to as Leads or Contacts. The only reason a person is in their databases, is to be marketed to, regardless of their current status with you. Even the licensing that I ranted about in my last post makes more sense for a standalone solution. But the messaging we always get from Microsoft is to sell the whole stack. As James Phillips likes to say, “MarketingSalesServiceOperatonsFinanceandTalent”. Yes, he has said it so many times it comes out as a single word now.
A Case for Contacts
If could be that marketing to Contacts only was by design. The last thing Microsoft, or any other marketing automation platform wants to be is a spam engine. If you are like me, you get 5 emails a day from someone wanting to sell you a list of contacts in your industry. At a recent event, another partner asked “what about the list of 100K contacts that my client bought?”. Clearly, sending an email blast to these contacts would be considered spam in any country, and is outright illegal in most. Based on my inbox, this is still a pretty common occurrence, regardless of possible penalties. Maybe Microsoft was trying to draw line in the sand that your Leads are more likely to meet this spamming profile, than Contacts… nah, that wasn’t it.
I’m still fat, but you’re still ugly, and I can still diet.
Fortunately, like the licensing blunder, this too can be easily fixed. Sure, they will have to go under the hood and rewire some things, and they probably need to move to a consumption licensing model for this to work also. But it’s Microsoft! If there is a will, there is a way. Right now, we are 0 for 3 with customers, who were prime candidates, had seen the demos, loved the tech, but said no when they saw the licensing model and lack of Lead engagement. In one of those scenarios, Adobe was a more economical option!
I am a huge fan of the product. If Microsoft moved to a consumption model and brought Leads not the picture, this would crush anything else out there. As of right now, I am almost afraid to bring it up to customers. I picture myself having to come back later with my tail between my legs, assuming Microsoft fixes the issues, trying to re-engage a customer, who previously shot me down in flames. I am not a fan of having a sales conversation, where my starting point is less than zero.
I believe Microsoft and their Partners could make a ton of money on Dynamics 365 for Marketing… if they can just get out of our mutual way.