Selecting the best platform and partner for you to work with, is probably the most important determining factor to your success with Business Solutions. It really is the “make or break” ingredient, and selecting the wrong one(s), can lead to disaster. Here is a fictional first-person account.
I need a Solution!
Something about my business, is just “not right”. There is a piece, or pieces, that are inhibiting my success. I might know exactly what it is… or I might not, but “something” is off somewhere… I can feel it. I have dissected my product and service offerings, and they are solid. I have scrutinized my team, and know they are top-notch. What is it? Maybe it is the third “P”, of People, Product and Process. It must be. My process(es) are harboring flaws. Maybe they are minor, or maybe they are fundamental flaws, but one thing I have decided for sure… I need a Solution!
Hello darkness, my old friend…
Where do I find solutions to any problem today… the internet, of course. I pop open my favorite browser, go to my favorite search engine, and then what? What might I type into that little box, that will lead me to the answers I seek? “Make my business better“…528,000,000 results. Hmm. “Improve my Processes“…165,000,000 results. Okay, this is obviously getting me nowhere. Let me think about just one area, where I know we have challenges. “Improve my Sales Process“…5,740,000 results. Getting closer, but this is mostly about sales techniques, and my sellers are pretty skilled, but I see “customer relationship management” being mentioned a lot…
“Customer Relationship Management“…32,200,000 results. Ugh, going the wrong way. How about “Customer Relationship Management Software“…514,000 results. Still a lot, but I am starting to see options on the first page that might lead to an answer, from some companies that I have heard of, and many that I have not. Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Sugar CRM, NetSuite… I have heard of these companies. I now have to make my first decision, do I go with a brand I have heard of, or one of these other ones.
The Case for a Brand
Do you remember that cool little app you installed on your phone… you know, the one that you really liked and used every day… the one that all of the sudden, stopped being updated by the developer, the one that started breaking to the point where you had to just remove it? That sucked… I loved that app, but unfortunately the developer behind it, was a start-up. I am all for helping start-ups, get started… but not at the risk of impacting my business.
Imagine if I had adopted an “Off-brand” CRM, that became mission critical, and they folded up, or got bought by a competitor and shut down, or just stopped supporting me? It’s different if it’s just some app on my phone; if it goes away, it isn’t the end of the world. But for my business, yeah, I don’t think I will “experiment” there, and possibly end up right back where I started, or worse. I need to know that whatever solution I pursue, it will be supported, advanced, and won’t be going anywhere, so I will be sticking to “known” companies.
Parsing the Known
Even narrowing my effort to known companies, still leaves me quite a few options for my SMB. So I’ll dive in, and start with the 800lb Gorilla, Salesforce.com. Now this is one nice application, it has also been around for a long time, and has more customers than anybody. It must be great! Hmm… “Pricing”, I wanna take a look at that…WTF! This would cost me more than the problem I am trying to solve is worth! I would have to increase revenue by 10%, just to pay for the software… to help me increase revenue! Too bad, it really looked cool.
Let me see…SugarCRM… they seem to be bragging about this thing called the “Gartner Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation“. I have heard of Gartner, and I think they are reputable. It looks like, from what I can tell, the best solutions are in the top-right quadrant… but SugarCRM is not there… I wonder why they are bragging about not being in the top-right? But hey SugarCRM, thanks for showing me this, as I can now see who is in the top-right: Salesforce and Microsoft. I can also see that Netsuite is not in the top right either, maybe I will skip them for now. I already know that I can’t afford Salesforce, so I’ll take a look at the other “leader”, Microsoft. Maybe I can afford them.
What does Microsoft have?
It looks like Microsoft’s offer for this is called Dynamics 365. It looks pretty slick also, but I have watched so many videos now that they are all starting to look the same. I get it, CRM must have a funnel, for some reason. I can’t really tell if Dynamics 365 is any better for me than any of these.
Maybe I should just forget the whole idea… shit… I can’t… I have to solve these problems. I can already see, that whatever path I choose, is going to be a huge pain in the ass… but I have no choice. Let’s take a look at the pricing for this one, maybe that will rule them out… umm, okay, I can’t make head nor tails of this.
[chat opens] UGH, “Hi, how can I help you today?”, “How much does your damn software cost for an SMB?”, “It’s right there on our website”, “Yeah, if I was a rocket scientist, can’t you just tell me?”, “We have an offer in market for SMB Sales for $40/user/month”, “Okay thanks, bye”, [close chat]. Hmm… $40 bucks… that ain’t bad. I guess I’ll watch a few more videos.
The Subliminal Cross-Sell
Now that I found something in my price range, I will actually “watch” the videos… and pay attention. This Dynamics 365 looks pretty cool, but they keep talking about Azure and Office 365… what the hell are these things, and do I have to buy them too? Maybe this price is not so great after all. Okay, I fell for it, you got me to click the Office 365 link.
What the hell is this… wait a minute, I already use all of this, we have it all running on a box in the back room. But wait, this looks different… there are some pretty interesting things here, that I don’t have. What the hell is this? Cloud? (Wikipedia search on Cloud).
I knew it, a scam. In order to get all of these cool other things, I need to “subscribe” and pay Microsoft… forever. Ha, let’s see how much they think they can soak me for… $12.50/user/month? Hmm, that means…for my 10 person team… I would pay $125/month! Wait, I spent $10K last year for that stupid box! And, I am paying more than $125 a month for that moron from Acme IT to keep the damn thing running! Is Microsoft actually trying to get me to believe, that I could toss that box, and that moron, in the garbage… that I don’t need either of them? That can’t be right… but it sure seems like it.
Hmm, what we are using for that other stuff seems to be working fine for us, but is it possible that I could move that to this Office 365, and save enough money, that this Dynamics 365 would not actually cost me anything more? (Note to self, investigate Office 365). Wait, I forgot what I was looking for, oh yeah, Business Solutions, I need to go back to those videos.
Ahhh, now that I know what this “Office 365” thing is, sorta, these Dynamics 365 videos make a lot more sense. It almost looks like they are “interrelated” somehow. This guy in this Dynamics 365 video, is actually showing me Outlook! I’m in Outlook all day, but I don’t remember seeing any of this. Now he is opening Excel… in a Dynamics 365 demo! WTF is going on here? Is Dynamics 365 some kind of an Office add-on? It is popping up everywhere. This is looking pretty damn interesting… but I still can’t quite wrap my head around it.
[chat opens] OMG! “Hi, how can I help you today?”, “Yeah, I am watching Dynamics 365 videos, and they are showing me a bunch of other things”, “Yes, Dynamics 365 is fully integrated with many of our other cloud products”, “You have like a thousand videos, how am I supposed to make sense of this?”, “Can I introduce you to a partner?”, “Why do I need a partner?”, “To help your dumbass make sense of it”, “Uh, okay, can you connect me to a partner?”, “I’ll have one reach out to you shortly”, “Bye” [close chat].
BTW, Microsoft Chat Support never calls customers Dumbasses, but remember, this is fictional!