Dynamics 365 – Sales Professional License?

Part of the huge April wave of feature releases for Dynamics 365, were some license tweaks and a some new license types. I already discussed the new Dynamics 365 for Marketing license here, but in this post, I want to focus on the new Dynamics 365 Sales Professional License.

A Little History

Bear with me, but we need to take a short walk down memory lane to get back to today. When Dynamics CRM Online first launched in 2011 it was aggressively priced at $44/user/month. Compared to Salesforce this was a real bargain. It was also one offering that included multiple workloads, including Sales and Service. Some time later the price was increased to $65, or $50 as an addon to Office 365. I think there was some customer concern that the price was actually too low for the product to be very good. If the competing product is more than double, then this must be a lesser product. When the brand consolidation to Dynamics 365 took place, the Sales app was renamed Enterprise Sales app and the price shot up to $95. Still less than Salesforce, but not so much less that customers were leery of it. To offset this jump several “transitional” licenses were introduced to “step up” existing customers over time. In addition, a new “Promo” license was introduced specifically for Small and Midsized Businesses (SMB) Sales at $40. Shortly after that a second SMB Sales and Service license was added for $65. The sale of these “promo” licenses to new customers ended the first of this week.

Evolution of Business Edition to Pro

You may have heard the term “Business Edition” floating around, and in fact it still pops up on some Microsoft documentation that has not yet been scrubbed. Business Edition was conceived as a plan for SMB Customers. The first, and only, product that launched under the Business Edition concept was a light version of NAV that had been SaaSified. In the pipeline were also Business Edition Sales App, Service App and a new Marketing App. These “Apps” were intended to be lower cost (+/- $40), and would have limited features, parsing out the Enterprise stuff that SMB did not need. Seemed like a great idea! But, well into the development of the Business Edition apps, Microsoft had an epiphany. “Why develop a specific app to target a customer by size? We should really focus on a solution that targets users with simpler needs, regardless of size.” As big a fan of the SMB idea as I was, I could not argue with this logic, and it still worked for SMB, even if SMB was no longer the specific target. For the Marketing App, this meant any size customer could use it, if it met their needs, and why not. But what happened to this Simpler Business Edition Sales App that was being built? The idea of a limited App for users with more basic needs still made sense, regardless of customer size. But did it still need a specific “simplified” App? Could they not just use the same sales app as Enterprise, with some limitations placed on it? It is certainly one less thing to support. And the Dynamics 365 Sales Professional License was born. It is a new app, but it is the same app as Enterprise, but with some limitations placed on this new app. Limitations are fair, since it is priced at $65 vs $95. So as you absorb the information below, remember, there is a difference of $30/user/month.

Limitations

Whenever you attempt to apply any kind of limits to anything, partners and customers will bitch and complain. Nevermind that it costs less.. “why can’t it cost less, and be the same as the full priced one?” This seemed to be the prevailing argument that I was hearing, which makes no sense at all of course. “Why isn’t the Big Mac on the Dollar Menu?” I get that nobody likes limits, but even Mercedes Benz sells a shitload of their entry-level vehicles… so clearly there is a market. The better question to ask, is how many of my customers’ users can fit within these limits, allowing me to help lower their total cost… where it makes sense. This is really no different than the exercise we undertake for the Team Member license, a severely restricted, but very low cost, license. Who can get by with it?

I watched Microsoft over the last year or so, tweak and fiddle with these limitations, trying to get the recipe just right. They needed to balance providing enough capabilities, while not so many capabilities that they cannibalize the full Enterprise license/app. Clearly there will be some cannibalization, but there is an alternative goal.  To revisit the Mercedes Benz analogy, some people who bought the entry-level car, might have bought a more expensive Mercedes if it did not exist. However, most of the buyers of that entry-level car would probably not have bought a Mercedes at all, if the entry-level did not exist. Mercedes opened up their brand to an entirely new audience, many of which will upgrade from the entry-level car eventually. So let’s dive into these “limitations”.

Excluded Completely

There are quite a few features of the full Enterprise Sales License/App that are not included at all in the Sales Professional License/App. A few that you should be aware of, that might help your decision process are, Sales goals and Territory Management. For most SMB customers this will not be an issue, but for larger customers these may be important. A few of the other completely excluded existing features are Social Engagement, Gamification, Voice of the Customer (surveys) and Mobile offline Synchronization. A brand new feature called Dynamics 365 for Sales Intelligence is also not included. One more item that is not included, that could be a key point, depending on your plans, is PowerApps. This one bothers me a bit for SMB, as I saw PowerApps coming not play there in the near future. But Microsoft can always adjust this later if it makes sense.

The Case for a New Case

The Customer Service capabilities of Dynamics 365 are quite significant. They are also part of a separate license/app. A license that might make sense for your Customer Service Organization, but what about the occasional case that needs to be created by a Salesperson. A missing part, or some other issue the customer shared with the Salesperson. The Salesperson certainly does not need the full Customer Service capabilities, but they do need some way to engage and initiate simple cases. Microsoft recognized this need and created a new “Lite” case management capability, specifically for this scenario. It is included with either the Professional or Enterprise Sales license/app. A Salesperson can create, assign and resolve these types of cases themselves, without needing the full-blown Customer Service license. This is an important factor to consider.

Specific Limits

Microsoft took a two-pronged approach to the Sales Professional limitations. The first was to completely eliminate some features that they felt their target user would not need. The second was to apply some “limits” to other features. This is probably where most of the partner controversy came from. But again, partners would like a full-blown product at a lower cost, because it’s easier to sell. Duh. This is also the area where Microsoft spent the most time refining. I recall a conversation where someone on the team told me, and I am paraphrasing here, “We can always raise a limit that is determined to be too low, but we could not easily lower one that was too high”. So consider this a test for a brand new license/app, if it does not accomplish the goals, Microsoft can adjust the levers. Freaking out is not required… yet.

  • Custom Entities are limited to a maximum of 15.
  • Business Process Flows are limited to a maximum of 5.
  • Custom Workflows are limited to a maximum of 15.
  • You can install a maximum of 10 3rd party apps (ISV solutions).
  • Each entity can have a maximum of 2 forms.
  • You are also limited to 5 custom reports.

I will take credit for the 2nd form, as I reacted almost violently to an earlier plan with a single form. There are some further caveats to understand. 3rd party ISV solutions do not count against the limits of custom entities, process flows or workflows… however those third party apps may be subject to those limits in their own solution. I am seeking clarification on that now. But, if that is the case, then an ISV solution that you install, could itself have no more than 15 custom entities, 5 business flows or 15 workflows. Why might this be the case? Because partners and ISVs are sneaky. Without these limits an ISV would just backfill a customer’s Sales App with all of the things that were limited out, and we’re right back to cannibalization of the full product license. That’s cheating. But again, I am seeking clarification, and will update this post when I get the official public answer.

How will this work?

This is a question I posed to Microsoft. You can mix-and-match Enterprise Licenses with Professional Licenses. This got my head spinning. If half of my users have limits, and the other half do not, how does that work in a single instance? With different App modules. So beyond just a specific license for Sales Professional, there is also a specific app for Sales Professional. A person who has an Enterprise Sales License can access a Sales Professional app, however, they will be subject to the same limitations, because the Limitations are being applied at the app level. This particular caveat will make you think a little harder about this. Why have an Enterprise Sales license at all for a Sales Professional app? The thinking here is that an Enterprise customer might have people in multiple roles. For example a full app for the main business unit, and maybe a Sales Pro app for another business unit, as one example. An Enterprise user could access both; a Sales Pro user could not access all of the mothership from their app. How will these limits be applied to the Sales Pro App? It will be your responsibility to not expose within your Sales Pro App, any more capabilities than are allowed. Eventually, there will be some telemetry to let you know if you strayed out-of-bounds. Of course, Microsoft will have this telemetry also, so cheaters beware.

Upgrading

For many customers the Sales Professional License/App will be a great long-term solution. For others, it will be a great introduction. So there will absolutely be circumstances where a customer who started on the Sales Professional License/App will want upgrade to the Enterprise Sales License/App. What does that look like? Simple, just apply an Enterprise Sales License to the user, and give them access to the Enterprise Sales App. This is way better than an earlier discussed concept of separate instances.

So that’s all I got on the new Sales Professional App. I’ll update this post when I have the other answers.

Update: 04/09/18

I got the answer from Microsoft. While it was discussed previously, there is no limit on the size of the actual solutions that are installed from AppSource, just a limit on the number of them.

3 Comments

  1. Hi Steve, thank you for the great post!

    We operate in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and when we first saw the SMB promo pricing we were blown away by a whole new market in front of us and wished the planned Business limitations won’t hurt it much. We were able to bring the power of Dynamics connected with Office 365 to the smallest customers and customize it to reflect their unique processes. In the past year or so we could compete with local proprietary CRM systems tailored to local customers (~$25/user/month).

    I am sure that many of our current and potential customers that we have onboarded with SMB promo can’t afford to pay for enterprise licenses. The only viable option for them is Sales Professional (or atm I think of custom solutions on top of CDS/PowerApps P2).

    We can’t and don’t want to run our business on selling licenses. One direction for us now is making AppSource solutions to customize experience for our local specific environment (legal, integrations). I think I understand there won’t be any issues and we just need to respect the limits within our solution packages.

    On the other hand it still feels very risky to drive XRM/CDS custom development projects and service in SMB with Sales Pro. We can’t gain trust from our customer and assure them how the long term perspective will look like.

    Do you have any information whether in the future we will be able to let users with Sales Pro access custom App modules (not from AppSource)? Do I understand it correctly that the limits will be handled by App modules with Sales Pro flag (number of entities, forms, processes referenced)? There is a limitation for number of workflows. How about processes in the scope of organization? For example in the mixed environment with enterprise licenses.

    Thank you!

  2. Simon Staniforth

    Hi Steve, thanks for your clarification here around the mix and match of Sales Professional and Enterprise Sales licences. When I initially saw that Sales Professional was to have it’s own separate instance of CRM, I immediately discounted it as a viable solution.

    The next obvious question is how do we ‘allocate’ App Source ISV Solutions as either being against Sales Professional or Enterprise if there are limitations as to the number of apps that can be installed? The other limits can be built into the App Designer.

Add your 2 cents, but don't use my comments to pimp your stuff!