Why every Microsoft Dynamics ERP partner should embrace Dynamics CRM

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by Guus Krabbenborg, Partner in Partner Master Class & Quattro Business Solutions

Telescope above landscape

We live in a world where the customer is our new CEO, where companies can only grow if they are attractive to new customers while at the same time delivering outstanding services to their existing customers. So if your customers are your biggest asset, it is wise to do everything you can to make them happy and keep them satisfied.

Traditionally, companies started their process automation with things like accounting, order management and warehousing in an ERP system like Dynamics ERP. Sales and marketing processes were scheduled for a later stage of the implementation. Often these processes were covered with the CRM module of Dynamics NAV, AX, GP or SL, and for obvious reasons. It was easy to implement, offered great integration, and delivered an acceptable TCO value. Many sales departments, however, saw this approach as a compromise. ERP is built around the structured order, creation and delivery processes, whereas CRM’s unstructured (prospective) customer is the central point. So those are two completely different angles!

Sales and marketing departments in businesses of all sizes now understand that compromising on CRM is not an option. For companies that sell and service Dynamics ERP solutions, it is critical to understand why their customers care about CRM, why they may soon be shopping for a new solution, and why a CRM purchase decision will also impact a company’s long term ERP plans.

The Microsoft strategy

For many years Microsoft’s ERP predecessors Navision, Damgaard, and Great Plains developed CRM functionality into their ERP offerings. But a few years ago Microsoft decided to change that strategy. Since then the company has put the vast majority of its development efforts in the CRM domain into the Dynamics CRM product and not into the CRM modules of Dynamics NAV, GP, SL and AX. Today there’s really no indication that this strategy will change.

Your customer needs

Whereas the development of the CRM modules in the several Dynamics ERP solutions has slowed, buying behavior of prospective customers has been changing at an unbelievable rate over the last few years. And is still changing. The impact of more powerful customers is that companies can only survive with the best possible tools for sales, marketing, service, and social. And unfortunately that’s not the CRM module of Dynamics ERP anymore!

If you ignore this….

In the next 3 to 5 years, all current Dynamics ERP customers will buy a professional CRM system. If you’re lucky, they will buy Microsoft Dynamics CRM. But if you’re unlucky they will buy something else. Like Salesforce.com. That’s none of your (ERP) business, you think? Well, you’d be surprised! Today Salesforce.com is well known for their strong CRM offering. But they also have a development platform called SalesForce1 that hosts ERP systems like FinancialForce. What will happen if your ancient NAV version 3.70 user or AX version 3.0 user with loads of customizations sees today’s version of FinancialForce? (You can check out videos here).

The entrance of SFDC in your Dynamics ERP customer base will work as a Trojan horse. Over time they will also steal your NAV, GP, SL or AX customer. And you’ll end up with nothing….

Cost versus value

Using the CRM module of Dynamics NAV is of course a cheaper solution than implementing Dynamics CRM as well. So is walking to your customers and leaving your car at home. But most companies don’t buy ERP and CRM solutions with the goal to limit the costs. They acquire these systems to become more effective. So they focus on the value! And like it or not, the sales and marketing people at your customers and prospects will find more value in Dynamics CRM than in the CRM module of a Dynamics ERP solution.


Dynamics ERP partners that want to protect their existing customer base and find new customers more easily have to add Dynamics CRM to their value proposition. Here I see two possible scenarios. Either you will market, sell, deliver, and support Dynamics CRM yourself. Or you will go for a partnering model. For smaller ERP partners it will probably be smarter to co-operate with an existing Dynamics CRM partner. At WPC 2014 Microsoft reported that already 28 of the top-50 Dynamics ERP partners worldwide have built up substantial Dynamics CRM units. You can find CRM partners open for this kind of co-operation through your Microsoft contacts of via your local Master VAR.

The cost of this is…

Building your own CRM practice demands an investment. That’s why a co-operation model might be an interesting alternative. Both options demands for a time and money investment. But in the end the cost of ignoring the issue and doing nothing will become more expensive every day you delay making a decision.

About Guus Krabbenborg

Guus Krabbenborg (1961) has been active in the world of business software for more than 25 years. He has held various sales and management positions at Philips, Digital Equipment and Navision Software successively. He was also co-founder and co-owner of the Dutch Dynamics partner DBS Business Solutions. From 2000 till 2007 Guus has worked as a consultant and trainer at TerDege Training & Consultancy, an independent agency focused on the international market for business software.

Since 2007 Guus is co-founder and partner in the firm Partner Master Class, the Dutch PDC. In a growing number of countries in Europe and Asia Pacific this company offers training and coaching in the five business areas that are part of the Dynamics Partner Academy.

His newest venture is called Quattro Business Solutions. This company acts as the Master VAR (better: Value Added Distributor) in the Microsoft Dynamics channel in a number of countries in Western Europe. Guus is co-founder and co-owner in QBS and has responsibility for the training and coaching activities.

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