Yesterday’s news that Microsoft has gobbled up LinkedIn will likely change the face of customer relationship management – not just Microsoft’s product, but competitive products as well.

Microsoft Acquires LInkedIn - Dynamics CRM Implications

Let’s take a look at 6 areas where Microsoft Dynamics CRM will likely see an impact.

Sales Intelligence

LinkedIn has emerged as one of the most important tools in the sales rep toolkit.  In fact, many reps would tell you that LinkedIn plays a bigger role in winning new deals than their internal CRM solution does!  Having up-to-date information about contacts, a list of how you’re connected to them in order to gain references, and online communities to engage in all play important roles in sales productivity.

86.7% of top sellers always use LinkedIn to conduct in-depth research on prospects before making contact.

For those of you who use InsideView (aka Insights) in CRM, you already have a preview of the potential.  Sales reps, however, still find it tedious to work with both applications.  With the acquisition, expect to see significant enhancements in this area.

Sales Collaboration

A client once told me: “We don’t see CRM as an app for individual Sales Reps, so much as we see it as an app to help our reps collaborate laterally and vertically.  They enhance the customer experience and win more details because CRM allows us to work together better – not necessarily to work alone better.”

The ability to see the connections that all other employees have to individuals within LinkedIn, and to selectively track LinkedIn conversations in CRM in the same manner that email can be tracked today, will significantly enhance the ability to collaborate around the customer experience.

Data Quality and Sales Productivity

In 2014, AIIM reported that 80% of data is “ROT” (redundant, outdated or trivial).  When it comes to bad data, CRM solutions are almost certainly worse than average.  That means that at least 4 out of every 5 records that CRM users are wading through are, at best, a waste of their time and, at worst, leading to bad decisions.image_3What better way to automatically keep data clean  than by connecting to a self-maintained source of customer and prospect data?  Active LinkedIn profiles contain some of the deepest, most up-to-date, and accurate information available about business contacts.

Employee Recruiting

LinkedIn has also become one of the most important tools for recruiters.  In a world where demand for talent is often outstripping supply, recruiting can be every bit as difficult, and long-term focused, as sales.  And CRM solutions are increasingly being used by recruiters for candidate relationship management.

Recruiters using both LinkedIn and Dynamics CRM will get all of the same benefits that sales reps do, and more.  A candidate’s entire LinkedIn profile is important to recruiters.  Expect to see the ability to bring in deeper profile data so that recruiters can manage their candidate analytics, pipelines, and recruiting manager relationships more effectively and efficiently.

Employee Engagement and Retention

A natural next step that many employers are taking after recruitment, is to better manage employee relationships using a CRM solution.  The ability to sync with Outlook for PTO requests, track internal communications, and integrate with payroll and other HRIS applications is translating into higher employee engagement and cost savings.

What’s the easiest way to tell that an employee is considering leaving?  Their LinkedIn profile becomes more active.  How can an organization better engage their employees?  By strategically connecting employees together based on interests, engagement levels, and strengths.SNAGHTMLdb25b03_1Monitoring employee engagement within LinkedIn is one way that a company can find better ways to engage their team.  Some of this may sound like big brother.  But expect this functionality to be:

  • Opt-In: Employees can decide which parts of their profiles and online activity that employers can monitor, and/or
  • Anonymous: In the same way that employers work with outside parties to manage employee satisfaction surveys, they may also look at LinkedIn engagement data in aggregate rather than at the individual level.

CRM Competitive Advantage

Of course, all of this spells out a significant competitive advantage for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  The recent alliance with Salesforce.com has shown that Microsoft is willing to draw a bigger circle in order to get other popular applications to integrate with core Microsoft software.  Will this continue with LinkedIn?  Or will Microsoft leverage this as they did with their integrated desktop experience many years ago as a way to push out the competition?  Time will tell.

I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface here. What are your thoughts on the Microsoft acquisition of LinkedIn?

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