It has been exactly eleven months since Microsoft bought LinkedIn, and the fears that Salesforce had about the role LinkedIn might play in the CRM world are slowly coming true. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently told Reuters that the Redmond giant will be rolling out updates to Dynamics 365 that make use of LinkedIn’s treasure trove of data, and throw AI capabilities into the mix.
Microsoft has been on a roll in the enterprise collaboration market with Office 365, raking in client after client and crossing 85 million monthly active users. But the company always had its eye on the much larger business management software segment that covers areas such as Customer Relationship Management and Enterprise Resource Planning. Salesforce is the current leader in the CRM market, while Oracle leads the pack in the ERP market.
The size of CRM and ERP market runs in the tens of billions of dollars and Microsoft has been building out Dynamics 365, its cloud-delivered Software as a Service product targeting the CRM and ERP markets. This market was the reason why Microsoft went after LinkedIn, and there is plenty of speculation that Salesforce was also in the race to buy the world’s largest professional network.
Most of the businesses around the world are already on LinkedIn. To put it another way, most of the potential and existing customers of businesses that operate in the B2B segment around the world are already on LinkedIn. If you have a sales software application, that kind of network would be a big deal for customers who are going to be using your data – in effect, a software application that can open up new doors of opportunity to sales.
Dynamics 365 is a highly potent weapon with LinkedIn integrated with it, and Microsoft is slowly beefing up this product to challenge the current leader. Things are definitively going to get hot in this segment.
“The new features will comb through a salesperson’s email, calendar, and LinkedIn relationships to help gauge how warm their relationship is with a potential customer. The system will recommend ways to save an at-risk deal, like calling in a co-worker who is connected to the potential customer on LinkedIn.”
Around the end of March, Microsoft launched Sales Navigator Enterprise Edition, a product to help sales professionals with lead generation, targeting and getting real-time updates and alerts on leads and prospects.
As expected, the product was integrated with Dynamics 365. They also launched TeamLink Extend, which allowed anyone in the company to opt-in their network to the TeamLink pool. So, if you are trying to reach someone at a particular company, all you need to do is look for a person in your own organization that has connected with someone in your target company. Let them make the introduction, and you can take it from there.
Now, what we are hearing from Microsoft is they not just going to stop with allowing sales professionals to make full use of their and their colleagues’ LinkedIn circles, but also look for recommendations about the the best possible way to close the deal.
These are still early days and we haven’t even seen the product, but what is getting clear is Microsoft didn’t invest $26 billion without a reason. That’s how much value they thought LinkedIn has, and now they are moving to make full use of their acquisition. LinkedIn is a great network, while Dynamics 365 is a decent business management software, but when you put them together, you have a potent force in the CRM market that can go a really long way.