Microsoft is upgrading its sales software, which will now sync data from LinkedIn. Starting Tuesday, salespeople will get LinkedIn Sales Navigator data with the other information in the Dynamic 365 Sales Dashboard. Users who have both systems will be able to access the information from LinkedIn profiles inside the lead contact account and the opportunity pages for their Dynamics 365 accounts.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator will offer various features focused on selling, such as the ability to get automatic lead recommendations from LinkedIn data and send promotional messages through LinkedIn.
Dynamic 365 is direct competition for the market leader Salesforce.com and also the first product from Microsoft that is directly using the LinkedIn platform. The new feature will enable Dynamic 365 to access the salesperson’s email, LinkedIn contacts and calendar to identify the status of their relationship with potential customers. Further, the new system will suggest ways for the salesperson to save a deal at risk of being canceled, such as asking for assistance from a co-worker connected to the potential customer on LinkedIn.
Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research, stated that this will create opportunities for social selling, in which one can track connections between people at their company and the target company, notes TechCrunch.
The updated Dynamic 365, which will be available this summer, will require Microsoft Dynamic customers to also be LinkedIn customers. Dynamic and LinkedIn Sales Navigator will integrate their information on a daily basis so that the LinkedIn system is updated on activity from Microsoft’s CRM, and vice versa, notes PCWorld.
In a blog, Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie, executive vice president for the Cloud and Enterprise Group, stated that Dynamic 365 and Office 365 are connected products, and the next logical step was to create a similar connection to LinkedIn, primarily for sales.
“Sales Navigator with Dynamics 365 will dramatically increase the effectiveness of salespeople by tapping into their professional networks and relationships, giving them the ability to improve their pipeline,” Guthrie said.
Microsoft focuses on AI
Such an initiative, according to CEO Satya Nadella, is at the center of the company’s long-term strategy for building specialized business software, notes Reuters. Nadella stated that artificial intelligence would be the focus and that he is looking to democratize AI so that customers who are using their products will be able to take their own data and feed it into the AI systems.
Microsoft is a leader in the operating system market and productivity software such as Office; but it is a relatively small player in sales software, notes Reuters. The company stands in fourth place when compared to rivals such as Salesforce.com, Oracle and SAP. In 2015, the company had just a 4.3% share of the market, according to research firm Gartner.
Nadella is, however, confident that specialized applications in fields like sales and finance will be beneficial to the company’s future. According to Nadella, they will turn out to be the “third cloud,” with the first two being Office 365 for general productivity such as email and Azure for computing and databases.