Tags: CRM

October 1, 2015

Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Click Dimensions: Landing Pages

The integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and ClickDimensions provides a wide variety of feature-rich marketing tools. Tools that can be powerful assets for a company if they know where to find them, and more importantly, how to use them. Click Dimensions already provides outstanding training for their users, but we wanted to offer some tips & tricks for your company to leverage when using these features.

The first feature we will discuss is Landing Pages, which can be found under ‘Web Content’ (see screen shots below). Web Content records give your company the ability to create various different types of web pages such as: landing pages, contact forms, surveys, and subscription pages. However, for this post we are going to focus on Landing Pages.

You have two different options when it comes to building a landing page with Click Dimensions. You can use the ‘Block Editor’, which simplifies the building process by eliminating the need for code. Or, you can use the ‘Free Style’ editor type, which allows a bit more room for creativity. Once created, you can embed them directly on your company site, and track your results from the Microsoft Dynamics CRM interface.

ClickDimensions and Microsoft Dynamics CRM - Landing page creation

Use the navigation arrows to find ‘Web Content’.

Step 1a - LP Creation

Click Dimensions makes creating a landing page easy. However, creating an effective landing page is another story. That’s why we decided to put together some tips and tricks for your company to consider when building your own landing page(s).

Remove the main navigation pane

If you are planning to embed your landing page on your company site, then you may want to consider removing the navigation pane. It can distract from the messaging and could result in less conversions if the prospect decides to leave your page before converting. The ultimate goal is to keep them on the landing page until they convert.

Keep it simple

Try to keep your headline and body text short and to the point. Don’t overload your landing page with unnecessary images and confusing text. Make sure every sentence, every image, and every word is there for reason. Embrace the space!

Include social media sharing buttons

Click Dimensions makes it easy for you add social share buttons to your landing page, so use them! Social media share buttons don’t take up very much space, and it’s just another way for your prospects to share your offer / content with in their personal networks.

Build your lead capture form based upon your desired outcome

Typically, the less fields you have on your form, the higher your conversion rate will be. If you’re looking to grow your database, then keep it short and don’t ask for too much information. Just make sure you ask for enough information to allow your company to follow-up with them (I.e. first name, last name, email address, phone number).

On the flipside, if you’re looking to gain more qualified leads, then it’s okay to ask for a bit more information. Just make sure that everything you’re asking for is actually important to you and your marketing efforts.

If you want to find a balance between the two, you can set required fields for the most important information, and mark the additional information in your form as optional. Click Dimensions offers some great training resources on creating forms in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM interface.

Make your Call-to-Action (CTA) button obvious

You want it to be clear where they need to click to access your offer. Make the button large, bright and impossible to miss. Also, try to make the text on the button relevant to your offer. For example, if you’re offering a free whitepaper, make the button text something like “Get your free Whitepaper” or “Download Whitepaper”.

Highlight the value of your offer

It’s important to discuss the value of your offer versus the components of it. With the amount online offers people receive these days, you need to demonstrate the value of your offer as clearly and concisely as possible. Consider using bullet points or a short paragraph to get your point across.

Make your form look shorter

If you have a contact form with multiple fields, try to spread the fields horizontally instead of vertically. It makes the contact form feel shorter. You can also try A/B testing to see if it makes any difference in terms of your conversion rates.

Optimize your landing page for search engines

This one is more for long-term marketing campaigns, but it’s still worth mentioning. There are few basic SEO tactics you can look to implement when building your landing page. Make sure you’re using pre-selected long-tail keywords as much as possible without “stuffing” the landing page. It’s good to have your keywords in the URL, headline, body text etc… Encourage other sites to link back to your landing page. Link-building should be an important piece of any SEO strategy. Fill in your image alt tag(s) and meta-description with your keywords. This is one of the many ways to make it easier for search engines to crawl your page.

Tailor your content to your audience

Try not to get caught up marketing your offer to everyone. Decide which customer segment(s) you want to target with your offer, and custom-tailor the messaging around their pain points. You want make it feel like your offer is just for them.

To stay In The Know, check out more posts on our blog and connect with us via social media.

September 10, 2015

Tips to “Lean-Out” the RFP Process for Software Selection

Create a more effective RFP for software selction

A crucial step to any software selection process is the creation of the Request for Proposal (RFP) documents. These documents help companies identify which product(s) / vendor(s) will be the best fit in terms meeting their pre-established requirements. However, most companies are not doing their due diligence when it comes to gathering requirements, which is big reason why software implementations tend to fall short of expectations.

Typically, companies will start with an RFP template which covers some of the basic requirements (end-user training, security, cost structures, basic functionality, etc…). Then maybe they’ll add some more questions / requirements from team members in terms of what features they’re looking for in a new system. Unfortunately, this RFP development method is incomplete, and can lead to unexpected costs / delays when it finally comes time to implement the new software.

If you want to ensure that your company is selecting the best possible solution / partner, then the tips below might help you create a more effective RFP for software selection.

Ditch The Spreadsheets & Word Documents:

Tracking requirements for Enterprise Software products can be a lot to handle. There’s literally thousands of requirements that need to be accounted for, and tracking them with Spreadsheets and Word documents can become a nightmare. Instead, look to implement a system built to manage requirements for software purchasing. This will help reduce errors and also acts as a live document.

Be As Thorough As Possible When Gathering Requirements:

I can’t emphasize this point enough. Going beyond the standard requirements of any software evaluation is critical to a successful implementation. Meet with your team and discuss which requirements they are looking for in a new software product, and also have them rate the importance of each requirement.

After that, you’ll want to draw requirements from the software products being considered. Look at all the additional functionality each product has, rate the importance of each one, then add those to your list of requirements. Also, make sure you’re being as detailed as possible when specifying your requirements. It will help your company be more prepared and organized throughout the entire software selection process.

Attach A Value To Each Requirement:

There is definitely some opinions out there that would suggest not overcomplicating things by adding ratings to your requirements. And I’ll admit, there is validity to that argument. But, I think there’s a lot more upside to rating requirements than downside. Especially when it comes to complex software products like ERP and CRM.

Look at it like buying a house. For most of us, we’ll start with our list of “must-haves” and slowly begin to realize how unrealistic our expectations (requirements) really are. This is where rating requirements, before-hand, comes in handy. You can refer back to the items that were most important to you at the start, and then make a more informed decision based upon your previous rankings.

Focus On What’s Really Important:

Try not to overload your RFP’s with unnecessary / redundant requirements. Too often, companies will include requirements from team members that are more of a “want” rather than a “need”. Make sure your team members define which features they “need” and which features they “want”. Ask the important questions up-front, and make sure those needs will be met by the software / vendor, first and foremost.

Also worth noting, you may be missing out on the perfect candidate(s) if your RFP documents require a large time commitment to fill out. Keeping your RFP structured and lean will garner more quality responses, and give your company better visibility on the potential software products / services being considered. Plus, your internal team will thank you for reducing their workload when they finally have to sift through the digital stack of RFP’s submitted by potential vendors. If it’s time consuming for vendors to fill out, then imagine how your internal team will feel when they have to read through all those responses.

Attach Ownership To Each Requirement:

This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s still worth mentioning. Including a name, or names, along with each requirement will help your company keep track of who wants what, and why. This will come in handy later down the road when you need to reevaluate your requirements against each software product and during the demo process, as well.


RFP’s are a critical step in the software selection process, and they have the potential to make or break your software implementation. Take your time with your RFP creation. Focus on what’s truly important. Make sure it includes all pertinent details, and ditch the rest. Both for your internal team, and the vendors responding to it.


If your company is looking for guidance during the RFP creation process, feel free to reach out to us at info@itksolutionsgroup.com. And to stay In The Know, connect with us via social media or check out more posts on our blog!

June 3, 2015

A BIG Issue Sale Reps have with CRM: Big Brother

Big Brother

‘How come it feels like someone is watching me’ isn’t just a lyric to a song from the 80’s. It’s how many sales reps feel about CRM. We’re going to highlight where these feelings come from. Separate fact from fiction. And give sales managers and sales reps strategies to get the benefits of CRM without feeling a need to put tinfoil on your head.

Where does that feeling come from?

Any time you’re tracking metrics, (metrics that relate to what someone is doing with their time), it’s not out of the question to have a feeling that someone left the drapes open and you’re being watched. Imagine if another department’s activities were suddenly scrutinized. This dynamic is further compounded because many sales folks got into sales because they enjoy their freedom.


If you want to get the trust of your sales team, track only what’s necessary. Here’s a big hint. Track the metrics that have to do with productivity NOT just being busy. Being busy and productive are not the same thing. Focus on the productive part and worry less about how busy they are and your sales team will begin to trust you AND trust the CRM system.

CRM Systems have grown up:

The next generation of salespeople don’t have a history with CRM. They are more willing to jump in because in modern CRM Systems (Like Microsoft Dynamics CRM) they realize it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. CRM systems didn’t start out as the nimble, customizable systems they are today. But the new folks don’t know that. Much of the baggage CRM systems have is leftover from products that could be very useful, but frankly in their desire to provide maximum benefit tracked unnecessary variables that gave rise to the Big Brother reputation that many sales folks still hold onto.


The best salespeople are like the best defensive backs. They have short memories. It’s a survival skill that helps you jump back into the game after multiple rejections. Tap into that part of you (or have your sales team tap into the part of themselves) that is willing to get back in there, not because someone tells them to, but for the same reason you dive into the next sales opportunity: because of the upside – what’s possible if you’re willing to take a bit of a risk.

One Last Point on Memory:

Having a short memory is helpful in some ways. But CRM can also help you have a good memory where it matters. That’s where CRM has gotten very powerful. Knowing the kind of information that can help you make a sale. And we’re not just talking about contact info. When you don’t have that information you run into what we call Retail Amnesia™. That’s what happens when you treat a customer like you’ve never met before each time you meet. That’s not good for sales.

We’ll cover more on how CRM can help you and your Sales team (as well as Customer Service and Marketing) in upcoming posts.


May 16, 2012

Pipeline or Pipedream?

Are your sales forecasts vanishing into thin air at the end of the quarter?

If yes, it makes it difficult to run your business from a revenue and cash flow perspective. Typically there are two main causes for vanishing forecasts. They are:

1. Not having a solid sales process in place with tangible, measurable activities that move a prospect from one stage to another
2. Sales managers not asking the qualifying and difficult questions

What qualifies them as a prospect? Can your rep tell you the business issues that your product or service will be addressing for this prospect? What business outcomes do they want to achieve?  Are they talking to the decision maker? What is their process for reaching a decision? What is the next scheduled activity with that prospect?

Dig deeper by asking the right questions and see the difference it makes on your pipeline.

By Judy Sunblade, ITK Solutions Group, LLC

April 30, 2012

What’s So Important about Discovery & Requirements Gathering?

The Top Five Benefits of Discovery & Requirements Gathering

  1. Develops an understanding of client’s goals and values
  2. Defines project scope and governance model
  3. Identifies opportunities for process improvement
  4. Illustrates current gaps (internal and external)
  5. Generates cross-organizational dialogue towards an improved business model

Getting Started…

You’ll want to minimize the risk involved with a project of this nature, and balance the achievements or success with the required timeframe.  As importantly, you will want to establish the “win criteria” which will sustain the implementation over the long haul.  Internally, you will want to show mini wins to continue to show the value you are adding to the client and its executive sponsorship. The common goal will require agreement and understanding across all of your constituents in order to achieve the desired results within the timeframe and budget that has been established.

Governance Model – Who should be involved?

The process of discovery and requirements gathering should involve key executives and stakeholders who are capable of identifying and explaining the goals and strategy that have been established for the company. Identifying the goals and strategy are the basis for driving a discovery and requirements process.  Within these two elements are a basis for the project without which could lead to an unfocused effort that may yield lackluster results.

Communications Plan What to say, and when?

A communication strategy should be developed so that as the project progresses, there are clear milestone announcements that are circulated throughout the company to not only further emphasize the goals and importance of the project but also to help keep people engaged and understanding the short term wins and progress that are being made.

A communication strategy is critical to any enterprise project to maintain the end state in the minds of all those being impacted by this project.  The teams in the discovery/requirement phase will need to articulate how each department, office, region will be affected, i.e. what’s the purpose of the project, what’s it look like at the end state, what are the perceived benefits, etc. You should be looking to create a common understanding of the process at all levels that will be affected. With a global project, it will be important to have a common design that will accommodate localization….all consistently supporting the overall business model and vision of the company.

Interviews and Information Gathering

Throughout the course of the initial interviews with stakeholders, you will encounter the following:

  1. Collective problem solving – you, along with the consultant, will create the future-state throughout the discovery process.  Leverage these conversations to build strong relationships!
  2. Collaborative creation of business solutions – you will identify a variety of opportunities that drive value across the business.  Use these moments as an opportunity to build on the relationship moving forward!

Watch the Gaps – Illustrates current gaps (internal and external)

You will be addressing needs before a final budget has been established, which gives you the power to visualize an ideal future state for the business. It will become apparent that gaps will surface between what your current/future processes are compared to what the current product can provide. It’ll also create a gap analysis between your needs/processes and the functionality of the product out of the box, which is a KEY ELEMENT for the consulting partner and client to understand.  The benefit in this process is identifying the gaps during the sales cycle which helps determine “must have” vs. “nice to have” functionality and the ability to assess where, how and if you need to adjust your business process to avoid the need for customization.

Future-State Planning & Project Management

This phase will establish and identify the skill of the consulting team you will be working with during the implementation. You will also begin to identify key resources from your company who will become integral to the implementation.  You will want to be sure the consultants understand business process, in general, but in particular your processes and needs.  Establishing those relationships early on helps to ensure greater success for an on time/on budget implementation. It should be noted that changes to the project will come up after the implementation begins. Different perspectives will develop as you progress through your project plan, which will create change. A change order process must be established during the project planning phase with approval criteria that must be adhered to in order to prevent scope creep. The goal is to have a process stable for and to minimize that concern for change orders and drive to an identified target that has been established early. Structure like this will also foster a stronger working relationship with your consulting partner who then becomes part of the entire project team. Chemistry and trust are key success elements between partner consultants. That’s a goal that should not be understated.

The Demo

So we can now assume that the discovery and requirements gathering have taken place. The goal is that the demonstration should offer proof points validating the assumptions we have developed at a high level. The product demonstration is not a training session; it is used to see your processes integrated within the product and to identify those areas that don’t fit, also known as the fit-gap. Once those key elements have been accomplished, the data and information that has been collected thus far should be the basis for a meaningful implementation strategy. Again, as above, a communication strategy must be established and executed before and during the implementation. Key stakeholders should be able to articulate where the project stands compared to the budget and timeline with the support of the partner consultant. Typically, an executive steering committee has been identified with key stakeholders as regular participants in meetings.  The committee should include a senior level consultant (Project Manager) from the partner to meet regularly to discuss the project, the budget, its critical path and any obstacles that might have an impact the timeline. These meetings are, and should be, an open dialogue. I have seen this concept of the executive steering committee as being very effective and shows continued executive commitment and involvement in the project.

Wrapping Up

My goal in this article was to take a snapshot of a key phase in the sales cycle for investigating a product. I believe that Discovery and Requirements Gathering are critical elements that will help to ensure the success of your project and significantly help you sleep better at night. This phase is the foundation for driving real value into the project. This phase is an opportunity for the consultants to become experts on your business, build strong relationships with your stakeholders, and become partners moving forward!

In summary, if you want to know how successful your next project will be in the end, I suggest taking a good look at how it begins.



Sam Coluccio is the co-founder of ITK Solutions Group, a retail-focused consulting firm specializing in retail enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions. 

April 27, 2012

Does Your Retail Implementation Have the ROI it Should?

It’s budgeting time and you are evaluating capital expenditures for next year. One project that has been put off for several years is a new, better integrated retail system.

This is sometimes a hard sell with the operations and financial segments of the company. Retail systems touch almost every part of the company and can be expensive. After all, you are getting timely sales information, your customers are able to pay out promptly and efficiently, system uptime is reasonable (maybe not great) and loyalty information is being gathered. That’s really all you need, right? Maybe, maybe not.

Here are some ideas about what you should expect from a new system and how to evaluate whether such an expenditure would have an appropriate payback for your organization.

1. What is your current inventory out of stock percentage and how can your new implementation improve that?

Measuring out of stocks from a web portal is easy; the number of times customers look for products that are not in stock can be electronically captured. In a brick and mortar store situation, the numbers are not so straightforward. You don’t have the dress in the right size or style. Does the customer tell the manager? Usually not. Would it convert to a sale if you did? Often, but not always. A current assessment of your out of stock ratio is important here, if your new system is supposed to integrate more closely to provide better inventory tracking, ordering and replenishment.

Let’s consider some numbers at work here. If your out of stocks run 10% of all transactions and you believe that you could convert half of those out of stocks to a sale with better inventory integration and metrics, you should expect to increase your sales by about 5% if the new system fully realizes the potential here. Even a 50% realization of the potential capture would result in a 2.5% increase in sales, which would often fully fund a retail project.

2. How can your new system reduce the amount of dead inventory and deep discounting that’s required to move slow selling items?

The flip side of not having the right items in stock (#1 above) is having the wrong items in stock. What is the cost of your dead inventory disposal? How many items are put on clearance because you had the right items at the wrong time, or in the wrong size? Shelf and rack space is wasted on items that will not sell, with an opportunity cost of displaying items that would sell.

How many items are sold at clearance for 50-75% off that should never have been purchased in the first place? Choosing styles involves human judgment, and so it is an art (rather than a science), but a good system can ratchet up the science side and improve the buyer’s chances of nailing down the art side.

Again, the numbers in play are large. If your inventory is sold at 70% of suggested price, on average, and your new system could increase that to 75% by better anticipating demand flows and seasonality, a 5% increase in sales could be realized.

3. Can a new system enable new revenue streams?

For example, the best new retail systems enable pick, pack and ship functionality at the brick and mortar store level. That is, customers can place an order over the web that your system automatically routes to a store when your fulfillment warehouse is out of stock or low on stock for that item. The store that has the right item in the right color and the right size receives a notification to ship the item directly to the customer. You have not lost a sale, the customer’s needs have been fulfilled and your store manager’s volume goes up, all positive trends. To quantify the possibility, what amount of out of stocks from your web orders could have been filled with store inventory? 1-2 transactions per store per day could increase sales substantially.

Some things to consider:

  • All the above initiatives increase inventory turnover. In a leveraged situation (where money for inventory is borrowed), the reduction in borrowing costs should be quantified as a project payback (increases your Return on Investment or ROI for the project).
  • The above initiatives should also increase customer satisfaction which, while more difficult to measure, is intrinsic to the success of the company.
  • The above initiatives should be wrapped into project objectives with the before and the expected ‘after’ metrics so that you can measure the project success and tune areas where the project is falling short.
  • Finally, when quantifying project objectives, don’t take all the upside out of the numbers. If you feel the project could get a 10% increase in sales, should get a 7% increase in sales, and a 4% sales increase is a surety, use the surety number. If the ROI justifies from that, the project should be a ‘go’.

Susan Alvarez is the Vice-President of Consulting Services at ITK Solutions Group. ITK Solutions Group is a retail-focused consulting firm specializing in retail enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.