It’s been a little over year since the Microsoft acquired LinkedIn. There is still a lot of curiosity from sellers who use LinkedIn to research sales opportunities and Microsoft for productivity about how the two organizations are coming together. While there are many possibilities for this union, tackling the familiar challenges of sales professionals was a natural first place of intersection.
With an install base of 1.2 billion Office users and over 530 million LinkedIn members, we are in a unique position to better the work life of sales professionals. With the start of our fiscal year in July, we launched our first joint solution together with LinkedIn called Microsoft Relationship Sales. This combines the power of LinkedIn Sales Navigator within the experience of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The end goal is to deliver on the promise of turning relationships into revenue by:
- Building relationships with the right people.
- Offering insights and recommendations that build trust and credibility.
- Engaging at scale.
We know that Sellers predominantly live in CRM, LinkedIn, and Office. With that in mind, we have also made some interesting integrations across the Office suite to surface contextual LinkedIn information—helping sellers be more productive. Time savers like being able to see LinkedIn profiles within Outlook, consume LinkedIn learning content on advanced help topics, and create compelling resumes within Microsoft Word using Microsoft’s Resume Assistant powered by LinkedIn.
Using LinkedIn, Microsoft is giving sellers the superpower of acuity—keen vision and foresight powered by engagement analytics so sellers can capture customer interest at a time where it is mutually beneficial. Organizations can now give something back to their sales force that really improves their work lives—a CRM solution that is forward-looking.
In the new world of Relationship Selling, seamless integration and applied machine learning makes a real difference. Sellers should expect their CRM system would do all the typical things like reporting and pipeline tracking. Powering relationship sales with smart algorithms, we can also proactively assist in identifying new members of the buying committee and aid sellers in building net new contacts by leveraging all the relationships fellow employees have across their company network.
When you work in a forward-looking CRM solution, you have the following:
- Analytics that tell you how relationships within key opportunities are trending.
- A relationship assistant suggesting the next best action. Perhaps, you sent your prospect a proposal that wasn’t opened—time to circle back. If the proposal is now being shared across new contacts, you may want to include the new contacts in the buying committee.
- Sales Manager using Microsoft PowerBI can identify and replicate best practices by sales stage or selling unit. Sharing this information across the organization can potentially up level the performance of an entire team.
Shazam and Microsoft Relationship Sales
To better explain the power and magic of Relationship Sales it may be helpful to draw an analogy. I’ll use a popular music application and one of my favorite apps—Shazam. It’s been years and years, but I’m still amazed by its ability to help users identify the song and artist by listening to a short 10- 30 second clip. Over 15 billion songs were matched prior to Apple acquiring the app in December 2017. The match rate is incredible. Using big data and machine learning, Shazam also was able to make projections on the next new artist. As an example, the discovery of one of my favorite bands, Vance Joy, was predicted. As was Sam Smith and a host of others. Shazam had the ability of being forward-looking by noting how many people were engaged with a song or artist and seeing into the future.
In some ways, Microsoft Relationship Sales is a lot like the magic of Shazam. We are taking in bits of customer engagement information from email responses, phone calls, calendars, point drive interactions, and Sales Navigator InMails. All the two-way interactions that happen in an account are factored in terms of engagement or non-engagement. Much like how Shazam pulls all the notes and lyrics to identify a song and predict the next music sensation, Microsoft and LinkedIn can piece sales engagement data together that can help sellers build an action plan and increase probability of success. These are predictions and leading indicators that don’t negate the need or importance of sellers’ instincts and acumen. But they work to help sellers better leverage windows of opportunity when engagement is high and alert sellers when customer engagement is trailing off.
Lastly, Shazam is a place where you can get something that you can’t get elsewhere. We’re looking at Microsoft Relationship Sales as the destination place for the modern seller. A CRM system that finally gives back high value to the seller AND sales management. That should be music to everyone’s ears.
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