In this blog, we highlight a lesson learned when we used a Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement online data source connector, called Instance Web API, for Power BI reports.
The Christman Company (Christman) is a commercial and professional construction firm offering construction management, real estate development, and related services. Founded in 1894, the company is ranked among the country’s largest contractors. Christman provides services nationwide, with ten office locations in the US and over 500 employees focused on the company’s core values, including building and maintaining long-term relationships.
As the company grew, the use of spreadsheets and multiple digital platforms was not providing a complete 360-degree view of customers, sales processes, or ongoing projects. Christman identified a need for a centralized platform to provide complete visibility into opportunities and data assets as well as capabilities to track sales processes and manage contacts.
“We knew we had data in different silos spread across multiple platforms,” says Angela Bailey, Vice President of Brand Strategy and Communications for The Christman Company. “We didn’t have a centralized way to manage our contacts or opportunities, so we did our research and knew we wanted a CRM product.”
As Christman’s stakeholders began researching different CRM solutions, Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales stood out because of its compatibility with other products and its ability to integrate with the Microsoft tools the company was already using.
“One thing about Dynamics 365 that I’ve appreciated so far has been the ability to integrate data from other systems into it,” says Russell Knorp, Application Developer for The Christman Company. “The fact that it has the API well defined makes integrating easy.”
Christman implemented Dynamics 365 for Sales to track and manage contact and sales information as well as to automate their business processes and marketing efforts, ultimately fostering client and prospect relationships. By aligning its Dynamics 365 for Sales processes with their core values, Christman has positioned themselves to foster relationships with their customers while remaining top-of-mind for future sales opportunities.
“One of our core values is creating lasting relationships, and CRM helps us manage those relationships, long before a project actually emerges, says Bailey.”
Dynamics 365 for Sales is now the platform for teams to track past projects and relationships when looking at future opportunities. Having a central repository to manage client relationships and contact information allows teams in different regions to better understand overall business connections.
“Dynamics 365 has been great to identify some of that information and to help our teams move the ball forward on some of these opportunities, says Bailey.”
A large part of Christman’s implementation was the ability to manage sales opportunities. As a company who manages longer sales cycles, it was critical for the business development team to have visibility into the information for each phase as a sale comes to fruition.
“We’re able to capture the history of an opportunity and the progression to close a lot better than we used to, so that’s key, says Jennifer Lee, Regional Marketing Manager for The Christman Company.”
One facet of Christman’s business is responding to requests for proposals. Leveraging Dynamics 365 for Sales, Christman tracks the bid process from the initial bid information to scheduled deadlines and interviews.
“We have been able to integrate and eliminate one of our silos of data in order to look at all of our information and see where we are at with our open opportunities list, says Bailey. We can quickly sort by region and pull out highlights of what’s happening.”
As the request for proposal process advances, internal resources are assigned within Dynamics 365 for Sales and the business development team continues to track the progression.
Dynamics 365 for Sales has provided visibility not only for the business development team but has also provided insight into sales and opportunities across the organization.
“From the management perspective, it’s been really great to have a dashboard of information that our business development leader can bring up for us to review together, says Bailey. We have company-wide management team meetings where we can look at what we call our ‘grow dashboard’, which surfaces information about what we have in our sales pipeline and the active milestones for our open opportunities.”
Dynamics 365 for Sales gives senior leadership within Christman the opportunity to review pipeline information at any given time via user-created views and dashboards. In addition, they utilize Microsoft’s Power BI to report and analyze opportunities, wins, and losses.
“Reporting on our sales activities and progress used to be a manual process for us and that’s where Power BI came in, says Lee. Our reports are now automated and much easier to process.”
Christman has also found success utilizing ClickDimensions, a marketing automation solution built into the Dynamics 365 platform to allow organizations the ability to automate, sync, and organize marketing tools and campaigns.
“We use the marketing list tool heavily, says Bailey. Then we use ClickDimensions to invite people to events and to manage their attendance.”
PowerSurveyPlus, PowerObjects’ marketing automation PowerPack add-on for Dynamics 365 for Sales that extends the native functionality within Dynamics, has been crucial in managing both the project progression and the client relationship. Throughout a project, Christman sends three surveys asking for candid feedback about the project scope, improvements, and evaluation. Surveys are tailored towards gaining insight into the overall relationship with the project staff and their teams.
“The final survey we send to our clients features the same set of questions for all three phases, and we ask questions about our team members and how they interacted with the client, says Bailey. The information we receive from these surveys has been very insightful, so we’re glad to capture all of it.”
From the data received, Christman can review and either adjust or improve based on the feedback. PowerSurveyPlus is also used to measure overall client satisfaction.
After deciding to upgrade to Dynamics 365 for Sales, Christman began its search for a partner that had the knowledge, experience, and dedication to the Dynamics platform to implement and add value to their investment. Christman chose PowerObjects to implement and support their Dynamics 365 for Sales project.
“One reason that we came to PowerObjects was their specialization in CRM, says Bailey. It being PowerObjects’ primary line of business and focus was huge for us.”
The PowerObjects team worked closely with Christman to develop and execute a plan that stayed on track and on budget, with solid lines of communication throughout the project.
“I don’t think we could have gotten through the last development without the expertise of the two PowerObjects analysts that worked with us and our sales representatives’ expertise in guiding us towards the right overall solution for our business, says Knorp.”
The company-wide visibility into sales pipeline; contact information and history; and opportunities has proved itself invaluable to both the business development team and senior leadership alike for Christman. As they continue to grow as a company, Christman is looking forward to building and refining their business processes in Dynamics 365 for Sales, to continue delivering an exceptional customer experience to their clients.
One reason that we came to PowerObjects was their specialization in CRM. It being PowerObjects’ primary line of business and focus was huge for us.