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18 January 2021


I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited for Microsoft to release a commercial offer/price point that means that Business Central customers can take advantage of Microsoft’s best in class CRM functionality. It's here, has been for a few months now, and I'm now going to shed my view of where it's at.

Why not use CRM inside Business Central?

Firstly, for those of you that want more than just simple contact and interaction logging, and basic opportunity logging, stop kidding yourself that Microsoft Dynamics 街霸5 Business Central/Microsoft Dynamics 街霸5 NAV inbuilt CRM functionality is for you (even with custom improvements). I can appreciate historically - from a license price point perspective - that two 'not so cheap' licenses (NAV/BC and CRM) doesn't help the 'sales pitch' and makes us look 'too expensive', but if you're pushing it because you're too afraid for them to use the  right tool, for the right job,  then I'm afraid we can't be friends .

My opinion changing anytime soon is very unlikely and whilst I now run a Dyn街霸5 CE/CRM apps team, my (honest!) opinion was very much the same as when my previous role was dominated by selling Microsoft Dynamics 街霸5 Business Central/Microsoft Dynamics 街霸5 NAV projects. Truth be told, I think businesses would be better off choosing a cheap and cheerful CRM such as Zoho, Pipedrive, Hubspot etc. I'm almost hanging my hat out here to say, they are better than the CRM component inside of Business Central.

Did Microsoft ever make it compelling commercially to buy the two solutions?

Going back, I remember the days where you could buy NAV (surely, you've caught the hang by now that it's the old name for Business Central) and if you were on a specific license type, then you could qualify to get your CRM server (base application) perpetual license FOC; and then just pay for your users on top. But that was based on an on-premise installation of CRM (and most of these customers have already or are transitioning to SaaS, so that emphasises the age of the deal). But it certainly helped in some sales pitches, but we've been absent of any type of 'deal' where Microsoft Dynamics 街霸5 BC/Microsoft Dynamics 街霸5 NAV and Microsoft Dynamics 街霸5 CRM are in play together for such a long time, and for me, that's been difficult, especially when you look at comparable solutions that have had 'better commercial offerings'.

Microsoft wants industry domination, and arguably they have it, but they always want more (I can’t blame them either, we all do). But, they have to give some to get some, and for Microsoft to talk about their ecosystem and having a customer   all in,   it has to make commercial sense , especially in the SMB space where there is a compelling reason for businesses to be all-in with Microsoft 街霸5 , Dynamics 街霸5 and Power Platform.

How are Microsoft Dynamics 街霸5 CE/CRM apps structured?

So, Microsoft Dynamics 街霸5 Customer Engagement, CE, CRM - whatever we all call it - the apps from Microsoft at its core contains Sales and Customer Service; you choose whether you are at Enterprise or Professional level, and you can mix and match between Sales and CS, but users per discipline are either Professional or Enterprise, not a mix of both within a core app (so, either, sales professional or sales enterprise). Enterprise is more expensive and gives you some more features and customisation capability, and of course, scalability is easier with Enterprise.

So, why is my glass half full when it comes to Microsoft's offer when a Business Central user wants to take Dynamics 街霸5 Sales/Customer Service?

So, on to the offer from Microsoft from what we know today (and I'm sure knowing my luck, this will soon become outdated, and hopefully it does, in a more positive light).

If you have Business Central licenses through a CSP license (you pay monthly, per user per month), whether Essentials or Premium. Then your Full users can qualify for an attach license for Sales and/or Customer Service at  Professional level  (NOT Enterprise). The attach license means a discount on the RRP.

So opposed to paying £49 a month per user for Sales Professional or £37.70 a month for Customer Service Professional, you can take the user licenses for £15.10 each. If a user needs both on top of their Business Central license, it would be £30.20, make sense yes?

Opposed to what would be £64.10 per user per month with Sales Professional and CS Professional at RRP (remember there is an attach offer available too with this). So, we have, available to our customers,  over 50% per user per month saving on 'CRM' , very nice!

Don't get me wrong,  I like it , I like it a lot, it's been long overdue, and it's a great way for someone to start their CRM journey will Microsoft to grow and evolve over time, and then perhaps jump to Enterprise.

Also, it helps the sales pitch no end!

What's my problem then?

At Tecman, we are one of the few partners in the Dynamics 街霸5 channel that does CRM and Business Central ourselves  without  partnering with others on all that is core to them both. We already have customers integrated and actively using the suite, and I’m excited at the opportunity that we can expand this further with the offers now available.

Is it a perfect bundle offer? No.  Why? Well, for me, sometimes I think it is too easy to label a client because they are SMB they need SMB CRM solutions, therefore if already part of the Microsoft stack, why not also entice the Enterprise license for CRM too.

To Microsoft, it drives higher monthly recurring revenue, to the customer they have the ability to tailor the solution to the needs of the business fully and also take advantage of every bit of core functionality available (for example in Sales Professional you can’t use the Competitors - really?!). 

Plus, you can't use Power Automate with Sales Professional (out of the box) - maybe that's a blog for a different day!...

I get that CSP and the way attach licenses work, you always have to have a 'base' license that is more expensive than the attach (or the attach cannot be any more expensive than the base), so this presents challenges based on Microsoft Dynamics 街霸5 Business Central license model, but it's a problem that Microsoft have to overcome, sooner rather than later.

So, thank you Microsoft, I do appreciate it. It will remove a number of commercial blockers to a CRM solution for existing Business Central Users in CSP, but you've only gone halfway there, and we are consistently saying 'oh no, sorry customer, actually that's only in Enterprise level, and that means there are no offers, and the license costs jump'.

I'm all for Enterprise as an attach to Business Central costing more than £15.10 if needed, you get what you pay for, right? But how many SMB businesses need Enterprise-level functionality? How many people use higher packages from Salesforce? The answer is a lot, and why is that? SMB has to do more with less, give them less functionality and what's instead the answer, maybe higher headcounts? Whilst I hope businesses grow and take on more people, it shouldn't be because the system can't do what you need - that's not exactly digital transformation is it Microsoft?

Wrap it up Jase, you've gone on long enough...

In summary, I like it, I like it a lot. But unfortunately Microsoft, you could also do more with your existing and pending customers of Dynamics 街霸5 Business Central.

Remember, SMB businesses run lean, and the benefit of CRM is that it gives you automation, visibility and guidance that helps manage relationships throughout your business - but not always is Professional Level functionality enough, but the cost gap to go up to the next level is currently too prohibitive to too many businesses.

Those who have questions on my 'opinion dump', feel free to get in contact with me at Tecman, happy to chat.