Sulava’s renewed CRM system in summer 2023 with Microsoft’s Dynamics 365. Salespeople gained access to more efficient tools, a mobile user interface and Copilot artificial intelligence functionalities. Continuous training and “Power Hour” support accelerate adoption of new delivery methods and help sellers get better use of CRM.

Sulava’s previous CRM system had served since the company was founded, i.e. for 13 years. The system was developed iteratively along the way, with simplicity and data reliability always being the guiding principles. Despite aiming for simplicity, the previous system had gradually evolved into a technically intricate setup, with additional functionalities being layered onto its core features over time.

Harri Tervo, who has worked as Sales Director at Sulava for 9 years, emphasizes the role of technology modernization in the project: “For us, the accuracy of data and the ease of use of our systems have always been at the core of our sales function. In this project, we wanted to implement the best technical systems and thereby bring new innovative tools to our salespeople. And, of course, to ensure that the implementation runs smoothly as well as we can as professionals.”

According to Tervo, even though Sulava is a Microsoft house, using a Dynamics 365 -product was by no means self-evident.

“We run a normal business just like any other, and Microsoft’s tools are genuinely the best for this. Of course, we know these solutions ourselves in depth, i.e. we know what we are implementing. However, I would dare to say that even if we were in a different business, we would still make use of these tools,” Tervo says.

The initial feedback from the sales team has been very good and, for example, the diversification of reporting possibilities that came as standard functions has been widely praised.

Artificial intelligence for sales management

According to Microsoft’s product description, Dynamics 365 integrates with existing systems to provide omnichannel and personalized customer experiences. Dynamics uses AI to optimize business processes, improve customer loyalty, increase employee productivity, and identify new business opportunities.

In Dynamics 365, AI is included through Copilot functionality, which helps the user with a wide range of tasks. This is now also used in Sulava’s sales.

“Dynamics 365 and Sales Copilot is a comprehensive tool that combines all Microsoft software in use into one entity. In CRM use, Copilot can, for example, find a potential customer’s information in another system and suggest adding it to the register. Copilot and processes created through machine learning also help in decision-making, facilitate task prioritization and contact management, and predict the chances of success in sales projects,” says Janne Suominen, Sulava’s Dynamics consultant.

“Phone and email are still the most important tools for salespeople. Copilot can also monitor their use in customer work, suggest directly adding contacts or even create sales reports based on them,” Suominen’s colleague Stanislav Chakhovich adds.

Regular training and sharing tips

The recently completed Dynamics 365 implementation project has been good practice for Sulava in the constantly evolving Microsoft world. One of the most essential areas of system deployments that should be done right the first time is training and support. Sulava invests wholeheartedly in this, for example, in the form of internal CRM “Power Hour” events held every other week.

“When it comes to our own system and we are also the main users and suppliers, it is easier to advise and also receive advice,” says Stanislav Chakhovich. “We are constantly helping our salespeople, and in tips & tricks style sessions we discuss challenges, new features and how to use them, and in general share experiences. Thanks to these meetings, everyone hears about new things together and information does not have to spread through word of mouth.”

Regular system maintenance pays off

The impetus for a smooth CRM project did not come from the sales director or even the sales team, but from an expert outside the sales organization.

“I am very pleased that the project was carried out and that this need was justified to me,” says Sales Director Tervo. “This kind of catalyst was very important and without it, the project might never have been realized.”

Tervo recommends a regular professional mapping of the current state or an analysis workshop. “It’s a good idea to ask a professional to find out the current state of the systems at appropriate intervals. The car is also inspected or maintained regularly, and the same idea can be applied to information systems. And at the same time, you should make sure that the training and support is continuous!”

The next step in the sleek CRM project is the implementation of Dynamics Marketing, a tool recently renamed Dynamics 365 Customer Insights Journeys (CIJ), which will be taken forward next.

Author: Juhani Lassila
Published October 2023.