Many companies start by keeping a list of opportunities in Excel, and emailing that Excel document to sales people and managers using Office 365. These spreadsheets often grow complex as they are enhanced to capture all the data elements that you want to track. While it is a simple approach, it has some disadvantages:
- Hard to track who has most recent version
- People can add more columns and worksheets without coordinating with one another
- Difficult to generate some pipeline reports
- Grows quickly and may become unwieldy, especially if past wins and losses are accumulated in the spreadsheet
The next evolutionary step is to use SharePoint (included in Office 365) to store the sales spreadsheet. This eliminates the version control problem, and establishes a single place where the latest spreadsheet is stored.
SharePoint is also an excellent platform for storing solicitation and proposal documents. You can set up permissions to grant the right people access to the documents they need, and use SharePoint to organize proposal boilerplate items, staff resumes, and more. Documents created internally can be shared with potential subcontractors, subject matter experts, and other vendors under the security framework of Office 365.
SharePoint workflows can be used to automate review and approval processes. For instance, you can notify reviewers when new drafts are posted to a document library.
Some companies use SharePoint lists to store the information on the opportunities rather than Excel. This offers additional levels of control and makes some reports easier to generate.
Dynamics CRM offers the most comprehensive set of features for capture management of all the Microsoft products. It was designed for sales force automation, marketing, and customer service and includes hundreds of features that surpass what you can accomplish in SharePoint in terms of tracking sales. Dynamics CRM has record- and field-level security along with the concepts of record ownership and an organizational hierarchy. This means that you can assign opportunities to sales people and define rich permissions for who can access what data. Dynamics CRM has mobile clients for tablets and phones, and even service scheduling and route planning. It can be used to generate marketing emails, such as invitations to events.
InfoStrat developed the Dynamics CRM for Government Contractors solution which takes Dynamics CRM a step further, adding data elements, workflows, dashboards and reports that are geared toward government contractors.
Finally, using Dynamics CRM to track sales does not mean you should not be using SharePoint to track documents. Business development involves both structured data (Dynamics CRM) and unstructured data (SharePoint).
You can even automate the process to track your emails to clients and prospects in Dynamics CRM without entering them manually. An exciting new product called Komiko will search emails for those sent to companies and contacts that you are tracking in CRM and add them as activities. This allows you to report on how many activities were required to close a sale, and see how new sales develop.
You don't have to adopt all this technology at one time. You can chart a course to move at the best speed for your organization.