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When Should I Invest in CRM? What Are My Options?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) continues to be a hot topic for most companies. However, these same companies also initially struggle with this tool due to a lack of clear success criteria. The results are a frustrated leadership team, disgruntled sales team, lost time, and sunk costs. According to several research studies, CRM projects' failure rates range from about 30% to 70%*.

So, when does it make sense to invest your company's time and money into a CRM project? Provided you have a clear definition of success, executive support, an internal project lead, and budget—sooner rather than later! What used to be fancy automation is now table stakes. What was the realm of large companies is now expected, and usually delivered, by nearly every startup. Customer experience is king, and knowledge of that customer is what molds that experience. This knowledge is leveraged most strategically in a well-defined CRM system, but we must have our strategy and vision for success defined before we discuss software.



In the world of Microsoft Dynamics, customers have two choices for Microsoft-based CRM solutions. There is the well-known and widely installed Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales, in use today by 60,000+ companies worldwide. Then there is the Business Central/NAV Relationship Management functionality. While more than 200,000 companies worldwide use Business Central, many of them neglect the relationship management functionality.

Why don't companies use it? Well, frankly, most don't even realize they own it. I will spend the remainder of this article discussing some of the pros and cons of using either of these tools, so you can ask better questions when you decide to undertake your CRM project.


Microsoft Dynamics Sales

D365 Sales is a great product; I have 10+ years of experience using it to lead sales efforts. If your company requires advanced marketing capabilities, robust workflows, or other complex features, then it is the right solution for you.


  • Social Engagement
  • Integration with LinkedIn
  • Easy for end-users to add fields and customize screens
  • Great integration with Microsoft Power BI
  • Excellent compatibility with tablet and phones
  • Advanced workflows to support business process and pipeline discipline


  • A separate system from the main LOB/ERP
  • Custom integration is likely required
  • Should have a dedicated product champion, thus more internal time to manage
  • Higher price point
  • Since ERP adoption rates are historically meager, the risk of wasted investment is increased


Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Relationship Management (CRM)

For those that have followed my speaking sessions in the user groups or blogs, you are aware that I am an evangelist for Business Central. In particular, having assisted companies with CRM for over 20 years, I like that Relationship Management is built right into Business Central. If your company is new to the CRM world or has struggled with CRM implementations, I strongly recommend trying the solution pre-built in your ERP system.


  • If you own Business Central, you already own the CRM; thus, there is smaller initial investment and less total cost of ownership (TCO)
  • Familiar user interface, thus lower training costs
  • A robust feature set, including:
    • Contact management
    • Seamless Outlook integration
    • Opportunity management
    • Sales cycle management
    • Marketing campaigns
    • Task and follow up integrated with Outlook calendar
    • Demographic profiles for contacts/customers
    • Seamless integration with Power BI for dashboards and KPI monitoring
  • No need for an additional product owner or subject matter expert (SME)
  • No custom integration required since the solution uses the same database as Business Central


  • While some personalization is available, adding custom fields requires more technical skill than Dynamics 365 Sales
  • Workflow templates exist, but the workflow and process tools in Dynamics 365 Sales are superior and easier to use
  • No standard integration with email marketing platforms, typically requiring some custom export and response management
  • Since the system is part of an ERP, a fair amount of personalization to screens is typically required to improve user adoption

In conclusion, I would remind you that having a plan for your CRM project is vital. Knowing what success looks like in definite terms is essential. Once you have these two pieces in place, you can begin to evaluate which solution will best support your sales and marketing requirements. Whether you choose Microsoft Dynamics Sales or Business Central Relationship Management, you can trust that the entire Microsoft platform will provide your company a strong foundation from which you can grow.

If you have questions about this or any other topic related to your CRM journey, reach out to me at tdoran@innovia.com or browse our resources for additional tips and tricks for success with your CRM project.

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*Harvard Business Review, ConvergeHub