A week ago, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) took a big step and made LinkedIn shareholders pretty happy by announcing the acquisition of LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. As one of the shareholders secretly confided to me, he’d had high hopes when he’d invested in the IPO, but seeing the growth – or lack of it – in the past couple of years, is grateful for the “bailout.”
Keeping aside the personal feelings of the investors, I think the acquisition makes a lot of sense for the software giant as it focuses on providing more and more services for enterprises.
Let’s not forget:
LinkedIn is human data with more business value than Facebook.
The big question here is what does this acquisition spell for the CRM industry, which is predicted to be a $37 billion market by 2017, and how it will influence social selling.
In a section called “Selling to Social Selling” in its announcement, Microsoft mentions it plans to use LinkedIn’s social graph as an integrated selling tool alongside its existing CRM products.
Keeping in mind that Dynamics occupies #4 position only after Salesforce, SAP and Oracle in the market, and currently holds a market share of 4.3% of $26.3 billion market, this is sure to cause some ripples. Here are some of my predictions on what shape this might take:
LinkedIn data into Microsoft Dynamics:
There are a lot of CRMs out there. What’s worse, there are a lot of GREAT CRMs out there. But there’s one missing link: real-time business data with actionable insights. LinkedIn can fill that void by integrating the Microsoft CRM with LinkedIn, all of the data from LinkedIn can be downloaded into Dynamics in real time, making it the ONLY CRM with this feature. I think this has the potential to be magic.
The win-win here is that LinkedIn can make sure that this feature is only available for premium members, thus driving up sign-ups.
Automate all LinkedIn activities in the CRM
One of the major hassles of salespeople prospecting through LinkedIn is recording all of their touch points in the CRM, and setting future reminders to follow up. One way this acquisition could make that possibly is by opening up LinkedIn’s API so that these touch points are automatically recorded in the Dynamics CRM, savings salespeople thousands of hours every year, and hence generating more leads.
But…until that happens, I’m working on a similar product. We’re still in secret beta but are giving early access invites to some super special people. Are you one of them? Inbox me to find out! You can also take a look at our website: socialtrail.io
Sales Navigator Updates Right in Your CRM:
You know the lovely just-in-time updates about your prospect raising a Series A, or guest blogging on Forbes that help you write the loveliest personalized inMails? You pay $79/month for this service, which is more than the cost of some full-fledged CRMs. What if you could also merge this info, lead-wise, with your CRM?
This could drastically improve how salespeople build relationships with prospects from the CRM and accelerate results.
Another way I envisage Microsoft leveraging this acquisition is by tapping into social listening. As us frustrated social listeners know, LinkedIn’s control on its API borders on paranoia. With this acquisition, Microsoft could build a much-needed tool to crawl conversations in LinkedIn groups, users’ updates, and their articles. Making these conversations retrievable and discoverable is a sure-shot recipe for a great product.
They could also use social listening to screen the updates of leads stored in the CRM for specific keywords. This could ensure that salespersons don’t miss out on crucial trigger events.
Lead scoring mechanism:
Another direction where Microsoft could go is explore Lead Scoring within the Dynamic CRM. It could use LinkedIn updates (liking the company’s page, updates by team members) to assign scores to the lead. This real-time data could help salespeople prioritize prospects, and streamline efforts where they are most likely to get results.
Honestly, I’m very eager to see how all of this would play out! There’s so much disruption waiting to happen. I wonder how this would influence CRMs.
I think this could go two ways:
- Microsoft ends up controlling the CRM industry completely and obliterating all competition.
- Microsoft opens up LinkedIn API for other CRMs. Of course, I don’t expect them to be completely unselfish about this. I believe they’ll do it in a way that gives them a first mover advantage, or they do it once they’ve achieved a significant market share, say ~30%. I also wouldn’t be surprised if they open up the API but keep the best functionalities for themselves.)
I’m curious about what you think about this much-hyped acquisition. Do you think this is going to lead to LinkedIn’s death like Microsoft’s previous acquisitions (Yammer, I’m pointing at you), or do you think under the leadership of Satya Nadella, they just might be able to reach its potential?
And, if you’re a salesperson, which of the five points I’ve mentioned today would prove the most useful in your prospecting?
As always, I’d love to debate the pros and cons of this acquisition for Dynamics and LinkedIn in the comment section below.