Microsoft CRM adds data allies

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has partnered with ZoomInfo and Hoover’s databases and offered up some client incentives last week in a major push for increased adoption in the business-to-business space.

Users of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which run a gamut of industries from education to health to manufacturing, will now be able to access Hoover’s and ZoomInfo’s databases directly through the CRM system — as long as they pay for the additional service.

Hoover’s core customers hail mainly from the b-to-b space, while ZoomInfo’s client base is heavy in the technology sector.

“The sources provided by ZoomInfo and Hoover’s add an additional layer of rich data around customers, including in-depth information on prospects and lead generation,” wrote Bill Patterson, director of product management for Microsoft Dynam­ics CRM, in an e-mail to DMNews. “The additional insight will help our customers make better sales and marketing decisions and build a better pipeline.”

“What people are looking for is anything to make their CRM systems more useful,” added Chip Terry, VP of enterprise prod­ucts for ZoomInfo. “Dynamics is great, but it’s only as good as the data that’s inside of it, so ZoomInfo is able to provide that data they need. It’s the fuel in the race car.”

Access Hoover’s, which is already inte­grated with CRM, offers records on 28 million public and private companies and 36 million executives.

ZoomInfo, which integrated with Sales­ last year and also has a partner­ship with SugarCRM, offers searchable data containing 45 million people and 5 million companies.

These data providers also benefit from the partnership: Microsoft’s broad consumer base represents vast, untapped prospects for the companies’ data services. Integrating directly with the Dynamics CRM system also makes Hoover’s and ZoomInfo more accessible and useful for clients.

“One reason why we did this is because Microsoft Dynamics CRM is growing very rapidly. One of the reasons that, even in this economy, CRM is growing so rapidly, is that it helps salespeople perform more effectively,” said Heidi Tucker, VP of busi­ness development for Hoover’s. “You can’t wing it in this economy, so you have to focus and make sure you are most prepared to have a very valuable business conversation with your prospects.”

“Bringing the data into the workflow of our clients is critical,” said Terry. “The benefit is that it allows us to serve our cli­ents better, and the extended benefit is that Microsoft is a much larger company and allows us to reach a larger audience.”

Microsoft is just the first step by Hoover’s in a wider plan to offer its content through third-party services. The company also launched a big initiative in January, called Hoover’s Mobile. Available for iPhone, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile users, the service allows subscribers to search and assess sales leads and access company records from their mobile devices.

“The whole concept of taking our con­tent and embedding it in solutions to meet customers wherever they are will be the growth engine of our company over the next few years,” said Tucker.

Microsoft’s growth efforts include some other upgrades, too, many of which were announced at the company’s Convergence conference held March 10 to March 13.

One upgrade is Cloud Integration Ser­vices, which was just released with the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online March 2009 Service Update. The service allows customers and partners to develop on-prem­ises or on-demand applications that work with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. Hoover’s, ZoomInfo and InsideView are all Microsoft partners that have used a cloud integration services approach.

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