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Enhancing Sales Operations and Customer Engagement: How Palmer-Donavin Modernized with Microsoft Dynamics Customer Service

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About the Client

For more than 100 years, Palmer-Donavin has been committed to providing exceptional customer service. A leader in building material distribution and door fabrication, they are built by employee owners who believe in putting in the hard work to earn relationships one order at a time. Palmer-Donavin encountered several critical challenges within their organization, including lack of process visibility, inconsistent and unfriendly data entry, and blind spots in partner relations. Following an initial unsuccessful attempt to address these issues, Palmer-Donavin collaborated with JourneyTEAM to identify the optimal solution that would deliver on their desired impact.


Navigating Process Challenges
Palmer-Donavin’s sales team faced significant challenges with their request processes. They had multiple request forms scattered across various platforms, leading to frequent back-and-forth communications and a lack of visibility into the status of these requests. Initially, they used Smart Sheets along with several other tools to manage these processes. However, these tools did not provide visibility details around requests, creating additional workload and leaving sales without insight into the status of their requests. Additionally, Palmer-Donavin collaborated with a different Microsoft partner to develop their request process within the Dynamics sales hub using custom activity tables. Unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding of Palmer-Donavin's processes, this project did not meet the needs of their organization. The sales hub did not equip Palmer-Donavin’s team with the necessary capabilities to monitor, fulfill, and track requests effectively. The team needed a platform that would provide the necessary insights into sales while reducing the time-consuming communications that were burdening the team.

Inconsistencies in Customer Data Management
Palmer-Donavin lacked a systematic way to track key customer interactions, creating a blind spot for potential opportunities and future sales. Although sales team members would record sales calls and notes, the absence of a standardized template led to inconsistent information being captured for accounts. This inconsistency made it difficult to identify trends or determine next steps for business growth. Most call details were previously recorded in a notebook, limiting visibility and the ability to create reminders. Sales representatives lacked the capability to input their notes into a unified system where managers and other sales reps could stay informed about ongoing activities, conversations, and discussions. This lack of integration often resulted in a disconnect regarding account management. The organization needed a system to track customer activities and utilize that data to make more informed business decisions around sales and marketing efforts.

Navigating Mobile CRM Obstacles
Palmer-Donavin faced the common challenge of encouraging sales staff to regularly input customer information into their CRM system. With sales often on the road and busy with customer engagements, the need for a more straightforward data entry method was clear. The existing setup required sales personnel to use a desktop version of CRM on their laptops, which lacked Wi-Fi connectivity. Each time they needed to log details from a customer meeting, they had to log on, launch the program, and navigate through a cumbersome, multi-click process. This inefficiency deterred the sales team and resulted in poor data capture for customer accounts. To address this, Palmer-Donavin collaborated with JourneyTEAM to develop a power App designed to simplify and streamline data entry for their sales force.

Partnership Collaboration Obstacles
Palmer-Donavin collaborates with over 75 manufacturing partners yet lacked an effective means for both parties to track their partnership activities and the impact of those activities. This absence of a centralized system left partners without immediate insight into sales, joint marketing efforts, or associated opportunities. Consequently, engaging in data-driven discussions became challenging for Palmer-Donavin with their partner contacts. The lack of accessible data and visibility left their manufacturing partners uninformed and disconnected.


Palmer-Donavin initially collaborated with a previous partner to implement the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales module. Regrettably, the partner's limited understanding of Palmer-Donavin’s business processes resulted in a solution that failed to meet their requirements. Subsequently, Palmer-Donavin engaged with JourneyTEAM to refine the solution according to their specific needs. Upon assessing the challenges faced, it became evident that the Sales module was not the optimal solution for their objectives. Through discussions, it became evident that Microsoft Dynamics Customer Service, coupled with Power BI, offered the ideal solution for Palmer-Donavin to achieve success.



Optimizing Request Management with Dynamics Customer Service

Palmer-Donavin's primary goal was to consolidate their request processes into a single system, enhancing visibility for the sales team. JourneyTEAM recommended integrating these processes within the Dynamics Customer Service module. Together, we developed a series of workflows using the request table in Dynamics Customer Service, greatly simplifying the user experience. Sales personnel can now request to update contacts or customers, or submit requests to the marketing team, with automatic notifications sent to the appropriate teams for fulfillment. Built-in logic ensures that each request is routed to the correct manager for approval, and subsequent notifications are sent via Teams chat to prompt the next action, streamlining the process.

Historically, adding a new customer—a process involving multiple departments—required up to 10 emails, with sales lacking visibility on the request's status. The new system reduces this complexity to 3-4 automated workflows, significantly cutting down on internal communication and reducing the time needed to add a customer by ~30%. Palmer-Donavin has now automated nine unique request processes using Teams across five departments: IT, Marketing, Credit, Transportation, and Customer Service, enhancing overall efficiency.

Improving Customer Interaction for Strategic Growth

Palmer-Donavin developed seven Lead Measures; a pre-defined set of activities meant to track the engagement a sales rep does at a customer for a specific manufacturer into Dynamics to enhance their sales tracking capabilities. To leverage these insights, the organization developed a lead measure form linked to Power BI. This integration surfaces critical data through a customer opportunity table, enabling comprehensive year-end reviews with key manufacturing partners to discuss activities conducted for customers. So far in this calendar year alone, Palmer-Donavin’s sales team has entered over 1,800 lead measures, a 6x growth of actionable data being put into their system from last year. These reviews focus on activities such as co-op spending, sponsored events, and product training sessions, allowing Palmer-Donavin and their partners to identify the most effective mix of activities and expenditures for generating and closing opportunities, as well as for tracking potential revenue. With Lead Measures implemented and a focus put on a specific Manufacturer, the organization has seen an 18.4% increase in sales with those Manufacturers products. The information entered by the Sales Representatives allowed them to learn that the most impactful lead measures was the coupling of displays being placed in customer locations, and training on the product.

Additionally, Palmer-Donavin is collaborating with JourneyTEAM to integrate marketing strategies around Lead Measure data. Already with the alignment between sales and marketing, Palmer-Donavin can see where to focus efforts based on lead measures and build content and resources around that. This data has helped marketing create over 30 campaigns and increased their open rate in email sends to 32%, a 10% increase from before. But they are not stopping there, Palmer-Donavin continues to plan enhancements around customer engagement with targeted collateral that will enable the marketing team to further analyze data and trends. This analysis will continue to pinpoint marketing efforts and resources on strategies that yield the most significant impact, providing Palmer-Donavin with the data needed to make informed decisions and maximize sales impact.

Maximizing Sales Data with Power Apps

JourneyTEAM partnered with Palmer-Donavin to develop Sales Planner, a mobile friendly Power App designed to enhance their sales operations. To support this initiative, Palmer-Donavin provided their sales team with new tablets featuring easy Wi-Fi connectivity, enabling on-the-go access to lead measure forms and request processes. This improvement has increased the quantity of customer data entered and reduced the number of inquiries about request processes, as the sales team can now easily check their request status. For instance, the Sales Planner app has streamlined the sample request process by enabling sales representatives to submit their requests directly through the app, significantly reducing reliance on phone calls and emails. The app displays a list of open requests, helping the sales team track pending items and further reducing the need for additional communication. From January to April this year, over 2,000 sample requests were submitted through the app, saving the organization an average of 10 hours per week compared to the old method of calling or emailing requests.

The Sales Planner app simplifies data entry, allowing sales representatives to efficiently input lead measures and customer requests. The app's privacy settings ensure that each user can only access their own data, improving visibility into the status of requests and enabling prompt communication with customers and manufacturing partners. Additionally, the app integrates with Outlook, facilitating the creation of appointments that sync directly to their calendars.

To further enhance its functionality, the app now includes Power BI reporting capabilities, providing a clear and accessible interface for tracking opportunities and lead measures, all synchronized with their CRM system. With Sales Planner, the sales team can manage their activities, view their calendar, submit requests, and access customer data through simplified Power BI reports, all from a single application.

Palmer-Donavin is not stopping here; they continue to work with JourneyTEAM to expand the functionality of Sales Planner. Future enhancements will include features for tracking commissions, sales figures, and daily order status, transforming Sales Planner into a comprehensive sales tool. They also plan to integrate this system with Microsoft Marketing to automate marketing actions based on sales data entries, creating a seamless experience for customers, and boosting internal efficiency.

Modernizing Data Access and Collaboration to Foster Stronger Partnerships

For the first time ever, JourneyTEAM assisted Palmer-Donavin in developing a partner portal accessible to both their direct and manufacturing partners. This portal provides partners with insights into sales, lead measures for pipeline development and deal closure, utilized items, and associated opportunities- allowing their partners to see the value that Palmer-Donavin is driving for their products. Role-level security ensures that each partner only has access to their own data. Additionally, Palmer-Donavin integrated Power BI reporting capabilities, enabling partners to easily visualize and analyze data in a meaningful manner. Already, the organization witnesses an average of 125 monthly visits to the portal, demonstrating its impact on the partnership.

For Palmer-Donavin the self-service aspect frees up companywide time previously spent on ad hoc data retrieval and reporting for partners. No longer are there multiple email exchanges across the organization to fulfill partners' data requests. This self-service capability not only benefits partners but also streamlines yearly or quarterly reviews across 75 partners, eliminating the manual effort of Excel spreadsheets and tracking down information on each partner for sales. Partners can now access sales lead measures directly, fostering stronger go-to-market partnerships. This comprehensive data offers partners a holistic view of mutual sales efforts and highlights successful strategies. Partners can also initiate follow-ups on targets or lead measures directly within the portal, sending requests directly to sales reps. Sharing this information enhances trust and collaboration between Palmer-Donavin and its partners.

One of Palmer- Donavin’s Manufacturing partners Pat Gallagher, director of Sales at Digger Specialties, shared his thoughts on the new portal capabilities, “I just wanted to share my thoughts as a sales manager on the vendor portal dashboard you have provided for our use. In the short time I have used the system I find it to be super effective in allowing me to drill down into a specific sales initiative, analyze the data, and take specific actions.  The reports, data, graphs, and timelines that are provided are very robust and allow me to help make strategic decisions to promote in a targeted manner.  Not being super tech literate, I also have found it easy to navigate and use. This is the most valuable tool I have at my disposal to assist Palmer-Donavin sales efforts and to analyze all aspects of our business together as partners. Thank you for giving us access to all this information.”

Encouraged by internal and partner feedback, Palmer-Donavin plans to enhance the portal's functionality further. They envision a next phase where partners can create and share opportunities directly through the portal, fostering even greater joint selling strategies.

CRM is a huge journey and financial impact to a business. I feel so lucky to have found JourneyTEAM, they view us as a longer-term partner and understand our bigger vision. They realized how we were using it was not going to get us to accomplish our goals, and by understanding our needs, they helped us get to a place where we are excited about what we have built, and what we will continue to build.

Stephanie Kuntz, Director of Marketing at Palmer-Donavin

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