Previewing 2024 Release Wave 1 for Microsoft Dynamics 365 – Sales and Marketing Updates

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Previewing 2024 Release Wave 1 for Microsoft Dynamics 365 – Sales and Marketing Updates

Microsoft has unveiled its plans for the next major update to Dynamics 365 apps and the Power Platform.

The 2024 Release Wave 1 covers the period from April to September, with some features available for administrators to test from February before these are automatically enabled in April.

Let’s explore what’s announced for sales and marketing teams.

What’s New in 2024 Release Wave 1 for Sales Teams

Copilot innovations are at the forefront of the announced updates for Dynamics 365 Sales, but keeping reading for details about a new Copilot for Sales product.

Copilot on the Sales Hub home page

The Copilot AI-powered assistant will be integrated into the Sales Hub homepage, enabling sellers to chat with Copilot to surface CRM insights, quickly access customer details and prepare for upcoming meetings. (Public Preview February and General Availability April)

Copilot Integrated into the Dynamics 365 Sales Hub home screen

Copilot email assistance

Available in preview since mid-2023, Copilot email assistance to draft replies will be generally available in 2024 RW1. This uses natural language processing to draft personalised responses, which can be fine-tuned by adjusting the tone or length and amending any text. (GA April)

Copilot for Sales Email Assistant

AI-generated account summary

To see the situation on an account, this new sidebar visual will help sellers quickly check information.

This should provide a more interactive experience compared to navigating sub-grids for related leads, cases and opportunities. According to the release plans the summary will be customisable enabling admins to configure which standard and custom related are shown. (GA June)

Copilot AI generated account summary view for Dynamics 365

Use Copilot to get answers from sales documents.

Responses to Copilot for Sales chats can be enhanced by enabling Copilot to access sales documentation from SharePoint. This information will help provide quick answers to questions, saving time for sales teams without needing to manually navigate to these resources. (PP Feb)

AI-suggested past successful deals

Copilot insights will reference successful deals similar to an active opportunity designed to help sellers replicate effective approaches. (GA April)

New Copilot for Sales Product

The above standard Copilot feature announcements will be available to Dynamics 365 customers with a Sales Enterprise or Sales Premium licence.From 1st February 2024, Microsoft is introducing Copilot for Sales. This brings together Copilot for Microsoft 365 with seller workflows, using CRM data from Dynamics 365, as well as large language models and data from Microsoft Graph and Microsoft 365 apps. Copilot for Sales includes Copilot for Microsoft 365 (featuring Copilot in PowerPoint, Word and more). It’s important to note that Copilot for Sales won’t be included in any Dynamics 365 Sales subscription.Dynamics 365 Sales customers must purchase the Copilot for Sales subscription to get the full product. Sales Premium customers can purchase Copilot for Microsoft 365 for the full functionality.The following new features for the 2024 Release Wave 1 are exclusive to the new Copilot for Sales product.

Integrate Copilot for Sales in Microsoft Word

With Word integration, Copilot will produce meeting prep documents with helpful background information.This can include email summaries, previous meeting recaps, open cases and tasks and an opportunity summary. (GA April)
Copilot for Sales integrated with Microsoft Word for meeting preparation summaries

Suggested opportunity updates

Copilot for Sales will be more proactive by nudging sellers to update CRM opportunities based on recent customer emails and conversations. This includes providing recommendations to update projected close dates, sales stage and estimated revenue. 

Changes can be saved to CRM opportunities directly from Copilot in Outlook, Teams or M365. (GA May)

Prompting sellers to update opportunities based on insights gains from Teams Meetings

Suggested next steps in response to customer issues

With this enhancement, Copilot will offer contextual actions in response to customer issues using internal knowledge sources, such as SharePoint and Dynamics 365. According to the release plans, Copilot for Sales will also identify gaps between information requests and existing resources. (GA June)

Share Copilot summaries in Microsoft Teams group chats

Copilot for Sales generates summaries of opportunities, leads, and emails, and the new update will enable sellers to share these easily within group chats. According to the release plans, Copilot for Sales will also be integrated with Copilot in the Microsoft Teams chat experience. (PP April and GA June)

Generate profiles of key stakeholders.

This new feature is designed to help personalise interactions using a concise profile of stakeholders based on internal data, including CRM.

The notes say this will also use public data sources, but LinkedIn isn’t explicitly mentioned. No preview screenshot has been published, but it’ll be interesting to see how this compares to the improved org chart feature for Dynamics 365 Sales. (GA September)

Meeting and email summaries

Copilot already provides auto-generated summaries of meetings and inbound emails to help sellers respond quickly. The new release will introduce added personalisations in Microsoft 365 chat, the Copilot for Sales app in Teams and the add-in for Outlook. These include suggested requests for further information, as well as recaps to highlight timelines, budgets, and stakeholders. (GA April)

Read more about what’s new in Copilot for Sales

Additional Release Wave 1 Updates for Dynamics 365 Sales

Moving on to other enhancements for the Sales Hub for all Dynamics 365 Sales customers, 2024 RW1 will include improvements for sequences, leads, and opportunities.

Aggregate opportunity values

An updated pipeline view will enable opportunities to be grouped based on account names, closing months and other fields. This will also allow the aggregation of forecasted deal values within these grouped segments.

We’re not sure what this will look like as the plans don’t include a preview image, but this feature will be available for early access preview in February. (GA April)

Customise the lead qualification process.

New controls will enable admins to customise what actions can occur when leads are qualified. This includes an option to prepopulate defined opportunity fields with values from the lead.

Additional flexibility also includes allowing users to create multiple opportunities from a qualified lead and enabling automatic Copilot handover summaries. (GA April)

Customer-D365-Sales-Lead-Qualification-Process

Default-focused view for leads

Microsoft says focused views are now widely adopted, so from the 2024 Release Wave 1 this will now be default for leads.

The focused view will now have a command bar to select and apply actions across multiple records. Also, admins will be able to enable focused mode as default for other standard and custom entities. (PP Feb and GA April)

D365 Sales Lead Focused View

Work simultaneously using multiple sequences

This update will enable multiple sellers to be assigned to work on different sequences for a specific record simultaneously.

A supporting view will offer clarity to aid teamwork by enabling sellers to see if any colleagues are working on sequences for the same account. (PP Feb and GA April)

Preview sequence steps

With the ability to work on multiple sequences simultaneously, a new preview will show the steps for each sequence within the context of a specific record alongside the ‘Up Next’ widget. (GA April)

Preview-Dynamics-365-Sales-Sequence-Steps

For Marketing Teams

Across Dynamics 365 Customer Insights – Journeys (previously Dynamics 365 Marketing), the announcements include updates to close more (but not all) functionality gaps between Outbound Marketing and Real-Time Journeys (RTJ). In line with recent Microsoft communications, no new features were announced specifically for Outbound Marketing.Our main takeaways are:

Branded links

Rather than use the default generated URL formats, this update will allow teams to brand links in emails for forms, registration pages and preference centres.To increase trust and CTRs, branded vanity links can be set once these domains are authenticated. (PP April)

Take campaigns from concept to launch using Copilot

This preview feature offers the prospect of reducing the effort and time to launch campaigns by starting with a natural language description or providing a creative brief.Using Customer Insights data and campaign descriptions, Microsoft says Copilot can automatically generate suggested audiences, assets, and journeys that can be refined.Based on a brand profile developed from an organisation’s website, Copilot will check to ensure its content is on-brand. (PP February)
Copilot-marketing-campaign-project-builder

Check consent on contact and lead forms.

This new view in Real Time Journeys will provide clarity about the consent status of each customer.

This will allow users to quickly see if messages will be delivered by checking what topics a contact or lead has subscribed to or if they have opted out of all commercial comms. (GA June)

Constent-view-for-contact-and-lead-records

Easily view copies of sent emails in the timeline.

Record timelines already track marketing emails, but this improvement will ensure a precise copy of each message is shown to include personalised elements, including conditional content. Learn more about this feature from our overview. (GA April) 

Integration with third-party forms

Using real-time journeys, it will now be possible to connect any external third-party form and use these to create new leads/contacts.

This feature will also support JavaScript, which will map form fields to existing entity attributes in Dynamics. Learn more about this feature. (GA April)

Double opt-in process

Closing a gap with outbound marketing, this enhancement will enable admins to enforce double opt-in flows using the compliance profile. Customisable double opt-in processes will be configurable using triggers and journeys. (PP April and GA July)

Email A/B testing

A/B testing is another outbound marketing feature that will finally be available in RTJ. This will include tests for subject lines and email body elements. (GA April)

Prevent emails sent to duplicated addresses.

This control for segment-based journeys will ensure messages are only sent once to each unique email address. Duplicated email addresses will be flagged in journey analytics. (GA April)

Collect extra form detail without creating custom attributes

Another long-awaited feature previously only available in outbound marketing arrives in RTJ to track supplementary information from web forms.

This enables marketers to create forms without creating custom attributes for leads or contacts. For instance, temporarily capture dietary preferences for an event registration. (PP July)

Send scheduling

Frequency caps and quiet times features already control when real-time messages shouldn’t be sent. This new scheduling control for RTJ will offer marketing teams increased flexibility handle when messages should be sent.

Start and finish times can be set for each day to ensure that messages within a journey will only reach customers during these optimal times. This will be most effective when segment members are in similar time zones. (PP April and GA July)

Send Scheduling Control for Journeys

Journey flow analysis

A new visual will provide insight into the outcomes achieved by each journey.

To identify areas for improvement, this will show the flow through each step and highlight the tiles where people drop out of the journey. (GA April)

Journey-flow-analysis-outcomes

Auto-management of segments

This feature is for you if you create audience segments that are only used once.

That’s because it will allow admins to activate auto-segment management to deactivate any segment that isn’t used after a defined retention period. This will tidy up the system to avoid potential performance drags caused by redundant segments. (PP June)

MQL criteria

This feature will augment existing scoring models in Customer Insights by enabling multiple signals to define the criteria for a marketing qualified lead (MQL).

This could include an identified fit with an ideal customer profile, customer intent based on tracked interactions, recency of the lead, and the regular engagement score. (GA April)

MQL Criteria Definition

Find out more about the 2024 Release Wave 1

These are just a selection of our highlights from the next release wave focusing on Dynamics 365 Sales and Customer Insights – Journeys. To read more about what’s new across all Dynamics 365 apps and the Power Platform, we recommend the interactive Microsoft Release Planner and a playlist of highlights.

Read our separate posts to explore what’s new in Dynamics 365 Customer Service and Microsoft Power Pages.

The release plans are also accessible on Microsoft Learn.

Please note that the information and timelines mentioned in this article are subject to change. We will aim to keep this post updated when changes are announced. 

We are excited to share more details about what’s new in the 2024 Release Wave, but in the meantime, you can follow our LinkedIn channel to stay up-to-date. 

January 29, 2024

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Warren Butler

Warren Butler

Warren is the director of marketing at ServerSys. He brings over 20 years of experience covering business transformation, CRM and Microsoft Dynamics to help organisations grow by embracing technology.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with us at hello@serversys.com

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