CRM MVP Question and Answer – Mark Smith (nzCRMguy)

This weeks CRM MVP Q&A is Mark Smith who is better known as nzCRMguy.  If you want to keep up to date with the latest CRM news then you should follow him on twitter –, not only are the links good quality but you will get more links than you can probably read.

Here are the highlights from his Dynamics Community profile –

Mark has been working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM since version 1.2 (2003) and has extensive knowledge of the product, as a Microsoft Certified Trainer in Dynamics CRM and founder of Magnetism a Microsoft Partner with a Gold Customer Relationship Management Competency as well as a ISV and Learning Competencies; a CRM practice in New Zealand where he was the CEO for 6 years.

He was also part of the team that implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Eagle Technology, one of the first companies to implement Dynamics CRM in New Zealand.

In 2009 he led the company to win the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Solution of the Year at the Microsoft Partner Awards.   In 2011 Mark was awarded Microsoft MVP for Dynamics CRM and has it to this day.  Recently he was also awarded v-TSP for Dynamics CRM in New Zealand.


As always I’m very appreciative for Mark taking the time to answer my questions, he is very busy and no doubt busy (like many of the CRM MVP’s) and getting ready for convergence 2014.

I usually look at the great blog post from Donna Edwards to see what the CRM MVP’s are up to at convergence but for Mark’s section it just he will be at all CRM and MVP sessions (well it isn’t a holiday now is it!)

Mark Smith (nzCRMguy) Week All All CRM Sessions and MVP Sessions Various

Here are Mark’s answers (previous CRM MVP Q&A can be found at the bottom of this blog post)

1.    Name, current job title and social media links please
Mark Smith, National CRM Practice Lead, @nzCRMguy,,

2.    What does an average day at work look like
Lots of business/technical meetings with a range of clients in different industries.  I work closely with Microsoft in Australia in PreSales as a vTSP on Dynamics CRM projects

3.    What different roles/Job titles have you had whilst using CRM
Architect, Functional Designer, Trainer, CEO, Marketing Manager, PreSales, Sales Manager, Practice Manager

4.    What job did you did before you starting using CRM
I was in IT training, and web design, I was a Marketing Manager for an IT company,

5.    What was the first version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM you worked with and how long have you been using Microsoft Dynamics CRM
The first version I worked with was 1.2 and that from memory was in 2003.  I was implementing it as a customer.

6.    How do you stay up to date with the CRM
Certify in all certifications for Dynamics CRM expect Extending (developer), Teach Dynamics CRM to others, Read every white paper on Dynamics CRM, Own and read as many books on Dynamics CRM I can get my hands on, now expanding this into Power BI.  Read heaps of blogs, actively involved in User Groups.

7.    How do you find time to contribute to the CRM community whilst doing your job
I make time.  I set goals with myself on what I want to achieve in the community, they more people that increase their skills the better it is for this industry, I believe in the saying “a rising tide lifts all boats”  As everyone’s skills increase we all benefit.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a successful career in Microsoft Dynamics CRM? If you want to commit to a serious carrier in Dynamics CRM you must be prepared to go into serious training, just like anyone that want to excel in sport, you must do the daily grind, even when you don’t fell like it, train, train, train, always be learning, read everything you can get your hands on, books, blog posts, white papers, attend the Dynamics events, Convergence in the US is the best if you can only do one. Practice, practice, practice, and understand that the solutions you build are for people.  At the end of the day they are not users they are real people that you can make their daily experience better or worse by the solutions you create.  Teach others Dynamics CRM, it hones your knowledge, blog as it exposes your knowledge and puts it out there for peer review, so you can get better.  You never make it with Dynamics there is always more to learn J

9.    What where your first impressions of CRM 2013 and what do you think now.
From day one I have been excited about Dynamics CRM 2013.  I first saw what was coming at WPC 2012 in Toronto after the announcement that R8 was not going to ship.  It looked great then and the Dynamics Team have more than delivered on what they showed then.  The UI is fantastic and will only get better as the future release come.

10.  What one feature would you add to CRM 2013
Office integration (Yes I know the Outlook connector is available but I think a lot more needs to be done on how Dynamics CRM works with Office.)

11.  Most annoying feature of CRM 2013
IE11 Support

12.  You favourite 2 CRM blogs (I have filled the first one in for you)

            1.  Hosks Dynamic CRM blog

13.  What year will Microsoft Dynamics CRM have more customers than Sales force
Not sure as I have not followed the numbers and trends but if I was a betting man, I would say between 2015-2017 Microsoft Dynamics CRM will rate higher in Gartner Magic Quadrant that SF.

14.  Are you doing more CRM projects with CRM online?  Do you think it will all be online in the future
Yes more and more projects are moving online and it is my preference.  In the short term I do not think CRM on Premise will go away until the data sovereignty fear is eliminated.

15.  What is the best tool/solution you have used recently

16.  What CRM certifications do you have, do you try and keep up to date with CRM certifications
CRM 4.0 certified
CRM 2011 certified
Will complete 3 exams on 2013 this year

17.  How important is it to have good business analytical skills working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
It’s critical, it needs to be someone that works well with people and gets business and process first up.  That followed by a tougher understanding of Dynamics CRM.  As the BA writes up a lot of the requirements it important they understand what the business is about and the outcomes they seek.

18.  How useful is it to have programming knowledge to become a good Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professional?
I have little to none, well almost none, way way way back I did some work with PERL and I understand Javascript or and I can use mark-up language HTML and CSS, but as for C# no experience.  But if I was a full time BA/Functional designer, thing you need to know and understand HTML, JavaScript and CSS and have the ability to use it.

19.  What knowledge/experience do you have with software/systems which integrate with Microsoft Dynamics CRM e.g. (sharepoint, SQL Server, Scribe, Etc)
The first course I did in my IT carrier was NT4 and that was followed by Server 2000 training and certification.  I have a robust knowledge of Microsoft Servers and Networking.  I think it’s a pity that more people getting into IT do not have these basic skills. They are important.

20.  How often do you travel as a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professional?
National I travel weekly and International about 4 times a year as part of my Dynamics CRM carrier.

21.  Can you see yourself not using CRM in your career in the future

22.  What is favourite part of being a CRM MVP
Access to the Dynamics CRM product team and the other MVP’s. This group of people is better than any specific skilled person as they embody the top skills of the CRM community that by sending one email/Yammer/Skype I have access to them.

23.  What are your hobbies outside of CRM
Family, Snowboarding, Reading, Movies, Parties

24.   What was the last book you read and what was the last film you watched
Book = The 12 Week Year Movie = Blue Jasmine

25.  Has CRM ever got you in trouble with your partner/family.
Yes spending too much time on it.

26.  Have you friends ever told you to stop talking/tweeting/blogging about CRM? What does your partner/family member(s) think of CRM
My wife gets it.  She was nzCRMgirl a few years back.
27.  Tell me something interesting/unusual about yourself
I have long black hair J it just does not grow

28.  Who is the first CRM MVP you remember reading/seeing
Guy Riddle

29.  Tips for someone who wants to become a CRM MVP

Follow everything that Gus Gonzalez says and writes about. He is the number one CRM Guru in all the US J
30.  Mark’s favourite colour hair  is purple

mark smith purple hair

Quickfire questions (choose one option and no explanation)

Steve Jobs or Bill Gates

Javascript or .NET

Internet Explorer/Chrome/Firefox/Safari

Wine/Beer/Soft Drink

Certifications or Use CRM

twerking or tweeting

books or ebooks

save or autosave

OnLine or On Premise

Windows 7/Windows 8/Linux/Mac/Other

work from home or work from office

Miley Cyrus or Billy Ray Cyrus


Zero Inbox/Overflowing Inbox

Early Bird/Night Owl

Do Today/Do Tomorrow

CRM Developer/CRM Consultant

Hot Weather/Cold Weather

Half Full/Half Empty

here are the previous CRM Q&A