Microsoft Dynamics 365 is designed to support the sales process from acquiring a new lead through the close of a sale.   CRM has a place to store the contact information for new leads, a place to track the follow-up communications (such as Phone Calls, Emails, and Appointments), and the ability to qualify a Lead into an Account, Contact, and Opportunity.

CRM keeps Leads in a separate area (essentially quarantined) in order to ensure your main database of Accounts and Contacts does not get cluttered with people your organization doesn’t know.

Sales process overview image 1

As part of the Opportunity, you may create a Quote in CRM and convert that to an Order and an invoice.  CRM’s Product Catalog provides the basis for this process.  Organizations using this functionality often have an integration with their financial software or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software.  In this way the product catalog and pricing has a single source, is kept up-to-date, and the complexities of ordering and invoicing are handled appropriately.

Below represents a typical integration between CRM and ERP.

sales process overview image 3

The end of a typical sales process is the close of the Opportunity as Won or lost.  If the opportunity is Won, the Relationship Type on the Account is often changed from Prospect to Customer.

Configuring Your Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales Process

Every organization that implements CRM for sales must spend a little time analyzing their unique processes and configuring CRM to reflect that.  This might mean just changing a few fields or it might mean significantly modifying the forms and view, deciding to add new record types, and/or deciding to disable unused features.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM sales process

For example, out-of-the-box CRM most closely supports a Business-to-Business (B2B) sales process with a longer sales cycle.  If that describes your organization, you will have an easier time using CRM out-of-the-box with only minor business process analysis and configuration.

Other organizations that might be Business-to-Consumer (B2C) or have a shorter sales cycle should analyze their process and consider what customization may be needed. Therefore, each organization must carefully evaluate their own sales process to determine how much CRM can be used out-of the-box.

Should You Use Leads?

Most people think of leads as new “hot” opportunities that need immediate follow-up.  In fact, most CRM systems don’t have a Leads area; they have a single database of contacts and companies.  Every “hot” lead is entered in and as they cool down, they grow old and mixed in with the thousands of contacts gathered over the years.

Leads- Hot Cold

That’s why in CRM, the Leads area is designed as a “holding tank” for contacts and companies you don’t know or haven’t qualified yet.  Like a firewall, it protects your database of Accounts and Contacts from becoming cluttered with the people you don’t know (i.e. the list you brought back from that tradeshow in 2005 and never completed the follow-up on).

This is a great feature if you have a large or unlimited market and your strategy is to make a high volume of touches to find those golden opportunities.  If you are constantly meeting new people and acquiring lists, the Lead record is very simple and it allows you to track Activities, nurture market, and capture the critical qualifying information needed to identify a sales opportunity.   An individual contact stays in the Leads area until the user initiates a conversion process–that is bringing the contact into your main database.

Why Wouldn’t You Use Leads?

If your market is small and finite, you are touching and building relationships with the same people over time.  Especially in a long sales cycle, you may need to track communications with a contact for many years before the organization is ready to buy.  But you not only want to track communications, you want to identify multiple people at the organization and critical relationships they may have with:

  • former employers
  • professional organizations
  • business partners
  • current contracts/competitors

why wouldnt you use leads

If you have a finite market, you might consider not using Leads and just adding all new prospects into Accounts.  You can separate your suspects and prospects from customers using the Relationship Type field on the Account.  With your whole market in Accounts, you can pull a report on your market penetration based on that Relationship Type field.

[callout align=”center” width=”90%”]Tip!  Connect CRM with an industry list. Some organizations that sell to a specific industry will purchase or rent lists.  As long as you maintain the unique ID of the list vendor, you may use an integration tool like Scribe to update existing records and append new records as you receive the lists.  However, if you are renting the list and discontinue renting, you will need to purge records that have not responded to your communications.[/callout]

What about Leads from Existing Contacts?

If you are talking with an existing customer or prospect and uncover a new opportunity, the best practice is to create a new Opportunity under the existing Account or Contact.  You can be working multiple opportunities for the same Account or Contact. If you are receiving large volumes of inquiries or “leads” from existing customers (such as when attending an event or getting leads from a website), then you might consider using Campaign Responses.   Campaign Responses allow you to import or enter Contacts into a follow-up activity form.  From there, you can either

  1. Associate the follow-up activity with an existing Contact or Lead
  2. Convert the follow-up to an Opportunity for an existing customer
  3. Convert follow-up activity to Lead using the contact information that was imported or entered
  4. Close the follow-up activity without ever bringing the person into your database.

In this case, the Campaign Responses act as a triage.   New contacts get converted to Leads and existing Contacts get a follow-up that can be completed and put into the Contact’s history showing they attended an event or connected with your company on that day.

Campaign Response

Campaign Responses act as a protective firewall for the Leads database.  Junk responses can be closed without ever becoming Leads.  In addition, you can track the number of inquiries you are getting from this source, how many are actual Leads and how many are becoming Opportunities over a period of time.

Campaign Response-Lead

Sales people would manage Campaign Responses from a dashboard or from the Activities area in CRM—just like any other follow-ups they have.

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