Understanding Opportunities

What Are Opportunities in Dynamics 365?

Opportunities in Microsoft Dynamics 365 are the core record type in the sales process. Used by the sales team, opportunities represent a potential sale for a specific customer.  The creation of an opportunity adds this potential sale to the sales pipeline and therefore puts it on the radar of the sales manager who may be holding the team responsible for the progress of opportunities.

In addition to creating a pipeline, opportunities allow organizations to track the success of marketing efforts by tracking sales back to the original lead source and source campaign.  In the same way, when an opportunity is lost, lost reasons and competitors can be tracked.

Organizations that determine the product catalog fits their requirements can optionally use the product catalog.

Opportunity Field Definitions in Dynamics 365

Opportunities have quite a few fields out-of-the-box, but most organizations use these core fields to indicate the progress of an opportunity.

Estimated Close Date: Entering this date allows organizations to see when potential revenue might land or when resources need to be allocated. It can be used to trigger automation.

Estimated Revenue: It can be entered manually by the sale executive or system generated via the product catalog. This value is used in the Sales Pipeline report.

Status: Open, In Progress, On Hold, Won, Lost, Out-Sold, Cancelled

Owner: Indicates who is responsible for this Opportunity. Owner assignment can be for a specific user or a team. Ownership can be changed by editing this field, or by using the Assign button in the command bar.

Topic: If the Opportunity is created from qualifying a lead then the topic of the Opportunity carries over from the Topic data on the lead. The topic is the name of the Opportunity and can include what they are interested in.

Potential Customer: Depending on your business model, opportunities can either be associated with a contact or an account, or both. Associating an opportunity with the appropriate customer allows organizations to track the potential, won, and lost business with specific customers. This relationship also allows organizations to track all activities related to opportunities at the customer level (they roll up).

Product Line Items: If your organization is using the product catalog, this is where you can tie products to the Opportunity. Products associated with an Opportunity will pull into any Quotes, Orders, Invoices generated from the Opportunity.

Price List: If you are using the Product Catalog and want to add products to an Opportunity you must configure a Price List and select it here first.

Revenue: User Provided or System Calculated

Quotes: Create a Quote from an Opportunity. Any products listed in the Product Line Items section will automatically be added to the Quote.

Work Order Type: Which type of field service work order is associated with this Opportunity.

View the opportunity form in CRM 2011

New Sub Grids on the Opportunity Form

Another significant change is that there are 4 new panes or sub grids on the lead/opportunity form: Posts/Activities/Notes, Stakeholders, Sales Team, and Competitors.

In the Posts/Activities/Notes section you are able to integrate with Yammer. This pane will include all the social activities for your Opportunity. You can also add a Phone Call,Task, Email, Appointment, or Booking Alert  quickly by clicking on ACTIVITIES.

The Stakeholders sub grid allows you to quickly indicate who the stakeholders are; it allows you to search contacts in the database and then assign them a role: Champion, Decision Maker, Economic Buyer, End User, Influencer, Stakeholder, and Technical Buyer.

The Sales Team sub grid allows you to quickly add other internal users to the opportunity. This shows you who else is working on this opportunity besides the owner of the opportunity. Once you lookup and add a user to the Sales Team you are able to assign them a role: Account Manager, Delivery Professional, Industry Expert, Sales Professional, Service Professional, Technical Sales Professional, and Territory Manager.

The Competitors sub grid enables organizations to track information on Competitors. When tracking Competitors organizations can collect data that shows which opportunities they have lost or won opportunities from and what the value of those Opportunities was.

Working with Opportunities in Dynamics 365

Jump to the following sections to learn some of the common ways users work with opportunities:

Typically, you’ll manage leads through the list view, using filtering and sorting to figure out which leads to follow up with. It is common to use inline charts to analyze opportunities while viewing them.

Here’s a list view of Open Opportunities.

View open opportunities view in CRM 2011


Creating New Opportunities

New opportunities can be created the following ways.

A. From the command bar in the Opportunities section

View creating a new opportunity in CRM 2011

B. Converting a tracked email from Outlook

1. In email, click on Track in the ribbon. Doing this will activate the Convert To button.

2. Click on Convert To > Opportunity

3. Click on the customer look up and select the appropriate customer.

4. Complete filling out the opportunity as usual.

C. Converting a CRM activity

View converting an activity in CRM 2011

D. Qualifying a Lead

View qualifying a lead in CRM 2011

E. Converting campaign responses

1. In the top navigation of a campaign response record, click the Convert Campaign Response button. A new window will open.

View converting a campaign response in CRM 2011

2. Select the “Create a quote, order, or opportunity for an account or contact” radio button.

3. Look up the account, select the opportunity option, and set a currency.

4. Click Ok.

Creating opportunities with user-provided revenue

  1. Navigate to the Opportunities view.
  2. Click on New in the command bar.
  3. Topic: Enter a short description.
  4. Potential Customer: You choose a contact or an account. If you do B2B, your potential customer will be an account. If you do B2C, it will be a contact.
  5. Revenue: Under the Product Line Items section of the form, choosing User Provided will allow you to manually enter Estimated Revenue. Choosing System Calculated requires the use of the product catalog.
  6. Estimated Revenue: This field feeds the sales pipeline. Once an opportunity is won or lost, users can enter Actual Revenue.
  7. Owner: This defaults to the user creating the opportunity. Typically the owner is the sales person who is responsible for closing the sales

Working with the Process-Based Form

The release for CRM 2011 introduced a new user interface with process-based forms for accounts, contacts, leads opportunities and cases and is also known as a Business Process Flow. In Dynamics 365, there are several pre-configured business process flows which you can use as they are, or edit them to suit your unique business needs. You can even have multiple processes and switch between them if you have business scenarios that call for a different process to be followed by simply clicking the Process button on the command bar.

With business process flows organizations can guide sales users through a process and stages. The Lead and Opportunity have been combined onto one form and one process. The first stage is when the record is the lead and you can convert the lead to an opportunity by proceeding to the next stage.

Note: when you qualified a lead in a previous versions a window would pop open allowing you to select whether to create an opportunity, account and/or contact. This window no longer exists.

As you move to the next sales stage the fields that are right below the stages change. These can be customized. Notice that the fields change when you move the opportunity from the Develop to Propose stage. You can tell which stage the opportunity is currently at by the flag icon on the active stage.

Develop Stage
Propose Stage


How to Customize the Process Form

  1. Open the entity form that you want to customize.
  2. Select Process on the command bar.  Choose Edit Process.
  3. This will open the business process flow designer. 
  4. From here you can drag components at right to modify the process, add steps to existing stages, insert conditions, and add workflows to either specific stages of the process, or set them as a Global Workflow item if you want to trigger a workflow based on the start of a process, or completion of a process. It’s important to note the workflow component must be based on the same primary entity as the process.
  5. You can also enable security roles for specific processes. For example, maybe your service reps can read the Opportunity process but can’t make any changes.
  6. Once you’ve completed your edits, click Update, and your new edits to the existing process will be available.

If you want to create a brand new process you’ll want to navigate to Settings > Processes and click the New button in the command bar. This will open the Create Process dialog box. Give the new process a name, set the Category to Business Process Flow, and in the Entity list select the entity you are creating the process for.

Automating and Analyzing Sales Processes

Many organizations use workflow to help automate their sales process. If used correctly, automation offers the following benefits:

  • Reduce data entry for sales team
  • Ensure sales team follows consistent sales processes and protocol
  • Alerts
    • Inform management of important opportunities
    • Procurement of possible inventory strain
    • Sales Executive of nearing estimated close date
    • Escalation based on neglected opportunities
  • Activity Creation
    • Activities based on stage or other parameters (Estimated Revenue)
    • Activity completion advances sales stages
  • Update customer records based on Opportunity
Analyzing the Sales Process

Dynamics 365 offers a number of ways for sales teams to analyze their sales data. With the exception of Custom Reports created in SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), power users can build the rest once they have insight into their data and how to accomplish this in Dynamics 365.

Options for analyzing data:

  • Charts
  • Dashboards
  • Views
  • Goals
  • Excel
  • Report Wizard reports
  • Out of box reports
  • Custom reports (SSRS)

Company leadership can use reports and dashboards to gain oversight into:

  • When revenue will hit
  • What opportunities have been neglected
  • What industries/verticals have potential
  • How individual sales executives are doing
  • When they need to ramp up staffing
  • How close you are to organizational goals

Closing Opportunities

Effective management of opportunities requires users close opportunities upon win or loss. When an opportunity is won or lost users are prompted to enter Actual Revenue and Actual Close Date. The competitor who won the opportunity can be entered when an opportunity is lost. Once it is won or lost it is marked as complete and cannot be modified. However, opportunities can be reopened if necessary. The Actual Revenue is reflected in many reports and charts throughout Dynamics 365.

Closing an Opportunity can be done from the Opportunity view or from within the Opportunity record.

From the Opportunity view:
  1. Select the Opportunity in the view
  2. Click on Close as Won or Close as Lost in the command bar.

From within the Opportunity record:
  1. Open the Opportunity record
  2. Click on Close as Won or Close as Lost in the command bar. This generates the Close Opportunity dialog where users enter the Actual Close Date (this defaults to the current date), Actual Revenue (this defaults to the Estimated Revenue for won opportunities and as zero for lost opportunities), and Competitor (this is only for lost opportunities and indicates who won it)
  3. Click OK

    Sales in Dynamics 365

    If you want more information on opportunities in Dynamics 365, check out Dynamics 365 University’s Sales for Dynamics 365.