If you’re like most Sales professionals, you don’t aspire to be a Dynamics CRM expert. You want to know enough to keep the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system working for you, i.e., help you stay organized and close more sales. Understanding basic CRM concepts will help you get up to speed faster on your new CRM. That’s what I’ll be tackling over the next few months with my blogs. Let’s start with some background on 4 basic types of sales records: Account, Contact, Lead, and Opportunity.
In Dynamics CRM, you’ll work with and inside different types of Records. Each of the basic record types we’ll address are specially designed to capture specific kinds of data about existing and potential customers. These records not only store basic information about your customers but also help you keep organized as you move customers through your specific selling processes.
We’ll start with Account records. Account records store information that you and your staff need to know about the businesses or organizations you sell to or work with. Basic information like address, main phone and fax number, and primary contact are typically found in Account records. Additionally, critical information like annual revenue, number of employees, industry, and financial information can also be found in Account records.
Next let’s look at Contact records. Contact records store the information and data you need about the people that are employed by your Accounts. For sales people, the most important Contacts are typically the person or people that make buying decisions. Other important Contacts may include the Accounts Payable clerk, the Warehouse Manager, or the Chief Operating Officer. Direct phone numbers, email addresses, and branch location are all things you’ll find in Contact records. You can also track your sales-related activities like appointments, phone calls, and emails.
Another important record type is the Lead record. Leads reflect people or companies that may represent legitimate sales opportunities. I say “may” because Lead status is generally reserved for people that we don’t know enough about to categorize as a potential customer. Leads may or may have a real need, an approved budget, a time frame to move forward, or the authority to make a firm buying decision. This record is designed to help gather important information about or “Qualify” our potential customers. Leads are especially important for recording attributes like urgent need, lead source, budgeting and purchasing process, decision maker and so on.
Lastly, we’ll look at Opportunity records. Opportunity records hold information on potential sales that we feel have a real shot at becoming a reality. Often these Opportunities started out as Leads but over time have proven themselves to be something we definitely want to pay more attention to, spend more time on, and work hard to close. It’s common for Opportunity records to contain an estimate of the sales revenue figure, probability of closing, and a projected close date. Other information you may want to capture for yourself or management could be the sales team associated with the Opportunity, specific products or services, status of your proposal, promotional discounts, delivery dates, etc.
Getting a handle on the nature and purpose of these basic Dynamics CRM Sales records is a good first step and will make it easier for you to understand how they all work together. With a little experience you’ll be on your way to making the CRM really work for you and not the other way around.
For more information or help with your Dynamics CRM, contact us.
By Mark Abes/Vice President Sales & Marketing of xRM3, a Microsoft Partner specializing in Dynamics CRM consulting, implementation, integration, and administrative services. Based in San Diego County Southern California.