A Microsoft Dynamics CRM user from Iran hit me up on the xRM³ contact us page recently. Here is what they wrote.
“I am a sales manager in an IT based company. We use Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 and I have a question. Exactly when do we qualify a lead to an opportunity? I mean when they need a proposal, ask more questions about our product, when they desire to keep in contact, when someone asks for catalogue, when we feel they may become a customer? I want a standard way.”
This is sort of like asking, “What is the meaning of life?” Depends on who you ask – right? With Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s inherent flexibility, there is no reason to get hung up on a “standard” way to segment the arc of the sales process, nor should there be. One of my favorite Microsoft Dynamics CRM characteristics is the way it can be configured to adapt to your unique business processes, procedures, philosophies, etc.
Segmenting Leads and Opportunities
But back to the question at hand. “When should I convert a Lead to an Opportunity?” Salespeople (even if they don’t realize it) are probably already aware of the characteristics that determine whether a person or organization should be assigned Lead or Opportunity status at any given moment. They just need some help identifying the critical factors and grouping them in a way that makes sense.
Here’s an exercise that might help in a B2B scenario. Look at the items below and think about which qualities lend themselves to Lead or Opportunity status in your organization:
- We have a name and email address from a mailing list.
- We exchanged business cards during a party at the trade show (We’ll leave out the part about the body shots).
- They’ve visited our web site and downloaded several PDFs.
- They’ve requested more information but refuse to engage on the phone or in person.
- There’s a strong indication of need, but we don’t know which product or how many units they’ll purchase.
- We submitted a contract. No signature yet, but their finance department sent me their new vendor packet.
- We’ve worked hard and spent a significant amount of time analyzing their requirements and creating a proof-of-concept.
- We issued a preliminary quote and they requested to review our service agreement.
- We have dedicated significant time and energy. Management wants some visibility into the potential dollar value of this sale and estimated close date.
- An existing client has indicated they are very interested in an add-on to their existing product.
Based on how we do things around our place, numbers 1 through 5 above look like a Lead. Numbers 6 through 10 reflect an Opportunity. However, your sales policies and process may call for a completely different way of looking at things. Some businesses issue quotes from their web site with no human interaction; others wouldn’t dream of it without one-on-one time and approval from management. The neat thing about Microsoft Dynamics CRM is you can “bake” your Business Process Flow (i.e., unique approach to selling) into the system without having to step up to a more expensive license, and without rocket science.
Business Process Flow
So this Business Process Flow I mentioned above, let’s look at it in the context of mapping CRM to align to your way of segmenting Leads and Opportunities. When you “unwrap” Microsoft Dynamics CRM for the first time you’ll see a ribbon going across the top of your Lead and Opportunity forms. This is the Business Process Flow (BPF). Think of it as a check list for the data you want to collect, activities to perform and critical events that take place along the customer journey. Microsoft Dynamics CRM comes pre-configured with a basic BPF which may be fine for your organization (or not). This BPF consists of 4 sales “stages” comprised of individual “steps” you take to move prospective customers toward a sale.
The first screenshot below shows the BPF associated with the Lead stage. The next 3 show the BPF in the Opportunity stage.
Look at the stages and steps. Think about how they are laid out and the logic behind them. These are pretty basic but may be enough for you. Or, you may want to use them for a little while then determine what stages and steps are unique to your operation. If the pre-configured BPF doesn’t work for you – that’s OK. The stages and steps can be reconfigured, adding and subtracting items, to come up with something that helps step you through your sales process. It isn’t hard to access the Edit Process form. As you see below, you can get to it right from a Lead or Opportunity record.
We’ll look at how you edit the Business Process Flow in a future blog. But remember, when you’re thinking about Leads vs. Opportunities, you don’t have to settle on any standard approach. It’s completely up to you.
By Mark Abes/Vice President Sales & Marketing of xRM³, a Microsoft Partner specializing in Microsoft Dynamics CRM consulting, implementation, integration, and administrative services. Based in San Diego County Southern California.