Customizing Sales Process Flows in CRM 2013

The Dynamics CRM 2013 business process flow functionality offers exciting possibilities for modeling a company's business processes. This includes building out sales processes in CRM—particularly the ability to include process steps at each stage.

Business process flows allow for an excellent means to guide sales representatives through any items or checklists that need to be completed at each stage in the sales process. Sales management can also use this feature as a coaching tool.

Today we'll illustrate a particular functionality that relates to the sales process that CRM practitioners should be aware of when customizing these processes.

The standard functionality in Microsoft Dynamics CRM includes some default business process flows that pertain specifically to the sales process. These include the Lead to Opportunity Sales Process and the Opportunity Sales Process, as you can see in the screenshot below.

Sales Process Flows in CRM 2013

All of these processes can be modified to cater to an organization's specific sales process. A best practice is to create a copy of the standard process and then modify the copy.

The Lead to Opportunity Sales Process, as the name suggests, is used to model the sales process that starts with the Lead and then follows through to the Opportunity Sales Process (stages).

In this case, the starting entity is the lead entity.

After completing the lead sales stages converting the lead to an opportunity, the user will move to the opportunity entity and the stages within the opportunity.

The Opportunity Sales Process is used to model the sales process that starts with the opportunity and then follows through the various stages of the opportunity sales process. Typically the Lead to Opportunity Sales Process will be used in conjunction with the Opportunity Sales Process, especially in organizations that utilize the lead entity to track leads and/or prospects in CRM.

If an opportunity is for an existing account, you would typically create an opportunity for that account and then use the Opportunity Sales Process Flow. Most organizations are likely to modify these processes to model their specific sales process, including the modifying the sales stages (and corresponding sales categories), as well as the steps (and corresponding fields) associated with the stages.

When customizing these processes, it is important to keep in mind that changes to the opportunity stages and corresponding steps are made to both the Lead to Opportunity Sales Process and the Opportunity Sales Process, and that these changes should match. This will ensure that users follow the same stages and steps regardless of which process they are following.

In the two screenshots below, both the Lead to Opportunity Sales Process and the Opportunity Sales Process have the same stages, stage categories, steps, and fields. You'll want to make sure the fields required match too.

These are some things to keep in mind when you start modifying the sales process flows in CRM 2013 for your organization. For more reading on business process flows in CRM 2013, you can read our blogs on creating business processes in CRM 2013 and controlling access to business processes by security role.

Happy CRM'ing!

Optimizing Sales Pipeline Probability Criteria in Dynamics CRM Opportunities

Many sales organizations use sales pipeline probability percentages to help them understand where sales opportunities are at in the sales cycle and what the chances are of closing the deal. Understanding some best practices for success with sales pipeline probability criteria can help you get the most out of this feature.

The probability percentage field can be found on the opportunity record in in Dynamics CRM 2011. This field can be configured to use an organization's defined sales pipeline criteria and processes. To get the most value out of this feature, organizations must determine what the criteria should be. Good, measurable criteria should use the following guidelines:

  1. Only create the number of stages in the sales cycle that really indicate major milestones in the sales process and that are repeated at least 80% of the time.If you have never had set pipeline criteria before, the key is to keep it as simple as possible. You can expand it after you roll it out to the sales team and have a chance to learn from using it in the field. There will always be those few deals that are the exception, but the 80/20 rule definitely applies here.
  2. For each stage, define what steps or actions need to happen to set the opportunity stage at each defined percentage.For example, if you have a set stage of "Prospect Qualified 30%," you need to create a set of defined actions that must occur before a sales person can set an opportunity at that stage. This could be something such as in in-person meeting has occurred, the prospect is interested in moving forward, and/or the prospect need has been clearly defined.This gives the sales person clear direction on what is expected if they set the stage to status, so they don't just set it based on how they feel that day or what kind of weekend they just had. It also gives the sales manager a clearer picture of where the opportunity is at and what has occurred when they follow up with the salesperson about the opportunity.

Sample Pipeline Criteria

Using the guidelines above, here is an example of a simple pipeline criteria to get started with:

10% Suspect Identified

Rules: Potential customer identified and an in-person meeting has been scheduled.

30% Prospect Qualified

Rules: In person meeting has occurred, prospect interest in product/service verified, prospect needs identified and verified

50% Proposal Sent

Rules: Proposal/quote has been sent and reviewed with the prospect.

90%: Contract sent

Rules: Proposal/quote signed by prospect, contract sent for signature.

Configuring CRM to Use Sales Pipeline Probability

Now, let's configure Microsoft Dynamics CRM so that we can use this criteria track sales opportunities.

  1. Create a custom option set (drop down) field in the Opportunity form to place your pipeline values and replace the system probability field CRM provides. (You could use the system field for this, but it is a simple text field and you risk that your sales team will enter data incorrectly or inconsistently. For best practices on creating options sets, check out our blog When to Use a Global Option Set vs. a Custom entity.) Here what it should look like when you're finished:

    Optimizing Sales Pipeline Probability Criteria in Dynamics CRM Opportunities

    Now your sales team can mark their opportunities at the appropriate stage.

  2. You can create dashboards for analytics using new field. If you haven't created a dashboard before, our blog How To Create a Personal Dashboard in CRM 2011 is a great place to start. Here's an example of a dashboard using the criteria we established above:

Optimizing Sales Pipeline Probability Criteria in Dynamics CRM Opportunities

Once you have set clearly defined and realistic pipeline percentage criteria, it can be a very powerful predictive sales analysis tool!

Happy selling & CRM'ing!

How to Assign a Territory to a Lead in Dynamics CRM

In today's blog we'll take a peek at an extremely powerful tool in Dynamics CRM 2011: workflows. In particular, let's look at a scenario: Alpha Company would like to use CRM to automatically sort their lead records for their sales team. To accomplish this, they've decided to use a workflow to assign a territory to a lead.

We'll assume that Alpha Company has read up on adding a State/Province field as a drop-down or look-up, and that they've created a global option-set called State containing 50 US states and a custom look-up to the Territory entity, containing their desired territories. The state and territory fields will be located on the lead form.

After the State and Territory fields are created and implemented, a new workflow will be created under the Lead entity. This workflow will run when a record is created, and the Scope will be set to Organization.

The workflow will begin with a Check Condition and an Update step that looks like this:

If Lead:State equals (desired states for desired territory), then:

Update: Lead (set properties) > (Choose desired territory from Territory look-up)

The Check Condition and Update step work to check what state the lead record is in, and update the Territory field accordingly.

For example: A lead record is created, and located in Wisconsin (WI). The workflow would check for WI, and if found, it would update that same lead record's Territory field to read Midwest. This is useful in that it will automatically sort incoming leads to appropriate territories, unlocking a bevy of further automation possibilities!

If that was a little confusing, don't worry. Below you will find an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide aimed at creating a workflow to solve Alpha Company's issue.

1. Click settings

a. Click processes

i. Click New

Assign a Territory to a Lead

2. Enter "Assign Territory to Lead" in Process Name

a. Choose Entity: Lead

b. Choose Category: Workflow

3. Choose Scope: Organization

a. Choose Start when: Record is created

b. Click Add Step

c. From the Add Step menu, choose Check Condition (not shown in screen-shot)

d. Click <condition> (click to configure)

4. Choose Primary Entity Lead

a. Choose State

b. Choose Equals

c. Choose desired States for Midwest Territory.

d. Click Save and Close

e. Select row and click Add Step (see 10b), in the Add Step menu, choose Update Record

f. Click Set Properties

g. Click Territory look-up.

h. Choose desired (in this case, Midewest) Territory.

i. Click OK.

j. Click Save and Close

5. Click on the word If of the Check Condition you created in steps 10 & 11.

a. Click Add Step

b. From the Add Step menu, choose Conditional Branch (not show in screen-shot)

c. Click on <condition> (click to configure)

d. Repeat steps 11a – 11h, for as many territories as you desire.

6. Repeat steps 12a – 12d until you've finished all of your territories.

7. Once you've finished all of your territories, click Save.

a. Click Activate

8. You made it! Test it out by creating a lead and assigning the lead a state from the drop-down. Wait 20-30 seconds and refresh the page, and you'll have your territory automatically assigned!

Want to learn more about workflows? Here are some more posts delving into a wonderful, wonderful world of automation:

Happy CRM'ing!

Dynamics CRM 2011 Goals and Advanced Sales Management

Goals were introduced in CRM 4.0 as a part of Extended Sales Forecasting. In CRM 2011 Goals come out of box without the need install any additional solution. So what are Goals? How do these augment Sales Forecasting and the built-in opportunity pipeline report?

Let's look at the opportunity sales pipeline. This funnel chart visually depicts the opportunity potential value as the opportunities move through the various sales stages. It's great for getting a quick glimpse at how the sales organization is doing. Though this chart comes out of box, we can build similar charts for each sales manager and salesperson.

Dynamics CRM 2011 Goals - Sales Pipeline

Let's say you want to assign each salesperson and sales manager a quota or target. One way to do it would be to have a customer entity or an Excel sheet to define targets. The spreadsheet could calculate the potential value for open opportunities and the actual value for all closed opportunities. We could also use this to compare the actual value to the target for each salesperson. Then the actuals for each salesperson can be summed up to get the value for the sales manager, and then summed up again to get the target to the actual for the whole sales organization. There are probably a few organizations that have a full-time employee or two dedicated to running these numbers every week, month, and quarter.

But what if this entire process could be automated? That's what goals in CRM 2011 do. Let's examine these in more depth.

Opportunities

Opportunities drive numbers, compensation, projections, R&D, expansion, and much more. They need to be tracked, managed and ultimately converted to a Sale. Salespeople should be tracked and compensated based on the opportunities that they manage and convert.

A chart indicating opportunities arranged by top customers.

The most common parameters for tracking opportunities are Potential Value and Actual Value. The stage the opportunity is in and the close date are also important parameters, and they also drive the funnel chart. For our purpose for tracking target or goals, we will look at the potential value, actual value and close date.

A chart indicated actual value in terms of revenue.

Goals

Let's say an opportunity is closed by a salesperson. The actual value of the deal would be added up and compared to the salesperson's target. CRM 2011 Goals allow you to define those targets. But before we do that, we need to add a couple of parameters to the Goals.

  1. Time period. Usually goals are defined for a specific period.
  2. Targets. Let's say you need to meet $50,000 in sales for the month of January 2013 or $250,000 for Q1 2013 or something on similar lines. You need to define a period for which the goal is to be tracked. So now, all opportunities closed in Jan 2013 will be tracked against the Jan 2013 goal of $50,000.

  1. Stretch targets. If you are an extraordinary sales person, and you negotiated an additional bonus if you exceed your target, you can also define a "stretch target" in Goals in CRM.
  2. Goal owner. This is who the goal is created for.
  3. Goal manager. This is who the owner of the goal reports to.
  4. Goal metrics. Here the Metric is actual value for closed opportunities. The goal metric can also be defined as the number of opportunities closed, number of tickets/seats sold, revenue collected through ticket sales, and so on. Dynamics CRM 2011 also allows you to define multiple metrics for a Goal.

To recap, we can define in CRM the following in the Goal Entity—Period, Target, Stretch Target, Goal Owner, Manager and Metric. Based on this, the actual revenue will be calculated and tracked against the goal as a Percentage Achieved.

So, let's say we just defined a target and asked the system to get the actual revenue for all closed opportunity in a specific time period. What if we do not want all Opportunities? What if we just want the opportunities which are owned by the Goal Owner or the Salesperson for whom the Goal is defined? That's where we can use the Goal Criteria, which can be found at the bottom of the Goal entity form.

For each rollup field defined in the Goal Metric, you can specify a Rollup query to selecting the set of records to be used in the Goal calculation.

So that covers the basics of Goal Management (or Extended Sales Forecasting) in CRM 2011!

What about other reasons for using goals?

Goals for Case Management

Let's say you have implemented CRM for your customer service team. It may seem like your customer service representatives (CSRs) have nothing to do with Opportunities. Fear not, for you can use goals for managing and tracking your customer service team! Instead of tracking opportunities, we will track Cases. One of the simplest metrics to track is the number of cases closed in the specific period. That would be the Goal for the CSR. To make things more interesting, you can also set goals for average open case time, average or absolute customer satisfaction points on cases, negative goals for cases open for too long, and so on.

Goals for Custom Entities

Ok, so can we do the same for anything else? Maybe you use CRM for something other than sales or customer service. Good news! Goals and metrics can be defined for custom entities too, offering truly limitless tracking. Maybe you should create a goal to see how many goals you have in the system? Let us know how you use goals in the comments!

Check out some of our other blogs on the topic of goals:

Happy CRM'ing!

Update a Contact Record Based on a Survey Response in CRM 2011

In this post, we're going to look at how to take a survey response in CRM 2011 and update or populate a field on the respondant's CRM record. We are going to do this using the PowerSurvey add-on and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

For this example, I'm going to be sending out a survey to contacts in my CRM, asking them for their business phone number, using a survey. I then want that information to come back into CRM, and update their contact record with this new information. To accomplish this, I'm going to use a workflow.

  1. Before we start creating the workflow, we need to add a hidden field to the survey activity. We will use this field to copy the survey response to, and then copy from that field to the contact record. To create this hidden field:1
  2. Navigate to Settings > Customizations > Customize the system. Find the survey activity entity, and click on Forms. Then double click on the "Information" form (the main form) to open it.
  3. Update a record based on a survey response in CRM 2011

  4. Click on "New" to create a new field. Name the field, and make sure it is a text field. Click Save & Close.
  5. Find the field we just created in the list of fields on the right. Drag it somewhere onto the form, then double click on the field. Uncheck the box that says "Visible by default". This will ensure that this field is a hidden field. Click Ok.
  6. Save & Publish your customizations.

Now that we have created this hidden field, we are going to create the workflow.

  1. To start building this workflow, navigate to the settings area of CRM, click on Processes and New. Create a workflow based on the survey response entity.
  2. Make sure the workflow starts when the record is created.
  3. First add a step to change the status of the survey activity. In order to update the survey activity once it is completed, we need to reopen it.
  4. Next, we are going to add a check condition, to make sure the survey question is the "Phone number" survey question. Add a step > Check condition, and check for the phone number survey question.

  5. Next, we want to copy the response to the "Phone Number" question to the field that we created earlier – the "Survey Response – Phone Number" field on the survey activity record, so that we can copy that onto the contact record. To add this, we're going to add an Update step to our workflow. We're then going to click on Set Properties, and fill in the "Survey Response – Phone Number" field using the dynamic values form assistant on the right hand side.

  6. To give the workflow a chance to run, we're going to add a wait step, and wait two minutes after the process has started. To set the properties of the wait condition, we are going to again use the dynamic values form assistant on the right-hand side of the page.

  7. Now we're going to set this workflow aside for a minute, while we create another workflow. This is the workflow that's going to update the contact record. We're going to go back to our CRM, under Settings, Processes, and click on New. Base this new workflow off of the survey activity entity.
  8. For this workflow, we are going to activate it as a child process. Also make sure all of the "Start when" options are unchecked.
  9. Add a step to the workflow, to update the contact record. Set the properties using the dynamics values form assistant on the right-hand side of the properties section. Choose that you'd like the "Survey Response – Phone Number" field from the survey activity to populate the business phone field on the contact form. Save & close. Then Activate that Child workflow, and close the window.

  10. Navigate back to the first workflow you were creating. Add a step to start a child workflow, based on the survey activity entity. Then choose the workflow you just created.
  11. Lastly, we want to close the survey activity again. To do this, we add a Change Status step to change the status of the survey activity record back to completed.
  12. Save & Activate your workflow.

You have now created a workflow that automatically updates the Business Phone field on the Contact record, when someone submits a PowerSurvey with the "What is your phone number" question on it. This workflow can be modified or repeated for as many survey questions and as many record types as you'd like. Feel like giving it a try yourself? Visit the PowerSurvey website to download your free 30 day trial.

Happy CRM'ing!

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Relationship Mapping Helps Keep Customer and Bill-To-Customer Consistent

Recently, a Microsoft Dynamics CRM customer noticed a difference in functionality when creating a new Contract record and creating a new Contract record from a Contact. Today we'll explore how this relates to CRM 2011 relationship mapping.

As you can see below when creating a new Contract record from the Contract entity and selecting the Customer the Bill To Customer field gets automatically filled.

CRM 2011 relationship mapping

It's a great out of the box feature to have since the Bill To Customer will most likely be the same as the Customer.  But when you create a new Contract from the Contact record the same functionality doesn’t occur. Take a look:

CRM 2011 relationship mpaping - add a new contract

This is because the OnChange event of the Customer field did not occur.  Instead of adding JavaScript to the Contract form an easier way to keep the same functionality consistent is to use CRM 2011 Relationship Mapping.

To do this you customize the Contact’s entity one to many relationship to the Contract entity.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Relationship Mappings

Then add a new Mapping that will map the Contact to the Bill To Customer field.

Relationship Mappings with Dynamics CRM

Now when a new Contract record is created from a Contact the same functionality will occur.

There you have it--how to use CRM 2011 relationship mapping.  It's easy to implement and no JavaScript is required. Just a handy little tip from your friendly CRM Expert.

Happy CRM’ing

Fun with Jill and Tim and PowerOneView for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

What's PowerOneView?

PowerOneView saves the day

OK – so now and then we like to have a little fun when we talk about our solutions! If you want to give this a try in you system you can download PowerOneView from our website. If you have questions or just need a CRM Expert to talk, please contact us at PowerObjects.

Happy CRM'ing!

Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Goals

Introduction to microsoft dynamics CRM goals

Goal! That's one word that brings us ultimate happiness when our favorite team scores in a soccer game. Also, we sometimes bump into random motivational speakers at airports and they tell us only one thing – Have a goal! Since we are MS Dynamics CRM experts, we decided to use the amazing Dynamics CRM Goals feature to measure pretty much everything. How many times do we go to the woods and parallel park our company car under a waterfall to get it washed? How many unicycles do we see every day in Hipster Mecca (aka Uptown Minneapolis)? How much revenue do we make by selling our services to our awesome clients who love what we do?

Don't be intimidated by Goals. It is a very powerful yet easy feature that can provide very good insights. Estimated/Actual revenue in a fiscal period, number of products sold, number of new clients, number of unwashed mugs in the sink etc. – with just a few clicks, you can be handed the world of useful information on a silver platter. Here is a simple example that would help you understand Goals. After reading this post, we hope you will become more comfortable with this amazing feature, and use it frequently to measure your required metrics.

Alright, let's get started!

Here's a scenario – let's suppose your company sells concert tickets. You, as the sales manager of your company want to track how much revenue your sales agent is bringing in in the current fiscal period, and how many tickets they have sold.

In order to get those numbers, you need three things in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

  1. Goal
  2. Goal Metric
  3. Rollup Field

A goal would give you the actual figures, be it revenue or number of tickets sold. Every goal needs a goal metric which essentially tells the goal if the metric being measured is a number or $ amount. A goal metric has rollup fields which are nothing but actual and estimated values of the goal being measured (estimated/actual revenue and estimated/actual number of tickets sold in our case).

To start creating a Goal, you would go to your Sales area, click Goals, and then New on the ribbon to create a new Goal.

On the new Window, give the goal a Name. To associate this goal with a specific sales agent, do a lookup on the Goal Owner field and choose their name. For the sake of this example, let's create a new Goal Metric by clicking the lookup icon and clicking New on the Goal Metric lookup window.

Dynamics CRM goals--create a goal metric

On the Goal Metric form, give the metric a name, and choose Metric Type Amount.

Note: Count only returns the number of rows, not the actual values. So choose Amount for Metric Type. For Amount Data Type, choose Money if you are tracking revenue or Integer if you are tracking numbers (number of tickets in our case).

You can also track stretch targets. For example, a sales agent may have a target of bringing in $5,000 revenue and a stretch target of $7,000.

Once those fields have been filled, save the record. It is now time to add Rollup Fields to this Goal Metric.

Click the "Add New Rollup Field" to add rollup fields.

Dynamics CRM goals--add a new rollup field

You would now create rollup fields for actual and estimated values (separate).

We will set the Rollup Field to Actual (Money) (and In Progress (Money) for estimated revenue) because we are tracking revenue. Our source field is in the Opportunity entity, so we choose Opportunity as the Source Record Type. Set Source Field to Actual Revenue or Est. Revenue based on the type of Rollup Field you are setting. If you are tracking revenue for a particular product, set Source Record Type Status to that specific product.

Finally, set the record Type to the entity from where the value is coming (Opportunity in our case), and set the Date Field to Actual Close Date (for actual revenue; choose Est. Close Date for estimated revenue).

Save and Close your Rollup Field window first, and then the Goal Metric window.

And that's it! On your Goal form, choose a period for which you want to track the actual revenue, and hit Recalculate. The actual revenue that this sales person has brought in so far is shown in the Actual (Money) field (and also Percentage Achieved).

You can repeat this procedure to create goals for actual and estimated number of tickets sold.

Happy CRM'ing!

Assign Leads Based on Zip Code in Microsoft Dynamics CRM

You can assign leads based on zip code in Microsoft Dynamics CRM many ways, but the two most common ways are with workflow and with custom plugins.

Workflow to Assign Leads Based on Zip Code

For those with a simple zip code to sales person mapping, workflow can be used to map Leads. In order to do this, one must be specify each particular Zip or postal code (or the first character of each zip code) and which user it maps to. In the example below, I have used a simple example: If the Zip code starts with 5, then assign the Lead to this individual.

Assign Leads Based on Zip Code in CRM 2011

Now, it would be nice if every sales territory was this simple as "the zip code starts with 5", but generally they are not that cut and dried. That is why many organizations require a lookup table to store their complex zip code matrix. Within MSCRM, workflow doesn't have the ability to look up a value in a table, and that is where a custom plugin comes in.

Custom Plugin to Assign Leads Based on Zip Code

To creating a lookup table of the zip code assignment matrix, we simply create an entity in CRM to store the Zip codes and who owns that Zip Code. Other attributes of the Zip Code such as the County, Region, or Territory name may also be stored in this table. Some organizations may subscribe to Zip Code database from which new Zip Codes should be imported periodically.

Having the Zip Code lookup in a CRM entity in provides multiple benefits. First of all, it can be used to initially assign a Lead using a custom plugin. Here, when a new lead is entered and the record is saved, the plugin looks up the Zip Code and fills in the appropriate Owner. A plugin can incorporate custom logic if a zip code is owned by multiple users, such as a Zip Code that goes across multiple Counties.

But this kind of functionality it is not limited to Leads. With a little code change, the same plugin could be adapted to Accounts, Contacts, Campaign Responses or any record in the system with an address.

Secondly, plugins could be written to realign the sales territories and ownership based on zip code. In the example below, multiple zip codes are selected and ownership can be changed using the Assign button. An optional plugin may change the ownership of the records based on this change. Some organizations have this change be conditional, for example active customers and prospects may not be changed, but new leads that have not been touched in 6 months may be reassigned to the new Owner.

Making the Right Choice

The benefit of using a workflow for the Zip Code assignment is that an intermediate user can maintain the logic without involving a programmer. This is the preferred option if the Zip code matrix is simple such that creating the workflows to manage the territories is not too laborious. A combination of Advanced Find queries and workflows can often be used to change the Ownership of groups of records if Zip Code assignments change.

However, if the Zip Code assignments are complex, don't shy away from a custom plugin to manage the process. A flexible solution can be designed for an organizations unique need and can help save a lot of time over the long term.

If you need help deciding on the right path or are just looking for a great MSCRM partner to work with – reach out to us and we would love to earn your business.

Happy CRM'ing

Lead Forms for CRM 2011 Rock

How nice would it be if when a lead submitted a form on your website the information just appeared in Dynamics CRM? And even better, wouldn't it be great if this was an out of the box feature?

Well, in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 it is. CRM online users get access to something called "Internet Lead Capture," a cool feature that allows a Microsoft Dynamics CRM user with no programming or development experience to create a web-based, personalized lead capture landing page that is tied directly to Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

For example, a basic landing page you might want to create is a "Contact Us" form where you ask your prospects basic contact information and a question or two about their business needs.

Then, as long as you're using an Internet Lead Capture landing page, when your prospect hits, "submit" the lead information flows into the "Internet Leads" area of Dynamics CRM where the lead is then assigned to a salesperson and followed up with.

And, of course, when the salesperson opens up the lead record for the first time, the corresponding CRM fields from the form are already populated.

Another plus, is that within Internet Lead Capture there are metrics that measure information like leads per month and landing page performance.

To get started creating your landing page, select the Internet Lead Capture icon in the Sales area of Dynamics CRM 2011 and select "Create a new landing page."

And…you're done! As soon as you select "finish" you'll have a live landing page out on the internet (which even helps improve your organization's web presence).

Now it's up to you to decide what to do with the leads. Assigning the leads to yourself or divvying them up among other users will create actual lead records in CRM (at this point the leads are in a kind of "lead limbo" until you make the next move and assign them). You also have the option to simply delete them from Dynamics CRM.

Full disclosure; once you dig into this you'll realize it's just the tip of the iceberg. After you start putting your custom CRM lead fields on personalized internet landing pages that in turn automatically populate your Microsoft Dynamics CRM system, you'll start to wonder what else is possible.

Whether it's creating alerts to notify users when a new lead capture record is created, designing a landing page for registration to events, creating surveys for your customers that add the results directly to their CRM record or creating a custom portal for your clients that they can use to update their own CRM records… the sky is the limit.

If you need a little inspiration let us know, because CRM is all we do. You can find your Microsoft CRM Experts here

Happy CRM'ing

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 vs Salesforce Part 1

Well I guess we should be flattered!! Was just looking at a new Salesforce campaign today and it is aimed directly at Microsoft Dynamics CRM. I'm sure there are a number of reasons to single out MSCRM, but bottom-line I think they are worried about us deflating their cloud. I for one say let the sunshine so I can see clearly! I often see publishers competing on features and functions – and if you have followed my blogs in the past you may know I don't buy this, a set of features is a snap shot in time….last time I looked these weren't missile systems so no one publisher is going to significantly outpace the other….but I can rant on this later. So let's just keep it simple and talk about Dynamics CRM 2011 vs Salesforce.

Let talk today about the first item in the Salesforce campaign – 'Real-time feeds'

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 vs Salesforce

This one has to do with what they spent a ton of their R&D budget on last year – Chatter. Sounds like a neat concept and I'm sure it will progress, but I think chatter in most organizations would just become noise. There are a couple problems that I have seen – first once you subscribe to an entity you get notified when something…..ok anything changes. Think about this for a second – someone add the zip+4 to the account – wham chatter….someone adds the fax number – wham chatter….someone updates anything – wham noise, you see where I'm going – in an organization that is really using a CRM system this would become overwhelming pretty quickly. I think about this much like facebook, loved it at first but once people started playing Farmville or whatever the noise of the application became cumbersome and usage just drops off or you start to do some heavy duty filtering. The second issue I see is you get tied to the chatter interface – what if you are not using it but still want notifications – seems pretty limiting to me.

Now I think about how we use Microsoft Dynamics CRM and how I get 'feed' information. I know I do because I get notifications all day about things that are important to me. As an example I want to know anytime one of my accounts opens a service request – well I have a workflow that says this is what I want to happen and each time they do I get an email. I used email because this is still the quickest way to get information to me, could have made it text me, populated a different application, or pretty much anything. The power of rules based workflows lets me decide what's relevant and meaningful to me and then surface that specific information.

So point one of the ad I just don't buy and I think if people compare 'real-time feeds' versus real-time notification of criteria based information they will see what I mean. Basically both platforms have approached it from a different angle and the SFDC FUD is untrue – in fact each point is the ad is pretty misleading, but I'll save the rest for another day.

Happy CRM'ing

CRM 2011 Custom Activity Types

One of the greatest strengths of Dynamics CRM since its version-3.0 days has been the ability for a user to extend the base application by creating custom (or, user-created) entities that hold information not contained in the base tables. But there exists in CRM a special class of entities collectively called activities (including such entities as appointments, phone calls, and tasks) that have unique properties and functionality not available to custom entities—at least until now. That's where CRM 2011 custom activity types come in!

CRM 2011 allows a user to define his/her own activity type. For example, if we want to conceptualize sale transactions as activities, and report, analyze and view them on a par with the out-of-box CRM activities, we can define our new custom entity as an activity type. In 3.0 and 4.0 this would not have been possible (at least in a supported fashion); in CRM 2011 it is quite easy.

When creating the custom entity, such as "Sale Transaction" below, check the boxes labeled "Define as an activity entity" and "Display in Activity Menus", as shown below. Save, publish, and you're done!

CRM 2011 custom activity types

Having defined our custom entity, we can now see it in the Activities tab of the Workplace ribbon toolbar under the pull-down list called "Other Activities":

Since we checked the "Display in Activity Menus" checkbox on our custom entity definition screen, Sale Transaction appears in the pull-down list along with the nine standard activity types when we create a new activity:

The Sale Transaction record itself is structured much like the other activity records. For example, you can regard it to other entity types, set an Actual End date, and mark the activity as complete:

Finally, we see that in the list of a contact's completed activities, the sale transactions appear alongside the other activities with this record.

The ability to create custom entities has for years been a powerful feature of Dynamics CRM. By extending this to include the creation of custom activity types, Microsoft has opened up more possibilities for users to tailor our CRM systems to more closely match our business processes: or, in industry-speak, to have the system "work the way we do".

If you find yourself needing help please reach out to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM experts at PowerObjects.

Happy CRM'ing