Making the most of your Microsoft Dynamics CRM Opportunities

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Let’s say I am a National Sales Manager managing a fairly good sized nationwide sales force of independent agents and direct sales employees. These sales people are of widely varying experience and knowledge with our products and sales processes.

While many of the newer sales people are motivated and aggressive, they just don’t have the experience yet to recognize the really good sales opportunities and most effectively manage the sales process. And this leads me to three primary challenges I face:

  1. Sales Training. How can I share my knowledge and help our sales people close more deals? I just don’t have time to work with all these sales people one-on-one.
  2. Managing Resources. The sale of our product requires technical support to respond to customer RFQs and support the sales process. How can we decide where to best utilize this very limited resource?
  3. Preparing Forecasts. I need to provide a forecast for Operations. How do I know which of all these potential sales are really likely close?

For example, my sales person is working with a new prospect, and he receives an RFQ. Is this a valid opportunity? Should we assign a technical resource to work on it? Should I include it in my forecast? If so, what percent chance of closing should I assign to it?

Microsoft Dynamics CRM can help with all three of these challenges using Sales ‘Opportunities’. An Opportunity in Dynamics CRM is simply any potential sale. You can set up an Opportunity to contain several ‘Stages’ and each Stage can have one or several ‘Activities’  which can consist of phone calls, email, appointments, or Outlook ‘Tasks’.

When a new Opportunity is entered in Dynamics CRM, depending on the type of opportunity it is, it can automatically generate several sales Stages relating the steps in the sales process, each Stage will have several Activities that will require completion before the Opportunity and the sales person working on it can proceed to the next Stage.

The key to making this work is properly aligning our sales process with the Stages and Activities in Dynamics CRM.

For example, if my sales person is working with a new prospect and receives an RFQ. In Stage One, I may set up several required Activities that would need to be completed. For a simple example, one Activity may be to meet with the Decision Maker.

  1. Now the Sales person knows what he is expected to do next in order to increase the likelihood of success. He knows he needs to meet with the Decision Maker. If he does, he can close this Activity. When he closes all the Activities in this Stage, he can go to the next Stage.
  2. Before the Sales person can request company resources, he must have completed the required steps. For example, a sales person cannot request company resources until Stage One is complete.
  3. And now I have an objective method to determine the likelihood of the sale closing. The further my person has gone in the process, the more likely the sale is to close. For example, when the sales person closes all the Activities in Stage One, I may automatically move my forecast from 20% to 40%. And over time I can measure and improve the accuracy of this metric.

Now Microsoft Dynamics CRM ’Opportunities’ can help provide me the solution to my three challenges: Training, Management, and Forecasting. And better yet, once I have these Opportunity Stages and Challenges set up, it does all this basically automatically thru workflow, leaving me more time to focus on my priorities.

By John Fischer, Account Executive at your Chicago Area Microsoft Gold Certified Dynamics GP Partner, Crestwood Associates.

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