Here is an issue we recently faced with a client who has multiple salespeople in multiple business lines, and there is always the possibility that multiple salespeople would want to claim ownership of the account. As they were integrating with their financial system, they also had a default ownership of ALL accounts to a single CRM system Account. They asked me to document our thoughts, and I thought it would be a good blog post to spark discussion.
Our Client has Accounts with whom multiple salespeople interact. Currently all Customers are owned by a generic Admin Account as they are synced from NAV. They are looking for an easy way for their salespeople to be able to reference the accounts as their own. In other words, they would want the Accounts to show up in their My Active Accounts View as well as potentially sync to mobile devices etc.
Option 1 Multiple Lookups to the User Entity with generic lookups
Create Multiple lookup fields – ie Primary Salesperson, Second Salesperson, Third Salesperson etc. each of these fields would exist on the Account form and be editable by users. The salesperson could add their name to whichever field is open to “claim” ownership
My Active Account view would be modified so that if any one of these fields has the Current User as a lookup value, the Account would show in the view.
This is a fast and easy solution, with a few major drawbacks:
- Client would need to determine in advance the number of fields to be created – ie – what is the potential number of sales people for each account. If today the answer is three, then create three lookups. If a fourth sales person needs ownership then client would need to create a fourth lookup field AND modify views to include this new field.
- A problem with this would involve reporting with SQL reporting and views, charts and dashboards. – ie show me all accounts where User A is sales 1 OR sales 2 OR sales 3. This would become quite cumbersome in the long run.
Option 2 Multiple lookups to the User Entity with named lookups
This option is a modification of the above methodology with more specific lookups to the User record. Instead of generic lookups to the user record, each lookup would be specifically labeled by division. So , for example there would be a Salesperson – Hog Confinement lookup, a Salesperson – Poultry Facility lookup etc.
This is a better solution than option 1 as the specification of the salesperson by division would allow more specific lookups ie – the poultry salesperson knows that they ONLY use their specific lookup field.
When salespeople leave the organization and are replaced, a simple group edit can update a single field to the new salesperson.
However there are still several drawbacks to this method
- If the organization needs more than one potential salesperson per division, there is only one field available. Users could update this field to change to their name without consulting the user currently listed.
- New fields would need to be created AND views adjusted as new divisions are added to the business.
Advantages of this methodology over Option 1 include
- Better ability to report by Division Owner
- Ability to run logic on fields – ie if Poultry Salesperson contains data, then perform some function or use a particular sales process.
Option 3 Use Connections
Connections are a function of CRM that allow an organization to create multiple relationships between two records in CRM. These relationships are ad-hoc so they are only added to the record if needed. Multiple Connections can be made between records and Multiple roles can be created. Examples of Roles include referrer, salesperson, influencer, attorney, family member etc.
Basically we would create a “Salesperson” role. Salespeople would create a connection record linking their USER record to the Account Record with a Role of Salesperson.
Since these are ad-hoc connections that are between records and not a lookup on the Account record, you are not limited in the number of Salespeople. You can have 1 or 100.
Views can be filtered so that the query behind a view is Accounts where a Connection Exists where I am the role of Salesperson. Reports can be modified this way as well.
A drawback of this method is that creating a connection is a multi-step process –
- Open the Account
- Click on Connect to another in the Account form Ribbon
- Add self to the connection
- Add role to the connection
Another drawback is that the salesperson or another users would need to create these connections. This could be a tedious process, however a spreadsheet import could be created to create many connections very quickly.
Also, connections are not shown on the Account form by default, but can be added via a sub-grid.
Option 4 Use the Follow button
The Follow button is on the Ribbon for most entities in Dynamics It is a Star, and by clicking on follow, the user is now linked to the record. The “My Active Accounts” view would be modified to include accounts I own OR Accounts I follow.
A drawback to this method is that there is no easy way to see who is following a particular record. The followers cannot be displayed on the form or cannot be easily queried for reporting purposes.
Option 5 – Use the Share Button
The share button exists in most records in CRM and can be accessed by any user with security privileges. When you click on the Share button, a window pops up where you can add the user that you wish to share with as well as what rights you wish to give the user – ie Read, Write, Delete, Append Assign and Share.
This is a straightforward way to add multiple users to an account and Views can reflect records that have been share with you. The drawback is that the Share relationship cannot be displayed on the account form and all shares must be created one by one.
Option 6 – Option sets and Binary Fields
This is the easiest option to start but the messiest from an administrative experience.
Create a Yes/No field for each Salesperson or a series of Option Sets for multiple salespeople.
The user would click on their binary field for accounts that they work with OR select the specific Option Set. Views would be modified based on these fields.
This is a more administratively heavy option and fast growing companies with many salespersons would quickly grow tired of the constant updating required. This would only work for small companies with a few salespeople where sales turnover is infrequent.
None of these options are perfect and each have good points and bad points. Based on our past experience, Option 2 or Option 3 work out the best for most of our clients. Have you used any of these options? And if so, what are your thoughts? We would love to hear!