MB2-717 Certification: (Microsoft Dynamics for Sales) – Sales Process Introduction

As I prepare for my Dynamics 365 certification in sales (MB2-717), I am creating blog posts based on my revision. I hope that collectively these posts may prove useful to anyone also preparing for the MB2-717 exam. This time I will introduce the sales process.

In my last post I explained the concepts behind some of the key “customer” entities, including lead, account, contact and opportunity. In this post I will expand on these concepts and consider how these entities relate to the sales process.

I often like to review the skills measured statement before revising each topic, the skills measured for the sales process is shown below. We can see that it mentions transactional records (e.g. quote, order and invoice) and sales proregression or sales cycle if you like.

Sales Process – Overview

As the MB2-717 exam is all about sales, you can expect that we will return to detailed parts of the sales process multiple times during our revision. As the sales process is an essential part of lets begin with an overview.

What is a sales process and why do organisations have them?

A sales process is intended to help an organisation follow a set of pre-defined steps that when followed correctly should help give the best possible opportunity of gaining a sale. This approach is commonly taken with several goals in mind.

  • Repeatable activities
  • Consistent customer experience
  • Predictable outcomes

Repeatable activities. Following a process means doing the same thing over and over. The repeatability means automation might be used to make progression in the process simpler or quicker. Additionally a repeatable approach helps to support a consistent experience for customers. A sales process can help to give predictable outcomes. By having a set process we can compare won and lost deals. (etc.) This analysis could lead to increased margins or better conversion rates.

A well defined sales process will also be focused on relationships. You might recall that I mentioned how the word “relationships” was referenced 14 times in the skills measured for the MB2-717 exam! Establishing and maintaining relationships with customers should be at the heart of everything organisations are trying to achieve with their sales process.

Sales Process – Dynamics 365 Entities

From a Dynamics 365 point of view you’ll need to understand the entities that directly or indirectly play a part in the sales process. Some are listed below;

Entity Definition
Account Represents a company or organisation.
Contact A person. (Who may be related to an account.)
Lead A lead is a temporary or unqualified opportunity. A lead might be for an existing account and contact. But often qualifying a lead will also involve creating a new contact and account.
Opportunity An opportunity is a potential sale. It may be directly created for an existing customer or created as a result of qualifying a lead.
Quote One (or more quotations) will often be linked to an opportunity. The quotation defines the “deal” being offered to the customer. Including the products being offered, prices and any discounts.
Order Generally an order is created as a result of winning a quotation. The order will include a list of products and prices.
Invoice Once the products or services defined on an order have been delivered a corresponding invoice can be created. From a “CRM” point of view you may often find that the invoice record is used as a “feed” for your corporate accounting system. As cash collection, debt chasing and such like typically happen within a separate ERP product.
Products The products (and services) which a company sells are defined as in the product catalogue. (We’ll look at this in great detail later in my revision guides.)

Products can be used within Dynamics 365 in many ways, one of which will be as line items on quotes, orders and invoices.

Price lists & Price List Items The price list defines what prices are to be used. A price list will exist per currency and can associated with accounts, opportunities, quotes etc.

Each price list will have many price list items. A price list item is used to derive the price for a product within the price list.

Discount Lists Discount lists can be related to price list items These given us the ability to offer volume based discounts. (For example, we may offer a 10% discount for anyone who orders more than 100 items.)
Sales Territory A sales territory is used to group sales people or sales teams. Often these will be based on geographical locations, such as the “Southern Sales”. But they can also be used for vertical grouping such as “Major Accounts” etc. Accounts and other entities can be related to the sales territory.
Sales Literature Sales literature are any documents that might be needed to support the sales process. These may include all manner of sales collateral such as product brochures, definitions of pricing detail, details about competitors, install guides etc etc.
Currencies Whenever a money field is used within Dynamics 365 we must reference it to a currency. All systems will have a base currency but often many additional currencies will exist.

Dynamics 365 Default Sales Process

Some organisations have very simple sales processes but others will have longer and more complex sales cycles. In my experience some implementations of Dynamics 365 will use all of the entities involved in the sales cycles but it may circumstances it will be common that only a limited set are used.

It is a common customization to “tweak” the sales process and add custom workflows to automate routine tasks. (Like sending a thankyou email for new orders to the customer.)

Conceptually we can assume that a lead will progress to an opportunity. Then this might spawn a cycle of creation of transactional items. (Meaning quote, order then invoice.) Additionally qualification of a lead will involve associating the opportunity to an existing account and contact or creation of new records.

Business Process Flows

I hope you can see that the sales process for each organisation could be quite different it is a common task to tailor the process for each implementation. Within Dynamics 365 we use a concept called business process flows to help progress the sales process. (Or other processes.)

Using a business process flow makes navigation of the system easy for users and helps enforce the process.

I will cover business process flows in more detail in a later post but at this stage lets look at how the sales process is supported by a business process flow.

Below you can see I have a lead, I have entered all of the key information but I have not yet qualified the lead. Notice the green chevrons at the top of my form. The one for Qualify is currently active. (Denoted by the flag!)

Clicking “QUALIFY” on this lead will move the business process forward to develop. Additionally an opportunity will be created and loaded. Also notice that I didn’t link my lead to an existing contact or account. So a new contact and account will automatically been created and associated with this opportunity.

Once the opportunity loads I am ready to progress the opportunity. Out of the box this will involve developing the detail on the opportunity, making a proposal to the customer and then closing the opportunity as won or lost. Along the way I would create whatever transactional records are needed. Such as a quotation at proposal stage.

The “Next Stage” option is there for the user to move the process forward when required.

I will return to the detail of how the business process flows operate in a later post. But a good task now in your revision might be to create some leads and convert them to opportunities. Enjoy.

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