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. In this post I will focus on Opportunity Management.
You can see the skills measured statement that relates to opportunity management below. It is important to note that the opportunity has significant importance in the sales side of Dynamics 365 and therefore quite a few concepts relate to opportunity. (And therefore by implication quite a bit of revision!!)
Hopefully this post will build on my earlier post that was connected with Lead Management.
I’ve already described that a lead represents a potential. When a lead has been qualified and we have established a “real” interest in one (or more) products or services it is converted into a sales opportunity. A lead is a generally a temporary record whilst the opportunity will exist for the lifetime of the sale. In some organisations an opportunity may convert into a sale in a very short period of time, maybe even on the day created. But other organisations have a “slow burn” sales cycle. Whilst selling software consultancy I have seen large opportunities stay active for over a year! (Some decisions just aren’t taken quickly.)
Whilst the opportunity is open the sales team may need to perform multiple tasks, including;
- Refining the details of the opportunity including budget, expected revenue, purchase timeframe and price list.
- recording phone calls, emails and appointments against the opportunity.
- Adding details of the products the customer is interested in.
- Tracking the competitors connected with the opportunity.
- Sending sales literature to the customer.
- Linking documents to the opportunity using SharePoint or OneDrive for business.
- Recording details of any quotes prepared and submitting to the customer.
- Sharing/assigning opportunities.
It is likely that the sales people will move the opportunity through a sales process (business process flow). Out of the box the typical stages in the “lead to opportunity” business process flow are qualify, develop, propose and close. But organisations will most likely refine these to meet their needs. Maybe including additional stages as conditional branches. For example: A large value opportunity may require an additional stage to gain financial approval before submitting a proposal to the customer.
The opportunity is one of the entities which is commonly enabled for audit history. So if you have audting enabled you can track the before and after states of all fields that have been changed.
Before I look at how to manage opportunities lets quickly consider how to create them.
Creating opportunities from Leads
A common way to create an opportunity is to qualify a lead. This will create (and load) the opportunity. Plus, if the potential doesn’t relate to an existing contact or account then these record will also be created by the qualification process.
If you are using the out of the box lead to opportunity business process flow, qualifying the lead will automatically advance the business process flow from “Qualify” to “Develop”.
Below you can see that I have a lead and that the business process is on the qualify stage.
Selecting qualify will create any required contact / account records and create an opportunity record. Also the business process flow is advanced to the develop stage. (Plus the newly created opportunity record is opened.)
It is also worth being aware that any other relevant related information is carried forward to the opportunity. So if you’d entered stakeholders or competitors on the lead these would also now exist on the opportunity.
Any activities from the lead will be visible on the opportunity. An open activity on the lead, for example, would remain regarding the lead as an open activity. But it will also be visible on the opportunity.
Creating an Opportunity from an Account or Contact
You may wish to create an opportunity without having to create a lead record. Let’s say an existing customer telephones and tells you that they’d like to purchase your latest product. As the initial approach has already expressed a clear need maybe your business process will allow you to skip the lead stage.
To do this you can add opportunities directly from the recent opportunities sub grid on the contact and account forms. Or use the Add New Opportunity ribbon button on the associated opportunities view on the contact or account.
Using either of these options will open the quick create form on the opportunity, allowing the “main” details to be captured. Once completed you’d then be able to select the opportunity from the recent opportunities sub grid or opportunity associated view to edit full details if required.
Note: The quick create form does not show the business process flow. But when the record is opened it will be at the first stage in the flow. Which in the case of an out of the box opportunity would be the qualify stage. (The opportunity still has a qualify stage even if the lead entity isn’t used.)
Creating an opportunity from an activity
It is also possible to convert an activity into an opportunity. To do this use the “Convert To” button in the ribbon bar of the opportunity.
Selecting this option will trigger a dialog to allow you to convert the opportunity. This involves confirming the customer, setting the currency, linking to a campaign. Plus you can optionally open the created opportunity and also automatically close the originating activity.
Plus, if you associated the opportunity with a campaign you may opt to create a campaign response to show that a customer expressed interest in the campaign.
And also don’t forget that you can create an opportunity directly from the quick create function. (As shown below)
Winning or Losing an Opportunity
Opportunity Status ….. New opportunities have a status of open. As the sale progresses this status will be changes to “Win” to “Lost”.
Note: You could (of course) simply delete an opportunity when it is lost. But this isn’t advised as removing the opportunity will also remove any associated activities and notes. Generally, closing activities as lost is preferable.
The close as lost ribbon button will present the close as lost dialog. The status reason has (out of the box) options of “Canceled” or “Out-Sold”. A common customization will be to add to these to add lost reasons specific to your organization. It the dialog you can also confirm the revenue and date closed. Plus indicate which competitor the opportunity was lost to.
After closing an opportunity as lost the status changes to “Lost” and the status reason is set to the lost reason. For example, “Canceled”. (“Status reason” shows as status in the opportunity header, whilst “status” shows in the left hand corner of the footer on the form.)
Note: You can use the “Reopen Opportunity” ribbon button at any point. As once marked as lost (or won) the opportunity becomes read only. Although, you can continue to add posts, activities and notes to the opportunity. As well as adding related entities such as competitors, sales team members and stakeholders. When you reopen an opportunity the last resolution activity will be updated to show as canceled.
Also note: Each time an opportunity is marked as lost an opportunity “resolution” activity is created to show who cancelled it and why. This activity will also contain the competitor lost to and revenue lost. This is useful if the same opportunity is marked as lost and reopened several times.
The close opportunity as won dialog is very similar to the close as lost. Except that the competitor is read only. (As not required.) And the only status reason available (out of the box) will be won.
When I mentioned the lost process I explained that a resolution activity is created each time an opportunity is marked as lost. The same process happens for won opportunities. In addition to this, when opportunities are lost or won automatic posts will be created to record this event.
Defining the Sales Team
On the opportunity you may need to define who is working on this opportunity and in what capacity. This is done by defining the sales team. As you can see below you add users into the sales team and then assign them a role. Such as Account Manager or Industry Expert.
Also, like with other Dynamics 365 entities you can use the assign button to set the owner of the opportunity to the sales person or sales team who has overall responsibility for the opportunity. (The owner.)
Alternatively, opportunities can be shared with one or more Dynamics 365 users or teams.
When I described leads we saw how stakeholders can be defined that are connected with the lead. And that these stakeholders will carry forward to the opportunity when the lead is qualified. The opportunity form contains a sub grid that allows additional stake holders to be added.
It might be important to understand what stakeholders and the sales team member actually are! These are actually Dynamics 365 connections between the opportunity entity and effectively any entity in Dynamics 365. You will see that in the opportunity navigation stakeholders appear under the connections area.
Connections can be used to associate any CRM entity to any other. Each connection has a role. Meaning beyond stakeholder you can associated entities with other roles to opportunity. And whilst adding you can add additional information including description and start / end dates. (The dates might be useful, for example, if you were creating a connection to show that someone was an ex-employee of a company. When knowing their start / end date might be useful.)
I will cover the detail of creating connections and connection roles in a future post.
One of the reasons we create opportunities is to understand the total value of the potential revenue in our sales pipeline. Therefore entering an estimated revenue figure is going to be pretty important!
Below you can see that the header of my opportunity contains an estimated revenue value. In many situations the sales person simply enters this figure manually. In this scenario the revenue is being “User Provided”.
However the revenue maybe system calculated from a total of the prices for products added to the opportunity. I will cover products and prices in a future post!
You can see below that I have added two products to my opportunity and changed the revenue to be system calculated. In my simple example I have used something called a write-in product.
A write-in product allows me to simply enter a product name, value and quantity. I will cover more complex capabilities when we review the product catalogue.
In addition to adding the products, with system calculated estimated revenue I can also add an overall discount and add in any freight.
Each opportunity can also optionally be associated with one or more quotations. If you have already entered products on the opportunity when a quote is created its details will include those products. I will cover the full details associated with quotations in a later post.
Tip: Once you have added quotes to an opportunity, it cannot be closed unless any draft or active quotes are closed. (Either as rejected or by converting them into an order.)
Additionally when you convert a quotation into an order a dialog will offer you the ability to automatically close the associated opportunity.
I’m sorry if you’ve found this a long post! I did start off by saying that the opportunity is a significant entity in the sales side of Dynamics 365. Therefore, you should probably prepare for quite a number of opportunity related questions in the MB2-717 exam. Despite this post being fairly long I have still actually only very briefly covered some topics. (Such as products, price lists and quotes.) I will return to these topics in later posts. So that is something to look forward to!