As I prepare for my Dynamics 365 certification in sales (MB 210), I’m creating blog posts based on my revision. I hope that collectively these posts may prove useful to anyone also preparing for the MB 210 exam. This time I will cover the concepts around Leads.
You will see that Leads are references in the skills measured statement within the section headed “Manage Core Sales Entities”.
A lead is a potential sale. Qualification of a lead can result in the creation of a new contact and account. But it may also be common for leads to be linked to existing accounts and contacts.
Typically, you will have a lead qualification process, during which the lead will be contacted and more details gathered. Then at an appropriate point a decision is taken to qualify the lead into an opportunity or disqualify it. For this reason, the lead record is often considered as a temporary holding area whilst determining their viability. In this post I will look at the process of creating and qualifying leads. And how the resulting opportunities are progressed.
Leads can come from many sources, sometimes companies may buy lists of potentials which are imported into Dynamics 365. Or activities can be converted into leads, such as an email from a prospective client. Or leads may be created from customer journeys that could be managed with Dynamics 365 for Marketing.
The lead construct / process is not mandatory and isn’t used in all organisations. But any high volume business that sources lists of potentials from external companies, attends trade shows, distribute mass mails and such like are likely to use leads. And in all these cases would want to apply a standard qualification process. I have often seen telesales teams work with the lead entity and once someone has been contacted and their details / need confirmed they are converted into an opportunity for the sales team to progress.
An opportunity is a qualified potential sale and is used to track the sales from initial qualification right through to closure. (won or lost.) Typically, when a lead is qualified it will be turned into an opportunity. Along with either being linked to an existing account / contact or by creating a new account and contact. As the use of leads is not mandatory it should be understood that you can also create opportunities without having a lead.
There are multiple places to create leads within Microsoft Dynamics 365. Including the quick create “+” or the “+ New” button on a leads view ….
Emails can also be converted into leads or leads created by importing data into Dynamics 365.
Below you can see a sample lead I have created, some things to notice;
- Topic is a mandatory field. This is often populated with details of the source if the lead. For example, a business card collected at an annual trade show. Or maybe you populate the topic with information about the potential sale.
- Name is a mandatory field. (Or to be more accurate “last name” is a mandatory field!)
- No other contact details are mandatory in an out of the box set-up. (Customizations will typically be used to make at least one field mandatory.)
- The company field is business recommended, but if selling to consumers directly this would be blank.
Leads, by default use the lead to opportunity business process flow. This starts off at the qualify stage.
- Notice that a lead could be optionally linked to an existing contact or account.
On the right hand side of the lead form you will find navigation to allow you to associate the lead with stakeholders or competitors. Both of these are optional.
Stakeholders are any contacts that have an interest in this lead. Each stakeholder can be given a role which denotes their interest. The role defaults to “Stakeholder” but other options include champion, decision maker, economic buyer, end user, influencer and technical buyer. I imagine this section to be of particular importance when your lead is related to an existing account as you may already know multiple people at the account who will play differing roles on each opportunity.
Additional details can be recorded on the lead, if required. (In the details tab.) Including things like a description of the requirement associated with this lead, the industry sector, currency and if related to a marketing campaign the lead generation can be linked to a source campaign. Maybe you run an advertising campaign and all new leads generate get associated to that campaign. (Allowing marketing to measure its success.)
As with contacts and account the lead record contains contact preferences. Including which channels this lead will accept communications on and what is their preferred approach.
Importantly each lead will have a type. The default will be “item based”. This simply means that the resulting opportunity will be item based. (One that can have “standard” products.) Other options of work based and service -maintenance based come into play when using Project Service Automation or Field Service. As those opportunities could potentially include additional information specific to project creation or field service scenarios.
Other useful fields exist in the lead header, including lead source, rating and status. The status is often used to show if the lead is new or if someone has contacted this lead.
I have often seen organizations decide that any contacted leads will be routinely closed “n” months after the initial contact if they haven’t been converted into an opportunity. Or other companies might create rules that say new leads must be contacted within 48 hours of creation. The lead status field helps support these types of customization.
And of course the lead has an owner. I have seen this have great significance in some organizations. It might, for example, be set to the name of the tele sales person who is currently tasked with qualifying this lead.
Leads can be qualified or disqualified from the ribbon bar on the lead entity. I will cover the concepts connected with handling qualified leads when I expand on opportunity management. But let’s first look at how to disqualify the lead. You can see in the screen shot below that I can disqualify a lead for several reasons.
- Lost, this might be used to denote that a lead has already purchased from a competitor.
- Cannot contact, It might be quite common that you are cold calling from a list of data and simply can’t reach the lead. Maybe you are calling a business that no longer exists or someone has changed their phone number.
- No longer interested, maybe someone registered an interest in your products at a trade show but when contacts they explain that interest has gone.
- Canceled, I personally try to avoid users selecting this option. But say some duplicate leads are generated by accident. These could be cancelled to resolve the data issue.
Selecting any option from the disqualify list will change the lead status to “Disqualified” making it read only. Also the status shown in the header (held in status reason field) will change to the selected option.
It is not possible to change a disqualified lead but it is possible to use the reactivate option if (for example) the lead should re-contact you with a renewed interested.
Once leads are disqualified their details become read only. But it is important to be aware that this only applies to the main lead details. You can add posts, activities and notes to a read only lead. You can also amend or add stakeholders or competitor details to a read only lead.
You can of course go to the closed leads view and simply use the “DELETE” option to remove unwanted leads. This however is something I don’t typically recommend my customers do! The reason being that a lead disqualified today may become viable in the future.
As mentioned, the status reason field allows us to show if a lead is in a new or contacted state, additionally for disqualified leads we can see the reason the lead was disqualified. We have two “status” fields. Statecode which cannot be customized, this gives the overall state of the lead. Options include open, qualified and disqualified.
Status reason however can be maintained, by a system customizer / administrator. The status reason field allows us to define possible reasons for the state. For example, a lead in a disqualified state could have a reason of “cannot Contact” or “No Longer Interested” to further explain why it is disqualified. A common customization maybe to add additional reasons specific to your particular business processes.
I hope this post has given you a good overview of the leads concept and a description of its key fields. Next time I will build on this logic by looking at how leads are qualified and how we manage the resulting opportunities.