CRM for Dummies

I have been working on a CRM project as BA/PM for some time now. Initially I didnt know much about the product so I had to read lots of books and obviously i used all the content on internet as well. I think that there are alot of obvious questions for someone starting with CRM that are still not answered in a straight forward manner. Initially I was just responsible for the business analysis, requirements gathering and project management but i also  ended up doing the develoment work. I think because i have been through the mill so i can help you through the CRM project execution life cycle. This blog and others to follow in this series are intended to help with the anlysis, management, development and deployment of the projects related to CRM 4.0. You can ask me all the questions you have and I will try to answer to the best of my abilities.

CRM project should be treated no different from any other project. However with CRM projects if Dev team works closely with the BA/PM then the work required can be reduced significanlty because there are lots of work-arounds to do similar tasks. For instance creating custom entities and setting up its relationship with existing entities like leads, opportunities and contacts is a common task and normally has various implementation with their trade-offs. Similarly the process of lead conversion to other entities and then managing newly created entities through workflows, plugins and CRM integration with other system are some of the tasks that can be simplified with analysis.

In this blog i will introduce the concepts of out of the box entities excluding accounts to help many out there who ask questions regarding these entities. So what is a lead? Well firstly i must say that Microsoft got it wrong. I strongly feel that Lead is not an entity but its a classification of an entity(whatever it maybe) based on its degree of maturity. Let me explain this for you.

Supppose you have a company that sells soap. So all the people out there who are interested in buying soap are leads(potential customers or customers in embroic form). However once you input these people you dont have their all the information and incases where you have maybe its not good enough to be able make them into customers (people who actually buy from you). So you get more information about these people and then you contact them to validate if they actually want to buy your soap. If they are interested you convert the lead to (Contact and Opportunity(maybe)).

An opporunity presents the possibility to sell something. In our case its soap we are selling so we have a Lead (Subject : sell soap, First name: Tom, Phone: XYZ) that converts to Contact ( Name : Tom, Phone: XYZ) and opportunity (Subject: sell soap to Tom). Now sales team works on the opportunity to sell soap to Tom (performs tasks like phone calls, follow-ups, mails..). Once they are able to sell the Soap they change the opportunity status to ‘WON’. Now Tom has actually purchased something so he is a customer.

Some important things that confuse lots of people include, When to convert lead to opportunity and contact. Is Contact a customer? What is the difference between lead and this contact. What is an opportunity and why it is required?

The answer to these quesitons are normally business specific and BA is the best judge. Normally BA needs to interview the Sales and marketing teams to decide on these and there is no thumbs rule to follow. In our implmentation we convert the lead to contact and opportunity when we have a lead with whom we have established contact and it has shown interest. Sales team guages the degree of interest and decides to convert to contact and opportunity. When contact is created the contact is just a customer in embroic form (just like a lead) but with opportunity associated to sell stuff to this contact. Once it actually buys then its a customer. You may argue that one should only convert a lead to contact once it has purchased something. If you want to do that it is not wrong but opportunities are created with contacts in CRM 4.0 so its better if things are sole to contacts and not leads.

In this post i have just given the brief introduction about lead, opporuntity and contact. This is valid for B2C but not for B2B. I will explaing how ‘Accounts’ can be used in a similar fashion when doing business with companies in my next post. Moreover I would also explain what the above given information means for sales team and how they use the system to work on their areas of concerns.

In the end just an analysis tip for the analysts out here. Always remember it’s not about using the system, it’s about managing the accounts and contacts and increasing sales. So, before the implementation starts make sure you have stats like number of calls per day, number of sales in a region, talk time etc. so that you could gauge after CRM installation if it has actually helped your company or not.

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