Looking at a new CRM system can be a daunting prospect for a Sales Manager.  There is so much “stuff” in modern CRM systems that it can be a challenge to decide which parts are the most important to be used to support the business.  There is often an Excel-Based system comfort zone that has to be breached.

Luckily, Microsoft CRM can be quickly configured so you can use just the bits you need right now, and worry about the rest later.  This differs significantly from financial systems, where most if not all the parts must work together to get any outcomes.  Because of this, introducing a new CRM system into your business doesn’t have to be either difficult, time consuming, or costly.

You can either import or manually enter your accounts (corporate entity names) and contacts (people in those businesses). Now you are ready to manage your Sales Pipeline.

Use the Opportunity menu and create a new opportunity record for each potential sale you wish to manage.  This is where you will keep, review, and update all the information regarding each sale.

Apart from the account, contact, and short description of the sale, there are only four fields that are required to ensure effective sales management and pipeline creation.

Expected Revenue: The total dollar value of the sale. This can often be a best-guess for a new potential sale but you will be able to refine this number as you get closer to closure.

Probability of Win: This is a number that represents the best-guess percentage you put on getting the sale.  This might be only 10% at the start of your dialog with a potential customer you have not dealt with before.  If the sale is with an existing customer your starting percentage tends to be much higher as you already have a relationship with them.  You review and change this percentage as you move though the pre-sales process.

Expected Close Date: The date when the potential customer is likely to make the purchase decision.  This is also a best-guess but is refined as you get towards the end of the pre-sales process.

Sales Stage: A text description of the stage the sale is at.  This is usually a set list of stages described in one or two words. For example, a sale could go from Initial Contact, Sales Demo, Negotiation, Finalisation, then either Won or Lost.   There can be different lists of stages for different types of sale.

With these four fields populated in your opportunity records, you have to makings of your sales pipeline.  This can be expressed in a number of ways such as graphically using a funnel and/or by lists of opportunities filtered by such data as sales person, sales stage etc.

By multiplying the Expected Revenue by the Probability of sale you get the Probability Revenue.  This figure gives you an indication of whether you will meet your sales target or not.  This is enhanced when you can arrange your expected revenue by month or quarter etc using the Expected Close dates.  Adding a grouping by Sales Stage you can see how likely your expected revenue will turn into actual or not.  For example, if all your potential sales are still in the Initial contact stage but there is only days before the end of your sales quarter, then it’s likely these will not result in actual sales this quarter.

If you want to see more, you can view a video on sales process management here


The hardest part to getting started with Microsoft CRM is simply to decide to start.  Using a rapid implementation approach you can be up and running with your new system in a matter of weeks.

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