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Leads v Opportunities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM





When my company InfoStrat implements Dynamics CRM for a client, one of the first questions we are likely to hear is when to use the Leads entity and when to use Opportunities.

Leads is a smaller entity whose fields include topic, name, job title, email, company name, phone numbers and address.

Opportunities has topic and name information along with more fields such as the estimated close date, estimated revenue, and win probability.  It is related to Accounts and Contacts, and has lookups into each of these related entities.

The following are my thoughts on when to use each:

  1. Leads are for prospecting.  This is where you would put a mailing list from business cards that you gather at a trade show, or website visitors who register for an event or white paper.
  2. I don't mind having a large number of leads even knowing that most will never convert to opportunities.  In general, I do not want to clutter up my Accounts and Contacts with those low probability customers.
  3. Opportunities are won or lost, but you would not want to count leads that go nowhere in the same way as a proposal that was lost.  This is a good reason to distinguish between leads and opportunities. 
  4. Opportunities are the heart of sales activity.  You will use opportunities as the basis for sales pipeline meetings, and a trigger to check in with customers and prospects regarding opportunities and bids.  
  5. If you know the value and estimated date for a customer purchase, it is an opportunity rather than a lead.  Leads have much more uncertainly around them than opportunities.  
Microsoft Dynamics CRM has a built-in function to convert a lead into an Account, Contact, and Opportunity record.  This process is used during the qualification process.  Once you understand that the prospective customer has a demonstrated interest in a specific offering, you may want to convert the lead to an opportunity. 

You can build marketing lists for both leads and contacts (as well as accounts).  This means that you may end up with a parallel set of marketing lists for each.  Be sure to send marketing outreach to both leads and contacts where appropriate.

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