Clients ask the best questions. Especially on the phone when there’s immediate pressure to have a (at least somewhat) decent response. This is a question that Tricension gets asked a lot because the difference between Leads and Opportunities in Microsoft CRM 2011 can be vague. At the same time, though, using the Lead and Opportunity functionality is something that Tricension advises clients to do and, in fact, does itself. Therefore, this post will explain the difference and give examples of how to use both sets of functionality in a sales pipeline. Note: this explanation is based on Tricension’s best practices and experience in using CRM in its own business. There are several ways to go about handling Leads vs. Opportunities. This one is ours.
A lead is any contact or company about which Tricension has recently discovered. Normally, in the lead stage, Tricension employees know very little about the lead, oftentimes nothing more than a name, a phone number or email, and maybe an address. This means that anytime a lead is entered, it’s a call-to-action that states someone in charge of business development at Tricension needs to investigate this lead, talk to them, and see if there exists the potential to do business.
In practical terms, as quickly as possible, Leads are either qualified or disqualified. A disqualified lead means that, for whatever reason, there is a very low (less than 10%) chance for the lead to turn into a revenue opportunity. A qualified lead means that there is a better than 10% chance the lead might turn into business.
Qualified leads get turned into opportunities by Microsoft CRM automatically.
An opportunity then, is any contact or company, which a decision maker at Tricension believes has the chance to turn into business down the road. The chance doesn’t have to be high or immediate, but it means that someone has decided that the company or contact may lead to work in the future.
Of course, these definitions may vary from CRM organization to CRM organization. In fact, several of the opportunities in Tricension’s CRM system now might be called leads in another company, however because the work of qualifying them as been done, we’ve moved them to the opportunity pipeline.
We then concentrate our acquisition marketing and sales activities on companies and contacts for which there is an opportunity. As more touches go out to opportunities, we move them along the pipeline as we grow more or less sure of doing business until we either mark them as Won (we got the business) or Loss (we didn’t.)
Microsoft CRM, Leads and Opportunities
Again, every company is unique in how they hand their sales process. However, you’ll find that when using Microsoft CRM 2011, the built-in functionality around Leads and Opportunities is well-suited to the processes described above. Microsoft CRM has built-in functionality around qualifying leads, setting how confident we are of a sale, and marking opportunities as Won or Lost, all of which comes out-of-the-box standard without anyone having to write a single line of code.