Tip #1074: The minimum you need for an opportunity

I like to keep things simple and, sometimes, Dynamics’ in-built functionality make things complicated. Opportunities (and Leads) are a good example of this. There is no doubt Dynamics 365 is great choice for managing a sales pipeline but you need to find a balance between using all the functionality provided and keeping the system flexible enough to meet unanticipated future needs as well as friendly enough that sales people will use it.

So what is the minimum you need to manage a sales pipeline in CRM?

First of all, no Products. Unless you sell well defined widgets with well defined prices, Products will need some work. Then there is the whole setting up of price lists, tax rates, and units of measure and so on. Remove Products (if you can) and things get simpler.

In terms of fields, I believe the minimum Opportunity fields you need to have a pipeline are:

  • Contact or Account (depending on whether you are selling to people or companies)
  • Estimated Revenue (how much the deal is worth)
  • Probability (so you can weight the expected revenue when projecting future sales)
  • Estimated Close Date (so you know which quarter/year/reporting period the sale will close in)
  • Status Reason (So you can categorise your pipeline)

Arguably, Status Reason could be swapped out for Stage and you could link the stage with a probability via a workflow but, again, things are getting complicated and not necessarily adding value (we are stuck with Status/Status Reason anyhow so why not use it?). In terms of automated probability, sometimes an Opportunity at an early stage is a sure thing and Opportunities at a later stage are more shaky (lawyers arguing over the contact terms anyone?) At least at the start, my preference would be to leave stage and probability unlinked and let the sales person enter the values independently.

In my experience it is better to start out with a basic system and build on it, than build a complex one and try and simplify it later. To reference my favourite quote from Civilization IV, “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

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