When leveraging Dynamics 365 in a sales environment, one of the more difficult decisions is whether your organization should implement the use of Leads in the sales cycle. Generally, the decision comes down to either using Lead, or a modified customer entity (Account or Contact). Also, keep in mind Leads can be used for representing an early sales opportunity for existing customers. I want the focus of this to be whether Leads are used for capturing the potential prospect details, which would then be converted to an Account, Contact, and/or Opportunity once qualified.
Below are some key points to consider in this decision. I specifically won’t call these advantages, or disadvantage, but each should be taken into consideration:
- Within Dynamics 365, the Lead entity is separate from the customer entities (Account and Contact). This reduces the number of records created directly as Accounts and Contacts. This lead or customer distinction allows a clean line to be drawn between leads and customers.
- For some organizations, the concept of having separate records representing leads and customers (whether Account or Contact) is somewhat confusing. Some organizations will choose to use the standard customer entities (Account and Contact), with some kind of “Customer Status” field with values: Lead, and Customer.
- The standard Lead entity offers a defined process for qualification, or disqualification. While what qualifies, or disqualifies a lead is an entirely separate conversation, Dynamics 365 has functionality built into the system around these scenarios. The qualification process will automatically create key customer and sales records in the system, while the disqualification process allows the team to define why a lead was disqualified.
- Within Dynamics 365, the overall system functionality on the Lead is limited. Some organizations will want to tie Opportunity, and Quote to a Lead. However, the Lead is representative of a potential customer at an earlier stage than this. Think of a trade show, you may collect contact information for a chance to win a prize. The organization may collect a thousand business cards. We don’t know if these people are interested in our product, or only interested in your prize. This is the use of the Lead, making the initial determination if a potential customer is interested in your offerings, and making a proper qualification/disqualification decision.
While there are other idiosyncrasies, of using Leads in Dynamics 365, I feel these are the most widely encountered scenarios in most organizations. I have seen successful implementations, needing to capture leads, using the standard Lead entity, as well as modified customer entities (Account and Contact). Ultimately, the decision will be up to your organization.