Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Overview

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Introduction to CRM 2011

Every organization is dependent on customers, and every organization is challenged to manage these customers. Businesses need a way to attract, sell to, service, and track every interaction these customers have with their organization. To do so, they often implement a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

Microsoft offers a CRM solution as part of their Dynamics suite, which allows companies to implement a system that manages more than just their customers. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a web-based application that can be accessed online through an Internet browser or through Microsoft Office Outlook.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Web client

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Outlook client

Microsoft Dynamics CRM includes three main modules:

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Customer service

Each module contains entities, which are objects in CRM, and are used to help model data.

Throughout this article, business examples will be used to explain various concepts. A fictitious company called Race2Win Insurance Company will be used to further illustrate these concepts.

Sales module

Microsoft Dynamics CRM allows businesses to optimize their sales processes and customer tracking efforts. With CRM, an organization can increase interactions with current customers, shorten sales cycles, and increase opportunity close rates to gain new customers.

The sales module within CRM consists of the following entities:

  • Leads
  • Accounts
  • Contacts
  • Opportunities
  • Marketing lists
  • Products
  • Sales literature
  • Quotes
  • Orders
  • Invoices
  • Competitors
  • Quick campaigns
  • Goals
  • Goal metrics
  • Rollup queries

Each of these entities are explained in more detail further, but let’s give a high-level overview of how users could potentially use these out of the box capabilities.

Business scenarios

The business scenarios that we’ll cover in a moment outlines the use of the sales module for our fictitious insurance company. Although entities such as marketing lists, quick campaigns, and sales literature are found in the sales module, these will be discussed in the marketing business scenarios. For our scenarios, we’ll illustrate examples from the viewpoint of various individual roles within the organization.


Race2Win Insurance Company needs a way to track leads they’ve acquired as a result of efforts by their marketing team. Microsoft Dynamics CRM allows the company to track and qualify leads. For example, let’s say Race2Win is capturing information on the lead record related to a potential insurance customer. Based on information entered, business rules can be applied to categorize the lead as hot, warm, or cold. CRM has out of the box functionality to apply these business rules automatically.

Once a lead is qualified, Dynamics CRM provides the ability to convert the lead into an opportunity, account, contact, or a combination of the three.


The organizations or companies that Race2Win Insurance views as customers can be tracked as accounts in CRM. These accounts may be managed by one or more salespeople. A salesperson may receive commission on sales made to their managed accounts, thus making accounts critical. Accounts contain the address, industry, and various other demographic data about the customer.


As part of the sales process, Race2Win Insurance Company’s sales force may reach out to individuals or employees at a company. Individuals, either on their own or tied to a company, can be tracked as contacts in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Like the account, contact records can store addresses and industry/professional information, but can also store more personal data, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and information about various family members. A salesperson may find personal information critical to start and maintain a personal relationship with people at a company.


Opportunities can allow the Race2Win sales force to track potential sales opportunities with their customers. The opportunities can go through various sales cycles, and can track the estimated versus actual revenue of a particular sale. Opportunities can have products from the product catalog associated to them in order to help estimate the revenue more accurately. The Race2Win Insurance salespeople receive their commission when an opportunity is won, and the commission amount is based on the estimated revenue.


Race2Win Insurance Company has various insurance products and services it may sell. Products can be sold to different customers at different prices, and some products may be eligible for discounts based on the quantity ordered. Dynamics CRM allows all of the above functionality through the use of the product catalog.


Let’s say that during the course of a sales cycle, the customer wishes to receive more detailed pricing information such as an estimate from the Race2Win salesperson. Dynamics CRM allows a quote to be generated ad hoc or from an opportunity. In either case, products from the product catalog can be added, prices from the price list can be used, and discounts can be applied—all to create an accurate quote.


If a customer wishes to proceed with purchasing products or services, the opportunity can be closed as won. The salesperson will receive commission, and the process is now handed off to someone in order entry to create an order. Orders can be created ad hoc, from an opportunity, or quote. If an opportunity or quote has products, prices, and/or discounts, these can be inherited, making the generation of the order timely and accurate.


An invoice can be generated for a customer in place of an order if needed. Many other organizations like Race2Win have their billing department typically create an invoice once the order is ready to be billed. An invoice can be created ad hoc or from an opportunity, quote, or order. Like an order, invoices can inherit the products, prices, and/or discounts from an opportunity, quote, or order.

While quotes, orders, and invoices can be created in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, sometimes they are created in an ERP system and then imported into Dynamics CRM for reference or reporting.


Race2Win Insurance Company has now been using the leads generated to attain new customers, increase sales, and generate quotes, orders, and invoices for customers quickly and efficiently. Like any successful organization, Race2Win has to deal with competition. Dynamics CRM gives the organization’s sales force and management the ability to track competitors, analyze their sales strategies, products, and the business they win.


Throughout a period of time, say fiscal year, an organization like Race2Win can set up goals to track various metrics such as sales performance. These goals can be tracked for each individual, and managers have the ability to see each of their team member’s goals. The entire business scenario we just outlined can be achieved by using the Microsoft Dynamics CRM sales module.

Marketing module

Microsoft Dynamics CRM allows an organization to launch and maintain marketing campaigns. The responses to a campaign can be tracked to gauge the effectiveness of a campaign. These responses can also be converted into accounts, contacts, leads, quotes, orders, or opportunities.

The Dynamics CRM marketing module consists of the following entities:

  • Leads
  • Accounts
  • Contacts
  • Marketing lists
  • Campaigns
  • Quick campaigns
  • Sales literature
  • Products

Each of these entities are explained in more detail further, but let’s again look at a high-level overview.

Business scenario

The business scenarios that we’ll cover in a moment outlines the use of the marketing module using our fictitious company, Race2Win Insurance Company. Race2Win’s marketing team has analyzed its existing customer base and found areas to expand the company’s business. They can market new products and services to their existing customer base, and try and turn potential customers into new ones.

Marketing lists

Race2Win has realized that it needs to market new insurance products to an existing list of accounts, and market existing products to potential customers in China. Microsoft Dynamics CRM allows Race2Win to set up a marketing list containing a static list of accounts. They can also use CRM to set up a dynamic marketing list of all leads where the address has the country set to China.


Using marketing lists, an organization can kick off, run, and evaluate marketing campaigns. Race2Win can kick off a campaign very quickly for the existing accounts and it can also execute a more lengthy campaign, containing multiple communication channels, for the leads in China. Depending on the campaign type, the marketing team can create planning activities, track the cost of the campaign,and target certain products.

Sales literature

At times, customers or even internal business users may want to know more about a product that an organization is selling or marketing. Race2Win is no different, dealing with multiple inquiries about products from customers on a weekly basis. The sales literature in CRM can offer collateral for marketing or sales teams to share. An example can be a brochure of their latest insurance products.

The scenarios we just described illustrates how the Microsoft Dynamics CRM marketing module can be used to achieve any marketing goal.

Customer service module

Obtaining new customers is an important goal of any organization, but servicing existing customers is just as important. Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers a solution to service an organization’s customers, manage service resources, and maintain a knowledge base repository that can be used to efficiently resolve future service incidents.

The Dynamics CRM service module consists of the following entities:

  • Cases
  • Service calendar
  • Accounts
  • Contacts
  • Knowledge base article
  • Contracts
  • Products
  • Goals
  • Goal metrics
  • Rollup queries

Each of these entities are explained in more detail further, but let’s look at a high-level overview of how an organization could potentially use these out of the box capabilities.

Business scenarios

Thanks to CRM, Race2Win Insurance Company has been able to effectively market and sell its products to companies in a wide range of industries all over the world. Now it’s time for Race2Win to start servicing their clients, and it’s Dynamics CRM to the rescue once again.


Let us say a customer didn’t receive their invoice for insurance products that they purchased. This customer e-mails this issue to a client service representative at Race2Win. With Dynamics CRM, this e-mail can be converted to a case. During that process of conversion, an account or contact can be linked (the case can reference a product if needed). Once converted, the original e-mail will be tied to the newly opened case. After the case is created, it can be assigned to a user, or routed to a queue. Throughout its lifecycle, activities such as e-mails, phone calls, and/or tasks can be tracked as a part of the case.

Knowledge base articles

In trying to resolve the case, users can access a repository of knowledge base articles to reference past issues and resolutions.


Race2Win can use CRM to create service contracts to defne the type and level of support required. These contracts can then be referenced when new cases are opened.

Service calendar

If the servicing of customers requires the allocation of resources, whether that is an individual employee, a contractor, a facility or equipment, Dynamics CRM’s scheduling features can assist. The service calendar can show users how each resource is being allocated for a given time period. With this knowledge, you can schedule resources more efficiently in order to deliver a prompt resolution to a case.

As you can see, CRM has a rich feature set that can be used to service any type of client. We just went through a high-level introduction of the three main modules in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This article is a guide to help pass the CRM 2011 Applications exam (MB2-868) and we will delve deeper into each of the modules to help you better understand the application. The next section gives you an introduction to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 training and certifications.


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