Lead Entity Changes in Dynamics CRM 2013

In Dynamics CRM, no entity tends to cause more confusion to like the Lead entity. I do get that newcomers to CRM might be confused, and after many training sessions and constructive feedback I reckon I came up with a nice approach to explain the importance of this entity. Most people get it, but some companies still decide not to use the lead entity. Sometimes they genuinely don’t need to use it; but quite often then don’t use it because they don’t understand the true potential of leads.

For Dynamics CRM 2013, Microsoft has performed some significant changes in the Lead entity with the intuit to address those issues, which I will be covering in this post.

First glance

Not only the Lead form has been resigned taking into account the new modern layout, but we also have some new components in the form.

The first thing that gets our attention is the business process bar. By default, the Lead entity works with a built-in business process named Lead to Opportunity Sales Process, which covers the sales process from leads that have been qualified into opportunities. There is another process named Opportunity Sales Process. which cover opportunities that have not been originated from a lead. Some aspects of business processes can be customised, and some can’t. I will be covering business processes in detail at a latter post.

The default Lead form in Dynamics CRM 2013

The Bing maps control will show the provided company address in the map. Bear in mind that you must obtain a Bing Maps API key and enter it in the system settings for it to work. Next, we can notice on the right-side of the form that we now have a Stakeholders and a Competitors grid.

The Stakeholders grid shows the connection roles under the Stakeholder category. It is now much easier to work with connections, as they have been refined to work with the new interface, and seamlessly welded as grids in the forms, reducing the amount of pop-ups and clicks. The competitor grid allow us to indicate the competitors earlier in the sales process (in Dynamics CRM 2011, we could only specify competitors in the Opportunity entity). The relationships specified in these grids will be carried out to the Opportunity entity when the lead is qualified.

Lead qualification

As I explained in a previous post, a lead is an speculative record that companies work in order to qualify into an account and/or a contact and/or an opportunity. However in Dynamics CRM 2013, Microsoft decided to change the outcome of qualifying leads. Here is how it works.

Based on customer feedback, Microsoft concluded that customers were getting confused between the Lead and the Contact entity. As a result, they have decided to streamline the two the following way:

When qualifying a lead record, we no longer get a dialog asking which records we want to create (i.e. account and/or contact and/or opportunity). Instead, the qualification of a lead record will always result in the creation of an Opportunity. An out out-of-the-box business processes (i.e. the Lead to Opportunity Sales Process helps streamline the cycle from a Lead into an Opportunity.

This might make sense to the majority of the customers using Dynamics CRM out there, but for those looking to leverage the xRM framework, I consider this to be a major setback. For example, a college might want to use leads to qualify potential international agents to work with. A manufacturer might want to qualify potential distributors. In such cases, they could start with a lead and qualify those into account and contact records; a process that has nothing to do with the opportunity entity.

What about contacts?

A contact will also always be created when a lead is qualified, unless the user specified an existing contact for the lead record in the business process. I understand the rationale behind this (i.e. how can you qualify a lead without having a contact?) After all you are dealing with an individual at the other end in order to qualify the lead, right? (That doesn’t mean I agree 100% with this rationale, though).

When an opportunity record is created through the qualification of the lead, the contact will be associated under the Stakeholder grid in the opportunity record. However, whether the contact will be associated through the Contact lookup field in the opportunity depends on whether an account has been created or an existing account has been specified. If the opportunity is linked to an account (a business-to-business sale), then the contact will not be associated in the Contact lookup field.

And accounts?

The qualification of a lead will only result in the creation of an account record if the Company field has been filled in with a company name. Bearing in mind that if an existing account has been specified in the business process, all fields pertained to company information will be ignored and an account will not be created during the qualification. Instead, both the opportunity and contact records will be linked to the existing account.

The potential customer for the opportunity will be the account in question and not the contact.

Breaking (Bad) CRM

What if we customise the Lead entity so contact information isn’t required, or attempt to avoid the creation of an opportunity when qualifying a lead? I have performed some negative testing and I found out the following:

When qualifying a Lead it will always creats an opportunity, mapping the topic of the lead as the topic of the opportunity. What would happen if we customise the Lead entity and qualify a lead without a topic?

    An opportunity record will still be created when qualifying the lead, but the Topic of the opportunity will be blank.

What if we specify an existing contact in the business process and at the same time we specify different contact information?

  1. Upon qualifying the lead, the system will ignore the contact information specified in the form and will work with the contact specified in the business process instead.
  2. However, the lead will carry out the full name of the contact specified in the form.

What if we customise the Lead entity so that the contact information in the form is optional?

  1. A contact record will still be created when qualifying the lead, but the name fields for the contact will be blank.
  2. This blank contact will be listed under the Stakeholder grid of the opportunity. However the blank contact will not be associated through the Contact lookup field in the opportunity, whether it is a business-to-business or business-to-consumer.
  3. The contact will be will be associated with the account record as normal (if one has been specified or created during the lead qualification).
  4. The lead will not be associated with the contact, account and opportunity records through the Originating Lead field.

What if we create a business process for the Lead entity with just one stage that doesn’t involve the opportunity entity and we use it instead?

    The opportunity record will still be created no matter what.

Wrapping up

The changes introduced in the Lead entity for Dynamics CRM 2013 will certainly help most customers with a streamlined process that eases the transition from leads to opportunities. However, this will certainly incur a challenge for those relying on the xRM framework to create custom solutions.

The only way to avoid the creation of an opportunity record when qualifying a lead in Dynamics CRM 2013 is to create a plug-in. Jukka Niiranen pointed me in the direction of an article that covers this subject. You can read about it here.

Another option would be to remove the button and add in the form fields that are analogous to the lead qualification dialog that used to exist in previous version of Dynamics CRM. Then, through the use of workflows, we could ensure that the record types we want are created.


17 Comments

  • What of lead notes? Are they associated with any of the records created from the lead?

    • Hi,

      I'm afraid not. You would have to go to the associated lead and check the previous notes.

  • When using Polaris Lead & Oppty forms in Online 2011, the contact being created in the Lead Qualification was assigned as the Oppty Primary Contact. Not so in Online Fall '13, however. Instead, the contact will be included as a Stakeholder in the Oppty contsct grid.

    I tried to solve that with a workflow fired at Oppty create that updates the Oppty form but cannot seem to find a reference to the Contact which was created. Any ideas how to fix this?

    • Hi Pekka,

      Here is something that I've been scheduling to test but I haven't yet: Have you tried to add a mapping between the Lead and the Opportunity entity?

  • Hey Pedro,

    The mapping for parentcontactid exists OOB but does nothing if the Lead is not associated w/an existing contact in the DB.

    • Interesting. I will have a look on this tomorrow. The way I see it, we will need to code an assembly (i.e.: plug-in) to circumvent what Microsoft has now hard-coded into the product.

      • I was able to get around this with a workflow that updates the Contact field with "Parent Contact for lead(Originating Lead(Lead))" Only a background workflow seems to work here.

        • Cool. You might want to add a conditional check to see if originating lead contains data, this will ensure that the workflow would only run if the opportunity in fact comes from a lead.

          • Yes, that's the plan. Thanks!

  • Hi Pedro,

    Just got upgraded from CRM2011 to CRM2013.
    Our sales process is defined as ENGAGE > CAPTURE (Deliver) > CAPTURE (Propose) > CAPTURE (Secure)
    After qualifying the Lead which becomes an Opportunity, the lead should move from ENGAGE to CAPTURE (Deliver), but this is not reflected in the sales funnel graph. The front-end works fine, but the sales funnel graph i snot. There is a new stage defined by the system as '(blank)' and all my qualified leads are getting into this stage on getting qualified. Don't know from where this (blank) is coming from and why the qualified leads are sitting here.

    • Hi Dominic,

      If you use the default Sales process as a reference model, you will see that it in fact has two business processes. One is for the Lead entity (for opportunities originated from leads), and another for the Opportunity entity (from opportunities NOT originated from leads).

      Have you created the relevant process for the Opportunity entity? I recommend you take your question to the TechNet forums so we can have a look there with other CRM techies. Feel free to post the URL of your forum thread here so we can follow-up.

      Regards,
      P.

  • Have also noticed that the curious new duplicate detection rules (e.g. on Contact first name only and Contact last name only) appear to be used to try and match the Existing Contact? lookup on the OotB Lead2Opp BPF. This works (kind of) to match contacts with names similar to the Lead. Something similar occurs with the other Account and Contact duplicate detection rules and the Existing Account? field.

    However if you don't fill in this field on the BPF you are very likely to get erroneous duplicate detection when qualifying the Lead (e.g. just becase the lead shares a first name for example with an entirely unrelated contact). Contrary to the documentation interactive duplicate detection apears to still opperate when qualifying a Lead…

    • You're right Simon. In fact I had a whole bunch of scribbles on duplicate detection rules which simply slipped my mind when writing this post (oh well).

      You are right about the interactive duplicate detection when qualifying a lead. This is one of the first test I ran, actually. i might update this post, or write a new one about the duplicate detection rules.

      Cheers,
      P.

  • I wonder about another problem. When creating leads, it might be an unknown bunch of addresses we want to contact, or send a direct mail to. What topic should they have: would I call them all for: Indirect mail list 2014 Spring, for example? And will there be a dublicate problem on this issue, or is it only the company name and contact name which create issues?

  • Should the Lead.QualifyingOpportunityID value automatically get populated with the Opp Id when the Lead is qualified? This does not appear to be happening in our 2013 environment.

  • Hello,
    When you Qualify a lead to create and oportunity this become no editable, is possible to modify this process so I can continue modifiing the lead?
    Regards.

    • Hi Daniel,

      Well, you could do it by having a workflow that re-opens the lead after it is closed. You could do some conditional check on the workflow to find out whether the lead was closed automatically by the qualifying process or not. For example, if the lead has a related Opportunity.

      However I would strongly suggest that you do not do that. Once a lead has been qualified, I see no reason to edit it — unless it is to correct some fundamental mistake.

      Regards,
      P.