Thursday, April 06, 2006

Analyzing your Microsoft CRM Sales Pipeline

Having worked with lots of different sales organizations over the years I've observed that, among other characteristics, effective sales organizations constantly review and analyze their sales pipeline. They're never satisfied just to implement a sales methodology and hope it all works out; they're constantly reviewing the pipeline and figuring out where to make adjustments.

Of course, finding the right analytical toolset, training your sales managers in it, can be challenging. Luckily, Microsoft CRM 3.0 offers some terrific out-of-the-box solutions. One of my favorites is dynamically linking Microsoft Excel to CRM and analyzing sales pipeline data in pivot tables. To the uninitiated it may sound difficult, but the truth is ... nothing could be easier. (well, other than doing nothing and selling less).

Follow along with the instructions below to see how easy this is in Microsoft CRM 3.0:

1. In the Microsoft CRM Sales for Outlook client, click Advanced Find in the CRM toolbar.
2. In the Look for list, select Opportunities. I generally review open and historical opportunities together, but if you want to limit opportunities in any way, do so here using select clauses.
3. Click Find.
4. Click the Microsoft Excel icon in the Advanced Find toolbar.
5. In the Export Data to Excel dialog box, click Dynamic PivotTable, and then click Select Columns. Select the fields of data you're interested in reviewing. If you're following along with me, select Owner, Potential Customer, Status, and Total Amount.
6. Click OK.
7. Click Export, and then click Open.
8. In the Query Refresh dialog, click Enable automatic refresh.
9. Using the PivotTable Field List dialog box, drag Total Amount to Drop Data Items Here, Owner to Drop Page Fields Here, Status to Drop Row Fields Here, and Potential Customer just to the right of Owner.

Now, each time you open this worksheet in Microsoft Excel, your data will be dynamically updated from Microsoft Excel. The power, of course, is the flexibility users have in selecting the data they want to analyze. The permutations are endless, but the results are almost always the same: a stronger, better organized and understood sales pipeline.

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