Stephen Manley, one of our leading Dynamics Business Development Managers shares his thoughts on how the Advanced Find feature in Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM made him fall in love with the product.
When I first started using CRM back in 2011, I hated it. Harsh, I know, but true; and if you were to ask most sales managers or representatives out there I’m sure you’d find more than one that would admit to you they hated it even now. Sad as it is, many executives in sales (and other departments) simply fail to see the value in a product like CRM, mainly because they don’t know how to use it.
I have been called in to rescue CRM project after CRM project that failed due to limited user adoption and poor training. Most salespeople end up viewing CRM as a tool that’s used by management to monitor them, rather than a tool that can be used to supercharge their productivity and take them to the next level.
I know salespeople feel this way about CRM because those were my own sentiments seven years ago: I’ve got a system that works for me and I’m doing fine, why should I bother learning another that I don’t really understand and management keep grilling me on so they can, “see how we’re tracking.”
This perception is understandable. If a company just buys CRM and doesn’t take the time to understand all of its features beyond what’s just clearly ‘out-of-the-box’, then they’re never going to fully realise the potential Dynamics 365 has to offer.
Most out-of-the-box screens just don’t give salespeople what they need and standard screens don’t contain everything in one view; you might get a contact list that doesn’t include mobile phone numbers or job roles as standard, for example, or dashboards might provide a pipeline chart, however, they don’t give details on the top opportunities or ‘must do’ activities without clicking through further screens.
These sorts of issues drive fellow salespeople to their wit’s end and make using the product a thoroughly unpleasant experience. Using CRM becomes a chore or an afterthought rather than the secret weapon it can be.
I once was lost but now am found
Everything changed for me the moment I started using the Advanced Find feature within Dynamics 365.
For those that don’t know what Advanced Find is, it’s one of the most significant tools within Dynamics 365 that allows users to quickly search and sort data within CRM using queries that would otherwise require technical know-how from support staff.
Advanced Find easily allows users to query the system on system entities, such as accounts and contacts, as well as feed information into dashboards, charts and views. Think of it as the magnifying glass that lets you go from micro to macro at the click of a button.
Part of the beauty of Advanced Find is that it lets you configure the out-of-the-box views and dashboards so that you get the information you need to do your job more effectively. You can add columns of data and sort the list views as you require: what you see is up to you.
If I had to list my top three daily uses of Advanced Find, I would say:
- Extended view of contact details for prospects and clients: The standard Dynamics 365 list doesn’t include Job Role, Mobile telephone Number and a range of other specific fields that I want to see all at once. Using Advanced Find, I can easily identify these fields, add them to the current view, change the order in which they are presented and the sort order for the contacts.
- View at a glance my High Priority Activities: Using the same approach as above, I defined a view of my High Priority Activities so that I can quickly view the calls and tasks I need to prioritise so that I can make sure I’m meeting my targets.
- Pipeline dashboards: By combining the above two views into a dashboard that also contains my pipeline chart, I have a single screen view that can allow me to focus on the important opportunities and activities. Everything I need to know about my leads and prospects is at my fingertips.
Technology can either make or break you, it all depends on how you learn it and end up using it. Dynamics 365 is a fantastic tool that can be used for a whole host of different functions across nearly all business departments – if I were to run you through every single one you’d be reading this for days. If you take the time early on to figure out everything that the product can do and start using invaluably helpful tools, like Advanced Find, you’ll quickly find yourself in a winning position. Rather than fear the software I’ve been given, I’ve come to love it and when senior management now asks to see a report on, “how we’re tracking,” I have my dashboards all set to my liking and on default and simply share the view with whoever needs to know.
Words by Stephen Manley
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