Dynamics 365 Sales: Leads


This is our first post on Dynamics 365 Sales so we thought we’d start at the ground and work our way up. Dynamics 365 Sales is Mircrosoft’s principal CRM platform. In today’s post, I want to run through leads and demonstrate their functionality. When we are referring to leads, we are focusing in on the initial stage of enquiry in a standard business process flow.

What is a lead?

Before diving into how they work, let’s clarify what’s meant by the term ‘lead’. Leads are initial enquiries into a company, what they do and their products. A lead can be simple as exchanging business cards at a conference or receiving word of someone needing the services you provide along with a means of contacting them. A lead isn’t concerned specifically with prices, discounts or quantities; when the lead develops, you can qualify the lead to acknowledge its progress into an opportunity.

Leads on Dynamics 365 Sales

Now we’ve established what leads are, let’s navigate to the relevant pages and see how you can make them.

Navigating to the Leads page and defaulting system views

On the menu bar on the left-hand side, navigate down to the ‘Sales’ section and click ‘Leads’. Here you will be greeted by a list view of all the records you own.

As you can see in the image below, it’s defaulted to ‘My Open Leads’. If we click into that, we can select an alternate view. If you change the view and would like to keep this different view as the default, click ‘set current view as my default’. This means every time you come to this page, this view will be what appears. This can be configured on an individual level basis, or for an entire organisation. It’s worth noting that the system sets the defaults on each page to be ‘my’ records, as opposed to ‘all’.

How to create leads

There are a few ways to make leads in Dynamics 365 Sales:

  • Manually enter the data
  • Import the record details from an Excel spreadsheet
  • Scan business cards

Creating a lead record manually

To start making a lead, click ‘new’ in the header. On the card, as standard there are two mandatory fields: ‘Topic’ and ‘Last Name’. Without these two, the record can’t be saved or moved on from, without discarding any changes you have made. Having only two mandatory fields plays into the idea that this is an initial stage. You may not know a lot about the individual at this stage. Equally, where you do, it’s worth inputting the information now as this will pass over to the opportunity record if or when that’s created, saving you from entering it later.

Quick Create

In situations where you want to manually input lead data into the system, either use the ‘+’ icon on the header of any page and click Lead to use the Quick Create functionality. This narrows down the list of available fields, simply so you can get the record created quicker.

Importing record data from Excel

Leads can be imported into the system using Excel in a CSV or XML format. On the ribbon, on the right-hand side there’s a ‘Import from Excel’ button with an arrow icon next to it which is where you can select the format. When you do this, you have to be very careful in matching the data to the relevant fields. We will be taking the field headings from the system, meaning there’s no risk of them being inaccurate, unless they are manually altered.

Pre-defined entity templates

One way to generate an Excel template to import records with, is by clicking the settings cog in the top right-hand side corner, then ‘Advanced settings’. From there, click the dropdown arrow by Settings (in the header), ‘Data Management’ and ‘Templates for Data Import’. Here you can select ‘lead’ as the record template and then click download.

Click ‘Download’ and a file should appear. Once clicked into, a blank canvas for the lead template is generated. Make sure you enter the mandatory fields for each record you wish to import. Remember for leads, these are ‘Topic’ and ‘Last Name’.

Exporting fields directly from the Leads page

The second way is quicker and may be more appropriate when you’re in a rush, perhaps at an event when you need a template quickly. Go to the leads list view, click the dropdown arrow by ‘Export to Excel’ and choose the format to export the template in. For this example, I am using a Static Worksheet.

This will create an Excel Worksheet with the list of records. The existing records at this stage aren’t important. You can either delete the records in the Excel sheet or add new ones beneath them, it’s not important either way as removing them here won’t remove them from your system.

After you have done either of these, go back to the leads list and ‘Import from Excel’. Select your file and click ‘Next’. You can choose whether to allow duplicates or not. You can also click ‘Review Mapping’ to make sure your fields match the ones in the system, something which is useful if you make the template yourself! Finally, click ‘Finish Import’. Afterwards, you can click ‘Track Progress’ to make sure the import was successful. Alternatively, click ‘done’. After refreshing the page, you should have a new Lead attached to your user.

Business card scan

To scan a business card, you must be on a Quick Create page. To reach that, either on a record or the Sales Hub, click the ‘+’ icon in the top right-hand corner. Here you can click the entity you wish to create. Click the ‘Scan Business Card’ button at the top. If you’re using the app on a mobile or scanning device, this should open the camera. Align the lens with the card details and take a picture. After you accept the image taken, the system will take a few seconds scanning it. it will then input the details it finds and you can click ‘Save and Close’.

Can scan business cards, pulling key information from it

Outlook integration

The Outlook integration allows for communications via email to logged against the Timeline. The system won’t track every communication you make with the lead contact, it is configurable and you can decide on the subject whether to track it.

Other plugins can be used to add further functionality to the page. For example, this includes adding Bing Maps.


The timeline gives a chronological order of events related to the lead. It keeps a record of the date and time, which is very useful. For every Note, Post or Activity made, a line will be added to the timeline.


The timeline section in the middle of the page is essential for monitoring the interactions between you and them. By clicking ‘Related’, ‘Activities’ and ‘New Activity’, you can add a type of activity. These include:

  • Appointment
  • Email
  • Phone Call
  • Task

Note, where a record is read-only, for example where it has already been qualified, the option to ‘+ New Activity’ won’t be present’. Another way to add activities is to click the plus icon on the Timeline section, and one of the types of activity that show. Strangely, where a record is read only, activities can be still be added here.

When you select the relevant activity, a Quick Create pop-out will appear on the right-hand side. Like with the lead itself, there are mandatory fields here. After you have finished, click ‘Save and Close’.


The Assistant is a useful tool for reminding you which activities to complete. It isn’t exclusive to leads, but for leads it’ll focus on situations where communications are slow, or perhaps an upcoming activity is due soon. The Assistant requires a Dynamics 365 Sales Premium or Dynamics 365 Sales Enterprise license.


Stakeholders are individuals who are key to the progression of the Lead. When you first create the Lead, this will be blank. However, when you qualify the lead, the Contact will become a stakeholder.


Recording competitors can be useful tool down the line when it comes to reporting won or lost leads and opportunities. Noting whether there are common themes between who you routinely lose leads and opportunities to can be an important metric to track. Here, you can add or Quick Create competitors and associate them to the Lead.

Disqualifying a Lead

If it becomes apparent that the Lead isn’t going to progress further, a lead can be disqualified. To do this, click ‘Disqualify’ in the ribbon. When you click this, it won’t delete the record, but it will make it read-only – it’s essentially archived. You can reactivate the lead using a button in the header, in situations where the lead becomes live again. Perhaps the lead contact called to say they would go elsewhere to find the product or services but later determined you are the best option.

Qualifying a Lead

To progress a Lead to an Opportunity, click ‘Qualify’. When you do this, three things will happen:

  • The system checks whether an account/contact exists in the system matching the details you entered. Leads can additionally be made at an Account or Contact level, negating this
  • If the records don’t exist, system will make the contact and account and link them together
    • On left-hand side, go to ‘Customers’ section and then ‘Contacts’ and click on the newly created contact. Here you can see the timeline which shows the creation of the record when the opportunity was made.
  • It will make an opportunity against the new records created

So, remember when I mentioned that Last Name was one of two mandatory fields, this is why it’s useful to input the first name too. The Contact record will be created if it didn’t exist before, so obviously having one with a surname only, for example ‘Smith’ could be problematic. You may end up with countless duplicate names and no clear identifier as to which is which! When you add a first name, it will update the Name field in the leads list view.

In cases where you forget whether a contact or account exists in the system and so you choose to create the lead from the Leads page, as opposed to the Contact or Account card, the system can suggest entities you may be referring to. For example, if I qualify a new lead for Derek Smith, the system recognises that there’s an existing Derek Smith in the system and asks whether you want to attach this qualified lead to them, or a new Contact with the same name.

Closing remarks

Thanks for taking the time to read this! Hopefully introducing Dynamics Sales content is something our readers will benefit from. The Business Central content will still be regularly posted; we are aiming to continue having one post out every Friday.

If you have any questions, we’d love to hear them. Please feel free to contact us.