Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Basics for Sales Professionals: Working with Activity Records, part 1

Are you a Sales professional using Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015? If so, you should definitely be using Activity records to document and schedule your customer interactions, as well as collaborate and communicate with members of your internal staff.

As a heavy CRM user, I can attest to the fact that organizing my day and to-do list with the help of activity records is a must. I typically juggle scores of leads and dozens of opportunities. Trying to keep track of all the moving pieces necessary to manage these relationships would be impossible without taking advantage of Dynamics CRM Activity records.

The term Activities covers a lot of ground. Think of Activities as all the things we salespeople do in connection with closing business, e.g., note taking, emails, calls, scheduling and following up on meetings, as well as assigning tasks for yourself and other staff members. The menu below provides a list of common Activity records from Microsoft Dynamics CRM (FYI: Click images to enlarge).


For the sake of keeping things simple, let’s just deal with 3 common sales Activity types:

  • Phone calls
  • Appointments
  • Tasks

We’ll look at Activities in 2 different contexts: within an individual Lead record and from within a System View. From within the Lead record we’ll only see Activities regarding our Lead (in this scenario – Cat Francis). From the System View we’ll see the entire list of Activities we need to perform, not just relevant to Cat. The System View version is geared toward reviewing a longer list of to-dos or action items.

Here’s an example of how to use Activities in a simple sales process. In this example, Sales Representative Veronica Quek places an outgoing phone call to Cat Francis to gauge her level of interest and schedule a meeting with Cat’s team. Cat is definitely interested so Veronica documents that in the call record.

After populating the call record, Veronica clicks OK.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Closed Call Record

This call record is now available to Veronica or anyone else on her staff that has an interest in seeing this lead through to an opportunity or sale. Notice the call record is now time stamped “Today”. With the time stamp, it’s easy to see how long ago this Activity occurred for the purposes of follow-up or reporting.

Next, Veronica is going to set a reminder to call Cat on 02/24/2015 and schedule the meeting.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Follow Up Task

After clicking OK, this Activity record will show up in multiple places. It will appear in Cat’s Lead record, but also in Veronica’s list of open Activities with a due date of 02/24/2015. Check it out.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Activities in System View

You’ll notice that this view is quite different than that individual Lead record. This way of looking at CRM data is known as a System View. An Activities System View resembles a grid with individual Activities listed in each row. Look closely at the rows and you’ll see the important data from Cat’s Lead record organized into various columns. Data in the columns reflect critical aspects of the Activity, i.e., the subject of the call, who it’s regarding, prioritization of the Activity, along with the start date and due date.

Moving forward through this scenario, Veronica calls Cat on 02/24/2015 and schedules the team meeting. Once again, all of this is captured and tracked inside of Cat’s Lead record.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Appointment

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Appointment Set

Now Veronica enters the date, time and location of the meeting. She clicks save and the appointment has been captured in the Lead Record.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Appointment Display in Lead

Notice that 2 of the Activity records are now shaded and one is not. As Veronica marks Activities “complete” they become shaded. This provides a very easy way for Veronica to quickly see which of her CRM Activities have been completed and which have not. Now let’s go back to our Activity System View to see if it corresponds to what is in the actual Lead record.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Activities in System View with Status

The 3 Activities associated with Cat are listed. Two show as completed with the appointment showing up as scheduled. Again, the System View version is more useful when we want a more macro level view of all the Activities we need to perform to accomplish our sales-related activities.

In a future blog we’ll examine how you use CRM Activities to initiate and schedule tasks for other CRM users, as well as send and track emails. The icing on the cake is how this all works once we’ve integrated Dynamics CRM with Microsoft Outlook. Until then, happy selling!

By Mark Abes/Vice President Sales & Marketing of xRM3, a Microsoft Partner specializing in Dynamics CRM consulting, implementation, integration, and administrative services. Based in San Diego County Southern California.