My Forbidden Lover…
It’s approaching the end of another year, and now’s the time I start to sort through a bunch of stuff that has been at the bottom of my “To Do” list pretty much all year. I’ve been trying to get round to writing a series of articles about “best practice” for Microsoft Dynamics CRM pre-sales, but I think that may have been a little too ambitious. Instead I’m going to post a few “top tips” that should make life a little easier for you.
This post is focussed on demo data. When building customer demos, good quality demo data is usually a bit of an afterthought. Very often, I don’t have the luxury of spending a couple of day just making sure that the demo data is relevant to the customer I am working with, but even the smallest touches can bring a demo to life. For example, making sure that the customer’s products and services are in the product catalogue; making sure that business units, sales territories and sites are recognisable to the customer’s own business.
Another problem is how to make sure demo data doesn’t get stale and that data can be refreshed so that it is not months or even years out of data. There’s nothing worse than looking at a CRM sales or case dashboard and seeing a couple of “lonely” data points. So, how can we improve the situation?
Earlier this year I started to configure a basic Excel workbook to help me generate demo data for the entities I use most commonly (primarily leads, accounts, contacts and opportunities). Through extensive use of formulas, I was able to make sure that only qualified leads got converted into accounts and contacts, and that date fields were relative to the current day. Over time I extended the workbook to make use of accurate UK addresses (with correct postal codes), territory assignments based on those same postal codes, randomised contact names based upon lists of country specific first and last names and so on. I also included more entities such as cases, campaigns, campaign responses, appointments and phone calls. Wherever possible, I tried to make the data easy to modify, so that it could be easily tailored for specific customer demos.
Finally, with so much data, I needed an excel macro that would make it really simple to export the data into .CSV files ready to import into Microsoft Dynamics CRM. As you can see from the screenshot, I’ve ended up creating a tool that can be used to create data for 20 different CRM 2013 entities.
Now, rather than spend hours producing details instructions on how to use this tool, I put some basic “How To” information at the front of the workbook to get you started. If you have any questions, then post a comment below and I will do my best to answer.
Oh, before I forget, you can download my Excel 2013 workbook here.
*** UPDATE 31st MARCH 2014 ***
Thanks to Mark & Patrick for pointing out that default mappings for 3.zip (Leads, Accounts, Contacts) don't work. To fix this, you need to re-map the "Originating Lead" field for both the Account & Contact records, to lookup the "Topic" field of the Lead. The animated .gif below shows how this is done.
This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.
When not working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Simon can be found singing with The Chain Gang. Berkshire’s leading live Soul, Funk, Disco and Motown function band.
Hi Simon, thanks for sharing this, it looks very useful. When I download the spreadsheet however, Excel tells me it's damaged - is it me? I've tried Excel 2010 and 2013. Thanks.
Thanks Andrew, I'll check it out later and let you know.
I've just uploaded it again, this time as a .ZIP file. It seems to be OK now.
This looks like a great idea. I have been having some problems with the import of zip 3 of Accounts, Contacts, and Leads. Leads would complete but Account and Contacts won't import with a problem that the originating lead won't match the topic. I think CRM is looking for Lead Name by default.
Hi Mark. There a couple of specific mappings you need to do. I'll update the post later this week with more details.
Hi Simon, zip file is still broken. Can you please update latest file again
Hi Sumit. It just downloaded the .zip file, and opened the workbook in Excel with no issues. You are using Excel 2013, right?
Awesome tool! However, having the same trouble as Mark "I have been having some problems with the import of zip 3 of Accounts, Contacts, and Leads. Leads would complete but Account and Contacts won't import with a problem that the originating lead won't match the topic."
You mentioned some specific mappings - what are they?