Market Forecasting using Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Forecasting is an interesting area in marketing. In Microsoft Dynamics CRM data can be collected and reported on to aid with forecasting and analysis of the results of a marketing campaign. I’m considering writing an article about creating and using this data in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, but I’m having some difficulty figuring out how customers are actually using the fields provided in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Inside Microsoft Dynamics CRM we find some summary fields provided to place cost and revenue estimates. In campaigns themselves, the Campaign > Information > Financials tab provides fields in which you can enter summary numbers for Budget Allocated, Miscellaneous Costs, Estimated Revenue. While under Campaign Activities, once an activity is opened, Budget Allocated and Actual Cost are fields provided for this information. It would make sense that Campaign Responses, Target Products, Sales Literature, Target Marketing Lists, and Related Campaigns all contribute to the forecasting or analysis effort. The issue for me is where are users accumulating the detail data that goes in to these summary fields? Are we all just using Excel to manage the details and generate the summary information that can then be placed in the above fields?

It seems likely to me that the forecast and results data available within CRM for use in marketing include:

1. Support contracts (associated with support call centers). These have a history of costs and revenue associated with the contracts. If marketing plan includes contracts, you should be able to create a forecast of revenue from this data.

2. Support Cases. Contracts usually deal with cases. Reports on time spent on cases and billing activities resulting from the case, should be easy to create, track, and therefore forecasts of future efforts can be created.

3. Service activities. CRM already has a default service report titled Service Activity Volume. It seems possible that scheduling services could provide another window into revenue forecasts for marketing campaigns associated with services.

4. Sales activities. If increased sales of products is the goal of a marketing campaign, you can use the default Campaign Performance report to show all the dates, targets, definitions, responses, and financial returns from the campaign. The key indicator here is the campaign response. So a way to measure the effectiveness of campaign generated appointments, E-mails, Faxes, Letters, and Phone Calls is essential. Opportunities are designed to aid Microsoft Dynamics CRM users to create sales forecasts. These can be included in a marketing forecast. For example, the Sales Pipeline report displays anticipated sales grouped by various types from Sales Users to Sales Territory among others.

5. Campaigns. Additional default reports include Campaign Activity Status report displays a summary for one campaign and the Campaign Comparison report identifies most and least successful campaigns. However, if multiple campaigns occur at the same time, then multiple Campaign Activity Status report would have to be combined in a marketing forecast.

6. Quick Campaigns. This marketing tool can be used within a standard campaign; otherwise, some of its potential data may be lost or end up in notes attached to Accounts, Leads, or Contacts.

The key issue appears to be how users are accumulating field or report data to create a marketing forecast. If you have experience using Microsoft Dynamics CRM to create a marketing forecast, please leave a comment on this post.

James Matteson

Comments (3)

  1. Neil Benson says:

    Hi James, I’m not really clear on what you’re article is going to be about. I think you’re going to write an article about forecasting the results of a CRM marketing campaign.

    If that’s the case the only records of any use are opportunities and campaign activities. Campaign activities track the costs, while sales activities track the revenues.

    None of the other records you’ve mentioned track financial information or are directly linked to campaigns. Although we use most of them internally, I can’t see how they would relate to campaign forecasting.


  2. Jeff Allen says:

     This is a very good article and though the reports in the crm can be used as a tool for forcasting it seems as though they are limted in at making forecast for future sales projections based on all data

    There are 2 ways I whould like to see this in crm 1 forecast based on historical data and forcast with what if senarios,the 1st is good for a company that has enough historical data the 2nd would be usefull for those companies that do not have enough data and need to base sales on estimates from a short period of historical data or just plain estimates based on sales goals and what if senarios,it whould aslo be nice to have a place in crm where you can take all the information from each main entity forecast sales from the point of entry in crm example

    Leads to 1st order ratios and percentages based on the number of leads in the system at the time and the average days it took for a leads that did result in an order to get from the lead stage to the closed order by using historical data or what if data,and also apply this to other entites as well and any custome type entities such as if you use a prospect as a seperate entity from leads,by doing this and taking the data from reports and applying it to a forecast work sheet or other you can forecast sales from  the quantiy of leads prospects opportunites and accounts as a whole and the forcast will be dependent on the count or number of each entity you have in the system at the time you create a forcast and aslo adding average rev per order from each entity  avergae days to and order from that entity and then adding all entites included in the forcast work sheet to come to and estimated amount of orders and rev in a user selected point of time in the future,another item that would ne usefull is to be abble to take that gross forcasted rev and didvide it among diffrent products  so that you can messure that agianst your cost of producing each product

Skip to main content