Of course, you already know that tracking the relationships between your company
and your customers is the primary goal of any CRM application. However, what
about tracking the relationships between the customers in your database? The
Relationship Roles feature allows you to create and capture the relationships
between your Accounts, Contacts, and Opportunities. Let's consider an example
of how relationship roles can provide great benefits to your organization.
Assume that you're a salesperson who has just discovered a potential sale
opportunity with a fictional company named Coho Vineyard & Winery. If you
examine the Account and Contact hierarchy in your Microsoft CRM database, you
see that Coho Vineyard & Winery includes two child Accounts and two Contact
records, as shown in .
This information does help you understand the Account, but consider how much
more information about the Opportunity you would possess if your company used
the Relationship Roles feature (as shown in Figure 2-17
The dotted lines in Figure 2-17 show
the relationship roles between the Coho Vineyard & Winery account and
additional Account and Contact records in your Microsoft CRM database. Using
relationship roles would give you additional information about this
Opportunity, such as:
Giuseppe Russo (who works for Wide World Importers) is an influencer on this
Opportunity because he used to work for Coho Vineyard.
The decision maker for Coho Vineyard, Gretchen Rivas, is the sister-in-law of
Wide World Importers purchases products from Coho Vineyard & Winery
You learned about this Opportunity from the Graphic Design Institute, and their
firm supplies design services for Coho Vineyard & Winery
Heidi Steen's role is an influencer for the Coho Winery Account
Tip One great benefit of relationship roles illustrated in this example
is that you can specify a Contact's true role in the decision-making process.
Sometimes you can determine a Contact's authority based on his or her title,
but a title doesn't necessarily translate to actual decision-making authority.
You've probably worked with a company that seems to have an endless supply of
vice presidents, but you know that they do not all possess the same
As a salesperson, you could take the additional information provided by
relationship roles to craft an entirely new sales strategy for this
Opportunity! For example, you might leverage these relationships to get some
personal introductions to the true decision makers for the Coho Vineyard &
Important You can create your own custom relationship roles to track and
manage the detailed links between your Accounts, Contacts, and Opportunities.
However, you cannot create a relationship role that links to a Microsoft CRM
To configure relationship roles, browse to the Settings area and click
Relationship Roles. Microsoft CRM lists all the relationship roles configured
in your system. Figure 2-18 shows some example relationship roles and how you
can filter the view based on the type of entity relationship for each role.
To create a new relationship role, click the New button on the grid toolbar to
open the Relationship Role editor. On this page, you can enter the role name
and configure which types of entity relationships the role supports. You might
want to restrict the relationships between entities depending on the nature of
your data. For example, if you wanted to track a husband-and-wife relationship
role between two Contacts, you would not select the Account or Opportunity
entities because they don't apply to this type of relationship. Figure 2-19
shows a sample configuration that manages an attorney relationship.
Because an attorney might be a law firm (an Account) or a single practitioner
(a Contact), we selected both the Account and Contact entities in the Account
Role For row. This means that we can create an attorney relationship for an
Account and select either an Account record or a Contact record. However,
because we didn't select any entities in the Contact Role For row, we could not
specify an attorney relationship for Contact records. Likewise, we could not
specify an attorney relationship for an Opportunity, because we did not select
that entity for either Account Role For or Contact Role For.
Now that we've created the attorney relationship role, users can add this
relationship between two records in the user interface by clicking
Relationships on the Account and Contact forms and then clicking New on the
grid toolbar. A window appears that allows the user to select two different
records to create the relationship, shown in Figure 2-20.
As the figure shows, you can also specify two relationship roles for each of
the records in a single relationship. In this example, the A Bike Store Account
uses Contoso Legal as its attorney, so we set the A Bike Store role as
"Customer" and Contoso Legal's role as "Attorney." After you save this record,
users can view the relationships by clicking Relationships in the entity
You can get very creative with the setup and configuration of the business
relationships that you want to capture between your Accounts, Contacts, and
Opportunities. Microsoft CRM provides great reporting and analysis on these
relationships, because you can use relationship roles as filter criteria in
your views and advanced find searches. Also, you can automate business
processes by using the workflow module and using relationship roles as part of
your workflow rule criteria and conditions.
More Info Microsoft Dynamics CRM Small Business Edition uses a
Configuration Wizard that creates some predefined relationship roles upon
installation. However, the Professional Edition does not include any default