New blog series: CRM basics for beginners – Part 2

New blog series 2: How do I navigate around CRM?


In part 1 of the series we demonstrated how to obtain a 30 day trial of CRM for free! This is available here: New blog series part 1


In part 2 for you beginners we will explain the simple methods on how to navigate around Dynamics CRM.


Main Areas in the navigation bar 

Navigation area

The above screenshot displays multiple coloured tiles and these are the different areas you can navigate to within CRM. When you click on one a subset of options known as entities will appear below and as seen in the screenshot, I clicked on Sales and I can choose to look at Accounts, contacts, quotes, orders, leads etc. You will see many of the same options if you click on the Service or Marketing areas too. If I click on one of them such as the accounts entity which is below the little ‘Customers’ header you can see the outcome in the next point below.

List views of records 

List view of records

So you went to the Sales area and clicked on accounts and now you have a list of records as seen above…or maybe you don’t. If you don’t then it’s because you have not yet created any records or switched on sample data (Instructions below for switching on sample data). The list displays different companies you or other CRM users have created. Each row displays a little info about the customer. If you click the hyperlinked Blue name of the record it will open and display the information similar to what you would see on a business card.

Ignore this if you have data in your CRM (To switch on sample data try the following: Drop down the sales menus and select settings over on the far right of your different areas > Go to ‘Data Management > Select Sample Data > Install sample data – Mini screenshot below.

Sample data

Open account record with detailed information 

Open record

So you clicked on the hyperlinked Blue name of the record and you see the information laid out as above. You will see the following:

  • A logo at the top left if you added one
  • The company name next to the logo
  • Down the left hand side is typical summery information such as name, phone number and email address etc.
  • The middle section is the social pane displaying activity and post information. It could be notes you have made, phone calls you have done or tracked emails you have sent or received.
  • The right hand side will have sub grids which simply hold related information to that record. You may see a sub-grid of contacts who work at that company or opportunities you have to sell to that company.

Find a record – Global search and wildcard

The top right hand corner has a magnifying glass symbol. There are other ways of finding records but this global search method is the easiest. Click the magnifying glass and if you had a record such as Alan Smith and you entered Smith it will search across all entities for the word Smith. However, if you want to find something with the word Smith contained in it you would use a wild card search *Smith*. If you know the name smith has some additional letters on the end of it you could use Smith* or if you know you want to find anyone or anything beginning with the letters ‘St’ you would search for St*. 

Action buttons and the ellipsis 

action buttons

The action buttons are seen along the very light Grey bar just below the area buttons in the thick Black bar. They include things such as:

  • New – To create a new record depending on the area you are in
  • Deactivate – A record can be in an active or inactive state
  • Assign – This assigns a record to other users at your company setup in CRM
  • The ellipsis button is the three vertical dots you see at the end of the action bar which gives you a whole host of other options that Microsoft could not fit on the screen.

The breadcrumb trail to know where you are


What you may have noticed in all of these screenshots is that the Black bar which is always at the top of the screen shows a breadcrumb trail of where you are in the system. This ensure you always know if you are looking at a list of particular records for example a list of accounts or if you are in the settings area or if you are looking at a record such as Barratt Development as seen above.

  • The first screenshot in this post tells me I am looking at a list of account records
  • The second screenshot does not show the areas bar as I cropped it out 
  • The third screenshot tells me I am in the settings area in the data management section
  • The fourth screenshot shows that I am in the Sales area > Accounts > looking at the Barratt Development record

You can move back and forward from here for example if you are looking at the Barratt Development record, you can click on ACCOUNTS and it will take you back to the list of accounts.

The difference between an account and a contact record 

Under the Sales area or the service area you can select Accounts or Contacts and they bring up similar screens, so what is the difference? An account is usually a company or customer you do business with. A contact is a person at the business.

Example where account, contact and opportunity can all be created from under the sales area:

  • Account = Virgin Airways
  • Contact = Richard Branson
  • Opportunity = Richard Branson would like us to build him a new plane model worth £x

The difference between a user and a contact 

Very simple: A contact is a record about someone external to your business. A user is typically a member of staff at your company setup to use CRM like you.

Methods to create a new record and find a recently viewed record

Plus screen

Creating a new record can be done from a couple of places. Two key places are:

Click on the Sales area or the Service area then select something such as contacts. Now as shown a couple of steps ago in the light grey action bar you can click the new button. Alternatively from anywhere in the system you could just click on the large + icon at the top right of the screen in the Black bar as seen in the above screenshot.

Quick handy Tip: If you want to find a record you have recently viewed or changed just click on the little clock symbol to the left of the + button.

In this tutorial you have seen how to navigate around CRM, find records, create records, use the areas and use the action buttons. The next tutorial will explain more about entities, advanced finds, views and creating your own view.