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Automatic Lead Data Import API from Lead Portals (i.e. Franchise.com, etc.) RRS feed

  • Question

  • Ok, first a disclaimer: I am a NOOB!

    Now that we have THAT out of the way, I need to know how to set up a way for our lead portals (like Franchise.com, FranchiseGator.com, etc.) to forward any potential leads directly into CRM.  We are brand new to Dynamics CRM.  Currently, these resources are sending the data to our eMaximation account via emails, which are then parsed.  We want to eliminate that process and have the data come into our CRM directly. 

    In some of my discussions with our lead portals, they are doing similar things with SalesForce via an API, which is set up as simply a url with certain keys and parameters to connect with SalesForce.  I'm assuming there is something similar available for CRM.

    Can anyone shed any light on this for me?  We are a MS Dynamics CRM 2013 Online subscriber.

    Thanks!

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014 5:46 PM

Answers

  • Ok, so first off, you don't want to add the "send email" step from a web form to CRM.  You're wasting a step.  The web form itself should send the data directly to CRM as a Lead.  You have structured data on the form (e.g. First Name, Last Name, Email), and the same in CRM.  No reason to munge that up in an email and then force yourself to write a parser just to get it back out of the email.  CRM has web services that can be posted to from the web form itself (note: this is what you're looking for that is similar to Salesforce's URL, keys and parameters).

    You will need Visual Studio (which fortunately comes in a free version that will work with CRM), and the Dynamics CRM SDK: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=40321

    That SDK has a help file with a whole lot of explanation of what you will need to write, and a lot of example code.  I think there's even a Lead form submission you could use with a minimum of changes. 

    So when you add this logic to a web form, that's not a plugin, that's going to be an external site calling the CRM Web Service and asking it to accept the data you're sending and make a new record.  No plugin needed on the CRM side for that.

    In CRM parlance, plugins are used when data is already in CRM and you need to manipulate it.  That generally happens when you call a Create or Update of a record.  Those do exactly as they say, one fires off when you Create a record, the other when you Update an existing record.  If you did need to parse an email in CRM from a third party, you would need to use a plugin that fired on Create of an Email entity, and then used some method to parse the email to push the data to a Lead.

    Be very careful when doing all this.  It's very easy just to go off half-cocked and add stuff to CRM that either doesn't fully do the job or gets abandoned because it isn't what the business truly needed.  Just make sure you document the whole design of what you want to build before building anything and walk it through with the business.  Not only should this help with any purchase approvals you might need, but it also will validate what gets created in the system. (it will also help you be honest with yourself when making the software do what you want it to do)


    The postings on this site are solely my own and do not represent or constitute Hitachi Solutions' positions, views, strategies or opinions.

    • Marked as answer by scottyhuff Friday, May 30, 2014 3:11 PM
    Friday, May 30, 2014 3:02 PM

All replies

  • Seriously?  Nobody has any thoughts on this?
    Wednesday, May 28, 2014 9:55 PM
  • Hi,

    You can consume the Dynamics CRM SOAP api to push data to CRM from any external portal using .NET C# code. Have a look here : http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-in/library/gg309282.aspx

    You might also want to download the CRM 2013 SDK and you'd find a lot of sample codes which might help you. You can download the SDK from here : http://www.microsoft.com/en-in/download/details.aspx?id=40321


    Admin QuikView Solution for CRM 2013

    Thursday, May 29, 2014 5:08 AM
  • Thanks Dynamotion,

    Once again, I'm a real noob with this stuff.  I don't program in C#, nor do I have Visual Studio. I may be able to get that purchase approved, but that will take some time.  

    Are there any other resources you can point me to in order to get further, more detailed instructions, tutorials, etc., on how to do this?

    Thanks in advance.

    Thursday, May 29, 2014 3:57 PM
  • you could look at some of the integrate Franchise management solutions for CRM, like FRM and CRM for Franchise Management. Those generally already have integration points for sites like Franchise.com set up, along with the entity structure used for franchising systems.

    That may be overkill if you're just looking for lead generation, however.  In that case, you're definitely looking at the development option mentioned by Dynamotion. There's really no shortcut to it, but fortunately development for CRM is relatively simple, especially when it comes to lead consumption from other sites.


    The postings on this site are solely my own and do not represent or constitute Hitachi Solutions' positions, views, strategies or opinions.

    Thursday, May 29, 2014 4:08 PM
  • Thanks Wayne,

    Ya, I'm not afraid to tackle that stuff.  But I'm a bit out of my league on how to implement all of this.  My programming expertise is limited to MS Access Database applications with relatively extensive VBA, but VBA none the less. :-)  So when I think, "How do I create a solution... with C# that I'm not familiar with... when I don't have Visual Studio... nor any clue how to get these lead portals to push data to me..." I get a bit overwhelmed.  Am I creating a plugin?  If so, how does franchise.com interact with it? 

    I do appreciate your time and insight.  I guess I'll just keep digging.


    • Edited by scottyhuff Thursday, May 29, 2014 8:03 PM
    Thursday, May 29, 2014 8:03 PM
  • Well,  how about this,

    Another option would be to receive leads in email form, parse the data, THEN dump it into CRM.  I've found a plugin that will do this, but it requires user input.  I need an option that will run automatically. The prospect fills out and submits a form on the lead portal site and the data ends up in CRM. We're currently using that process with a outside service (eMaximation) but we want to replace them with CRM.  Currently, the data from the lead portals is coming in via email and is being parsed.  I'm cool with that, as long as it can be done without one of my users having to import that data or even start the process manually.

    Thoughts? 

    Thursday, May 29, 2014 8:50 PM
  • Ok, so first off, you don't want to add the "send email" step from a web form to CRM.  You're wasting a step.  The web form itself should send the data directly to CRM as a Lead.  You have structured data on the form (e.g. First Name, Last Name, Email), and the same in CRM.  No reason to munge that up in an email and then force yourself to write a parser just to get it back out of the email.  CRM has web services that can be posted to from the web form itself (note: this is what you're looking for that is similar to Salesforce's URL, keys and parameters).

    You will need Visual Studio (which fortunately comes in a free version that will work with CRM), and the Dynamics CRM SDK: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=40321

    That SDK has a help file with a whole lot of explanation of what you will need to write, and a lot of example code.  I think there's even a Lead form submission you could use with a minimum of changes. 

    So when you add this logic to a web form, that's not a plugin, that's going to be an external site calling the CRM Web Service and asking it to accept the data you're sending and make a new record.  No plugin needed on the CRM side for that.

    In CRM parlance, plugins are used when data is already in CRM and you need to manipulate it.  That generally happens when you call a Create or Update of a record.  Those do exactly as they say, one fires off when you Create a record, the other when you Update an existing record.  If you did need to parse an email in CRM from a third party, you would need to use a plugin that fired on Create of an Email entity, and then used some method to parse the email to push the data to a Lead.

    Be very careful when doing all this.  It's very easy just to go off half-cocked and add stuff to CRM that either doesn't fully do the job or gets abandoned because it isn't what the business truly needed.  Just make sure you document the whole design of what you want to build before building anything and walk it through with the business.  Not only should this help with any purchase approvals you might need, but it also will validate what gets created in the system. (it will also help you be honest with yourself when making the software do what you want it to do)


    The postings on this site are solely my own and do not represent or constitute Hitachi Solutions' positions, views, strategies or opinions.

    • Marked as answer by scottyhuff Friday, May 30, 2014 3:11 PM
    Friday, May 30, 2014 3:02 PM
  • Also, if you are going to do this all yourself, I very strongly suggest taking the Extending CRM online classes or in-person classes to make sure you understand how to write code with CRM. It will also help you get a better grounding in C# as well.

    Also, get a book reference like Dynamics CRM Unleashed: http://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Dynamics-CRM-2013-Unleashed/dp/0672337037


    The postings on this site are solely my own and do not represent or constitute Hitachi Solutions' positions, views, strategies or opinions.

    Friday, May 30, 2014 3:07 PM
  • This really helps, Wayne.  I know Dynamotion was alluding to this too, but now it's sinking in.  Guess I was trying to find a quick fix!  One of my concerns is the cooperation of the different lead portal sites we use.  Franchise.com, for example, is very willing to implement this custom code to their site, but others that we get a lot of leads from will ONLY do the email thing.  So, I've got to sort that out before I do anything.  I mentioned the email parsing solution for that reason; currently all our lead portals are sending us the data in an email.

    Great news about the free version of visual studio.  I have VS 2012 Express but it wouldn't accept the CRM stuff.  I'll check the link you gave me.

    Thanks buddy.  I'll mark this as answered.  If I have any further questions, I'll track you down. ;-)

    Friday, May 30, 2014 3:11 PM
  • Oh, I see.  I can use VS Express, but I can't install the Developer Toolkit... hmmm....

    But which version VS for Web (i'm assuming this one), for Windows, for Desktop?  Sheesh!

    • Edited by scottyhuff Friday, May 30, 2014 3:38 PM
    Friday, May 30, 2014 3:19 PM
  • glad that helped.  Yes, each site will have to have their own lead input code, or email parser.  That is why I was suggesting grabbing an existing franchise solution on CRM that already has them implemented.  Email parsing is incredibly unreliable.  If the lead companies change their format they send the email to you in any way, they could completely break your parsing code, meaning you have to be very hands-on all the time. [EDIT] It also means you need very robust error handling, including some kind of email alert telling whomever is responsible for CRM that an email lead has failed.

    If you all need things to be automated, I would see how hard the business is willing to put their foot down about only buying leads from places that are willing to work through an API. It's a whole lot more robust.


    The postings on this site are solely my own and do not represent or constitute Hitachi Solutions' positions, views, strategies or opinions.


    • Edited by Wayne Walton Friday, May 30, 2014 3:23 PM more info
    Friday, May 30, 2014 3:22 PM