The 5 Biggest Problems with Salesforce Reporting and How to Fix Them

Today’s Sales Managers and VPs are facing a lot of frustrations with their current CRM systems. Whether it’s missing information, lacking real insights or inaccurate, duplicated reports, there is plenty of room for improvement in modern Salesforce implementations.

Why all the difficulty? Gene Marks of Forbes writes, “the problem with your CRM system isn’t usually about your CRM system.  It’s about you. It’s the way it’s been setup.  It’s the way it’s been implemented. It’s the way it’s managed. Wake up.”

The good news about this is that if Marks is correct then there is hope: the problems with the modern CRM are user-based and that means they can be fixed with a few simple changes which we will outline below. The technology is in place, all that it requires is putting insight into best practices. We will start off with the five biggest reporting problems Salesforce users face and then provide solutions for each of them.

Missing Information

By missing information we mean specifically missing customer information, whether it be outdated or missing contact information or missing data about the status of an opportunity at the front end, when sales reps input the wrong kind of information into salesforce. With modern calling systems the likelihood of manually inputting an erroneous phone number or email is small.

The more likely scenario is that your CRM is missing data surrounding a customer’s status in the pipeline. If your pipeline is missing this information then your forecasting won’t be as accurate and you will possibly lose opportunities that could help your bottom line.

No Context

The context of your data is how it relates to other sources of information. For example, in Salesforce you can run a report about the number of closed deals this month, won or lost. However, without linking in your marketing data you wouldn’t know where those deals came from, how long they spent in marketing, or what the CAC to LTV ratio is.

This is the sort of information you need to make an informed decision about which marketing sources are giving you the best leads, and the reports you can run in Salesforce simply do not answer this question because data from your other sources simply isn’t blended and analyzed as an integrated whole.

Difficult to find information

If you have solved your missing information and data context problems there is still work to do. Even with these improvements your sales team is likely still struggling to find the information they need exactly when they need it. This on-demand data analysis and recall is an incredibly valuable tool, and is too often missed due to poor data management. Poor data management occurs when your sales representatives do not know how to extract and analyze the data they need because the system is too complicated.

This is an especially difficult pain point for sales managers because of the time wasted in trying to find information on a prospect’s history at a crucial juncture in the sales call or customer service ticket which often leads to frustrated sales teams, dissatisfied customers and wasted opportunities. By putting all the information about a customer right at your team’s fingertips they could more efficiently manage their time, be more productive and close more deals.

Insufficient Reporting

There is almost no end to the different types of reports you can generate in Salesforce. Because the tool both collects the data and generates the reports you can blend different data points (the kind that Salesforce collects) if you know how to navigate the system. The problem is that many sales reps do not know which reports they should be generating and how to generate them.

The difficulty with this insufficient reporting is that sales managers will often have dozens of reports on their desk coming in from sales reps with no idea of how they all connect together, how up-to-date they are and whether or not tracking this report is going to do anything to positively affect their monthly targets.

The solution to this is a data visualization tool that can generate the reports you need and immediately deliver them to your inbox when the data changes. The Data Visualization tool essentially takes the data that Salesforce is generating and allows you to visualize it in such a way that makes the actionable intelligence more easily understood. When you pair these visualizations with real-time alerts you get the most value out of your Salesforce data because you can see and understand what needs to be done in the moment.

Duplicate Reports

Once you know which reports you should be generating there is one last problem that many managers complain of when it comes to Salesforce reporting: these reports are half-baked, inaccurate, or duplicates. The data makes sense but cannot be correlated to improving Sales. You will likely see the same data points circulated around different reports to the point where you know one metric backwards and forwards but still aren’t seeing any improvement in your bottom line.

The Solutions

The answer to each of these problems can be found in add-ons to Salesforce that both visualize data from various sources and present it in a simple way that allows you to take action right away. You can even get started with a free version of VisualCue, a data visualization add-on focusing on eliminating the need for complicated reports.

 

Problem 1 – Missing Information

 

  • Use an auto-dialer, an email system that integrates directly with Salesforce such as Telephony or RingDNA.
  • To avoid missing status updates ensure that each of your sales representatives is trained on how to pass information to their sales manager quickly and clearly.

Problem 2 – No Context

  • Use a data blending tool like Pentaho or Hadoop to integrate all of your sources into one data visualization and analysis tool so you can visually make connections between sales and marketing or sales and customer service data.
  • Choose a sales performance platform with the ability to connect to different data sources and then visualize all of that data together in one tool. These tools include VisualCue, ClicData, and Zoomdata.

Problem 3 – Difficult to Find Information

  • Conduct a brief survey of your sales team and discover which data points they most often need when they are preparing a presentation. These are going to be the main points in your customized dashboard.
  • Invest in a sales performance platform and data visualization tool that both allows for customized dashboards and visualizes the information your sales reps need in an intuitive and understandable way. These tools include Zoho Reports, VisualCue and Microsoft Power BI.

Problem 4 – Insufficient Reporting

Track information in the following 5 reports below with a program like Necto or ClicData that delivers updates to your inbox when the data falls below a performance threshold. Performance thresholds should be specific to every organization.  While these are not the only reports you should be tracking, it is a great start to make sure that your organization is headed in the right direction.

Top 5 Performance Thresholds

 

  • Lead Response Time
  • Activity Efficiency Ratios
  • Top 10 salespeople by step
  • Open opportunities by stage and time
  • Time spent in each stage

Problem 5 – Duplicate Reports

Set up the five thresholds we listed above sent directly to your inbox. Then, use your data visualization tool to include a second list of “tangential” issues that aren’t crucial to your day to day but are valuable for understanding the bigger picture. This way you won’t have duplicate reports cluttering your inbox.

These 5 issues with Salesforce reporting certainly can be a pain for the modern sales manager or Executive, but that is no reason to think that your CRM isn’t doing its job. You simply need to reevaluate your reporting strategies and you will soon find your entire sales department operating more efficiently.


The 10 best tools for Data Visualization with Salesforce in 2017

What makes an effective data visualization?

Everyone knows that extracting reports in Salesforce takes a lot of time. This is why more and more top-performing companies are using a data visualization add-on to Salesforce and other CRMs that enables them to blend data from various sources, visualize it intuitively and apply performance thresholds and alerts so they can always be aware of important changes. In this post we’re going to look at the top 10 most popular data visualization tools for Salesforce in 2017, breaking them down by responsiveness, real-time aptitude, customization, speed, and interactivity so you can choose your tool with supreme confidence.

Data visualization enables your team to comprehend and analyze data as it is coming to them, letting them act on the data in real time. For example, looking at a spreadsheet your sales manager might not be able to see that one of your leads hasn’t been contacted in over 24 hours. However, when looking at a data visualization showing that every lead has been contacted except for one, and that one lead is colored in red and triggered an email alert, there is no chance that they can miss that opportunity (for more on the importance of lead times, check out our free eBook.)

However, not all visualizations are created equal. Researchers J. Suda and Hampton-Smith undertook an extensive analysis of modern data visualization tools and used the following words in their description of the top 5 features that an effective data visualization should have.

Responsive: the data visualization allows users a high-level view with smooth drill-downs into operational data.

Real Time: The data is refreshed automatically.

Customizable: Viewing styles, performance thresholds and filters can be changed to suit the user’s need.

Fast: A gauge of how quickly an untrained user can look at a visualization and immediately spot a pattern or see the actionable intelligence- it should leap off the screen.

Interactive: Users can not only see the data but interact with it in terms of search functionality- data is easily found and a way is provided to manipulate the source data if necessary.

We took this list of five elements and created the following chart so you can know exactly what each of these data visualization tools excels at before you purchase.

 

Criteria Poor Average Excellent
Responsive Does not allow for different levels of analysis Users can look at simply high and low levels of data Users can examine data at high and low levels smoothly
Real Time The data cannot be refreshed or is refreshed manually The data must be manually refreshed, or is automatically refreshed no more than 24 hours The data is automatically refreshed at least once an hour, preferably every second
Customizable The visualization cannot be customized: it is only seen The visualization can be customized at it’s most basic level, or customization features are locked with admins Any user can customize their data visualizations to suit their needs and glean fresh insight
Fast The visualization offers very little insight, or it must be extensively studied to find the patterns or anomalies The visualization is relatively easy to understand but uses outdated modes like graphs and charts Visualization is immediately understood regardless of training and uses intuitive, interesting visual styles
Interactive Little to no search functionality is available Search function is there but is not intuitive, finding information is not easily done Search function is present, intuitive and makes it easy to find even the most minute of data points

Now, let’s examine the 10 most popular Salesforce Add-ons for data visualization and grade them to discover which would be the best fit for your organization. There are other powerful analytics tools, such as Domo and Tableau, but aren’t necessarily focused on Salesforce data, which is why we aren’t reviewing them here.

 

Zommdata

 

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Criteria Poor Average Excellent
Responsive X
Real Time X
Customizable X
Fast X
Interactive X

 

Key Features

  • Forward facing data application lets customers interact with your data on any device.
  • Embed analytics into data-driven apps.

 

The best part about Zoomdata is, literally, the ability to zoom into the data. Whether you are looking at a map or a graph you can view all data granularly with a few clicks. zoom into the information and, with a few simple clicks, discover the actual data point behind the visualization. In this way Zoomdata’s visualizations serve to draw your attention to certain data points than anyone can then research and change.

 

Chartio

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 12.33.53 PM.png

 

Criteria Poor Average Excellent
Responsive X
Real Time X
Customizable X
Fast X
Interactive X

 

Key Features

  • Easy interface helps even basic users create their own reports.
  • End-to-end solution means that no step of the data acquisition, blending, analysis or visualization is neglected.

 

Chartio is definitely a tool for the already data savvy user. The whole point of this program is that anyone can dive into the data themselves and, with a few drop down menus and drag-and-drop functionality, they can create their own visualizations and glean insight. However, this interface is not the most intuitive and can be difficult for the novice to navigate.

 

Adaptive Discovery

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 12.34.01 PM.png

 

Criteria Poor Average Excellent
Responsive X
Real Time X
Customizable X
Fast X
Interactive X

 

Key Features

  • Intuitive pipeline visualizations.
  • Easy to consolidate data from various sources.

 

Adaptive discovery excels at the responsiveness criteria because the entire software was designed around drilling down seamlessly to discover actionable intelligence from a high-level visualization, delivering the “why” behind the visualization. However, seeing those patterns might be hard due to the sometimes confusing nature of the visualizations. Great for larger businesses that don’t need to train a lot of staff on how to use the product.

 

Answer Rocket

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 12.34.07 PM.png

 

Criteria Poor Average Excellent
Responsive X
Real Time X
Customizable X
Fast X
Interactive X

 

Key Features

  • Natural language search interface.
  • Dashboard feature provides intuitive visualizations for most important KPIs.

 

The absolute best feature in this tool is the natural language question to data visualization interface. You type a question into the search bar like “what were drug store sales by region in 2015” and AnswerRocket pops out a complete visualization as an answer to the question you can drill down into.

 

Zoho Reports

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 12.34.15 PM.png

 

Criteria Poor Average Excellent
Responsive X
Real Time X
Customizable X
Fast X
Interactive X

Key Features

  • Incredibly easy to install and blend different data sources into charts and graphs.
  • Seamless mobile app.

 

Zoho Reports is fantastically simple to use and has been widely praised for how easy it is to set up. However, once you do set up this data blending/visualization technology you will be treated to more of the same-old charts, graphs and data that is responsive and interactive but lacks the ability to answer questions regarding your most important KPIs.

 

Clic Data

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 12.34.22 PM.png

 

Criteria Poor Average Excellent
Responsive X
Real Time X
Customizable X
Fast X
Interactive X

 

Key Features

  • Drag and drop dashboard builder puts the most valuable information right at your fingertips.
  • Easy connections to social media sources, giving another valuable dimension to your data.

 

ClicData is widely known and praised for its customizable dashboard visualizations which are fantastically easy to understand largely thanks to intuitive visualization options like the “gauge”- a speed gauge style visualization that is color coded for fast insight. This visualization also scores highly in the real-time criteria thanks to the real-time alerts function that lets you know when data enters certain performance thresholds.

 

VIsualCue

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 12.34.28 PM.png

 

Criteria Poor Average Excellent
Responsive X
Real Time X
Customizable X
Fast X
Interactive X

 

Key Features

  • Customizable performance thresholds on every KPI so you are always informed.
  • Color-coded images make insights apparent to everyone in an organization.

 

VisualCue succeeds in the “fast” category because, unlike every other data visualization tool on this list, VisualCue presents their data not in graph or chart form (though that is available) they instead opt to translate KPIs into images that anyone can understand. You can also seamlessly switch between locational data on a geographic map with a calendar to get added insight. This makes the visualizations extremely intuitive. Take it for a test drive today!

InsightSquared

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 12.34.36 PM.png

 

Criteria Poor Average Excellent
Responsive X
Real Time X
Customizable X
Fast X
Interactive X

 

Key Features

  • “Demand Gen Analytics” tracks leads through the pipeline for easy sales and marketing alignment.
  • Activity and results analytics engines make it easy to discover efficiency ratios.

 

InsightSquared is an expert at following data downstream- whether it’s pipeline management, activity analytics or results analytics no tool makes it easier to determine whether your sales activities are working or not and allowing you to make adjustments accordingly. Although it provides you with deep insights the visualization aspect is lacking and still takes time to read.

Necto by Panorama

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 12.34.41 PM.png

 

Criteria Poor Average Excellent
Responsive X
Real Time X
Customizable X
Fast X
Interactive X

 

Key Features

  • KPI alerts make real-time data analysis and action easy.
  • Customizable dashboards with give you fast, meaningful insights.

 

Necto by Panorama wins in the real-time category thanks to the performance threshold alerts, much like Clicdata. It comes complete with the ability to blend all data into one system, with the added benefit of easy sharing capabilities to keep the rest of your team informed.

 

Microsoft Power BI

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 12.34.48 PM.png

 

Criteria Poor Average Excellent
Responsive X
Real Time X
Customizable X
Fast X
Interactive X

 

Key Features

  • Easy connections to all your data sources, with very intuitive designs.
  • Visualizations for every step of the pipeline makes customer lifecycle analytics easier.

 

One of the most intuitive platforms available, Power BI is a customizable, end-to-end solution for the data needs of medium to large companies. The best part about this tool is that every step in the pipeline has a visualization, allowing you to measure the important KPIs from lead generation to closing time.

Conclusion: Choose the Right Tool

Given the amount of valuable time it takes to generate a Salesforce report relying solely on the report-generating, data analysis and visualization tools in your CRM, this is not the most efficient way to gain insight from your data. The key to unlocking the value in your data is choosing the right insight tool. That decision should be based on the factors we’ve listed here and the particular needs of your organization: the size and type of data you are gathering especially. Use this eBook as a guide to match the tool to your organization and then, above all, make sure you thoroughly explore the demo environment of any tool you are considering before making a final decision. This way you can ensure that all of your data visualization and analysis needs are met.