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By missing information we mean specifically missing customer information, whether it be outdated or missing contact information or missing data about the status of an opportunity at the front end, when sales reps input the wrong kind of information into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.