Make no mistake, Salesforce is a powerful tool, and there is a reason so many people are using it. But for all its strengths, it still leaves many companies baffled or irritated at how challenging it can be to use.

Nowhere is this user unfriendliness more apparent than with Salesforce’s reporting tools. What could be one of the most powerful and versatile features of the product ends up being one of the most obtuse. Since your sales organization could be using this reporting information to act decisively and develop more productive strategies, these problems with Salesforce reporting end up holding you back.

To understand more about just how limiting Salesforce’s reporting functions can be, and how they may be hurting your performance numbers, consider the platform’s five biggest shortcomings below

Frustrating Complexity

Reports on Salesforce must be generated upon request using cumbersome tools and a dated graphical user interface (GUI). Put simply: it’s really tough to get Salesforce to do what you want it to do. Finding the actions you need to generate reports can require trial and error, and even when successful, each report only tells you a small slice of the story you want to hear.

Ideally, reports would be intuitive to generate, updated automatically and easy to modify or drill down into. To find these features, companies must increasingly look to third-party Salesforce reporting tools rather than within the platform itself. Some examples are: Microsoft BI, Zoom Data, and VisualCue.

Poor Visualizations = Lack of Visibility

Visualizations have a way of making complex patterns, trends or performance indicators crystal clear. When we can see what we want to know in an intuitive graphic rather than a spreadsheet cell, we can act much more decisively on that information.

Unfortunately, Salesforce reports are not only hard to generate and limited in what they cover but they are also hard to read. Salesforce performance visualization tools can bridge these gaps with easy-to-read dashboards, displays and reports that can tell you the full story at a glance.

Reactive Not Proactive

Because of the on-request nature of Salesforce reporting tools, someone must be actively researching a trend to learn about it. So if, for instance, you have a sneaking suspicion that sales dip towards the beginning of every month, you must go in and explore the sales data from a certain angle to evaluate this hypothesis. That’s a lot of legwork, not to mention the fact that you may not have the time or energy to explore every hunch.

A better solution is to rely on tools that make trends obvious immediately, allowing you to proactively develop strategies to handle them rather than react to them after-the-fact. So, if you have a poor seller or a poor selling period on a consistent basis, you can identify these trends as they emerge rather than weeks later.

Low Adoption Rates

Since no one sees what happens to the data they put into Salesforce, lower-level employees are notorious about skipping out on the data entry component of their job. By being able to see results in the form of visualizations and trends, they may be more motivated to put in that data and see what changes result.

The Salesforce Reporting Tools Are Not Enough on Their Own

The evidence is clear: nearly every major company out there that uses Salesforce invests in outside reporting and visualization tools to boost its abilities. They track performance and identify trends early, helping them manage their staff more effectively and maintain numbers on a proactive basis.

Smaller companies that do not use these tools are putting themselves at a distinct competitive disadvantage. Only by educating themselves about which Salesforce add-on is a good fit for them can they clear the hurdles Salesforce reports put up and get on a path towards smarter and more effective selling.