Salesforce is the world’s #1 CRM for a reason- no other application puts as much data into your organization. But that isn’t to say that Salesforce is a perfect application. There is one area of the Salesforce application that is not necessarily working at peak efficiency- the reporting.

When we say reporting we mean anything from setting the parameters and running your reports to the dashboards you can create from those reports. We will show you how running these reports is rough on your staff for the following 4 reasons and, more importantly, how these inefficiencies are hurting your bottom line.

1.Difficult to Generate
And we mean extremely difficult. Do you know how many steps it takes to know which products are your top sellers? 9. And those 9 steps involve filtering data by active and inactive products, choosing date ranges, using filter logic, product families, opportunities and more. In other words, those 9 steps are the condensed version.

How about what it takes to generate a report identifying your top ten salespeople? It involves first creating a report and then creating a separate dashboard to put the report into. This involves creating custom tables and limiting maximum values. It isn’t a simple matter of totaling up opportunity amounts and filtering them to show which salespeople have sold the most.

What does this mean for your bottom line? Even though Salesforce is gathering real-time data 24/7 your staff cannot act on that information quickly because the report is too long and complicated to generate. This means that while your team is trying to figure out the reports they need to run to find the opportunities they should most be focusing on, the right moment to act has slipped through their fingers.

Reports that are difficult to analyze also means that you have to thoroughly train your team on how to run them, costing you time and money. If Salesforce had an application that cut out running reports or made the most valuable KPIs immediately apparent with minimal effort that would save you valuable resources.

2. Hard to Understand

But let’s assume that a particularly bright sales manager figured it out and is now running reports like crazy. They are producing reports on the historical trends of certain products, the average deal size for particular geographic locations and the best practices of top salespeople.

From the second you click “run report” in Salesforce do you know what you get in return? You get a spreadsheet. Sure you can make the rows and columns what you want but if you are running a report in any kind of larger organization then you are looking at an enormous spreadsheet full of numbers.

Spreadsheets, for anyone not well-versed in data science and analytics, are incredibly hard to understand. This is because when you are trying to find actionable patterns in that data you have no visualization to help you- you are forced to find correlations in numbers, which is extremely difficult for the non-data minded. As a coincidence, very little of your staff are actually trained in data analysis, making those reports that took a long time to generate useless.

3. Not Actionable

But these spreadsheets miss the mark in another key area: even if you find the time to learn how to generate a valuable report and have the data know-how to see a larger pattern in that information the spreadsheets are missing that important “drill-down” element that lets you see what you can do, right now, to change that number and actually improve performance.

Here’s an example- in a “support calls by priority report” you can see which calls are labeled as  critical, high, medium and low priority but it does not give you the information  as to why the calls got there. Sure the report tells you who the case owner is, but if you are a sales representative what are you supposed to actually do with that information? What are the customer’s concerns? What steps in the sales process have they already completed and how long did it take them?

These are questions that your sales reps need immediate answers to if they are to use their time efficiently, answering questions and making the most out of every opportunity. If Salesforce had a way to show not only which opportunities were most in need of attention but all of the customer activity associated with that opportunity on one screen, your reps would be able to answer questions and close deals more efficiently. But, even if Salesforce could compile all that data into a single report we run into old problems: reports are difficult to generate and hard to understand.

4. Incomplete

If you have gone through Salesforce training then you are familiar with what the first step in generating a report always is- finding the right question to ask. Salesforce’s videos start off by trying to train users on what sorts of question they should be asking in their reports. While asking the right question is certainly an important skill to have, immediately demanding it of an untrained workforce leads to negative side effects that hurt the bottom line. You need to train your staff to ask these questions.

For example, a sales manager wants to discover why sales in their team have slowed for the past two months. The manager is now faced with a set of questions and parameters that boggles the mind: what is the right question? Are the sales reps slacking in their performance? If so, which part of the sales process are they struggling with? Prospecting, outreach, follow up? Are certain products not selling as well as they used to, and if so, which ones? Is the issue seasonal, and have sales always slowed at this time of year?

Asking the right questions from your data is a complicated process. These complications result in missed opportunities that hurt your bottom line. If Salesforce had a way to gather every KPI on every sales rep, opportunity and customer and put that data into historical and geographic context it would be significantly less intimidating.

The Solution: Salesforce Add-ons

If you can identify with the above problems you are not alone. For each of them there is a simple and specific solution. Below you will find the problem listed above and which Salesforce add-on provides the perfect solution. Each of these tools excels at tracking sales KPIs for performance improvement. For more on exactly which KPIs you should be tracking positively impact your bottom line, check out our free eBook.

Problem 1 – Difficult to Generate

Solution –  Add-ons such as Salesloft and Qlik make it simple to generate reports for your sales team to use. This process can be done once and shared across the entire workforce, eliminating the need for the untrained to generate important documents.

Problem 2 – Hard to Understand

Solution – Platforms like VisualCue and Tableau make even the most complicated data sets intuitive and easy to understand through their use of symbols, images and colors. This is the key to turning spreadsheet reports into information your teams can use.

Problem 3 – Not Actionable

Solution –LevelEleven and Grow are marketing and sales platforms that specialize in breaking down complex sets of data into chunks of information at the operational level: just set up the system once and your reps will know exactly what to do to improve.

Problem 4 – Incomplete

VisualCue and Domo are platforms that take data from every possible source and put them into visualizations and dashboards that contain every KPI your teams need to make the smart decision in context.

These add-ons are readily available, intelligent, and are the most efficient way for your teams to get the most value out of Salesforce. You can start with a free version of VisualCue today and see how a simple and affordable Salesforce add-on can revolutionize the way your organization handles reporting.