Getting the Best Results From Your CRM Reports
Growing a company isn’t just a matter of making a great product or hiring the right people to market and sell it. You also need to know how the business itself is performing, where the challenges are, and what can be improved. That’s why customer relationship management (CRM) solutions have become essential tools, as they allow businesses to use modern technology to collect, store, and use essential data.
CRMs do this in many ways, but one of the important of these is the generation of reports. These reports can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of the sales process, but they can also do much, much more. Anything the CRM tracks — every scrap of customer, sales, marketing, and other data — can be used to generate a useful report.
Your CRM collects a huge amount of information every day. This massive storehouse of data can be used to reveal a wide range of trends, from the performance of your sales teams to the engagement of your customers. Generating these reports is a key feature of modern CRM solutions, with most systems having a robust set of reporting options built-in by default.
Unfortunately, many companies only use their CRMs for very basic reporting. They don’t realize that this wealth of information can provide powerful insights into the efficiency of their operation, enhance their ability to recognize new opportunities, and even act as a compass toward greater revenues. One of the reasons for this hesitancy to use CRM reporting to its full potential is that many people — even managers and executives — often see reports as the result of some arcane database process that only a true sorcerer of technology can understand.
That’s not the case. The vast majority of reports involve little more than simple arithmetic applied to a handful of data sets within the CRM. The quantity of numbers may be vast — the revenue from every purchase made by every customer over the last year — but the mathematical operations themselves could be done by an average middle schooler. The CRM simply does these calculations very quickly and precisely, and it may also include some tools to make the results easier to understand, like charts and graphs.
Before we delve into the reports your company should be running, it’s important to understand a key distinction between the two major types of reports your CRM can generate: Stock reports and custom reports.
This is the suite of default reporting options that are included as part of the CRM software. These tend to be simple and straightforward, such as “All Open Opportunities” or “Total Sales By Quarter By User,” making them perfectly suitable for tracking basic KPIs and broad trends. It’s common for companies to use the stock versions of sales reports, customer reports, and campaign reports that come with their CRM. They often select options from a built-in menu.
One of the problems with stock reports is that many companies rely on their results for making big decisions. Yet, they come without ever closely examining the methodology used to generate them. These stock reports also have some serious limitations, as they aren’t capable of capturing nuances that are specific to the unique elements of the business. This can result in major blind spots in reporting. One of the easiest ways to address these shortcomings is by adapting a stock report to include additional data. This creates a custom report.
Many custom reports begin as a revision of an existing stock report. They add variables and fields to create a more focused view of a particular topic. Borrowing from our previous example, this might be “Total Sales By Quarter By User By Sales Team.”
It allows for an even more precise picture of sales performance. A carefully-crafted custom report can provide a greater context to trends observed in default reports. It can even create entirely new kinds of reports. They can correlate and connect any number of data sets from within the CRM.
Custom reports are also easy to make, and that comes with its own risks. While custom reports can be powerful tools. Yet, poorly-designed reports are misleading. It’s entirely possible to create a custom report that’s completely useless, or even nonsensical.
Custom reports should always be:
- Precisely planned out
- Carefully checked for errors
- Heavily tested for reliability before their results are trusted for major decisions
The accuracy of these reports also depends on the quality of the data. That said, the more experience your company has with a wide range of reports, the more options you have for extracting valuable insights from the data your CRM already collects. A surprising number of companies play it far too safe. They only rely on a handful of stock and custom reports to inform their strategies and decisions. Those companies are missing out on countless possibilities to improve their operations, efficiency, and revenue.
So, what are the reports that most companies are missing out on? Here are some common stock and custom report categories — any modern CRM can generate them — that every business should become familiar with.
Most CRMs include several default reports for tracking progress on sales goals and won deals. It’s possible to create custom reports to monitor progress toward any goal that the CRM itself collects data about.
There’s more to sales conversions than simply tracking the number of leads who become customers. What stage in the sales pipeline do most leads convert? Where do those sales most often fail to convert? What common reasons do leads give that are owned by a particular sales rep? At what stage? With the right reports, you can follow this sale rabbit hole all the way down.
The more you understand about your sales pipeline, the easier it becomes to make predictions about future sales trends. These reports allow you to generate highly specific sales forecasts by type. Additionally, you can establish accurate forecasts from things like individual social media channels.
Every C-suite decision maker dreams of having full visibility into their sales funnel. They want the capabilities to readily identify any blockages that keep potential customers stuck. A well-implemented CRM already has all of that data, allowing for the creation of a wide variety of pipeline reports.
One of the most powerful uses of CRM reporting is to track the activity of an individual customer over the course of the entire sales cycle. For companies with multi-year sales cycles and a small set of high-value clients — heavy equipment manufacturers, for example — these reports can offer an unmatched level of insight.
Do you know exactly where your money is coming from? Can you easily pull of up a list of customers with the highest lifetime value (CLV)? How do you compare their projected spending for the year against their actual purchases? Can you determine how profitable your newest customers are, and compare that cohort to your most established customers? The CRM holds the answers, you just need to use them.
In creating these reports for your business, it’s essential to get the details right. Why take on the stress and risk of creating these CRM reports from scratch, when expert help is just an email or phone call away? At FayeBSG, we work with our clients to help them with implementation and guide them through understanding how to best use their CRM. That includes creating highly targeted reports that deliver the real and accurate insights your business needs. Contact us today for a no-risk consultation.
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