Your CRM is full of data. Some more valuable than others, but all of it valuable nonetheless.
Being able to mine this data and use it to provide business insights is one of the most vital benefits of a good CRM platform. If nothing else, your CRM data can tell the story of what is working, what isn’t, what parts of the business or product may need attention, and in what areas your sales team should really be stepping on the gas.
Still, many companies don’t fully understand the reporting power of their CRM and are not tapping their full potential – asking themselves common questions like:
- What types of reports should they be running?
- What is the best way to dissect the data?
- What type of report writing tool should we be using?
- Is our data accurate?
How worthwhile is your CRM information?
Your database is only as accurate as the data within it, and we often refer to this as a Garbage in, Garbage out scenario.
It is extremely important that your workforce is:
- Actually using the CRM
- Entering quality information in a consistent way
Motivating your salesforce to regularly use the CRM is a whole separate topic, but it is just as important to ensure that the data is entered into the system in a quality and consistent way. This can be accomplished by setting standards for entry fields (enter states as Ohio, and not OH or ohio) as well as performing regular audits to double check the database.
Plan Ahead to Get the Data You Want
Many prospective customers over the years have felt that the data in their legacy CRM system was not accurate and therefore of no use to them. In cases where that was true, it was because of a breakdown in data planning.
When planning for data capture, the reporting process should begin before the data is even in the system. You can do this by discussing with each department what data they will need, and how they want to report on it. Remember that it is better to have more data than you need, and not use it, than to realize you need data that was never recorded.
You want your end result to be accurate and timely reports that show your company exactly what you need to know right now. To make this possible, you must ensure that each team and/or department is collecting the data they will need and consistently entering it into the CRM system.
Reports to Consider
Reports are typically categorized into four types:
- Opportunity Reports
- Activity Reports
- Marketing Reports
- Customer Service Reports
When you begin your CRM implementation, a key initiative your company must undertake is to gather the requirements from your various departments for reports they wish to have. Once you have these key requirements from your users as to what types of reports are needed, you will be in a much better position to determine the exact information you will want to collect and process in your CRM system.
Understanding the Utility of Each Data Point
We’ve discussed the importance of accurate data, and to take that a step further, you will need to be certain the data you are asking your users to track in your CRM system serves a purpose that the users will see benefit from.
Data entry can seem menial and is often tedious in practice. Users will always be asking, what’s in it for me? What do I get out of this? So, users will be much more likely to be diligent about using a CRM system if you can show them value:
- Make sure the CRM system is easy to use
- Show users how the CRM system will save them time from other tasks
- Show users the benefits that one-click CRM reports will give them
If you can get your users to understand that with an easy to use CRM system, the days of compiling reports for the boss at the end of the month or week are now gone, you will be well on your way. Always remember, if it’s not easy to use, it won’t be used!
What should I do now with all this information?
If you’ve proven your CRMs worth and you’re now collecting the pertinent data that each department needs, what comes next? Create some reports!
A good CRM will offer a lot of flexibility for you to configure additional reports in just about any manner you can think of according to your business needs.
You will want to make sure your reports are intuitive, graphical, laid out in an easy to review manner, and have an attractive interface so you can see your needed information instantaneously. Also, you will want to make sure that whenever you execute your reports you can do so with one-click and it has up to the second information. Your CRM system should certainly exceed all of these requirements.
Many CRM systems will allow you to build dashboards specific to the information you want to see. This creates a single, efficient reporting view with the important metrics you regularly need access to.
What benefits will powerful reports give me?
Properly configured CRM reporting can give you access to nearly any data set you need, displaying metrics in a clear and engaging graphical interface. If you are capturing the correct data, you can easily report on things like:
- What are our quarterly sales projections?
- How is business looking?
- What’s in the pipeline?
- What’s the average length of our sales cycle this quarter?
- How efficiently are we taking care of customer issues? How is our performance by rep?
Not only will management have the benefits of instantaneous information, but even individual users will see these results as well.
You sales staff can run reports to tell them where their deals are at, what customers need service right now, how many leads have they processed this week, etc. By keeping their CRM information up to date, sales reps won’t need to fill out manual reports any longer at the end of the week.
Users will love this as they will no longer have the task of compiling time-consuming reports for management. Management will love it since they no longer have to wait for report information from their users. If a company provides an easy to use system that users will actually want to use, everyone will get what they want, when they want it.