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How much is my company selling? Are our sales reps doing enough to win more deals? Will we win more sales next month?
Do these questions sound familiar to you? Probably yes, if you are a sales manager and need timely and accurate insights into your sales performance and want to make correct projections toward future company revenue.
Your clients’ data speak louder than words and your task is to track and listen to it and make the best decisions. But adding data to your CRM software is not enough. You should be able to analyze your pipeline, track sales productivity, and identify potential opportunities for further growth. In this post, I’m going to explain how reports can help you analyze your Salesforce data and make strategic business decisions.
If you are a newbie to Salesforce, then I recommend completing the Reports & Dashboards for Lightning Experience module on Trailhead (a free Salesforce education platform). The module covers the essentials of creating basic reports and dashboards in Salesforce Lightning and provides an overview of Report Builder’s features.
Sales Cloud, a basic Salesforce product for sales teams, has pre-built reports and reporting functionality to properly adjust Salesforce reports and help you monitor your pipeline, sales team productivity, and forecast future revenue.
First, let me explain what a Salesforce report is.
Get the tried and tested tips on setting up standard system functionality and optimisation of your Salesforce solution from our professionals!
The Salesforce report is a standard object that helps you summarize data and see them in a meaningful fashion. It’s the simplest representation form of the records list (for example, Contacts, Opportunities, or Accounts) that comply with the criteria you define.
In other words, to build a report you need to perform certain actions with your records like grouping, filtering, or calculation.
Afterward, the results can be showcased in a form of a chart. For example, you need a report displaying the list of all closed opportunities with customers who purchased and use the product.
To create it, you have to follow this algorithm:
We explain how to create a basic report in Salesforce in our video:
The inbuilt Salesforce reporting tools help quickly answer basic questions about business performance in terms of sales like which product or service offerings are top-sellers? who are my highest value prospects? and many others.
Besides, you should create Salesforce reports when you need to export the data to Excel or to build dashboards.
What also should be highlighted is that all the reports you create are stored in folders. These folders can be public or private.
And each report folder defines who and when can access the reports to view, edit, or share based on user roles, permissions, ID- address, or license types.
Now, when we’ve defined the basic purpose of Salesforce reports, it’s time to say a few words about report types.
A report type serves as a pre-set template to simplify and speed up the process of building a report. Due to this, you can identify which data already exists in your CRM system to be pulled and used to create a report.
Also, the Salesforce report type determines relationships between primary objects and their related objects. For example, with the ‘Contacts & Accounts’ report type, ‘Contacts’ is the primary object, and ‘Accounts’ is the related object.
Reports showcase only those records that fulfill the criteria specified in the report type.
There are two kinds of Salesforce report types: standard and custom report types.
Standard report types, as it’s implied by the name, are available out of the box as a set of predefined conditions to accommodate the needs of most users.
This kind of report can be built directly or created out of an existing report type by adding new fields or rearranging them. There are four Salesforce report types: Tabular, Summary, Matrix, and Joined. The tabular report is the default format.
There’s no longer a drop-down menu where you can choose the report type in Salesforce Lightning, but if you want to see how they look in Salesforce Classic and how they differentiate, read our guide: How to Create Salesforce Reports [All Salesforce Reports FAQ Answered]
There you can get another comprehensive outlook on Salesforce reports: how to build, delete, export and place them on the Dashboard.
A custom report type is used in cases where standard report types won’t cope with the task. For example, if you need to find out which cities get the most leads or if you need to get a report on Leads that have no Activities.
Or if you want to know all the leases that will expire next year along with Tenant’s Contact First & Last Names, Contact Details, Property Name, and Unit Name/Number.
In Salesforce, this report type can be created only by an admin or a user with such permissions. So, if you are an ordinary Salesforce user, you won’t have such a privilege and need to ask your admin to determine which objects and fields should be created and included in the report.
But, anyway, if you want to measure metrics using the fields that can’t be found in your CRM by default, custom reports can be really helpful.
Watch a video of our Senior Salesforce Consultant, Chris Edwards on how to troubleshoot custom report types:
Another way to simplify your report creation process is to install a third-party report generation tool like Ascendix Search, available in the AppExchange app marketplace.
Learn how you can seamlessly integrate Salesforce with third-party apps, including Ascendix Search, when you can easily do it on your own and when you may need professional help, and what AppExchange apps should be integrated to improve sales & marketing activities.
The main advantage of the Ascendix Search app is that you can build customized reports, save, and share them with your team members, add them to the dashboards without direct admin’s involvement just in a few clicks.
With the independence and efficiency, this Salesforce app provides, you and your staff can analyze more relevant and up-to-date data and stay focused on business development, adjusting your internal processes rather than technical enablement of report generation.
Moreover, Ascendix Search is enhanced with other advanced features for smooth reporting experience like multi-criteria search, bulk records edit and update for more accurate reporting, data export to Excel that can make your Salesforce org a central reporting repository.
Commercial real estate brokers, in turn, can leverage industry-specific enhancements of the Ascendix Search tool like geomapping functionality, map pins, and search with various types of geometric shapes, and many more.
Ascendix Search Update: Geocoding and Enhanced Ad-Hoc Lists
Watch a short demo of Ascendix Search’s capabilities:
You can improve the core functionality of Ascendix Search even more with another solution: Composer.
Composer lets you generate various reports using your records, activities, notes, images by pulling them from Salesforce and sending them via emails or turning them into high-quality brochures, flyers, or tour books with beautiful images and your logo and brand colors on them.
The sales department is, without any doubt, one of the main driving forces of any organization. And to adjust the course of sales activities in time, you need to have accurate data at your fingertips at any time that is properly organized and grouped by the most relevant and important metrics.
So, in other words, the data should be showcased in the concise sales reports that in a long run will drive major decisions in the company like whether to discontinue the products, launch a new campaign, pay bonuses to employees, etc.
Thanks to the sales reports, managers can trace the overall success of a sales team and analyze sales campaigns to steer away from pitfalls during further sales processes.
Besides using top CRM technology like Salesforce, high-performing sales teams should know how to use this tool at its maximum. And now we’ll start from the very first step: tips on how to build the best Salesforce reports for sales managers.
No doubt, that the right CRM can make the generation of reports much easier. But, prior to building them, you need to collect the right data, select the right metrics for tracking, and know your buyer persona.
The main purpose of all sales reports is to answer the following questions:
Due to properly gathered and organized data, you can better understand your clients’ segment pain points and needs for building more relevant communication.
To have a comprehensive view, you need to have both business and personal information of your customer.
Here is, the data, which you should always collect:
This data can be further enriched and segmented with more facts related to:
Of course, the data you want to collect for the creation of more precise sales reports are not limited to the ideas above and can be attributed to the specifics of the business.
Generally, all the clients’ information can be segmented by the following criteria:
Also, you can use other criteria to single out certain types of leads, for example, lost leads by the reasons for losing them to work out the strategies of winning them back.
After you’ve selected the data you want to collect and groups you want to break them into, all the leads can be then scored by the most successful activities that can result in the purchase, like:
After all the data classification is done, you can prioritize them by sales process stage, opportunity, industry, product, or service.
It also helps understand what activities result in low effectiveness of some sales efforts like communication with non-perspective leads, manual creation of too many tasks in CRM, a huge investment of time into activities not related to sales, routine follow-up work, etc.
To make your report more accurate and solid, you need to decide what time scope you want to concentrate on. Would you like to have a weekly, monthly, quarterly, year overview of trends in the sales cycle, customer purchase habits, and results of marketing activities?
Depending on the selected time period for reporting, you can see sales tendencies or seasonal changes in sales and the success of product launches.
The primary function of a good sales report is to translate the data into an easily understandable and actionable manner. Before you start composing the information, you need to think about the best way you should display results.
For example, you can showcase the sales performance of your flagship products/services in a form of a bar graph. Or you can also choose a pie/donut chart showing the contribution of each product/service to the overall sales stats.
The visual representation of your report isn’t just about making them beautiful, but also about making them cohesive and comprehensive.
It’s not possible to build reliable and precise reports without clean and accurate data behind them. CRM systems like Salesforce help capture, track, and keep your clients’ information consistent, regularly updated, and easily accessed at any time.
By regularly applying data cleansing best practices, you can keep your database healthy and analyze the most relevant information before putting the report together.
Accounts, Contacts, and Opportunities Data Quality Dashboards within Salesforce can highlight problematic areas in your records related to missing contact, industry, or lead source data.
Compared to Excel files and Google Sheets, Salesforce enables access to a unified and segmented database, adding custom fields to any contact or account, building custom reports, avoiding contact and account data overlapping situations, and duplication of the same information in multiple spreadsheets.
Unlike most CRM systems, the flexibility of the Salesforce platform allows the creation of custom objects and fields, customization of reporting flows, and generation of custom reports to fit your exclusive business needs and interpret data in meaningful metrics.
What’s more, you can simplify exporting/importing data files and reports, integrate multiple systems under one platform. For example, you can integrate LinkedIn accounts, Gmail/Outlook email services, mass emailing apps with consolidated datasets within Salesforce to be more precise in your sales & marketing activities.
Generally, all businesses need to keep a hand on the pulse of the following numbers, measurements, and activities:
The collected information can be analyzed in different variations of the Salesforce reports, then grouped and placed on a dashboard. For example, you can track:
The above-mentioned measurements are not limited to the list of metrics, you can set up for tracking your success or identifying issues with certain business segments. You can always customize them depending on your needs and ideas.
For example, if you are a commercial real estate broker, you can track the number of Deals by Property:
Or Availabilities by Property
Unfortunately, most of such custom fields and objects like Properties, Availabilities, etc. are not available out-of-the-box in Salesforce.
To tune these features to your needs you’ll need either to purchase customized solutions on top of Salesforce, with pre-set features for a particular industry, like AscendixRE CRM for commercial real estate, or request Salesforce configuration & customization help from professionals.
Now, we’ll show the three most used reports for sales managers and how they help to get the instant answers to the most burning sales-related questions and adjust the decisions accordingly.
The required data to build this report is the number of :
The productivity report helps compare actual results against the benchmarks set up for each activity and answer the vitally important questions to each sales team and business as a whole:
This report is aimed at tracking all those prospects actively pursued by salespeople and segments them by their appropriate stage in the sales cycle.
The information provided in the Pipeline Report allows sales managers to monitor the overall number of prospects the sales reps are working with at any phase.
It allows sales managers to see how fast a prospect advances from one point to the next or when it is lost.
There are five typical pipeline stages:
By generation of this report, sales managers can keep sales reps in a loop of holding the sales team accountable for the number of deals they are supposed to close by the end of the month identifying opportunities that need special attention.
It helps project revenue and paves the way to the after-sale product/service delivery by answering questions such as:
If you don’t want to overcomplicate reporting experience in your organization, delegate all Salesforce-related challenges to our experts that can handle them fast and efficiently.
Our CRM experts will share with you our tips in customizing Salesforce reports and dashboards, which we’ve nurtured for over 20 years in the CRM software market.
We will also: design your custom roadmap, and create your unique guides, templates, checklists, and video tutorials to nail down the success.
Do you still have questions about Salesforce reports and dashboards or need help with your Salesforce org? Our Salesforce consultants are happy to help! Get in touch with us.
Or you can go another way and use our ready-to-install app – Ascendix Search to build more complex search requests, use maps to narrow your results, or simply mass edit your records?
We built the Ascendix Search app to upgrade your Salesforce experience and let you easily build granular lists of prospects to call, mass email, or stay in touch. Interested? Request your free full demo!
Anzhelika specializes in B2B content marketing and has in-depth expertise in promoting the company's products and services through high-quality content. On the Ascendix Technologies blog, Anzhelika shares her insights of Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM tips & tricks as well as overviews of new CRM tools and technology trends on the market.
Search for Salesforce records from multiple locations by drawing geometric shapes on a map and convert Salesforce lists to a map easily with Ascendix Search!