Almost every CRM features built-in reporting tools of some kind.
Neglecting to use these tools will hinder your ability to understand buying patterns, where leads are coming from, and more.
Luckily these reports aren’t hard to use once you familiarize yourself with them.
This guide will show you exactly how to get the most out of CRM reporting.
Why CRM Reporting Is So Important
CRM reporting functionality varies between software, but it’s fair to say that almost all include some form of it to help you understand your customers.
It’s an important area for quite a few reasons. First of all, reports can detail aspects like buying patterns, demographics, and pipelines.
Essentially, CRM reports help you sell smarter, keep track of your goals, and keep you aware of any problems that might emerge.
Measuring ROI and campaign performance is something marketers can struggle with, and CRM reports tackle just that. Whether in the form of standard reports or custom ones, looking at your data can give you powerful insights and allow businesses to plan their next moves with confidence.
CRM dashboards are where the magic usually happens—trust us, you’ll be excited too when you discover how much you can drill down into the data.
Users can customize dashboards in a variety of ways, depending on the software. For example, they can choose to view the sources of leads, monthly sales, and hugely valuable customers’ purchasing behavior. This can often serve as a quick overview, which can be expanded on further once you understand the full capabilities on offer.
The benefits of using CRM reporting speak for themselves, from distilling data to make strategic business decisions to making tactical changes where needed.
Sales forecasts are up to 40% more accurate when a CRM is involved due to process automation, convenient access to customer data, and project management functionality.
It’s these sorts of reports that can turn an entire business around used wisely, so it’s vital to embrace them.
Quick Tips to Improve CRM Reporting Today
Here some quick tips to improve the use of CRM reports right now.
Make Use of Sale Conversion Reports
Sale conversion reports allow companies to see what percent of their leads convert into sales. These can be within a defined data range or deals they’ve won.
Almost all CRMs include these types of reports, and they’re easily accessible through dashboards.
CRMs tend to break this specific data down into the source of the lead. An example of this would be to show something like ‘19% of email leads converted into a sale last month.’ In other words, a pretty good month. You can then compare this data to another variable, say paid media leads, which perhaps only converted 9%.
It’s valuable enough just seeing this data in a simplified form, but some platforms take this further. For instance, they allow companies to see the earliest stages of conversion in extra detail. These are known as MQLs (marketing qualified leads) to SQLs (sales qualified leads), and SQLs to SALs (sales accepted leads).
This can then shape the marketing budget in the future—a business would spend a higher amount on the areas returning a higher ROI.
Perhaps the most important thing of all is that sales conversion reports allow you to see where opportunities were lost. Knowing this crucial data can outline a definitive marketing strategy, saving both time and money in the long run.
Takeaways: Use sale conversion reports in a CRM. You can define data by dates and other key variables. Access via dashboards.
Goal Progress Reports Are Also Your Friend
Sale conversion reports are important, yes, but so are goal progress reports. Like the former, these are accessible through most CRM dashboards.
Goal progress reports measure how campaigns have performed in comparison to pre-set goals. These goals can vary to quite an extent based on the various departments a company may have.
For example, the marketing department might track the MQLs (marketing qualified leads) or the total revenue per each source. In contrast, the sales department may track deals won or total revenue for the year.
These may sound complicated, but they don’t have to be—they can serve as a quick and easy way of understanding each campaign and how effective it’s been. This can be without the need to dive into loads of different metrics.
These reports can often be embedded into a dashboard and can therefore serve as a useful reminder for a whole team about where the company is relative to their goals. They also help to make those big decisions easier by acting as a reliable reference point.
HubSpot’s CRM, for example, allows managers to create user-specific goals for their teams. They can assign these goals at a pipeline level, team level, or by user. The measurement you track is customizable in HubSpot, along with the period and the type of goal.
You may even want to track the average ticket response time or the number of calls made—the point is, you’re not limited here. Goal progress reports can be a great tactic to keep things on course.
Takeaways: Goal progress reports can measure how campaigns have performed concerning set goals. They can be embedded in dashboards for quick viewing. HubSpot’s CRM is excellent for this.
Research CRM Reporting Capabilities
Take this in for a second: 59% of customers say that companies knowing more about them from past interactions improved their overall customer experience. That’s not something to ignore. But where do you start when it comes to CRMs?
Well, like most things, with research. You might not have decided yet on the software you want to use, so it’s a good idea to start investigating the reporting capabilities of each.
Checking customer reviews, community forums, and doing other research can significantly increase the chance you get the best from CRM reporting. While this can take some effort, putting in the time now will benefit you in the future.
Imagine you decide on a piece of software but discover one of the critical features you thought it offered wasn’t available—but you didn’t verify this. It’s like having a setback before you’ve even started.
The second scenario is that you did your required research and weren’t caught out paying for something that won’t help your business grow. You get straight to work diving into the reports and start to make strategic decisions within weeks.
Everyone wants the latter.
To help get you started, we’ve listed three top CRM platforms and the type of reporting features they offer:
1. HubSpot – features deal forecasting reporting, funnel reports, sales activity reports, custom reports, and deal history reports.
2. Salesflare – features sale pipelines, revenue, and team dashboards, makes reports per sales pipeline, per sales rep, per specific time. Zapier integration included.
3. Insightly – features custom dashboards and reports, data visualizations, report sharing, and drag and drop functionality. Email and phone reporting integration.
All three of these CRMs offer some compelling and flexible reporting—you won’t go far wrong with them.
Takeaways: Do your research if you haven’t already. Check reviews, forums, and websites. Be sure you know what features you’re paying for before committing.
Long-Term Strategies for CRM Reporting
Here are some long-term strategies for using CRM reports.
Customize Your Dashboard
While almost all CRMs feature a standard central dashboard, the best way of utilizing reports is to customize it.
Configuring a dashboard to your liking can improve productivity and ease of use, so it’s worth doing straight away. With that said, it’ll take some time to get things exactly how you want, so it’s best to monitor and tweak the layout as you go.
For example, with HubSpot, you can add reports to your dashboard. Once done, you’ll find them filed away in the ‘report library’ where you can quickly and easily search or browse for them. You can filter the data to a specific data range via teams, owners, or pipelines for more analysis.
Another notable feature of HubSpot is to resize and reposition reports on your dashboard. The whole process is made simpler due to its simple drag-and-drop functionality. Resizing a report is as straightforward as clicking the bottom right corner of it and increasing or decreasing it as you choose.
There’s even the option of letting specific team members see certain reports as a point to focus on while giving other members something different.
It’s worth playing around with settings in your CRM. Access to reports should be as accessible as you need.
Takeaways: Check out your dashboard configuration options in your CRM software and adjust until happy. This differs per CRM, but most allow a form of customization, so be sure to use it.
Use Activity Reports
Activity reports are where you can integrate your CRM system with your email account, calendar, and phone system.
The advantage of this is that you can see and track every interaction made by your sales team against other records in the CRM software.
The key benefit is clear: you can see all of the critical correspondence with a lead and what stage they’re at and make tactical moves from there.
For example, you could check how many calls, meetings, and emails are being sent from your team.
You might use this to compare it with forecast reports to see how much revenue is being generated by each sales team member. It’s from here you can improve the overall direction of sales because you have the insight to make those decisions.
A sales manager can set goals and quotas and see when they’re being met. They could even administer incentive programs to reward those hitting their objectives for the month.
This doesn’t have to be invasive either, and some employees have noted their improvement due to valuable feedback from sales managers. It’s essential to let the team know that activity reports are ultimately used to improve the company’s health.
Nutshell is a good example of a CRM that provides access to activity reports. They offer a comparison mode where you can see activity effort compared with a previous timeframe. Salesforce also provides activity reports where you can see completed activities, multi-person events, and more.
Takeaways: Think about using activity reports. These are a great way of helping the team meet goals and show where things might need tweaking. Salesforce offers complete activity reports.
Automate Sales Reporting
We’ve spoken about quite a few different types of reports for CRMs, but what about automated reports? They can be a significant part of your strategy, too.
While tools like Google Sheets are suitable for storing data, a CRM can auto-generate a sales report instantly as the system it uses will already track all sales in real-time.
Manually putting reports together is still valid, but they can use up a lot of time that could be employed elsewhere.
The best part is that automated reports can often look and feel just as detailed as manually created ones—handy indeed.
For example, you might need a quick report that tracks quarterly sales. This could be used to see what stage the team is at when hitting their targets. The problem is, manually doing that would take an age, and you haven’t got the time to do it.
Well, most CRMs will be able to generate that report with a few clicks. As simple as that.
Of course, the specific functionality of each CRM can differ, but most offer automated reports. Good examples here include Freshworks, Nimble, and Zoho.
Zoho’s CRM even allows these reports to be delivered automatically and scheduled for certain times.
For instance, you could send a weekly revenue report to specific individuals in a company and adapt a strategy based on the insights they provide.
Takeaways: Automated sales reports can save time, money, and effort. Most CRMs offer this, at least in a basic form. You can schedule the delivery of reports and remove the need for manual input.
Whether you’ve chosen a CRM already or are at the stage before committing, they have a lot to offer.
Their reporting capabilities alone are essential and can help businesses of all sizes reach new customers and hit their goals.
We’d recommended HubSpot and Salesflare if you’re looking for software that’s practical, affordable, and has access to powerful reports.
Whatever you decide, plan ahead to increase your chances of a successful CRM implementation.