Difficult as it may be to imagine, there was a time when sales leaders (and their manager) used to beg for more reports. They wanted what everyone still wants—visibility into their team’s activities and knowledge of what is pushing prospects over the finish line. Ultimately, they were looking for an unbiased account of what the sales team accomplished, details on who closed the most deals, how it got done, and where they should be spending money.
Today, sales leaders have easy access to the data with just the click of a button. Multiple reports can be delivered to their inbox on the hour if that’s what they wish. However, what’s often missing from reports is clear insights. Technically, the information is there but it can be buried, making it difficult to extract. In some cases, the reports offer contradictory information, leaving sales managers in a position to decide which conclusions are accurate.
Sound familiar? When this is the case, inevitably mangers start requesting fewer reports or just stop reading them. To overcome this, the goal is to create reports that offer information and insights without requiring you to search through data to find what you need. Is that even possible? The simple answer is yes.
Less Is More: Stop Getting Lost in a Sea of Reports
Not only is it possible, but organizations that streamline their sales reports can and will flourish. When companies utilize CRM to extract the data needed, there’s an increase in efficiency and clarity on the customer journey from lead to close. Identifying what you need, developing your CRM to capture the right information and to generate reports that provide it. Users no longer need to spend time wading through a sea of irrelevant information.
The next step is determining what information is necessary and safe to keep and what should be eliminated. This allows companies to empower their teams with the knowledge they need to make smart decisions. By reducing the volume of reports and zeroing in on what is important, it keeps the team from being distracted by the numbers and focused on the business of taking care of customers.
Identify the Roles that Require Data for Key Operational Decisions
Your sales management team is an obvious choice here, beginning with senior leaders and key sales representatives. It is valuable to focus on the decisions they make on a regular basis and the data they need to do so intelligently. Narrowing in on the goals and objectives for the company and team will help determine the data you want to include in reports, no more and no less.
Why Team Performance Is Critical
The mid-level sales manager in your organization is most concerned with team performance. They want to know who is hitting home runs, who’s falling short, and who needs more coaching. Reviewing reports and observing job performance helps uncover who is a fit and who isn’t. The mission-critical data here is sales performance measurements, sales pipeline analysis, and sales activity within each territory or office. By identifying the specific metrics that need to be shared, a sales manager can effectively reduce the number of reports they review, while gaining better insight into individual and team performance.
The Benefits of a SWOT Analysis for Sales Reps
A salesperson is thinking about which leads or prospects to pursue. To focus their efforts, they need to accurately track and measure the opportunity within each territory. Having a clearer picture of top priority customers, and the top prospects, allows the sales rep to use their time to foster those customers and prospects. Through due diligence, and an analytical eye for identifying the strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) in their pipeline, sales representatives can put together reports that allow them to work smarter, not harder.
The Importance of Big-Picture Questions
The sales and marketing directors’ concerns and objectives may differ from that of the sales representatives. The executive team and directors tend to look at big-picture and overall strategy to achieve company sales goals and revenue projections. As a result, data they need can include forecast analysis, customer demographics, and sales and marketing tools that a CRM offers for tracking and measuring. The insights required may differ based on a person’s position and responsibilities within an organization, but all agree that access to valuable information and visibility related to prospects and customers will help lead to increased sales.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
This process takes a thoughtful approach and usually involves some trial and error. Rather than rushing to request a reduction in reports, identify the information required for key decisions. Then review the data individuals and departments need to manage operations more effectively. Evaluating what to keep, what to discard, and what to create is a weighty task. However, once you focus on generating reports that provide data to support areas of operations and empower your team to make smarter strategic moves, it will transform your CRM solution from a limitation to an asset.
Kyle Aulerich is a visionary entrepreneur who successfully built his career in B2B software development. He is a Marine veteran and the founder and CEO of ApostleTech, which specialize in integrated solutions for sales, service marketing, and IT to help companies work more productively and foster growth. ApostleTech works with companies and organization in the construction, homebuilding, financial, and nonprofit sectors.