Drowning in Data? How to Reduce Your Reports and Boost Your Insights

April 3, 2019

Hard as it is to imagine today, there was a time when sales leaders (and their leaders) used to beg for more reports. They wanted what everyone still wants – visibility into their team activities and knowledge of what playbooks were pushing prospects over the finish line. They wanted an unbiased account of what the team accomplished, who got the most wins and how, and where they were wasting budget. And so they wished for data that would part the curtain and show them these answers.

Today, these leaders (or their descendants) have all the data they want at their fingertips. Multiple reports can show up in their box on the hour, if they wish. What’s missing from these reports: clear and accessible insight. Yes, technically the information is there but it’s often buried in so many numbers and percentages that extracting it is a major effort. And some of the reports offer up contradictory ideas, putting another task before the leader: deciding which conclusions are accurate.

Raise your hand if this sounds familiar. If so, I’m guessing there’s been a point when you’ve toyed with the idea of fewer Salesforce (or other CRM) reports. Better reports. Reports that offer up the holy grail of insight without requiring you to fight your way through a wilderness of data to reach it. Is that possible, you may be wondering?

Yes. Not only is it possible, but organizations that have already reduced their sales reports are actually flourishing. They usually find their CRM usage rises because their users don’t need to wade through a sea of irrelevant data. Instead, those users see only the information they need, and they work faster and more efficiently as a result.

The question, of course, is which information is safe to eliminate and which isn’t. You still want to empower your team with the knowledge they need to make smart decisions, after all. But you want them to stay focused too, instead of distracted by irrelevant numbers.

Start by identifying the roles that require data for key operational decisions. Your sales team is an obvious choice here, from senior leaders to new sales reps. Then focus on which decisions they make on a regular basis and the data they need to do so intelligently. And there you have it – the exact data you need in your reports, no more and no less.

For instance, a mid-level sales manager is probably concerned with team performance. They’ll want to know who’s hitting homeruns and who’s doing badly; who needs to be coached. Are some reps in the wrong roles? The mission-critical data here would be rep performance metrics, sales pipeline analysis, and sales activity within each territory.

A sales rep, on the other hand, is thinking about which deals to pursue, which customers offer the greatest opportunities, and the weak links in the pipeline. They’ll need to accurately measure the opportunity in each territory, the top priority customers and the health of their pipeline. The sales vice president has different goals entirely, namely resolving big picture questions involving staffing, tools and revenue projections. The data needed would include forecast analysis, hours of training per employee and utilization of sales tools, among other measurements.

This all takes a thoughtful approach, and usually some trial and error. Don’t rush into reducing your reports; start slow by identifying the right roles and their key decisions before cherry-picking data. Evaluating what to keep and what to discard is a weighty process. But by restricting reports to only the data that supports each role’s decisions, you’ll empower your team to make the smartest moves possible, and change your Salesforce CRM from a burden to an asset.

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