Just because you use something every day doesn’t mean you’re using it right! If you’re not using it right, you’re not getting as much out of it as you can.

Case in point? Most sales organizations’ use of Salesforce reports. Salesforce.com can be a really valuable tool in helping Sales VPs and sales reps be better at their jobs. Unfortunately, most Salesforce users aren’t getting the most out of their CRM.

Some of this is due to the natural limitations of Salesforce reports. In other cases, sales managers don’t know what they should be tracking, sales reps don’t see the benefit and won’t buy in, data is unclean and there is a missing third-party tool to truly unlock the potential of Salesforce reports.

Here are 5 steps to improve your company’s adoption and use of Salesforce reports.

1) Show the importance of validating opportunities

Opportunities, leads and activities – and the subsequent tracking and analysis of them – form the foundation of Salesforce reports. Sales VPs need to know what stage their opportunities are in for both forecasting and pipeline management purposes. If there are many opportunities in late stages, that’s great! Chances are at least a few of them will close, boosting your forecast. This also means that your pipeline needs to be replenished, so make sure you pull those levers.

Sales reps also need to know what stage their opportunities are in, to prioritize and engage with the right ones. It is critical that reps are disciplined in logging their opportunity stages and know when to convert from lead status to opportunity status. Once there is a culture of diligence when logging opportunities in Salesforce, both you and your reps will gain tremendous visibility and be able to validate opportunities at every stage of the buyer’s process.

2) Tighten process by improving lead management

Before leads become opportunities, they must be carefully managed. This puts the onus on reps to be conscientious about every step a lead takes before converting to an opportunity. Sales reps need to track the activities that a lead is receiving, when they are seeing these activities and then convert the status to opportunity status as need be.

While Salesforce allows for the monitoring of lead statuses, it doesn’t provide easy visibility into when these leads received these various activities. A report like the Lead Aging screen from InsightSquared displays when the last activity was for each lead owned by each rep, allowing them to devote the proper attention to the right leads, as need be. If a sales manager sees that many leads for a rep haven’t received any attention in 30 days or more, that should be cause for concern.

3) Track activities better

Which takes us to activities. In Salesforce.com, reps can – and should! – be logging every single activity, from an email sent to a voicemail left to a meeting scheduled and completed.  Best practices suggest that reps should be using the Task Type field to log activities in Salesforce.com, instead of using the less reliable Subject field.

Now, for every activity that a rep logs on a lead or an opportunity, they can select from a drop-down box featuring a list of every possible activity that can be taken. Managers can then pull this data into an overall activities report to understand just how much their reps are working. For tips on how to set up task type in Salesforce and how to make it mandatory, check out our blog.

4) Regular and transparent communication

Having all this clean data and in-depth Salesforce reports leads to regular and transparent communication between sales reps and Sales VPs, which is the ultimate goal. Look at these three options for having such transparent views and communication:

  • Logging into Salesforce.com regularly, pulling the reports and then exporting that data to an Excel spreadsheet. Needless to say, this is tedious, time-consuming and allows for the possibility of misinformation and data falling through the cracks.

  • Logging into a third-party reporting and sales analytics product like InsightSquared. With just a few clicks, managers can pull up whatever report they want on any rep, pulling from all the connected Salesforce.com data.

  • Instead of looking for the reports they want, sales managers can set up a nightly status email to be automatically sent to their inboxes directly from InsightSquared each night. This email highlights today’s performances and activities from your reps, with access into more deep-dive analysis with a few clicks, as required. Full visibility for no hassle? This sounds like something sales managers would be interested in.

Nightly Status Email

5) Real-time alerts

The nightly email is great, but what if managers and reps want instant real-time alerts so that they can react and respond immediately? InsightSquared allows you to set up alerts, so that if X happens, you or your reps can immediately respond with Y.

In this example, the updated timeline shows that a few opportunities have had their close date changed. This strikes you as odd, so you can send a note to the responsible rep and ask for more clarity on the situation. The rep might not have known about it, or might have a reason for doing so. Full visibility provides answers, so stop living in the dark with your Salesforce reports.


Salesforce.com, when enhanced with a third-party sales reporting and sales analytics product like InsightSquared, can be a really powerful and useful tool for sales managers and sales reps alike.

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