You’ve successfully installed your young company’s instance of Salesforce.com, and are now ready to start automating your sales and marketing processes. You’re pumped up about soon having all this analyzable sales data at your fingertips. The possibilities of what you can do and the actionable insights you can gain from this Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software seems boundless. Ready to jump right in and get your sales managers and reps up and running?
Not so fast.
Salesforce.com is an extremely powerful tool that can really affect positive change in your sales process and, ultimately, your revenue and profitability. However, all of that is contingent on your team doing things the right way. And that starts with you at the top, the CEO. You must lead the way in the culture and use of Salesforce.com.
Here are 5 things all CEOs should know about Salesforce.com reporting.
It Don’t Mean a Thing, if your Reps aren’t in the Swing
Your sales reps will be naturally apprehensive to adopt heavy use of your new Salesforce CRM. There is a certain “Big Brother” effect that comes with implementing Salesforce, as your reps might feel that they were doing fine before, don’t need need any more sales process and certainly don’t want to be micromanaged. However, Salesforce only works best when there is clean and consistent data across the board, and the more of it you have, the better.
As a CEO, you want to clearly communicate all the benefits they stand to gain personally from adopting Salesforce into their sales process, to say nothing of the company’s gains. Show how your reps will be able to work more efficiently. Stress that the data they enter is extremely valuable to their managers in making the right data-driven decisions for the company. User adoption is a crucial starting point, so make every effort to get your reps full on board.
(Data) Cleanliness is next to Godliness
We’ve mentioned the importance of your rep’s sales data several times, but we can’t stress it enough – data hygiene is absolutely critical. Without it, your Salesforce implementation won’t even be able to get off the ground.
Low-quality data, misplaced data entries, duplicates, duplicitous metrics – they are all a sales manager’s worst headache. After all, how can they be expected to use the actionable insights from their data analysis to make the right data-backed decisions? If the input is sullied, the output will be as well. Train your sales reps to be disciplined and accurate in their data entry right off the bat.
Democratized Data – Give the People what they Want!
Once upon a time, sales metrics were largely the domain of the sales manager, despite the fact that the reps were the ones responsible for entering all their data. In the modern Sales 2.0 era, data works best when it is truly democratized, accessible and visible to all tiers of the organization.
Salesforce can provide this type of visibility. Any rep or manager should be able to go into their instance and pull the reports and information they need. When this data is accessible to all, reps will take more ownership and really get the most out of using Salesforce. Sales VPs can take this transparency and accessibility one step further by using a sales analytics product in addition to Salesforce.
Management by Exception is the Rule
For sales managers and CEOs to be truly efficient when working with data analysis in Salesforce.com, the key is to manage by exception. This means focusing on tackling situations that deviate from the norm or are exceptions to the common rule.
Once you accept the “normal,” you can focus on finding the variances where, with tweaks and optimization, you can make a real impact and difference on your company’s success. Experiment and compare the new metrics against your baseline sales metrics. Use alerts and workflows to notify you when things are awry. Set goals for all users within Salesforce. When you can manage effectively using exception reports and analysis, you will start seeing all the areas of improvement that exist in your sales process.
Understand the Limitations of Salesforce.com Reports
Salesforce.com is a wonderful tool, an absolute must-have for data-driven sales managers and CEOs looking to improve their sales process and their company’s bottom line. However, it is not a panacea, a cure-all for all your woes, and is certainly not perfect. There are several limitations to Salesforce.com reports, including issues with sharing, visualization, historical trends and others.
One of the biggest limitations is with cross-object reporting, a very valuable sales management need. Sales managers need to connect the dots across seemingly disparate objects, such as between marketing efforts and sales results. This is not easy to do in Salesforce, and requires either complex and time-consuming Excel analysis, or a third-party sales analytics product.
Before CEOs and their Sales VPs and sales managers hit the ground running with their company’s use of Salesforce reporting, they should be aware of these 5 concepts. Then, they should communicate these core assets and foundational elements to the rest of the team. Once they are familiar with these, they will truly get the most out of using Salesforce.com.