Table of contents
Salesforce® is the world's leading customer relationship management (CRM) solution.
Yet, while Salesforce is great for data entry, when it comes to getting that data out in a form that allows you to make decisions, do you find it leaves something to be desired?
If so, you are not alone. In our recent survey of Salesforce customers, 91% of respondents rated data analytics as important or very important to the success of their business - but, only 32% rated their analytics capability as good or very good.
With a suitable collection of sales reports and analytics, you can manage performance, track activity levels and identify issues before they grow to become problems. But, when you can't easily get to this information, this becomes a source of frustration. So, if your sales team is crying out for more effective information, what are your options?
Further reading:The State of Salesforce Reporting and Analytics
For most people, their starting point is usually a Salesforce report.
Reports enable you to display information about leads, opportunities, campaigns, etc. in a tabular form. These tables can be split into sections, to make them a little easier to navigate. You can add some calculations for key performance indicators at the summary level. You can also add some dynamic filters, giving a sales manager some control over the data they view.
Reports don't make it easy to find the numbers you need
But, for most sales teams, Salesforce reports feel dull and uninspiring. You have to work too hard to get to the numbers you need. And, there is little you can do about this, because you have next to no control over the layout, workflow, or look and feel of your reports.
Reports don't support your real-world reporting needs
Nor do Salesforce reports hit the mark for more complex, real-world requirements. Consider an account manager who wants to see which of their customers have opportunities due to close this quarter, but also have open support tickets. Salesforce reports, with their inflexible layouts, aren't the nicest way to view this type of information. And, reporting across multiple child objects - in this instance, cases and opportunities - can get tricky.
Do Salesforce reports meet your organization's needs?
So, although Salesforce reports have their uses, is this really the way your sales team want to consume information today? When you have to scroll through numerous rows of detail, is this the most efficient way to keep track of an individual or team's performance?
Another way to present information in Salesforce is through a dashboard.
Dashboards allow you to select from a range of visualizations, which you layout in a grid, so you can see key information side-by-side. Each visualization is based on a report. You can apply dynamic filters to a dashboard which work across all visualizations that share the filter field (e.g. owner, account name, etc.)
Dashboards can provide a useful way for sales managers and sales people to get a feel for their performance across a range of metrics.
Dashboards lack the interactivity modern decision makers require
To answer questions fast you need flexibility to navigate your data. But, Salesforce limits you to 3 dynamic filters per dashboard and each filter is restricted to 50 values.
Imagine you are a sales manager who wants to track your team's performance. Your dashboard allows you to filter by sales person (owner), product type and quarter across a number of visualizations. But, if you also want to filter by account, or maybe narrow down the time period to month, then you're out of luck. What's more, if you did want to filter by account, you probably have more than 50 of them!
And, in the real world, if you'd selected a sales person, you'd probably want to automatically filter the list of accounts, to just see that sales person's accounts. In Salesforce dashboards, there is no way to chain filters to support this.
Dashboards don't support the workflows needed to answer daily and one-off questions
Sometimes you want more detail about a visualization. You may want to drill down to a lower level of detail (e.g. from a quarterly view to a monthly view or from account to contact, etc.) Or, you may want to pop-up a new view that provides some additional information. For example, by clicking on a chart showing revenue by product, you could bring up a new view showing revenue over time for your selected product.
With Salesforce, the only option offered is to view the underlying report when you click on a visualization. Beyond this you have no control over the workflow in the dashboard. This makes it hard to guide people through their data in a way that fits how your business and your processes work.
Do Salesforce dashboards meet your organization's needs?
So, although Salesforce dashboards have their uses, do they meet the needs of your sales team. Do they allow your sales managers and sales representatives to get fast answers to their questions, so they can spend more time doing their day jobs?
Manipulating data in Excel®
Another option is to extract information from one or more Salesforce reports and to manipulate this data in Excel. If you've already hit some of the limitations of Salesforce reports and dashboards, then it's likely this will have driven you down the Excel route. By using Excel to create reports and dashboards, you can:
- Handle your more complex requirements
- Or, combine data from Salesforce with that from other systems
- Or, provide the presentation flexibility your sales team demands
So, by using Excel you can deliver information that is more closely aligned with your business needs.
Creating information in Excel takes too long
However, delegating reporting to Excel is not without its problems. Typically, you need to extract several reports from Salesforce and combine these in a spreadsheet using complex formulas. This is a time-consuming, manual process. And, it's a process that needs repeating every week or every month, depending on how often you need the information.
As a result of all of the time and effort required to create sales reports in Excel, you don't always have the latest information to hand when you need to make a decision. This can be maddening for sales managers and their teams when they are trying to focus their efforts to ensure they beat quota.
And, it's not just the sales team who are frustrated with the time taken to create sales reports in Excel. Our recent survey of Salesforce customers reporting habits showed that, on average, Salesforce administrators spend up to 25% of their time on mundane reporting tasks. This is time that they could be spending on higher value activities.
Sharing sales information through Excel doesn't scale
Excel was never designed to be a reporting tool. As such, when it comes to sharing information across your sales team, Excel doesn't really scale. So, when you take information out of Salesforce you lose a number of key capabilities. For example:
- How do you control who has access to each of the reports you have created?
- How do you ensure that each person only sees data they are authorized to view (e.g. so each sales person only sees information about their accounts and their performance?)
Do Excel reports meet your organization's needs?
So, although creating sales reports and dashboards from your Salesforce data provides greater flexibility and helps you address more complex requirements, it is labor intensive and you lose control over the distribution of your information. Does this give your sales team the up-to-date information they need to make decisions?
Further reading:The State of Salesforce Reporting and Analytics
A better way of meeting your Salesforce reporting needs
Salesforce has tried to address its reporting issues by creating Einstein Analytics (formerly known as Wave). However, if you are put off by the cost, or the steep learning curve, or if you need to create more flexible interfaces to meet your business needs, or if you want to use your dashboards when you are offline … then you will need to look elsewhere.
DecisionPoint™ lets you break free from Salesforce reporting limitations
At Antivia, we've been Salesforce customers for over 10 years and we've suffered with the limitations of the out-of-the-box reports and dashboards. As we're run by a team of seasoned business intelligence (BI) experts, each with over 20 years' experience in the industry, we wanted to do something about this. So, through DecisionPoint™ we're applying our BI know-how to offer a better reporting solution to fellow Salesforce customers.
DecisionPoint™ is a high-performance analytics platform that can automate all of your Salesforce reporting needs. This means your managers and sales people always have access to timely, accurate information. And, your Salesforce administrators are free to focus on higher value activities.
Get immediate value from pre-built apps (or create your own)
Out of the box, DecisionPoint™ provides a number of pre-built, role-based dashboard apps that you can use right away. So, sales managers, sales representatives, account managers and Salesforce admins can get key metrics in one place to help them make informed decisions. You get versions of the apps with workflows that have been optimized for both desktop / tablet consumption and also for mobile consumption.
You can customize the pre-built apps to fit the needs of your business or you can create your own custom apps from scratch. Creating and customizing apps requires no-coding or specialist skills - so this is something your Salesforce admins can handle, rather than relying on IT. And, with our QuickStart onboarding process, whatever approach you take we'll have your team up to speed and have you up and running in no time.
Answer daily and one-off questions in a fraction of the time
With DecisionPoint™ you gain the flexibility to create workflows that match your business processes and the ability to apply your brand's look and feel to all your dashboard apps. Together this creates a winning combination that results in high adoption rates. This is because you are giving people their information in a form they can just pick-up and use, without training.
For your sales team, these apps are as easy to use as the web apps or Smartphone apps they use on a daily basis. This means everyone can answer their daily and ad-hoc questions in a fraction of the time.
And, DecisionPoint™ apps work when you are offline, too. So, imagine that you are an account manager sat in front of your customer, but with no network connectivity. With your DecisionPoint™ app all the information you need to run an effective account review would still be at your fingertips You could see the customer's purchase history, payment history, outstanding customer service queries, etc. Isn't this a better approach than printing out the information or having to manually copy it into an Excel spreadsheet ahead of the meeting?
Does DecisionPoint™ meet your organization's needs?
With its combination of pre-built and custom apps, the ability to implement custom workflows and custom branding, and allowing you to access information when you are offline, DecisionPoint™ increases the value you get from your Salesforce data.
Further reading:What's the Best Salesforce Report For Sales Managers? Simplify Your Salesforce Reporting With These Dashboards A Better Salesforce Activity Report Ready to Step Off the Salesforce Reporting Treadmill? Using a Salesforce Custom App to Deliver Better Reporting Salesforce Dashboard Apps that Help Drive Exceptional Performance