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Best Reports to Run in Your CRM System

Matt D'Angelo
Matt D'Angelo
Freelance Writer

The reports your customer relationship management (CRM) tool can run offer important insights that can help your small business grow.

  • CRM reporting is essential to any small business with a sales or marketing team as it allows companies to centralize data about interactions with leads and customers.
  • CRM reports provide detailed information about the sales process and how leads engage with your brand, helping you to improve these key processes.
  • The quality of data is the most important thing when it comes to accurate and effective CRM reporting. Bad data will reveal inaccurate insights.
  • This article is for small business owners, or their sales and marketing teams, who are interested in how CRM software and data reporting can improve lead generation, customer engagement and, ultimately, drive sales.

CRM software allows small companies to store and analyze mass amounts of data on how customers and leads interact with brand representatives. This can provide businesses with an advantage when it comes to monitoring sales processes, understanding customer information and tracking overall company performance. Without a modern CRM system, any sales or marketing business is a step behind the competition. It's no surprise, then, that CRM software is expected to expand to $114.4 billion by 2027.

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If you already have a CRM system, learning how to optimize its use can be challenging. While most software companies provide extensive how-to's on using their system, it can still be difficult to understand how to make the most of your software. When it comes to CRM software, the quality of data is the most important part of getting the most out of your technology suite. Bad data leads to bad analytics, which can ultimately lead to bad business decisions.

Importance of CRM reporting

CRM reporting includes important aspects of your marketing and sales operations, including your sales pipeline, marketing campaigns across various channels, and customer data to support lead generation and cultivation.

This data allows small businesses to take high-level business information and translate it into actionable evidence for company decisions. By viewing it all in one place, you can digest important analytics related to your business and ensure your company is making the most informed business decisions.

For example, if an analysis of your sales pipeline shows that most customers are dropping out in the middle of filling out a contact information form, you might surmise that you should simplify the form. If your customer data suggests your typical buyers are ready to make immediate purchases, you might want to run advertisements that link directly to product landing pages or your ecommerce store.

We live in an era where information is everything. However, having mass amounts of data – especially if it’s bad data – won’t grant your teams the insights they need to make the best decisions. CRM reports can contextualize the increasingly vast amount of data companies collect to support better decision making based on accurate data-driven insights.

Bad CRM reporting will cost your company money

Information about your customers, deals and where they are in the pipeline can come from a multitude of different sources. Phone calls, emails, social media, hand written notes and follow-up meetings are all potential sources of information.

Gathering and organizing this information could be a full-time job for a person. More importantly, when a solid CRM reporting system isn’t in place, it can be easy to lose the most important details of each lead, client and sale. Ultimately, this will cost your company money, as clients fall out of the sales process, finalized sales aren’t recorded properly and business relationships begin to falter.

In addition to having more information about how your company processes sales, CRM reporting features will also allow you to seamlessly integrate other areas of your business. CRM software connects directly to other business applications, like document signing software, accounting software and marketing automation software. Information often flows both ways when these systems are all connected, so you can eliminate silos in your business and ensure your company is making the best use of all its data.

CRM reporting: Types and categories

Before getting into the main types of CRM reporting and some examples for reports to look for and run in your own CRM software, it’s important to understand a distinction that separates two types of reports: Canned and Custom reports. There are also three categories of data that can make it easier to decipher what each report can offer your company. These three categories are sales reporting, campaign reporting, and customer reporting.

Canned CRM reporting

Canned CRM reports are reports that are already configured. These can sometimes be limited, but they are easy to run and interpret. And despite their limitations, they are still viable options for many businesses and can provide great information on high-level business decisions. As a more generic reporting option, they are useful, but if you’re looking for more nuanced reports based on your business’s specific needs, you’ll want to check out custom reporting.

Custom CRM reporting

Custom CRM reports allow you to include unique variables in your reporting suite. This means understanding nuanced details about your company and its sales or marketing process. It can also allow you to understand hidden truths in the data related to your business. For example, if you run a sales report, you might realize that revenue is down quarter over quarter. But why? With custom reporting, you can slice and dice data until you realize that customer retention has plummeted in the last two months and led to the drag on sales – now you know where to look to rectify the problem.

Sales reporting

Sales reporting covers important topics related to your sales funnel or pipeline. These sources of data include revenue, overall sales pipeline, adjusted sales goals and performance categorized by sales team members. Sales reporting can help you understand how leads become customers and where any inefficiencies or weaknesses in the sales pipeline may exist.

Campaign reporting

This type of reporting is tied toward marketing processes. It includes things like email data, landing page information, lead source generation and other types of marketing data. It can be used to improve your marketing campaigns and drive more conversions – whether that's ad clicks or email sign-ups – by deploying more effective content on the right channels at the right times. When combined with insights from sales data, campaign reporting can provide small businesses with insights regarding ad performance, brand voice and general marketing strategy.

Customer reporting

Both sales and marketing teams should be able to access customer reporting data in order to better their own processes. Customer reporting concerns customer-driven data, like buying patterns, customer demographics, profitability and sensitive customer contact information. Keep in mind that while insights from this type of reporting should be shared with your wider company, the hard data should only be accessed by a few, especially regarding information pertaining to customer privacy. 

6 reports you can generate with your CRM

Every CRM system is different, and oftentimes CRM reports may have different names based on which software you use. When considering which reports are right for your business, consider the information within the report and whether it suits your business needs. In the interest of specificity, however, we’ve included examples of each type of report below:

1. Profitability reports

Profitability reports highlight where your money is coming from. This CRM report will mine your customer database and organize the information based on who your money is coming from. This can allow you to analyze purchase history, customer buying habits and other basic customer information regarding how they interact with your business. These reports will illuminate important insights, like who makes the biggest contribution to your revenue, who is your most loyal customer, and what customers have the most potential to become return customers. There are a wide range of profitability reports. Here are a few examples:

  • Total sales CRM report
  • Forecasted sales by source CRM report
  • Deal loss reason CRM report
  • Sales by owner CRM report
  • Sales goals CRM report

2. Sales cycle reports

These types of reports cover the entire sales cycle duration. That includes the beginning of the process involving lead capture to the end of the process that results in closing. As the buying process continues to grow and change, it’s important to have reports that focus directly on how customers proceed through the buying process. Sales cycles differ from sales pipelines or sales funnels in that they focus on individual customers. Pipeline reports, which we’ll get to later, involve an overview of all sales. These are some examples of sales cycle reports:

  • Sales activity CRM reports
  • Activity overview CRM report
  • Success insights CRM report
  • Stage duration analysis CRM report

3. CRM pipeline reports

Pipeline reports highlight the full sales process and provide insight into how leads are progressing, or regressing, through the overall funnel. These reports can also depict what opportunities are pending, which can allow marketers to better create campaigns around your products. It can also allow salespeople to better hone their sales skills and focus on one area of the overall pipeline. Here are some examples of pipeline reports:

  • Pipeline development CRM reports
  • Stage distribution CRM reports
  • Sales funnel CRM reports

4. Sales forecast reports

Once you understand the sales cycle and the sales pipeline, you can focus on forecasting overall sales. This will provide you with important information about future revenue, profit and how your company can improve its sales process to meet its needs. Many companies issue sales forecasts on a monthly or quarterly basis. Examples of sales forecast reports include:

  • Forecasted sales CRM report
  • Forecasted sales by source CRM report
  • Sales goals CRM report

5. Sales conversion reports

These reports get specific about what percentage of your leads convert. They also focus on deals won or lost by the sales team within a defined time period. According to Keap, this is usually something that’s handled on a per-source basis. This means these conversion reports will focus on lead conversion related to specific channels, like email or social media. Examples of sales conversion reports include:

  • Stage conversion by owner CRM report
  • Loss reason by source CRM report
  • Loss reason by owner CRM report
  • Rep performance dashboard CRM report

6. Goal progress reports

All of this data and information should feed into overall goals for your company. CRM software can track those goals and the data tied to them. By paying attention closely to your company’s progress toward its overall goals, you can keep your business on track. These reports can give you an at-a-glance view of the big picture without miring you in the details of campaign or pipeline details. We’ve mentioned some goal progress reports already, but here are a couple more examples for reference:

  • Sales goals CRM report
  • Won deals goals CRM report

How to make a CRM report

Now that you know the power of CRM reporting, how it can impact your business, and what six reports are most crucial for your company, it’s important to understand how to create effective CRM reports. The process for creating a report in your specific CRM software will vary widely based on which software you’re using. However, there are some high-level lessons to be aware of that can help you create accurate, informative CRM reports to keep your business on the right track. These are the four main steps to create effective CRM reports and analyze them properly:

  1. Ensure accurate customer data.
  2. Choose the reports you need.
  3. Choose the metrics you need to measure.
  4. Align insights with goals and overall strategy.

1. Ensure accurate customer data.

The most important part of running a functional CRM system is ensuring that your data is accurate. This could mean combing through customer data to ensure information is not only correct, but also up to date. Studies show that bad prospect data causes sales departments to lose approximately 550 hours and $32,000 per rep.

It’s essential that your company is on top of its data collection and updating strategies. The best way to do this is to talk with the people in your company who have access to customer information. By limiting access to a small number of people in the first place, it can make it easier to control how data is collected and input into the system, thus avoiding common mishaps, like double submitting forms. Ensure that employees with customer information access are trained on security processes, including how to handle sensitive info, how to create strong passwords and how to avoid phishing attempts.

Once you have an idea of who has access and thus how the information is gathered, you can look more closely at what information is available. While it’s difficult, by looking closely at customer information and verifying its accuracy, you can sort through the data that’s pertinent to your business and build successful CRM reports.

2. Choose the reports you need.

This step has been covered largely in the previous sections of this article. By analyzing your business’s goals and strategies, you can make a list of important metrics and types of data you want to analyze. By creating reports around these areas, you can increase visibility into your business. If you’re looking for a place to get started, it’s a good idea to define your business's goals and then review what sales, campaign, and customer reporting options are available in your CRM software.

3. Choose metrics to measure.

This step can be done simultaneously with step two. As you’re analyzing what reports are pertinent to your business, pick out metrics that are also crucial to reaching your business’s goals. Different CRM software may have varying names for these metrics, but you can find a list of common CRM metrics from ActiveCampaign below. Of course, you shouldn't measure all of these metrics. These are simply here to kick off brainstorming sessions about which apply best to your business's goals.

  1. Number of prospects
  2. Number of new customers
  3. Number of retained customers
  4. Close rate
  5. Renewal rate
  6. Number of sales calls made
  7. Number of sales calls per opportunity
  8. Amount of new revenue
  9. Number of open opportunities
  10. Sales stage duration
  11. Sales cycle duration
  12. Number of proposals given
  13. Number of campaigns
  14. Number of campaign responses
  15. Number of campaign purchases
  16. Revenue generated by a campaign
  17. Number of new customers acquired by campaign
  18. Number of customer referrals
  19. Number of web page views
  20. User goal completion rate on the web
  21. Time per website visit
  22. Customer lifetime value
  23. Cross-sell ratio
  24. Upsell ratio
  25. Email list growth rate
  26. Number of cases handled
  27. Number of cases closed the same day
  28. Average time to resolution
  29. Average number of service calls per day
  30. Complaint time to resolution
  31. Number of customer callbacks
  32. Average service cost per service interaction
  33. Percentage of compliance with SLAs
  34. Calls lost before being answered
  35. Average call handling time

4. Consider your goals.

All of this effort is meaningless if it's not tied to a broader strategy. In today's business world, it's easy to spin your wheels focusing on tools, tracking data and increasing visibility. When you don't implement what you've learned from CRM software and the data of your marketing, sales, and customer retention process, all that data and information has been collected in vain. Do your best to flesh out your company mission, vision, and overall strategy, then use a CRM system as a tool to get you where you want to go.

Image Credit: dima_sidelnikov / Getty Images
Matt D'Angelo
Matt D'Angelo
business.com Contributing Writer
See Matt D'Angelo's Profile
I've worked for newspapers, magazines and various online platforms as both a writer and copy editor. Currently, I am a freelance writer living in NYC. I cover various small business topics, including technology, financing and marketing on business.com and Business News Daily.