CRM Reporting: Essential Types & How to Create Them

Find out how CRM reporting can help you make better business decisions, then learn how to set up your own actionable CRM reports.

CRM reporting is the act of taking data from key sales metrics and turning it into an actionable resource using your CRM. It helps businesses and salespeople track goals, identify problems, and create or improve effective strategies. In this article, we’ll explain how CRM reporting works, highlight the five essential report types all CRMs can generate, and even show you how to create your own custom reports.

This article is sponsored by Salesforce Essentials, which is known for its advanced reporting features. Throughout the article, you'll find screenshot examples from the CRM to help you visualize key reports and learn to generally create CRM reports yourself. To try the platform and get a feel for building reports in Essentials, head to their website below for a free 14-day trial:

How CRM Reporting Works

CRM reporting translates CRM data into actionable insights that track sales CRM metrics over specified time periods using visual features like charts, graphs, trend lines, and more. These elements let you track current data as well as compare them to past time periods or even forecast them into the future. From there, you can aggregate relevant CRM reports into a central CRM dashboard for a snapshot of your key performance indicators (KPIs).

CRM software is capable of running a wide range of standard reports, but it’s best to pull reports that are related to your overall sales goals. If you’re new to CRM reporting, start with commonly-used reports that track the status of your sales pipeline, quality of lead sources, sales team performance, customer satisfaction, and campaign success. Once you’re more acclimated, you can build more customized CRM reporting from there.

CRM report example (Salesforce Essentials)
CRM report example (Salesforce Essentials)

Generating a CRM report is easy if you have the necessary data. Most CRM software offers a selection of standard sales reporting. Just select the CRM report you’d like to run; the software will extrapolate the data and present it in a digestible format, then you can further edit the report to fit your needs.

Alternatively, you can build a custom CRM report if you need to take a deeper dive than what out-the-box options offer. While this may take more effort, it’s a more precise way to extrapolate and present the data you need for accurate reporting. Note that custom report building is often considered a premium feature in most CRMs; this includes Salesforce Essentials, the software shown in all screenshots in this article.

5 Essential CRM Reports to Track

CRM reporting spans a wide range of metrics and KPIs, but it’s not tenable for a business to report on every single one. As we noted in our guide to CRM metrics, every business has its own objectives and interpretations of success, so it’s important to limit CRM metrics to those that are in alignment with your organization’s unique needs and goals.

That said, regardless of whether you’re new to CRM reporting or need to revise your current reporting methods, it’s best to stick with the basics and start with at least one of these five common types of CRM reports. You can use these report types as a foundation for more advanced analytics down the line. Here’s a brief rundown of the five common types of CRM reports you can incorporate into your sales strategy:

  • Sales Pipeline Report: Provides salespeople and managers with an overview of a sales pipeline at large, including where deals sit at each stage and the effectiveness of moving them through the process. Read more below.
  • Lead Source Report: Identifies which channels are generating quality sales and marketing leads that result in revenue. Read more below.
  • Sales Activity Report: Helps managers and salespeople log, track, and analyze the effectiveness of activities like sales calls or emails. Read more below.
  • Customer Service Report: Shows sales and customer support teams whether customer expectations are being met. Read more below.  
  • Campaign Performance Report: Helps sales and marketing teams develop and fine-tune messaging by showing the success of their campaigns. Read more below.

Sales Pipeline Report

Salesforce Essentials sales pipeline report
Salesforce Essentials sales pipeline report

Who Should Track This Report: Salespeople or managers wanting to track an overall pipeline, including information on each deal in the process.

A sales pipeline report is an overview of a pipeline that shows the status of each deal in a lifecycle. It measures the health of a pipeline by showing which deals are set to close and which are in danger of being lost. A sales pipeline report also provides insight into how many deals are currently in a pipeline plus the average size of those deals. In other words, it shows managers if their sales team is adding quality deals that are going to help the business turn a profit.

Here are key metrics to include in a sales pipeline report:

  • Total Number of Deals: This shows whether there are enough opportunities incoming to meet sales quotas and revenue targets.
  • Deal Size: This indicates how much value each opportunity adds to a business. In other words, are reps spending their time on deals that significantly add to the bottom line?  
  • Deal Velocity: This helps businesses forecast when a deal may close by providing the average number of days to close per sales rep or team.
  • Deal Change History: This general overview of the pipeline shows when deals were created along with any status changes. It highlights growth and identifies stagnation.

Lead Source Report

Salesforce Essentials lead source report
Salesforce Essentials lead source report

Who Should Track This Report: Sales and marketing leads who want to capitalize on the most successful ways to bring in new customers.

A lead source report is used to show how and where businesses are capturing new customers. It helps sales and marketing leaders learn which lead sources are bringing in the most qualified leads, conversions, and revenue. A lead source report serves as a valuable blueprint for marketing campaigns since it shows companies where they’re bound to find the most success in generating leads that will ultimately turn into customers.

Here are key metrics to include in a lead source report:

  • Deal Totals by Source: This offers insight into which channels are ushering in the most leads, which can help dictate where future marketing and sales dollars go.
  • Closed Revenue by Source: This shows which lead sources are generating the most revenue, which can influence future marketing and sales strategies.
  • Average Conversion Time by Source: This highlights which sources yield the highest quality leads so sales teams can direct their efforts accordingly.
  • Incoming Leads by Source: This helps marketing and sales teams track the efficacy of ongoing campaigns and detect buyer trends that may be tied to holidays or other events.

Sales Activity Report

Salesforce Essentials sales activity report
Salesforce Essentials sales activity report

Who Should Track This Report: Sales managers or salespeople wanting to track activity goals like number of phone calls logged.

A sales activity report is a summary of individual actions a sales team has logged over a set period of time. These may include emails sent, calls made, or meetings taken, among other activities. It not only shows which actions sales reps take to connect with contacts, but also the outcomes of those interactions. A sales activity report helps sales managers monitor overall team progress and identify pain points that may be hindering reps from meeting their quotas.

Here are key metrics to include in a sales activity report:

  • Quota Attainment: This not only measures which reps are hitting their quotas, it can also serve as an indicator of unrealistic targets if the team-wide rate is low.
  • Number of Contacts Created: This shows how many new leads sales reps are contributing to the top of the funnel.
  • Number of Follow-Ups Sent: This measures how much effort sales reps are putting into converting leads upon initial contact.
  • Close Ratio: This is similar to conversion rate, but it’s centered more on the role sales reps play in turning leads into full-fledged customers.

Customer Service Report

Salesforce Essentials customer service report
Salesforce Essentials customer service report

Who Should Track This Report: Customer support teams that want to improve overall customer experience and sales teams that want to increase cross sales through evangelists.

A customer service report is an indicator of how well businesses are meeting the expectations and needs of their clients. It takes into account the variables that prompt customers to either support a company or walk away from it. A customer service report can help support teams provide timely and efficient customer assistance. It can also benefit sales teams that want to leverage evangelists to boost revenue and learn how to convince former clients to return.

Here are key metrics to include in a customer service report:

  • Churn Rate: This measures customer turnover. A closer look at this metric can give your business some insight into why growth and profits may be stagnant.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): This metric is based on surveys that ask customers how likely they are to recommend your business. It identifies your company’s biggest advocates as well as the pain points that drive people away.
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): This rating is based on a customer’s individual experience with a service or product. Following this metric long-term may signal when a customer may be on the verge of leaving.
  • Time to First Response: This reflects the time it takes for customers to receive answers to their queries. Ideally, support teams will keep this average relatively low.

Campaign Performance Report

Salesforce Essentials campaign performance report
Salesforce Essentials campaign performance report

Who Should Track This Report: Sales and marketing teams that want to learn how to craft successful ad campaigns based on historical data.

A campaign performance report is used to measure the effectiveness of past and ongoing marketing campaigns. It provides an overview of how receptive customers are to a company’s message, and shows whether a business is receiving a fair ROI on its advertising efforts. A campaign performance report can help sales and marketing teams create poignant campaigns that lead to a high volume of conversions and steady customer engagement.

Here are key metrics to include in a campaign performance report:

  • Conversion Rate: This tracks the number of contacts who completed a desired action. It’s a key indicator of how impactful a campaign’s message is on leads and customers.
  • Cost Per Conversion (CPC): This measures how much it costs for a lead to convert through a campaign. It aids businesses with budget allocation and ad optimization.  
  • Bounce Rate: This shows how many visitors leave a site after viewing a single page. A high bounce rate could mean a site is hard to navigate or otherwise unappealing.
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): This is a percentage of people that clicked through an ad or social media post per its total impressions. A low CTR could signal a disconnect between a company’s message and its intended audience.

Now that you know the top CRM reports to create and track, let's next discuss how to set up your own CRM reporting. Many CRMs offer similar report setup, but there may be slight differences depending on what you use. To help, we've included examples from Salesforce Essentials below, which offers a powerful custom sales reporting tool with easy setup and management.

How to Set Up Your Own CRM Reporting

Setting up CRM reporting is quite simple if you have the data required for the metrics you’d like to measure. We’ve provided a general breakdown of how to create a report using Salesforce Essentials as an example. Of course, the exact process will vary among platforms, so you can refer to this as a general guide that will be applicable to most mainstream CRM options.

Alternatively, you can opt to use an out-of-box CRM reporting template if a baseline report will suit your needs. These bespoke reports have filters and allow for some basic customization. For deep data dives, it’s best to create your own report using the steps below: create a new report, select properties based on the metric you want to track, then build, run, design, and share the report. We'll provide additional details on each step below.

1. Create a New Report

Start by going to your CRM’s reports list page and then choosing to create a new report; in Salesforce Essentials, for example, there's a New Report button at the top of the page.

Salesforce Essentials reports page
Salesforce Essentials reports page

2. Select Properties Based on the Metric You Want

Choose the main properties of the metric you're trying to view. In Salesforce Essentials, you can select the main category based on the CRM metric you want to track, then you can keep the report type general or get more specific. In this example, we’ve chosen "opportunities" as the type and subtype so we can work with the broad related details in the report.

Salesforce Essentials choose report type page
Salesforce Essentials choose report type page

3. Build & Run the Report

When it's time to officially create and run the report, your CRM should prompt you to modify the report details and then run it to ensure that it shows exactly what you want.

If you're using Salesforce Essentials, you'll see a table of the information related to the type you chose (in this case, opportunities) on the report preview page. You can now use the Group Rows function to have the report show the specific metric you'd like. In this example, using "stage" to group the rows will show the amount of prospects and customers in each stage of your pipeline. Then, you can use the Columns and Filters functions to add, remove, and specify report data.

Your CRM will likely give you the option to add a visual chart to your report, such as the Add Chart button below. You'll then run the report and continue to the next page, where you should be able to design and further manipulate the report as needed.

Salesforce Essentials report preview page
Salesforce Essentials report preview page

4. Design the Report

Many CRMs will allow you to view the report you've run as both a table and a visual chart, where you can edit the report until it looks the way you'd like before saving it. If you're using Salesforce Essentials, you'll see the same table from the previous page with a visual chart above it. You can now remove data, change the format of the chart by clicking the gear icon, and save it when you're ready so it will continue presenting your metrics in real time.

Salesforce Essentials reports design page
Salesforce Essentials reports design page

5. Share the Report

Once you’ve finished putting your CRM report together, you can download it to share with other key decision makers in your organization, either via email or as a printout. This will render it a static report that can be used in deeper analyses of ongoing sales trends. A better way to share your report is by saving it right to your dashboard, where it will continue presenting up-to-date activity.

To use a dashboard, first head back to your CRM's reports page and find the new report you created. See whether the report is listed as private or public, and change the viewing permissions if you'd like you alone, your team, or your organization to access it. To do this in Salesforce Essentials, click the dropdown next to your report, and choose Move to add it to either a public or a private folder.

Salesforce Essentials add to dashboard
Salesforce Essentials add to dashboard

6. Include the Report in a CRM Dashboard

When the correct people have access to the report, add it to your CRM dashboard, where your software may prompt you to choose an existing dashboard or create a new one. Unlike a CRM report, a CRM dashboard is more straightforward in presenting data since it’s meant to be viewed at a glance. We delve more into that in our guide to CRM dashboards, where we teach you how to create a dashboard like the one below:

Salesforce Essentials sales pipeline dashboard
Salesforce Essentials sales pipeline dashboard

Who Should Use CRM Reporting

CRM software is a sales tool, but the value of CRM reporting is not limited to sales teams, nor should it be. CRM reporting provides a holistic view of how a business is performing. Thus, it’s important for various departments across an organization to have access to these reports so they can make decisions that will ultimately benefit their team and the business at large.

Here’s who should use CRM reporting, along with the most common use cases:

  • Salespeople Wanting to Monitor Their Pipelines: Sorting contacts by where they are in the lifecycle stage will guide sales reps toward where in the funnel they should be spending most of their attention.
  • Sales Managers Needing to Track Team Performance: Individual progress reports will offer a concrete picture of how attainable quotas are among the team.    
  • Marketing Teams Developing New Campaigns: Viewing data from past campaigns can help dictate the most successful ways to capture the attention of new leads.
  • Customer Support Teams Seeking Ways to Improve: Tracking previous customer interactions can serve as a starting point toward creating more efficient processes.
  • Executives Wanting a Look at Day-to-Day Operations: Reporting makes it much easier for C-level executives to check in on multiple departments.
  • Business Investors Tracking Their Investments: Data on revenue and the general health of a business will help investors understand what they’re receiving in return.

If you use a CRM, chances are you'll benefit from learning how to create reports using the data and activities you log within the software.

Bottom Line: CRM Reporting

CRM reporting is a welcome alternative to sifting through spreadsheets. Fortunately, CRM software makes it easy to extrapolate data and turn it into an accessible resource. Learn how to harness your CRM’s reporting capabilities, and your business will reap the benefits of having actionable insights it can reference when making key sales decisions.

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