Conceptualizing, launching, and operating a small business is a time and labor-intensive endeavor. Getting caught up in the day-to-day activities takes your attention in many directions. Still the risks are worth the potential rewards, not just for the financial gains, but also for the fact that you have a direct impact on your future.
Finding your voice
Just as you have a definitive voice in how you drive your business forward, your business also has its own voice. It’s your choice and your responsibility to listen and learn the language of your business in order to interpret its message. How do you find that voice? By reporting on all of the information you’ve gathered about your daily business activities over time.
Big Data, manageable challenge
With the advent of the Internet of Things (iOT), Big Data, and cloud computing, it’s hard to ignore the fact that we live in a hyper data-driven world. Still, all of the information in the world won’t do you any good if you can’t extract meaning from it. Data is a wonderful resource you can tap into to uncover incredibly helpful pieces of information, such as previously unknown trends, customer preferences, competitive opportunities, specific ways to reduce overhead costs, and more.
Cloud computing and SaaS offerings, including online accounting software, customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, email management applications, etc., make reporting very accessible to the small business owner–all without an astronomical investment. The true beauty of these tools is that they allow you to interact with your business data on a deeper level, slicing and dicing it in a variety of ways, including by sales, marketing programs, project management, and customer service.
So Are You Reviewing Your Data?
Reporting on data doesn’t just happen. It requires due diligence in creating and running the right types of reports based on data you’ve collected over a period of time. This includes things such as customer contacts, outbound marketing activities, discount offers posted on your Website, the state of your sales pipeline, and more. The magic bullet of reporting comes by way of asking the right questions. In fact, asking questions is as critical to your sales process as you select a CRM solution to support your business efforts.
First and foremost, you need to consider how clean is your data. To avoid “dirty data” or worthless sales leads, examine and sample your data sources prior to devising a report. Next, determine exactly what types of questions you are trying to find answers for. For example, do you want to report on what sales are currently open in your pipeline? Maybe you want to know how many sales have been closed over the last 90 days, or the number of sales generated by individual sales reps. Last, measure and refine your reporting strategy by tracking your staff’s utilization of reporting tools.
How to begin the process
If you are in the beginning stages of finding a CRM solution that will allow you to collect the information you need in order to create viable reports, there are some important things to consider:
- Is the solution flexible enough to support importing volumes of data from things such as contact lists?
- Is the solution integrated with widely adopted applications such as Google Apps, Quickbooks Online, Evernote, or Dropbox?
- Does it offer role-based permissions and project management features?
- Is available at a price point that will allow you to expand users over time while reducing your overall cost per user?
- How flexible and advanced are the reporting solutions the CRM platform offers?
Information is the fuel for your business. If applied with thought and strategy, CRM analytics and reporting can provide you the added advantage of improving the execution of your sales process and business objectives. Having this data at your disposal will not only help you make business decisions faster, but it will allow you to do so with greater clarity.
Insightly’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application helps you deal with the vital task of managing contacts, partners, and vendors. Insightly uniquely includes a project management system so you can make sure you’re on top of your customer relationships at every stage. With Insightly, all your contacts, emails, events, projects, tasks and sales opportunities are organized in a central place so everyone in your business has the most current information at their fingertips. Designed to work the way you work, Insightly is easy to use, yet powerful and customizable and will quickly become an application that you can’t live without!