The below is a guest blog by Gene Marks, a CPA, author, columnist, and owner of The Marks Group.  Gene writes every day on small business for the Washington Post; twice a week for Forbes and weekly for Inc, & Entrepreneur.

Psst…do you know a secret about your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system? It’s nothing more than a database. Sure, there are lots of powerful features. But these features all have the same goal: to collect data that can be used to help improve your sales, service, and marketing departments. My clients who have figured this out are the ones who get the most value from their CRM system.

How? By making sure that their databases are running reports for management to see—because, without reports, the data is useless. Many CRM systems come with scores of reports. But in my experience, these are the five that are the most popular.

Pipeline Report This report should tell you the details of all open opportunities such as the customer, opportunity size, expected date of close, and the responsible team. It should also display what actions were most recently done and what actions are scheduled in the future. You should be able to sort your pipeline reports by region, close date, and team. This way no opportunity falls through the cracks. With close management, this report will also help you better estimate future cash flow, based on when opportunities are scheduled to turn into sales. Consider limiting these opportunities to the ones that exceed a certain size, so you make the best use of your time.

Activity Report  As long as they’re meeting their goals and quotas, most of your sales reps and customer service agent shouldn’t need micromanagement. But, if you’re like most of my clients, there will be a few that need a little more attention. That’s where the Activity Report comes in. Here, you’re tracking activities (i.e. calls, appointments, actions) completed in the prior week and activities scheduled for the next week. You should be able to do this on an individual rep/agent level, and see details like customer info, type of activity, notes and due/completion dates. This way you can help reps manage their time.

Open Issues Report My smartest clients don’t run from problems – they gravitate toward them. They gravitate towards problems so they can work to get them resolved. That’s why the Open Issues Report is so popular. It’s a simple report, made up of a designated activity (i.e. call ticket, task) that indicates a problem. The problem may be external (customer complaint, a service issue, a return) or internal (key employee out of the office, server down, a shortage of decaf coffee). The report usually shows the nature of the problem, who’s working on it, notes, what’s been done, and what’s scheduled to be done, as well as an estimated resolution date. Problems are closed out when resolved with resolution codes or explanations because – believe it or not – some managers like to go back and look at problems in the past and what was done to fix them.

Leads Report Whether you’re sending out emails, tweaking your search engine optimization, running events or sharing content on social media, the end result is always the same: you want new leads… Remember that your CRM system is the repository of all data you’ll be using to drive your marketing campaigns. As new leads come in it will be important to track them so you can see which campaign performed the best. Having a weekly leads report that shows you the prospects contact info, product interest, where the lead was sourced, last action, and next scheduled task is how you’ll keep up on all potential opportunities.

Lost Sales Report This, without question, is the most hated reports amongst my clients. But it also tends to be one of the more important ones. As you add opportunities to your Pipeline Report, make sure you have a process for closing them out, regardless of whether the opportunity was successfully or unsuccessfully resolved. Then, once a month, sit down with your Lost Sales Report. This report will list all of the sales that you didn’t get, along with the reasons you noted when you closed out the opportunity. It’s hard, but you’ll learn – and hopefully use the data from the report to make needed changes going forward.

Remember – your CRM system is just a database. A very important database. The more you use that data – through reporting – the greater value you’ll get from your CRM investment.

Gene Marks

CPA | Author | Columnist | Owner of The Marks Group


  1. moshe soffer

    I can give you some idea for good report that you can do Or must do

    1. Lead to potential\deal conversion (per lead source per sale person)
    2. lead to Close Deal won convertion (per lead source per sale person)
    3. Lead to meeting conversion (per lead source per sale person)
    4. meeting to close won conversion (per lead source per sale person)
    5 upsale deals and new deals this month