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Sales forecasting opportunities and reports in Microsoft CRM

What are the best (and easiest) sales reports to create in Microsoft Dynamics CRM? Read advice from Microsoft CRM expert Richard Smith to help create reports for sales effectiveness.

I have only limited experience using reports in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. What are the best (and easiest) reports to create for sales results? Can you offer some tips on creating internal and external reports? I am looking to create overview sales reports without getting inundated by numbers.

Ironically, while every organization needs a sales forecast and/or pipeline report to run their business, we have rarely met any two vice presidents of sales that agree on the same format for that report. This typically means that the reports are custom-tailored for each organization, according to the metrics needed to ensure business success.

Dynamics CRM offers several options for helping organizations get quick and accurate access to the information they need to run their business. CRM offers integration with Microsoft Office Excel to export data from just about any list – accounts, contacts, opportunities, cases, etc. In the menu above the list is an Excel icon which provides the ability to export a static (unchanging) list of records, create a dynamic (updatable) list of records, or create a dynamic pivot table report. With either of the dynamic report options, the individual user can quickly select the most important fields to appear on the report, and can control the report layout. These reports can not only be updated, but also embed the pre-defined security from Dynamics CRM – so a manager running the Excel report might see all opportunities across the division while a sales rep might only see their own opportunities. Dynamics CRM also makes it possible to link the Excel reports into the user interface, so a custom Excel opportunity report is only one click away in the Opportunities list view.

Microsoft has included their powerful new reporting solution, SQL Reporting Services (SRS), as the de facto reporting solution with Dynamics CRM 3.0. SRS is an enterprise reporting solution that enables organizations to create more complex reports with dynamic (user-selected) filters and grouping, so users can control what they see and how they see it in the report. SRS also provides direct click-through functionality, meaning that users can open opportunities, cases, accounts, contacts, and activities by clicking on data in the report – saving time when making updates to sales opportunities or closing completed activities. Reports can also be distributed on a schedule via email; many of our customers leverage this powerful scheduling functionality to provide their sales teams with key performance reports before the weekly sales meeting. Developing reports in SRS required a bit more technical expertise than creating one of the dynamic Excel reports, but the solution offers a powerful layout wizard for designing the reports. Custom SRS reports can also be linked into relevant sections of Dynamics CRM, so they too are only a click away from the opportunity, case, or account views.

The power and the flexibility provided by Dynamics CRM, Excel, and SQL Reporting Services are guaranteed to enable organizations to monitor their key performance statistics to effectively run their sales organizations.

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