A Salesforce Training Guide to Selecting the Right Reports and Dashboards

Almost any Salesforce training implementation will be replacing some other system, no matter how crude. We’ve seen Salesforce  replace an equally sophisticated CRM program like Sieble, it could be replacing a more antiquated program like ACT or Sugar, or it could be replacing something as basic as Outlook and Excel, or even more basic like a stack of index cards (don’t laugh…we’ve seen that more than once!)  In any event, Salesforce will be replacing what you do today.

You need to start the Salesforce training process by first identifying what information is currently being reported on and visible across all levels of the organization. What you’ll find, more than likely, is that there will be some manner in which the sales team reports and views information on

  • Prospects (called Leads in Salesforce)
  • Customers (Accounts)
  • Activities of reps (Tasks)
  • Sales pipelines and forecasts (Opportunities)
  • Booked revenue (Closed Opportunities)

When determining what the reporting will look like in Salesforce.com, the best place in the company to start is by going to the top ranking individual that utilizes this data – either of the entire organization when the company is small to mid-sized (i.e. the CEO or owner), or just the top of the sales division when the company is larger (i.e. the VP Sales). What we want to know is what is the one, critical report he or she needs to do their job, and the four, five or six critical pieces of data that individual needs (whether or not they are already part of the existing system) to make key decisions. Here are some examples of the things we want to learn;

  • How often do you look at the information?
  • Why do you look there, and what are you trying to measure or control?
  • Which decisions do you make on the basis of the data – what actions do you take?
  • How do these data affect the things that you are measured on?
  • Which incentives are in place for the people below you to “do well” according to the data?
  • If you question the data, how would you validate that information? What would you compare it to?

After completing these findings with the head of sales, repeat the procedure with their counterparts who also have access to, and a vested interest in, Salesforce.com data – the head of marketing, client service, the CFO, and perhaps the CEO (depending again on the size of the firm).

Finally, we want to identify the 5 to 10 system users who will be looking at and interacting with Salesforce.com data most intently on a daily basis. These people may be near the bottom of the organizational ladder, but they are definitely front and center when it comes to lead generation, customer capture and transactional truth.

From these surveys, the Salesforce training team should have enough data to determine a list of the various reports, dashboards and views that will ultimately be needed.


SalesForce Training & Consulting is a professional coaching and training firm that specializes in helping companies navigate their way in a Salesforce.com environment. SalesForce Training is based in Toronto, with trainers in Boston and Chicago, providing sales coaching, sales management consulting, Salesforce.com training and Salesforce.com Admin support, sales training and sales personnel assessments.