I have been reminded a few times recently of the wide misconception people have of CRM and the reports available from these software tools. To effectively manage a process you need to measure not only the ultimate outcomes of the process, but also intermediate milestones within the process so you don’t have to wait until the end to make improvements.
Most standard CRM reports are about activities (ie. how many calls were made, how many appointments were completed, how many demos were provided, how many quotes were presented, etc.). All of these reports are about activities; and while knowing the activity level of a sales person or the entire sales team may be nice to know, it is almost impossible to effectively improve a sales process simply with activity reports.
Unfortunately, too many sales managers believe that measuring activity can improve sales results and/or are unaware how to produce process reports from their CRM tool. Given that good sales managers were effectively managing sales processes long before CRM software was created, it seems reasonable to believe that CRM should make doing this easier (ie. more efficient). It can, but not usually with the simple activity reports CRM tools produce without effort.
The same is true of Marketing Automation Tools. Recently published survey research suggests that Marketing execs are still held in low regard because they focus on the reports their tools offer, and not on determining if their efforts are supporting the desired business outcomes.
Measure and monitor what you need to improve performance, not what the folks at Salesforce.com (or any other CRM tool) make easy for you to report.