1When you run a business that deals in goods or services, you need to be able to gauge success. One of the best ways to measure your business success is by keeping track of sales. This is why it's essential to know how to write sales reports. Sales reports tell the story of a business's sales and its success or failure. If you want to know how to write better sales reports, here are the different types and the principles behind them.
A sales report is a document put together at the end of a specified time period for a company. It charts how many sales the company made for its products or services. However, it gives much more information than simple sales numbers.
A sales report is not merely about displaying the amount of money made through sales. It verifies whether or not changes in the company have made a discernible impact on sales or interest.
For example, imagine a company that normally spends $50,000 on advertising. For the next month, they decide to increase their advertising spending to $100,000. At the end of the sales period, the sales report should indicate whether the advertising budget increase was a justified cost.
Sales reports also help to track trends in markets. By viewing how well their products and services are sold, they can then read consumer behaviors and scan for potential patterns and preferences. This allows for a company to make adjustments to products, marketing, or sales, give a better estimation of sales forecasting, look at the sales performance of their team and individual sales reps, and see if goals are being met.
Sales reports come in numerous different types designed to serve multiple needs. Knowing what each type of report offers will help you create the right one for your needs.
A sales forecast is a predictive document. Its purpose is to gauge the number of potential future sales. A good sales forecast considers factors such as seasonal slowdowns, seasonal uplifts, material abundance or shortages, and any other external factors that could affect the number of sales made in a given period.
A sales forecast is not meant to be taken as an ironclad prediction of the future because that would be an impossible feat. However, when done correctly, it should give estimates close enough to be accurate for companies to work with.
Here is an example of a sales forecast template.
Sales KPI (key performance indicators) reports are documents that take complicated raw data and boil it down into simple metrics. Most commonly, KPI reports are used to measure the success or failure rates of certain departments or teams within a company in relation to their respective goals.
Here is an example of a sales report template using Excel.
An upsell is when a sales representative convinces a customer who is already in the middle of a purchase to make an additional purchase they had not initially planned on. Upsell and cross-sell reports are important because they gauge what items are typically upsold and what does not. It can also be used to measure whether or not the approach taken by sales representatives to upsell products and services is working or needs to be retooled.
Here is a sales performance report that shows up and cross-sells as a part of their sales KPI dashboard.
A sales opportunity report is a pipeline analysis tool typically used by a sales manager. They detail sales prospect potential for individual sales representatives. More specifically, it gauges how many opportunities the representative had to make sales and how many opportunities led to successful sales.
This sales opportunity report example shows a simple overview of each sales rep along with their opportunities and how many they won.
When you have a list of sales leads, it is helpful to know which leads lead to sales or “conversions.” This is the purpose of a sales conversion report. Not only does a sales conversion report tell you who among your leads bought, but almost more importantly, who did not buy.
A sales conversion report does not simply tell you who did or did not buy. A good sales conversion report can also give insight into whether or not the methods used to sell to those leads worked. For example, they can reveal what time is best to act on a sales lead or indicate what those leads are looking for.
Here is an example of a sales conversion report that shows how many leads converted into sales.
A sales funnel report is often quite similar to a sales conversion report. However, instead of tracking sales conversions, it tracks how many of the leads are close to buying. The core function of a sales funnel report is that it helps you learn the demographic of your leads better. You figure out how to nurture the sales relationship and ultimately convert leads into full-fledged customers.
By looking at a sales funnel report, you can find potential weaknesses in your sales pipeline. You can also better gauge what you are doing correctly. Without this data, you do not have a complete picture of your sales and prospects.
Here is a simple sales report template showcasing the sales pipeline funnel you could create in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.
There are different time periods of sales reports based on your preferences and who the sales reports are for. For example, a sales manager may want to know daily sales performance details for their sales team, while an executive may want to see a bigger picture of the sales cycle each month or quarter.
Depending on the frequency you decide based on your needs, a good CRM should have sales report templates with all of your sales data included, making it easier for you to access sales reports instantly and for any time period you desire.
Here are the most common sales reports based on their intervals.
This type of report will give more detail to those who want to know what their sales reps and team are doing daily to make adjustments. This could track how many calls they make, email follow-ups they send, sales meetings they have, or every sale each sales rep closes.
A weekly sales report may track KPIs based weekly like how many new customers the sales team got in the past week, their revenue earned, their number of sales calls. You can make this as detailed as a daily sales report or give a more extensive overview of goals and KPIs.
A monthly sales report provides a slightly bigger picture of daily and weekly sales reports. Depending on your preferences, you can include the granular details of daily sales reports by including how many calls each sales rep made or follow-up sales emails they sent, or you can show a higher overview of numbers by reporting on their deals closed and revenue earned on a weekly basis over the last month.
An annual sales report will give you the most details about your sales performance, management, and sales reps. By providing an overview of a year’s sales data, you can see how your marketing campaigns impacted sales, if seasonality affected sales numbers, how each sales rep performed over time, and so much more.
There are some sales data points and other important sales activity components you should include in your sales reporting, whether it’s for a daily sales report, weekly report, or monthly sales report.
Depending on the period of your report, you should include new sales data for that interval. For example, if you supply a daily sales report, you want to showcase the previous day’s sales numbers. While a monthly sales report could show sales data over the last month, sometimes comparing numbers weekly.
Here’s what to include in your sales analysis report.
Now that you know the different types of sales reports, you may be curious about what you need to put into a sales report. Not all sales reports look the same from one type to another. In fact, not all sales reports look the same from company to company. However, there are rules and principles that every type of sales report should stick with.
You would create a different sales report for your sales manager who wants to see daily numbers for phone calls and deals closed, as opposed to an executive who cares more about sales revenue and profits. Know what sales data is needed to create the most relevant sales report.
There is no room in a sales report for fluff or anecdotes. While a positive sales report may seem like a prime opportunity to pat oneself on the back, the truth is that it is always better to remain professional by keeping your sales reports factual and concrete.
Focus on the numbers and the straight facts of the data. This may seem dry, but it will keep your reader focused on the most relevant information. That is not to say that a little flourish is not acceptable or even necessary at times. It simply means that you should put the facts ahead of other features.
Most likely, your company is using a CRM to track everything during the sales process, from sales calls and closed deals to revenue and profits after costs. Compile all of the necessary sales data to create a sales report inside your CRM or export it to write a sales report in another software or tool.
The old saying about honesty being the best policy certainly applies when discussing sales reports. If the sales situation looks somewhat dire, do not be afraid to address any problems with the current approach. This does not mean you go into a long spiel filled with doom and gloom. Remain factual and honest. If there are shortcomings, then they should be addressed honestly and respectfully.
The same principle applies when things are going well. You do not want to come off as too pessimistic or optimistic. You want to be realistic. This means reporting the real sales numbers rather than projections or estimates. When you make the mistake of fudging the numbers, even a little bit, you are not only lying but also creating a set of false expectations. Not only could this hurt the business, but it will also almost certainly cost you your job.
You cannot paint a clear picture of how your business is doing by only using the present as your metric of success or failure. You must maintain prior sales reports to have a basis for comparison. Keeping those prior sales reports will give you concrete metrics for your goals for the next sales period.
You should also use data that has been gathered from social media and search engine results such as Google. These metrics will give a greater insight into consumer behavior and what potential customers are looking for. It is a good idea for you to try and compile this information into a single document that can serve as a visual comparison between the current and last sales period for those on the team who may not necessarily have the time or require an in-depth report.
One thing that is very important when creating a good, coherent sales report is to make sure that you tell the story of the sales period. This means examining what approaches were taken in that sales period and whether they were successful. You then probe further to explain why an initiative was a success or a failure.
In telling the story of the sales period, be sure to use quantifiable numbers and figures. The ultimate goal is to present all factual information and do so engagingly, treating sales reporting as though it is a story. In this regard, you may wish to turn to AI writing tools like CopyAI to better craft that narrative.
Showing sales data is one thing. Anyone can read numbers. You need to be able to explain why something happened briefly, and this is where you provide that sales analysis.
Whether your past endeavors were successful or failures, they need to be examined. This is because they can give you a strong insight into what hasn't worked in the past, what has, and what could have been done to make things even more successful.
When scanning past documents, you can also see different factors, such as changing trends, new buying patterns, changing demographics, and anything else that may have changed.
You may find that seasonal changes can be relied upon or that certain demographics either no longer fit or are now interested in what your business offers. The past has valuable information that may come in handy when you properly analyze it.
It can be frustratingly monotonous at times to read sales reports, no matter how important the information may be. The fact is that some people find sales reports to be boring. Fortunately, there are visual aids that can be used to simplify information and save time.
Here are some of the most popular types of visual aids.
They may not necessarily be fun to look at, but they will give you reliable data in a more easily understood package. They are a tremendous time saver as they do not require lots of information. However, due to their simple nature, they may actually invite more conversation among sales team members than a full written report.
Sales reports are crucial documents for any business that offers goods or services. They are one of the best ways to track whether or not a business is currently successful or if they are starting to falter.
By having this information, they can make the adjustments needed to increase sales, leads, and engagement. Knowing how best to format monthly sales information is what will allow you to create sales reports that benefit not only your company but, ultimately, your customers.
This article is part of an ongoing series on how to write. It includes topics such as how to write a press release, how to write a brand story, and how to write a business proposal to help academics, business professionals and entrepreneurs navigate the complicated skills of writing.
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