As a sales manager, you have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders.
Aside from managing a sales team and ensuring company growth, you’re also tasked with collecting the right data and presenting it to your colleagues in the best possible way.
This is exactly where an effective sales report can help you out.
What is a sales report and why is it important?
A sales report is a summary of all sales activity that occurs over a specific period of time.
The data is arranged in a way that it communicates meaningful information about the sales team’s progress and overall company growth.
A sales report is important because it allows the team, company managers and executives to assess how well their products or services are doing. It helps them make better decisions in the future and steer away from potential problems.
For example, if one of your promotional campaigns is not generating enough sales, or attracting the wrong kind of customers, you can consider changing it or stopping it altogether to achieve better results.
Sales reports are usually created by team leaders or sales managers, and can be formatted in different ways to effectively communicate important data. You can design your sales report as a multi-page document, a presentation and even make infographics out of it.
5 steps for creating a solid sales report
Anyone can stuff numbers into a report and drone on about it in a long meeting. The real challenge is to write a sales report that communicates the right data and doesn’t put your audience to sleep.
Here are five steps to creating a successful sales report that ticks all the boxes.
1. Identify the purpose of your report
You can’t possibly fit every bit of data into your sales report. The key is to focus only on data that helps you or the company achieve particular goals.
Ask yourself why you’re putting together a sales report in the first place. Are you measuring the effectiveness of your promotional campaigns? Do you want to identify interesting trends in sales over a period of time? Or is your sales report designed to motivate your team to perform better?
Knowing the purpose of your sales report will ultimately help you gather and analyze the right kind of data. It will also help you determine the scope of your report, like the time period to report on. This will make your sales presentation more likely to be a success.
For example, if you’re trying to understand how profitable a certain customer segment is, your sales report should focus on how much revenue this segment has generated for your company, what strategies were employed to maximize profit in the past and how effective they were.
2. Know your audience
Once you know exactly why you’re creating a sales report, the next step is to define your audience so you can make them understand your point in the best possible way.
A marketing head, for example, would likely be interested in a sales report that details which marketing campaigns have led to the most profitable sales.
But if you’re presenting in front of the top management, you’d want to focus more on the “big picture”, such as the overall growth of the company, instead of diving into the specifics.
It is your job to create reports that keep your audience in mind so they find the information relevant and are equipped with the necessary knowledge to make future decisions.
3. Gather your data
Now that you’re aware of the purpose and audience of your sales report, it’s time to gather, filter and analyze relevant data.
Make sure your data collection process is as goal-oriented and hassle-free as possible. Start by outlining what metrics you’re specifically interested in including inside your report.
A standard sales report should include the KPIs, number of goods sold, net sales, profits and customer acquisition costs.
Depending on your need, you might also want to include sales growth, regional sales, new opportunities, team performance and other metrics.
In this step, you also want to define the time period to focus on. It’s usually a good idea to take two different time periods—current and previous—and draw a comparison.
4. Make use of visuals
The way you present data to your audience is just as important as the data itself. This is where data visualization can help you out.
Instead of expecting managers to go through tables full of numbers and extract valuable information from them, use graphs and charts to illustrate data.
For example, a line graph can help show the increase or decrease in revenue over a period of time. A pie chart can illustrate how much each product contributes towards total sales. And bar graphs can be used to compare employee performance.
Visualizing data helps make your sales report easy to understand and digest. It can also highlight important trends and point out any issues that might be affecting your sales.
Plus, using visuals can help you put together a great-looking report that keeps your audience from dozing off.
You can easily create data visualizations, such as graphs, charts and maps, to use in your reports with the help of Visme’s graph maker.
5. Put the numbers into context
On their own, numbers can be misleading and lead to erroneous judgements.
This is why it is important to always contextualize the data you present, instead of just handing over a bunch of numbers.
For example, an alarming drop in sales over a month can confuse an executive and lead them to make hasty decisions. But a note in your report explaining why sales dropped, such as due to bad weather conditions in the area, can help prevent any mistakes in interpreting actual trends.
Make sure you know the “why” behind each and every piece of information that you include in your sales report.
Tips for improving your sales reports
The steps above will help you put together a sales report that does its job. But if you want to create a report that goes the extra mile and stands out among others, follow the tips below.
Provide a summary
A great way to begin your sales report is to provide a brief overview of what’s inside. Make sure you include key highlights and takeaways.
Providing a summary helps grab attention and tells your audience what to expect so they’re better prepared to process that information.
Plus, CEOs and top executives usually don’t have time to go through an entire report. They’ll appreciate it if you summarize the most important information for them right at the beginning.
Use a sales report template
If you don’t have time to design and format a sales report from scratch, simply use a template.
A good sales report template will give you a well-structured skeleton where all you need to do is input your data and information.
This can help save tons of your time and effort, while still ensuring that you end up with a beautiful and organized sales report.
Here are a few sales report templates that you can customize.
If you want to present your sales report in front of a live audience, you can also put together a great-looking presentation using the template below.
Automate sales reporting with a CRM
If your company uses a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, you can easily use it to generate a customized and detailed sales report.
Traditional tools like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets are good for storing data and performing complex calculations, but you’ll need to set up formulas and format the sheets from scratch.
When you use a CRM, however, you can generate a sales report almost immediately, as these systems already track and store all of your sales data in real-time.
By automating parts of your sales reporting process, you can cut down on the time and effort required to put together a report that conveys relevant information in an engaging way.
Most CRMs usually offer several different types of reports that you can generate and customize for your own needs.
Ready to create better sales reports?
Sales reporting might not be the most enjoyable part of business management, but it is a necessary one. Sales reports form the backbone of a company and help give direction to your future campaigns and overall business growth.
Follow the steps and tips above to put together a sales report that doesn’t take too much time, conveys the right information and has maximum impact.
Looking for more ways to effortlessly scale your sales team? Check out The Sales Hiring Playbook, a free book that teaches you step-by-step how to recruit, interview, and hire the best candidates.