There’s more to growing your startup than just making sales. It’s critical to look beyond how many deals you closed this period to the specific factors impacting your sales team’s success.
This is where regular sales reporting comes in handy.
What is a Sales Report?
Sales reports are a record of sales activity over a particular period of time. These reports detail what reps have been up to, reveal whether the team is on track to meet its quota, and alert management to any potential issues.
Generated either by individual sales reps or sales managers, sales reports include data on sales volume, ongoing opportunities, new accounts, revenue, and customer acquisition costs.
Why Should Small Businesses Care About Sales Reports?
Sales reports are important for businesses of every size, even if the sales team is quite small. Startups and SMBs can use insights gained from sales reporting to optimize their sales process and growth strategy.
Sales reports keep management in the loop on sales activities so they can see what’s enabling and hindering their team’s success. Regular sales reporting allows businesses to answer some of the most important questions they need to address to fuel their growth, such as:
- Who are our ideal customers?
- Where are our best leads coming from?
- What motivates new customers to buy?
- What factors prevent a prospect from buying?
- Are there any bottlenecks in our sales pipeline? If so, how can we improve them?
- Are individual reps making their quotas?
- Is the team on track to meet specific sales goals?
- What is our top sales rep doing that the rest of the team can replicate?
- How do sales this quarter compare to previous periods?
- What is our forecast for the next period or quarter?
Keeping a record of transactions at each stage of the sales process allows you to analyze and understand what your team is doing well and what needs improvement. This data not only tells you about your sales team’s productivity, strengths, and weaknesses, but it also tells you about your customers and your general sales process.
How to Write a Sales Report
There are a range of details you could include in your sales reports; but including too much information can detract from the key insights you want to highlight. Instead, tailor your sales reports to focus on specific metrics that play the biggest role in your sales process.
Once you know what your focus should be, these are the basic steps you can follow to write a sales report:
1. Begin with a Summary
Starting your sales report with an overview allows you to get to the good stuff first. Look back at your numbers from the month, quarter, or year you’re reporting on to determine the key takeaways.
When writing the summary, ask yourself, “What’s the most important thing I want to communicate in my sales report?”
In many cases, the number of sales made over the period and whether you met your quota are the most important figures to highlight. Remember to keep the summary brief – one paragraph is enough for a weekly report, while a quarterly or annual report might require up to a page.
2. Breakdown the Numbers
After the summary, include a section focused on sales figures. The exact contents of this section vary from business to business, but it details metrics related to your total sales for the period.
Here are a few things you may want to include in your sales report:
- Number of deals at each stage of the pipeline.
- Average deal size and the value of each deal closed.
- Close rate. This allows you to predict how many new leads you need to close a single new deal.
- Sales cycle length (how long it takes to close each deal).
3. Interpret Your Results
Once you’ve provided all the relevant numbers and data, include a comparison between past periods for more context. Use charts to visualize how your current numbers compare to the previous month or quarter.
You should also use this section of your sales report to describe some of the factors that impacted sales volume. Regardless of whether you met your quota or sales goal, it’s crucial to analyze what factors led to these results. If you had a bad quarter, identify what went wrong and describe how you plan to improve for the next quarter. If you exceeded your sales quota, figure out a way to replicate these results in the future.
4 Tips to Minimize the Burden of Sales Reporting
Truth be told, no one really enjoys creating sales reports. However, there are a few things you can do to make sales reporting a bit less unpleasant and a bit easier to compile.
So, how can you prevent sales reporting from becoming a chore?
1. Write Each Sales Report with a Goal in Mind
Set relevant goals for your sales team at the start of each month or quarter. Give them specific benchmarks to work towards. When it comes time to reflect on the period, outline questions that they should answer in their sales reports.
For instance, if your goal this month is to optimize revenue from existing customers, your sales report should highlight sales activity related to upselling and how profitability in those accounts has changed over time.
2. Set a Schedule for Sales Reporting (and Stick to It)
Regular reporting is an easy way to prevent sales reports from feeling like a burden. Rather than finding excuses to put it off, commit to filing reports at regular intervals to ensure if becomes part of your routine.
One of the major benefits of frequent reporting is that you’ll gain more value from sales reports over time since you’ll have more data to compare. This will help steer you or your sales manager in the right direction when making decisions about your sales goals, sales quotas, sales forecasting, and pricing.
Plus, sales reporting does get easier (and faster) with practice.
3. Standardize Metrics and Data Submission
Keeping your data organized is another way to make sales reporting as headache-free as possible. This might involve a data submission template or a CRM solution that automatically tracks and formats information about your sales activity.
To keep everyone on the same page in terms of expectations about data entry and tracking, communicate your data requirements (which metrics are most important and how to track them) to everyone who deals with sales reports.
Among the most valuable sales metrics you should keep an eye on are sales pipeline coverage, opportunity win rate, monthly new leads, and monthly sales.
4. Enlist the Help of a CRM Solution
Adding a CRM platform to your sales stack allows you to streamline tracking, automate parts of the sales reporting process, and visualize your data. For example, Propeller CRM’s built-in reports feature is an easy way to generate detailed and customized sales reports from your CRM.
Propeller’s CRM dashboards generate clean, visually-pleasing reports that you can easily resize to emphasis important details. The platform also offers automatic updating, which means it will pull into relevant data for you and make sales reporting easier than ever.
How to Generate Sales Reports with Propeller CRM
Since we want you to get excited about (or at least interested in) sales reporting, we put together this list of dashboards and report types that you can create and monitor in Propeller.
Even if you’re new our platform, it’s easy to get started with sales reporting thanks to our dashboard widgets. Once you’ve set up your first sales pipeline, you’ll want to take advantage of the various widgets you can use to build a custom summary view of your sales process.
First, click on your dashboard view at the bottom of the menu on the left-hand side of your screen. Then, click on ‘New Dashboard’ (or ‘Edit’ if you’re making changes to an existing widget). From there, you can set or adjust each widget’s properties to track any aspect of your sales process.
How to Edit Dashboard Properties for Custom Sales Reporting
- Set the widget type to the dashboard you want to create, whether it’s Revenue Forecast, Average Deal Size, Win Rate, or something else.
- Select the pipeline you want to track.
- Set a timeframe for the dates you want included.
- Name your dashboard so you can tell what it’s tracking at a glance.
- Click save, and enjoy clear, easy-to-read sales reporting!
Want to know the best part of using Propeller for sales pipeline reporting? Automatic updating means you can create a dashboard for the current month, quarter, or year and Propeller will automatically generate new reports for future periods – so you have one less thing to worry about at the end of each quarter.
8 Easy-to-Create Dashboards that Will Help Visualize Your Sales Reports
Consistent sales reporting allows management to keep tabs on rep activities, makes it easier to set realistic sales quotas, and can even help identify bottlenecks in your pipeline. The sooner you unearth problems in your sales process, the sooner you can resolve issues that might be slowing your down.
So, let’s take a quick look at the various sales dashboards and reports you can create with Propeller – and why each of these reports are invaluable to your sales team.
1. Opportunity Creation Rate
Your opportunity creation rate tells you how quickly new leads are entering your pipeline. In order to maintain a sustainable sales pipeline coverage ratio, you need to be finding, contacting, and qualifying enough leads every month to keep your pipeline full and give your sales reps a fighting chance to make quota.
2. Opportunities Created by Source
This dashboard gives shows yu where your leads coming from, so you know exactly where to look for more high-quality opportunities. Tracking opportunity source helps you focus your resources and optimize your sales process for higher profits and consistent success.
3. Opportunities Won
An easy way to visualize your team’s success, your Opportunities Won dashboard highlights how many deals you closed in a given month and how much revenue your sales reps brought in over that period.
4. Opportunity Win Rate
An opportunity win rate report reveals what percentage of total opportunities close successfully each month. Use this dashboard to track trends over time and to see what you can do to optimize your win rate further. For even more context, look at how your win rate compares to industry benchmarks.
5. Average Deal Size
This sales reports dashboard shows you how much your average deal is worth. Tracking this metric gives you a clear idea of how much revenue each sales rep should be able to earn, whether you have enough opportunities in the pipeline to meet your quotas, and whether your business model is profitable and sustainable in the long-term.
6. Opportunity Pipeline
This report provides an overview of the various opportunities in your sales pipeline. While we recommend starting with a basic five-stage pipeline, you can add as many steps as you need for your sales process and create multiple pipelines for different activities, such as selling, fundraising, and partnerships.
7. Opportunity Stage Started
Instantly see how many opportunities have entered each stage in your pipeline – and track how long they spend at each stage to identify potential bottlenecks. Looking at where most of your opportunities stall and how quickly they move between stages helps you measure pipeline velocity, improve forecasting, and optimize your sales process.
8. Revenue Forecast
Do you know how much revenue you have sitting in your sales pipeline and – just as importantly – when you can expect it to come in? Every deal in your pipeline has its own value, likelihood to close, and projected close date. You can create a weighted sales pipeline in Propeller to track how likely each opportunity is to close at any given stage, which leads to more accurate sales forecasting. (For even more guidance, check out our sales forecasting tools.)
An Easier Way to Manage Sales Data
The right CRM can make all the difference for your sales team. If you want to streamline sales reporting so you can focus on sales instead of data, start your free trial of Propeller today. You’ll never want to go back to manual tracking again.