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 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 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 growth strategy.
Sales reports keep management in the loop on sales activities so they can see what’s enabling and hindering their success. Regular sales reporting allows businesses to answer some of the most important questions they need to address to fuel their growth, such as:
- 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 pipeline? If so, how can we improve them?
- Are individual reps making their quota?
- 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 report, but including too much information can detract from the key insights you want to highlight. Instead, tailor your 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 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 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 leads you need to close a 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 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 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 your sales report from becoming a chore?
1. Write Each 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 report should highlight sales activity related to upselling and how profitability in those accounts has changed over time.
2. Set a Schedule 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, quotas, 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.
4. Enlist the Help of a CRM Solution
Using a CRM platform allows you to streamline tracking, automate parts of the reporting process, and visualize your data. For example, Propeller CRM’s built-in reports feature is an easy way to generate detailed and customized reports from your CRM.
Propeller’s 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 reporting easier than ever.
An Easier Way to Manage Sales Data
The right CRM can make all the difference for your sales team. If you want to streamline 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.