On average, a small business might spend up to 20 percent of its revenue pursuing sales leads. For newer companies, this figure can reach 45 percent. With all this money going toward sales, it’s only natural that you and your sales team, managers, executives or external investors might want to see regular overviews of your sales metrics. That’s where sales reports come in.
A sales report, also known as a sales analysis report, is a document that summarizes a business’s sales activities. This report typically includes information on sales volume, leads, new accounts, revenue and costs for a given period. It may also analyze this information along each step of the sales funnel and indicate your sales team’s performance (or any gaps therein).
These reports might help your company modify its sales approach and other growth initiatives. They can provide insights into sales methodology successes, predictions of future sales data, analyses of performance compared to previous periods, and greater understanding of customer motivations.
No two sales reports look exactly the same. Different types of sales reports focus on different sales metrics, needs or strategies. These are some of the report types:
Don’t feel like you need to have every single type of sales report. Ask yourself what the purpose of capturing the data is and whether you have the resources to invest in that purpose. For a small business, a sales funnel conversion report might not be necessary, but a daily sales report could be essential.
Sales reports can be set to various frequencies and tied to key performance indicators (KPIs), helping you to monitor your success over time. These are some common frequencies:
There are many different types of sales reports, and each one includes different information. All of these can be useful to a business, but if you’re just starting out, consider beginning with simple daily, weekly, monthly and annual sales reports. The rest can be developed over time.
The key elements depend on the type of report. In general, though, sales reports should contain the following figures:
You’ll notice that this list of figures is relatively short, even though you may have many KPIs to include in your report. That’s because staying concise is key; you don’t want to overwhelm the people reading your report right out of the gate.
However, figures alone aren’t enough to constitute a sales report. You’ll also need to provide a written explanation of what these numbers mean and how they should compel the company to act. We’ll discuss this step in the detailed report-writing guide below.
Follow these steps to create a sales report:
A sales report should be more than a document full of numbers and explanations. It should also be eye-catching and easy for someone to read without feeling overwhelmed. To achieve this, you can download a sales report template from your point of sale (POS) system. Alternatively, you can use any of the best CRM software to easily create several report types.
If you’re a high-ranking sales team member presenting a report to your head of sales, you may want to include a lot of KPIs. Executives might be looking for a more succinct summary. Further, a CEO might be interested in different data than a CFO. Your CRM software should be able to help you reformat your sales data for any audience.
Once you know your audience and the depth of reporting expected, you can decide whether to include or exclude certain data sets, such as sales revenue and costs, period-to-period KPI change, progress toward sales goals, sales by product or service, sales forecasts, and future sales plans.
Given the frequency criteria described above, determine whether the information you want to convey is best presented in an annual, monthly, weekly or daily view. Then, compare your information for this period to an equivalent prior period. For example, if you’re presenting sales information for February 2021, note percentage changes in this period’s KPIs as compared to all of January 2021 — and not just the final week of January.
Once you’ve established your information needs and data period, it’s time to actually compile your data. This step typically means logging in to your CRM software and pulling up data, then either downloading it for use in another program or turning it into reports right from your CRM dashboard. Either way, sales reporting doesn’t stop at getting your data in one place.
Sales reports should be more than lists of numbers. Include plenty of graphs and other helpful images to help your audience make sense of these figures. Make sure to use the right type of graph. For example, an annual report might call for a line chart to show revenues month over month. Your CRM software might be able to auto-generate these charts, or you can use Excel to assist in graph creation.
After you’ve compiled your data and created charts and graphs, you should go back to steps one and two: considering your audience and including appropriate information. Sometimes, you won’t realize you’ve put in too much or too little information until after your first draft of a report. Don’t be afraid to take out information, recreate graphs or ask a fellow sales team member for assistance. Remember, everyone needs an editor. It’s important to strike a balance between insight and overabundance well before you walk into your meeting.
This final step is perhaps the most important. Again, presenting data itself is only half the battle; you need to put words to your data for it to mean much to your audience.
For example, if your monthly report shows a sales decline from the previous period for the first time in several months, don’t assume your audience will infer the cause of this decline. Provide an analysis that suggests the decline is due to an expected seasonal slowdown compounded by an economic downturn. You should also open your report with a written summary of data from the previous period.
Your written explanations should at once justify your figures and be justified by your figures. They should also outline fixes that your team plans to implement. For example, if a key competitor’s limited-time discounts have reduced your sales, explain how you will pursue the customers lost to that promotion. You can meaningfully present even the most concerning data if you determine an actionable, fixable root cause.
Once you do act, sales could increase. Therein lies the value of the sales report.
This template of a simple daily sales report could be used for retail stores, restaurants or any other business managing inventory including several different items. If you’re using one of the best point of sale systems (POS systems), you will be able to easily pull this data using the platform’s reporting tools.
Sales Person Name
10 oz. bag of salt and vinegar chips
1 qt. Chocolate milk
16 oz. jar of peanut butter
Sales amount = $23.50
Sales tax = $1.65
Sales total = $25.15
There are certainly more robust types of sales reports, such as sales funnel conversion reports and upsell/cross-sell reports, but this basic sales report is the most essential for a small business.
When you have sales data organized in easy-to-review reports, you can make better decisions about which products and services to emphasize and which might be losing you money. With sales data at your fingertips, you can help guide your business to solid ground and scale what works best for your bottom line. Whether you want a simple daily sales report or you’re looking for more complex data, consider using POS software. It can streamline the task for you as well as prevent double data entry and human error.
Jacob Bierer-Nielsen contributed to this article.