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How to Develop a Sales Report

Max Freedman
Max Freedman
Researcher

Here's how to develop a sales report that provides detailed information on your sales department's performance.

  • A sales report details all your business's sales activities and provides insight into what your company should do differently.
  • There are several sales report types, which vary in frequency and KPIs.
  • A sales report should include numerous KPIs, with written explanations of how these figures impact future sales operations.
  • This article is for small business owners who have a sales department and want to learn how to develop a sales report.

On average, a small business might spend up to 20% of its revenue pursuing sales leads. For newer companies, this figure can reach 45%. 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.

What is a sales report?

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.

Key takeaway: A sales report summarizes all your company's sales activity and offers meaningful insight into what your company should do differently.

What are the different types of sales reports?

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:

  • Sales forecasts. These reports predict the number of sales your team will make in a given period. You can use them to anticipate seasonal slowdowns or plan for issues that might affect business.

  • Sales funnel reports. These reports show how close a lead is to buying your product or service. Sales funnels help you understand how to best nurture leads and, ultimately, convert them into customers. By comparing back-to-back sales funnel reports, you can identify weaknesses in your sales pipeline.

  • Conversion reports. These reports resemble sales funnel reports in that they assess the progress of leads along the sales funnel, though they look specifically at the conversion of leads to customers, not the status of leads along the funnel. A standard conversion tracking report includes information about contacts, leads generated and qualified, and wins, with period-to-period change rates indicated as well.

  • Opportunity score reports. Opportunity score reports are based on the Einstein opportunity score. This metric, which artificial intelligence determines, rates leads from one to 99, where a higher score means a higher likelihood of a sales win. These reports are useful for planning how to divide your team's time pursuing leads.

  • Upsell and cross-sell reports. These reports detail the number and value of items upsold or cross-sold to customers. Your team can review these reports to identify future upselling and cross-selling opportunities or flag certain products and services as especially suited for these sales approaches.

  • Sales call reports. These sales reports concern calls placed to leads, prospects and customers to encourage purchases. Through these reports, you can gain insights into your reps' performance and your leads' qualities.

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:

  • Daily sales reports. A daily sales report can track KPIs such as a rep's number of daily calls and leads generated.

  • Weekly sales reports. A weekly sales report can track KPIs such as the entire sales team's deals closed or revenue earned.

  • Monthly sales reports. A monthly sales report can provide a longer-term overview of the metrics tracked in either a daily or weekly sales report.

  • Annual sales reports. An annual sales report is an especially lengthy, detailed version of a monthly sales report. It may be the most useful for determining a subsequent year's sales quotas. It can also help you address sales management issues, indicate seasonal fluctuations, observe the impacts of marketing campaigns, and identify especially successful sales reps.

Key takeaway: Several sales report types exist, measuring different KPIs and running at different intervals.

What are the key elements of a sales report?

The key elements depend on the type of report. In general, though, sales reports should contain the following figures:

  • Relevant KPIs, as determined by the above criteria
  • Sales volume
  • Net sales (this is a dollar figure, whereas sales volume is simply the number of sales made)
  • Gross sales (net sales minus the cost of sales)
  • Percent of KPI change compared to the previous reporting period

You'll notice that this list of figures is relatively short, though you may have quite a few 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.

Key takeaway: A sales report should include numerous figures, alongside a written explanation of how the company should change its sales strategy in response to these figures.

How do you write a sales report?

Follow these steps to create a sales report:

1. Decide how your sales report will look.

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 or use your customer relationship management (CRM) software for easy creation of several report types.

2. Consider your audience.

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 want 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.

3. Include the appropriate information.

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.

4. Determine your current and previous periods.

Given the frequency criteria described above, you should determine whether the information you want to convey is best presented in an annual, monthly, weekly or daily view. You should 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, not just the final week of January.

5. Compile your data.

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.

6. Present your information appropriately.

Sales reports shouldn't just be lists of numbers. You should include plenty of graphs and other helpful images to help your audience make sense of these figures. Of course, you should 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.

7. Double-check your data and information.

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.

8. Explain your data.

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.

Key takeaway: To write a sales report, choose a format and consider your audience, information, and time period, then end with written insights and context.

Image Credit: fizkes / Getty Images
Max Freedman
Max Freedman
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
Max Freedman is a content writer who has written hundreds of articles about small business strategy and operations, with a focus on finance and HR topics. He's also published articles on payroll, small business funding, and content marketing. In addition to covering these business fundamentals, Max also writes about improving company culture, optimizing business social media pages, and choosing appropriate organizational structures for small businesses.