Do you need to create a detailed sales report but don’t know where to start? Is your time to submit the report running out?
Don’t panic. We’re here to help.
In this post, we’ll help you understand the basics of sales reporting and show you how to create better sales reports for your team.
What Is a Sales Report?
You’ve probably heard the old adage, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
A sales report is a document highlighting sales initiatives over a specific time period. It’s not a sales forecast of what you think you might sell in the future, but what you actually sold. It quantifies the number of sales that occurred and gives details on who bought from you, how much and from what ‘type of customer’ this money was earned.
The easiest way to track all this information in a fast-paced business environment is by using comprehensive sales dashboards that allow you to view all your data in one place.
Now, let’s dive a bit deeper into the sales reporting process.
Different Types of Sales Reports
Before creating a sales report, the first step you need to determine is the type of sales report that you need. Sales leaders typically develop reports that include data for daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly sales.
But what sales-specific data do they typically report on?
Some of the most popular sales report types include:
Sales reports for management. These reports help you optimize your sales strategy and make better business decisions. They provide you with the big picture of your sales, revenue, product lines and essential metrics like conversion rates.
Sales reports for investors. This report is helpful if you’re looking to attract investors and provide them with an in-depth analysis of your business. It’s also a good way to show your current and potential employees that they’re working for a successful company.
Sales reports for affiliates. Affiliate sales reports help you see how much your affiliates contribute to your sales and which affiliates are most effective. This is also a critical report if you want to establish affiliate partnerships with other businesses.
Daily sales reports. Every business needs to pay close attention to day-to-day sales activity. A daily sales report will help you track this data down to the very last detail. Sales reporting software can help you generate daily sales reports in no time and determine where and when your most popular items are being purchased.
Product performance report. This report is particularly useful to eCommerce businesses as it allows you to understand the performance of individual products in an online store. It helps track which items are generating higher sales for you and what is the average price per sale for each product.
Payment performance report. This report helps in tracking the payment history of your customers, including whether or not they have paid for their orders, when they have paid for them and what type of payment they have used.
Customer performance report. A customer performance report is another eCommerce report that shows detailed information about each customer in your store, including their name, email address, phone number, city, state, etc.
Create a Sales Report in 5 Simple Steps
If you’re looking to create a basic sales report of your sales activity for a specific period of time, relying on tools such as Excel, Google Sheets, or even Google Docs could suffice. For more elaborate sales reports, we recommend using professional reporting tools like HubSpot, Databox or Salesforce.
Now, here are the steps you should follow to create a comprehensive sales report in any tool.
Set up a reporting structure
Setting up a reporting structure is an essential part of any sales reporting plan. This way, you’ll know what reports to create and how to prioritize them.
There are several strategies of structuring that can help:
By time period
Understand your past sales data
Fundamentally, sales reports are about understanding your past data. They help you figure out where you’ve succeeded (and failed) in the past, and they help you predict what you can do to improve your sales performance in the future.
Having a data-driven approach to sales reporting allows you to understand your past performance, monitor trends over time, and make vital business decisions that will help you grow in the future.
Examine trends over time
If you’re running a business, you should know how it’s doing over time, right?
Seems obvious enough, but that can be hard to determine, especially when you have dozens or even hundreds of sales every day. One way to do this is to examine trends over time, not just sales figures for a single day.
Monitoring trends over time can help with several things, such as:
Creating a solid foundation for better and data-driven business decisions.
Establishing budgets and forecasts around your sales so that you’re more aware of how much money you’re taking in and how much money you’re spending on promotional activities.
Create a timeline of your sales stats
By creating a timeline of your sales, you’ll be able to see how sales fluctuate over time, during which periods your customers are most active, and more. By looking specifically at the date of each sale, you’ll be able to see how long it takes for customers to make purchases after their initial contact.
Summarize your data with the help of line graphs
You can create line graphs that display different elements of the data. For example, you can use a line graph to compare your daily revenue, weekly revenue, and monthly revenue against each other. This will help you determine if a particular day or week has unusually high or low traffic and, therefore, increase or decrease your spending on marketing efforts for this day or week in the future.
Ready to Create Your Sales Report?
Hopefully, we’ve given you a better understanding of what goes into creating a sales report and how this information can prove to be useful for your business.
By taking the time to learn sales reporting best practices, you’ll be able to create better reports on a regular basis and have more data-backed discussions with your sales and leadership teams.
Charlie is the Chief Strategy Officer at Simple Machines Marketing. When he's not doing the marketing, he likes playing guitar, hanging with his family in Chicago and lots of other stuff too but this seems like a good amount for a blog bio.