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:
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.
Relevant KPIs, as determined by the above criteria
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.