3. Decide on a Time Period
Are you going to share all your sales numbers from the inception of your company? That would be a pretty hefty report. Instead, figure out what time period you want to focus on. Is this a weekly report, a monthly report, a quarterly report, or a year-end review? The length of time will help determine the focus of the report.
For example, a yearly report will allow you to review larger trends in your industry, customer buying habits, as well as the results of major marketing initiatives, new product roll-outs, and seasonal fluctuations. Choosing a specific time period will also allow you to perform more accurate period-to-period comparisons.
4. Choose the Right Visuals
In every mountain of data you can mine many important, actionable gems, but you can’t expect your management team to grab a pickaxe and start digging. The way you decide to convey information is just as important as the information itself. The primary function of a good sales report is to convey information in a way that is easily understandable, digestible, and actionable.
When you begin compiling numbers, ask yourself, “How can I showcase an important point in the best way possible?” A bar graph may do a better job of showing how much sales of your flagship product have increased over the last five years than simply putting the numbers into a table. Or, maybe a pie chart is the clearest way of showing how each product contributes to your overall sales numbers.
Visually crafting your data isn’t just about making your sales report look pretty. It’s about making the information engaging and easy to understand. Your management team doesn’t have time to sift for gems of info, so don’t make them.
5. Gather Your Data
You can’t build a solid sales report or act without reliable information. Regardless of the size of your company or your particular industry, you need a robust CRM system to capture, track, filter, and help you analyze all of this information before you can put it into your report. Make sure your CRM system has capabilities specifically designed to help you quickly and easily put together highly focused and compelling sales reports.
For example, use a dashboard template that automates the organization of your most important sales metrics, including a Sales Executive Dashboard. You should design and personalize your dashboard to create reports tailored for different department heads. Get an eagle-eye view of your team’s sales performance over time, or dig down into the nitty gritty.
Whether your CEO wants you to present a 10-minute year-to-date review of sales for a new investor, or your VP of marketing asks for a day-long dive into the details of the latest marketing campaign results, use your CRM to quickly and easily design the reports you need.
6. Cut Out the Fluff
When you adopt a robust CRM, you gain access to an unprecedented amount of information. It will be easy to review every aspect of your sales apparatus with a fine-toothed comb. These are powerful abilities for you, the sales manager, but your CEO probably doesn’t need to know how many calls each of your sales reps made yesterday.
It may be tempting to stuff your sales report with as much information as possible, but resist the urge to drown your bosses in the details. Your goal is to present the management team with a clear and concise report that gives them only the information they truly need to take action.
Suzanne Paling’s Recommendations for Basic Sales Reports for Managers
- The Daily Call Report
- Accounts are not all created equal
- Some need to be called on more frequently than others
- After establishing the call frequency for all of the salespeople’s accounts, the data from this report confirms whether they are adhering to the schedule
- Number of calls made in a row
- Specific types of calls
- Absence of certain types of calls
- Excessive numbers of certain types of calls
- Average length of call time
- The Productivity Report
- Those managing salespeople need a reasonably accurate summary of how many and which type of calls they make
- The data often includes the number of
- Outbound calls
- Voice mails
- Customer meetings
- Product demonstrations
- Proposals generated in a given day, week, or month
- The purpose of this report is to compare actual results against the benchmarks established for each activity
- When reviewing this report, Paling advises managers to ask:
- At which point in the sales cycle is the rep below/above productivity quota?
- In which areas is the rep consistently behind/ahead?
- Where the rep is below/above the productivity quota, how does it affect the next phase of the sales cycle?
- The Pipeline
- The pipeline report consists of all those prospects being actively pursued by a sales representative
- Separates them by their appropriate phase in the sales cycle
- This information allows managers to keep track of the total number of prospects the salesperson is working with at any given point
- Managers can tell how quickly a prospect progresses from one stage to the next or be aware when a prospect drops out altogether
- Paling offers these as examples of typical pipeline phases:
- Phase I—Decision-maker expresses interest in product or service
- Phase II—Salesperson meets with decision maker
- Phase III—Decision-maker participates in product demonstration
- Phase IV—Proposal submitted
- Phase V—Sale closed/sale lost
- The Sales Forecast
- The single most important document generated in most sales organizations
- Holds salespeople accountable for the deals they intend to close at the end of each month
- Determines which opportunities need executive attention
- Helps to estimate revenue
- Paves the way for post-sale product or service delivery
- The accuracy of this report strongly affects the entire organization
- The sales forecast shows only those prospects in the final stages of purchasing the product or service
- When looking at the sales forecast, ask:
- In which months (1, 2, or 3) is the rep typically above or below quota?
- Does revenue usually drop in any one month in particular?
- How many accounts drop out/get added from one month to the next?
- Does the rep have an easier/more difficult time achieving quota in one product line vs. another?
- The Long-Range Sales Forecast
- Typically, the long-range forecast keeps track of prospects planning to buy anywhere from four months to two years from the time of the initial contact with the sales representative
- Many of these long-range sales involve
- Intense competition
- The possible replacement of the prospect’s current provider
- Sales like these usually require executive involvement at some point