A sales report is a summary of data displayed in a way that shows business owners how their teams and campaigns are performing. These reports can help organizations target and measure the right sales goals using spreadsheets or customer relationship management (CRM) software, and commonly include measuring sales activities, revenue, and leaderboards.
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Free Sales Report Template
Many full-featured CRMs come with sales reporting tools, but if your CRM doesn’t, you can use a spreadsheet to create sales reports and dashboards manually. Although this method can be time-consuming, it enables businesses to create custom sales reports specific to their needs. To help you get started creating a sales report using spreadsheets, we have created a template you can use to speed up the process.
How Sales Reports Work
Sales reporting works by taking data from product sales, pipeline activities, and sales campaigns, and then aggregating it into reports to create a visual display of how your sales activities and campaigns are performing. With this data, you can create reports covering periods of time, such as daily, monthly, or quarterly. You can also generate dashboards, which are multiple reports with your most important sales information displayed graphically on one page.
Sales reports help small businesses make important decisions by keeping them informed about trends and behaviors affecting sales. For instance, sales reports can track overall revenue or even show which salesperson makes the most calls, adds the most deals to the pipeline, and closes the largest deals. Ultimately, you should create a sales report for each of the metrics you want to track.
Having a formal plan with established quotas typically makes all sales reporting more meaningful because it allows you to compare activity data to established goals. This is why sales reporting is an important sales management best practice for every business. Be sure to integrate elements of your sales plan and sales quotas into your sales reports to help you measure overall sales targets.
How to Create a Sales Report in 6 Steps
To create effective sales reports, you must first gather and organize data so that it provides useful information and tells you a story about your overall sales performance. Here are six general steps you can use as a guideline for creating your own sales reports:
1. Determine the Purpose of Your Sales Reports
The first and most important step in creating sales reports is deciding on your purpose. Because you can create a wide variety of sales reports, it is important to understand why you’re creating it and who will be using them. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before creating sales reports:
- Is the purpose of our sales report to identify high-level sales trends we need to address before they become major problems?
- Do we want to focus on daily sales activities, like the number of phone calls made, proposals sent, or demos conducted, to hold sales teams accountable?
- Are you interested in creating leaderboards that help motivate and inform your sales team?
- Do you want sales executives or business owners to see which campaigns or products are most successful so they can better understand market share?
For example, you might want the purpose of your sales report to be tracking quarterly or monthly sales to see if your revenue is growing, remaining stagnant, or declining. Or, you might want a sales report to track the individual performance of each sales rep to determine who needs help or training, who your high performers are, and who may deserve a promotion or raise.
2. Identify Who Will Use Sales Reports
Once you’ve established the purpose of your sales reports, you want to tie in who will be using them. For instance, a sales manager focused on sales activities and deals in the pipeline will want a call report showing the number of calls and a pipeline report showing deals in the pipeline and probability to close. On the other hand, a CEO trying to decide if she should invest a portion of the marketing budget in a particular product may want a report showing quarterly sales by product to aid with sales forecasting.
3. Determine Which Sales Activities You Want to Measure & Track Them
Since sales reports are built on sales data, you must have a way to track sales activities and performance. This is important because without tracking your sales data, you won’t be able to create any reports. For instance, if you’d like to include the number of daily cold calls sales development reps make in your sales report, you must establish a way to track and record this number. You can manually write down the number of calls with a tracking sheet or use a CRM to automate the process.
The easiest way to track sales data is to use a CRM. Full-featured CRMs, such as Freshsales, allow major sales activities, such as phone call and email metrics, leads added, deals created, and sales closed, to be tracked automatically.
4. Determine the Scope of Your Sales Reports
Next, establish what you will and will not include in your sales reports, such as the period of time your reports are covering, the product line, or the sales team members included in each report. This information should support the sales report purpose you identified in step one and the user you identified in step three.
There are drawbacks to having a scope that is too wide or too narrow. For instance, if you want to understand sales performance over the last 12 months but you only include six months of data, you won’t get the insights you’re looking for over 12 months. Alternatively, if you include sales data for the last three years in your report, your report will be unfocused and not highlight what you’re trying to measure, resulting in an inaccurate sales forecast.
5. Include Sales Plans & Quotas
Where it makes sense, include information from your sales plans and key performance indicators (KPIs) such as sales quotas into your sales reports. You can do this by showing actual sales compared to sales goals. Many sales managers must explain to business owners or company executives why there is a significant variance from quota. Including this information in your sales report along with an explanation will help them make critical business decisions.
6. Find the Right Format for Your Sales Report
Once you understand the purpose, scope, and audience of your sales report, decide how the information will be displayed. For instance, a leaderboard showing revenue and number of deals closed could be best displayed with a horizontal bar chart for each salesperson. Or, a product mix report may be better organized using pie charts showing the percentage of sales with written explanations of comparisons between quarters.
If you are a sales manager creating a sales report for yourself to track daily calls, the number of quotes, or similar sales analytics, you may want to use a bar chart showing daily trends. If you’re creating it for the CEO who’s deciding if she should spend marketing dollars on a particular product, she may want to see a pie chart showing the percentage of sales by product. Identifying who will use your sales reports will inform how you create them.
Creating your own sales reports manually can be time-consuming, but the advantage is that you have more control over the content, nature, and format of your reports. Using sales report templates such as the free template we’ve provided makes it easier.
However, the easiest way to create dynamic sales reports is often by using a customer relationship management (CRM) software. Robust CRMs like Freshsales allow you to create sales reports with the click of a few buttons and even gives you the ability to create custom reports.
For example, when you’re in Freshsales, simply click the “reports” tab, and a list of default reports will be displayed. Then, choose a category for the report, such as “deals” if you’d like to make a custom report just for deals. Next, click the “create report” button. Finally, Freshsales will guide you through filling in the details of the report, including filter conditions for the data, building a table, adding a chart, choosing a time period, and who the report is visible to.
Why Sales Reports Are Important to Your Business
Sales reports are important because they quickly communicate the state of sales performance to salespeople, sales managers, and business owners. They provide critical sales statistics such as:
- How much revenue you’re driving
- How many deals you’re closing
- Which products you’re selling the most over time
- Early indications of sales opportunities or problems
Furthermore, since sales reports show how close you are to reaching sales quotas, they can serve as motivators and help you justify investments in sales incentives or compensation plans. Sales reports can help sales managers know who’s on track to getting bonuses, incentives, or winning any competitions.
“Sales reporting enables me to track where everything is coming from―which valuable leads can be attributed to which team members, which marketing messages are working, and which of our services are selling better. Using this method, I can swiftly identify problem services or issues with particular team members and address them before they become systemic.”
―Ollie Smith, CEO, ExpertSure.com
Tools for Creating Sales Reports
If you’re technologically savvy, you may choose to develop a computer program to track and create sales reports. However, the primary tools used in sales reporting for small businesses are Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, or CRMs with sales reporting features that offer their own distinct benefits (along with potential drawbacks).
Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets
Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets both allow you to create sales reports based on the sales data you enter. The advantage of using either Excel or Google Sheets is that the cost is minimal and they are easy to customize. The disadvantage to using either of these programs is that someone will have to set up your sales reporting and data capture process, spreadsheets, and formulas from scratch and manually maintain the reports continuously.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Program
A CRM houses all of the data you’ll need for creating sales reports. Therefore, the advantage of using a CRM is being able to generate a sales report at the click of a button without having to create formulas or find historical sales data. The disadvantage is that customization options are not as fine-tuned as creating your own from scratch, which may be fine if your CRM has the sales reports you need or can allow you to customize the type of sales reports you want.
Here are a few of the best CRMs with sales reporting features:
- Freshsales: This CRM houses and tracks everything from deal size to daily tasks, so you can create a wide variety of reports ranging from sales activity reports to closed deals and revenue reports, giving you insights to sales performance throughout your sales life cycle.
- Copper: This CRM platform offers a separate goals dashboard that allows sales managers to keep a close eye on each individual sales rep. They can create reports based on sales revenue, opportunities won, lead conversions, and sales activities.
- Pipedrive: With this CRM, you can use their advanced forecasting tool to see how likely your sales reps will close deals based on historical data. It will automatically create a revenue forecast to help you keep track of your sales budget.
- HubSpot CRM: This is a free CRM that also includes reporting features. HubSpot creates forecasting reports based on the dollar amount of each deal in your sales pipeline. You can also download a summary of your sales team’s progress and create reports for each individual rep.
Sales Reports to Include in Your Dashboard
Every sales process involves a lot of data. As a result, that means there is a wide variety of sales reports that you can create, from lead source reports to revenue reports. The reports you choose to include in your dashboard depend on how you plan to use them and your role. If you’re a salesperson, you’ll be more interested in personal dashboards focused on sales goals and rankings.
Business owners, on the other hand, will want high-level dashboards focused on where sales are coming from and when they’re being won and lost. These include reporting on revenue, number of products sold, actual products sold, number of calls made, number and value of deals in the pipeline, and the probability of deals to close. These performance metrics are the basic foundation for any reports you create.
Depending on your business, there are several types of reports you may want to include in your dashboard. Here are a few types of sales reports to consider adding:
- Deals won vs deals lost: Won or lost deals with their dollar value can help you identify common traits or pinpoint the number of deals needed to achieve your goals. It will also tell you the percentage of deals you win so you build your pipeline accordingly.
- Sales activities: A quick visual of sales activities such as the number of calls made or emails sent can help correlate these activities with sales made, letting you know what activities you need to increase.
- Current deals in the pipeline: It’s helpful to quickly see the deals in your current pipeline and how close they are to closing. This allows you to focus on the most important deals.
- Leaderboards: This allows sales reps to see where they stand and can help motivate them. If you’re a sales manager, you can quickly see who needs attention.
While it’s possible to create dashboards manually using a spreadsheet, it can be time-consuming, especially if you have to pull data and import or input it into your spreadsheets. If you have a CRM like Freshsales, however, creating dashboards is easy and can be done with a click of a few buttons since the database already contains the information you need to get useful reports.
A sales report is a valuable tool that shows your strengths and weaknesses in your sales activities. They can be done using spreadsheets, but a better, more efficient way of doing a sales report is by choosing a CRM, like an analytical CRM that comes with sales reporting features.
Freshsales is a CRM that includes advanced reporting tools that allow you to create sales activity, sales revenue, and sales volume reports. With Freshsales, you can create reports that can be used by everyone in your organization, from sales reps to CEOs. Sign up for a 21-day free trial today to learn more.