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How to Use Sales Reports to Communicate Value

Analyzing your sales team’s performance can lead you down a black hole of measuring data that gets more and more specific as you go deeper. 

That’s not to say that being detailed will hurt your approach in calculating sales metrics. There’s plenty to be said about looking into precise areas of your sales strategy to identify any processes or tactics that are resulting in success or failure.

However, at some point, you have to be able to sum up results and present them to sales reps and the people upstairs. Not to mention it all has to be easily digestible and include all information relevant to that particular time period.  

To do that, your business can rely on sales reports that communicate the current performance of your sales team. 

A big part of generating results is tracking sales to keep a finger on the pulse of the progress you’re making. Sales reports allow businesses, sales teams, and individual reps to do just that: see exactly how they’re doing in regards to personal and company goals. This way, areas that require improvement can be identified and worked on, while already successful processes can be optimized further. 

Information in sales reports is also used in the decision making process for companies. Before taking serious business actions, leaders will analyze whether or not the current state of sales will result in the financial support they need to move forward. 

Each type of sales report will likely include the same metrics and sales key performance indicators (KPIs). This means that to update reports for a new week, month, or quarter, all you need to do is enter the current data to match the time period for which you’re reporting. 

Why are sales reports important?

Your sales team is your primary revenue generator, and while there are plenty of other departments that contribute to their ability to sell, the metrics and KPIs of the sales team closely translate to the success of the overall company. Sales reporting shows whether or not that success is attainable.  

The data included in effective sales reports are arranged in a way that communicates important information to its viewers. Depending on who that viewer is and what they want to gain from the report, these collections of data can be crafted for that specific purpose. 

For example, it’s possible that an individual sales representative wants to see their monthly performance. Maybe a sales manager wants to check in on the progress of their direct reports. Or maybe an executive wants to collect information to present to the board. The beauty of sales reports is that they can be crafted to serve all of those purposes. 

Sales data shown in reports are used to inform strategies regarding sales growth, ideal customer identification and acquisition, and sales process optimization. After new approaches are implemented, sales reports can then be used to measure growth between two or more sales periods. 

Overall, sales reports are important because they keep the company aware of progress, help pick out potential problems in sales strategies, and ultimately fuel better decision making. 

Types of sales reports

There are a few different types of sales reports, and each one reflects a certain period of time during which a business will measure particular sales activities and outcomes. A sales report is essentially a reiteration of metrics, and those values are determined by the time period being reported on.

For example, if you wanted to understand the average length of your company’s sales cycle, it would be better to look at an annual report rather than a weekly report. 

Below are some examples of a few sales reports your business should start generating, along with some relevant metrics. 

Daily sales reports

Daily sales reports gather and present data regarding one day’s work. These can be generated to reflect the progress of an individual sales professional or the department as a whole. 

While there’s plenty of work that can be done in a day, the chances of seeing a lot of closed won deals occurring on a given day are slim – those things take time and are often spread throughout the year. Daily sales reports rely on process metrics, which differ from outcome metrics.

A process metric is a measurement that can be directly controlled by the sales rep, like the number of calls they make in a day. An outcome metric is more focused on the bigger picture, like average deal size, which can be affected by a rep, but is not directly in their control. 

Sales reports that collect data for one day aren’t the end all, be all of a team’s performance. It’s just one day, and everyone has off days here and there. However, if you saw a problem in your annual report and traced it back to repeatedly low activity levels day after day, these reports can come in handy. 

On a daily basis, you might want to report on the following sales metrics:

  • Lead response time: The amount of time it takes a sales rep to follow up with a lead that contacted your business. Lead response time averages at 42 hours for B2B businesses, but it’s important to establish your own benchmark after collecting consistent sales data. 
  • Client conversations had: The number of phone calls, video chats, or in-person meetings reps are having with leads, prospects, and customers. This will reveal customer engagement levels up to that point in the buying process. 
  • New leads generated: The number of leads generated from conversations with prospects. This metric will be taken into account along with conversion rates to forecast future sales. 
  • Opportunities generated: The number of leads converted into opportunities, which will reveal the impact of lead generations strategies and tactics implemented to move them further down the sales funnel. 
  • Meetings set up: The number of meetings set up from outreach efforts. Tracking the number of emails sent or phone calls made is still relevant, but the number of meetings set up from those conversations is a better gauge of how effective those efforts are. 
  • Overall number of touchpoints: The number of times a rep interacted with a customer on a given day. 
  • Sales velocity: The amount of sales revenue generated in a single day. This metric is used to measure how quickly salespeople are moving customers down the sales pipeline. 

Weekly or monthly sales reports

Weekly sales reports compile all of the data from each day of the week to get an overview of how everything went within those working days. Monthly reports will do the same but for the weeks in a month. 

These reports are a step further to get a bigger picture of overall sales productivity. This also means that some of the sales metrics measured in weekly and monthly sales reports will lean more toward outcome metrics. 

Weekly and monthly sales reports are most often used to analyze the performance of an individual sales rep. Doing so on a quarterly or  annual basis leaves too much room for more mistakes to be made, and doing it on a daily basis doesn’t leave enough time to get an accurate depiction of performance. When analyzed weekly and monthly, managers can pick out weak spots and correct them before they continue. 

Depending on the detail you want to gather from the report, you might still include the metrics from the daily report in your weekly and monthly ones. 

Here are a few other measurements that can be valuable to analyze on a weekly and monthly basis:

  • Sales volume by channel: Total sales and revenue generated from each initial outreach channel used to contact a potential client that converted into a customer. This metric is used to identify communication channels that see more success and ones that need re-strategizing.
  • Sales by region: Total sales and revenue generated from each region or territory. Again, this will reveal where reps should prioritize time based on more opportunities, as well as the territories that require optimized approaches.
  • Sales opportunity score: Individual opportunity score that reflects how likely the sale is. Opportunity scores help reps prioritize their time according to how promising a conversion is.
  • Revenue closed per rep: The amount of revenue generated from each sales rep. Measuring this on a weekly and monthly basis will offer takeaways regarding reps that area on their way to hitting sales quotas and those that are struggling to do so.
  • Upsell and cross-sell rates: The number of opportunities to upsell and cross-sell to existing customers that were acted on. 
  • Customer lifetime value (CLV): The potential value of a long term relationship with a customer. CLV plays a role in determining how much is appropriate to spend when acquiring and maintaining customer relationships.
  • Average deal value: The average amount of money generated in a single sales deal. Average deal value will inform your sales forecasts.
  • Sales funnel ratios: The conversion rates between each stage of your sales funnel. When measuring this, make sure to look at the big lead to closing ratio, but also at the stages between that to identify problems in both your overall sales strategy and methods used to move customers down the funnel.

Quarterly or annual sales reports

When wrapping up a quarter or year in business, you’ll want to wrap up with a report to reflect the work that was done.

Your quarterly and annual sales reports might look relatively similar, as both will include high level sales key performance indicators that encapsulate overall performance. These records of sales activities will be heavily involved in informing big-picture planning for the future of the company, which will trickle down to everyday sales activities. 

To sum up a quarter’s or year’s worth of work in a single report would fail to paint the entire picture of what your sales team did over that period of time. Because of this, quarterly and annual sales reports will often consist of sub-reports within them. 

Here are some that might be included:

  • Sales KPI report: A sales KPI report, also known as a sales performance report, focuses on the big picture and any metrics that speak to the profitability and success of the company. Metrics include revenue, profit margins, growth, and net promoter score.
  • Sales conversion report: Tracks all metrics associated with the sales funnel, sales pipeline, and activities associated with converting customers. Metrics include lead to conversion ratio, lead to opportunity ratio, and opportunity to close ratio.
  • Sales cycle length report: Includes data regarding time it takes to convert a prospect into a customer, typically presented in an average. Metrics will usually reflect the amount of potential customers in each stage of the funnel and how long they stay there.
  • Sales activities dashboard: Keeps track of the actions of sales reps, either at a team or individual level. These metrics are taken into account when evaluating problems in conversion rates, as low sales activity can be a hindrance. Activities include phone calls made, emails sent, and the average amount of interactions had to close a deal.

It’s important to note that as long as you are communicating valuable data in a way that is easy to digest, there’s no wrong way to construct a sales report. The metrics suggested for the time periods above were simply used to portray the idea that as the time periods get longer, the metrics reflect this by giving a bigger picture of sales team performance. All sales reports can be used to find areas of improvement for a business.

How to write a sales reports

Now that you have some example metrics to include in each sales report type, it’s time to construct them. Here are the steps in the sales reporting process that will ensure it communicates valuable sales information to the people for which it was intended. 

Define audience and purpose

Your first step is to define your audience. There are plenty of people within your organization that can benefit from a sales report. 

Within the sales team itself, reps and managers look to weekly updates for actionable insights on improving processes and performance. Executives will use quarterly and annual reports to understand how profitable their company actually is, and possibly present those findings to the board. Marketing and sales operations teams will need data so they can determine how they can better support sales. 

Put yourself in the shoes of the reader and ask yourself what they would want to know. This will help you reveal a more specific purpose of the report rather than just to convey general sales information. Consider the backgrounds of the readers and use language that would be the most beneficial to the conversation. 

Establish a time period

Constructive sales reports reflect data from a particular timeframe, so the next step is to establish which one you want to report on. This will be determined by the audience and purpose of the report. If you want to show executives year over year growth compared to previous periods, it’ll be an annual report. If you want to see the change that newly hired sales reps from last month made, it’ll be a monthly report. 

Remember that the longer the time period, the more general the data will be. This isn’t a bad thing, just a fact to keep in mind.

Gather the data

With your time period in mind, it’s time to pull the information. Because a sales report is a collection of data, think in terms of metrics and what they say about the sales team’s progress. 

Sales analytics software can help you not only create various types of reports, but it will even take the results a step further by pointing out under or over performing areas of the sales team and forecasting future sales. 

Communicate your findings

Now that you have the appropriate data at hand, you need to communicate your findings in a way that is digestible and valuable to the audience. A lot of times this will come in the form of data visualization, which is the process of translating data into charts, tables, or graphs to better communicate information.

Offer context

The main idea of creating a sales report is to reveal data, but you’re going to need to offer a little more to get through to your audience. Don’t just slap some numbers on a sheet of paper and send it along. Provide the context the reader needs to get as much out of the sales report as possible. Explain internal and external factors that explain the success or failure of a certain time period.

The numbers don’t lie

Sales reports offer the most accurate insight into how well reps and sales management teams are performing. While this can sometimes be a scary truth to present, they can also offer motivation to fix what’s broken and find new ways to close deals.

While sales reports happen at the end of a time period, seeing real-time progress every day with sales dashboards can also be a great team motivator.

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