Understanding the sales pipeline is critical for monitoring incoming revenue within your organization. Sales strategy needs to be adjusted regularly to keep your deals flowing - but this can’t be done on a whim.

That’s where sales reporting comes in - monitoring key sales metrics allows you to make data-informed decisions on your sales strategy and keeps your sales forecast accurate.

This article breaks down the best practices for creating a winning sales report so your sales leaders aren’t making decisions in the dark.

We cover:

What is a sales report?

A sales report is a document showing trends and sales activity over a certain period. The report’s purpose is to collect, translate, and present sales data to effectively manage the sales pipeline and make informed decisions.

These reports can be tailored to suit a range of purposes and audiences, such as to motivate sales reps or to present revenue numbers to the board. 

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Importance of sales reporting

Reporting on sales metrics has a lot of benefits to your revenue growth as you can effectively track the pipeline and predict future sales. Accurate reports can also aid decision-making across the organization.

Improve sales performance

Tracking sales metrics allows for improved sales rep performance as your sales team will gain insights into the best sales tactics within your organization. This helps your sales reps utilize the most effective strategies.

Monitoring individual rep performance can also allow you to identify which underperforming reps may benefit from additional training or coaching

Assist decision-makers

Accurate insights into your sales pipeline and other key metrics can help to accurately predict incoming revenue and allow senior leadership to make more informed decisions on the organization’s strategy.

Sales leaders can easily track performance and iterate on the sales strategy to improve revenue performance.

Identify and remove bottlenecks 

Sales reporting can also help to identify any inefficiencies or bottlenecks within the sales process. This will allow your revenue operations team to optimize sales processes and implement the right automation to speed up your sales cycle.

For example, if deal approval is causing a blockage your RevOps team may implement a deal desk to optimize the approval process.

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Sales territories are always evolving, and these shifts can impact your bottom line. Revenue reporting can help you spot trends and fluctuations within these territories before they affect your revenue.

By staying ahead of the competition and effectively adjusting your territories, you can maximize your revenue potential.

Motivate sales reps

Actively reviewing sales performance can motivate your sales reps to achieve more and hit the next milestone. Some friendly competition may also motivate your team to work harder. Gamifying sales metrics can incentivize sales reps to close more deals. 

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How to build the perfect sales report

There are many considerations to take into account when planning your sales report. Your report should be tailored to its purpose and intended audience. It should also be easy to understand while providing enough context and data - a tricky balance.

This section outlines some best practices to create a perfect sales report every time.

Define your report’s purpose

Understanding the goal of your sales report can help to inform what data will be required, who the audience will be, and how frequently you’ll create this report. 

For example, you may wish to create a report to motivate your sales reps' performance, or you might want to inform senior management of the revenue forecast for the next quarter. Both of these reports are important but will require different considerations.

Tailor to your audience 

Now that you understand the aim of your report, it’s best practice to tailor sales reports to the intended audience. Your CEO, marketing leaders, and sales team will all want visibility into different data points, so it’s best to tailor your report appropriately.

Your CEO may just want the highlights of the sales and revenue data, whereas your sales team will likely want to understand how the sales pipeline looks and how they’re performing.

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Determine report frequency and metrics

There are many frequencies you could monitor your org’s sales metrics. And depending in the cadence, the metrics you should track may change. Let’s discuss a few timescales and their metrics.

Daily: If you want to increase your sales reps' accountability, you may want to consider a daily report that monitors the sales activity they perform each business day. For any other purposes, a daily report is likely to be too limited in data to be useful. 

Some metrics to track in daily reports include:

  • Duration of each outbound call.
  • Number of sales opportunities.
  • Number of outbound calls, proposals sent, and emails sent.

Weekly: To monitor both individual reps’ and the team’s performance reporting weekly is best. This will allow sales managers to identify who’s likely to hit their KPIs and uncover any blockers early. These reports can be discussed in a weekly team meeting.

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Some metrics to track in weekly reports include:

  • Lead-to-opportunity ratio.
  • Lead conversion ratio.
  • Number of closed deals.
  • Sales volume by channel.
  • Total sales by region.

Monthly: Tracking your revenue and sales pipeline every month is crucial for long-term success. These reports will detail the team’s overall performance and will build a backlog of historical data to help with your sales forecasting.

Some metrics to track in monthly reports include:

  • Number of deals at each stage of the pipeline.
  • Length of the sales cycle.
  • Average close rate.
  • Average deal size.
  • Sales volume.

As you can see there are many reasons to create a report more or less frequently, it’s your job to determine which frequency is best for each sales report.

Visualize and analyze the data

Once the planning for your sales report is out of the way, it’s time to actually create the report. This means collecting your data, analyzing it, and presenting it so it can be understood.

Using data visualizations can help your data be interpreted at a glance, but you should also provide some commentary on the data points to provide context.

It is important to understand the ‘why’ of each data point. Explaining why your sales metrics are up or down can help your sales reps understand what is working and what isn’t.

Leadership can also understand and course correct for any blockers or risks that may be causing a dip in sales revenue.

Use tech to streamline reporting

Using software such as a CRM and data visualization tools can help you to produce your sales reports quickly and accurately, as your CRM will be synced with all of your sales data. 

Technology and reporting go hand-in-hand as you can save time and reduce human error, leaving you more time to analyze the numbers and take action.

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Final thoughts

Sales reports help you keep track of your sales cycle and manage your revenue streams, so they’re important to get right. Adjusting your sales report to your goals will help you to present the right data, to the right people, at the right time.

Ensuring you can foresee any blockers or changes in your demographics and make adjustments before they significantly impact your revenue growth.