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Learn how to create an effective sales report, including steps, key elements, common types, and free templates to download and use.
A sales report tracks key sales metrics and activities over a specific timeframe and helps salespeople make informed decisions. There are many types of sales reports, but the most common are sales activity reports and revenue or forecast reports. When creating a sales report, first identify the data you’re trying to track, and then compile that information in a way that’s easy to understand.
Check out this high-level overview of sales reporting and everything involved. Then, continue reading for a breakdown on how to create and use a sales report of your own, including a list of all our related sales reporting articles at the end:
The purpose of a sales report is to track a person or team’s selling activities, like the number of phone calls made, or to track higher-level metrics like MoM revenue growth. For this reason, sales reports are used both by salespeople as well as sales managers. Usually, however, salespeople put together reports at their manager’s request, who then analyzes the report’s data and makes decisions based on the information.
While sales reports can be different, they all typically include common elements, such as a defined objective, a summary of the data as well as a section-by-section breakdown, and finally, an interpretation of the results. Following these guidelines for sales report creation ensures the right sales data is expressed in a meaningful way.
When creating your report, the first step is to identify its purpose and the report’s end-user. From there, consider the relevant data that should be included and compile the necessary information in a way that’s easy for them to understand and take action. Reports are typically created using spreadsheet software and can also be expressed using graphs and charts.
One of the best ways to create reports, however, is through the use of CRM software. This is because many salespeople and teams are already collecting and storing sales data in their existing CRM. From there, many CRM options make it easy to compile that data into usable reports and even create sales dashboards to stay on top of your metrics.
Although sales reports differ between companies and niches, there are common key elements that every successful sales report includes. Look at the elements in detail below and include them in your next report:
When putting together a sales report, the first element to include is the report’s outline and objective. Having these elements ensures your readers know exactly why the report exists and what to get out of it. The outline and the objective also work as an intro to the sales report.
The second element you want to include is a summary of the report. This is typically done as a high-level, one-page overview that executives can scan in lieu of reading the full report. For this reason, make sure your summary touches on the most important data and provides insights as well as recommendations based on that information.
To make your report understandable and digestible for your reader, break it down into sections. Doing so enables your end-user to focus on one specific aspect at a time. Examples of these sections can be overall revenue or client segmentation. Including classic sales KPIs like sales ratios, client lifetime value, and profit comparison further supports the section’s narrative.
The fourth element to include is an interpretation of your results. Illustrate what your data shows and why it’s important. Through interpretation, you can point out a specific aspect in the report, such as increased revenue, and explain where the additional revenue came from and what to do about it.
Ultimately, conclude your sales report and give recommendations on next steps. Provide an outlook and explain which action would have an impact on the company moving forward. Illustrate ideas on how problems could be solved in the future. This is typically done by describing what went wrong and what can be learned from it.
Make sure you understand exactly how long your report needs to be. Some reports can be short, one-page documents that don't require individual sections, while other reports are lengthy and need a lot of explanation. Determining your report's length will help you understand how to structure it.
Now that you understand the key elements of a sales report, let’s take a look at a step-by-step process for creating one. Following this guideline ensures you’ll create a report that provides relevant data in a way that’s meaningful to the end-user.
The first thing to define is the report’s purpose. Because the decision to create a report could be top-down, make sure you clearly understand the report’s objective. Once you know the objective, you can focus on the end-user and track the right data for your sales report. Questions to help find the reason for the report:
After establishing the reason and objective, determine who will use your sales report. That way, you ensure that you track relevant data and express it in a way that the intended users can read and take action. Remember that information that’s essential to one person might not be as relevant for another.
Now that you’ve defined the purpose of your report and who will use it, the next step is to compile data and information for the report. Typically, this data is found in a person or team’s CRM software, but can also be pulled from other various sales reports.
When collecting your data, think of the sales report’s timeframe. Like the end-user, identifying how frequently you want the data reported will affect how you create your report. Shorter timeframes may require more bare-bones and abridged reporting, while longer timeframes may require multi-page reports.
While it might be tempting to over-explain, cut out everything in your sales report that doesn’t support the report’s objective. Don’t put information into the report just because the data is readily available. Instead, continue to focus on the report’s purpose and the intended user in order to keep the most important data and cut the rest.
Now that you have your data, it’s time to actually put together the report. Usually, this is done through CRM software, but can also be done using spreadsheet software. If you’re using a CRM, it will most likely have preset templates you can use. If you’re using spreadsheet software, check out these templates from Template Archive.
Because the data in your report sometimes doesn’t speak for itself, help people understand by providing context. Give the “why” behind the data, and provide recommendations on next steps based on what you’re seeing.
In addition, giving context enables you to describe positive and negative outliers. This is important because these informative insights help your end-user fully understand the situation and take action accordingly.
The last step in the process is to add visuals to your sales report. Including graphs and charts that support your data and help you highlight your key takeaways is the best way to approach this. As with the rest of the report, your visuals must be understandable, engaging, and easy to act on.
For this reason, ensure that the charts and graphs actually help interpret your data. For example, using a graph is ideal for showing MoM and YoY revenue growth. In contrast, a pie chart can illustrate a specific product category’s percentage of the total sales.
There are many places that offer free sales report templates for any situation. Ideally, you’ll already be using a CRM that has templates for digital sales reports and dashboards. If you’re using more basic spreadsheet software, check out some of the free template options below:
Though there is a variety of sales reports, this section lists the most common types. Typically, a sales manager will request some of the reports on the list from a salesperson or team throughout the year. The reason is that every report has its own objective and helps the manager to make decisions based on the information.
An activity report tracks what a salesperson is doing on a day-to-day basis. For that reason, creating an activity report should be done daily or at least weekly. That way, the sales manager can analyze where and how the salesperson’s time is allocated without supervising the team in person. Questions you can answer with this report include:
A sales call report is a type of activity report used for salespeople that have to perform X number of calls per day to potential clients. After each call, the salesperson records a call record into their CRM to track the outcome of each call made. Key metrics and KPIs to measure in this report include:
The sales forecast report is the most common of all sales reports. The reason is that this forecast report uses prior month’s sales growth to predict how future growth looks. Upon request, a sales team or salesperson will typically provide their forward-looking sales outlook to be compiled and analyzed by a sales manager.
The monthly sales report is also one of the most important sales reports within a company, and is often used as the basis for the forecast report above. Typically, this report is completed by every salesperson in the first week of a new month that summarizes last month’s sales numbers.
Now that you’ve created a sales report, follow the tips below to improve it. This way, you will continue to optimize your reports and reporting processes in an effort to provide the most valuable data and make the most informed decisions.
With the help of templates, you can create a sales report faster because you don’t have to start from scratch. All the sales reports you receive from your team have the same structure. This streamlines the reporting process and saves you a ton of time.
So it doesn’t feel like a burden, make sales report creation part of your weekly or monthly routine. Block out recurring time in your calendar so you always have the space to create your reports. Making reporting part of your routine sets you up for success because it won’t feel like you’re reinventing the wheel each week, month, or quarter.
With the help of a CRM system, you can collect and store your sales information and immediately transfer the necessary data into a report. Customization options, as well as sales dashboard creation, further help you to stay on top of your metrics. Using CRM software is one of the best ways to create a sales report and saves you time and effort.
For more information, check out our article on the best CRM software for salespeople.
Creating a summary is one of the key elements for improving any sales report. Make it a high-level, one-page overview that highlights the most important data and gives insights as well as recommendations so your reader can take action.
A sales report is one of the most valuable tools for a sales manager to track sales data and activities over a specific timeframe. While it might not be the most enjoyable task, it is necessary for a company’s long-term success. For that reason, use a CRM software to quickly create a report that is easy to understand.