Sales teams need to keep themselves in a feedback loop. Staying out of the loop is like being a sniper without high-precision optics: you’ll end up missing your targets. And every sales team does have its targets that need to be met. How do you achieve precision in meeting your sales goals? One of the most basic, yet often overlooked ways is to maximize the potential of professional sales reports.
What are Sales Reports?
Let’s use an example that seems completely unrelated to the naked eye. When a missile has been launched, how does it know where to go? Missiles use complex, but precise mechanisms to receive feedback and adjust its activities accordingly. The missile has a big goal. If you want to think of more pacifist thoughts, then imagine the missile as a spaceship, self-driving car, or some other autonomous vehicle. Any object trying to reach a target or a big goal needs feedback. Moving objects thrive on feedback because only then can they adjust their trajectory. Otherwise, they are just moving from point A to presumably point B, but there’s really no control over the situation.
Any sales team manager would agree that they also are heading towards a big goal, and even multiple goals, every day of the week. The sales team needs the influx of information to make better choices in order to reach their goals. Metrics, graphs, and charts act as feedback that supports the triumph of a competitive sales team.
Sales reports have a vital relationship with sales cycles. You really need to know your sales cycles to fully benefit from the reports. Not knowing your cycles might make you interpret your data in a wrong way. Let’s say that you are selling a really expensive warehouse software system that would be a major investment for any small to medium-sized business. When the closing takes 5-7 months, you won’t get too much out of a weekly report.
On the other hand, selling newspapers or conducting aggressive sales tactics in a convenience store chain calls for a daily report. The golden rule is to understand the nature of your sales and start delving into the data only after complete apprehension. Otherwise, you are just wasting your own and the sales teams’ time. Now, we’ll have a look at some of the best reports you can churn out of your sales reporting software to kick-start a healthy sales feedback cycle.
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The Pipeline Report
Your team needs to see the pipeline report. The report contains every single prospect being pursued by sales representatives while segregating these prospects by their current phase in the overall cycle. Team managers can effectively see the number of prospects a particular sales rep is working with at the moment. Further, you are able to know the time it takes a prospect to move from one phase to the next. Conducting the pipeline report needs clearly set boundaries between the different phases. These phases aren’t some universal truth. You can set your own. That said, here’s an example of some possible phase distinctions:
- 1 – Prospect is interested in your product or services
- 2 – Sales rep meets with the prospect
- 3 – A product demonstration is carried out
- 4 – Proposal has been submitted
- 5 – Closed or failed sale
The Sales Forecast
Many sales leaders are naming the sales forecast as the most important report available to the team. You might disagree, but it’s a fact that the sales forecast is an essential tool because this report has a host of functions. Estimating the revenue is important as it is tied to the overall financial well-being of the organization. Your sales forecast will definitely give a rough estimate of the actual revenue at the end of the month. Meanwhile, the forecast helps to plan product or service delivery. One of the most underrated, yet essential features is the creation of accountability among sales reps. You can hold each salesperson accountable for their contribution to the overall plan.
Stage Movement Report
Sometimes you get deals clogging up the pipeline and not moving forward. The stage movement report is all about understanding whether there are any deals that might be lagging behind others, or maliciously hidden in order to win Salesman of the Month award. When you are looking at the report, you should keep an eye out for one important detail; quantity of deals should be decreasing at every phase. In order for this report to work, your sales team needs to provide constant data on its stages. Also, the correct definition of the phases in the software is essential.
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Average Size of Closed Deals Report
There are two kinds of sales reps. The ones making killer sales and then there are the ones that max out their discounting policy. You should always know that the first ones are real keepers. This report is great for trying to understand your individual sales representative’s performance. Some managers opt to give out sweet bonuses to the ones landing the big bucks.
Total Sales Cycle Report
Keeping the finger on total sales cycle’s pulse is not only recommended, some gurus say it’s mandatory for your sales team. The idea behind this report is to understand the whole shebang: moving from the lead conversion to acquiring actual customers. There’s an ingenious way of getting even more out of this report. Define target groups. Once you have narrowed it down to target groups, you can start to see how the sales cycle differentiates between distinct groups of leads. In return, both marketing and sales teams can optimize their day-to-day operations in the light of this eye-opening data.
This article is written by Rahis Saifi. He always remains passionate towards innovation and his love for gadgets, which has been exhibited in his writing. His knack to learn more and more has turned him passionate towards learning. His learning attitude has shaped him as a perfect writer. He writes about technology, gadgets, blogging, smartphone tips and tricks and software reviews.
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