When you are a sales rep who works for a large company, you have a sales manager. That sales manager most likely has you filling out reports on your activity. And if you are like most sales reps, you probably dislike this process and think it is busy work.
If you are a business owner who also wears the sales hat, you probably don’t have a reporting system. After all, you’d be reporting to yourself. Have you ever looked at this reporting differently?
The other day I spoke to a Chamber of Commerce group. After the talk one of the attendees brought up the sales reporting issue. As we talked about it, she realized that those reports can be a valuable tool if used properly. Yep, that’s right, a tool.
Here’s what I mean. You can use a sales report to identify what is working and what isn’t. You can gather data on prospects who turn into clients and those who don’t. This information can help you refine your sales system moving forward.
For example, you decide to conduct a direct mail campaign. You determine the target market and send out oversized postcards. These postcards have a call to action. How do you determine whether the campaign worked? Without sales reports you have to rely on anecdotal evidence. While interesting, anecdotal evidence isn’t really enough information to build decisions around.
In every phase of the sales cycle you want to be able to divine information you can use to improve your results. Filling out sales reports and then reviewing them is a great way to do this. To make sure the reports are valuable, decide what information you’d like to gain from them. What do you want to know?
If it were me, I’d want to know:
- Closing rate
- Marketing effectiveness
- Who my clients are and where they came from
- Why prospects don’t buy
- Why prospects buy
This is just a start. Depending on your business and where you are in its life cycle will determine what you want to know. The point is to start from the end. Decide what you want to know and then craft the sales reporting system to provide you with that information. Implement the sales reporting system and decide how often you will review it.
Put that schedule on the calendar. This way it will really become a process that you stick to. It’s one thing to fill out the report. It’s a whole other thing to create a system for reviewing the report to learn what it’s telling you. Making it part of your routine is the best way to gain the most value from it.
Robin Morgan once said:
“Knowledge is power. Information is power.”
That is so true. When you have solid information you can make better decisions. So, consider setting up a sales reporting system in your business today. The things you’ll learn will be invaluable to your future.
Sales Report Photo via Shutterstock
Great article. I am a big believer in evidence based management and that starts with good data.
Many companies are too busy working on the business than analysing the information they have. The time is worth it, as information is power.