Despite all the research highlighting the importance of long-term planning, most companies still run on 90-day reporting.
The quarterly sales report is a business staple.
But like every KPI or sales metric you track, there are sales reports and then there are sales reports.
The difference often comes down to the data.
Modern sales teams thrive on data. With better information, every sales rep can maximize their potential, push more deals through the sales cycle and hit their revenue target.
However, good data doesn't just appear out of thin air. It has to be pulled from reliable sources and curated into reports that are easy to understand.
There are many ways to prepare an actionable quarterly sales report, so let's get started.
What makes a good quarterly sales report?
Every sales team is different. But there are some common features you'll find in most sales reports. Here are some examples:
Sales Revenue: Obviously. But not just total sales revenue. You would expect a quarterly sales report to break new revenue down by customer, sales rep, lead source and territory (more on that later).
Sales Forecast: If you've got good data on what you've done, you have a better chance of forecasting what you'll do next. That allows for better planning and not just in sales.
Open Opportunities: The quarter is over but assuming you're still in business you'll want to know how much of your sales pipeline is rolling over. There is a natural drop in intensity once the quarter is done so this is an important metric to track.
Average Deal Size: A popular KPI with sales managers. Nudging up the average deal size is an excellent way to improve sales productivity (more revenue from the same or similar effort and cost).
Sales Activity: How busy was each sales rep? How many meetings did they attend? How many calls did they make? How many new opportunities made it to a particular sales stage? A useful leading indicator for next quarter.
Why good data is important for managing a sales team
A veteran sales rep might trust his or her gut when it comes to working their sales funnel. But a good sales report needs hard numbers.
According to Salesforce, high performing sales professionals are 1.5 times more likely to create forecasts using data. Lower performing reps relied on their instincts.
Accurate sales forecasts allow a sales manager to allocate resources more efficiently. Other teams can rely on sales projections to prepare for new customers. And financial decision makers can run a more realistic cashflow.
Analyzing data by territory
With good, clean data your quarterly sales dashboard can provide new insights.
Breaking the numbers down by territory can quickly highlight inefficiencies and missed opportunities.
Maybe Salesperson A is missing quota because leads haven't been fairly distributed. Perhaps Salesperson B is over-loaded with meetings and failing to provide excellent customer service as a result.
Circumstances can change quickly. Your sales territories need to be organized using real-time data. That way you can get your resources in the right place and cut inefficiency out of your sales process.
Are sales territories not currently a part of your overall strategy? Analyzing your market by geographic area can be the first step toward developing a sales territory plan.
Using Microsoft Excel to report on quarterly sales by territory: Functional, but limited
You may already have access to tools that you can use to create a sales report by territory. Microsoft Excel is one popular example.
However, the functionality of the world's favorite spreadsheet is limited. Such reports may also take a lot of time to develop without producing clear insights right away.
The process of creating a quarterly sales report in Excel is pretty straightforward.
First, you'll create columns for each quarter and input the totals according to the category you'd like to highlight. Territories are one category example.
If your sales data is scattered among different sources, you'll have to input each item manually, then total them up using a pivot table. You'll also need to adjust the formatting to display dollars and cents or dates. You can select graphical displays for the data when you're done, including pie charts with adjustable color settings.
Most people are familiar with Excel, but there are a few downsides to relying on it for your quarterly sales reporting:
- The potential for human error: If you're able to export sales figures from another application, you have an advantage. If not, you'll have to enter all the relevant data by hand, cross-referencing where necessary. In either situation, there's substantial room for mistakes, especially if you configure the sums incorrectly or don't properly format your data.
- The time commitment: The entire process, from entering data to formatting the report, can add up to a sizable time burden. Keep in mind, this doesn't even involve any analysis. It's just accounting for the bare minimum it takes to produce the report.
- The bigger picture: Quarterly sales reports produced in Excel stand alone. They are not integrated with other programs. That means you'll have to read between the lines to develop your own takeaways. You must also deploy other unique tools based on what you've learned.
Territory reporting with dedicated software
If breaking down your quarterly sales data by territory matters to your business, then you really need dedicated software.
Proper territory optimization tools are quicker and easier to use. And they can update in real-time, helping you jump on every opportunity.
Territory mapping solutions like eSpatial are specifically designed with sales teams in mind. They are built to relieve the admin burden from your sales managers.
You can also leverage integrations for seamlessly transferring and reporting data between different sources.
In addition, dedicated mapping software provides better visual insight into your sales territories. This can help you better align your resources, driving higher revenue with lower costs.
All in all, this means:
- Improved accuracy.
- Lower sales team burden.
- Better, faster insights.
Eoin is an eSpatial mapping expert with more than 10 years of experience in the field. He specializes in using mapping to help sales and marketing professionals target revenue growth, make cost reductions and improve customer service.Read more from Eoin Comerford