How to write a sales report

Management keeps a careful eye on the activities and productivity of its salespeople through sales reporting. Writing a sales report is a way for management to gauge how well the company and the salespeople are progressing toward the achievement of its sales goal.

A sales report should provide this information as well as alert management of any problems that might interfere with attainment of the sales goal.

Begin this internal review document using a memorandum-style document format. Address the memo to your sales director or sales manager. Copy other individuals on the document, such as the director of marketing, if appropriate.

Be succinct when describing the subject of the memo. For example, name it "First Quarter 2010 Sales for Southern Region." Start the document using very direct, explanatory language of what will follow such as "This provides April through May 2010 sales for the Southern Region, which includes Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma."

If there are any qualifications you need to disclose about the data and information included, identify those caveats in the first paragraph. If, for instance, the information is incomplete because some data hasn't been received, declare it bold, underlined type.

Provide a high-level recap in a chart of the current period's sales numbers and the year-to-date cumulative sales. Perform a number of comparative analyses to put those numbers in context such as percentage or plus/minus versus the goal and versus the previous year. Let the numbers do the talking, but provide a brief, written summary of the status of the sales effort.

Report sales results in a number of different ways to give management a complete overview of where sales stand in terms of product units distributed (or other appropriate measures for your business) and dollar volume.

Repeat the reporting of sales in more detail such as by territory, state, broker and even down to the store or other micro level. Highlight both good and bad news by using boldface type or even red ink if sales are trending down. Again, provide a written summary of the highlights of the detailed sales information.

Include in your report any problems or opportunities in your sales territory that should be brought to management's attention. Also, note what actions you intend to take to capitalise on or remedy those situations. Use action verbs.

Try to keep your document down to one page if possible. Double-check your math. Submit your sales report at the same time every quarter, and be ready to defend any negative information in a personal meeting with your sales manager.