Sales reports are a key tool for any business, but too often they are overcomplicated, lengthy documents that take a meeting, a presentation and a detailed follow-up email to get to the bottom of. Sales reports should be straightforward documents that focus on the facts, so how can you create a monthly sales report that sheds light on your business without skirting over the data? Key elements of a sales report A monthly sales report is something you use on a regular basis. It needs to be easily accessible for anyone picking it up to get the key facts out of it right away. Context Data without context is just a bunch of numbers. A sales report should be outlining the data, such as the monthly sales profits, by putting them into context. Month-on-month or year-on-year comparisons can help show why the data looks like it does. You can also add context such as marketing campaigns, new product launches, or events that will have had a knock-on effect on the figures. Presentation If you’ve got the greatest sales figures of all time but your report is leaving everyone scratching their heads at what you’re trying to say, it might be time to consider how you’re presenting your data. Is it clear? Are you using any visual aids such as graphs, charts or comparison tables? Does the report give any prefacing context as to why the figures look like they do? Audience and purpose Who is going to be reading and using this sales report? What information are they looking for right away? Where can you add clarity about the data and performance over the past month? You don’t need to over explain everything, but always provide insight for your audience so they aren’t left with questions. Using a clear layout or template is an excellent way to create consistency across all your sales reports. Monthly sales reports especially will be reflecting on much of the same kind of data – profit, loss, net gain, customer satisfaction, etc – so having a straightforward template makes it much easier to process and present the data. Things to avoid: Vanity Metrics No one wants to see data for the sake of data, and the same goes with metrics and data that is presented in a way that creates a false impression. Flattering egos or creating a false sense of achievement isn’t useful to anyone. Data dumping While a sales report will (and should) include lots of data from multiple areas of the business, loading the report with every single piece of data isn’t necessary. Choose the key figures to highlight and you can always create a supporting appendix for the extra figures. Blame game It might be that you were running a marketing campaign and it’s taking a while to gain traction. Maybe a new product hasn’t taken off as much as you hoped. Perhaps you’ve had some negative customer feedback or lost a customer in the past month. The sales report should take these into account but don’t be tempted to put blame on departments for unexpected figures. The report should offer insight and be impartial where possible. Sales Report Software When you’re busy running a business, creating a sales report is often not a top priority, despite how useful it can be. Choosing a software partner like Clarity means that you can produce detailed, templated sales reports in a few clicks. With all your business data at your fingertips, it’s never been easier to analyse, report and create actions based on facts. Measure month-on-month or year-on-year, draw data from multiple departments for cross-referencing and assign actions to the right teams all from your central dashboard function. Turn creating monthly sales reports into a quick task that cuts down admin time without cutting down on data-driven insight for your business. Explore Clarity’s range of reporting software tools today and see how your business could make gains.