Sales Reports: Useful or Waste of Time?

Are sales reports worth your time?

If you are in sales you have probably been asked to submit a sales report (or as a manager asked someone else for one), but are they really worth your time? What do you use them for and how useful are they?

First, you must know that there are multiple types of sales reports and that they all vary based on the type of business model your company uses. Nonetheless, the reports give you access to invaluable data which you can use to better your sales numbers and get an in-depth look at the daily activities of each sales rep. Sales reports are meant to give you (and your manager) deeper insight into your work as well as the overall health of the business. They provide data which can be analyzed and showcase the well-being of your work on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual basis. Without these, sales reps and managers would not know how many sales were made last week, how many potential sales are currently in the pipeline, or the stage each potential sale is at.

Sales reports are useless if they are not completed properly and they can be time-consuming. So are they worth it? Unequivocally, yes. But only if you set aside time to review them regularly. Reading your sales reports is as important as checking your email.

Some basic and helpful types of reports

There are some very helpful reports, but also some very useless reports that sales management and sales reps adhere to. There’s the productivity report, the pipeline report, the sales forecast, the long-range sales forecast, and many others. For the sake of success, you should familiarize yourself with these basic types of reports and find the one(s) that fit your needs. If you are a manager, you should be asking for at least two of these from your team regularly. For purposes of simplicity, I will go over what I see as the most important type of sales report, the call report. However, as important as this and the other reports are, it is ultimately the sales team (and its performance) that can make or break the company. So, keep this next piece of advice in mind…

The most popular type of report — the call report

Knowing how many calls your sales reps make during a given day, as well as who they are calling, is essential for anyone managing salespeople. Why? Because management needs a baseline to gauge activity from the team. Let’s investigate the pros and cons of call reports.

Call reports can be futile due to multiple reasons, but the most popular one is that management will use it to micromanage their reps. Sales reps often inflate the numbers making the report worthless in hopes of avoiding comments such as “you need to make more calls” and “you are not seeing enough people.” On the other hand, call reports can be an effective weapon for both sales reps and managers alike if properly used. Management can use them for coaching, training, and even competitor analysis. Sales reps can use them to study objections, counters to objections, and better pitches in their conversations with customers. If you are interested in asking your sales rep for a call report, you must be explicit and proactive in using it as a tool to improve your sales team as these call reports summarize, analyze and outline how the sales rep will move the sale forward.

In conclusion

Sales reports help guide the business toward greater profitability, although it is the process and who does the reporting of data that plays a pivotal role in overall effectiveness and usefulness. If you are a rep, use sales reports to show the success and failure of your efforts. If you are in management, use sales reports to help your team improve through proper training, coaching and strategic targeting of leads. Make them worth your while.