If you are the Chief Revenue Officer of a high-growth technology company, you may be spending anywhere between 25% to 45% of revenue on sales. With complex processes and different roles, your sales team is also very complex. Ensuring that you have a monthly sales report of sales trends and performance for your team is critical to your organization’s success.
My name is Mohammed Abukar and as a Revenue Operations professional, you can say sales reporting is sort of a pastime for me. Focusing on operationalizing your reporting rhythm will help you create a data driven sales culture based on facts, not feelings.
If you're responsible for providing the key insights used in your organizations to fuel the Go To Market Strategy, this article is for you. Here is a blueprint on how to write a monthly sales report suitable for a CRO.
What Is A Sales Report?
A sales report is a summary of a company’s sales activities, metrics, and KPIs during a specific time period i.e a week, month, or quarterly summary. One of the primary purposes of a sales report is to ensure that sales leaders and executives understand the performance of the sales organization. More importantly, it ensures that informed decisions are being made about future sales strategies.
Sales reports typically contain sales data that your organization really cares about. They will also include metrics pertaining to revenue, average order value, sales cycle length, and growth rates. Depending on your company’s goals and priorities, sales reports may also include product performance, market trends, and customer demographics.
The Role Of a CRO
In order to write a sales report suitable for a CRO, we should start with level setting on what the role of a CRO is.
As a company that sells directly to CROs, Salesforce describes the role as such: “A Chief Revenue Officer is responsible for every process that generates revenue in an organization. They focus on improving sales performance, creating great product pricing strategy, and delivering customer satisfaction”
Simply put: CROs craft the strategy required to grow your organization for the long term. While sales managers and salespersons are also responsible for driving revenue, their focus tends to be more short-term. Their primary objective is how they will hit their booking targets or quota within the given period. With that said, there will certainly be overlap in what sales leaders and CROs care about both from a tactical and strategic perspective.
CRO Level Metrics to Fuel Your Monthly Sales Reporting
With the above in mind, it’s easy to understand why CROs are not necessarily looking at the in-the-weeds sales metrics that matter to individuals or specific sales teams. Reports such as lead conversion rates or top-of-funnel webpage conversion metrics will speak more to sales managers and marketing leaders.
Instead of the fine in-the-weeds details of these reports, CROs and other C-Suite are generally looking to be briefed on big-picture metrics. If these big-picture metrics are not trending in the right direction, you will want to provide the supporting data required so that business leaders can look to adjust their strategies.
Before we start talking about key reports, we are going to start by discussing the key metrics that your CRO will care most about. Use these metrics to influence what kind of sales reports and their intervals you’ll want to present.
Metric #1: Sales Revenue
Most CROs spend their entire days discussing and strategizing on how to increase revenue for their organizations. It’s no wonder why I am calling this out as the number one metric you should be reporting on a monthly basis.
There are a million and one ways to slice revenue in your reporting. But if you really want to impress your CRO, make sure your reports include the primary places where your revenue is coming from.
How is revenue broken down by geography?
How is revenue broken down by service and product lines?
How is your customer expansion revenue trending versus your net new customer revenue?
This type of detail will help your audience understand how to adjust sales strategies and pull specific levers to ensure consistent growth.
Metric #2: Customer Retention
For many technology companies that operate in a SaaS model, retention is often the second more important metric next to revenue. There are two primary components to any good customer retention report: gross retention and net retention.
While gross revenue retention rate measures the percentage of recurring revenue retained from existing customers, net retention includes your renewals plus your customer expansion revenue.
Any good monthly sales reports need to include retention reports as this is going to help any CRO understand the overall health of their customer base.
Metric #3: Sales Pipeline
Sales pipeline as a metric is critical for all companies to measure and analyze regardless of industry or the types of products you sell. This is the metric that informs your CRO on where each dollar sits in the sales process.
Pipeline as a metric also allows your company to forecast or predict future revenue. From a C- Suite perspective, this metric allows the business to effectively plan and distribute resources for future growth while managing cash flow. A healthy pipeline is the lifeblood of any sales organization and this metric should make up a significant part of your monthly sales reporting.
Common Types of Sales Reports
Now that we have a solid understanding of what metrics we should be focusing on, let’s talk a little bit about the primary reports that should make up a good sales report based on the above metrics.
It is important to note that sales reports come in all shapes and sizes. There are also a host of different sales technologies today including CRM software that allow you to visualize data in different ways.
But whether you are using a high-powered business intelligence platform for reporting or you are still viewing graphs and pie charts in Excel, make sure to include some of the following reports in your monthly sales reports.
Sales KPI Reports
Commonly used in sales reports, this type of report provides a comprehensive overview of the key performance indicators your organization cares about. What you may include here is revenue, growth rates, profit margins, and incremental sales volume.
This type of report will help make sure your C-suite is well-informed on how your sales team is doing against strategic business goals.
KPI reports can also contain very tactical data that should be used to drive real-time business decisions. Sales leaders will monitor KPI reports to ensure the day-to-day operations of the sales team are trending toward their performance goals. Sales leaders must have “go-to” reports tracking KPIs so that they can pivot their sales strategy and coaching if required.
Customer Churn Report
Customer churn reporting is a critical part of any sales reporting you are providing C-Suite with. An in depth view of the dollar value from customers that have left your company will help pave the way for some hard but very important discussions around retention strategies.
When presenting your next churn reports you should consider the following:
What is the dollar value of customers that have churned?
How many customers have churned in this time period?
What are the primary reasons they have churned?
Customer churn is part of any natural business cycle. A low churn rate typically indicates that customers are getting the value from your solution/services and want to stay with you long term. Don’t leave out this very important set of reports in your next reporting package.
Sales Opportunity Report
Also commonly used in sales reports, this type of report is often found in sales forecast meetings with sales leaders and CROs. This is where key deals are singled out and discussed. CRO and sales leaders will strategize about how to get these key deals across the line before month end.
This type of report zeroes in on the number of sales opportunities created by a sales team. This report ensures that the benchmarks set in terms of opportunity created are being met so that your sales pipeline remains healthy at all times.
Sales Cycle Length Report
Sales cycle length is a critical input to the overall health of your sales organization. It is the measure of how long it takes your sales reps or sales team go from a qualified opportunity to a closed-won customer. Including this in any monthly sales reporting is critical as it helps the business forecast when they believe certain opportunities might close. This report provides valuable insights into your sales process which can help you ultimately identify areas of improvement and optimize your sales strategies.
Pipeline Conversion Report
A pipeline conversion report helps measure how effective your sales team is in moving your sales opportunities throughout the various stages of your sales process. It is important to call out that you need to have a well defined sales process in order for this report to be meaningful.
Key Takeaway - Ensure that each stage in your sales process has very well defined exit criteria. Let sales reps know what activities are required at each stage of the sales process.
If you have a really well-oiled sales process, this report can help your CRO understand where deals are getting stuck your process. Once you have a good understanding of where your deals sit, you can begin to prioritize sales coaching and training to help overcome hurdles that may exist in specific stages.
Things to Consider When Writing Your Monthly Report
1. Consider Design & Audience
Writing a monthly sales report for your CRO requires careful consideration of its design. It's not only important to create a report that is visually appealing, but equally important to make sure the report is easy to understand. Here are two tips to incorporate when creating your next report:
Tip - Use charts, graphs and other visuals when possible. Visualization should be made easy, clear and easy to follow.
Tip - Make the data easily accessible. Make sure to organize your reports so it is easy for readers to review past trends. Use a reporting analytic or CRM software to make the data easily accessible.
2. Include the Appropriate Information
In order to include the most appropriate information, you have to ensure you know who your audience is. As it pertains to your CRO and other C-Suite make sure you don’t get caught reporting in the weeds. C-Suite and other business leaders care mostly about high level business outcomes and it is important to remember this.
Tip - If you know your audience will want to drill into specific parts of your monthly report, ensure you have your supporting reports and metrics readily available. Having these secondary reports readily available will help provide more color into areas of concern or praise.
3. Determine Time Periods
When determining the time period for your reports, consider what your CRO’s goals and priorities are. For example, if your CRO is focused on quarterly pipeline performance, it may be helpful to include data from the previous three months as well as the current month.
Tip - It is important to not have a singular view into your data in terms of period. In order to really analyze trends make sure you are viewing KPIs at various time frames.
4. Compile (and Double Check) Your Data
This step cannot be overlooked. Once you have gathered and compiled all of your data, ensure you have a repeatable process to check it for accuracy and completeness. Ensure you reserve the appropriate time required to double check that what you are sharing is accurate.
Not doing this will be a sure fire way of undermining the credibility of your work.
5. Present and Explain Your Data
Finally when presenting your data, make sure to provide your own context and insights into what the data is saying. Avoid listing out numbers and instead, provide a summary analysis that helps your CRO understand what the data is saying.
Be ready to support your conclusions using the data you are providing. This simple step will help turn your reporting function from a tactical team to a strategic function within the organization.
Whether you are a small business or a large enterprise, start by understanding what business goals and priorities your organization has. Work backwards from here to set out the metrics and KPIs that matter most to your audience.
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