Data is a critical element in business development. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling a product or a service. Whether you’re a modest, homespun, family company or a large, corporate behemoth extremely valuable insights can be found in data, which can help guide the path going forward.
Sales data plays a big role in this. After all, sales are where the rubber hits the road for every business. In this article, we’ll go over how to keep track of sales in a small business.
Sales Categories Every Small Business Should Track
Tracking your sales categories is essential for marketing and business management. The exact combination of categories you should be tracking is highly dependent on the type of business you’re running. However, some of these categories are used universally across all industries.
Every sale should have some basic transactional information recorded with it: sale amount, transaction, type and number of items sold, date and time. This data is being tracked by every responsible business, and that’s about as universal as you can get.
In cases where you’re selling your products or your service over multiple platforms, you want to include where each sale came from. Sorting your sales by distribution channels is a very useful characteristic because it’s a very direct metric. You’ll know exactly where the majority of your sales are coming from and adjust your strategies accordingly. If your sales are occurring offline, you’ll find value in adding location into the mix.
Lastly, if your business has a sales team, then you need to track which of your employees made each individual sale and the time they spent working on it. That will allow you to subsequently calculate the internal cost of each individual sale. If your salespeople are working on commission make note of their cut as well.
Also, there may be some specific types of categories that you find useful that are somewhat unique to your business. Once you’ve covered all the basics, take a step back and analyze your entire sales process from top to bottom. These types of data can be very difficult to spot and can only come from someone who is well acquainted with the intricacies of how a particular business is being run.
Tracking Customer Data
If your business allows you to keep track of information that is related to your customers – by all means, do. It’s an incredibly valuable asset that will help you optimize both your marketing, as well as your business strategy overall.
Just something as basic as differentiating between new and recurring customers is a game-changer. Keep in mind that in whichever way you choose to collect your data, it has to be in line with up-to-date consumer privacy laws.
How To Keep Track of Your Sales Financial Records
On the other side of tracking sales are financial records and these are primarily going to benefit the accounting side of your business. These types of documents are primarily useful for calculating taxes but they add value to your sales tracking as well.
Take invoices, for example. Each individual invoice in itself is an invaluable piece of data for your accountant. But it also contains all the basic transactional elements as well as customer and seller details. That makes invoices, among other things, a great way to verify your sales data.
Invoices really are a multi-practical document and if you’re looking for a way to keep them standardized and professional, you can check out some invoice templates here!
All of this information normally comes from different departments but your business benefits from having a transparent system that connects these sources and combines these types of data.
How to Create a Sales Tracking System for a Small Business
Tracking sales can get pretty complex pretty quickly, especially if you’re an entire range of products, services or both. That’s why you need to develop a system that will allow efficient data input as well as calculate useful metrics in the blink of an eye. If your business transactions and sales are done online, then good for you! Your journey to an efficient tracking system will be a lot shorter.
Small businesses can sometimes have overlapping departments and in an effort to use resources optimally while remaining agile, a single person can be in charge of multiple processes. Another good reason why you should create a sales tracking system that keeps everything neat and organized.
You don’t need a lot to keep track of your sales. Some small businesses are able to make do, just by using spreadsheets. Generally speaking, it’s not ideal, particularly if you’re really trying to take your business to the next level. This method lacks in efficiency and will only take you so far.
Luckily, there is software dedicated to your sales tracking systems that optimize the process. They’re highly efficient because they minimize data input and provide all sorts of features that go way beyond the limitations of a Google Sheet document. And if that’s something you’re interested in, you should definitely check out VipeCloud. One of the main advantages of using this particular tool for tracking sales lies in the fact that it’s highly customizable. You can adjust your system in a way that fits your business strategy perfectly.
VipeCloud also makes it easy to track leads and sales opportunities that didn’t close. Gaining insights into lost sales is very important. While nobody bats 1.000, there’s always room for improvement. If you can gain insights into small changes that can improve your close rate, it’s extremely valuable. The first step to gaining these insights is keeping the records in the first place.
You Have the Data – Now What?
So far, we’ve covered everything that will help you plan the categories you’re going to track and set up a system that keeps everything neatly organized and available at any time. This is a great first step in tracking sales as a small business. You’ve planted all the seeds and now it’s time to reap all the data. If you later realized you’ve missed a few spots, you can always go back and do some more planting.
Still, the true prize doesn’t really come with the fruits of your labor, i.e. sales data. It all comes down to how you process it and what you decide to take away. CRM software solutions will provide you with advanced sales metrics with the drop of a hat but it’s how you interpret and adjust your processes that will make all the difference.
AuthorBio: Mark is a biz-dev hero at Invoicebus – a simple invoicing service that gets your invoices paid faster. He passionately blogs on topics that help small biz owners succeed in their business. He is also a lifelong learner who practices mindfulness and enjoys long walks in nature more than anything else.