End of year reporting best practices

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With the end of the financial year in sight, it’s a good time to reflect on the past year and set future goals aligned with your business’s strategy. Reporting is a critical business activity to measure growth and performance and is crucial for determining the success of specific goals. Effective reporting will create high-performing teams, provide clear direction, achieve competitive advantage and drive insights to inform future strategy. If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it, so it’s critical to get these metrics right.

The starting point

There is an overwhelming amount of data available to report on, so how do businesses choose the right reports and the right amount of reports without creating an administrative burden? We’ve rounded up the most impactful sales and marketing metrics to streamline your end of financial year and help your business flourish in the year ahead. Ideally, these metrics should determine sales and marketing forecasting for the next financial year to show true impact.

Sales reports

Unsurprisingly, sales teams should focus on delivering a sales forecast. This forecast can be achieved using sales performance data from the previous year as a baseline, including monthly sales or a product line breakdown. Sales teams can then apply relevant assumptions to this data, such as a proposed percentage increase in marketing spend, an FTE headcount increase, or the introduction of a new product line. Combining the previous year’s data with applicable assumptions can develop a meaningful sales forecast for the year ahead. These top-line sales numbers are a fundamental metric to provide to the c-suite to feed into the revenue forecast for the following year.

Behavioural-level reports

In addition to the top-line reports, it’s important to note the behavioural-level reports that underpin these sales numbers—for example, measuring sales per person, geographic location and product to uncover trends within a sales team. Businesses that invest in their sales teams should yield year-on-year increases in sales achieved per person, so it’s essential to report on this metric.

Sales lead source reporting

Businesses should measure the best lead sources that convert to sales. This report indicates attribution, the origination of sales and their influencing factors, which provides insight into the changes the business should make in the year ahead to increase the volume of sales delivered.

Average days per sale

Understanding the average days per sale helps determine accurate forecasting. A business should aim to reduce its days per sale to increase business efficiency. The annual reports will help determine the trajectory of this metric and will guide future marketing strategies and lead nurturing efforts.

Headcount planning

The sales data from the above reports determine the sales changes that need to take place and the impact of these adjustments on headcount. This top-line sales data feeds revenue forecasting to determine a percentage increase in sales, which can then be apportioned to the cost of the sales team and its FTE headcount.

Marketing reports

Annual marketing reporting should show a business where its customers came from during the previous year so it can allocate marketing efforts and future budget to the most successful channels. As always, it is critical to have an association between sales and marketing to ensure both departments are partnering to achieve a common goal. In addition, the business should align overarching marketing results with the budget for the year ahead to ensure adequate monetary allocation.

Percentage of sales per channel

The business should compare the percentage of sales per channel against the percentage of spend per channel to confirm appropriate distribution. For example, if 50% of sales came from Facebook, but only 10% of the marketing budget is allocated to Facebook advertising. It is time to reassess budget allocation to ensure channel investment aligns with sales output.

Cost of acquisition (COA)

COA measures consolidated marketing costs against the total number of conversions. This metric shows annual growth, marketing efficiency and also forecasts how much money a company has to spend in the year ahead to gain their desired amount of new customers.

Cost per lead (CPL)

A company’s CPL measures marketing’s cost-effectiveness of generating new leads for the sales team. It provides marketing with a set dollar amount that should be spent on the acquisition of new leads to ensure a strong return on investment and avoid blowing the budget.

Conversion rate

This metric shows the percentage of potential customers who have responded to a call to action, such as opening an email, filling out a form or making a purchase. Marketing’s conversion rate is a good indication of the success of a campaign and the engagement of your target market.

Marketing lead source reporting

Understanding lead sources is important to having the right attribution model that reports accurately. This metric will determine whether leads are actually coming from the converted source, or if they have been retargeted from another initial source. This source insight will guide allocation of the marketing budget to the most effective channels.

Technology

The use of technology helps create an insightful suite of reports. Integrating sales and marketing data into a single CRM ensures that everyone accesses the same consistent and accurate information. We recommend Salesforce as our CRM of choice because it measures leads and sales within one platform to connect metrics and then determine what went well and what didn’t from both a marketing and sales perspective.

Salesforce connects behaviours and inputs with top-line sales data to give a complete picture that can roll into the following year’s forecast. This sets targets and also determines key actions needed to achieve target numbers. However, it is critical to remember that you can’t manage an outcome; you can only manage behaviours and inputs, leading to desired outcomes.

Timing

Generating the right suite of reports doesn’t happen overnight. Ideally, you should start at least three months before the end of financial year to set yourself up for successful reporting next year. Investing time before the start of a year enables a business to capture the right data to gain valuable insights next year.

Once you determine effective sales and marketing forecasting metrics, the business should reevaluate them annually. These reports should always tie into end of financial year process as they are a key data feeder for budgets and forecasts. These reports will show how a business performed against assumptions made for the previous year’s budget, what was successful, what can be improved, and which metrics are critical for the year ahead.

However, “business as usual” (BAU) reporting should continue to occur monthly. These BAU metrics include sales progress against the annual target, campaign reporting, website, advertising and other digital metrics. Undertaking monthly BAU reporting and annual forecast and revenue reporting ensures that a business has a solid understanding of its sales and marketing progress throughout the year to avoid end of financial year surprises.

Reporting is a complicated, iterative process that takes a significant amount of time to get right. Start the process early to ensure your journey to accurate annual reporting begins before the end of the year. Fluent Group is always here to help, from kickstarting your reporting to refining existing metrics.

Contact us to achieve effective reporting that makes a difference.

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