Re-Factor Weekly Sales Targets to Slash Wasted Management Time

Last Updated: Friday, January 6, 2017 by Johnathan Briggs
hands on a clock with message stop wasting time

Updated: January 6, 2017


Executive Summary

Re-Factor Weekly Sales Targets to Slash Wasted Management Time
 → why weekly sales targets are used  → the problems with weekly targets  → how weekly sales targets cause duplication of effort  → monthly & quarterly report preparation time savings  → highlight exceptions so off-target performance is easily spotted Approx. Skim Time: 1min 30sec ~ 260 wordsFull Read Time:5min 10sec~ 944 words

What's Wrong with Weekly Sales Targets

So, what’s wrong with these weekly sales targets? After all, it’s common practice, it’s been done that way for as long as many can remember and no one has ever mentioned it was a daft idea, until now.

In the real world, not every target will be met and not every salesperson will perform at peak or product sell as well as we expected in that week. By reporting in weeks we can look only at that data in the context of the week and this stops us answering questions like:
  • What is our best selling product this quarter?
  • Who is our top sales person this month?
  • Are we on target for the quarter as a whole?
  • How does this month compare to last year?

Weekly reporting locks us in and stops us from addressing questions based on month, quarter or year.

Why Weekly Sales Targets are So Common

The whole idea of weekly targets and performance measures seems to make sense. After all, every work week starts with a Monday, ends with a Friday and has 5 days in it.

As a handful of days and unit of measure, a week is simple to understand, easy to do the maths on and fits right in with the calendar down on the computer taskbar or mobile phone home screen. Grabbing Excel and totalling up the sales figures for the week at about 5:05 on a Friday afternoon is easy peasy.

bar chart showing weekly targets

So What's the Problem Here?

The problem is that weeks cannot be converted into months, quarters or years because of how weeks relate to months/quarters/years:
  • A month can have 4 or 5 weeks in it
  • A week can start in one year and end in another
  • Some years have 52 weeks, others have 53
  • A week can start in one month and end in another

We cannot add 4 weeks to get a monthly total or "do" any other operations on targets and actuals when they are based on weeks because they don't cleanly convert to months, quarters or years.

The bottom line is that if you set weekly targets you can only look at the data by weeks and thus you would lose a whole range of useful reporting that could give you a sales advantage.

Solution: Set Weekly Targets but Re-Factor Them to Daily

If you have targets and sales figures that are set in weeks they might look something like this:

Week Beginning Sales Total Target
31 October 2016 £3,100 £3,000
07 November 2016 £2,800 £3,100
14 November 2016 £3,600 £3,100

Convert these week-based figures to days and then report them by week, where needed.

If you work only Monday to Friday this means taking your targets and dividing then by 5 days to become a daily total.

If you have a weekly target of say "4 units" then you then you might find:

4/5 = 0.8 (a number less than one) - Whilst this seems a little odd, this is OK as we will be reporting by a week or above.

You should then end up with a table of targets that looks something like this:

Week Beginning Sales Total Target
31 October 2016 £620 £600
01 November 2016   £600
02 November 2016   £600
03 November 2016   £600
04 November 2016   £600
05 November 2016   £600
06 November 2016   £600

Convert these week-based figures to days and then report them by week, where needed.

The down side of this approach is that you have to collect your sales figures on a daily basis, which is no problem if automated, but extra labour if this is a manual task.

But the upsides are being able to report the data over any time period or make better comparisons.

For example, we can now accurately add all these graphs to our reports at otherwise would be impossible or inaccurate.

Weekly sales can be plotted exactly as we did before but automatically summing the daily data into weekly data:

bar chart showing weekly sales figures

However, now we can also track monthly Targets vs. Sales by up-scaling the same daily data to months:

bar chart showing monthly sales figures

This can also be done by quarters or years to give you a longer term picture:

bar chart showing quarterly sales figures

... as well as annually ...

bar chart showing annual sales figures

We can also look at the distribution accurately also, so for example Top sales this month (as below) or highest margin products this quarter.

leaderboard style bar chart of top performing salespeople and their sales figures

It's tempting to quickly set weekly targets and match them to actual sales but it's very restrictive and limited the bigger picture that you can get from your data by looking at it over different time periods.

By taking extra time to convert your targets into days, you can easily convert daily targets to week, monthly, quarterly, yearly if financial yearly time frames. This gives you a more accurate picture and allows you to seize opportunities and seral with weaknesses that you might otherwise not notice.

See It In Action
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