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Tracking Your Sales Performance

A few posts ago I talked about measuring your sales and profit performance.  I’ve had a few questions about how often to do this, once month, once a quarter, etc.

I check it once per week.  I’m not saying you have to do it that frequently, but you can’t make good decisions about what to sell if you don’t know how well your current product offering is selling.  Sales can change quickly, and especially if you’re selling primarily on a marketplace like Amazon or eBay (which I strongly recommend for people just starting out), competition can change quickly.

When you’re just starting out you can look through the reports manually without too much trouble.  But if you have a lot of products on offer it can be time consuming to go through the data manually.  That’s why it’s very helpful to be able to write small programs to process sales reports.

If you’ve never learned how to program a computer, don’t be frightened by the thought, it isn’t as bad as you probably think.  There are simplified programming languages that you can use for free.  I use a language called ‘Perl’, which has been around for many years.

You can probably find a community college that teaches an introduction to Perl class.  You can also teach yourself, there are plenty of books on learning Perl.  E.g., search for ‘Perl’ on Amazon under books, you’ll see quite a few come up.  One word of warning on this, many programming books are written by programmers for programmers, and will be hard for non-programmers to read.  My favorite Perl book (I have no financial interest in this, just passing it along) is ‘Perl, How to Program’, by Deitel and Deitel.  It’s very accessible to non-programmers.  But feel free to choose any book that suits your tastes.

If programming is something you just can’t bring yourself to do, you can, like any mechanical aspect of your business, pay someone else to do it.  But then it costs money, and you have to rely on that person to modify the program over time as the format of reports change.


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