Many business owners are under the impression that sales forecasting is difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. And the truth is, trying to run a successful business without one is much harder. Our template will make the task easier for you.

What does the sales forecast template do?

This sales forecast template (XLS, 125KB), opens in new window is an easy-to-use Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that allows you to input your expected sales figures per quarter, along with your overheads. As you plug in your numbers, it automatically calculates quarterly and annual figures for:

  • total sales
  • gross profit
  • total overheads
  • net profit.

This template is also professionally formatted, making it perfect for printing and sharing with your business partners or small business banker.

Our sales forecast template helps you to accurately identify projected sales on a quarterly and annual basis. By completing a sales forecast, you won’t be operating in the dark – and you’ll be less likely to be caught off guard at the end of the quarter or year. Using a sales forecast to predict sales and profit also allows you to:

  • establish targets
  • monitor progress
  • address expected shortfalls or windfalls.

Note that this is a sales forecast, not a cash flow forecast (XLS, 60KB), opens in new window. While you’ll want to enter your overheads like rent, salaries, and utilities, you don’t need to get too deep into your expenses.

For sales forecasting purposes, you’ll enter the average sale per customer along with the average cost per sale into the template rather than individual expenses.

Sales forecasting for start-ups

Sales forecasting is hard for start-ups because you don’t have any past records to use as a basis for your forecast. However, you can use external data. In order to complete a sales forecast for a start-up, you’ll need to:

  • look at trends
  • check out past statistics of market demand
  • find out what your competitors are doing
  • work out what you need to do to break even.

Sales forecasting for established businesses

If you’ve an established business, then look at:

  • last year’s sales
  • opportunities coming up
  • any threats on the horizon.

For example, if your business averages about 500 customers per quarter with an average sale of $300, that’s your starting point. Assuming nothing changes, you could expect total sales of $150,000 for the quarter.

However, opportunities may exist – such as a competitor going out of business or an expansion into a new market. Do you intend to exploit those opportunities? If so, factor that in. How many of your competitor’s customers might you be able to attract? Or how many new customers do you think you can convert in a new market?

The same is true of potential threats – such as an economic slowdown or change in legislation affecting your business. How will these threats affect your sales? Will you lose customers? Will they scale back their purchases? Will your average cost per sale go up? Again factor threats into your forecast. Because opportunities and threats can affect your sales, you’ll want to complete a SWOT analysis as part of a sales forecast for an existing business.

How to use our sales forecast template

Using our sales forecast template (XLS, 125KB), opens in new window is easy, but you’ll need to download it to your computer first. From there, complete the following steps

Step 1

Open the sales forecast template in Microsoft Excel or a compatible spreadsheet application.

Step 2

Enter your name and company name in the Prepared By (C3) field. Note that the Date field (F3) is automatically generated.

Step 3

Enter your projected sales figures for each quarter. You’ll need to know the following:

  • number of customers (per quarter)
  • average sale per customer
  • average cost per sale.

The template will automatically calculate your total sales and gross profit for each quarter and the year based on the data you enter.

Step 4

Enter your overheads for each quarter. These are your recurring costs such as rent, advertising, postage, uniforms, taxes, payroll, motor vehicle expenses, and salaries. The template includes suggested overheads.

If your business doesn’t incur some of these overheads, that’s fine. Use the Other field to list any other overheads not listed. The sales forecast template calculates your total overheads and net profit automatically based on the data you enter.

Step 5

Examine your results – print your completed sales forecast out and refer to it each quarter to ensure that you’re on target. If you regularly create and monitor sales forecasts each year, your future forecasts are likely to become more accurate.

Use our sales forecast template to help predict your future sales.

Important information

The information contained in this article is correct as of July 2018 and is intended to be of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account any person’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, NAB recommends that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. NAB recommends that you seek independent legal, financial, and taxation advice before acting on any information in this article.