Sales orders enable you to confirm the purchase requests you receive from your customers. Not only does a sales order form set out exactly what’s being ordered, it also clarifies the terms and conditions around individual sales transactions.
With the right sales order form template, you can:
Productivity plays an important role in high sales performance and research from RAIN Sales Training shows that accountability is the defining characteristic in 76% of extremely productive professionals.
Knowing how to wield a sales order effectively can optimize both your workflow and your productivity, while keeping you more accountable to your buyers and stakeholders.
In this article, we’ll delve into what sales order forms are, and how you can make the most of them, by examining what they typically include, how they fit into the overall sales order process and what makes them different from purchase orders, sales quotations and invoices.
We’ve even included links to five downloadable sales order form templates you can use to get started.
A sales order is a document you create to confirm the sale of goods or services to a customer.
At the buyer’s end, a sales order is important for clarifying how the final stages of their purchase—including delivery, billing and any returns—will unfold.
At your end, generating a sales order form makes it easier to:
You’ll generally create and issue a sales order after a customer confirms their intention to buy your product or service (usually by way of a purchase order) and before you deliver their goods.
As part of a larger sales process, sales forms are one in a series of important transactional documents that also include sales quotations, purchase orders and invoices or receipts.
Preparing a sales order isn’t especially difficult, but it can be time-consuming. There are a number of details that should be included to ensure the terms and conditions surrounding your sales transaction are clear.
Below is a rundown of the most common features included in a sales order and why they’re important. If you have neither the time nor the inclination to create your own sales order form template, you can download a standard, easy-to-use version below.
Your company’s information. Placing your business name and contact information (address, email and phone number) front and center will make it easier for your customer to identify and match your sales order to their purchase request. You may also want to personalize your document with your company logo.
Your customer’s information. Be sure to include your customer’s complete business name and contact information to confirm their identity as the buyer in your specific sales agreement.
Purchase order (PO) number and date. If your customer issued a PO to your company (we’ll look at POs in more detail later), you should reference this document near the top of your sales order to make maintaining a transactional paper trail more convenient.
Billing information. Including your customer’s billing address and full payment details saves time during the invoicing process.
Delivery details. To avoid misunderstandings around where, when and how your goods or services will be provided, be sure to lay out:
If the order time frame is uncertain, resist making delivery promises here you might not be able to keep.
Product or service details. Always include a detailed description of:
The clearer the information you provide, the less likely it is that your company will deliver the wrong goods or the wrong number of items.
Pricing information. Delineate between subtotal and grand total amounts on your sales order by listing all additional charges or credits.
These may include:
Avoid hiding costs, and check that your pricing reflects any previous sales negotiations or quotes.
Terms and conditions. It’s important to outline any other terms or conditions not yet addressed, such as:
Being upfront is a good way to protect yourself from customer disputes and lost deals.
Sales order approval. Include a space for the names and signatures of the salespeople, sales managers and buyer(s) involved in your transaction. This will make it easier for your customer to acknowledge receipt of and approve or reject your sales order.
Finally, don’t forget to include any other details that are relevant to your particular business, transaction or buyer. The more thorough you are, the more streamlined the sales order process will be for both you and your customer.
Most sales orders go through a standard, step-by-step process like the one outlined here.
Depending on your role and the size of your business, you may not be personally involved in every step of this sales order process. But knowing how that process unfolds will make you more effective at answering your customers’ questions and getting to the bottom of any purchase order mistakes or delays.
Although sales orders and purchase orders sound like they should mean the same thing, they’re entirely different documents that serve two distinct purposes in the sales order process.
The biggest difference to be aware of is that sales orders are internal documents (meaning they’re generated by your company), while POs are external documents (meaning they’re generated by your customers).
To differentiate further, it can help to view sales orders and purchase orders as two sides of the same coin.
Once a buyer sends a formal purchase order to a seller, and that seller accepts it by way of a formal sales order, a PO is often considered a legally binding contract.
The table below summarizes the key differences between sales and purchase orders.
Where do sales quotations and invoices fit in?
Sales orders, quotations and invoices are all similar in the sense that they’re internal documents your company generates around the same customer purchase.
Sales quotations come before sales orders, however, and are typically:
Sales invoices, meanwhile, come after sales orders and:
Remember, a sales order confirms a customer’s purchase request and is a formal declaration of the details framing your sales transaction. It usually stems from information in your sales quote and forms the basis of your sales invoice once the transaction is complete.
Sales orders help you stay organized as a sales professional. And according to sales training expert Brian Tracy, the very act of using organizational skills “gives you a greater feeling of control and will help increase productivity throughout your day”.
Not every business uses sales orders. But they’re necessary in some circumstances and highly beneficial in others.
For example, sales order forms are essential for:
Maintaining detailed sales records also allows you to analyze and learn from past performance.
You could, for example, use sales orders to track your personal revenue growth. And since increasing business with existing accounts is the top priority for sales leaders in the year ahead, according to RAIN Group, you might also use them to identify new selling opportunities with past or existing customers.
Setting up an organized, integrated sales order system will also save you time and help you manage your deals more efficiently so you can keep your sales pipeline clean. Many sales professionals, for example, take advantage of software automation to create, populate and link their sales orders directly to a CRM like Pipedrive.
No matter the business you’re in, it’s worth designing sales order forms (or using the templates provided below) that will help you manage and improve a variety of transaction types.
Here are some examples.
Cash sales or rush orders. These types of sales forms provide a convenient way to distinguish and document same-day customer orders, walk-in sales and cash payment purchases.
Orders fulfilled by a third party. If you act as the “middle-man” in certain sales situations, using a separate sales order form will make it easier to track and follow up on orders picked, provided or delivered to your customer by a third-party vendor.
Scheduling agreements. These specialized sales orders take the form of long-term agreement outlines. Using individual schedule lines, they lay out when, where and how certain materials or services will be provided to your customer over a set period of time.
Digital sales orders. The main difference between standard or paper forms and online sales orders is the fact that digital forms can be prepared, forwarded and filled in using a laptop or mobile device.
Because they typically accommodate digital signatures and allow you to pull in data from other systems, digital sales orders save time, reduce the risk of data entry errors and make it easier to manage your sales orders in real time.
There are a lot of great reasons to automate certain aspects of your sales documentation. Most digital tools and integrations, for example, can be accessed from anywhere, making it easy to stay connected to your customers (and their documents) when you’re on the road or working remotely.
Tools specifically designed to help you manage your sales order documents offer other valuable perks.
Pipedrive’s Smart Docs feature, for example, lets you generate and send trackable sales quotes, proposals and contracts directly to your customers online.
Not only does Smart Docs reduce manual work by creating sales document templates that automatically pull in data from your Pipedrive fields, you won’t have to wait for customers to get in touch to find out what they think of your suggestions, agreements or offers.
With key data and documents at your fingertips, you’ll also be in a better position to enhance your sales relationships by addressing customer queries faster and following up on sales order issues more efficiently.
Now that you have a better understanding of what sales orders are, how they work and the important role they play in supporting a successful sales process, why not take a stab at designing and using your own?
Alternatively, if you’re still uncertain about the best way to move forward, you can simply download and customize one of our ready-made sales order form templates.
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