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CRM and Sales

Winning formula to managing sales orders (hint: automation)

Kerry Leech 7 min read
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In any business, managing sales orders and payments is possibly THE most important work stream. The obvious reasons being for cash flow. But it’s also key for delivering on customer expectations, and so much more.

If you’re used to hearing terms like ‘invoices’ or ‘purchase orders’, sales orders can be a little confusing. It really needn’t be.

Put simply, a purchase order is official confirmation that a buyer intends to purchase a product or service. The buyer issues this document, which covers key information like price and quantities to order.

A sales order is the next phase in the purchase process. Once a seller accepts this order, they then send a sales order document back to the buyer to formalize the sale and essentially confirm key details like delivery date, address, and other terms of the sale.

This practice is quite common in industries like warehousing, manufacturing, and retail. Some businesses may still issue these in paper format, but most do it digitally now for speed and ease of checking information for invoicing (a sales document that’s sent once goods are received).

Now that’s quickly cleared up, let’s look at the good stuff; like why they’re a must-have, and how to get the most from them.

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Why sales orders are a must-have for businesses

We’ll cover more benefits in the section below. But first, let’s start with the burning need for them.

Fundamentally, sales orders help you keep track of inventory, allowing you to see what’s available, what’s on back order, and what needs purchasing. This is great for:

  • Cashflow – keeping as much stock as needed rather than tying money in unused stock.
  • Fulfilling customer orders – not missing sales opportunities and also delighting customers.

What’s more, sales orders are essential for financial reporting. What do we mean here? Well, material errors in reporting inventory can cause a major problem. As inventory counts towards a business’s profit, and investors rely upon these records, they need to be accurate. It’s also likely to be picked up on by auditors, so there’s a legal requirement here too.

But what about the benefits?

The 5 biggest benefits

Still not convinced? While they may seem like another step in the sales process, that just isn’t needed. Hold that thought. Sales orders can also actually save time and resources.

Here’s how:

#1: Reduced risk of human error

When you create an order and goods leave a warehouse, they act as a great checklist to ensure the order is exactly as the customer requested. This prevents issues like incorrect product descriptions, pricing errors, or missed deadlines for delivery or payment.

#2: Keeps accounts in check

Another key benefit is with your accounts team. With a strong CRM system, accounts can easily access them and check payments against the sales order and quickly process it in accountancy software.

#3: Improves inventory management

Talking of accounts, one of the biggest expenses is stock. To prevent the impact on cash flow, you can use sales orders to manage inventory levels. Likewise, if a surge in demand is likely, based on previous sales orders, businesses can order in advance to prevent costly stock outs.

#4: Protects your business

Moving on the legalities. When a customer agrees to a sale, this makes the deal legally binding. Which is why it’s essential to keep a record.

#5: Better customer communication

What’s more, by providing clear and accurate information and tracking of orders, businesses can keep customers up-to-date on expected delivery times.

The bottom line? Sales orders streamline and increase efficiency in the sales process. They speed up payments and so ultimately boost cash flow.

With all this in mind, let’s look at top tips and pitfalls to avoid.


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3 ways to improve sales orders

Let’s jump straight in…

#1 Leverage automation – The benefits with this are endless:

  • Minimizes administrative time on data entry and reduces human errors
  • Ensures you’re sending orders on time
  • Allows for scalability with stock alerts or additional staff needs
  • Provides accurate and timely order updates with customers
  • Creates more accurate real-time reporting to support forecasting

Did you know? With Work OS, you can automate sales order workflows. More on this right here.

#2 Use a single system for all sales processes – With the right system, not only can you easily track orders and regularly review and update sales order records, all departments within a business can manage their processes with access to the same real-time data.

For example: Accounts can match payments against the original sales order. Or, customer service reps can double check exactly what was ordered if there’s a query.

#3 Integrate other systems – The most efficient businesses use one platform that integrates with other software. For example, accounting (like Xero and Sage) and communication channels (like Slack and Gmail).

Ensure consistency with

If you’re up for automations that notify people when an order is ready to send, or you want easy plug-ins to make team’s lives easier and more productive. Or, you simply want to make it easier for teams to collaborate and easily make edits. You’re in the right place.

Not only does Work OS make automation a breeze, there’s so many additional tools to help you manage the entire sales process. For example, templates like this, standardize sales processes across the business. You can even create custom automations.

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Still looking for answers? Take a look at these commonly asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are sales orders used for?

A sales order is a document that a seller sends to the buyer to confirm the details of a sale (like quantity, pricing, delivery details, and more).

What is a sales order vs invoice?

Put simply, sales orders are documents sent to confirm a purchase. Invoices are documents sent once products / services are delivered to the buyer.

Who creates a sales order?

The seller creates sales orders for the buyer. But actually, many businesses opt to not send them, unless the buyer asks for it specifically to check details on their purchase. Often, the seller just keeps the sales order on file and uses it to quickly and accurately create the invoice.

Ready to make orders and inventory management a breeze?

If your business manages lots of orders, managing any sales document can be a headache.

But it really doesn’t need to be.

With automation, this can all be a breeze — at every stage, from filling in sales orders through to tracking inventory from anywhere and then quickly updating customers.

That all said, documents like sales orders are crucial to improve stock management, efficiently manage payments, and to maintain levels of communication that customers expect.

Don’t let unnecessary slow and error-prone processes hold you back. Make the move to sales automation today.

Kerry Leech is a highly experienced B2B Content Marketer with over 20 years' experience within SaaS, Data, and Tech.
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