What is an Invoice and how to prepare one?

If you are a seller, you might often come across the term “Invoice”. If you are still unaware of it or have an iota of doubt on this topic, Read on to know more.

What is an Invoice?

An Invoice is a document which is given by the seller to the buyer, as a legal and formal way of requesting for payment in lieu of the products and/or services rendered to the Buyer. It primarily contains the list of items being sold along with the price of each item. This document acts as a formal and legally binding way of asking for payment and can hold good in case of any dispute on any payment dues or terms of service since it acts as a proof that the customer was notified on the request for payment. Having said that, the more important purpose of using Invoice is for tracking the payments made for the goods and services sold.


What should be present in an Invoice?

For a document to be qualified as a formal Invoice, It should contain the following basic details:

  • The Name “Invoice” on top of the document.
  • A Unique reference number which is also known as the Invoice Number. It should be unique so that you can track it properly in your CRM or ERP.
  • Date the invoice was generated or sent to the customer.
  • Date of sales or the time period in which the service was provided to the customer.
  • Name and Contact information of the Buyer
  • Name and Contact information of the Seller.
  • Line wise listing of product items or services sold to the customer.
  • Per unit cost of each line item being sold to the customer.
  • It should mention any applicable discount on each line item or can be present at the end.
  • It should mention the applicable Tax on the sales of goods or services as per the applicable local laws governing the business.
  • And finally, it should mention that Total Amount to be paid by the Buyer.
  • Additionally you may want to include your company logo on it (the Seller Company’s logo) to make it look more appealing, it helps in your branding as well.

Checkout the sample Invoice document:



What is the difference between Sales Invoice and Purchase Invoice?

Sales Invoice: From the Perspective of the Seller, the invoice listing the products and/or services being sold is called Sales Invoice.

Purchase Invoice: From the Perspective of the Buyer, the invoice listing the products and/or services which he purchased is called Purchase Invoice from his reference.


How can you send invoice to your Customers?

If you are a Seller, you might be required to send the Invoice to your customers. If the number of invoices you send usually is less and can be managed manually, then you can manually type it in Word document in a pre-defined template and send it to your customer.

However if you are in growth stage and want to scale up, you should definitely use a CRM, ERP or Accounting software which can help you with an auto-generated invoice for you, so that it would be easier for you to organize the loads of invoices, track the payments better and reduce any manual errors.


Are you looking for a good CRM? Try out ToolsonCloud Sales CRM, It's Free,
5 common sales questions asked by every Client during a Sales deal
Any Sales training workshop you attend you will hear one common saying: "Sales can be very well learnt and is not only for the most creative folks."

Reason why Sales can be learnt is because 70% of the sales process is repetitive and can be reproduced and the rest 30% is about individual creativity and the way the sales person handle the situation. This rest 30% can also be learnt with time once you start gaining field experience. With time & experience, rest will just come naturally to you.

Let's talk about the first 70% which is repetitive.

Every sales deal, as you take it forward, you will find some processes which are repetitive in nature and you would have done those in some earlier sales deals already. You just have to repeat the same, by just refining it a bit to suit the context. 

In these repetitive things, the questions asked by the clients form a major chunk. Here are the list of commonly asked questions by clients to any sales rep. Before going to your next sales meeting, if you have prepared for these questions well, you would be more ready than ever.

1. Don't you think your price is too expensive?

Ans: List out all the offering of other competing product in market and do a side by side comparison of your product to them for each feature and highlight the benefits of your products which the competitor products may not be having.

Sometimes, Client may raise this question because they might not be aware of your detailed pricing structure due to which they may feel price is not justified. In that case try to give a detailed breakup of each pricing component which makes up for your total price. This shall present the customer a fair idea of which component is adding up the cost and also make sure to explain them why that costly component is worth adding them in their deal.


2. What are the business benefits of your products and services? Can you give a monetary estimate?

Ans: Remember that when you sell a drilling machine, you are actually selling a hole for the client and the time he saves by using your tool. So do not count features, instead present the features with business benefits in the context of your client. Show them the value in terms of their time and money.


3. How long are you people in Business? Is the product of good quality?

Ans: Customer wants to ensure that you would be there to help just in case he face any problem with your products. Show them your assurance by explaining how long you have been in the market, show them the catalogue of the projects you have executed successfully, show them your list of client base, show them some of the client feedback testimonials.


4. Is your price negotiable, or can I get some discount?

Ans: Almost everyone wants the best value for money, so it is highly likely that they will negotiate on the price. Stay prepared on the different discounting policy you are equipped with. In case you do not have much control on the price, then you may win the deal by restructuring the mode of payments. For e.g. try for something like if they pay for 6 months in advance, may be you can give some discount. This way you will get enough cashflow coming in. Or if the client is not able to pay in full, you can plan your presentation on alternate mode of payments like 3rd party financier introduction or instalment based payments, etc. 
Caution: Do not take too much of credit risk without doing proper validation with your finance department.


5. Can I call you back after some days?

Ans: Most of the time if a client says he will confirm after few days but doesn't give any definite number, then it is very unlikely that he may buy. That is because, probably he may want to buy some time to explore alternate competitor products or may be he don't want to say straight NO to you to maintain future business relationship and would try to avoid having that conversation again so that deal will rot and be considered expired. In this case you may say yes, but ask them if you can call back after 2 days or some definite date. Also if you are comfortable you may try to probe on the reason for delay to better understand client context if it is for some genuine reason or something else.


Hope you would find these questions useful for your next sales meeting.

Are you looking for a good Sales deal tracker? Try Toolsoncloud, a cloud based Sales CRM today, It's free.

How to Reduce Churn Rate – 3 Legitimate Tips

Heya, in my previous post, we learnt what exactly is Churn Rate. Now you know, that more churn is bad for your business. Let us discuss some cool tips to reduce churn rate in your business.

Reason I titled this post with “Legitimate Tips” is because we would focus on building our fundamentals strong instead of trying out some quick fix leak patching techniques. This would take a bit of longer time, but is worth it in the long run, especially when you look towards sustainably scaling your business in the long term.

Legitimate Tips to reduce churn rate:

Preventing Customer Churn or Exits or Opt-outs

  • Price:

One of the primary reason many customers opt out of your service is because they do not like your price. Remember that nothing is too expensive for a customer if he is made aware of the real value of the product. Hence, work with the customer to make them aware of your product features, functionalities and business benefits so that they gauge the real value of your product or service offering. You may cite the benefits by doing a cost benefits analysis of non-tangible things like Time Value, Quality of your offering, ease of use, Customer Support and assurance being delivered in your offerings, etc.


  • Mis-selling:


Second biggest reason why Customers leave is because after few months they realize that the product is not really meant for their usage or they are not appropriate intended user for the offering. They realize that some sales person did a push sell just to complete their sales quota. In this case it is bound to backfire to your business, since they would opt-out in reasonable amount of time. In this case, try to avoid doing mis-selling or push sales. The world is big enough and hence try to sell to those whom you thing could be interested in your offering or are the right intended users.


  • Customer Success or Engagement

Many Businesses think that once they onboard any customer to sell their subscription based service, their job is done. Chief Marketing Officers should realize that once the sale is done, job is not yet over. The real journey of customer begins from the moment they start using your product or service. Hence it is important that you start engaging with your customers by involving them in regular product update announcements, social media interactions, priority support, training sessions so that they can effectively use your product to realize its true potential benefit.

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What is Churn Rate?

What is Churn Rate?
If you run a subscription based business where you gain monthly or periodically recurring revenue, Churn Rate is one of the important parameters to consider for forecasting your future revenues. This metric is not just a KPI for Sales & Marketing department but also directly impacts Finance department for their future financial forecasts as well as impacts Operations or Delivery department in order to plan for scaling up or scaling down of existing business operations or infrastructure.

What exactly is Churn rate then?

In Simple terms, as the name suggests, Churn rate signifies the rate at which you lose your recurring revenue. Churn Rate can be estimated either on revenue or on the user headcount numbers depending on the way your business operates. In the Software subscription (SaaS) Industry, Churn Rate is usually calculated on user base.

Hence if you have 100 users at the start of the month and you lost 5 users by the end of the month. It would mean your churn rate is 5%.

However, I would also suggest you should keep a tab on Churn rate based on Revenue. This is because subscription rates of different types of users may differ based on the complexity of your business model and hence the user based Churn rate calculation may not give you an accurate view.

Churn Rate based on Revenue can be calculated similarly. If your Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) was 100,000 USD at the beginning of the month and by the end of the month you lost some 5 users who contributed 20,000 USD to your MRR. Then your Churn Rate would be 20%.

Why is it Important?

Churn Rate directly impacts your revenue and financials and is also an indicator of how dissatisfied are your customers. If you observe a series of increasing Churn Rate month over month, then it should definitely raise a flag and you need to accept that there is something definitely wrong which is leading to a spike in number of users opting out of your subscription or rental service.

Also, in order to stay in the game, your business should sustain for long.

What would happen if you fill a bucket with 1 mug of water every second but the bucket has a hole which keeps leaking 1.1 mug of water every second?


Leaking bucket of Water

You would never reach your goal of filling your bucket completely. Similarly, for your business to stay sustainable, its Customer Acquisition Rate should more than the Churn Rate. Otherwise you know what would happen.

Hope you liked reading this post. In the next post, I shall bring to you some tips to reduce your Churn Rate. Stay tuned and do subscribe us our Social Media Channels.

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What is Topline and Bottomline in Sales?
Hey friends, If you recently took up a role in Sales, then you would have frequently heard the two terms Topline and Bottomline from your executive level bosses. If you want know what are those, you have come to the right place.

These two Business Jargons have simpler meaning than they appear to be. Let me tell you what do they mean.

In any business, while you are doing sales, you would make revenue by selling something. Obviously, Once you sell the products or services, you cannot keep the whole revenue with yourself or organization. Major chunk of that revenue goes towards meeting the cost of making the product, income taxes, hr and administration costs involved in managing staff, etc. After deducting all these operating expenses and taxes, what we are left with is the net profit or net income which we can keep which belongs to shareholders and if they wish to, can be invested further into the business.

In this case, the revenue which you generate on making sales is called Topline and the net profit or net income which you generated after deducting all operating expenses and taxes from the revenue is what is known as Bottomline.

Whenever business executives discuss their financials, they monitor these two numbers very closely. Increasing Topline is one of the priority for them to increase the organization growth. However, with this they cannot ignore Bottomline growth because, if they are not left with enough cash after selling products and services, the business cannot survive for long and is not sustainable for long. 

Hence both the metrics should be monitored together since both go hand in hand for a sustainable growth of business.
3 Sales Tips to get response from C-suite executives
Getting a meeting from a C-suite executive of a mid or large corporation is one of the most daunting task for a sales person. This is because unlike other prospects who are in the lower hierarchy of an organization where sales person can pitch in multiple times and try out different ways to approach the prospect, with a C-suite executive, the sales person stands just one shot.


That's the reason why sales professionals should have a fool proof strategy while approaching a C-suite executive while trying to get him for a sales meeting.

Here are 3 tips from my experience which can help you get a reply from CXOs while trying to get their response for a sales meeting:



1. Try asking for a referral within the organization.

Most of the time, top level executives especially CEO, CMO, CFO or COO would be involved with multiple internal tasks that they would hardly get any time for an external sales person which is you. Even if they find your short sales pitch to be interesting, they would hardly have bandwidth for a meeting. This is the reason they would try to defer it. But most of the time, CXOs would be ready to delegate it to their Subordinates or Executive Assistants. 

A few of the executives would refer you to another person in their organization on their own, but not the case with everyone until you ask them for that. So, next time you send a cold email, try asking them for a referral in their organization whom you can talk for discovery interviews or sales meetings.



2. KISS - Keep It Short & Simple

Almost every CXO of an organization is a busy person hardly having any time even for self. During these moments, if you get a chance to talk to him on phone, don't waste his time asking long discovery questions which you can ask others within the same organization. Try to keep your talk short, crisp and to the point instead of trying to blabber round and round about a concept just to gain his attention. Instead of getting his attention, chances are there that you would lose his interest which is lethal in sales.

Hence, the next time you get to talk to a C level executive, try presenting key benefits for him which you can offer via your products, instead of asking him his 5 year vision of his organization and asking generic time consuming questions as to what are their challenges. Ideally you should ask these questions, only if you have a longer meeting planned with the executive especially for discovery interview.



3. Follow Up

Following up is the key to sales success. But it takes a key precedence if you are trying to sell to busy C-suite executives. Often CXOs would be travelling a lot, meeting people around the world. This means he would stay away from his base office often. Chances are there that in his run up to catch up his own work, he would forget about your last meeting. This necessitates that you follow up with the executive by cut-off date before any competitor pitch in and grab the deal.

So, the next time you finish off a meeting with an executive, make sure you ask him when he shall be available for a next meeting and make sure to add that date to your CRM so that it can remind you for another meet up.


I hope you enjoyed reading the post. Do let me know your thoughts on this.

3 Traits of Successful Sales Managers
Often you would observe the best salesperson when promoted to Sales Manager would sometimes fail to become a good at it and sometimes you might also find few instances where an average sales person went on to become a good Sales Manager.

Why is that so?

This is because of certain fundamental differences in the work performed by Sales Person and Sales Manager. The former is a individual contributor role while the later is the management role where the sales manager has to take the whole team into picture and think of every team member's growth in order to achieve the sales targets of the whole sales team.

Leading Sales teams towards team goals



Let us look at 3 key traits every Sales Manager should possess to be super successful in his profession.

1. He looks at the bigger picture instead of focusing on a few team members.

Often Sales Manager's tend to focus on a few top performing sales persons for achieving the team's sales quota rather than working with all the team members. This behavior usually leads to unhappiness among the other team members, who would start feeling alienated. This impacts their performance and ultimately makes it difficult for sales managers to achieve team's goals with a handful of top performers. Top performers should be given preference in giving costly and big deals, but it shouldn't become the case that a sales manager start becoming over dependent on those team members to cover his complete team's quota.


2. Sales Manager should mentor and guide the newer folks.

The Manager should not look only at the short term picture where his only goal is to extract out revenue from his folks. Often sales team would have a range of members with varied sales experience each having his own strengths and weakness. The Manager should identify those gaps and try to mentor the team members and help them overcome their shortcomings which in turn would help the team achieve revenue targets. This would also help boost self esteem of the team member and hence he would like to work within your organization for longer rather than planning for a job switch.


3. He should be a team contributor instead of Individual contributor.

Third and most important as I already wrote in the beginning, an individual contributor sales person is not a good fit for becoming a sales manager. This is where I mentioned if a top performer sales person is given a responsibility of becoming a sales manager, he should also start working with the whole team for their development in addition to his own individual performance in sales closures. Individual contributor should start empathizing with other folks and work with them to achieve the whole team's sales quota. If this is not the case, then manager would sometime get frustrated and would think that he himself can complete the quota alone rather than guiding the team members. This would ultimately lead to disaster because the ultimate purpose of sales management is actually to manage bigger sales teams, not doing everything alone. Sales Manager's job is to focus on bigger things rather than doing the sale himself.

Hope you would have liked this post. Do comment your opinions and let me know.
3 Price Negotiation Mistakes every Salesperson should avoid
Often, Salespersons tend to make mistakes during their Sales Negotiation conversations and tend to lose out on the sales wondering what exactly happened. The lead which they have been following up for many month now is lost just at the last phase of the sales cycle at the time of Sales Negotiation. These are the 3 expensive mistakes which every sales person should avoid at the time of negotiation.


1. Price Negotiation on High Cost Products


Avoid negotiation with Customers for reducing the price of high cost products. Always try to negotiate with customers only for the low cost products having a high perceived value in the minds of the customers. If you reduce the price of High Cost Products, then customers would expect that every time they buy from you. This is detrimental for your business growth since you would find it difficult to run your business on thin margin for a prolonged period of time.


2. Not knowing the Urgency for Customers


As a Salesperson, you would stand good at negotiating position if you are aware of the extent of urgency of the customer who wants to buy from you. If they are having less time and the purchase of the product you are selling is urgent for them, then you stand a better chance. In this kind of situation, you have more chances to crack the sales deal with lesser amount of negotiation with the customer. This is because since customer doesn’t have much time to search for another vendor, they would happily agree with your price. 


3. Starting Negotiation without understanding the needs of the customer



You should never start sales negotiation at the start of the sales cycle even without understanding the needs of the customer in the discovery phases of the sales cycle. The more questions you ask to your customer during the Need Discovery phases of the sales cycle, the more information you will get on the needs and requirements of the customers. This will help you set the expectations of the customers and would help you negotiate better. The more you know about the expectations of the client, the more you would be able to point out those facts during your sales negotiation conversations and hence customers would be willing to pay a higher price if their expectations are met.

What is RFI, RFP and RFQ in B2B Sales
Often, Sales Professionals in B2B Direct Sales would come across these 3 important sales terminologies.

1. RFI
2. RFP
3. RFQ



In this post, Let’s go through each of these sales terms.

1. RFI

RFI is the first step in B2B purchase step. This acronym stands for “Request for Information”. As the name suggests, the client who is looking for purchasing a solution is looking for some information from the vendors. Usually, Purchaser would float a “Request for Information” from the available vendors when it is new in that particular product’s market. For. e.g. A company might be looking for a solution for improving sales productivity but might be lacking much information in that area or domain. So they would seek RFI from multiple vendors seeking information on the available solutions and problems those solutions can tackle.


2. RFP

RFP is ideally the next step after RFI. This acronym stands for “Request for Proposal”. In this step, the client who is looking for purchasing a solution floats a RFP from vendors asking them to propose for a solution to the problems of the vendor. In this, the purchaser usually mentions specific problems which it is facing and would like to have an answer or solution to those specific problems. For E.g. A company might be looking for CRM solution, but it might be specifically interested in solving its problem of managing customer contacts. In that case, the buyer would be specifically interested in getting proposal for vendors for solving the problem of managing or organizing customer contacts. In this step, sometimes buyer also expects a high level overview of the cost for the proposed solution from the vendor. 


3. RFQ

RFQ is ideally the next step after RFP provided the purchaser doesn’t mix it up in the RFP stage. RFQ stands for “Request for Quotation”. If the purchaser had not asked for detailed costs for each solution item in RFP stage, then they would float a request for quotation asking the vendors to provide detailed cost structure for their proposed solution. Sometimes, purchasers who are directly looking for a list of goods with certain predefined specifications instead of solutions provided by the vendors would directly jump to RFQ stage without even floating any RFP. In this case they are looking for commodity type of goods with industry standard specification rather than looking for any consulting support from vendor on these.


I hope you found the explanation of these 3 terms to be useful. Do comment below and let me know your thoughts.
What is Sales Prospecting
Any Sales Lifecycle comprises of various stages which starts with Prospecting. But very often newbie salespersons or enthusiasts asks "What exactly is Sales Prospecting?".

In this post, I would like to address those newbie and ambitious sales persons to understand what exactly is Sales Prospecting.


If you are in Sales, you would most certainly have following ways to get business:

  1. Leads from Networks.
  2. Leads from Inbound Marketing.
  3. Leads from Outbound Prospecting.


Aaron Ross, the author of Predictable Revenue mentions Outbound Prospecting to be one of the powerful weapon in your sales arsenal to achieve 10x revenue growth.

The reason for this is simple. 
  • First, Leads that you can get from your Network is limited and hence for 10x revenue growth you cannot always rely on networks for your whole business. 
  • Second, Getting Leads from Inbound Marketing takes time. You need to get your SEO right, you need to carve out a lot of contents to be absorbed by visitors before you get your first lead subscribing to your mailing list. 
Both of the above techniques are little unpredictable though they do have significance in the long future. This is the reason companies should never ignore Outbound Prospecting.

Ideally Outbound Prospecting is done by Sales Development Representatives wherein they try to find out new leads for the business. Prospecting is an act of finding or hunting for new leads. This is done by trying to contact the leads via cold calls, cold emails, etc. Sometimes this may also include calling or trying to contact the leads who went cold after some time in the past (technically, this comes under Lead Nurturing).

Contrary to the age old belief that Prospecting is a kind of tele-calling job, it has actually changed a lot in the recent years of modern Sales and Marketing. The quality of work done during Prospecting stage can truly break or make a company. This is an important determinant for the Business Development Representatives to be able to convert the deals given to them by Sales Development Representatives. If Prospecting is not done on the right customer persona and lead qualification is not done correct by the Prospecting team, it can ultimately waste months of lead nurturing time given by the Business Development Rep.

Hence Prospecting should be done very carefully.

While doing Prospecting, a Sales Development representative should clearly prepare the persona of a prospective client by preparing a checklist by acquiring data of the customer profiles acquired in the past. This can include the typical industry where the clients come from, the typical revenue which clients have, the typical budget they have for the product which you are selling, job role of the person who took the decision to buy your product, job roles of the key influencers in those deals, etc.

Once the customer profile persona is ready, the prospector should start Prospecting by trying to contact the leads in appropriately applicable ways and try to analyse if they fit in the persona. If the lead fits in, it should be advanced to the next stage of the sales process to the Business Development representative so that he can take it to closure.


Prospecting is like Going to Gym for Exercise. It should be done regularly and with adequate frequency. If you do not exercise regularly, sometimes you will feel tired, some times energized but you will never get to your ultimate objective of attaining fitness. Similarly, if you do not do Prospecting regularly, your Sales Pipeline would have inconsistent and unpredictable flow of revenue. A few months you would have a surge of leads for your Business Development reps to work on, which would become unmanageable and they would end of losing many of them. While a few months would have very less leads for your Business Development team to work on rendering them underutilized or less productive. This will also hit back in the form of inconsistent revenue flow.

Hence to keep your revenues in control, Prospecting should be done by dedicated sales development representatives and should be done regularly.

Hope you found this post useful. Do comment below and let me know your thoughts.

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