There are, shall we say, anecdotal ways to know you’re experiencing challenges with sales.  But what if your brain wants proof?

Lucky for your brain, there’s an easy way to find out, if you’re willing.  

It’s a process I call Plot It to Spot It.  Depending on how organized you are when it comes to your numbers, you’ll be able to get all the evidence you need – one way or the other – in about an hour or so.

I walk you through the steps in this Plot It to Spot It tutorial.

What you’ll need for the Plot It to Spot It Tutorial:

  • monthly sales numbers for the last 12 months
  • total expenses for the last 12 months
  • your monthly sales goals or targets from the last 12 months (optional)
  • a fresh spreadsheet document in Google Sheets, Numbers, or Excel – you choose
  • a printer, if possible
  • pen and ruler
  • the willingness to look at your numbers with a sense of curiousity

If you aren’t comfortable using a spreadsheet, you can follow the instructions and use paper instead.

Step 1 ⎮Set up your spreadsheet

Open a new document in your spreadsheet program.

Title it Plot It to Spot It for (your business name) and save if necessary.

Let’s start by creating your numbers axis along Column A.  

If you know your sales targets or goals from the previous 12 months and they vary from month to month, choose the highest one.  

Now, find your highest sales number from the last 12 months.

Which number is higher?

Whatever it is, start with it.

As an example, let’s say I like to make around $5500 a month.

And the most I made in one month over the last year is $4500.  

In Column A, Row 1, I’d type in 5500, because it’s the higher amount.

You’ll have to choose your increments – I’m using increments of 250, but you can easily use 100 instead.  Take a look at your sales numbers and see if one makes more sense than the other because you’ll likely have to round up either way.

The important thing here is to keep the increments consistent.

Fill in the numbers along Column A, going down by your chosen increment.

In this example, I’d move to Column A, Row 2, and type in the next number.  In this example, it would be 5250.

And in Column A, Row 3, I’d type in 5000.  Continue down your column until you get to the number 0.

Plot It to Spot It Tutorial

In the cell under the number 0, type:  Sales/Months. 

You’ll see it’s highlighted in yellow in the example below.

Plot It to Spot It Tutorial Sales/Month

Next, you’ll set up your time axis.

Start to type in the names of the 12 months you’re using for the graph.  

Start with the earliest month.  Type the month in the Row that has the words Sales/Month, making sure you’re in Column B.

Continue adding all the months in, one per column, along the same row.

In this example, I’m using February 2020 to January 2021 sales numbers.

Plot It to Spot It Tutorial Sales Months

Step 2 ⎮ Plot It

Now that you have your spreadsheet prepared, it’s time to map out your monthly sales numbers.

For each month, place an X in the cell in the row with the number that’s closest to your sales amount.  Round up or down – your choice.

Format the spreadsheet so your X’s are centred.

I’ve made up some numbers for the example.  But let’s say this person made $1700 in February 2020.  You’d type the letter X in Cell B12, because it’s closest to $1750.

Continue plotting out your sales for each of the 12 months until you have them all on the spreadsheet.

Plot It to Spot It Tutorial Sales Numbers

Step 3 ⎮ Spot It

To determine whether or not you’ve got issues with your sales, you’re going to connect the X’s.  

The easiest way to do that is to print out your spreadsheet.  If it takes more than two sheets of paper, fold one edge over and tape them together on the back so that the columns stay even.

Using your pen and ruler, connect your X’s together, starting from the one on the left hand side, working your way along, month by month, so it looks something like this:

Plot It to Spot It Graphed

Of course, yours will likely look different than the example – just be sure that you’ve drawn a line between each X.

Look for red flags 

Here are 4 red flags that you’ve got some challenges with sales.

1 ⎮Your sales are inconsistent

If your line between your X’s goes up and down like a yo-yo, it’s like you’re riding an income roller coaster.  And that’s hard on your nervous system.  You’ve got some work to do to even out your sales so it’s not so stressful.

Plot It to Spot It Up and Down

2 ⎮You aren’t meeting your sales goals or targets

In order to determine this, you’ll need to draw a line to represent the amount you want to make each month, assuming it’s the same every time.

We’ve already determined that the sales goal in this example is $5500 per month.

I’d draw a line through the middle of Row 1, right across to the end of the 12th month.

I used the hyphen key to make a dashed line in cell B1.  I bolded it, changed the font colour to pink, and then copied and pasted it across all the remaining columns.

If it’s different each month, or a few months out of the 12, you create the line in the cells that correspond with the month and amount.

Next, you want to see how many months you have X’s above your sales target(s.)

If you didn’t meet them more often than not – or not at all – it’s time to look at what’s going on with your sales.

Plot It to Spot It Sales Targets

3 ⎮You aren’t making enough to cover your expenses

To check to see how your sales compare to your expenses, I suggest you calculate your average monthly expenses.  

Take your total business expenses for the year and divide it by 12. 

Find the amount of your average monthly expenses in Column A, and make a line right across to the last month.

Check and see if your sales exceed your monthly expenses every time, and if not, how many months fall below that amount.  If more than one or two fall below it, you’ve likely got a problem worth investigating.

You can also check your sales to expenses ratio month by month.

Plot It to Spot It Tutorial Expenses

4 You have months with minimal or zero sales

Check the X’s on your spreadsheet for months with minimal or zero sales.  Because if you have them, it’s worth taking a further look at what’s going on.

Plot It to Spot It Zero Sales
plot it to spot it tutorial

What did you discover by working through the Plot It to Spot It Tutorial?

Give yourself a pat on the back if you didn’t spot any red flags.  Woo hoo!

If you found some, that’s okay.  The first step to resolve any challenge is the awareness that something’s amiss.  

Should you like to take the next step and understand what’s really going on when you’re struggling with sales, I have the just the right class for you to watch.

Not sure one way or another?  Feel free to email me and let me know what you discovered and I’ll do my best to help you sort it out:  [email protected]


It’s not what you think.

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