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What is Sales Volume Variance?: A Definitive Guide

The core purpose of any organization is to generate sales, increase profitability, and expand its customer base. The sales team plays a pivotal role in driving these outcomes. While it may appear that sales representatives primarily engage in activities such as prospecting, lead nurturing, and closing deals, there is an additional aspect to their responsibilities. Sales professionals must also analyze data and make sales forecasts to align with their sales objectives and targets effectively.

Sales forecasting holds significant importance as it allows sales teams to anticipate their forthcoming sales revenue for a specific duration. This proactive approach facilitates effective planning and resource management while enabling sales professionals to navigate potential fluctuations in lead generation, revenue, and other influential aspects. An essential component of accurate sales forecasting is sales volume variance, a pivotal sales metric that sales reps use to evaluate their performance by comparing the actual number of units sold at a specific price during a defined period with the projected sales volume.

Curious about sales volume variance? Wondering why it’s essential to measure and how to measure it effectively? This comprehensive blog post has got you covered. In this blog, you’ll learn everything you need to know about sales volume variance, including its significance, factors that impact it, and practical tips to boost your sales success using this metric.

Table of content

  • What is Sales Volume Variance?
  • Why is it Important To measure Sales Volume Variance?
  • What is Sales Quantity Variance?
  • What are the Three Main Sales Variances
  • What are the Key Factors that Affect Sales Volume Variance? 
  • How to Calculate Sales Volume Variance

What is Sales Volume Variance?

Sales Volume Variance refers to the difference between the number of units sold in reality and the estimated or expected quantity of units sold during a specific period. This metric plays a crucial role in sales analysis and forecasting as it allows businesses to evaluate the performance and effectiveness of their sales team.

By comparing the actual sales volume with the planned or projected sales volume, companies can gauge their progress toward meeting sales targets and identify any deviations that may require attention. A favorable sales volume variance suggests that an organization is on track with its sales goals and reflects a higher standard profit than budgeted profit. It provides valuable insights into the impact of sales strategies, market conditions, and other factors on sales performance.

Why is it Important To measure?

It is essential to measure sales volume variance for the following reasons:

1. Performance Evaluation

Sales Volume Variance enables business and sales teams to evaluate their team performance by comparing the actual sales volume with the budgeted sales volume. It gives them insights into how well they meet their sales target or identifies deviations that must be addressed.

2. Goal Achievement

By measuring Sales Volume Variance, companies can ascertain their team’s performance and determine whether they are on track to achieve their sales goals. Importantly, it identifies whether the actual sales volume is in line with the expected sales volume and allows adjustments to be made where necessary.

3. Sales Strategy Evaluation

It provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of sales strategies and helps business owners understand which methods are working and which need improvement.

4. Market Analysis

Sales Volume Variance suggests market trends and conditions that can affect sales performance. It enables business owners to analyze the factors influencing sales, such as customer demand, competition, and market dynamics.

5. Decision-Making

You can access data-driven insights that inform decision-making processes by measuring sales volume variance. It helps businesses identify improvement areas, allocate resources effectively, and make strategic decisions to drive sales growth.

What is Sales Quantity Variance?

Although sales quantity variance is often confused with sales volume variance, the two metrics clearly differ. Here’s a clear overview of how both metrics differ:

Sales volume variance: This is a financial figure that shows the amount of money a sales team brings in versus the amount of money that they are expected to make. On the other hand, sales quantity variance refers to the number of units sold versus how many you expected to sell.

A positive sales quantity variance suggests that a company has sold more units than expected, while a negative variance means that the company has sold fewer units than budgeted. Businesses can identify the factors contributing to the Variance by analyzing the sales quantity variance and making necessary corrections. Measuring it does not only help you evaluate the effectiveness of your sales strategies but also helps you identify improvement areas and make informed business decisions.

Overall, sales quality variance provides insights into sales performance and helps you set realistic sales targets and budgets for future periods.

What are the Three Main Sales Variances

The three main types of sales variances include the following:

1. Sales Price Variance

Sales price variance measures the difference between the actual selling price per unit and the budgeted or standard selling price per unit. It shows the impact of the changes in pricing strategy or market conditions on sales revenue.

2. Sales Volume Variance

Sales volume variance shows the actual impact of changes in sales volume on sales revenue by comparing the actual quantity of units sold with the standard or budgeted quantity of units that should have been sold. An unfavorable sales volume variance suggests that a business must make certain changes to the product, its price, or the sales projections.

3. Sales Mix Variance

Sales mix variance analyzes the deviation in the proportion of different products or services sold compared to the standard or budgeted sales mix. It helps evaluate the impact of changes in product mix on the overall sales revenue.

What are the Key Factors that Affect Sales Volume Variance? 

Different factors affect sales volume variance. For the purpose of this blog, they will be grouped into internal and external factors:

Internal Factors:

1. Sales and Marketing Strategies

The effectiveness of sales and marketing strategies can significantly affect sales quantity variance. Factors like pricing, promotions, advertising, and sales tactics can affect customer demand, ultimately affecting sales volume variance.

2. Quality of Product or Service

The quality of the product or service and its features can influence customer demand and sales volume. A product or service with superior quality can attract more customers and generate higher sales volume, while a substandard one results in lower sales.

3. Sales Team Performance

The sales team’s skills, motivation, and efforts can also significantly affect sales volume. A high-performing sales team with strong customer relationships and effective sales techniques will drive higher sales volume than the underperforming team.

External Factors:

1. Market Conditions

Favorable economic conditions, market trends, and competitive landscape are important external factors affecting sales volume. Similarly, changes in consumer preferences, industry dynamics, or the entry of new competitors can also impact customer demand and affect sales volume variance.

2. Customer Behavior

Noticeable changes in customer behavior, such as demographics, buying habits, or shifting preferences, can also significantly affect sales volume. Understanding and adapting to customer needs and preferences is essential for maintaining and growing sales volume.

3. External Events

Many uncontrollable external events like natural disasters, political or regulatory changes, or global economic conditions can also hinder sales volume. These events can disrupt customer demand or purchasing patterns, affecting sales volume variance.

By considering and effectively analyzing these internal and external factors, businesses can gain insights into the drivers of sales volume variance and make informed decisions to optimize sales performance.

How to Calculate Sales Volume Variance

The sales volume variance formula =

Sales Volume Variance = (Actual Sales Volume – Budgeted Units Sold) x Standard Selling Price

In this formula, the actual sales volume refers to the actual units sold during a specific period, while the budgeted or expected sales volume is the projected units sold. The budgeted selling price represents the average price at which the units are sold. You can calculate the sales volume variance by multiplying the difference between actual and budgeted sales volume by the standard selling price.

This Variance indicates the deviation between the actual and expected sales volumes in monetary terms. A positive variance suggests higher sales volume than anticipated, while a negative variance indicates lower sales volume than expected.

A step-by-step to actually calculating the sales volume variance is as follows:

Step 1: Determine the Actual Sales Volume: Calculate the actual quantity of units sold during the specific period you are analyzing. This can be obtained from your sales records or data.

Step 2: Determine the Budgeted or Expected Sales Volume: Identify the budgeted or expected quantity of units that were projected to be sold during the same period. This is typically based on your sales forecast or budgeted sales targets.

Step 3: Calculate the Difference: Subtract the budgeted or expected sales volume from the actual sales volume. The formula for calculating sales volume variance is:

Sales Volume Variance = Actual Sales Volume – Budgeted or Expected Sales Volume

Step 4: Interpret the Variance: Analyze the sales volume variance to understand its implications. A positive variance indicates that actual sales volume exceeded the budgeted or expected volume, which is favorable. Conversely, a negative variance means that actual sales volume fell short of the budgeted or expected volume, which is unfavorable.

Step 5: Analyze the Causes: Identify the factors that contributed to the sales volume variance. Consider internal and external factors, such as changes in pricing, market conditions, marketing efforts, or customer behavior, which may have influenced the Variance.

Step 6: Take Action: Develop strategies and actions to address the sales volume variance based on your analysis. This may involve adjusting sales targets, revising marketing campaigns, improving sales techniques, or changing pricing or product offerings.

Regularly monitoring and analyzing sales volume variance can help you track your sales efforts’ performance, identify improvement areas, and make informed decisions to optimize sales performance.

How to Calculate SVV Using the Marginal Costing Method

Here’s a step-by-step guide to determining the sales volume variance (SVV)using the marginal costing method,

Step 1: Gather the necessary data

  • Actual sales volume: The actual quantity of units sold during the period.
  • Budgeted sales volume: The expected or planned number of units sold.

Step 2: Calculate the standard contribution margin per unit

  • Standard contribution margin per unit = Sales price per unit – Variable cost per unit.

Step 3: Calculate the budgeted contribution margin:

  • Budgeted contribution margin = Budgeted sales volume × Standard contribution margin per unit.

Step 4: Calculate the actual contribution margin:

  • Actual contribution margin = Actual sales volume × Standard contribution margin per unit.

Step 5: Calculate the sales volume variance:

  • Sales volume variance = Actual contribution margin – Budgeted contribution margin.

The sales volume variance obtained using the marginal costing method represents the difference between the actual contribution margin and the budgeted contribution margin, which reflects the impact of changes in sales volume on profitability. A positive SVV indicates higher profitability due to increased sales volume, while a negative SVV suggests lower profitability due to decreased sales volume.

How To Improve Sales Volume Variance

Improving sales volume variance requires a strategic approach and focused efforts. Here are some crucial steps to enhance sales performance and increase sales volume variance:

1. Set realistic sales targets

To increase your sales volume, ensure your sales targets are based on thorough market research and analysis. Set realistic goals that align with market conditions and your company’s capabilities.

2. Enhance sales training and skills

Invest in sales training programs to provide your sales team with the necessary skills and knowledge to perform better. Provide continuous learning opportunities to stay updated with industry trends and best practices.

3. Refine your sales strategies

Regularly refine your sales strategies based on your performance analysis and identify improvement areas by implementing targeted actions to drive sales growth.

4. Foster a customer-centric approach

Focus on building strong customer relationships and providing exceptional customer experiences. Understand your customers’ needs, preferences, and pain points, and tailor your sales approach accordingly.

5. Leverage technology and data

Utilize sales analytics and CRM systems to gather insights and track sales performance. Leverage technology tools to streamline sales processes, automate repetitive tasks, and enable efficient sales operations.

6. Implement effective sales incentives

Design and implement a motivating sales incentive program to encourage and reward your sales team for achieving targets. Align incentives with desired sales outcomes to drive performance.

7. Foster collaboration and communication

Encourage collaboration and communication among sales team members and other departments. Foster a culture of teamwork and knowledge sharing to leverage collective expertise and enhance sales effectiveness.

Bottom Line

Measuring and analyzing sales volume variance is essential for businesses to understand their sales performance and identify areas for improvement. By comparing actual sales volume to budgeted or expected sales volume, companies can gain insights into the effectiveness of their sales strategies, market conditions, and internal factors that impact sales performance.

Sales volume variance provides a clear picture of whether sales targets are being met and helps businesses make informed decisions to optimize their sales efforts. By harnessing the power of sales volume variance analysis, companies can drive growth, enhance profitability, and stay ahead in a competitive market.