How to Calculate and Improve Return on Sales

January 22, 2024
Sheetal S Kumar
Sheetal S Kumar
Sheetal S Kumar
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Imagine embarking on a treasure hunt where the map is your company's financial statements and the treasure is a deeper understanding of your business's profitability. 

This quest leads us to a vital marker known as Return on Sales (ROS)!

A beacon that lights the way to uncovering the efficiency and effectiveness of a company's ability to turn sales into profit. 

It’s not just about the revenue coming in; it’s about what remains after the hustle and bustle of operations. 

In this blog, let's deep dive into the world of ROS, where we’ll decode its significance, dive into its calculation, and strategize on enhancing its value for a healthier bottom line. 

Welcome aboard!

What is the return on sales?

Return on Sales (ROS) is that crucial metric that shows us the percentage of sales that have turned into profits.

Think of it as the efficiency score of a business's operations.

It answers the question, "For every dollar in sales, how much actually represents profit?"

By focusing on this, businesses can gauge their core profitability, excluding the noise from other financial activities.

Return on sales formula is: 

Return on sales formula

Return on Sales vs. Return on Investment

Let’s make this simple for you!

When we talk about Return on Sales (ROS) and Return on Investment (ROI), we're diving into the financial health of a business, but from different angles. 

Think of ROS as a measure of efficiency. It tells us how much profit a company makes from its sales before taxes and other expenses are taken into account. 

On the flip side, ROI measures the bang for your buck. It evaluates the overall profitability of an investment. Imagine you bought a small café. ROI would tell you how good that decision was financially, taking into account all the money you poured into making the café a local hotspot.

In short, ROS is about operational efficiency on the sales front, while ROI is the broad measure of how well your investments are paying off.

Return on Sales vs. Return on Equity

Now, let's pit Return on Sales against Return on Equity (ROE). 

ROE zooms in on how effectively a company uses shareholders' money to generate profits. It’s like looking at how well a company is playing the game with the money its fans (shareholders) have bet on it.

ROS, remember, is all about sales efficiency. 

Return on Sales vs. Operating Margin

ROS and Operating Margin are like siblings that often get mistaken for twins. 

Both metrics look at company efficiency, but from slightly different perspectives. Operating Margin takes into account operating expenses (like rent, salaries, and utilities) to see what percentage of sales is left as operating profit.

ROS, though, is more focused on the ratio of sales revenue that is turned into profit, ignoring some of the costs that Operating Margin considers. 

It’s like comparing an artist’s gross income from a painting sale to what they actually keep after paying for the studio, materials, and assistants!

How to Calculate Return on Sales (ROS)?

Calculating ROS is like baking a simple cake – it doesn't require many ingredients. 

You take the operating profit (the money left after paying for all the costs of making sales, excluding taxes and interest) and divide it by net sales (the total income from sales). Multiply that number by 100, and voila, you have your ROS percentage. 

The formula looks like this:

ROS=(Operating Profit / Net Sales)×100

Return on Sales Calculation Example (ROS):

Imagine you’re running a boutique that made $150,000 in sales last year. After paying for the clothes, staff, and shop upkeep, you had an operating profit of $30,000. 

Your ROS would be calculated as:

ROS=(30,000 / 150,000)×100=20%

This means for every dollar of sales, you earned 20 cents in profit before taxes and interest.

How to Increase Return on Sales

So, you've got the basics of Return on Sales (ROS) down, and you're looking to push those numbers, right? 

Think of ROS as your business's batting average – the higher it is, the better you're knocking sales out of the park and into profitable territory. 

But how do you swing for the fences and improve your ROS? 

It's not just about hitting harder; it's about playing smarter. 

Below, we'll dive into some game-changing strategies that can help elevate your ROS. 

From tweaking your pricing to streamlining your production process, these tips are your coaching playbook for turning singles into home runs. Ready to step up? Let's get into it!

  • Refine Your Pricing Strategy

Price is more than a number; it's a message about your product's value. Experiment with pricing strategies that reflect your product’s value and market demand. 

  • Enhance Product or Service Quality

Quality is the silent salesman that never sleeps. By improving your product or service quality, you not only justify your pricing but also encourage repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals. 

  • Cut Unnecessary Costs

Analyze your production processes, supply chain, and operational expenses to identify areas where you can reduce costs without compromising quality. 

  • Focus on High-Margin Products or Services

Not all sales are created equal. Identify which products or services have the highest profit margins and focus your marketing and sales efforts on these. 

  • Improve Operational Efficiency

Efficiency is the engine of profitability. Streamlining operations, from inventory management to customer service, can reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction. 

  • Expand Your Market Reach

Growing your customer base can lead to higher sales volumes, which, even with the same profit margin, will increase your total profits and improve your ROS. 

  • Leverage Customer Feedback

Your customers are a goldmine of insights. Regularly soliciting and analyzing customer feedback can reveal opportunities for product improvement, new product ideas, or areas where your service may be lacking. 

  • Optimize Your Marketing Spend

Make sure your marketing dollars are working as hard as you are. Use data-driven marketing strategies to ensure you're targeting the right audiences with the right messages. 

  • Invest in Your Team

A motivated and skilled team can drive sales and efficiency like no other. Invest in training and development to boost productivity and innovation. 

Always remember!

Increasing your Return on Sales isn't about one big move; it's about many strategic adjustments and a continuous commitment to improvement. 

Why Return on Sales is important? 

The importance of ROS cannot be overstated. Here's why:

Why return on sales is important

Strategic Insight

ROS offers a clear view into the operational effectiveness, helping businesses understand if their sales strategies are actually leading to profitable outcomes

Performance Benchmarking

It allows companies to benchmark their performance against competitors, providing a litmus test for where they stand in the industry.


With insights from ROS, businesses can make informed decisions on where to cut costs, adjust pricing, or invest in marketing efforts.

Investor Attraction

A strong ROS can be a beacon for investors, signaling a well-run company with good profit potential.

How to use return on sales ratio to improve sales?

Using ROS to improve sales involves a mix of strategic adjustments and operational overhauls. Here are a few strategies jotted down for you:

Let us look at how ROS helps improve sales indirectly:

How to use return on sales ratio to improve sales

Pricing Adjustments

Analyze ROS in light of pricing strategies to identify opportunities for adjustments that could improve profitability.

Cost Management

Look for areas where operational efficiency can be enhanced, reducing costs and improving the ROS.

Sales Strategy Optimization

Use ROS insights to fine-tune sales strategies, focusing on high-margin products or markets.

Continuous Monitoring

Regularly track ROS to identify trends, challenges, and opportunities for improvement, ensuring strategies remain aligned with profitability goals.

Factors Affecting Return on Sales

Several factors can sway your ROS, from internal efficiency and cost management to external market trends and consumer behavior. 

The art is in balancing these elements, staying adaptable, and always looking for ways to optimize operations and sales strategies.

  • Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): The direct costs tied to production, like materials and labor. Efficient management of COGS can significantly improve ROS, as lower production costs increase profit margins.
  • Operating Expenses: These are the costs required to run the business, excluding COGS. They include rent, utilities, salaries, and marketing expenses. Streamlining operations to reduce these costs can boost ROS.
  • Sales Volume: Higher sales volumes can dilute fixed costs over a larger number of sold units, potentially improving ROS. It’s about finding the sweet spot where increased sales lead to higher overall profits.
  • Pricing Strategy: The price at which goods are sold directly impacts ROS. Strategic pricing can enhance profit margins without sacrificing sales volume.
  • Market Conditions: Economic factors, competition, and consumer demand can all influence sales revenue and costs, affecting ROS. Keeping a pulse on market trends helps in adapting strategies for better ROS outcomes.
  • Product Mix: Selling a variety of products with different margin profiles can affect overall ROS. Adjusting the product mix to favor higher-margin items can improve profitability.
  • Efficiency Improvements: Streamlining production processes and reducing waste can lower costs, thus improving ROS. This includes adopting new technologies or optimizing supply chains.

Optimizing Return on Sales through Pricing Strategies

Crafting the right pricing strategy is like finding the perfect seasoning for a dish. 

It needs to be appealing enough to attract customers but balanced so that your costs are covered with a healthy margin for profit. 

Consider value-based pricing to align with what your customers are willing to pay or consider dynamic pricing strategies for different markets or times.

These are a few pricing strategies we’ve jotted down to get you started!

  • Value-Based Pricing: Setting prices based on the perceived value to the customer rather than just costs. This strategy can significantly enhance ROS, especially if your product or service offers unique benefits or solves problems more effectively than competitors.
  • Psychological Pricing: Utilizing pricing that appeals to a customer's psychological perception, such as setting prices just below a round number (e.g., $9.99 instead of $10). This can subtly increase sales volume and, by extension, ROS.
  • Tiered Pricing: Offering products or services at several price points to appeal to different customer segments. This can maximize market coverage and improve ROS by capturing more consumer surplus.
  • Dynamic Pricing: Adjusting prices in real-time based on demand, competition, and market conditions. This flexible approach can optimize revenue and ROS, especially in industries like hospitality and airlines.
  • Cost-Plus Pricing: While not always optimal for ROS, ensuring that prices cover costs plus a margin can provide a baseline for profitability. This strategy is straightforward but should be balanced with market considerations.
  • Penetration Pricing: Initially setting lower prices to gain market share quickly. Over time, prices are increased to improve ROS, once a solid customer base is established.
  • Premium Pricing: Setting prices higher to signal superior quality or exclusivity. This strategy can significantly boost ROS if the market perceives added value in the product or service.

What are the Pros and Cons of Return on Sales Ratio?

Like any measure, ROS comes with its own set of cheers and challenges. So, let’s quickly review these.


  • Clear Efficiency Indicator: ROS offers a straightforward view of how effectively a company turns sales into profits.
  • Comparability: It allows for comparison across industries, giving it a broad applicability.


  • Doesn't Account for Size: Because it's a percentage, ROS doesn't give insight into the scale of profits in absolute terms.
  • Vulnerable to Seasonality: Sales and profits can fluctuate, making ROS a sometimes volatile metric.

Final Thought

As we wrap up this blog, there’s one thing I want you to take away: ROS is more than just a number on a financial statement. 

It's a vital sign of a company's health, a guidepost for strategic decision-making, and a benchmark for operational efficiency. 

Whether you're a business owner, an investor, or just a curious mind, understanding ROS offers valuable insights into the profitability and efficiency of sales operations. 

Remember, the goal isn't just to increase sales but to enhance the profitability of those sales.

To read more about sales related topics, connect with Kennect. For more information, Book A Demo Now!


Sheetal S Kumar

Sheetal is a content strategist and writer at Kennect. She has extensive writing experience in content marketing and research, focused on small business enterprises and B2B Saas. She is passionate about creating engaging and insightful blogs while exploring the power of content and social media.


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