Sales mix is the proportion of different products and services that comprise the total sales of a company. Sales mix is a key issue in businesses that sell products with differing profit levels, since a change in the mix of products sold can trigger a change in net profits, even when total sales remain approximately the same from period to period. Thus, if a company introduces a new product that has a low profit, and which it sells aggressively, it is quite possible that profits will decline even as total sales increase. Conversely, if a company elects to drop a low-profit product line and instead push sales of a higher-profit product line, total profits can actually increase even as total sales decline.

One of the best ways for a company to improve its profits in a low-growth market where increases in market share are difficult to obtain is to use its marketing and sales activities to alter the sales mix in favour of those products having the largest amount of profit associated with them.

When adjusting the sales mix, it is of considerable importance to understand the impact on the company constraint. Some products require more bottleneck time than others, and so may leave little room for the production of additional units. Thus, even though profit calculations indicate that more of a certain product should be produced, it is quite possible that bottleneck issues will prevent the extra units from being manufactured.

Sales managers have to be aware of sales mix when they devise commission plans for the sales staff, since the intent should be to incentivize them to sell high-profit items. Otherwise, a poorly-constructed commission plan could push the sales staff in the direction of selling the wrong products, which alters the sales mix and results in lower profits.

**How to Calculate Sales Mix**

A cost accounting variance called sales mix variance is used to measure the difference in unit volumes in the actual sales mix from the planned sales mix. Follow these steps to calculate it at the individual product level:

Subtract budgeted unit volume from actual unit volume and multiply by the standard contribution margin.

Do the same for each of the products sold.

Aggregate this information to arrive at the sales mix variance for the company.

The formula is:

(Actual unit sales – Budgeted unit sales) x Budgeted contribution margin

**Sales mix variance**

Sales mix variance accounts for the difference between the sales mix a company has budgeted for and its actual sales mix at the end of a certain time period. Ideally, you want your sales mix variance to be positive. But if it’s negative, you can also use that information to determine the next steps with your sales team or inventory planning team.

Sales mix variance = Actual units Sold * ( Actual sales Percentage – Budgeted sales mix Percentage ) * Profit margin per Unit

Actual sales mix percentage = The calculated sales mix percentage at the end of the given time period.

Budgeted sales mix percentage = The projected sales mix percentage at the end of the previous time period.

Profit margin per unit = The price of the product minus the cost to the company to produce the product. (This number is represented in a dollar amount, not a percentage.)