Selling Expenses

Updated on January 4, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Edited byAshish Kumar Srivastav
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What are Selling Expenses?

Selling expenses are the costs incurred by an organization’s sales department for selling companies products or providing services; this is mainly related to distributing, marketing & selling. This cost is not directly related to the production or manufacturing of any product or delivery of any services. Hence, it is categorized as an indirect cost.

These expenses are generally listed before general & administrative expenses in the operating expensesOperating ExpensesOperating expense (OPEX) is the cost incurred in the normal course of business and does not include expenses directly related to product manufacturing or service delivery. Therefore, they are readily available in the income statement and help to determine the net profit.read more section because creditors & investors are more interested in the cost, directly contributing to increasing sales. Hence they are given more priority as compared to general & administration expenses.

List of Selling Expenses Examples

There are specific industries for which advertising is the backbone of their survival, as the sustainability of that industry is dependent on their selling & marketing strategies; in that case, companies are required to spend heavily on selling expenses. For example, Pepsi & coca-cola have very tough competition; hence if one of them comes up with a creative advertisement, the other company is also pushed to incur such expenses forcefully to keep up their market share.


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Source: Selling Expenses (wallstreetmojo.com)

How to Calculate?

To calculate selling expenses, we have to add all sales-related expenses which are not directly related to the production process; they can be fixed or variable. Salary payables to sales staff come in fixed expenses; however, commissions payable are derived based on sales, which can be considered variable expenses.

Journal Entries of Selling Expenses

#1 – For Accrual Accounting

If we receive a bill and pay it immediately, in that case, debit an appropriate expense account and credit cash or bank account & if we have received a bill but haven’t paid it before the month-end in that case we have to debit an appropriate expense account and credit accounts payable and when an invoice is paid entry would account payables debit & cash or bank creditBank CreditBank credit is usually referred to as a loan given for business requirements or personal needs to its customers, with or without a guarantee or collateral, with an expectation of earning periodic interest on the loan amount. The principal amount is refunded at the end of loan tenure, duly agreed upon, and mentioned in the loan covenant.read more.

Sometimes it might happen that we don’t receive any bills for expenses, but we can estimate those expenses based on the previous month’s trend. In such cases, we must accrue expenses based on the budgeted amount. Entry for accrual of such expenses debit the appropriate expenses and credit the accrual expensesAccrual ExpensesAn accrued expense is the expenses which is incurred by the company over one accounting period but not paid in the same accounting period. In the books of accounts it is recorded in a way that the expense account is debited and the accrued expense account is credited.read more account. When we receive a bill, we can post the reversal entry & reclass accrual expenses to accounts payable, and once a bill is paid, debit accounts payableAccounts PayableAccounts payable is the amount due by a business to its suppliers or vendors for the purchase of products or services. It is categorized as current liabilities on the balance sheet and must be satisfied within an accounting period.read more & credit cash/bank account.

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#2 – For Cash Accounting

Here we have to post journal entries only if we make the payment for the bill & entries would be appropriate debit expenses & credit cash or bank account. Still, if we receive a bill and don’t pay it before month-end, no entry is to be posted; hence, by following cash accountingCash AccountingCash Accounting is an accounting methodology that registers revenues when they are received & expenditures when they are paid in the given period, thereby aiming at cash inflows & outflows. read more, we violate the matching principles.

In cash accounting, we don’t have to accrue any budgeted expenses since we debit only expenses for which payments are made.

Budgeting of Selling Expenses

The information related to selling expenses cannot be derived directly. Hence, managers use the general level of corporate activity to determine the appropriate budget. Commonly, the selling cost is derived by using incremental budgeting. It means the budget amount is based on the most recent actual cost. This budget can be split up into segments based on different geographical areas.

How to Analyze these Expenses?

Management generally calculates the SAE ratio, i.e., sales to administrative expenses. A higher SAE ratio is better for business & a low ratio could reveal inefficiencies.

The formula for calculating the SAE ratio:

Selling to SG&A Expense Ratio = Sales / (Sales + General + Administrative Expenses)


Selling to G&A Expense Ratio = Sales / (General + Administrative Expenses)

Economic Perspective


Selling expense is one of the significant expenses in the income statementIncome StatementThe income statement is one of the company's financial reports that summarizes all of the company's revenues and expenses over time in order to determine the company's profit or loss and measure its business activity over time based on user requirements.read more. It is one of the essential expenses, especially in the FMCGFMCGFast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) are non-durable consumer goods that sell like hotcakes as they usually come with a low price and high usability. Their examples include toothpaste, ready-to-make food, soap, cookie, notebook, chocolate, etc.read more industry, where competition is very high. However, proper management of selling expenses can help an organization increase its profitability. If they are showing an increasing trend, but sales are not growing, it will show that the company is not operating efficiently. Or they are maybe struggling to sell their products or services. So they either need to invest money in distinguishing their products to increase the sale or need to improve the service quality.

However, when increased selling expenses help, increasing sales is a good sign, which shows the organization is doing pretty well in the current market scenario.

This article has been a guide to what selling expenses are and their definition. Here we discuss journal entries of selling expenses along with examples, analysis, and economic perspectives. You can learn more about accounting from the following articles –

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