Your sales organization probably spends plenty of time thinking about which deals will close. Sales reps spend an average of 2.5 hours each week, and their managers spend 1.5 hours on forecast analysis. Yet for all the time we spend evaluating the sales pipeline, we often miss the mark: nearly 80% of forecasts veer from predictions by at least 10%.
When a sales forecast goes wrong, it brings repercussions for company planning, executives, investors, and even public perception of your credibility.
Luckily, building confidence in your sales forecast is relatively straightforward.
Our most successful customers shared tips on how to make each piece of forecasting stronger. Here’s a peek at what they said:
Empower Your Team
First rule: your reps must have skin in the game. Too many reps see the sales forecast as senior management’s responsibility. But in any enterprise organization, the sales forecast has important implications for everyone — including HR, finance, marketing, and product development. That’s because a forecast isn’t just a number; it’s a reflection on where you’ve been and where you’re headed. And it starts from the bottom. If you get buy-in on the forecast from your sales reps, you’ll start with more accurate information and a more motivated team.
Build a Clear Process
Once you’ve got people on board, establish a process that encourages their creative input alongside data-driven insights. Our research found that the best sales teams strive for this rigorous and open-minded balance.
But how to strike that balance? Create a clear, reliable process that accomplishes forecasting goals and works for your team. When possible, move away from gut-based predictions and toward fact-based reasoning. Create and revise your forecast according to a regular, dependable schedule. Consistency, rigor, and clarity make for a successful forecast.
Gain Insights from Your Data
The final piece of the puzzle is embracing technology that can turn your sales reps’ actual interactions with prospects into valuable insight that informs a deal’s likelihood of closing. A best-in-class technology solution can help you identify risky deals or opportunities to pull others forward, recommend ideal timing and strategies for following up with prospects, and give your team more confidence when calling their number.
Work with a platform that gives reps, front-line managers, execs and sales ops a similar view of the business, removing errors in translation. That means everyone across the sales org is working towards the same goal and speaking the same language on the same platform. Team leaders are no longer relying on their reps’ subjective assessments; they can tap into the data to derive a truly accurate forecast based on analytical trends.
Interested in more tips on how to create that perfect sales forecast? Check back here soon for posts delving into each of the three pieces — people, process, and technology — and specific suggestions on how to make the most of each.
Can’t wait that long? Download our ebook The B2B Sales Leader’s Guide to Sales Forecasting.