The #1 Overlooked Metric in Sales Forecasting
Will this deal close?

When you’re forecasting, that’s the question ... over and over. The CRM shows a close date and an amount. Do you trust it? How do you decide?

Today’s Approach to “Will It Close?”

In most enterprise sales organizations, the top answer — by far — on whether to trust a deal is “What does the rep say?”

Peel back, and it’s usually your rep’s sense of customer engagement and stage in the sales process. These are the visible metrics.  In my experience, reps are reasonable judges of their top three or four accounts, but after that details get fuzzy. So even in these “visible” metrics, data science is a gift because it can compare what’s in the CRM and activity data like email and meeting flow to thousands of previous deals to separate likely wins from losses. But that’s not our topic today.

What’s the “Hidden” Metric? Pushes

“Pushes” are part of selling. Reps estimate a close date. Sometimes they set a date with the customer and, ideally, it’s built around a customer’s compelling event. But shit happens. Budgets change. Demos stall. Customer fire drills get in the way. The deal isn’t dead, it’s just delayed.

If a rep regularly pushes deals already in Commit. Something is wrong. The whole idea of Commit is the rep is confident they can manage whatever comes up. Whether you’re a sales manager or sales ops leader, Commits are on your radar and the meat of your forecast. So when they get pushed, you notice. There’s hell to pay. And there should be.

But what about a push on a Best Case deal? What about push on a Pipeline deal? That’s to be expected, right? No big deal, right? 

Wrong. Or I should say, the data says that’s wrong. If you analyze millions of transactions (we have), a hidden secret pops out: deals pushed multiple times don’t close. Ever.

Let’s be clear on that: even when other factors look good — the customer is engaged and responding to emails quickly, the deal is in the final selling stage, the rep feels confident — the chance of winning these deals nose dives. The data doesn't lie. 

When a rep pushes a deal multiple times, yet tells you with full confidence they’ll get the deal done “this time” — they're usually wrong.

This is a double whammy because deals pushed multiple times suck up rep time for months. So you’re investing precious selling time on a lost cause.

How can sales managers help?

Obviously, this is where sales managers want to dive in. But how would they know? In the CRM deal snapshot, the number of pushes is invisible. Even if you’ve cobbled together alerts about pushes, what about the pattern? It turns out, for example, a couple of pushes within a quarter are bad — but a couple pushes that cross quarter close are deadly. Sales managers need data science and advanced sales analytics to tell them where to focus and give them more ammo to drive rep behavior.

All managers coach their reps to build an action plan. Top reps stick to the sales process, deal with objections, and have good reasons for their close dates. And when obstacles come up, they respond. Failure is not an option, right? But reps are optimistic. We want our reps to be optimistic. But when the data tells us that optimism is burning selling time, sales managers need to be armed to bring a steady hand.

Do you get alerts when a key deal has been pushed multiple times? If so, are you clear how much this hidden metric affects your deals and is warping your confidence in the forecast? If not, let us show you how new insight into your deals means more confidence in your forecast, more effective coaching, and less time spent investing in losers. Not ready to see your own deals yet? Then drop by our upcoming webinar on the “Fundamentals of Opportunity Coaching” to get a taste first. It’s easier than you might think to avoid getting burned by what you can’t see.

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