Improve Forecasting With More Accurate Pipeline Management

A formal forecasting process that clearly outlines the criteria for deal progression will help your organisation close more deals and plan for growth.

Improved forecasting and pipeline management

Question: Has your Sales Organisation formally outlined forecasting criteria and designed a process for revenue-forecasting meetings to be held by sales managers with sales executives – and do your sales managers currently conduct effective one-on-one meetings with each of their sales executives to discuss revenue forecasts at predefined, regular intervals?

The Reality 

According to our research at ThinkSales Global, only 40.6% of Sales Organisations have formally outlined forecasting criteria and designed a process for revenue-forecasting meetings to be held by sales managers with sales executives.

In addition, 39.9% of companies rate their confidence as Outstanding that their sales managers currently conduct effective one-on-one meetings with each of their sales executives to discuss revenue forecasts at predefined, regular intervals.

The ‘Forecasting’ Problem

Forecasts are notoriously inaccurate for two main reasons:

  1. Because pipelines are used to forecast sales, many sales executives don’t like to put unqualified opportunities into their pipelines because they’re worried that they’ll be committing to deals they aren’t sure that they’ll close.
  2. On the other end of the scale, sales executives are over optimistic about deals they believe will close, however many fail to materialise.

The result is pipelines that either don’t include opportunities or are filled with opportunities that shouldn’t be there. The challenge is that executive management teams make decisions based on sales forecasts.

Implement better forecasting techniques

Good forecasting requires an understanding of your buyer’s behaviour. If you want to learn how sellers should sell, learn how buyers buy. The same is true of accurate forecasts. Too many forecasts are nothing more than lists or histories of what the seller has done in the past, without taking into consideration what the buyer is doing.

But consider this: What is a sales process? At the end of the day, it only moves forward when the buyer takes action, which is why it’s so important to get a commitment at each step of the process.

It’s also vital to get a clear picture of how your buyer is making decisions. What process are they using? What stages of the decision cycle are ahead? And what should you be doing differently at each stage?

Armed with this knowledge, your forecasts will become far more accurate.

Do This:

Here are ten commitments that you can use to build a successful forecasting process. As each commitment is achieved, your sales team can move the deal through your pipeline.

  1. Access: Who have we not accessed yet?
  2. Attention: How do we know we have their attention?
  3. Willingness to Share Information: What information have they shared?
  4. Agreement to Continue Engagement: Who agreed to continue the engagement?
  5. Involvement of Additional Stakeholders: Which of the decision makers/influencers are missing?
  6. Addressing and Resolving Concerns: What concerned were raised, addressed and resolved?
  7. Confirmation of the Problem: Have all the stakeholders agreed to the problem?
  8. Decision to Change: What is their reason to change?
  9. Acceptance of the Value of the Solution: Who has expressed belief in the solution value?
  10. Commitment to Buy: What signed commitments are still missing?

Assess the health of your sales organisation

Outlining forecasting criteria and designing a process for revenue forecasting meetings to be held by sales managers with sales executives, and conducting those meetings effectively are two of 322 measures of a world-class Sales Organisation.

How does your Sales Organisation stack up? Find out by taking the ThinkSales 5 Pillar Strategic Sales Assessment™.

This first-of-its-kind 360-degree gap analysis report enables your Sales Leadership team to assess its strengths and detect weaknesses and impediments to revenue growth across the five pillars of a high performing sales organisation:

  1. Competitive Strategy
  2. Customer Engagement
  3. Sales Talent
  4. Sales Management
  5. Sales Enablement

Click here for more information on the ThinkSales 5 Pillar Strategic Sales Assessment™.

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