All businesses need to be confident that they can accurately forecast sales figures for any given period. They need this accuracy so they can set realistic targets for sales teams, pinpoint areas that require improvement and highlight areas that are critical to the ongoing success of the company.
Of course, it is impossible to predict anything with 100% certaintybecause there are outside factors such as the global or local economy, unrest in other parts of the world, supply chain problems etc. etc. so even the best panned forecasts can turn out to be wrong. But barring major external events accurate forecasts bring a high level of control to a business and remove uncertainty.
If under normal conditions your sales forecasts are way off the mark then they are nothing more than guesses rather than estimates and you could have a problem. That problem might be related to sales personnel, products, services, tools or processes. Indeed it could be all of those. But whatever the problem it needs to be sorted out.
Techniques for sales forecasting
It is impossible to know with absolute certainty if a promising new lead will end with a deal but you can take the time to discoverwhat the chance is of someone signing on the dotted line. That way you should havea sales pipeline full of genuine leads rather than mere contacts and this will definitely help you to predict sales for a future period with some degree of certainty.
This is a quite different proposition to that of many sales people who have a list packed full with contacts but with no sense of the quality of those contacts. It’s situations such as these that lead to inaccurate sales forecasting.
It will help if you first know what you potential clients need – what are their pain points and problems they need solved? Knowing this will further contribute to the accuracy of your forecasts because you will know if or how soon you can fulfil the client needs.
There are other ways to assist your sales force to produce more accurate figures such as implementing a tried and tested sales process if you don’t already have one. Make sure your sales team create aroad map of meetings, calls, emails to help createthe sales process.A good sales process used by all of the sales department will contribute to morepredictable outcomes.
The right tools
The right tools will always be an asset for any sales department and organisation. A good CRMsystem such as SalesForce or Microsoft Dynamics can help when it comes to sales forecasting because, when used properly, they can become a trusted repository of accurate information about existing and potential customers.
Equally, a good sales qualification tool can help sales people to avoid wasting time (after all time is money) onunpromising leads. It simplifies the process of gathering and analysing the data that assesses the chance of a deal being won.