It’s often remarked salespeople and meteorologists face the same problem – making accurate forecasts. Although said in a lighter vein, these words are absolutely true. Coming up with precise sales forecasts can be a daunting task, especially in times of economic uncertainty. A study conducted by Gartner revealed only 45% of business leaders believe their companies have the ability to make a reliable forecast of sales revenues.
But why is it so hard to forecast sales with high levels of precision? A key factor that contributes to forecasts of poor quality is ineffective data management. Many companies lack the capability to enable their teams to get the right, timely insights powered by solid, actionable data. The result – most sales forecasts are products of guesswork and past experiences. Needless to say, the accuracy of these forecasts takes a severe beating.
How can this problem be overcome? What does it take to empower your people with the necessary information to predict your sales revenues with high efficacy? You must foster a culture of collaborative data management. Let’s see how.
Provide Access to Data to Everyone to Facilitate Complete Visibility of the Sales Pipeline
Enabling seamless access to data to everyone working on the sales pipeline is a key element of sales success. This is important because all members of your sales team – from salespeople to managers – handle various metrics that are useful to forecast sales revenues.
The starting point is the opportunity-related data for each of your salespersons. Every sales rep goes through all the information his organization has on a prospective customer, so that he can chart the best approach to close the deal successfully.
Your sales managers must comprehensively analyze individual opportunity and pipeline statuses of their teams. They need to identify potential challenges and likely delays using cutting-edge AI-powered analytics tools, and then, coach members of their teams to ensure the deals move smoothly.
Finally, the leadership team of your company must conduct in-depth reviews of the progress made in achieving the targets of all your sales teams in weekly executive meetings. You need to provide data pertaining to the entire sales pipeline of your organization in a single view to facilitate effective visualization of the data. You may have to answer questions such as “How are we performing now?” and “What will be the revenue figure at the end of the quarter and are there any major problems that can prevent us from reaching our target?” Anticipating likely issues in meeting revenue targets is critical to making changes to your sales strategy to stay on track. It’s advisable to use state-of-the-art analytics software such as Salesforce Einstein to spot potential flaws and issues in sales forecasts. The insights thus gained must be communicated to your managers and sales reps to enable them to modify their tactics accordingly.
Make All Members of the Team Responsible to Ensure the Information is Fully Updated
Organizations rely on their salespeople, managers and leaders to facilitate seamless movement of pipelines and pursue revenue goals on track. By making each member of your team fully accountable for the data he provides, you can make precise sales forecasts and make the adjustments required to deal with dynamically-evolving business and market conditions.
You must remember highly accurate sales forecasts are possible only if all members of your team work together to ensure the data is up to date. It’s a proven best practice to map your entire sales process (and associated metrics) and track it meticulously.
It’s very important to standardize your sales process with high efficacy – in most successful companies, account executives are charged with spotting, creating and modifying opportunity data. Managers conduct thorough checks on this data, keep track of changes to the sales pipeline and provide guidance to members of their teams to resolve bottlenecks and close deals. Top executives then perform comprehensive analyses to identify trends and redirect resources (if required) to achieve revenue targets. Everyone makes sure the data he provides is fully updated because others can look at the data and hold him accountable for any anomalies.
Perform Frequent Data Reviews – and Take Appropriate Action
Ensuring seamless accessibility to correct, timely data helps you tackle the challenges posed by a rapidly-changing business environment effectively. You must recognize it’s important your sales strategy is flexible enough to deal with uncertainty. But to make changes to the strategy, you must have solid data to understand what’s changing and how.
Your company must frequently review data to take stock of its sales pipeline and respond suitably, so that you don’t veer off course; ideally, the CEO and other members of your company’s leadership team should begin their week with a comprehensive review of changes that took place over the past week. Likewise, the managers of your sales teams must examine sales data collected in real time to identify how work on each deal is progressing and what’s holding up. As this happens, your salespeople update their pipeline data to reflect the latest developments – wherever possible, you must use state-of-the-art automation and AI-driven capabilities to make sure the right information is accessible at the right time. For instance, using Machine Learning (ML) powered sales forecasting algorithms, your people can quickly analyze the impact of recent developments on your pipeline, and make changes suitably.
As you can see, good collaborative data management plays a key role in developing super-precise sales forecasts that enable you to come up with appropriate strategies to achieve your revenue goals. At Solunus, we help you unleash the tremendous power of novel Salesforce solutions to facilitate seamless management of your data, thereby ensuring the success of your business. Our team of veteran Salesforce professionals has worked with companies of all sizes across the industry spectrum and enabled them to make the best use of their data to skyrocket their growth.
Hope you liked this post. How do you come up with accurate sales forecasts? We’d love to know.
Solunus is a leading Salesforce consulting company, based in Dallas, TX, USA. Our proven ‘needs-first’ approach coupled with our unrivaled expertise of the Salesforce platform enables us to provide the perfect solution to help you deliver delightful services to customers and achieve rapid growth.