Sales forecasting is both art and science. It requires sales managers to get weekly commits from their sales team, review each deal to determine its likelihood to close, and provide a best guess prediction for the quarter. But sales also follows certain patterns which can be derived when using proper scientiﬁc methods to generate sales forecasts.
Here are 9 tips for sales managers to improve sales forecasting:
Automate the Forecast Process
If the forecast roll-up means hours and hours spent in spreadsheets, it’s time to switch to an automated system that can pull data from your CRM or ERP tools without IT involvement, and roll the forecast up at every level of your sales hierarchy.
Use Data to Augment Human Judgment
“Big data” has been a buzzword for a while now, but it’s up to sales leaders take advantage of today’s latest technologies like data science and machine learning to learn from past data and market conditions, make sales forecasting as reliable and objective as possible.
Use Data-Driven Insights to Prioritize
The weekly forecast call is an essential touchpoint of the sales forecasting process. Utilize data-driven insights to determine which deals and reps need the most attention, which deals to focus on to improve your chances of exceeding targets, and to identify at-risk deals.
Maintain a Forecast Change History
Forecasts are constantly changing. New deals come into the pipeline that didn’t exist when the original forecast was made and reps update deals based on new information. A forecast change history can help sales managers stay on top of deal changes and respond quickly.
Flexibility to Override Forecasts
Sales managers need ﬂexibility to override a machine generated forecast when they know better, or when they get new information from their sales reps. This allows the forecast to have the right balance of data-driven judgment and current knowledge of reps and managers on the ground.
Proactive Sales Coaching
The opportunity to give sales reps constructive feedback should be an integral part of the forecasting process. Using cohort and performance analysis, sales managers can easily provide feedback and coach sales reps on how to improve.
Metrics and KPIs
The ability to drill down into key performance metrics (pipeline coverage, win rates, forecast performance) for any person or team lets you evaluate what is working and not working, and put new measures in place to improve sales team performance.
Lock Down Your Sales Process
Generating a bookings forecast is part of a larger sales forecasting process involving planning, resource prioritization, and sales coaching. It is critical to lock down your sales process and institutionalize it across your entire sales team.
Get into a Routine
One of the most critical parts of sales forecasting is ensuring that it is part of a weekly or even daily routine. Keeping tabs on how the forecast changes week-to-week will force you into a routine of making early course corrections before a deal goes off-track.
Own Your Quarter!
Aviso’s cloud-based application, Aviso Insights™, empowers sales and sales-operations professionals to Own their Quarter by enabling them to forecast sales, quantify risks, predict future outcomes, and have the confidence to exceed sales targets.Start your 30-day free trial