Welcome to the beginning of Q4.
Some of you may have crushed it last week. Some may have had a nail biting quarter close that led to gong ringing and champagne popping at the eleventh hour. Some of you may have fallen short.
Regardless of which category you fall into, we’ve repeatedly seen that the sales teams who are crushing it leverage a key strategic advantage: visibility into their forecast. They know where things stand early in the quarter, they track key deals through the pipeline, and they use their forecast as a playbook to take action and proactively shape their outcome.
Here are three questions you should be asking as you kick off the quarter:
- Can you easily see the strengths and weaknesses across all segments of your forecast?
- Do you know exactly which deals are affecting your forecast positively and negatively, and which deals are at-risk?
- If it looks like you’re going to miss the quarter do you know by how much and what you’re going to do about it?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” chances are you’re forecasting in a legacy tool, such as spreadsheets — and it’s negatively impacting your quarterly results.
Perhaps you had a great Q3. You may also have a high-level idea of how you’re going to do in Q4, but if you’re running your forecast in spreadsheets and leveraging your CRM for deal-level detail, it will be extremely difficult for you to quickly identify trends, trouble spots or at-risk deals.
It’s only a matter of time until your spreadsheets let you down. Here’s why:
It’s impossible to double click down into deal-level data with Excel. Therefore, you don’t have visibility into the reasons why your forecast changed or which deals you need to focus on to fix the forecast. You can log into your CRM system for deal-level information, but obtaining that information is time consuming. It’s not easy to tell which set of deals are in or out of forecast for the quarter, nor do these tools make it easy to track week over week changes to your most important deals as they move through the pipeline. This leads to deal slippage, which often isn’t caught until late in the quarter, leading to over discounting and the need for executives to “parachute in” and save the deal.
Spreadsheets do not allow you to slice and view your forecast by segments. Spreadsheets usually roll up the forecast by first-line sales manager or by rep. Since reps usually sell multiple products and multiple business types, the forecast cannot be rolled up by product line, business type or business segment. This means you won’t be able to answer basic questions such as how well a specific product line or business segment is doing versus quota or how it has changed week to week.
If you want to directly impact your results in Q4, arguably your most important quarter of the year, fix your visibility issues. You should be able to put a checkmark next to each of the forecast visibility requirements below.
⛀ Deals that impact your forecast
⛀ Views of your forecast and pipeline by segment, product, business type, and channel
⛀ Drill down capability into deal-level detail across every segment
⛀ Notifications when deals are at-risk
⛀ List of deals that are in and out of forecast for the quarter
To see how companies like Xactly, Apttus, and Splunk meet the ‘Visibility Checklist’ and use it to drive results, check out our self-guided demo.