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SALES FORECAST VS SALES FUNNEL VS SALES PIPELINE

Sales Forecast Sales Pipeline Sales Funnel - bringing focus to the sales process
Building a Good Sales Process – Sales Forecast Sales Pipeline Sales Funnel

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Sales Forecast, Your Sales Funnel and Your Sales Pipeline

Now, lets talk about Your Sales Forecast, Your Sales Funnel and Your Sales Pipeline and what you can do to make sure they’re all working in your favour.

Let’s be clear;

Sales Forecast

A document detailing the prospects that have stated their intention to buy a specific product or service for an agreed price at an agreed time.

A sales forecast should be able to forecast sales for at least 3 months in advance with some certainty, with the degree of certainty increasing as the time frame shortens.

Whilst a forecast should never be regarded as cash in the bank, it should be taken as a very strong indicator of what will happen in reality.

Sales Funnel

A sales process that feeds unqualified leads in to the wide mouth of the funnel, and through a very careful qualification process the leads are either carried through and converted into prospects for inclusion in the sales forecast or are rejected.

Rejection may be for any number of reasons.

The Sales Funnel encapsulates a sales pipeline process that feeds into a document called the sales forecast.

Sales Pipeline

Is a sales forecast whilst it is still inside the sales funnel.

Imagine that the prospect has not said no at any of the stages in the sales process.

They have passed through the gates so far in the sales funnel regarding availability of budget, potential purchasing times, but have yet to provide all the information that would give certainty to the sales forecast sufficient for inclusion in the sales forecast.

For example, everything may be agreed but the sign off date is yet to be confirmed, or the proposal as got as far as it can but now needs to be signed off by the Director at some point.

See there is no certainty here as the deal could drop out of the pipeline at any time as one of the factors that delivers a high degree of certainty is missing.

Key Considerations

A Sales Forecast that is consistently inaccurate needs investigating immediately – it’s a key indicator of other issues that will be definitely costing your business money in lost business opportunities.

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A Sales Forecast that appears without specifics – client name, price agreed, order date, quantity, delivery date, terms is not a sales forecast.

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A sales forecast should have a very high degree of certainty. If it doesn’t then this is a likely indicator that the sales process lacks that same degree of certainty.

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A Sales Funnel should have a high degree of movement – prospects added and taken out on a very frequent basis (frequency will depend to a degree on the industry, product/service sold, order value etc).

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The Sales Funnel is a proactive way of managing prospects – managers should be keen to look at the age of prospects in the funnel, last contact dates.

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Managing the sales pipeline should be the key driver for the sales person and the sales manager as there is a high cost to getting the prospect half way, three quarters of the way through the pipeline.

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Plus

Too few prospects in the sales funnel going through the sales pipeline process indicate that the sales person needs to increase their time spend in lead generation and lead nurturing.

Sales Teams may benefit from having a universal understanding of what a Sales Funnel should do and what the criteria are for moving from one stage in the Sales Funnel to the next.

The hugely misunderstood danger is to have a very full Sales Funnel.

This is extremely dangerous. Too large a Sales Funnel means that some great prospects will be ignored whilst poorer quality prospects may get attention they don’t deserve.

The aim of the Sales Funnel is to bring focus to the sales process.

Qualification is a key skill in managing the Sales Funnel effectively.

Using good solid sales questions with the prospects is the key to clarity and focus.

Good questioning skills is vital to gain knowledge and information that can be relied upon to present to the rest of the business in the Sales Forecast….ensuring a high level of accuracy, certainty, transparency and accountability.

Sales Managers would find it time well spend to concentrate on all three of these sales tools as they provide a great and solid indicator regarding sales activity levels, sales capability, and skill.

Major caveat here…don’t be fooled by thinking high numbers in the sales funnel mean a bumper time ahead….often means quite the reverse.

This is just a brief over view…if you want more details about how to maximise your sales performance then click on the red links below to download your free reports on sales, business development and sales performance improvement.

If you’re serious about your sales funnel, sales pipeline and lead generation activities – hit the link here to find out about boosting lead generation activity immediately – Leads ++

Free Sales resources to help you grow your business –  click here to download your free reports now AND to claim your FREE Sales Health Check 

For more information about how you can get the most out of your Sales Funnel and deliver certainty and accuracy to your Sales Forecast call Carol Griffiths – Lead Consultant and Director at Morton Kyle Limited on 0779 002 1885, or email carol@mortonkyle.com

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