Sales Audit · Sales Consultancy · Sales Management · Sales Strategy · Sales Turnaround

What is Poor Sales Forecasting Costing You?

You may be the kind of Sales Leader who loves sales meetings, or you may find they cause you more confusion than clarity, create more disappointment than hope…so in answer to a query that came in last week, here are a few hints and tips about running a solid sales meeting where you get clarity and sanity.

You can do that by making sure that your Sales Forecasting is relevant, meaningful and appropriate.

Sales meetings typically fail because they try to deal, by definition, in what will happen versus what might happen – so no wonder they are murky.

So, what you’ve got here is a very specific set of remedies to make sales meetings more productive by using more robust and relevant sales forecasting methods.

Before I kick off I want to stress one thing – sales reporting should be regular, consistent, and managed – it doesn’t work well when it’s ad hoc, emotional or done via email!

1. Don’t wait to have weekly, monthly or quarterly sales meetings – have daily sales meetings. What? I know, I know, but I promise you it is worth it. Here’s how it goes:

Have the sales team upload their sales forecasts daily, or update the sales CRM so you can pull the necessary reports. Now there are three very important stages – they must occur.

Stage 1 – have a 10 minute meeting or conference call into the office at a fixed time every day where everyone tells you what they are going to close today.

You don’t talk – you just take notes, and wish them a great sales day.

That’s stage 1 done.

Stage 2 is one of the rare occasions I will support management by exception – spend your time everyday with someone who is NOT achieving, or with your mid table performers to improve their specific performance. It might be phone time, field time, 121 training time – just focus your efforts very specifically

Stage 3 – Next spend at least, 20 mins a week talking with your performers – they are your knowledge bank and deserve attention, maybe via a separate conference call or meeting – just a different kind of attention. That’s stage three done.

Some ‘guru’s might talk to you about public declaration adding weight to a sales person’s commitment to succeed – not for me – I want action and results not beauty parades…how about you?

Now – having done the above, you can get far more relevant value from your weekly sales meetings. Doing house keeping as you go along means you can use the sales meetings as an opportunity to share information, conduct training, explore the competition and celebrate success rather than mindless spread sheet gazing.

Here are a few more things you may want to implement to make your sales meetings and sales forecasts more effective and efficient.

2. Judgement

Your Sales Team will report on figures – I want you to add an extra dimension to your view of their reporting in there – based on Judgement.

Why?

Forecasting 100k of sales and then billing 120k is great. but what happens if the 120k is made up of very few deals from the originally forecast for 100k? Sure as your Sales Manager I will want to keep you around as you appear to be very very lucky, however, you should know that I will never ever believe another sales forecast you give me. Not a chance. You see, judgement is important, anything else is a best guess, and you and I know what happens with best guesses.

3. Specific

All sales forecasts should have a very high level of detail. Some sales leaders just look for prospect name, date and order value. I think you should ask for more – a half filled out sales forecast will tell you everything you need to know.

You might also want to ask for the stage it is at currently, delivery dates, batch sizes, terms agreed, delivery addresses, etc will all tell you how far the order really is along the sign off process, and how involved the sale person really is.

4. No Blame

That’s right – operate a no blame culture – no humiliating sales meetings – all performance issues should be addresses one to one and in a timely and appropriate fashion, with integrity. You see, if you create a blame culture – you are almost forcing the sales team to tell you fibs – I know, shouldn’t happen but it does. and a fib is always much worse to deal with than the truth.

5. Scoring

Have a universal template or means of scoring the stage that a deal is at – BUT don’t score it on you internal sales process – that’s meaningless. So the contract has gone out, so what? Instead you want to know whose desk it’s sitting on and if there is a pen hovering over the paper, or conversely if the email contract went straight to delete. You need to map your scoring process against the Buyers Cycle and NOT your Sales Cycle.

6. Publish the Sales Forecast Key Metrics

BEWARE – you never want to email out or publish in a downloadable form the collective sales pipeline – a disgruntled employee may well do the wrong thing and you’ve just lost your pipeline to his pal at a competitor – don’t do it – ever!!

What you can publish though is the key performance metrics. Some of the KPI’s I use are:

Appointment/quotes

Quote/approval

Approval/order form

Order form/contract

Appointment made/appointment sat

Cost per sat appointment

Cost per sale made

GP

Actual revenue/forecast revenue

Rolling averages

You may well have other key performance metrics you want to monitor

7. Time Frame

Rolling three months at the very least. Monthly by month sales forecasts are a disaster – hand to mouth. They will kill you because you won’t see the bad news coming – and even worse you will be mid month before you really know how bad it is, and then it’s too late to change course.

8. Review the Sales Pipeline too

Focus on the forecast – but look at activity in the sales pipeline too, look at prospects in, origin, prospects out and why, conversion rates at each stage, speed of top to bottom journey, again, there are many others you may want to monitor

9. Another Two Columns

Add these two columns to your sales forecast – % will it happen ever and % will it happen this month – then reread what I said above about judgement.

10. Lost Sales

These are a big source of learning – take time to analyse why the sale was lost – it will help everyone understand what happened, why and how to avoid it next time

11. Bumping

If you see that prospects are continually being bumped from month to month then you need to explore further. Is it that the prospect is messing about? Is it a training need in that the sales person can’t close? Was it a false prospect all along?

Get investigating quick!

12. Don’t Forget Your Performers

They need attention too. They need your time, engagement and your wisdom – just as you need there’s.

They will get approached by your competitors more readily than you imagine – don’t be the sales leader that gives them a reason to entertain other offers.

Make them feel special – get a conference call going just for performers – they will operate at a different level and it’s aspirational for the rest of the team. Doubles your work load in this area, but worth every minute.

Hope that’s helped, or at least given you some ideas for how to organise your time, efforts and engagement with your sales team for your and their benefit.

If you have any questions or comments – give me a shout or comment below

Also – if you like what you’ve read, please tweet,like or follow.

Happy Selling

Carol

carol@mortonkyle.com

0779 002 1885

http://www.mortonkyle.com

 

 

 

 

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