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  We are approaching the last month of the quarter, where most organization’s Sales Forecast can no longer rely on the hope of “making it up next quarter.”

If improving your sales team’s Sales Forecast consistency and predictability is a priority, we suggest you consider the following core elements to your approach:

Adhere to your sales process (or build a buyer journey centric process)

Sales organizations need relevant sales stages that everyone understands so that understanding can drive clarity to your sales organization for opportunity advancement. The sales stage is an objective assessment of where the customer’s buying process relative to your sales process. If the sales stage is not accurate, the Forecast will not be accurate.

Separate Pipeline and Forecast reviews 

Think depth vs. breadth. Ideally, complete Pipeline reviews every other week, and Forecast reviews monthly. Don’t mix these two different motions.

Establish a cadence 

Informal or prolonged Forecast reviews make it difficult to understand where the opportunities have been, and where they are going. In contrast, if you are trying to lose weight, would you weigh yourself once every other month or weekly?

Make sure the Forecast process is top-down to the field 

Each salesperson should own their sales Forecast and build up accountability from there. Too often, sales leaders build their Forecast without holding salespeople accountable.

Train to the process 

Assume that unless trained otherwise, every sales leader will have a different method for preparing a Forecast. You need consistent adoption and implementation for success.

Coach to the process 

Coaching Sales Leaders first will help quickly identify if your approach needs adjustment. As you adjust, you should see the impact in your Forecast accuracy.

Track and measure

You are what you measure. Look at metrics beyond Win Rate. Dig further into stage duration, opportunity age, number of times close dates are pushed, and in what stages opportunities enter the Pipeline.

In past posts, we’ve emphasized that a thorough Pipeline review is foundational to a successful forecast.  So, don’t try and fix the Forecast process until you’ve fixed the Pipeline review process.
 

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