H.A.A.N.D OVER YOUR FORECASTPosted: April 9, 2013 If you are a sales professional, I can bet my commission check that you forecast to your leadership team. Depending on the average number of transactions in your industry, you may roll up forecast quarterly, or monthly. Forecasts are used as an indicator to predict future performance of the business to the executive team and shareholders. This critical insight exceeds beyond sales. Forecasts often determine the amount of investment, risk, and capacity that a business can manage successfully without compromising their position in their respected market. Yes, as you can see, your forecast is IMPORTANT. One of the best mentors I ever had said to me, “Your forecast is a contract between, you, me and the company. It is your word, and your promise in writing to perform.”
How do you forecast? I’m talking beyond your CRM computed percentages and sale methodology ratios. (Note, I do agree with sales methodologies, cadences, and breaking down contract values into percentages. An example that I have seen at many companies is taking 90% of the contract value if the opportunity is in the contract stage of the sales funnel.) Are you a conservative forecaster, overly opportunistic sales forecaster, or just plain hate rolling up forecasts? If you identify with one of these scenarios, this is for you. I have found in my experience that the key to forecasting is Honesty, Activity, and Agreed Negotiated Deadlines. This is your H.A.A.N.D. and you have total control of your forecast.
Recall that your forecast is your word. So your forecast needs HONESTY in your assessment of where and how you will make your quota. Take a true self examination of your level of activity, number of created opportunities, and agreed next steps with you and your prospects. That’s why you have to start with HONESTY. Do you honestly have enough first appointments, opportunities, and agreed next steps to make your number? If you don’t, stop, adjust, and jump on the activity bandwagon.
Keep your ACTIVITY constant, continuous, and strategic. When you examine your activity level, begin by looking at your first appointments. Are you getting enough of them weekly to grow your sales funnel? If you are having issues getting first appointments, I recommend reading and acting on some of the blog post using social media to sell. Sales professionals such as Ken Krogue, Trish Bertuzzi, Craig Rosenberg, Jamie Shanks, and Schon Messier have written about using social media to secure first appointments. Check out their blogs! Activity is the life blood of your sales funnel and you have to know your success ratios to ensure that you are on target to maintaining a healthy funnel. This is why most sales professionals drive to have 2.5X or 3X size sales funnels in their negotiated and contract stages. High activity is their insurance policy to ensure they will deliver their number and they have backup opportunities to move forward in the event a deal goes wayside. Keep your activity high and know your first appointment ratios.
Agreed Negotiated Deadlines is where the “dollars runs with the bulls!” If you have agreed negotiated deadlines with your prospects, your bucks won’t stop here. You will find yourself closing business frequently and beating your quota regularly. The best practice in the industry on this subject is to always have a next step in your sales cycle for you and the customer to agree on. It can be your next follow up appointment, meeting to receive completed paperwork, and meeting to set up implementation processes. Each meeting must have 1) a purpose and 2) a next step. Doing this will not only improve your overall sales success, but it will positively impact your ability to accurately forecast your business.
In closing, Honesty, Activity, and Agreed Negotiated Deadlines will give you the upper h.a.a.n.d forecasting to your company.