The new fundamentals of sales forecasting

We partnered with CSO UK to look at how to forecast with thinner strips of data, the re-emerging role of gut-instinct, the science behind sales, and the importance of aligning engagement to buyer indicators.

Panel:

Rory Brown, CCO & Co-founder, Kluster Intelligence,

Adam Kay, VP of Sales, Paddle

Guy Rubin, CEO, Ebsta

Louis Fernandes, MD Northern Europe, HRS Group

Working with new sales cycles & thinner strips of data

Our methodology behind forecasting hasn’t necessarily changed, but the timelines and benchmarks that we’ve been working with have

We’re still looking at buying signals, deal size, and average sales cycles, but the data points we’ve been using don’t have the same reliability.

The great reset from COVID knocked typical measurements out of kilter. Some opportunities ground to a halt, others accelerated tenfold. 

Businesses need to realign their timescales and expectations around a new forecasting system that focuses on thinner strips of data, shorter periods, and real-time trending indicators.

Our forecasts should also accommodate multiple scenarios so that sales teams are prepared to course-correct among uncertain headwinds.

Data is visibility in a remote world

As a forecasting platform, we’ve seen the shift of reliable forecasting move from a wishlist item to table stakes for sales leaders and frontline reps.

It allows for accountability, survival, and proactive movement.

Sales leaders aren’t walking the sales gangway health checking opportunity and pipeline anymore. 

Daily standups might be transported to Zoom, but the real visibility for sales leaders relies on how the data is being communicated.

It’s why we created a command centre overview for how opportunities are trending in real-time for sales departments. 

Leaders need to have a cross-sectional view of the company’s pipeline in a crosshair view.

For that to happen, businesses need confidence that the data is travelling accurately to where it needs to be and that the risk indicators are trending in real-time.

The right point of leadership involvement

Even with five or more reps, you won’t be able to dedicate your time to scrutinising every opportunity. 

When you climb into the hundreds or thousands of opportunities, it’s impossible. 

We often see sales leaders intervening in the latter stages of the sales cycle where deals have a much higher chance of positively closing unaided. 

The biggest cumulative reward is from intervening at the opposite end, when the shoots of a sale are showing vital signs of buyer interest.

Too many reps spend time feeding the opportunities that will never materialise. 

There are also cases where a lull in engagement might flag risk, but a strong relationship, or gut indicator, will reveal it’s actually in good health. 

Data is a conversation starter, not a determiner.

Who’s to blame for bad sales forecasting?  

Does the CRM exist for management visibility, to enable sales to track and streamline the process, or to improve the customer’s experience?

The answer should be to address all three.

When it solely benefits sales leadership it positions itself as a daily tax on sales reps. See your reps as the customer and explain how the CRM is useful to reaching their goals 

Management may be obscuring visibility of reports as they move down the staircase, or context may be shaved off so that reps are understandably left unable to see the value. 

Do you have the right traction with the right people at the right time?

Let the technology do the forecasting and the reps build, nurture, and maintain the business relationships.

Do you have traction with the key stakeholders at the right stages that are integral to the buying decision. If you don’t, then they’re not going to close.

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Calum Morrison

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