2011 Sales Performance Study – Forecasting Excellence

CSO Insight’s recent Sales Optimization Report reveals that when rating their “Ability to Accurately Forecast Business,” 46% of salespeople rate Needs Improvement. This is down from 60% five years ago, so there is progress in forecasting accuracy. There were 44% that rated Meets Expectations, and only 7% seen as Exceeds Expectations.

At MXL Partners, we’re big believers in a rolling 30-60-90 Forecasting methodology. Many companies acknowledge that they practice this, however we’ve recently seen yet another example this quarter of a sophisticated multi-billion organization with sketchy forecasting practices.

While all the information is in the CRM and reports are plentiful, there are still 3 issues:

    1. Visual Clarity in Reporting – CRM reports are cluttered and inconsistent, allowing missed cues and trends buried in the data.
    2. Consistent Updating and Accuracy of Information – without deliberate discipline and appropriate attention to detail at the rep and management level, this is a key reason for misleading forecasting.
    3. Adherence to Sales Process – paying only lip service to stages, milestones and stepscauses more pain and delusion than it should.

When a rep creates and manages their own visibility reports of all Pipeline, Best Case and Commit Opportunities, updates this weekly with views over at least a rolling 90-day horizon, and then forces adjustments and actions to this Pipeline/Forecast view per a prescribed milestone process, then they will be prepared to report to management, and themselves, with truth and accuracy.

It’s actually simple and powerfully effective. The problem is not in the CRM but at rep and management level.