Rule 24: Master Your 30-60-90 Day Forecast

There are two things I ask to look at first when I am brought in as a consultant for a sales organization. The first is the documentation of their sales process (recall from Rule 10 that only 1/3 of firms have this clearly articulated); the second is their sales forecast report, or more specifically, their 30-60-90 day forecast report.

These reports tell me everything. I can see how disciplined the sales and marketing teams are; how clear and knowledgeable the management is on their go-to-market strategies, and how tightly managed or not is the pipeline management and forecasting process.

The CEO of a Silicon Valley startup told me that he would potentially need my help if they missed their quarterly number. He showed me a forecast report that had 88 line items of opportunities that his VP of Sales said might happen, though he couldn’t say which ones. Only one deal was closed two months into the quarter. I got a call from the CEO in the first week of the next quarter. My first question was, “How many deals did you bring in last quarter?” He said, “Three deals, and one of them wasn’t even on the original forecast report!”

I spent the next 60 days working with the CEO, VP, and the Inside Sales and Outside Sales teams in reconstituting their pipeline management and forecasting system. I implemented a 30-60-90 Day Forecast Report that was extracted out of their CRM system, Salesforce.com. We enforced a mandatory updating of
the CRM by Friday noon each week. We reviewed the following report each week by rep at the Monday morning sales meeting, with each rep seeing each other’s report. This report has three important components:

Sales Process – reinforced at the top of the report
Forecast Items – those accounts/opportunities that are at Stage 3, 4 or 5
Pipeline Items – those accounts/opportunities that are at Stage 1 or 2.

Whereas their previous method was capturing 88 potential deals in play, essentially any deal at any stage, we now enforced a discipline to only “Forecast” deals that had been given a customized demonstration (Stage 3), had received a proposal (Stage 4), or were in closure (Stage 5). In the next full quarter, that same sales team “forecasted” 21 deals and closed 18 of them, a company record. The following quarter they forecasted 25 and closed 19, which helped them secure another round of funding.

The 30-60-90 Day Forecast report is not magic, but it does produce results like a good sports coach produces a better team with discipline, rules and accountability. Where utilizing terms such as Pipeline, Forecast or Best Case and Commit, this report can be produced out of your CRM. Master the 30-60-90 Day Forecast for yourself or your team. Remember, it’s not just a report, it’s a process.

How’s your forecasting process?