5 Tips to Improve Forecast Accuracy

CSO Insights recently conducted a study that resulted in some startling facts. Forecasted win rates are at an all-time low–only 44.8% of deals are won, reps aren’t making their quotas–only 51.5% do, resulting in a mere 78.5% of plan attainment being accomplished (yes, if you set goals they should be informed, and you should be able to make 100% of plan). This means that there is major revenue being lost. Most companies use their CRM or other to forecast–only 21.1% using analytics, but CRM is simply not enough to give you a realistic view into the changes in your pipeline.
In order to attain all that revenue you are missing out on, you need to improve your sales and pipeline management process, and increase the accuracy of forecasts.
Forecast Accuracy Tips
  1. Leverage Pipeline Analytics – analytics are critical to success since they allow you to proactively determine which forecasted deals have changed, and why. Also, they let you see, in real-time, which deals are slipping and why?
  2. Extend Visibility – since Sales managers spend most of their time coaching reps, or helping them close deals, it’s important to be proactive in identifying which reps need extra coaching (based on their pipeline) and coach them on how to qualify out bad leads earlier.
  3. Standardize Your Process Management – the CSO Insights study found that only 23% of companies have a dynamic process, but those companies that do have arrived at the “trusted partner” stage with their customers, and it shows in their bottom line. Dynamic sales processes are those informed by real-time analytics–and actionable forecasts.
  4. Increase Efficacy in Pipe – because sales managers only spend on about 15% of their time on pipeline management and forecasting, it’s extremely important to make sure that the time spent is effective and efficient. Again, pipeline analytics are the best way to see an understand what’s happening (using historical data) now compared to yesterday, or last week. This will allow you to be efficient with your time and effective with your coaching, mentoring and planning.
  5. Escalate CRM Adoption – to have a clear view of what’s going on in your pipeline, you need to have up to date data that’s accurate. The “detect and correct” is more effective that “measure and punish” it’s more like using a carrot rather than a stick. You want to show the value analytics has in the use of CRM, when sales reps can see how it affects their bottom line, it will become important to them as well. Jim Dickie of CSO Insights even suggests having a Reps forecast accuracy be somehow tied to their pay so they care as much about accurate data as you do.
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