We’ve learned multiple perspectives in our series over forecasting that help create a more accurate and beneficial forecast. But how can you take your efforts to the next level? In this episode of The Sales Evangelist, Donald is joined by the Director of Enterprise Sales at Envoy, Sarah Lash, to discuss proper forecasting techniques from both a selling and management perspective.
There are significant forecasting issues:
- Some people rely too much on the map and aren’t listening to what’s happening in the business.
- On the flip, some people listen too much to intuition without diving deep enough.
- From a management perspective, sales reps might provide you with a shadow pipeline (data entered into an incorrect pipeline), forcing you to identify those issues.
- There is also the problem of the intraquarter revenue – opportunities that open and close in the same quarter. How should we factor those into forecasting?
- Whether you’re a rep or a manager, lack of communication will distinguish the most accurate forecasting.
Don’t just focus on the data; focus on the right data:
- The “I need X amount of pipeline to get to this number” mentality has positive and negative effects.
- Similarly, a purely cause and effect mentality does not do justice to the nuances of selling.
- Instead of waiting for a prospect to say a specific phrase to indicate the likelihood of purchase, integrate information beyond your personal experiences with the selling process.
Have a mutual action plan:
- Creating an example that establishes a “good’ reference point is essential for sellers to understand what actions result in the most buy-ins.
- When creating a mutual action plan, start backward. For example, what is the timeline the prospect would like something to be implemented?
- Then, ask what steps need to be taken before that date to reach the end result?
- Remember, it’s not just evaluating pricing but determining if there are technical, legal, or security issues that need solving.
- Create a calendar based on these milestones, and as a seller, you can use this to gain information.
- Finally, determine what could go wrong and establish how to address those.
Forecasting involves a balance of data and intuition:
- It’s a combination of 50/50, but it’s never so explicitly balanced. The beauty is the combination of the two, in whatever capacity each deal necessitates.
- To practice intuition with her team, Sarah conducts a large-deal review call with her organization each week to hear sellers talk about deals to learn and grow with one another.
- When interacting with a prospect, set expectations from the beginning. For example, ask someone if you can ask multiple questions.
- Disarm the prospect as much as possible. You want to understand why milestones, behaviors, and expectations are the way they are.
Sarah’s final takeaway for sellers? Be confident you know your craft because confidence is your ability to be the partner your customer needs. To find more content and information from Sarah, connect with her on LinkedIn or visit Envoy’s website to learn more about what they do.
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