3 Ways To Improve Your Sales Forecasting
Here in San Francisco, during Day 1 of Dreamforce ’13, there’s a large focus on how businesses can and should use cloud-based services to gather more accurate insight out of their data analytics. It’s one of the biggest issues facing today’s fastest-growing businesses. That’s why Adaptive Planning and Salesforce are working together to address this issue, from a financial planning, budgeting, and forecasting perspective.
So if you find yourself struggling to set quotas, create sales budgets, or conduct accurate sales planning when using Excel spreadsheets, or spending too much time managing files and not enough time actually analyzing key metrics, you’re not alone. Many companies are still in Excel hell, buried under multiple spreadsheets for sales forecasting and business data analytics. You’re trying to marry the information from your CRM system with your forecast. But because they’re in different places, it’s difficult to adapt and be responsive to business change. Reps aren’t accountable for their numbers and there is little visibility into the pipeline, so the forecast just isn’t accurate. Adaptive Planning is here to help. Here are three tips that can help you to improve your financial processes and see real results.
1. Connect with your CRM system and drive the forecast based on your pipeline. More than 75 percent of the best-in-class provide enterprise-wide insight into the size, timing, and stage of deals, giving an on-demand view of where the business is going. This helps stakeholders with their corporate budgeting, hiring, and project plans, which can lead to improved accuracy in cash flow forecasting.
2. Visualize sales trends and metrics frequently, then update your forecast in real-time. A central repository with key metrics is critical. Giving reps instant insight to attainment vs. plan and overall performance enables them to answer “how am I doing?,” on their own, in real-time. The ability to visualize trends quickly and easily also positively impacts the forecast.
Say you forecast a specific opportunity to close this month. If that opportunity has actually been delayed one month, you can update your forecast accordingly. Without a centralized repository, your users wouldn’t be able to do this – and your forecast accuracy diminishes.
3. Create a standardized process that leverages the right technology. It is critical for finance teams to develop a standard framework to managing pipeline and quotas. Why? This ensures that your efforts are actually effective and drive value for the business. If your efforts are not effective, you’ll know it. Then you’ll be able to adjust your focus on activities that do actually work.
Best-in-class are able to leverage their CRM system and weigh opportunities based on probability, then integrate that data with their planning system, leading to more accurate financial forecasting. They’re also using quota and territory management applications to set realistic quotas. The average cost to replace a B2B sales rep is $35,360. That’s not a trivial number, so it’s important that you plan carefully and ensure that sales reps have achievable quotas so they’re engaged and driving profit for the enterprise.