The one way to guarantee an accurate sales forecast is to properly triangulate and verify your prediction. After all, if you are measuring sales performance, you also should be monitoring forecast performance.
When it comes down to what KPIs to use, operations leaders who regularly achieve a 95% (or greater) forecast accuracy swear by the following 10 metrics.
- Current Quarter Pacing
- Historical Pacing
- AI Projections
- New Pipeline Expected
- Pipeline Coverage
- Next Quarter Pipeline
- Committed/Best Case Roll-Ups
- Manager/Rep Roll-Ups
- Submission and Override History
- Big Deal Dependence and Slips
Here’s how you can use them to triangulate your forecast for your most accurate sales projection yet.
Current Quarter Pacing
Current quarter pacing is simply the amount of revenue your team has created in your current quarter, versus the revenue goal.
This can be further broken down to month-by-month or week-by-week pacing. Then, use the breakdown to determine if your team is on track to meet their target, or if more revenue must be generated. If the team is lagging behind their weekly or monthly targets, then your forecasted number may not be met and requires adjustment.
This KPI uses historical data on revenue generated in previous periods. You can use both the forecasted number and final outcome from the same time in the previous year, or even prior quarters.
Historical pacing can be difficult since it will not take into account additional headcount or different sales tools, but it can be extrapolated on a rep by rep number for better comparison.
Historical pacing can also be used with your current pacing to examine your team’s performance on a monthly or weekly basis for more granular analysis. If your current quarter lags behind similar time periods, then your forecast is likely not accurate.
Artificial intelligence is incredibly powerful and helpful for all things sales. In a forecasting context, AI can analyze an incredibly large and diverse dataset to find correlations.
With a platform like BoostUp, the AI will examine sales interactions, including emails, phone calls, and meetings, as well as the conversations that take place within them to judge buyer engagement and sentiment. The AI then builds its own forecast based on what it discovers.
You can compare which opportunities the AI deems risky with what your sales team believes will close. If there are large discrepancies, your forecast is at risk.
Even if your team hasn’t signed or committed enough deals to hit your forecasted number, there may be enough revenue in your pipeline to bring you to your goal.
Examine the total value of your pipeline to see if it is trending upward, downward, or remaining the same, and if there is enough potential revenue to meet your targets.
AI-generated risk scores and projected outcomes can be extremely useful in sorting out which deals will close. If there is not enough, your team needs to find new revenue, or your forecast must be adjusted.
New Pipeline Expected
If your team doesn’t already have enough committed revenue to meet your forecasted number, the expected pipeline metric will tell you if there is enough coming pipeline to meet your goals.
With this number, the crucial component is exactly how much of that pipeline is expected to close in your given quarter. You may have enough expected revenue, but you must ensure there is enough committed revenue.
The AI-generated risk score can help determine exactly which deals will close when you need them to.
Next Quarter Pipeline
While the current quarter may be your focus, the next one is always closer than it may feel. To consistently hit your forecast, you must constantly be thinking about how to build pipeline for the next quarter.
To meet your annual or semi-annual goals, you should always watch the revenue that is slated for the next quarter. Especially in organizations with longer sales cycles and complex products, it may take months before a deal can be considered “ready”.
Committed and Best Case Rollups
Bottom-up rollups of committed and best-case deals are the most common way of forecasting today and can be used to verify your forecast.
Traditionally, this is how the majority of salespeople submit their forecast, but it can also be used as a factor to confirm the accuracy of your forecast.
Take the total roll-up of what reach rep believes they will close, and their best-case scenario and look for discrepancies between that number and your forecast, your accuracy may be at risk.
Manager and Rep Forecast Calls
A great way to look for inaccuracies in the bottom-end of your forecast is to inspect the differences between your manager and sales rep calls.
Examine what your managers are calling for the quarter, versus what the reps themselves are calling. How far are they, and what deals are included or excluded?
Submission and Override Histories
In the same vein as your manager and rep call, examine what managers override rep submissions on both deals and deal amounts.
Look at what was changed and by how much. This is a key indicator of differing perspectives and may show that some opportunities may not be won.
Big Deal Dependence and Slippage
Is your forecast largely dependent on just a few large deals? If one slips, you may miss your mark.
Examine your forecast to determine what percentage depends on outsized deals, pay special attention to them, and watch how they progress. As time continues, work to decrease your dependence on large deals.
Want all of these metrics but none of the work? BoostUp offers these forecasting KPIs directly out of the box.