Sales forecasting experts don’t just happen. The best forecasters are the ones who demonstrate repeatable accuracy, week after week, month after month, quarter after quarter, and year after year.
How do they do it? The most accurate sales forecasters have five habits that they all share. Start using these today to increase your forecasting accuracy.
- Have a weekly deal inspection cadence
- Forecast from the top-down and bottom-up
- Consistently monitor and refine your forecast process
- Use historical forecast data to inform the future
- Use a sales process and/or framework
Habit 1: Have a Weekly Deal Inspection Cadence
The best forecasters all do one thing. They inspect their deals weekly.
Whether they are an individual contributor or a manager, winning forecasters review every deal, every week in detail. In these inspections, they examine a number of factors, including:
- What deals have progressed
- What deals are standing still
- How deals have advanced
- What contacts are engaged or disengaged
- What content has been exchanged
- What discussions have been had
- What tasks and actions are open
- Next steps
Deal reviews provide forecasters with intimate knowledge of every opportunity. The benefit is twofold. First, it allows them to understand exactly how a single deal will impact the forecast, and where it lies in the pipeline. Second, it gives managers the opportunity to coach front-line reps on each deal to maximize outcomes and revenue.
Habit 2: Forecast from the Top-down and Bottom-Up
All-star forecasters do not use a single forecasting method. Whether it be Top-down, bottom-up, linear regression, moving average, or any other method, the most accurate forecasts use several different methods to accomplish a single goal.
This robustness of the process allows forecasters to slice the same data several different ways and view it from different angles. If something is amiss, it may be easier to spot when looked at through different lenses.
Habit 3: Constantly Monitor and Refine Your Forecast Process
While the weekly inspection will go a long way in increasing forecast accuracy, top forecasters go a step further with the monitoring of key deal metrics. They continue to refine the process looking to gain further consistency, predictability, and accuracy in their forecast calls.
Provided by sales forecasting platforms like BoostUp, key indicators like risk score and deal sentiment are calculated and monitored 24/7. The most successful forecasters monitor these metrics live, as well as their overall pipeline risk to ensure they can catch and address any issues before they arise.
Habit 4: Use Historical Forecast Data to Inform the Future
Good historical data is a tool that top forecasters use to increase accuracy. With the assistance of advanced analytics, they can focus their deal reviews less on what is happening and focus on the why and how.
Meaning, rather than wasting precious time building forecasts, they instead can monitor them to see what has changed or work with reps to find how numbers will be met.
For example, a deal review meeting can shift from, “how is this deal progressing?” to “by this time in the quarter, you usually have three more deals in the closing stage, where do you think those deals are now?”
This creates a far more prescriptive forecast that becomes a tactical piece of information, rather than a report.
Habit 5: Use a Sales Process and/or Framework
The most accurate sales forecasters use a sales process or framework like MEDDICC to standardize their inspection and reporting process.
The framework provided by these processes ensures that nothing is overlooked or left out. Every deal is examined through the same lens, regardless of the rep, manager, or department. This conformity increases accuracy.