In today’s pressure-filled, dynamic world, sales leaders lean more heavily on tools like effective sales forecasting. In best-in-class organizations, their revenue counterparts in marketing and customer success lean in with them. They know 97% of companies that implement best-in-class forecasting processes achieve quotas, compared to 55% that do not.
4 Sales Forecasting Best Practices
Here are sales forecasting best practices that Intangent hears most often from our industry-leading customers. Some are cutting edge, others are tried and true.
- Execute your sales process.
First things first. Is your sales process fully defined? Can you say the same for service level agreements (SLAs) and handoffs? Do you consistently review pipeline during 1:1s and recurring team sync? Is data cleanliness an enforced requirement? You can only measure what you clearly define and manage, and for which you provide repeated training.
Measure what you clearly define and manage, and for which you repeatedly train.
- Approach forecasting with a revenue operations mindset—continuously.
Being prepared for every situation has never been more important. Don’t forecast on a yearly or quarterly basis alone. Rather, do it continuously. And make sure customer success and marketing join sales for every conversation, before and when the time inevitably comes to pivot plans.
- Combine macro and micro forecasting methods.
Whereas micro forecasts can provide a view of your numbers and past trends that are too granular or narrow, macro forecasts may rely too heavily on larger market possibilities and disruptions.
According to Harvard Business Review, your forecasting sweet spot likely involves a combination. Just as multivariable forecasts tend to generate the most accurate predictions, incorporating macro and micro forecasting to achieve “middle data” are your best bet.
- Build every decision’s foundation with data.
If step one is enforcing data cleanliness, the second is relying on data-driven insights to formulate and evaluate potential decisions.
These guiding principles will set you up for success for far more than just sales forecasting. To learn more about how you can operationalize sales forecasting in your organization, download our guide to “Sales Forecasting In The Next Normal.”
- Bartlow, Jeremy; Joyce, Tim; Yoon, Eddie. “The Forecasting Sweet Spot Between Micro and Macro,” Harvard Business Review, 2016.
- McLeod, Lisa Earle; Lotardo, Elizabeth. “3 Ways to Improve Sales Forecasts When The Future Is Unclear,” Harvard Business Review, 2020.
- “Sales Forecasting Techniques,” InsightSquared.
- “State of Sales Operations & Key Findings,” Gartner.
- Suh, Bob. “Sales Teams Aren’t Great At Forecasting, Here’s How to Fix That,” Harvard Business Review, 2019.
- “The Top Four Challenges in Sales Forecasting and How to Right Them,” Miller Heiman Group, 2020.
- Whitepaper: Sales Forecasting in the Next Normal
- Blog: 7 Benefits of Accurate Sales Forecasting
- Blog: What Is Sales Forecasting & Why Does It Matter?
- Blog: 6 Shocking Statistics About Sales Forecasting
- Blog: 7 Macro & Micro Models for Sales Forecasting
- Blog: 6 Barriers to Sales Forecasting Precision
- Blog: How can I Improve Sales Forecasting in the Next Normal?
- Blog: 7 Key Sales Forecasting Technology Vendors
- Recorded webinar: Rethinking the Rep Factor in 2021
- Recorded webinar: Three Misdemeanors of Rev Ops