Are you Asking The Right Questions to Ensure Forecast Accuracy?

4 min read

There’s an old joke that the only profession where you can be wrong all the time and still keep your job is a weatherman. The weatherman doesn’t always have to be right about his forecast because a few scattered showers when sun was predicted might throw a wrench is your beach day plan, but likely won’t cause any serious financial damage. However, if you’re a Sales or Finance leader, you can’t be wrong about the forecast and keep your job. When your forecast is inaccurate, your accruals are wrong, or you end up with a lack of cash flow, your CEO is going to being looking at you to fix the problem and make sure it never happens again. Luckily, Finance errors due to inaccurate forecasts are avoidable- more so now than ever before. Start by asking important questions and answering them honestly. How much will your organization sell this year? Are you selling into new markets? What product mix are you trying to sell? Have you hired enough sales reps to move the products that you want sold? These are just a few important examples, but when you’re creating your sales plan for the year it’s imperative that you have all critical parties in the room who come at the situation from their unique perspectives. You must be able to answer these questions so that you can give accurate information to your board, set meaningful sales quotas, and design thoughtful and effective incentive comp plans that inspire the performance you want. Speaking of incentives, what about incentivizing sales forecast accuracy? It’s critical to the bottom line of your business, and putting a dollar amount on it for individuals adds an extra layer of security that those numbers will be accurate. There’s not a CFO out there who wants to be surprised by unexpectedly high compensation expenses. When you use an automated sales performance management solution like Xactly to do your forecasting you can eliminate surprises and achieve earnings-per-share and forecast accuracy at all times. Xactly’s solution allows you to do this by creating “what-if scenarios” that project how much your organization will be making if reps perform in a certain way. You’ll also be able to test new plans and conduct historical data analyses with Sandbox. When you use Xactly’s SaaS solution you alleviate the risk of unforeseen expenses and close books accurately and on time without delays caused by spreadsheets and triple checking data. Forecasting with Xactly's automated application lets you tweak your compensation plans to see how altering the sales hierarchy affects projected order and compensation expenses. You can also compare modeled results against prior quarters to make more strategic choices and ensure your company always has consistent forecast accuracy.