Your Sales Forecast: Report or Action Plan?

Jul 18, 2016
2 min read
To be successful, your sales forecast should be proactive. Learn how you can improve accuracy by replacing your sales forecast report with an action plan.

Today’s guest blog post was written by Somrat Niyogi, Vice President, Business Development, at Clari, the leading end-to-end sales forecasting solution provider.

Is your forecast a report or an action plan? To answer this question, let’s start by asking a few more.

  • Do you know when your forecast was last updated?
  • Can you spot risks immediately when looking at your forecast?
  • Do your reps and managers review the forecast regularly?

Not Another Spreadsheet

If you answered ‘no,’ to any or all of the above, then your forecast is just another run-of-the mill report, destined for spreadsheet hell. (If you answered yes, congratulations! I’m already a fan). But sadly, you’re not alone. For most companies, sales forecasts mean best guesses and roll-ups from reps, adjusted with a healthy dose of “management judgment” and shipped off to the executive staff.

By the time you hit ‘send,’ your data is stale. What a waste — especially for salespeople. You’re probably in sales because you’re comfortable in the heat of battle. Dancing. Responding. Facing a “no” and still getting to “yes.” So with that kind of determination and up-to-the minute attitude, why does your forecast feel a little like yesterday’s news? The days of forecast reports are over.

To keep up with the pace of your expanding, global business, today’s sales forecasts must be action plans. They are the field intelligence to guide your battle plans.

From Back-Office to Front and Center

Your forecast should evolve from tedious chore to strategic sales weapon. This means you may need to change not only the way you forecast, but also the entire role of your forecast.

Your forecast should be wildly easier to create and provide visibility into deal progress, with data-driven insight into how to close more deals, faster. Rather than a box on your to-do list, consider your forecast a trusted advisor. It should guide the way your managers coach and mentor their reps, in addition to the whole sales team’s daily activities.

Your forecast should be able to provide the following insights:

  • Areas of risk and upside in pipeline
  • Recent deal activity
  • Areas of rep and manager focus
  • Likelihood of deal to close
  • Strategies to exceed your number for the quarter

You don’t want a snapshot; you need a full-length movie. Your forecast should be complete, and it should help you get deals done. Make the forecast a priority for your sales reps, managers, and executives alike. It should be your entire team’s guide to what’s working and what’s not, to what’s moving and what’s stuck—the foundation of both high-level strategy and everyday execution.

If your forecast already delivers all this, you know you’re ahead of the game. If not, your revenue could be greater, and you could be sleeping better at night. By changing your approach to forecasting to be more holistic, you will build a stronger, more reliable business from the ground up. If you’re interested in learning more about transforming your sales forecasting and sales execution, we’d love to hear from you.  

  • Forecasting
  • Sales Planning
Jordan Scott
Jordan Scott
Manager, Content Marketing

Jordan Scott is the Manager of Content Marketing at Xactly. She attended The University of California at Santa Cruz, and received degrees in Literature and Education.