What Are Sales Forecasts And Why Are They Important?

Apr 24, 2023
4 min read
Sales Forecasting 101, Vol. 1

Originally published on January 6, 2023.

Sales forecasting is a critical part of any business because it allows you to plan for the future and make informed decisions about your operations.

There are a number of different ways to forecast sales, and the best approach will vary depending on your business and industry. However, there are some general principles that can help you improve your forecasting accuracy.

In this blog, we'll discuss the basics of sales forecasting, including:

  • What is sales forecasting?
  • Why is sales forecasting important?
  • Sales forecasting methods
  • Challenges to accurate sales forecasting

What is sales forecasting?

Sales forecasting is the process of estimating future sales or revenue for a business based on historical sales data, market trends, and other relevant factors. It involves analyzing past sales data to identify patterns and trends that can be used to make predictions about future sales performance.

Why is forecasting important?

Sales forecasting enables businesses to plan and make informed decisions about future operations, marketing, and resource allocation. Accurate sales forecasting can help businesses anticipate future demand, identify potential problems or opportunities, and adjust their strategies accordingly. It can also help businesses optimize their inventory levels, production schedules, and staffing requirements.

In addition, sales forecasting is a key component of financial planning and budgeting. It provides the information necessary to set revenue targets, establish budgets, and allocate resources effectively. By accurately forecasting sales, businesses can make more informed decisions and improve their overall financial performance.

Types of Sales Forecasting Methods

There are several different forecasting methods that businesses can use to predict total revenue, including annual recurring revenue (ARR) vs. one-time, commercial vs. enterprise vs. strategic, and by product line. Continue reading to explore each of these forecasting methods and how they can benefit businesses.

Total revenue

Total revenue sales forecasting is the process of predicting the total revenue that a business will generate over a specific period of time. This sales forecasting method takes into account all sources of revenue, including product sales, service fees, subscriptions, and any other revenue streams that the business may have.

Total revenue sales forecasting is a critical part of any business strategy because it helps businesses plan for future growth, allocate resources, and make informed decisions about pricing, marketing, and product development. By forecasting total revenue, businesses can identify potential areas for growth, monitor progress towards revenue goals, and make adjustments as needed to stay on track.

Total revenue sales forecasting can be done using various forecasting techniques, including time-series analysis, regression analysis, and predictive modeling. These techniques use historical data and market trends to predict future revenue and provide businesses with an estimate of their expected revenue over a specific period.

Overall, total revenue sales forecasting is an important part of any business strategy because it helps businesses make informed decisions and plan for future growth. By accurately forecasting revenue, businesses can optimize their operations, improve their financial performance, and stay ahead of the competition.

ARR vs. one-time

ARR is a metric that measures the annual revenue generated by a subscription-based business model. ARR forecasting involves predicting the annual revenue that will be generated by subscriptions over a given period. One-time forecasting, on the other hand, involves predicting the revenue that will be generated by one-time sales, such as product purchases or service fees.

Both ARR and one-time forecasting are essential for businesses that use a combination of subscription-based and one-time revenue models. By forecasting both ARR and one-time revenue, businesses can gain a more accurate picture of their total revenue and make more informed decisions about their pricing strategies, product development, and marketing efforts.

Commercial vs. enterprise vs. strategic

Commercial, enterprise, and strategic forecasting are three different approaches to forecasting revenue based on the type of customers a business serves. Commercial forecasting focuses on revenue generated from small to medium-sized businesses, while enterprise forecasting focuses on revenue generated from large corporations. Strategic forecasting involves predicting revenue from strategic partnerships or other high-value relationships.

By using different forecasting techniques s for each customer segment, businesses can gain a better understanding of their revenue streams and identify potential areas for growth. For example, if a business sees significant growth in revenue from enterprise customers, it may decide to focus more resources on that customer segment to continue driving revenue growth.

By product line

Product line forecasting involves predicting revenue for each product or product line within a business. This type of forecasting can help businesses identify which products are driving revenue growth and which products may need improvement or should be discontinued.

By forecasting revenue by product line, businesses can make more informed decisions about their product development and marketing strategies. They can also identify potential areas for growth by focusing on products that are generating the most revenue.

In conclusion, forecasting total revenue is essential for businesses of all sizes and requires careful consideration of several different factors. ARR vs. one-time, commercial vs. enterprise vs. strategic, and by product line are just a few of the forecasting methods that businesses can use to gain a more accurate picture of their revenue streams. By using different forecasting methods, businesses can make more informed decisions, plan for future growth, and stay ahead of the competition.

Technology has made it possible for companies to plan for disruption (and continue to make accurate forecasts in the face of it) with adaptive forecasting. In our next blog, titled Sales Forecasting 101, Vol. 2: How to Call Accurate Forecasts in Unpredictable Times we’ll discuss how to plan for disruption and economic uncertainty with artificial intelligence (AI) and sophisticated data analytics.

Interested in learning more about sales forecasting?

Xactly Forecasting® gives sales leaders a clear and concise way of looking at how their business generates and books revenue. It’s a fully integrated application that empowers revenue leaders to inspect and manage their pipeline more effectively, sellers to sell more efficiently, and it provides advanced analytics for everyone to deliver more accurate forecasts.

Grab this Xactly Forecasting ebook and discover six use cases that will improve:

  1. Team efficiency
  2. Effectiveness
  3. Forecast accuracy


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Xactly News Team

The Xactly News Team reports on the latest product, events and market trends taking place within Xactly and throughout the revenue intelligence industry. Be sure to subscribe to get the news delivered straight to your Inbox.