How to Nail Your Sales Forecast with Process, Rhythm and Reporting | Sales Analytics Best Practices [SalesQuants Podcast ep. 65]

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About This Episode:

The theme of this episode is discipline and consistency. Jeff sits down with friend of SalesQuants and sales analytic ninja Scott Miller to discuss the often overlooked benefits derived from efficient sales data records. It’s common for sales organizations, and businesses in general, to feel like they’re drowning in a sea of data in the form of Excel files. Wading through this overwhelming pile of numerical data may seem daunting, but with some structure and cooperation these numbers can prove invaluable in the sales forecasting process.

Just this idea of companies drowning in data and throwing excel spreadsheets around can really lead to stale environments where you’re not leveraging the data. At the end of the day, this data is a tool for success that you can leverage. Whereas most companies, I think, see their sales data just as an overwhelming burden.

— Scott Miller

Scott discusses the importance behind creating an sales management environment, wherein responsibility and reliability through set data input schedules can prevent the seemingly insurmountable build up of numerical sales forecasting data. Instilling an environment that can and does rely on accurate, clean, and up-to-date sales data then provides a much more efficient channel of communication between the sales team members at all levels.

Sales leadership needs to see the data from the higher level in order to assess where the pain-points, risks, and opportunities lie across the board. Seeing this data from a bird’s eye view allows management to pull some levers and connect some dots that the sales folks and the first line managers may not be aware of.

–Scott Miller

It’s critical to note, however, the leadership must first ensure that the sales reps are all on the same page. If each rep has their own interpretation of what it means for a sale to be in each stage, it can prove rather chaotic and harmful for the prioritization and urgency within the pipeline. It’s up to sales leadership and first level management to set and communicate organization-wide standards in order to create a well-oiled and understood sales process. Consistency, rhythm, and reporting are what drives true sales analytics efficiency.

The beauty of Scott’s forecasting methodology lies with the overarching accountability the process creates. In this data-driven system, upper levels of sales management get the final pass through on the forecast. In their pass through, they have the ability to manually compare each individual’s sales forecasts with their respective individual historical forecast accuracy. From there they can alter the overall forecast numbers to reflect a more accurate overarching forecast of the team as a whole. This allows the management to more accurately assess risk based on the consistent compilation of historical sales data. 

Click here to see an example of the Forecast Accuracy Template.

So it all comes back to having a consistent rhythm and having a good read on the situation in the sense of the forecast. The ability to predict overtime becomes very precise, although there will always be somethings that are simply unpredictable. Your CEO is scheduled to come sign on the dotted line at the end of the month and he misses his flight. These things happen, but by building a solid foundation by recording historical forecasting data, the unexpected hits and misses ultimately tend to cancel each other out. 

The data analytics-based approach to this methodology takes these variables into consideration and the output is, on average, much more accurate and constructive moving forward. That’s why having the data visibility is so important when it comes to the counteractive measure that sales leadership must put in place in order to compensate.

— Scott Miller

So, where do you begin? How does one prioritize getting this sort of process established? Scott recommends starting by formalizing your sales process. It’s crucial for all the sales reps to have the same perspective going into the sales stage classifications. If different reps have different takes on what it means to transfer a sale from “Best-Case” to “Commit”, the data will be skewed and can prove unreliable to upper management. 

After a standardized categorization has been set, it’s up to the first level sales managers to have their finger on the pulse of all the sales reps’ deals, ensuring all sales are aligned and all team members are abiding by the process in it’s entirety. Process, rhythm and recording. 

Scott emphasizes the importance of instilling a set of expectations for the sales team. People have a tendency to preform up to their expectations, and the numbers you set will instill the critical accountability that drives sales forecasting accuracy.

 

Want to learn more?

If you have questions about your process, rhythm, and recording, learn more about our Sales Analytics and Advisory Services!

 

In This Episode: Scott Miller

Scott Miller

This week we hear from a familiar face, our favorite Sales Analytics Ninja Mr. Scott Miller. You may recognize Scott as one of our own well-versed SalesQuants authorsScott received his BA in Management from the University of Michigan, as well as his MBA in Finance, Marketing, and Statistics from The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Upon graduation, Scott accepted a position on the financial side as a Senior Trust Associate for the Northern Trust Company. Scott then switched gears by taking a position with tech provider PSD Solutions as a Project Manager, where he developed customized database applications and led implementation effort. Scott then turned his focus to Risk Management Evaluation, working as a Consultant with Earnest & Young, followed by a similar position in Financial Risk Management with KPMG. Utilizing his background of finance analytics, Scott made a smooth transition into sales forecasting and analysis with a Senior Sales Management position with Allscripts where he worked with sales leaders to define KPI’s, custom reports, and analysis in an effort to develop visibility into the organization while providing key business insights. Just last year, Scott accepted a Senior Vice President position at CrossCountry Mortgage, Inc. focusing on financial planning and analytics where he continues to provide strategic insights which drive financial and sales performance.

 

 

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