Sales people and their managers spend countless hours on a broken process called Sales Forecasting (also referred to as Pipeline Forecasting.)
Companies rely on Sales Forecasting to predict which deals will close within a given time period (month, quarter, year.)
Forecast meetings (also called Pipeline Reviews) fail to deliver accurate predictions and waste countless hours because they revolve around something we call the ‘Close Date.’
The simple truth is your customers never have and never will care about the date you expect your contract to be signed.
Buyers invest their time and money to achieve a desired outcome. Their desired outcome can only be realized after the successful implementation and utilization of your products and/or services.
To achieve predictability in your forecasting and pipeline management process, stop talking about opportunity close date unless they are linked to the 1st day the prospect will achieve practical use of your product and/or service.
I refer to this as the ‘Go-Live Date’ and implement this as a custom Salesforce.com field within in the opportunity object. Additionally, I create a validation rule to require this ‘Go-Live Date’ field be populated before the opportunity can be advanced beyond 20%.
As part of their pipeline review, sales reps are required to explain why the ‘Go-Live Date’ is important to the prospect.
Prospects follow a logical path from problem identification to learning about potential solutions before they move into an actual buying mode. I refer to this as ‘The Buyer Journey.’
Prospects unable to articulate a desired ‘Go-Live Date’ or unable to agree to a planned ‘Go-Live Date’ are NOT in buying mode, they are in learning mode.
Prospects are not necessarily motivated to accurately convey where they are in their journey.
It is highly unlikely a prospect will tell you: “We are not going to buy anything for at least a year or two but want to educate ourselves and begin to develop our budget so please spend a lot of time with us and give us access to your best resources.”
To learn about The Buyer Journey, you can watch my whiteboard video CLICK HERE.
To improve your ability to determine if the deal is real, CLICK HERE to watch my whiteboard video.
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