Research reveals that sales pipleine forecasting is highly ineffective and inefficient for multiple organizations. 60% of respondents say they do not have a well-defined approach to pipeline forecasting.
Multiple obstacles, along with inaccurate data, can plague your pipeline forecasts. Thus, accurate and reliable sales pipeline forecasting will transform your sales for good! Let’s find out how you can make your sales forecast more accurate.
Importance of Sales Pipeline Forecasting
Sales forecasting helps businesses find how much revenue they can expect to generate in a particular period. You can use information from your sales pipeline forecasts to make intelligent decisions about your sales process.
Sales forecasts are based on facts, and gaining insights from historical sales data is a great starting point. Sales pipeline forecasting also allows you to figure out potential risks and take necessary action to prevent them.
Sales Forecasting Example
If your sales revenue begins to drop, you’ll be able to figure out the causes before you experience a considerable decline. It’ll also give you the time and autonomy to make improvements, like changing your promotion strategies or training your sales reps.
How to Forecast Sales Using Historical Data
Most companies have historical data, which they use to determine realistic sales pipeline forecasts. Startups that do not have historic data generally create intuitive data.
You need to know where you are to predict where you are going. Past sales data can build a solid foundation on which you can lay your final forecast. Here’s what you should do:
- Collect the historical data.
- Map out a trajectory of your sales vs. time.
- Take data points from specific intervals in the past to derive patterns.
- Find the average rate of change in your sales over time.
- Apply this rate to the most recent sales data and forecast the future changes in sales volume.
Four Tactics to Improve Sales Pipeline Forecasting Accuracy
Here are a few tricks that sales teams and executives can use to improve the accuracy of sales pipeline forecasting models for their businesses.
1. Identify Common Mistakes in Your Forecasting Process
Most organizations typically face the following two common problems:
Under-forecasting also means that the organizations over-deliver. In other words, the organizations cannot make decisions around hiring, marketing, or R&D. They are missing out on opportunities to observe a wider net for growth while their competitors move in.
When an organization over-forecasts, it means that an organization under-delivers. It can have devastating consequences like lay-offs or no future growth.
Inaccurate sales forecasts typically stem from problems like:
- No training
- Time-consuming and lengthy processes
- Accidental inaccuracies
- Subjective rep behavior
- Lack of clarity in sales processes
- Not taking historical data into account
2. Clean Up Your Data
For accurate predictions, your data should be precise from the beginning. Here’s what you can do:
- Define the stages of your sales process clearly.
- Set entry and exit criteria for each step based on customer actions.
- Define a time limit for each step and exclude opportunities sitting in the pipeline for too long.
- Ensure that your sales team knows the steps and criteria.
- Train your salespeople to keep the data clean.
3. Get Granular
Identify factors that impact the probability of closing a deal, such as:
- size of the opportunity,
- industry niche,
- size of the company, and
- the number of stakeholders involved.
Understand what factors have the most impact, and weigh your pipeline accordingly.
4. Compare Sales Pipeline Forecasting Models
Along with the sales forecasting model based on the weighted pipeline, you must also check your number against both—capacity and historical data.
Sales capacity is the measure of your attainment rates. It validates sales numbers’ accuracy and identifies sales forecast errors.
The three models can work together and show you the blind spots (if any.) Thus, you can create a more accurate picture of the likely future.
Improve Your Sales Pipeline Forecasting Accuracy Today
We hope you walk away with the power to improve your sales pipeline forecasting accuracy. Identify your roadblocks and get your team on board with consistent processes. Use these simple tactics to measure better and streamline your forecasting processes.