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Forecast Transparency: Will You Hit Your Sales Target This Year?

Contributed by David Shaffer

With summer upon us, business focus traditionally turns to the second half and year end push to meet revenue and profit objectives. For many organizations, particularly during these difficult and somewhat unfamiliar economic circumstances, the first half has fallen short of expectations and concern is mounting as to the credibility of year end forecasts. The challenge, how to sift through fantasy forecasts provided by the sales team and establish accountability, reliability and focus, areas that traditionally do not resonate well with sales representatives who always see opportunity and know that “next month” things will be different.

With this in mind, the following are a series of questions corresponding to actions companies should consider as part of their sales forecast goals, controls and accountability.

  1. Do you continue to see the same customer on the forecast sheet each month as a prospect for new sales – probably time to move on
  2. Is there a focus on the 20% of key customers that account for 80% of the revenue opportunity
  3. Is there a written plan of action for each customer that the sales representative can present including revenue projection, timeline, milestones and investment of resources necessary to make the sale happen
  4. Is there a mechanism in place to monitor activity and correlate back to the plan
  5. Is there an overall sales territory strategy plan prepared by the representative and presented to management for approval
  6. Has the company placed the appropriate sales incentives in place including bonuses and accelerators
  7. Has management called on key accounts to support sales and validate opportunities
  8. Are there weekly scheduled review meetings with a documented agenda, results oriented and time for brainstorming sales opportunities
  9. Has the company budget and financial projections been updated to account for most likely scenarios
  10. Has customer service been integrated to support and promote sales opportunities – specials, promotions and volume discounts
  11. Are you measuring the success of your marketing campaigns and utilizing them to provide buying incentives
  12. Is the right IS or CRM in place to provide management feedback

The common link across these questions is accountability. By putting in place the controls, goals and measurements, management can create focus and reliability around the sales forecast. 

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