Sales organizations of all sizes are under pressure to provide more accurate top-line sales forecasts. Better forecasts mean a more accurate prediction of the future revenue health of a company. To help improve the accuracy of sales pipelines, best-in-class companies are using sales-analytics solutions that rely on multiple data streams, not just a single source.

In May and June of this year the research firm Aberdeen Group interviewed 144 end-user organizations about their sales effectiveness practices and accomplishments. The report, entitled “Better Sales Forecasting Through Process and Technology,” shows that firms that invest in enabling technologies significantly outperform their competition. Consider the following enabling technologies and the impact they have had on sales forecasting results:

  • Sales analytics or forecasting software
  • Separate sales forecast dashboards for each sales role
  • Lead scoring/assignment based on patterns of profitability, purchase or payment trends
  • Predictive analytics
  • CRM/SFA dashboard integrated with goal vs. actual sales data
  • Sales stage analysis that identifies problem deals by deal velocity

Best-in-class companies that have enabling technologies as well as formal definitions of sales stages, standard rankings to define sales opportunities and a centralized repository of sales data identified by sales stage have the best chance of producing highly accurate forecasts.

Forecasting processes and enabling technologies can make your sales forecast “rifle shot” accurate and provide you with the confidence you need to make critical business decisions. Take the time to review your current forecast methodologies and look for areas where you could improve. It is also sensible to make changes in phases rather than at all once. Good luck and good forecasting!

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Dan Hudson is the co-founder and president of 3forward and has a B2B sales and sales leadership background of more than 30 years. He can be reached at dan.hudson@3forward.com.