As a sales manager, you need you to ensure that your sales forecasts are as accurate as possible so the rest of the business is ready to deliver on what you have sold and to assist you in gaining more sales.
Accurate sales forecasts help with business planning around inventory management and procurement, resource utilisation and marketing to ensure the pipeline is kept full. By providing accurate sales forecasts, the CEO can feel comfortable in maintaining their credibility when informing the board and the market about forecasts.
To be able to achieve accurate sales forecasts for your organisation you need to ensure that your salespeople are giving you their most accurate forecast. They need to be managing their own pipeline to ensure that they achieve their target. They can be assisted by capturing different pieces of information as they go through the sales process.
For example, early in the sales process marketing uncovers an unqualified lead. Marketing then nurture this lead to determine if it is qualified well enough to be passed on to sales or needs further nurturing before it is sales ready. This way only well-qualified, quality leads are passed on to sales to further sales qualify. The salesperson is happy to receive quality leads and management is happy because there reducing the cost of sales by not having salespeople chase leads before they are ready.
These leads can then become revenue opportunities, showing up in the pipeline at the ‘qualify’ stage where the salesperson can determine to qualify in or out. Once this particular lead is qualified by the salesperson, the business can start to get a high level indication of the estimated revenue on offer.
As we move through the sales stages, we can require information is captured in Dynamics CRM to ensure we have the best chance of winning the opportunity. For example, we may require that stakeholders be identified at this stage so we can refine our message to cover their specific requirements.
Moving further through the sales process, we develop more accurate forecasts based on the potential client’s requirements. We start to develop the opportunity by recording what products and services the prospect requires as part of their solution in Dynamics CRM. Because this is using products and services from the current price list, we are now getting a more accurate estimated revenue. We are also getting an indication of potential products and services required to be delivered.
These stages of the sales process can also be used to determine probability, but the salesperson will also have a gut feel based on their experience. This probability can be used to calculate a weighted revenue business rule. Now you can have a sales pipeline based on estimated revenue and also a sales pipeline based the probability weighted estimated revenue.
By having your individual salespeople managing their pipeline through a sales process in Dynamics CRM, they will be able to provide more accurate sales forecasts. Then, as the sales manager, you will be able to monitor the individual salesperson and overall pipeline to ensure it stays full, while also feeling confident to provide an accurate opportunity pipeline and sales forecast to the CEO.
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