“Don’t trust your forecast roll up to spreadsheets and CRM tools alone!”
…some of the archetypes behind common forecasting errors at all levels of a sales organization:
- Rose-colored Glasses Glen is too optimistic about every opportunity he sees in his pipeline.
- Hard of Hearing Harry’s ears are too full of wax to hear that his prospect is really suspect.
- Sandy Sandbagger may be a pessimist, fear accountability, or just enjoys being the last-minute hero. She refuses to commit deals until quarter end.
- Peter P.O. Perfect is too much of a perfectionist to commit to any deal in the forecast until he has a purchase order in hand.
- Korner Kutter Keno forecasts deals, no matter what size, every time a prospect smiles at him. He can’t resist taking shortcuts and is too impatient to take prospects through every stage in the sales process.
- Fifty/Fifty Freddie won’t commit to a forecast, because he’s not sure which way his deal will go. A quarter in your pocket would give you a better forecast than he could!
Finally, every sales leader should also watch out for these two types of forecasted deals:
- “Birthday candles” This deal has been in and out of the forecast so many times that we’re lighting a candle for its every anniversary. So then how should you handle these? Easy: You shouldn’t count on them. If they close, great; only then put them in the closed column.
- “Bigfoot sightings” These big but rarer deals will always take longer than normal. Since they’re large and complicated, it’s best not to commit the entire deal and instead only forecast part of it. In fact, I recommend forecasting these deals altogether outside your normal process.
And since large deals can chew up a lot of resources, be aware of them disproportionately hogging resources. That’s why it’s critical to layer deal size in your sales forecasts.
…With a defined qualification methodology like MEDDICC, sales management can quickly diagnose each opportunity in a forecast roll up, prescribe next steps to ensure closure, and prioritize high velocity or high value deals. Here’s how MEDDICC breaks down — with corresponding example questions to ask in the forecast call or meeting:
Metrics … Example forecast question: Have we (the sales team and/or customer) developed a business case / ROI that justifies an investment in our solution?
Economic buyer … Example forecast question: Do we have a mutually agreed-upon process and timeline with this buyer to transact in the sales period?
Decision criteria … Example forecast question: Do we know and can/have we influenced and met their technical and business criteria to align with our proposed solution?
Decision process … Example forecast question: Do we understand the decision process and players? Do we have time and the political alignment to execute in the forecasted timeframe?
Identify pain … Example forecast question: What is the compelling event or sense of urgency for them to complete the deal in the forecasted timeframe?
Champion … Example forecast questions: Who is/are our champion(s)? Have you tested the champion? How confident are they of completing our deal in the timeframe? Do they have more juice than our competition has?
Competition … Example forecast question: Have we beat or are we on the path to defeating our competition in the allotted timeframe?