In this series of blog posts, we discovered why pipeline grading and sales forecasting is so commonly inaccurate, and laid out a plan for change. So what’s next?
There is a solution, if you are diligent at creating a pipeline grading system that:
- Mirrors your buyer’s buying cycle
- Is audit-able
- Is diligently enforced by the management team
The results are huge:
- You no longer rely on the opinions of sales people when preparing your forecast
- You can inspect what you expect
- You can retire what sales people call the “sunshine pump”
- You can significantly reduce the amount of time and resources spent on preparing your forecast
When I was VP of Sales for a software company, I reduced the time spent on forecasting from ten hours a week to two hours a week after implementing such a system.
In summary, the most important takeaway is to design a sales process that mirrors your prospect’s buying cycle. Develop the grading system to keep in mind stages and milestones that mirror the process with audit-able and measurable deliverables.
Additionally, you should be documenting all major conversations between your prospects and your company, whether by the sales rep or the sales management. Audit these communications and these deliverables. Lastly, make forecasting the responsibility of the sales management… not the sales rep.
As many of our clients have experienced, by using these tactics, the accuracy and reliability of your pipeline (and hence your forecast) can skyrocket into the 90th percentile at the opportunity level – and prove the positive health of your sales force.