In the previous article, we talked about sales planning methods; this time we will focus on tools that are useful for this purpose.
The ability to plan for the next 3 to 12 months is valuable to the company’s management. The range of tools that can help managers consolidate the information are available to create forecasts that they can rely on to make the best decisions for the business.
1. CRM platforms
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms can be an ideal environment for creating sales forecasts. They should contain all the information the company has about the customers and potential customers. This information may include basic job title, company location, sector, quota, and pricing information. It can also track leads, opportunities, and information about wins or losses. CRM systems are ideal for quarterly revenue forecasting, provided that managers carefully examine the opportunities identified by their sales teams. Information in CRM systems can also provide a valuable source of market data for long-term forecasts. Those information that can guide investment.
2. Microsoft Excel and other spreadsheets
Excel spreadsheets area popular choice for forecasting because they are widely available and offers solid functionality without the need for special training. Before the widespread adoption of CRM environments, spreadsheets were the most popular sales forecasting tool and continue to be popular. Even companies that use CRM platforms continue to use spreadsheets in their forecasting process; it is not unusual for managers to export data from CRM systems as a spreadsheet to apply their expert judgment to the forecast. Spreadsheets are Flexible, but not risk-free. Their lack of change control means that data can be easily overwritten by accident, which can cause errors in the sales forecasting process.
3. Lead scoring systems
Lead scoring systems can provide visibility of sales opportunities early in the sales cycle. For organizations heavily involved in e-commerce, assessment of future clients can be critical to understanding how customers and future customers interact with the business. Through a website, attending webinars and events, or engaging with business development teams? Lead scoring models assign points to prospect clients based on how often they visit your website, watch videos, access eBooks, or attend events. The lead scoring model can drive automated digital marketing processes and reach sales executives. They can also appear in forecasting models where there is a correlation between site activity and other engagements (and therefore scoring) – and orders and revenues.
4. Platforms for sales analysis
Sales analytics platforms can also be a tool in your sales and marketing toolkit, offering capabilities that help you understand large amounts of complex data. Managers are blessed and cursed to have access to massive amounts of data they have not heard of before. The challenge is to provide them with the tools to quickly understand it and get meaningful, practical insights that can change the business for the better. This information can be sourced from CRM, e-commerce, finance and external systems to provide a comprehensive picture of the market and its dynamics over time. With this information, you will learn which sectors will be most likely to buy your products, or which initiatives such as new product launches or unique offers are driving lead generation and revenue. Thanks to them, you will learn which channels will be the most effective and how macro issues, such as GDP growth or seasonal changes, affect your business.
Maximize the value of sales forecasting
It’s fair to say that sales forecasts are crucial for the entire company – not just for the sales department. At the same time, it’s important to emphasize that there are ways to get more value from your sales forecast data. The data and infrastructure used to create sales and revenue funnel analysis can also help you design the optimal sales area and allocation plans. The optimal quota model will help you maximize the opportunities that are open to your company. Data helps you understand which sales behaviora are most effective in your organization. This will help you design an incentive compensation management program. This one, in turn, will help increase commercial results, including accurate forecasts. While this may sound like a significant increase in the workload for sales management and sales operations, the same architecture can help leverage the power of AI. It enables you to automatically monitor many of these sales and marketing dynamics and provide new information and ideas. It can help manage better your sales and marketing forecasting processes.
Interested in learning more?
Book a conversation with a software developer – Varicent or with us – a technology implementation partner; to find out how we can help.