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Time or Circumstance: Sales Forecast Management

Manage circumstances equally as well as timing.

The obsession with time can’t be underestimated. Whether you are measuring your lifespan, war, microwave oven setting or sales cycle, these all involve a definitive time element. To better manage time elements, it’s important to manage circumstances equally well. Every month, week or day we sit down and try to make sense of our sales numbers. One of the greatest errors in our ‘subjective’ judgment may be our over-reliance on time as the driving factor. Like wars, deals are not set by time, rather by circumstance. So what does this mean?

Look for circumstances.

The Pareto Principal can come into play in a big way. It’s the 80-20 Rule. Think about your Pipeline in the same way: 80% of your sales will come from just 20% of your Pipeline Opportunities. As a salesperson or manager, we can never get away with violating the laws of nature without paying the consequences. Step off a building, and gravity will get you every time. With forecasting, while we may not experience consequences “every time” we ignore circumstances, sooner or later the laws of nature, like Pareto’s Principal, take effect. Usually it’s horribly inaccurate numbers and time lines that are difficult to make sense of.

Prima facie is Latin for ‘at first view’.

Whenever you forecast, Prima facie means you should see it the first time e.g. it should be obvious. But before it becomes so obvious there’s some homework to do. It’s important for any forecaster to know the circumstances that make up alternative directions of action. When it comes to Pipelines, analyze the number of circumstances and the order of magnitude of each.

This analysis can be as simple as a Ben Franklin plus and minus columns or more a definitive set of criteria. The circumstances affecting opportunities for your organization probably fall into five or six categories e.g. Delivery, Credit, Pricing, Customer Service, Customer Loyalty are a few. You might want to spend a few minutes creating your own list and ranking the order of magnitude each has with your pipeline opportunity.

 Two circumstances affect your Pipeline Opportunities.

1:Listing those customers that have the fewest reasons not to buy from you.

2: Define the biggest reasons why they won’t buy from you.

In either example, there will likely be a number of items. However, your task now is to separate the vital few from the trivial many. Then assign a value to each item, naturally, ranking the highest value items first. And it’s these high value items that you have to solve/analyze first.  

Set priorities for action.

Just like a general, you have to set your priorities based not so much on your wishes but what reality looks like. How this affects your forecasting accuracy will become obvious. You will now look closer at what will make the most difference in your sales success. The circumstances have a time line of their own. You simply can’t ignore a major item. Now you have to establish a timeline to the circumstance, or series of circumstances. This will result in a more accurate completion date.

The stronger the confidence in your pipeline, the less threatened you are.

We have to accept the fact that some customers are going to react irrationally. Maybe I can call it the ‘Irrational Principal’ where out of the blue you get broadsided by 20% of your opportunities. In these cases you can’t control the game, only your reactions to it.  I’ll bet that the stronger the confidence you have in your pipeline, the less threatened you will be by what happens around each opportunity. Having a high level of confidence in the vital issues surrounding your pipeline can be as a result of good ‘circumstance’ management.

MosaicCRM Experts Corner

Pipeline Triangulation

Triangulation is the process of determining the location of a point by measuring angles to it from known points at either end. In MosaicCRM terms, triangulation is the process of determining the points that make up your pipeline and its ability to hone in on opportunities that have a high probability of closing. Click on the Icon for more information on how this works!