A few episodes ago we discussed the 5 sales meetings every sales manager needs to master. Today we cover the sales forecast meeting. The sales forecast meeting is designed to help you and your sales team predict the quota for the quarter using data. In this episode, learn the basics of the sales forecast meeting, the data required to analyze it, and how to get your team there.
What we’re going to cover:
- Nuts and bolts.
- How to get there.
Nuts and bolts.
“Every week sales teams are getting together and they’re having this blended conversation of the pipeline and a forecast. I can tell you the outcome of that is not very good. Driving numbers and driving growth does not happen having that kind of meeting weekly.”
“First of all, it’s a Monday morning meeting, you’re going through that snapshot of opportunities that are going to close let’s say this month with every rep in the room. How much coaching and developing do you think you can give them at that point in a blended conversation?”
When should I have it then?
“The sales forecast meeting should be Monday, part of your Monday meeting, it’s weekly, and it’s whatever is closing within that current period. Whether you’re managing the quarter or you’re managing it monthly.”
Sales stage conversions.
“As a manager, you should be involved in the sales stage conversions, you should know the data going into it and I’m not talking about the activities that for the pipeline side of it. In both the pipeline and forecast you want to know the conversions because you want to know how accurate the numbers are going to be.”
Accuracy vs. Quota
“Now here’s what I’m going to say, every time you ask for forecast in today’s world with most sales people they’re going to give you quota or above because that know that’s what’s being asked of them. No one’s going to forecast, very few reps can accurately forecast what they’re going to sell, but 99% of people are going to tell you it’s a done deal and that’s what they’re going to tell you. They’re not going to talk about anything else because they don’t want to risk looking bad.
If someone’s going to be 200% of quota they may only tell you quota and then they look great. ‘how’d you do that? You killed it!’ But what I would say is your accuracy is way off. I wouldn’t beat them up over that, but that’s not really forecasting.”
So how do we get them there?
“Hold them accountable to the forecasting process. I’m going to focus on accuracy vs quota achievement early on.
So, I’m looking at the metrics on the front end and I’m having a pipeline, peeling back the layers of every deal, I know what stage they’re in, now I’m looking at their forecast and it doesn’t match the data that I have on the pipeline side of it. Then you need to pull them aside and have an individual conversation about that and say wait a second this forecast doesn’t match what we talked about in the pipeline
And if that means you’re at 60% quota, that means you’re 60% at quota. We want accuracy here, we’ll figure out how to get you over quota. But eventually at the end of the quarter, it’s all going to come out in the wash anyway if you’re short. So let’s get it right, let’s celebrate accuracy early on and then manage and coach to quota or above.”
About the numbers.
“This is about the numbers and accurately assessing those numbers. What I mean by accurately assessing those numbers is the forecast matches the outcome. You actually hit the number. And if it’s changed in that meeting you can give a quick response as to why it feel out of the forecast or in some cases moved into the forecast.
But if you’re getting into the timing, if you’re getting into the percentage, and peeling back the layers, that’s a waste of time if you’re spending every week doing that.”
Historical conversion rates.
“Let’s talk about the role data plays here. Again, we’re going back to historical conversion rates, data helps you with accountability, data drives these numbers. It’s not a wish or belief or thought that I might close something, it’s based on the conversion rates, it’s based on the early metrics to get into the pipeline, then what you do once it’s in the pipeline matched up against the milestone centric sales process.”
“The data is going to tell you a lot there. Don’t wait for the rep to tell you how they feel, this isn’t about how they feel. This is about hitting all the benchmarks in the pipeline to get to the point where it drops into the forecast and then the accuracy of that forecast.
That’s the kind of stuff you need to be looking at as a manger and get ahead of so then you can coach to the things you need to coach on to help them improve their numbers and get way better at what they do.”
Analyze why or why not.
“Are we doing the things you need to do to move it through the process, are we meeting those gates? And then once it gets to the point where it can be forecasted what are the conversion rates there and at the end of the month, we analyze why or why not on the forecast. Did we hit the forecast? Or come close to it? Are we 99.9% of the forecast or were we way off the forecast? And why did that happen and why not?”
How to get there.
Step one: Update on details.
“Okay we’re going to do the pipeline, we’re going to do the forecast meeting, this is a yea or nay or up or down. Are we meeting the objectives that you forecasted? You forecasted this number, are we going to hit this? Are we still on track for this? If the answer is no, why?
Without going into crazy detail explain why this deal is off, this deal is in, why the number changed. Okay, now you’re updated.”
What happens if we’re off?
“Stop the whole conversation, end the forecast meeting, do the pipeline review and the one on ones, tell them you’re going to track their progress for the next 2 months, and look at the metrics. What’s happening in each stage of the process? Where are we now and where are we off?”
Go back and look at their performance.
“If we look back at X reps performance over the last 2 months and we looked at each stage of the process and we looked at the metrics on their calls, and we said to ourselves okay this is what the forecast should have been, this is how they forecasted.
Then we go a couple of months ahead and we track their progress and we forecast based on what we see as a manager and see how accurate we can get it. Then we can show them the way.”
“We’re going to meet twice a month, we’re going to take every deal that comes into the pipeline from lead status through till the end and we’re going to peel back the layers on each step of the process making sure it’s lined up in the sales process where it should be in the deal stage, make sure it matches and we hit the gate. We’re going to strategize on how to keep the opportunities moving through the pipeline. And when we get to the end of the pipeline we’re going to forecast appropriately the deals we’re supposed to forecast.”
“So we’re going to say in the pipeline meeting ‘this goes into the forecast’ and the forecast is going to be our accounting of what we’re going to do for that month and that 30- day period. Then we’re going to have a forecast meeting every week and we’re going to say yay or nay on the stuff that’s on there.”
In the pipeline meeting we’re going to take out the stuff that doesn’t belong. Because we only want healthy stuff in the pipeline.
If we need to go out and find more business we’re going to strategize on what the metrics look like to bring more business into the pipeline, to make it nice and healthy. So we can drive opportunities through the process into the forecast and that forecast meeting once a week. We’re going to track it and post it so everybody knows what you forecasted, what you did, and we’re shooting for accuracy here.”
The forecast is the sum of all the work you’ve done previous to that. So, you can’t make magic happen. Once in a while you go out and pull a rabbit out of a hat and get a deal you weren’t supposed to get.
But at the end of the day you can’t make that happen month in and month out. You’re going to have to do the work to get there. That’s why we’re going to do it this way. Now you have work to do as a manager to build all that out.”
Keep Filling The Funnel
We would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this episode. Please feel free to reach out to us if there is a specific sales topic you would like me to cover. You can find me on Twitter at @Sheajohnr or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you get a chance, please feel free to review us on iTunes.