It’s that time of year. It probably should have happened last month, or even two months ago, but your company, like all the others has been postponing the dreaded annual forecasting meeting. If you operate on a calendar budget, there have been meetings scheduled and canceled and rescheduled and canceled and now rescheduled again with the red exclamation mark next to them for the meeting that must happen. 2013 Forecast and Budget Planning (horror music playing in the background).It’s the meeting where most commonly the senior finance staff generated a number the company has to hit next year to keep everyone employed and the stakeholders or owners happy. Now, sales must lock themselves in a room and figure out how they are going to achieve this number. Is that as backwards as it sounds? Indeed it is.
What typically happens is senior finance staff looks at sales reports (post sale data) from previous years, adds an arbitrary percentage increase and then says, find it. “We don’t care where, we don’t care how, find it.” Aligning that arbitrary increase to top performing accounts makes the budgeting process for the next year more efficient, but rarely is it accurate. Is there a way to eliminate this senseless charade? There is.
Use your CRM to demonstrate what would be required in time and resources to achieve the stated increase in new accounts and increased sales on existing accounts. With CRM you will have pre-sale data that conveys actual effort to closed sales. How long is a sales cycle? How many sales have to be in the pipeline, by when, to achieve the magic number that has been provided? Is it even possible? If not, what is required to make it possible? How many new product presentations were given to existing customers last year to drive increased sales? How many more will be required to achieve the new target? Has that number of new products been scheduled for creation and distribution? How many incoming leads were created last year through marketing efforts? How many of those leads generated new accounts and orders? How many will be required to achieve the new target?
Locking sales management in a room with an arbitrary sales percentage increase and asking them to put their heads on the butcher block for their share of that number is NOT logical forecasting. Use CRM software to measure pre-sale activity and base sales growth on the resources required to support that growth. Everyone wants to succeed. Everyone in the company wants to increase sales. With pre-sale reporting provided by CRM software everyone in the company can align resources to the new sales targets and everyone can work together to achieve success!