By Forrest Moore – Follow Him On LinkedIn
When do you add prospects to your sales forecast?
I talk with sales leaders every day who are working to establish or refine their sales process and this is the one topic that seems to generate the most debate. Some sales professionals prefer not to add a prospect to their forecast until they are certain that they are going to win the deal. Others will add a lead to their forecast on first contact.
I’ve been in professional sales for more than a decade and I believe in forecasting early and often. Whether you are the only salesperson at your company, or a member of a large sales team, it’s important to examine both wins and losses.
Why do salespeople say that they delay forecasting until late in the sales cycle?
Most salespeople that don’t track forecasts early tell me that they don’t want to waste time tracking prospects that are not going to close. I can understand that sentiment. I always advocate for keeping sales processes as simple as possible. Sales can be challenging, and the last thing salespeople need to do is unnecessary work.
Even so, with the right process – or software – adding a sales prospect to your forecast should require very little effort.
Why do people actually delay forecasting?
I contend that the real reason that people avoid early stage forecasting is that they know that this means that they will have to record more sales as having been lost. No one likes to lose. Especially salespeople.
Even if you don’t record a lost sale though, it’s still a lost sale. So the question becomes: Can you benefit from tracking those losses? If you could look back at transactions you lost over the past month, quarter or year would you be able to find patterns that give you the knowledge to make you more likely to win the next time you are in a similar situation?
For example, you may identify that a competitor has been beating you on transactions of a certain size, or in a specific region. Some clients might need more service from you, or less. If you manage a team, you already know who is winning deals for you. When you know who is losing certain deals and why, you can start to match skill sets to specific products, verticals or markets and maximize your opportunities to win.
What can you win when you know what you have lost?
Forrest is an Account Executive at @PipelineDeals, and has worked at Merrill Lynch, Talisma, Inc. and Guidant Financial Group. A native of the Pacific Northwest, Forrest is a Seattle “homer” passionate about Seattle sports, his wife and two kids.