Are your sales leads slipping in your sales forecast?

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Are your sales teams struggling to provide a satisfactory explanation of why it occurred?

Are activities not occurring during previous sales stages. Are these resulting in a sales lead slipping or lost?

If you have answered yes to any one of these questions, you will be dealing with one or more of these challenges.

  1. Your first challenge. The sales forecast is being used as a lead indicator? It is not. It is a lag indicator.

When a slip or loss occurs, it is too late. You need warning a slip or loss may occur. It is what a leading indicator does, giving you an alert and feedback. It allows you to clarify and confirm you will achieve your intended outcome.

Here is where sales prospecting tools can help. They should include feedback about what is occurring within sales leads. If you are using the conversational solution sales scorecard, we call these conversation risk indicators. They help you track the progress of conversations occurring within your sales leads.

Without them, your sales forecast is reporting what your sales team think may occur by a given time. Should it not, it is too late, hence the term Lag Indicator.

Leading indicators give you warning to act on the information reported. They are not intended to tell sales reps they got it wrong. They help clarify and confirm they have got it right. Your sales team will be thankful when that missed action or oversight is identified. Catching it may avoid a deal slipping or its loss. Sales prospecting tools are valuable because they report where each sales lead is rather than your sales team both may think they are.

High performing sales reps and leaders use these indicators through experience. They may not call them conversation indicators. But they are reviewing and reflecting on the conversations taking place.

Pipeline reviews must focus on using these leading indicators. Their value is to move a sales lead forward through the sales stages. Without having effective sales pipeline reviews, slipped and lost deals expose your business exposes to financial risks.

When a sales pipeline contains risk, many sales teams and leaders will often not see it until it is too late. Investing in a sales prospecting tool will help. The Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard is such a tool.

These tools include conversational sales indicators that improve your sales teams’ forecast accuracy. They are important to alerting you of an impending problem and giving you the time to act upon it.

  1. Your second challenge is ensuring your sales pipeline reflects the clients’ path. If sales leads are not placed centre stage. You risk not forecasting their true position.

Most sales pipelines place internal management’s reporting needs first. So, there is little evidence within a sales pipeline to challenge what is has been reported.

Leading indicators provide this missing evidence. Sales forecast accuracy can often track back to inconsistent sales pipeline reviews. When a slip or loss occurs, it is too late.

  1. Your third challenge is the impact on your business’s financial health. Check if your sales stage revenue gearing is too high. High revenue gearing amplifies the financial impact caused by inefficient sales pipeline reviews.

If you forecast a £10,000 ($,€) deal at say sales stage 4, Decision Maker Bought-In, and give it a high revenue gearing of say 80%. If it does not close and it is left at that sales stage, you have an £8,000 hole in your revenue forecast to fill. If the deal is forecast to close at the end of the quarter, it is unlikely you will fill it.

Companies often overcome this risk massaging the sales pipeline and closing other deals. This is not a good approach to sales forecasting. You expose the business to a high risk not achieving its business growth objectives. The challenge becomes difficult to manage if many deals slip.

Focus on improving your sales pipeline reviews using conversational indicators. The Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard tracks these indicators and can be integrated into your CRM system. You also benefit from the fact this feedback comes directly from your sales team in the field.

Download our Sales Pipeline Guide for Sales Teams & Business Owners It guides restructuring the stages of your sales to reflect your buyers’ journey. To learn more about the Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard Download the Guide to Using Sales Prospecting Tools to Improve Sales Pipeline Reviews.

About the Author

Treve Wearne is the founder of Nazca Services Limited. Treve supports businesses and sales teams positioning themselves and increasing sales revenues. Improving sales forecasts, talent development and retention in the most challenging business environments.