Asking “Who does your sales forecast serve?” may sound an obvious question at first. Our natural response would be “Our Boss” or “Our Management.”
That response is partly correct. Other groups rely on us to accurately forecast our sales. There are three groups of people who are relying on us.
- Our Boss – this is our management and executive team who set our pace. Timing is everything when managing our sales forecast. It tells others when we are going to deliver the value we promise. We use the pace set by our Boss when we deliver our sales forecast. At these set points in time, we tell them what sales revenue we will deliver when.
- Our Tribe – this is the team we work with and rely on to deliver the value and promises we are selling. They provide how we are going to deliver what we sell.
- Our Heart – this is the reason why we are passionate and committed to what we are selling. Simon Sinek eloquently explained in his book ‘Start with Why’, “People do not buy what we do, they buy why we do it”. Leading with our Why is the purpose that differentiates and drives us to deliver what we do better than anyone else.
In his book, ‘When, the scientific secrets of timing’, Daniel Pink introduces us to a concept known as “entrainment”. These are external cues, such as when the sun rises. These cues allow our internal body clock to stay in sync with the world around us.
We also rely on entrainment working in teams within our workplace. We use cues to stay in sync with our team and our external world. That world is our own business, the market, prospects and clients. These external cues are known as “Zeitgebers”, which in German means “time giver”.
Who is our Boss?
As a group, we naturally attune to the pace set by our Boss. The Boss provides us with their own “Zeitgebers” to set our working pace. These include our regular sales pipeline reviews, quarterly business reviews, half-year fiscal reviews, and full year fiscal reviews. Because these act as external time-givers, they also act in some part as our Boss.
Who is our Tribe?
Our Tribe is all those people who support us, and we rely on to deliver promises made and to forecast accurately. Being part of a tribe gives us a sense of belonging. The pre- and post-sales teams, marketing, and other teams, they are all members of our tribe.
There is power in being part of a tribe.
Pink highlights the power of the tribe using the Indian dabbawalas. These are people in India, mainly Mumbai, who offer a lunch-delivery service. Dabbawalla means “one who carries a box”. The box is a series of tins stacked one on top another containing lunch. The wife cooks lunch, it is collected by the dabbawalla and delivered to the husband at work before 12:00 every day. His wife and the dabbawalla are committed to making sure the husband has a nourishing, hot lunch each day. In India, lunch is always between twelve and one.
Mumbai is the tenth largest city in the world. Most of the dabbawalas cannot read or write, and yet they are more efficient than most high tech services we use. They deliver thousands of lunches every day without error. Their success rate is 1 failure in 16 million deliveries, although I am not sure how they measure that metric.
They work autonomously within their tribe and have no leader. Their Boss or zeitgeber is the Mumbai train station clocks and the train departure schedule. The reason why they succeed is that they serve their tribe. Each dabbawalla speaks the same local language and comes from the same region in India. Many are family related or come from the same village. Each dabbawalla relies on one another. Consequently, they work hard to avoid failing their tribe.
Imagine if all of us in Sales had the same attitude and commitment not to fail our tribe. We would be the best in class, a clear market leader and one of the most successful companies in our respective Industries.
If that is our goal, we need to follow the dabbawallas’ example. Focusing on serving our tribe, avoiding letting them down will mean we are more successful in delivering an accurate sales forecast. We use our Boss and their zeitgebers to remain in sync with our tribe to deliver on the promises we are selling.
The most successful people in sales recognise this fact. They respect, take care of and focus on serving their tribe rather than their interests and wallet.
Lead with your heart
Finally, we need to sync with our heart. Synching with the heart is all about what is going on in our bodies. The better we feel about what we are doing, the more cohesion we have within our tribe, our clients and sales leads.
Pink in his book referenced a Harvard Business Review interview with a dabbawalla and the CEO of that business. That interview offers us further guidance. The dabbawallas do not see themselves as delivering lunch. Instead, they believe they are keeping families together. Their service is the connection between the wife who cooks a home-cooked lunch and the husband who eats a healthy, warm and nourishing lunch at work every day.
Compare that with your local pizza delivery service.
The market leading companies offer an efficient service delivering a warm pizza in a tough cardboard container to your door. But does that service transcend being a pizza delivered service to your door?
The dabbawallas do because they serve from their heart. Consequently, their clients consider them much more than a lunch delivery service. That is because each walla does not treat the dabba as a container. Instead, they think of it containing medicine that must reach their patients who are ill and may die.
They have pride in what they do. A sense of urgency that creates a level of commitment that can only be achieved working from the heart.
That commitment and urgency are why we need to manage every deal in our sales forecast from the heart. It allows us to serve our sales leads and clients better than our competitors. Serving from the heart brings alive our purpose, the Why we do what we do. It is the reason people do not buy what we do; they buy why we do it.
It is why our sales pipeline, pipeline reviews and forecast must also serve our heart. It allows us to deliver something that transcends the product itself. Our competition cannot copy that. It is unique to us and makes our product unique even if what we are delivering is technically the same as other competitive products.
Maybe we should also think that what we are forecasting is delivering the medicine required to remove critical pain our clients are experiencing otherwise they will die. Our approach to how we serve our sales leads and clients and our tribe would probably change drastically for the better.
Serving from the heart means our sales forecast will transcend beyond a series of sales deals to the purpose why we do what we do. Our purpose is the reason why we exist as a business. We exist to serve our clients, to help and guide them to satisfy their highest priority needs and goals.
We have created a Guide to help you improve how you serve your sales leads and clients.