We all recognize how important forecasting calls are. Without them, how can we successfully call the number? The challenge is that most often, the time spent on forecasting calls is “weighing the pig” or “priming the sunshine pump.” We spend a tremendous amount of time scrubbing the numbers and estimating the likely revenue number based on a weighted average, how much time is left in the month/quarter, and whether or not a given team is overly optimistic or a sand bagger.
Worse, we burn cycles inquiring about the deal and next steps. Many managers use this inquiry to assess whether or not the sales team truly has a clear understanding of what has yet to be done on both our side and the prospect side. Lest we forget, the same questions are being asked of other leaders and other sales teams, who themselves are in fact great sellers. What I mean is they are great at responding and producing answers and sound as though they have a very effective command-and-control. Okay, most of the time. Sometimes, we do start to see cracks in the boat. That said, with no offense intended to anyone:
Why should we let the sales team tell us whether or not a deal is coming in?
Wouldn’t it be far more accurate to have the customer/prospect tell us whether or not the deal is coming in? Also, it’s exaggerated by the fact that more often than not, the sales teams are describing their interpretation of why the client will or will not purchase. We SHOULD actually be looking through the customer’s EYES and reviewing their feedback to determine if they’re going to purchase.
Please don’t hold it against me if I sound too Pollyannish. But, if we really think about the time spent in assessing the forecast we are burning minutes. If we truly have systemic usage of mutual success plans validated with the customer and are able to roll up key elements from within it, we could actually more accurately call the number. Our customers would be telling us, if and when the deal is coming in.
In ValueSelling terms we would have a series of events that demonstrate how we’ve proven our ability to deliver, and the events that will get them to the resolution of their key objective, aka, Business Issue. The contract would be a minor speedbump in a series and sequence of events. We would clearly see it. Even more insightful would be the mutual success plan which articulates the key reasons and motivation for the ultimate decision-maker or power person. We would have validated their number one objective (Business Issue) and the key Challenges they face that will help solve their Problems. We would have something that validates the Value in order to justify the spend. If we could systematically roll up these key elements in our forecast, we could literally begin to gain insight on which deals are likely to close and which have a high level of risk associated with them.
So keep this in mind the next time you see leaders inspecting, during a forecast call, a reps’ understanding of where we are and what needs to happen next. Instead, ask the question, “has the Power Person validated what their Business Issue is and how we address Problems which justify the Value for the spend? Look for the documentation in correspondence, be it email, PowerPoint, Word document, or an executive summary of a proposal. If the customers provided positive feedback on the elements of the timing, odds are you can commit that deal and move on to another opportunity in forecast.