How does a skeleton help improve your revenue forecast?
I am working from the southern headquarters of Helix for October and November. There is a gentlemen in the neighborhood who loves Halloween. His Halloween decorations are elaborate, and fun. This year it involved a Hi-Lo to set up two 15 feet skeletons.
It takes about a week for his Halloween plan to come together. We find it entertaining to walk by in the evening and see his decorations come to life – in some cases literally.
The skeletons this year reminded me of the verse I learned as a kid.
The shin bone is connected to the knee bone; the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone; the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone, and the thigh bone is connected to the hip bone.
The huge skeleton got me to thinking a common sales problem – crappy revenue forecasts.
Sing a long
The revenue forecast is connected to the healthy sales pipeline; The healthy sales pipeline is connected to the disciplined sales process, and the disciplined sales process is connected to a criteria to enter the process.
Not as poetic as the bones. It does connect the dots from the source of a big problem to its solution.
The most common refrain I hear from a CEO “my revenue forecast is always wrong, the question is how much this time.” The problem begins before the shin bone. Let me explain.
Let’s assume – and this is an assumption – that your company uses a CRM platform, and inside the CRM the is a view of the opportunities that the salespeople are qualifying. The CRM allows your sales organization to track their deals through stages. The stages have steps that identify the unique information the rep must gather to advance the deal to a close.
Does your sales organization leverage technology in this manner?
The revenue forecast is derived from the pipelines of the entire sales organization. If you have a crappy revenue forecast that is a symptom of something else. Weak or no qualification of what enters the pipeline, and poor hygiene of the sales pipeline from sales managers.
Salespeople must be given expectations, and a criteria that qualifies an opportunity. Reps tend to interrupt anything positive from a prospect as a reason for the prospect to enter your pipeline. These deals or what I like to call, HOPE, ultimately shows up in your revenue forecast.
Their hope becomes your unreliable revenue forecast. Set clear expectations for the criteria to enter the sales pipeline, and your forecast improves…dramatically.
Sales managers must be disciplined about maintaining healthy deals along the way. This includes consistent pipeline reviews. I won’t bore you with the details of the sales management role. Suffice it say an inaccurate revenue forecast is due in large part to weak sales management.
The point of this blog post is to share the solution to a common problem CEOs experience.
The first step is to ask your sales manager or sales leader what criteria they have set for a prospect to move to a sales opportunity in your sales pipeline.
If they cannot describe the criteria in detail, you have identified a problem that must be addressed.
Step two is asking the same person what are the common factors of deals that are won. This could be a combination of factors that will inform how salespeople should qualifying deals into a pipeline.
Step 3 is collaborating on scorecards, and criteria that must be met before a sales opportunity is created.
Easy right? No. It is easy to understand. It is not easy to create drive change.
If you get stuck, I am happy to help.
If you reach out to me, I will spend an hour with you. We will set some parameters that will move solve problems.
No cost other than an hour of our time. My promise to you is at the end of the hour, you will have made progress toward a solution.
And as my neighbor Fred says, “Happy Halloween – Boo.”