Sales forecast, pipeline and qualification

Sometimes a sales organisation needs a thorough and objective qualification of its sales forecast and pipeline.  It might be for a forthcoming period end or when a new sales leader is appointed.  It’s when there is a need is to get to the facts of what deals can be won, how and when.

Background

The related functions of sales forecast, sales pipeline and sales qualification are some of the biggest areas an organisation can look at to improve its sales performance.  Statistics show:

  • Only around 10% of sales opportunities close (So by definition, 90% consume time and resources that are ultimately wasted)
  • More than 80% of deals are lost as a direct result of poor sales qualification, poor sales process or both
  • Only a third of companies have a sales forecast more than 50% accurate (What other area of the business could be so vague?)

It isn’t hard to see how a thorough analysis starting with objective sales qualification can lead to greater sales pipeline and sales forecast accuracy – resulting in a marked, positive impact on a sales team’s results.

How sales qualification affects sales pipeline and sales forecast accuracy

The accuracy of every sales forecast and sales pipeline depends on how consistently and objectively the individual sales in it have been qualified by the sales team.

Whilst many organisations have processes to handle sales qualification, it’s perfectly possible those processes are interpreted differently by individuals within the sales team.

Sales people often have reasons to portray the facts in a light that suits their situation.  A weak sales person with a thin pipeline might be overly optimistic.  A strong sales person seeking a smaller target might be overly pessimistic.  Added together, these individual variations can have a dramatic effect.

This is where our help to objectively qualify the sales opportunities in a sales pipeline can then create a sales forecast you can trust.

Benefits of objective sales qualification

The benefits of objective sales qualification can be summarised as:

  • Increase win rate by stopping opportunities that can’t be won.  This enables more time to be spent on opportunities that can be won, or to free up time to prospect for better sales opportunities than those currently being pursued
  • Reduce cost of sale by stopping unwinnable opportunities and highlighting the actions that need to be taken to win those that can be won
  • Better sales training and coaching as a result of better knowledge of what is and what isn’t working in the sales team
  • Focus resources onto deals that can be won to save wasting valuable resources on lost causes
  • Win customers that are valuable to the business by having a better view of a sales opportunity’s total value to the organisation.  For example, a reference customer for a new product or service has significant business development value

How to improve sales qualification?

Sales qualification, sales pipeline and sales forecast accuracy can be improved through:

  • Objectivity and consistency – we can help you create a consistent view of every sales opportunity in a sales pipeline to generate a reliable sales forecast
  • Focus on every aspect of a deal to spot weaknesses – we can use either your organisation’s processes or our own qualification methodology to review every sales opportunity in detail
  • Create action plan to progress – a by-product of the sales qualification process is an action plan of issues that need to be resolved to enable sales opportunities to progress
  • Qualify out of lost causes – we can highlight sales opportunities that appear to be lost causes earlier than might happen within your own organisation – so saving resources and cost
  • Use of a specific sales qualification tool – we can advise on tools and processes to help you maintain an accurate sales pipeline and sales forecast after an initial exercise has been completed

Take action

Here’s what to do next

If you’re interested in how this could help you, or feel I may be able to help you with some of the challenges you’re facing, please get in touch for an informal discussion.

There’s no commitment, we’ll just discuss your situation to see if working together might be a good fit.  Contact me now.

Best regards