Tell the truth, I know you get beat up to make Sales Forecast.
Whether as a manager or a salesperson, predicting customer entry is a skill that takes time to acquire. It’s a difficult path to tread but it’s worth it, after all, predictability is the epitome of sales processes, right?
When it comes to sales forecast, there are two ways to approach it within a team: strategically, with goal planning and conversion in the funnel, and in the tactical part, analyzing the support of each lead to reach your goals.
Naturally, one is linked to the manager (strategic) and the other to the salesperson (tactic). Today I’m going to talk about the second one!
Capital Smart City has already covered the strategic part of forecasting here on the blog several times, talking about funnel conversion rates, and predictability in sales and lead input for commercial leverage. But what about the tactical level?
The tactical part of the forecast must be done by each salesperson on your team. In high-performance teams, predictability in sales has a first and last name. You need to know which of your leads have a greater chance of closing, don’t you?
The Sales Forecast process starts with every interaction with your prospect. Having predictability of his actions is directly linked to how you conduct the negotiation and how you see each step of the lead.
Selling is like playing chess and the best seller is the one who anticipates the opponent’s steps.
Within the commercial process that we follow here at OTB, we have two main steps: DBA (Digital Business Assessment) and DBS (Digital Business Solution), nomenclatures that we learned from Rock personnel, for problem assessment and solution presentation. Customer-Centric vs Solution Selling.
At the Lahore smart city, our free certificate on Outbound Marketing & Sales, we talk more about this sales methodology. But what I want to bring here is a way to start working on your forecast even before submitting proposals.
Sales Forecast in Qualification
As I mentioned earlier, your forecast process starts at the initial touchpoints with the lead. Qualification is then the first step!
It’s very important, at the end of your first meeting with your lead, to get an appointment with your lead. The DBA not only serves to raise the needs and pain points of your lead, but mainly to close doors where he can leave.
Once again: you will have predictability about your lead from the moment you have an appointment on his side and, as a salesperson, you are setting the pace of the conversation.
The purpose of closing doors is to get around the objections that your lead may present in the DBS and not leave any loose threads that could compromise your process.
A good door closure can leave you with a very clear perception regarding the evolution of that deal within your pipeline. So you can start programming yourself.
Sales Forecast in Proposal Submission
Man, if you make your forecast from here, it’s more or less wrapped up. Of course, your lead has many objections to it at this stage, but you need to be able to anticipate most of them.
The most important thing to do in DBS is to discuss deadlines. When will your lead buy? How does the decision-making process work within his hierarchy? How long to untangle the bureaucratic part?
After submitting a proposal, what needs to be very clear is the next step for your lead to become a customer, and you must align that expectation with the lead.
It’s natural that your lead needs to present to his board, or discuss with partners. But what happens after that? What is the impact on the purchasing process? With the approval of these parties, is the account closed or is something else missing?
Mapping this type of decision-making process is very important to be able to schedule deadlines in your forecast. Remember that your goals are monthly, and you are in a hurry to close this sales cycle.
I had a hard time programming my monthly forecast. Modesty aside, I don’t usually make mistakes about which leads will come in or not, but I’ve always erred on deadlines.
“Henrique, it’s closed, but we’re going to start in two months”.
Little brother, you just threw me to the snakes. The ox with the ropes is gone. I had set my goal attainment counting on this deal, and he just moved the buy forward. I danced.
Another big problem are those leads that are in your pipeline for birthdays. Dude, they’re not worth counting on.
In general, every month you’re going to close one of these older guys, but it’s not worth planning your goal around a deal you don’t have complete control of. If you couldn’t control him back there it’s much harder to count on him :/
To minimize these risks, today I schedule my forecast every fortnight. Thus, I can follow the evolution of closures and see if I am above or below the burn.
Closing the first fortnight below, I still have fifteen days to accelerate deals, try to resume some old ones and be more aggressive with those in the pipeline. Guerrilla strategy even.
In addition, I looked for methodologies that would help me to bring greater assertiveness to my forecast. And that’s what I want to write about here.
Hey grasshopper, do you know MEDDICC?
No, not Prudential type. The first contact I had with this acronym was on David Cummings’ blog, and I ended up directed to Andreesen Horowitz . There my life changed.
He talks about forecast in a very complete way, and gives you some hacks so you don’t get it wrong. You say that it starts with a robust sales process (remember the strategic part I mentioned at the beginning of the text?), but much of it is up to the salesperson.
He mentions common sins, such as having deals that haven’t evolved for a while and very large deals, which end up demanding a longer sales cycle, and suggests a forecast segmentation based on the size of the deal. So you change your approach to the sales cycle.
In addition, it suggests that you have two forecasts scheduled: one for the best possible scenario, and the other most realistic one, which you commit to complying with. This can give you an interesting direction regarding burn as well.
But, going back to MEDDICC, the main point to have a reliable forecast is to be able to qualify your deals well. This methodology, created by Jack Napoli, works with your sales process so that you have greater control. Let’s break it down here.
Metrics: You need to show your deal the impact of what you are offering on its operation. What are you selling anyway? An increase in revenue? Quote some order of magnitude in this regard. Greater reliability? Show this numerically. Use data and statistics to your advantage, to make the service you intend to deliver more tangible.
Economic Buyer: You need to establish a trusting relationship with him. Even if you’ve sold to an inside champion, it’s important to win the check man as well. The sales approach for those who pay is different from the approach for those who use the service. Keep this in mind when dealing with him and have this person mapped out.
Decision Criteria: It is the type of information that must be raised in the DBA. What exactly does your lead demand? What will it weigh most within your proposal deliverables? You need to meet your lead’s expectations in this regard. Your deliveries must meet his decision criteria.
Decision Process: Here we go back to the DBS topic. What are the next steps for you to become my customer? Knowing the impact of each step of your lead buying process can help you estimate a closing deadline and, most importantly, when to hit the hammer.
Identify Pain: One more action that must be taken in the DBA. You need to raise every pain in your lead to formulate your proposal. Even if what you sell has a minimal level of customization, direct the features and deliveries to solve your customer’s pain. Show what generates the most value for him.
Champion: Just the opposite of the economic buyer. The internal champion is the guy who will benefit from your solution on a daily basis. The main user. You don’t need to show him accounts like the ROI of hiring you, but rather how he, the user, will benefit from your service.
Competition: Know your competitors. Know how to differentiate your product according to the weaknesses and strengths of each one of them. It is important to know how to communicate your value proposition and how much more advantageous is the option for your product/service. More pleasant than receiving commission, is winning the sale of your competitor.
Using MEDDICC in the sales process
Although it is a very simple methodology, MEDDICC requires a certain level of trust between the two parties to be effective.
So I don’t think it’s effective to work with this kind of approach in pre-sales. My team of hunters continues to qualify our leads with friendlier methodologies like SPIN, for example.
As soon as I get an MQL here, I start working on MEDDICC as a support for service. That is, while it serves as a good guideline for the approach, it won’t sell by itself.
Using GPCTBA & CI can better equip you to use a more challenging approach when closing with a client, as it involves precisely the company’s future planning. However, it is unlikely to give you as strong a direction as MEDDIC for planning your forecast.
It is important to emphasize that MEDDICC serves as a support in qualification and to give you greater accuracy in sales forecast. It is not necessarily a qualification framework, although much of GPCT and SPIN ends up within it.
And you, how have you been doing your forecast?