Imagine having a magic 8 ball that tells you which deals are more likely to close. You could say the name of one of your prospective buyers, give it a shake and receive an answer. Outlook good means a rep needs to take action right away. Very doubtful means it’s probably wise to focus on other accounts.
Sales forecasting software is essentially like that magic 8 ball, with some key differences. The answers are based on buyer engagement data instead of a random shake. Not only does sales forecasting software reveal which deals are most likely to close, but it also recommends specific actions to take to move forward in those deals.
Of course, not all sales forecasting software is created equal. There are several crucial elements you should look for when selecting a sales forecasting solution that impacts your bottom line.
Sales forecasting software is powerful sales technology that enables companies to predict pipeline and overall growth. A complete revenue intelligence platform utilizes buyer engagement data to provide accurate sales forecasting and conversation intelligence to assess how sales, marketing and customer success performance is impacting revenue.
For businesses that have been relying on Excel spreadsheets as their main way to track sales data, sales forecasting software might feel like an unnecessary luxury. This perspective overlooks the fact that sales forecasting software is a much more accurate and reliable way to make data-informed decisions that drive revenue.
Quantitative forecasting is the most objective type of forecasting in that it utilizes key historical business data and trends to predict sales revenue. Qualitative forecasting is more subjective; it takes into account market research, prospective customer surveys and expert opinions.
Accurate sales forecasting software relies on quantitative forecasting to give businesses insights into the future based on the past. They rely on specific historical data, including closed won deals and win/loss records, to provide a report of expected sales revenue and deals most likely to close.
Sales pipeline forecasting, a key part of revenue intelligence, is a particular subset of sales forecasting that focuses on growing pipeline through closing specific deals. It also provides an answer to the question everyone is asking sales leaders: What’s your revenue commit number?
While it may be tempting to focus primarily on high-ticket deals, sales pipeline forecasting software shifts your attention to the deals that are more likely to close by assigning a win rate to each opportunity. This win rate is calculated based on which stage the opportunity is in, how much it will likely cost to close the opportunity and how long the sales cycle will take. Your team can prioritize the most winnable opportunities to drive more revenue.
Clearly, revenue intelligence software is especially useful for companies that experience variation in their monthly sales. Companies that tend to have the same amount of sales month to month may find a historical forecasting solution is sufficient. Historical sales forecasting looks mainly at historical data rather than taking into account the current opportunities in your pipeline.
Since sales forecasting software is so critical to sales teams and business leaders, it is vital to choose an accurate forecasting solution. After all, forecasts can actually be damaging if they are not based on the correct data.
Here are a few need-to-haves when it comes to sales forecasting solutions:
Static forecasting typically matches a more traditional style of annual budgeting and forecasting that tends to be heavily reliant on spreadsheets and other manual ways of analyzing data. One of the many drawbacks of static forecasting is its rigidity. Most companies find annual forecasting to be too infrequent, and a static approach doesn’t allow for new data to be taken into account.
Dynamic forecasting tends to be a much more reliable solution. Sales forecasting software that utilizes dynamic forecasting relies on real-time data and constantly updates to reflect the most accurate sales predictions. For businesses that deal with a lot of moving parts, dynamic forecasting is an essential aspect of sales forecasting software.
Since sales forecasting is based on data, it is absolutely essential to choose a solution that automatically captures all sales engagement data. Without clean, coherent data, sales forecasts will likely be inaccurate and do more harm than good.
The Revenue.io platform automatically captures all activities, including calls, emails and more, directly in Salesforce, so you never have to search for the data you’re looking for. Then, Revenue.io provides dynamic sales forecasts based on this aggregated data. Our native-Salesforce platform allows for seamless sales forecasting that helps businesses drive predictable growth.
When it comes to investing in new software, achieving company-wide buy-in can be difficult. There are typically numerous stakeholders across multiple departments involved, and everyone has different ideas about what the new product should be used for.
It’s important to choose a sales forecasting solution that is easy to implement, so your entire team can start benefiting sooner. The best sales forecasting software will improve collaboration across sales, marketing, customer success, operations and other teams by aligning everyone around the same information and insights.
Since one of the primary goals of sales forecasting is to close more deals, it’s useful to find a solution that goes beyond providing forecasts to offer specific actions that move deals forward. This is typically in the form of sales sequences, which guide reps with the next best action for each target account.
Guided Selling by Revenue.io gives reps top-performing sales cadences based on the sales forecasts derived from multi-channel engagement data. Once the platform reveals which deals are most likely to close and therefore need to be prioritized, Guided Selling offers automated sales sequences tailored to each of these deals. These sequences show reps when to reach out, how to reach out and what to say to move forward with each account.
Even the best sales forecasts are futile if sales development representatives don’t know how to use them. Rather than attempting to make every rep into a data scientist who can analyze these forecasts, the ideal sales forecasting software will deliver relevant information directly to the reps so they can win more deals.
Moments™ by Revenue.io takes sales forecasting to the next level by providing real-time guidance during live calls. Moments™ notifications can be tied to a specific deal stage to provide sellers with the information they need to move the deal forward. These notifications can also be adjusted based on opportunity data regarding which stakeholder the rep is talking to, what kind of conversation they are having and even the past performance of that individual rep.
Once you’ve landed on a sales forecasting solution, it’s time to create a strategy for smooth implementation. The more intentional you are about implementing your sales forecasting software, the higher return on investment (ROI) you’ll experience. Here is a step-by-step guide to quickly implementing your new sales forecasting solution:
At this point in the buying process, you’ve probably had at least one high-level leader involved in making the decision to implement sales forecasting software. Do everything you can to expand this involvement to the rest of the executive team. When multiple leaders are voicing their excitement about the new technology, it’s much easier for others to see the value of adopting it rather than viewing it as optional.
Ideally, the entire executive team lays out goals for the company at the start of implementation. Whenever possible, key leaders should be the first ones to start using the sales forecasting software to set a powerful example for the rest of the company.
No matter how great your new sales forecasting solution is, you will likely find different levels of interest throughout your sales team. It’s vital to contextualize the new solution by tying specific features to existing sales processes and goals.
Don’t forget to give background information about why you chose this software and what you hope to achieve. Target specific pain points sales forecasting software will alleviate and make things as relatable as possible for your sales professionals.
Take a few minutes to consider who the most influential members of your sales team are. Strive to help them become early adopters of the technology so others will want to emulate them.
When the rest of the team sees how these influencers are using sales forecasting software to become more successful, they will be more motivated to become champions of the software as well. As the group of influencers grows, people on different teams will adopt the new technology for their various needs.
Focus on publishing early success stories to demonstrate the value of sales forecasting software for the entire company. Make these stories as personal and inspiring as possible.
In addition, make everyone aware of the metrics associated with the new solution. Once people see how adoption is affecting the bottom line, they will jump on board. Before long, sales forecasting software will become an essential part of how your team sells.
If you’re searching for accurate sales forecasting software, our team would be happy to show you how Revenue.io can optimize your revenue processes. Book a demo here.
Heather Bakire is the Content Marketing Manager at Revenue.io, the complete RevOps platform for conversation guidance, sales engagement, and live call insights and analytics. Heather loves a good story, and she is passionate about international travel and all things outdoors.