Questions to Ask When Your Sales Forecast is Off
Missed last quarter’s sales performance forecast? It’s time to look back, evaluate, and ask yourself, as the sales manager, a few questions. Below, we’ll dive into some of these questions regarding why a sales forecast might have been missed.
What happened, and how can we adapt from this?
This first one’s obvious, but truly necessary to learning and growing from the sales losses. Missing a sales forecast means something probably went wrong during the past quarter—this is the time to review and analyze the past quarter to see what might have happened, what you can change within your processes or your sales team, and what changes need to be made to future forecasting efforts.
Do I understand our KPIs and what drives our sales successes?
Know your business, know how your business sells best. As a sales manager, it’s crucial you have any and all historical KPIs for your business in hand. Knowing how the sales process has evolved over time is priceless, and will help you as you’re coaching your sales team to grow and improve.
Why might a prospect reject the sales proposal?
The problem might not lie in misunderstanding your business’s KPIs or sales goals. Instead, it might be related to your sales proposal. Are there any missteps related to showing the prospect your sales proposal? For example, has the prospect already seen and agreed to everything you’re sending over? Would your business and the prospect’s business actually prosper as a result of the deal? If not, it’s time to rethink the sale. When forecasting, you need to have your sales proposal process down to a T.
Do I have a healthy pipeline?
Are the prospects in your sales pipeline actually qualified opportunities? If you’re continuously missing out on sales and your sales forecast isn’t being met, it might be time to reconsider which prospects are in your pipeline. Reach out to your prospects regularly, and work with everyone on the sales team to ensure you’re handling the right prospects that have a shot at being converted to a sale.
What makes our product/service different, a must-have offering?
If your sales are down, it might have to do with the messaging coming from both sales and marketing. First, the two departments need to be aligned and fully coordinated on the overall message points of the product/service you’re trying to sell. Do your customers know everything your product can do for them? Do you know everything about the customer, so that you’re able to provide the reasons why they need your product/services to grow? If not, that might be a big factor in your missed sales forecasting. Make sure everyone knows your mission and differentiators going forward.
Should we foresee any upcoming sales obstacles?
In some cases, missing a sales forecast can simply be the result of a major event or PR-related issue affecting your organization. Did you lose one of your best-performing sales reps during the last quarter? Was there some PR nightmare that marketing had to try and tackle, affecting your selling ability? It’s important to ask these questions in the future-tense as well—it’s better to be prepared for any sales obstacles than having them surprise your team and throw off your forecasting.