Sales people are generally optimists – you’ve got to be. It’s a tough gig and even the best are likely to fail twice in every three attempts. In fact, it’s the only profession where you can fail more than you succeed and still become a super success. Not a luxury open to brain surgeons or pilots!
Unquenchable optimisim and sales forecasting
Sometimes our unquenchable optimism gets in the way, or at least confuses us and others. Sales forecasting and opportunity management is a perennial problem for many organizations. In the 90s CRM specialists convinced the corporate world that they had the answer and the introduction of expensive, feature rich systems would solve all the problems. Yet, here we are, three decades on and ExCos are still pulling their hair out because pipeline does not turn into revenue.
What’s the problem?
- A reluctance to disappoint?
- Lack of realism?
- Poor opportunities?
The list could go on. The reality is that individual sales skill must be underpinned by practical tools which manage the quantity, direction and quality of sales activity. Sales people need to be doing enough of the right things in front of the right prospects in the right way to succeed. A £6m sales pipe to cover a 1.5m delta is great but, not in November when your prospect to order cycle is four months long.
Are you identifying the right stakeholders?
Leaving stale opportunities in the pipe to inflate it, not identifying the right stakeholders in the decision making process, failing to identify if the prospect actually has a budget or even a need are some of the many reasons why many sales forecasts are simply pipe dreams.
When you understand how to manage individual and team level QDQ (Quantity, Direction and Quality) of sales activity the dreams become reality. You cannot manage result but you can manage the activity which creates the result.
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