Sales Forecasting Helps Inside Sales Reps Succeed… No Doubt!

sales-forecasting

Believe it or not, most inside sales reps fail to meet their quota.

Of course, this is due to many factors, but a major issue tends to be unrealistic, inaccurate, or non-existent sales forecasting. And whatever the issue, bad sales forecasting makes it difficult for inside sales reps to meet their quotas and for businesses to grow.

Whether you are an inside sales rep or managing a team of reps, you want to know how to make sure you reach your quota every time. During this post we will focus on how inside sales managers can help their inside sales reps succeed using the power of these sales forecasting methods.

Sales Forecasting in 6 Simple Steps

1. Define a clear sales process

ineffective sales repInside sales reps have better chances of becoming top performers when managers have defined a clear sales process and mapped it out. But simply developing the process is not enough. You must learn to share your process with your sales reps in an easily digestible manner.

This includes making sales training part of your program. A shocking study by Objective Management Group found that three out of four salespeople are ineffective, which basically means they suck at their job. That’s 75% of the sales industry! The research showed that this discrepancy is largely because most reps get no formal training.

Don’t let your sales team (or yourself!) fall into that 75% of clueless sales people.  Make defining your process and inside sales training a top priority.

2. Document challenges encountered in each stage

When defining a clear sales process, make sure to also document challenges that you and your sales reps have experienced in different sales stages. Your reps should be aware of all the different stages and potential challenges that could be encountered during each stage.

Heidi Cohen stresses the importance of tracking historical trends when developing a sales forecast. Make sure you look at:

  • Customers – How many customers did you acquire? How long did it take to acquire them from first visit through actual purchase?
  • Product – Will outside factors such as competition or regulation have an impact on your offering? Which products have been sold, in what combination, and how many?
  • Price – How is your product priced compared to similar products and close substitutes? Were incentives needed to induce purchase?
  • Place – Which distribution channels work best for your offering? Are any changes in the pipeline?

3. Document solutions related to the identified challenges

sales forecasting tipsNext to documenting the challenges, make sure to record how you and your reps have been able to solve those challenges. Start by documenting these solutions at an aggregate level. As you continue to gather more data on solutions and challenges make sure to categorize them based on the type of prospects you or your reps were dealing with (industry, personality, role) and the style of the sales rep (proactive, reactive, aggressive, relationship builder) who solved these challenges.

Documentation of these challenge-squashing strategies is essential to keep from having to reinvent the wheel, or making the same silly mistakes over and over again. Instill in your reps or your own process with the importance of logging your daily actions. The sales data you collect from active logs will become the bedrock of your sales forecast.

Make sure you also check in with your data regularly. Your sales forecasting should be an active, all-year-long process. It’s proven that sales organizations need benchmarking for improvement, so never stop checking in with the effectiveness of your process.

4. Measure the conversion from one sales stage to the next

After you have defined the sales process, identified the challenges of each stage, and solutions for these challenges, you should be able to measure the conversion rate from one stage to the next. You can calculate the conversion rate by looking at the total number of sales divided by the specific action and multiplied by 100. For example:

total # of sales / total # of follow up emails sent x 100 (50 total sales / 200 follow up emails sent x 100 = a conversion rate of 25%)

During this process you should also be able to identify what successful reps are doing differently compared to unsuccessful reps. Since data is your best friend when you’re sales forecasting, you should find effective software that can help you track and understand sales information. Fileboard’s reporting feature provides you with these insights in an easy and clear way.

5. Develop a training program

sales forecasting trainingBased on all the insights you have gathered you are in a position to develop a training program for your inside sales reps. Include the following in the training program:

  • Different stages of your sales process
  • Challenges related to the different stages
  • Potential solutions to the challenges

When you develop this training program, also make sure to include specific scripts related to different scenarios reps might encounter day-to-day. Scripts should also be related to the different sales rep styles and different types of prospects. Remember, though, that although these scripts are great resources, reps should practice making their pitch natural and personalized. In the world of inside sales today, reading from a script won’t work. Reps need to create a more personal connection with prospects.

6. Train the managers to coach and train the inside sales reps

When managers have the tools to train and coach their sales team, using the program they developed as a guideline, they will see the performance of their entire sales team improve. During this process it is crucial that managers are in a position to identify what their successful inside sales reps are doing different compared to unsuccessful reps.

Not only do effective sales leaders need to be aware of this information, but they need to turn it into actionable training items that can help inefficient salespeople grow.

Conclusion

Sales forecasting should be seen as optional. By taking the time to track, assemble, and utilize sales data, you can create a more efficient sales team, as well as one full of happy reps. When inside sales reps feel like they have the resources they need to succeed, they are sure to go the extra mile. The trick to get better results with inside sales teams is that simple!

Of course, all of this data can be overwhelming. Use Fileboard to lighten your mental load while getting more detailed and informative reports about reps’ daily actions. By taking advantage of this multifaceted sales tool, you can quickly improve your sales reps’ performance and finally hit those quotas every month!