Forecasting – What’s In It For Me?

Written by on . Posted in Forecasting, Sales Methodology No Comments

Forecasting Crystal Ball The forecasting dream job — ticket sales for Cats. Every month looks the same. How many tickets will you sell? All of them.

Some forecasts are easy. Yours isn’t, or you wouldn’t be reading this. So why do you do it? Well, for starters, you have to. Someone with power over your paycheck told you to. But what do you get out of it?

Most sales people would say “nothing.” The only benefit they see is an estimate of how much commission they will earn, or how much closer to meeting their sales goals they will get, or how desperate they feel as the forecast period closes. And, following the rule of “you get what you pay for,” most forecasts are slapdash things that serve some other goal than to provide the enterprise with the vital information that it needs to plan and allocate and prepare. If there was a simple and effective way to forecast accurately, everyone would be a lot happier, except maybe the Guinness salesperson. His forecasts would go down.

Continue Reading

‘Moneyball’, and It’s Relevance to Sales

Written by on . Posted in Analytics, Sales Methodology No Comments

Moneyball I watched Brad Pitt in Moneyball when it came out. I don’t know if you know the story, but it chronicles the efforts of Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane to assemble a winning baseball team through the use of computer analysis of player statistics. This idea goes against the traditional grain in baseball to pick players by gut feel and real life experience of their talent.

Before going further I should position myself as a Brit—transposed in my twenties to Canada. My knowledge of baseball is lower than rudimentary, and the only time I got juiced up on the sport was when Toronto won two World Series in a row. Back to Moneyball.

Billy was able to adopt his alternative approach to team building because statistics have always been a fundamental part of baseball. Indeed, when researching this post I learned that there is a special name for it—sabermetrics. Sabermetrics is the search for objective knowledge about baseball. Thus, sabermetrics attempts to answer objective questions about baseball, such as, “Which player on the Red Sox contributed the most to the team’s offense?” Or, “How many home runs will Ken Griffey hit next year?”

Continue Reading

Forecasting Essentials

Written by on . Posted in Forecasting, Sales Methodology No Comments

Measure Success

This is not going to be a seminar on forecasting. If you want that, go here, and here, and here.

This is going to be a quick overview so we can move onto the most important question in sales forecasting – what’s in it for me?

To start, let’s decide what you are forecasting. Here are some either-ors.

  • Service vs Product. There really is no difference in the fundamentals of services vs products in forecasting, just a difference in the parameters you use.
  • Repetitive vs Unique. By this I mean are you selling the same thing to the same market every period, or is there a lot of variability in your customer list and your product or service? Forecasting sales of newspaper advertising is very different from selling laboratory supplies that include everything from disposable pipettes to electron microscopes.
  • Dollars vs Units. You would hope that this would simply be two sides of the same coin. They’re connected, right? Yes, but. Unless you have rigorous standard pricing and product types, things will change. What about government vs commercial price lists, product options, fluctuating exchange rates, etc?
  • Macro vs Micro. Are you forecasting an entire market, a large market segment, your company’s entire business, or just your geographic territory? Probably the latter, and drilling down like this negates some of the value of statistical-based forecasting because you have severely limited the available statistics to pretty much your own history.
  • Near-term vs Long-term. Don’t you love it when management asks for your 5-year forecast? Or as I like to call it, darts. The further out you get, the more statistics and averages become important. In the near-term, you should be able to do it on a specific opportunity-by-opportunity basis.
  • Volatile vs Stable. Another way of saying Repetitive vs. Unique, only in this case it’s your market, not your product, that fluctuates or not.
  • Direct vs Indirect. Another facet of Macro vs Micro. Do you start with an entire market and winnow it down to you (Indirect), or do you just do you (Direct)?

Continue Reading

Why I Hate Sales Forecasting

Written by on . Posted in Forecasting, Sales Methodology No Comments

Pretend with me for a moment.

In America, it’s April 14th, (April 29th in Canada and Brazil, May 30 in Germany, and June 29 in Papua New Guinea) and your income taxes are due tomorrow. You don’t want to do them, but you have to. They will be wrong, but you don’t know how wrong. You will cheat and hope you don’t get caught. There are expensive professionals and cheap software that will do it for you and give you someone to blame. And the audit is only slightly preferable to prison.

Quick – tell me the difference between this and doing your sales forecast.

Hint – you only have to do your taxes once a year.

Yes, forecasting. The very word itself makes you cringe. Like marriage counseling or colonoscopy. But it won’t go away, no matter how much you wish.

Continue Reading

Sales Are UP! Why Don’t I Feel Better?

Written by on . Posted in Analytics, Sales Methodology No Comments

Sales are picking up. Wonderful! We really feel good.

But is it because our sales team is doing an excellent job, or is it because the market is booming? The same applies to the other way round. Sales are down, is it us or them? Although it is so vital to our success we often do not know the real truth, and if we find out, it is very late – too late for taking the right actions early enough for meeting our targets.

But where can we get the information we need?

Companies usually collect a huge amount of data. A lot of it is available in spreadsheets, and more in ERP and CRM systems. Sales people are writing visit reports in which they describe in great detail, what they are doing and what happens with their customers. On top of that, there are publicly available market reports and information that can be gathered from magazines, internet and many other sources. So, we should know what´s going on and where we stand.

Continue Reading

The Language of Sales

Written by on . Posted in Miscellaneous Methodology, Sales Methodology 2 Comments

Understanding the language of sales, like understanding any other language, is essential for effective communication. For all of us applying technology to the practice of selling, language is even more important because technology relies more and more on computers and other smart devices. But “smart” is a misnomer — these devices aren’t smart, they’re programmed. And that makes all the difference.

In 2005 I published a book called Sales Automation Done Right, documenting a twenty-year effort to computerize the front office of a small business I had started and which eventually became very successful, in no small part because of that effort. At the end of the book is a Glossary — not unusual for a technical book, but appropriate now because of the subject of the book — sales automation.

The principle thrust of my book was that sales automation does not have to be limited to the administration of sales, to simply keeping lists of contacts and interactions and appointments and everything else and applying them to streamlining all of those activities. There is a better use of the computer — to directly assist with the selling skills and strategies of the sales process to win more sales.

Continue Reading

CEOs Need To Get Serious About Sales

Written by on . Posted in Analytics, Sales Methodology No Comments

This is an interesting blog entry from the Harvard Business Review Blog Network:

http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/07/ceos_need_to_get_serious_about.html

I come from the mold of CEO that has always been serious about sales. And I don’t think I’m in a minority. But this article is a wake-up call for top managers to make sure they give the sales function the appropriate importance and attention. What is appropriate — well, the sales team, group, division or whatever is the most important functional group within the organization. As I’ve defined it in my own work, sales is the business of doing business.

So let me comment on some parts of the blog.

“In writing the book Sales Growth, we’ve found that CEOs who put sales management at the heart of their agenda have captured astonishing growth — outstripping their peers by 50 to 80 percent in terms of revenue and profitability.”

Continue Reading

The Method Controlled Us

Written by on . Posted in Design & Evolution, Sales Methodology No Comments

I was on a cruise once and, as you would expect, took advantage of the peace and quiet to read a couple of excellent books. Cruises are always a good opportunity for that, something that I find tough to do in life back home. One of them was Bob Woodward’s account of Deep-Throat, the mysterious contact who gave him and Carl Bernstein guidance while investigating the Watergate break-in. For those of you who are too young to remember, their’s was the investigative reporting that led directly to the seminal event of the first and only US President to resign from office.

In a short postscript Bernstein said something that caught my attention:

“Reporters may believe they control the story, but the story always controls the reporters.”

Continue Reading

Introduction to the Sales Methodology Category

Written by on . Posted in Miscellaneous Methodology, Sales Methodology No Comments

As I write this, there is a lengthy discussion happening on one of the most popular on-line sales forums on “what’s the difference between the a sales process and a sales method?”

If you were to asked to name a popular sales method, you would probably get the answer of Miller-Heiman or SPIN. But ask someone to name a popular sales process, and you will get a blank stare.

A methodology is a recommended way of achieving something, or, as Wikipedia says, “a guideline system for solving a problem, with specific components such as phases, tasks, methods, techniques and tools.” It doesn’t necessarily spell out sequential steps getting there. Process is more about the sequential steps to get from A to B, and a sales method may or may not have a process associated with it.

Continue Reading

Social Network