It would be really nice if you could nail your forecasts 100% of the time. Unfortunately, that’s just not possible. Every sales cycle offers a different challenge, and while you can predict some things based on the previous cycle, sometimes things don’t work out the way you thought they would. In this article, we’ll go over 6 most common sales forecasting mistakes your business can make as well as what you can do to avoid them.
1. You’re “Assuming” Your Forecasts
Look, sales forecasting is not a precise science. It’s a bit like cooking in that you do it “per taste”. But just like in cooking, there are certain rules you can get over. That’s why you shouldn’t base your forecasts on just assumptions or “gut feeling”.
Today, companies that take a careful look at data from past performance out-perform those that rely on intuition, so be sure you place yourself in this first group. If nothing else, data can give you a good idea of what went wrong, while instincts are not that measurable.
2. You are Not Responding to Market Changes
Now, every market is different and presents its own challenges, but by and large, you should always be prepared to respond to changing market conditions. Of course, this implies that you already have a good grasp on your particular market, or a “finger on its pulse”. This will allow you to respond fast, but not rush headlong into a costly mistake (understanding market risks is huge when it comes to sales).
3. Not Knowing What the Customers Want
If there is one source that your sales forecasts should look upon above all else, it’s your customers. You want to be in constant touch with them to know what they are thinking, especially about your own product. And I don’t mean some metaphorical touch, but actual contact with customers. Don’t separate yourself from your prospects, talk to them, meet them face to face, on the phone, on email or chatbot and find what their opinion really is, rather than guessing it.
4. Not Understanding all of the Market Factors Responsible for Creating Adoption for Your Product
If you think all you need for the market to adopt and accept your particular product are good quality, low cost and ads, you’re sorely mistaken. There are many more factors that will create (or prevent) the adoption of your product and it’s up to you to figure them out. Now, you may not be able to do this exactly the first time you try, but if you’re paying attention, you’ll be able to predict these factors and even use them to your advantage in your future sales cycles.
5. You are Using Wrong Product Timing Info
If you have too many people raising a child, than that child won’t receive the best care. Think about your product as a child as well. Especially in the introduction phase, everybody from the product manager, to engineering, to the executives in the upper management, will have something to say about how to “raise the child”. Some will want to get it out too quickly, some will look for unnecessary features and so on.
One of the worst things for your forecasts is working with unreliable product timing information. The upper management will often be on your neck to get the product out now, unaware of all the factors why this shouldn’t happen. It’s up to the product manager to tell them to take a breath, because otherwise, your forecast will be wrong.
6. Not Learning from Past Forecasts
A lot about sales forecasting revolves around learning from your past mistakes. Forecasts from the past sales cycles play a big role here, so make sure you learn as much from them as you can. In particular, you want to measure the right metrics and not those that make you appear in good light when presenting your results to the upper management.
Forecasting may not be exact science, it involves some trial and error, but if you manage to avoid these six sales forecasting mistakes listed in this article, your business will be on the right track for the future.
Know of any other sales forecasting mistakes that we forgot to mention? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to sign up for a free Purchase Order Plus trial today.