Jim Ward – President, BrainSell
Are you using Opportunity Management and Sales Forecasting within your business? What are the reasons for Sales Forecasting?
Most companies use forecasting to predict any number of business critical decisions. Will you make quota, what needs to be done to adjust sales efforts to meet quota, will you need more resources, will you need additional investment, will you need to adjust production capacity. All of these resulting decisions rely on the accurate projection of the “sales forecast”.
Opportunity management on the other hand is the sub process to forecasting. It’s what allows a forecast to be honed and to be accurate. Typically Opportunity Management is used in longer sales cycles. The better you know your sales process, stages and steps toward a successful sale, the better controls you can maintain in your opportunity management system.
The word management — indicates quite literally, that opportunities need to be managed. Not just by the sales person, but senior management and anyone else who can impact the outcome of a sale.
Most enterprise CRM systems have both Opportunity Management and resulting Sales Forecasting. A very simple use of an Opportunity Management system allows users to create an opportunity against an account, grade the potential for sales (e.g. 75%) and apply notes and activities against that opportunity thus providing a forecast of expected sales adjusted by the assigned percent. The result is the ability to drill down into each opportunity to see what actions have been taken and then decide what further actions need to be taken. It also allows analysis of data points for going forward with deals (however “bad data in, bad data out”).
More comprehensive examples of Opportunity Management fully engage automated work flow, Business intelligence, Business Alert Messaging thus resulting in not only a more accurate sales forecast in real time, but providing a company the vital signs of each living opportunity ( is the deal dead, does it need resuscitation, maybe the deal needs Defibrillation). Having the appropriate automation running in the background allows each member who impacts an opportunity to take action, make adjustments, in a proactive manner, resulting in deals more likely to close and providing greater accuracy for forecasting as well as the analytics to help review toward improve a your sales process – in real time.
The second example requires a solid understanding of your process. You must be able to define each step and stage of a sale — in detail. Know typical sales cycles and triggers within those cycles. Know what points of a deal requires action. To be effective, appropriate team members need to be alerted to action and/or have a CRM solution indicate next steps for a team sell. Using this approach is what Sales Force Automation is all about. It’s quite exciting and the real time Intelligence gathering will allow you to move into constant improvement of your sales process. Resulting in more accurate forecasts — and more growth of revenue. The time has come for this and more — all the tools you need exist.