Sales Pipeline Forecasting Is There A Better Way?

To put it mildly most companies sales forecasting just isn't delivering, a staggering 90% of the deals do not close as forecasted even when the close probability is 75% or over. Even more astonishing is that 54% of forecasted deals are lost to competitors or to a no decision.

This is a trend that both senior management and sales management is aware of. And with the visibility now at executive level, sales is creating a demand for more accountability. Interviews with MD's and sales directors indicate that companies can no longer stand idly by hoping the sales team delivers as indicated. Visibility and accuracy need to be improved. And if sales cannot do this we found that the Finance Directors would!

Here is another shared dilemma where we see projected sales are actually a trailing indicator ­ by the time you know if a deal will actually be won or lost the game is over! To this end Sales Directors and MD's are turning to leading indicators in the sales process (e.g. ability for prospect to own product or service, timescale - is it on track, sales team ability to gain access to power etc). Every single metric available is playing an increasing role here as senior management grapple with the challenge of improving forecasting of sales more accurately so they can reap competitive and operational advantage ­ and avoid problems associated with not knowing the true position of the pipeline and just relying on 'gut feel'.

But it's not the same for every organisation; many have used these challenging times to not only clear out dead wood but to build team strength. They are also starting to instil more team discipline. Today we can see Sales Directors & MD's reasserting themselves in their demands for activity, pipeline reporting and adherence to their sales processes. During better times, experienced and even junior sales executives often balked at providing visibility into their activities. 'It's not my style', 'I really don't have time for it', 'I don't believe anyone can tell me what's going to happen' were more easily accepted when sales executives were exceeding targets. But those times for most are now gone. Time and again we found that Sales Directors & MD's have stiffened their resolve. One Sales Director even said:

"We are not dealing in the halcyon days. We are now going to have to do things differently. At the end of each week, you're either doing the things we require or your not. If you are not then you should go somewhere else, because we are going to insist on this and more importantly than insisting on it, we don't want you here if you are not a team player. That's all there is to it. After that, we are going to measure the hell out of this stuff because the fact of life is that we have every right to inspect everything that you are doing and that you are not doing"

To support all of this we are now seeing a noticeable up turn in the number of companies adopting formal methodologies. Whether they create these themselves or licence a commercial offering they are committed to making sure that all their sales staff, start to sell the same way, and that they apply rigor to what they do. In comparing the performance of companies who adopted a formal process versus those that don't, on virtually every metric used to judge success, the processed focussed teams outperformed their less structured competition. In regards to some aspects of selling the differences were absolutely mind boggling.

What we do understand today is that you simply cannot rely on 'gut feel' or any type of 'feel good factor', you have to enforce a practical measurable no nonsense sales process. As a good start you could take a look at your sales funnel and measure key information, however the reporting process seen with many CRM packages will only give you a very basic picture and in certain cases the wrong picture. You should look for a system that is customisable that has multiple 'touch points' within each 'sales indicator'. For example it's no good speaking with a prospect if they do not have an available budget. You usually have to speak to the budget holder and also understand what conditions must exist before they can release the budget. Given this example is it any wonder that many companies don't find this out until it is too late? Lastly it must be easy for sales to complete and sales management to digest so that they can all focus on the areas that still need attention.

Once you have implemented and customised what works for you maybe you can then start enjoying life as you will be able to understand what you work on and what may be worth leaving alone. Now take a look at your pipeline and hold your head up ­ it's so predictable when you know how.

© The Sales Academy 2005. You may include this article in your ezine or on your website or distribute it to others, provided you include the copyright statement and the bio information tag line found at the end of this article.

Michael Palman, a global Master Sales Coach and author. Mike helps people and businesses do ore, do it better and get the results that they want. Mike has had a successful career in sales for over 25 years and now helps other salespeople get the sales edge. Mike lives in both the UK and South Africa.

For more articles by Mike Palman, visit

In The News:

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at

Sales Management Changes At WHDH-WLVI
TV News Check
Following the promotion of Jim Rogers from director of sales at Sunbeam Television's WHDH (independent) and WLVI (CW) in Boston (DMA 10) to general manager earlier this week, sales management changes were announced today that will be effective July 1 ...

Sales Management Jobs In LA, TX
TV News Check
Sales Management Jobs In LA, TX. TVNewsCheck, April 18, 2018 5:44 AM EDT. Hearst NBC affiliate WDSU New Orleans has an opening for a local sales manager. Tegna's KIII Corpus Christi, Texas, is also looking for a local sales manager. To see all job ...

Chain Account Manager
An understanding of chain pricing, planograms, category management, and product authorization processes is critical to success. Role… Our Sales Managers are required to grow sales volume in their assigned territory. You'll assist in developing and ...

Investopedia (blog)

What's The Difference Between Bottom-line And Top-line Growth?
Investopedia (blog)
Management can enact strategies to increase the bottom line. For starters, increases in revenue or the top line should filter down and boost the bottom line. This may be done through increasing production, lowering sales returns through product ...

Radio World

Prism Sound Boosts Its US Sales Force With Two Key Appointments
Radio World
Eric Klein, founder of Soul Tech Marketing Inc., will handle Prism Sound sales across the East Coast and Canada. Based in New Jersey and a U.S/Canadian dual-national, Klein founded Soul Tech Marketing in 2001 to provide expert independent sales and ...

and more »


Successful Sales Management Executive Tricia Reinhart Visits Southeast For "Power Of Women" Luncheon
On this edition of Going Public, we talk with Tricia Reinhart, who will be the keynote speaker at this year's “Power of Women” luncheon to take place next week on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University. As a retired, successful sales ...


Looking to begin a new career in the agri sector?
A variety of jobs become available every month in the agricultural sector in Ireland and abroad – a listing of which is available on In the past few weeks, a number of employers have sought applications to fill a host of positions ...

and more »

Financial Express

Reliance Jio is hiring! Several jobs up for grabs, check important details at
Financial Express
Reliance Jio job recruitment 2018: Reliance Jio has announced a recruitment drive for interested and eligible candidates, who wish to join the telecom industry and start there career to explore limitless opportunities and enable Digital Life in India ...


Can New Management And A New Palette Save Pier 1?
Pier 1 Imports on Thursday outlined details of a three-year strategic plan to turn around the company, one day after reporting disappointing financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2018. The company announced after the bell Wednesday ...

Yee Joins NeoPhotonics as SVP of Global Sales | Business | Apr ...
Photonic integrated circuit developer NeoPhotonics Corp. has appointed Yang Chiah Yee as senior vice president of global sales, succeeding Ben Sitler.

and more »
Google News

Sales Coaching... Fact or Fiction?

The old adage in selling has always been, "Find out... Read More

Are Your Business Proposals Losing You Sales? 10 Steps to Get the ?Yes? You Deserve

Your ability to write an effective and persuasive business proposal... Read More

Do You Know How to Fire Up Your Sales Staff (When Money Isnt Everything)?

Money is the only thing that motivates a salesperson, right?... Read More

Seven Deadly Sales Mistakes That Cost Business Owners Big Money - And What To Do About Them

1. LOOKING for a "quick fix" to close more sales... Read More

Your Extended Shadow And Successful Sales Management

In a small midwestern town, the local high school of... Read More

Free to Succeed: Effective Sales Leadership Using A Coach Approach

About 2 years ago, I participated in a training program... Read More

The Differences Between A Commercial Collections Agency & Lawyer

If your letter writing and phone calls have all failed... Read More

Sex, Drugs, & Rock-n-Roll at Trade Shows

Here's the Scenario...You're at a trade show. Out of town.... Read More

Sex, Drugs, & Rock-n-Roll: Trade Show Traps and Tips

Sex, Drugs & Rock-n-RollHere's the Scenario...You're at a trade show.... Read More

Beyond the Golden Rule

There are several types and sub types of people in... Read More

Ten Awesome Ways To Incease Your Sales In Holidays

Everybody thinks that the businesses will slow down a bit... Read More

How to Organize a Seminar or an Event

Seminars and events have always been implemented as a holistic... Read More

Small Business Marketing: Overtaking Your Competitors

Few businesses keep tabs on competitors, yet such knowledge can... Read More

Back-to-School List - 10 Tips for Trade Shows

There's a new year beginning now - the school year.... Read More

Pointless Targets

I recall a heated discussion with a sales director some... Read More

Shorten Sales Cycles in Complex Sales Environments

Help buyers discover the answers they need to understand and... Read More

Speed-up Your Sales Cycle

This week's article is my response to a question by... Read More

3 Steps To Getting A Sales Meeting

The best way to get a new customer is to... Read More

How Exhibitors Can Move More Attendees Closer to Buying

Q. What's the single, biggest change exhibitors can make to... Read More

How to Increase The Sales Of Promotional Products

I have searched for a new way to increase the... Read More

Leadership - How To Turn The Vision Into A Reality

Be clear about where you are now. Audit your strengths... Read More

It?s Time For A Sales Management Revolution

Are you dog tired because of the way you manage... Read More

Increase Your Sales - Accept Credit Cards

Many people today simply prefer the convenience of paying by... Read More

How to Improve Your Management Procedures Usability

Are your people consistently following your procedures? Each year, organizations... Read More

Change in Sales Organizations Starts with Me

Question: What do the following have in common?- I spend... Read More