- Your Sales Forecast Doesn’t Have to be a Guessing Game!
- Lead generation is a 3-step process.
- Measuring Sales… it’s Not just about Revenue
- 7 Selling Behaviors Seller-Doers Must Employ to be Successful.
- Can you really be “all things to all people?”
- 12 Marketing & Sales Activities you Gotta STOP this Year!
- How to maximize the impact of your marketing investment.
- Revenue Growth? Try the ‘5% Challenge’… it’s Brilliant!
- Should you ever walk away from revenue?
- Get Ready for 2017 with these 6 Marketing & Sales Activities
- 20 Marketing and Sales Concepts Business Leaders Need to Know, Part 2
- 20 Marketing and Sales Concepts Business Leaders Need to Know, Part 1
- 10 Guidelines for How to Be Successful at Sales
- Strategy Before Tactics!
- 6 Marketing & Sales Lessons Learned in our First 4 Years in Business
- The Sales Presentation: Stop Reading the PowerPoint Slides and Tell Your Story
- Content Marketing not working? Eh, don’t worry about it!
- Marketing Measurement: 3 New Methods You Have to Try in 2016
- The One Thing You Must Include in Your 2016 Marketing & Sales Plan
- Not using LinkedIn? Are you kidding me?!
- Is it OK to fire a client?
- Take Charge of Your Own Success… Stop Relying on Others!
- Getting first-time clients to take a chance on you.
- 9 Ways to Build your Business During the Summer Slowdown
- The Top 10 Ways to Build Awareness
- The 13 Most Common Website Mistakes
- The Most Important Part of Exhibiting
- Content marketing isn’t a one-time thing… it’s an all-the-time thing.
- THINKING! A framework for creating better business plans in 2015.
- Not happy with your marketing & sales? Then make just one change in 2015!
- For Beginners: Should I Tweet Daily? Yes… and here’s how.
- Got your Marketing Plan for 2015? No?! Now’s a good time to start…
- How to Connect with Booth Visitors – An Exhibitor’s Worksheet
- Not getting the email results you want? Make sure you’re following these 7 email marketing guidelines.
- 10 Ways to Get Clients to Sell FOR You (and they won’t cost a dime!)
- Do you know where you’re going? Why Strategy should drive your marketing & sales.
- 11 execution tips to help you exceed client expectations
- How to Turn First-time Clients into Repeat Clients
- 15 easy, low-cost marketing and sales tactics for 2014 – Part 2
- 15 easy, low-cost marketing and sales tactics for 2014 – Part 1
- 13 Lessons for Researchers Who Don’t Want (or Like) to Sell
- Social media marketing success in 30 minutes a day
- Get it right! You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
- It’s not that complicated! A common sense approach to the marketing & sales process.
- How MR firms are blowing it with new customers: Lessons learned while secret shopping
- Management or sales… you can’t serve two masters.
- Prove it! Nine ways to convince prospects to work with you for the first time.
- Five everyday ways to grow your business
- How that ‘one great client’ could doom your firm
- Six marketing and sales mistakes MR firms make every day
- Eight proven ways to build awareness – and why you should!
- Suspects, Prospects and Clients: Is your firm focused on the right target?
- A Checklist for Conducting Your Own Marketing & Sales Audit
- Learning to play the game: What football can teach us about marketing
- Differentiating your firm in a crowded marketplace
- 25 low- or no-cost ways to grow your business
- 15 Reasons E-mail Still Matters in Sales and Marketing
- Come prepared, dress the part and follow up: 10 dos for exhibiting at MR trade shows
- No rookies, no gum and no Frisbees: 10 don’ts for exhibiting at MR trade shows
- How to see yourself as clients see you
- Marketing 101: It takes Work to make it Work
- Use the 8 Ps of Marketing when Setting Strategy
- Integrate the 4 As of Marketing into Your Planning
- Size Does Matter: 4 Approaches to Growing Your Business
- The 12 Guiding Principles of Marketing (part 2)
- The 12 Guiding Principles of Marketing (part 1)
Your Sales Forecast Doesn’t Have to be a Guessing Game!
Revenue makes everything else possible. It’s what powers the business engine. And the better we are at forecasting revenue (a.k.a. sales), the more effective we can be at planning for the other parts of the business – operations, staffing, product development, marketing, etc.
But sales forecasting is too often perceived as a ‘crystal ball’ activity… where we hope for some sort of cosmic intervention to give us the answer.
But if you don’t have a working crystal ball, the more likely scenario is this… your boss gets asked in December what he or she wants “next year’s revenue goal” to be. And the response is usually something like, “Well, we did a million dollars this year… and I’d like to see 20% growth… so let’s shoot for $1.2 Million next year.” And it’s done!
And while no one can predict the future, a little process can go a long way. If you’re willing put in some time to work through the following 3 steps, you can come up with a more realistic, more attainable and – ultimately – more accurate sales forecast.
Step 1 – Existing Clients
Let’s assume it’s near the end of the calendar year. You should have a very good idea of what total revenue will be from your current batch of clients for the year. Then the question becomes, “How much revenue will these same clients produce for us next year?”
If you’ve got a relatively small number of clients, we would strongly encourage you to take the time to do an account-by-account review (include management and the person responsible for sales, if appropriate) to discuss:
- What’s gone on with each one – a history of activity
- What’s the opportunity for each moving forward (and why)
- What it will take for you to make it happen
If you have a lot of clients, then break the process into two parts. First, do an account-by-account review of your largest (and potentially largest) clients. Then, do a batch review of all the rest. In both cases, answer the same questions as above… what’s gone on with each, what’s the opportunity and what will it take for you to be successful?
Then add it up… that’s Step 1.
Step 2 – Your Current Pipeline
Selling never stops. So, from a business development perspective, what prospects are in your sales pipeline right now? What’s their status? What’s the opportunity? What’s the [realistic] probability that each of them will become a client? What still needs to happen for you to earn their business?
Discuss it, record it, then add it up… that’s Step 2.
Step 3 – New Opportunities
OK… you’ve worked through the “known.” Now it’s time for a little of the “unknown.” While you don’t know what sort of revenue opportunities will develop in the coming year – or how many there will be – you can make some educated guesses based on:
- What’s happened over the past few years; on average, what sort of revenue opportunities have you been able to develop and what kind of opportunities just fell into your lap?
- What sort of marketing activities are you planning for next year to support sales?
- What sort of selling activities are you planning for next year?
- What’s happening in the Market Research industry that could have an impact – positive or negative – on your revenue opportunities?
- What’s happening in the vertical industries you serve that could have an impact on your revenue opportunities?
- What changes are you planning internally – e.g. a new product launch, a key hire, etc. – that could have an impact?
Further, don’t just think of revenue as one thing. It can be viewed through a number of lenses, each of which might help you to think in greater critical detail about your sales forecast. For example:
- Growing revenue starts by attracting new clients. How many new clients can you secure next year? What kind? Any commonalities between them?
- If appropriate, think about revenue targets in each of the different vertical industries you serve.
- Do you work across ‘horizontals’ (e.g. HR managers) or in certain markets (e.g. seniors) that you need to think through?
- And certainly, consider your revenue forecast by product or service line.
Then add it all up… that’s step 3.
Now, add up the data from all three steps and you’ll have your sales forecast for next year.
How accurate will this be? Only the crystal ball knows for sure… but you can be completely confident that it will be far more accurate (and usable) than any blind stab you take at it or any number your boss throws at you.
And the more accurate the sales forecast, the more effective you and your colleagues will be at managing your business.
If you’d like a free Excel template to help with your sales forecast, just Click Here to download it – no email required.