Increase Your Sales Performance With Better Forecasting Accuracy

sales and selling strategiesMany sales people struggle with accurately forecasting and ultimately closing their deals and many times never find out the reason why they failed. There are plenty of reasons why some deals will never close, and because some sales reps do not effectively qualify their opportunities, they continue to waste precious time. By researching and answering some simple yet important questions, and following these sales techniques, you will significantly increase your close rate and forecast accuracy while minimizing the time wasted on deals that will never close.

Throughout my career while selling enterprise software solutions, I’ve carried out hundreds of deal reviews and still continue to on a regular basis. Whether you are a sales rep or a sales manager, you can be confident in your forecast by analyzing the key aspects of your sales opportunities. Furthermore, you will be able to easily determine whether or not a deal is going to close within the time frame you expect, and will also be able to quickly and easily pinpoint the business risks you have and how to mitigate them.

In most cases, what you don’t know about your own deals will cause you to waste time and resources, and by building a plan with the needed steps to closure, you will have a defined process to follow which will help you get your contract signed in the fastest way possible.

The following are some of the most important pieces of information and facts you need to gather to determine what stage your deal is at, along with the sales techniques to follow to close your deals:

  • Is your solution a priority for your customer that’s driven by, as well as tied to a corporate initiative supported by executive management? Understanding and demonstrating how your product is linked to that priority will substantially accelerate your sales cycle.
  • Have you presented a proposal clearly detailing the customers priority, how your solution addresses their main problem, the investment they require, the financial benefits and cost savings they will eventually receive, and the time and effort it will take to implement your solution? You will usually never get your deal finalized until your client has validated your proposal and confirmed your targeted close date.
  • Have you identified the compelling event that will influence your customer to sign your contract by the date you are forecasting? There’s usually a deadline or event which is driving your customer to move forward. Without knowing about that event, or the business impact caused by missing their deadline, makes it more difficult to know when and why they will close your deal.
  • Do you know exactly who the primary stake holders are that need to approve your deal and the funding for the purchase along with their approval process and availability? I’ve seen many deals slip at the end of the quarter because the primary approvers were not available or an approval deadline was missed. For example, some large purchases require board approvals which may only take place at certain times during the year.
  • Is there an approved spending budget, and will the budget amount end up being lost if not exhausted. If the budget is not approved, is there an exception process that will be implemented? Financial constraints should be determined at the onset of a new product sales cycle to avoid wasting time on initiatives that have no approved funding.
  • Do you know about what the competition is offering as well as what their particular strengths and weaknesses are and how they are thought of by your customer? Never assume that you are the only one your customer is talking to, as many companies are required to consider multiple suppliers before selecting a final one.
  • With respect to your customers procurement process, have you confirmed who will manage and negotiate the business terms, how long it takes, how many people are involved, and who is authorized to approve and sign your legal contracts? Every company has a different process, and many times the people who you present and negotiate an initial proposal with do not have the final word. Many times, you will be referred to a purchasing team to finish your deal after you have provided your “bottom line” prices. Take the time to ask these types of questions to be sure that you understand the process upfront, and are not surprised by other people that step in and ask for more price reductions and additional terms, well after you thought you were finished negotiating.

Once you understand all of these essential elements and by following these sales methods, you will be in a much better position to demonstrate the value you can deliver to your customer, more accurately forecast when your business will close, and increase your sales performance with less time and effort.

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