Sales tools
10 min reading

Sales forecasting: understand, prepare and avoid mistakes

Florian Reboussin
Published on
sales forecasting sales team

Have you ever heard of salesforecasting? It's a must-have if you want your sales team to hit the ground running, and if you don't want your pipe review meetings to go round in circles. In today's sales landscape, it's a bit like having a compass to navigate without getting lost and optimize your sales execution performance.

Here at Modjo, we take you on a little tour of how to become a sales forecasting pro. Together, we'll dive into the killer techniques for getting your estimates right. We'll show you how effective planning can make all the difference, and how to avoid the classic pitfalls. Ready to become an ace forecaster?

What is sales forecasting?

Sales forecasting is a bit like our crystal ball in the business world. Basically, it allows us to play clairvoyant by anticipating how we'll fare in the future. How do we do that? By digging into our old archives (historical data), checking what's happening in the market right now, and taking a look at the major economic trends. When it comes to forecasting sales, there's an art to it: we try to predict the future based on how we get on with our customers.

But don't confuse sales forecasting with demand forecasting. If we're playing Seven Differences, sales forecasting is the big visionary who takes the whole picture into account - like, can we really make everything we want to sell? Are there enough trucks to deliver it all? Demand forecasting, on the other hand, is more about flirting with what people might like to buy, without worrying about whether it's feasible or not.

And what can influence this famous sales forecast? Lots of things, like the latest gadgets in fashion, changing customer tastes, competition between professionals, and not forgetting unexpected surprises like the Covid-19 pandemic. As you can see, it's no piece of cake, but that's what makes it so exciting!

The benefits of sales forecasting

In the hustle and bustle of the business world, guessing what tomorrow holds with sales forecasts is our way of drawing cards. And why do we do this? To turn on the lights and pave the way to more money and success, of course! This little marvel helps us peer into the crystal ball to build a future where our cash registers never rest, thanks to a solid strategy and a sales team that gives its all.

By mixing old files (data from the past, to be clear) with what's happening today, we can align our arrows of initiatives with the bull's-eye (our sales and turnover objectives). As a result, sales forecasting isn't just a gadget: it's a real strategic Swiss army knife that boosts our performance and propels us upwards.

An improved decision-making process

Sales forecasting is a bit like having a super personal coach all to yourself. Ongoing training and a meticulous sales process are the secret to making your sales forecasts as precise as a Swiss clock. It gives us the super-power to spot when we've strayed a little too far from our ambitions, our hopes and real life.

And then, magic! The way you sell is transformed, making every decision ultra-relevant. Imagine being able to adjust your aim even before the first signs of "oops, we screwed up" appear. You adapt your live sales tactics to keep them on top of the game.

With the right training and a way of selling that just rolls off the tongue, sales forecasting literally becomes a magic wand: it allows us not only to see ahead, but also to sculpt the future to our advantage.

Reassuring investors

In today's economic casino, confidence is like the jackpot. Our sales figures and forecasts don't just draw rainbows for tomorrow. They show that we know what we're getting into, and that we have a plan of attack based on prudent, strategic management. 

For those who put their money where their mouth is, seeing our actual figures echo our forecasts is like receiving a label of super-reliability and cleverness. It's a bit like saying that forecasts are a guarantee of reliability and competence. This, even when the market is acting up and our sector has mountains to climb. What's more, it proves that we have a nose for guessing what customers will want tomorrow and what their needs are.

In short, it's our way of saying to investors: "With us, your investment is concrete. We know how to make it grow, whatever the weather."

Better prepare for off-peak periods

With a good head start on sales, the famous market fluctuations are no longer likely to make our eyes wander. No more stress: we know what's coming and we already have our action plan to deal with it. Forecasts are our navigational compass: they guide us in adjusting our advertising budget, ensuring that our stocks are always at the top and avoiding running out of production.

When the wind shifts and demand takes a nosedive, we're already in "opportunity" mode, thanks to our strategic planning. Market ups and downs? Just a small part of our strategy.

With a well-honed sales forecasting process, market fluctuations become simple bends in the road.

And when customers play coy, our forecasts enable us to turn obstacles into stepping stones, thanks to strategic planning and a small step forward. This major asset makes us pros at adapting, ready to dance in the rain of unpredictable times. In short, the company remains agile and adaptive, even in the least predictable times! 

Improve budget planning

When it comes to budget planning, we mean business! Precision is the watchword. And that's where sales forecasts come in, like financial superheroes. Armed with a solid sales forecast, including projected sales figures, we ensure that every euro is spent wisely. In this way, the art of distributing the budget is transformed into a veritable science of finding the perfect balance to meet the needs of all branches of the company.

It's time to pull out all the stops: strategic investments in marketing, R&D and other crucial areas are being fine-tuned to boost growth and innovation.

With sales forecasts in our sights, we become pros at assessing the impact of every penny spent and its return on investment, ensuring that our finances propel us towards long-term success.

Setting realistic goals

Is it possible to define sales targets that are not just numbers thrown up in the air, but targets that can actually be achieved? This is where it really gets serious. With conversion rates and other indicators of the same caliber, sales forecasting is elevated to a science.

With a healthy dose of analysis and solid data, we give ourselves the means to aim high while keeping our feet on the ground. This strategy ensures that every team feels stimulated by exciting challenges, which always remain within the realms of possibility.

Stimulating team motivation

Sales forecasting is much more than boring numbers and graphs; it's a motivational boost for everyone. By integrating cutting-edge sales strategies and a reward system that hits the nail on the head, you can turn high-flying objectives into tangible achievements. Sales contests, tailor-made bonuses and fiestas to celebrate victories aren't just dates on a calendar. They're not! All of these are transformed into real engines of positive vibes and general excitement for all teams.

Because let's face it: when everyone feels supported by clear rules and pushed forward by energizing challenges, commitment and motivation soar. This mix of precision aiming and hard-hitting sales tactics is what drives teams to outdo themselves, boosting their performance and efficiency in the process.

With this in mind, sales forecasting goes beyond the simple game of prediction. It becomes a veritable muse for teams, catapulting them to new heights of performance and playing a crucial role in the success of the whole company.

Preparing a sales forecast: the prerequisites

To build a solid sales planning strategy, it's not enough to follow the recipe to the letter; you have to intelligently mix grand strategy with detailed analysis. And now's the time to bring out the heavy artillery with specialized tools designed to boost our sales forecasts. These little gems of technology play a key role in deciphering the market and propelling us towards our sales objective.

Know your company's sales procedures

The key to preparing a sales forecast? Identify your company's sales cycle from A to Z, from the first contact with a customer to the final point of sale. Each interaction is a piece of the puzzle which, when put together, gives a complete picture of your sales performance. It's crucial to understand not only each step in the process, but also the length of the sales cycle and the average time it takes to turn a prospect into a customer.

Having this detailed map in hand promises surgical precision in your sales forecasts, allowing you to play the guessing game with a precision worthy of the name. With this data in your sights, you convert every customer exchange into a value-added opportunity, constantly fine-tuning your tactics and anticipations for tomorrow.

Have clear sales objectives

In the cut-throat arena of sales, having ambitions is a bit like using super fuel to propel a company to the top. But without a clear roadmap, that same ambition can quickly turn into a grueling marathon rather than a resounding victory.

Setting sales targets that stick to reality is like finding the happy medium between dreaming big and keeping your feet on the ground. It's vital that these goals are fully in line with what the company can really afford, and with what the future of sales seems to promise, outlining a path to success that's as empowering as it is feasible.

By playing this card, each sales target becomes a reflection of the organization's measured ambition and firm commitment to achieving the desired results for future sales. 

Using sales pipeline data

The sales pipeline is the beating heart of our sales forecasts, based on solid, concrete facts. It's the pillar on which we base our sales strategies and forecasting methods.

Diving into the analysis of this pipeline to extract nuggets of information is like taking an X-ray of our future success. The conversion rate, at each level of the pipeline, provides us with essential clues, and puts our finger on the right spot to fine-tune our action plan.

Thanks to this data, turning insights into action becomes child's play, propelling us towards our deepest goals. This rigorous approach ensures that our forecasts, adjusted according to the sales pipeline, are not only spot-on, but also in perfect harmony with our lofty ambitions for growth.

Use software adapted to customer relationship management

As part of a customer relationship management strategy, the CRM tool is an indispensable weapon. It goes far beyond a mere gadget, acting as a pillar for the collection, analysis and storage of sales data. This super-tool transforms the fog of uncertainty into a clear path, offering a 360-degree view of every exchange and opportunity. In short, CRM turns uncertainty into certainty. 

Getting into sales forecasting with CRM as your ally is like having an experienced guide to navigate the ocean of data. Each piece of information processed brings its own grain of salt, illuminating our path towards increasingly refined forecasts. In so doing, we have the means to actively shape the future, drawing on valuable insights directly extracted from our analyses.

This approach enables us to make the link between what we're doing today and where we want to be tomorrow, ensuring that every step we take resonates perfectly with our boldest ambitions for growth.

Sales forecasting methods

Predicting sales is a bit like juggling the past, present and future in order to draw up accurate estimates. It requires mastery of a multi-dimensional approach, embracing complexity while chasing precision at the highest level.

Equipping yourself with a solid sales forecasting model is the strategic move for deciphering and assembling the data from every customer interaction. By focusing on these tools and techniques, sales aces sharpen their sales tactics and divine market movements with frightening acuity, paving the way for refined management and supercharged performance.

Here we've shown you how to perform the sales forecast calculation so you'll never be wrong again!

Forecasts based on multiple variables

When we venture into sales forecasting by juggling several variables, we plunge into the heart of a universe woven of interconnected data. This journey leads us to decipher the waves of market trends, listen to customer feedback and examine the traces left by our past performance. It all comes together to draw a predictive map of what lies ahead.

One of the leading techniques in this field is the extreme points method. This approach highlights the maximum and minimum values of a data set to capture the essence of the trend and build a bridge to future results.

By blending these multiple facets of information, we arrive at forecasts that don't just copy numbers. They deliver a deep and nuanced analysis, offering us a rich and precise insight into the potential gains on the horizon.

Sales funnel-based forecasting

The sales funnel, with its well-defined conversion stages, acts like a compass in sales forecasting. By dissecting the probability of conversion at each stage of the funnel, we can estimate future sales with sniper-like precision.

This approach relies on the finesse of rigorous data analysis and strategic insight, turning every choice into a master stroke for fine-tuned forecasts.

Implementing this tactic turns possibilities into certainties, driving sales strategies to the top while boosting overall company performance.

Using historical data to predict future results

The past is an invaluable source of learning. Using the historical data method, past trends are studied to learn from each success and failure. The result is a solid foundation on which to build. This approach engages us in an ongoing dialogue with history, enabling companies to refine their sales forecasts with unparalleled acuity.

Common sales forecasting mistakes to avoid

When it comes to sales forecasting, every piece of data, every interaction, helps us to sketch out tomorrow. However, there are common mistakes that can undermine the accuracy of these forecasts. 

By examining examples of sales forecasts, we quickly understand where things go wrong and how to rectify the situation, making our forecasts sharper and more reliable. This constant fine-tuning is the key to ensuring that our forecasts don't get out of hand, thus refining our plans of attack for the future.

Don't rely on data alone

Throwing ourselves headlong into a sea of raw data, without taking the time to delve deeper, is like navigating by sight in fog: it drastically limits our ability to come up with sales forecasts that hit the mark. Relying solely on what's at hand or on basic extrapolations can easily lead to shaky conclusions and uninformed choices. That's why it's crucial to arm ourselves with a method of analysis that doesn't just scratch the surface. This method needs to delve into the data in all directions, taking into account a multitude of factors that influence sales trends.

A deep dive into the figures can unearth hidden trends and give us a much clearer vision of what's really stirring the market. This analytical treasure hunt is indispensable for accurately anticipating what tomorrow holds, and for tailoring our sales strategies as closely as possible to these discoveries.

Failing to adjust and rework forecasts

If you think of sales forecasts as a one-shot deal, you're missing the point. The future is like an ever-flowing river, full of surprises and unexpected turns. Basically, it requires you to remain flexible and ready to move with the current. Ignoring the need for periodic revisions is a bit like navigating with an out-of-date map when making crucial strategic decisions.

This is when you need to be proactive, revisiting and fine-tuning your forecasts on a regular basis to keep pace with the market. Being able to readjust and reinvent yourself is vital to staying in the race, with strategies that lose neither their edge nor their relevance.

Forecasting in isolation

Oh yes, we forgot to remind you of this essential little detail! Making sales forecasts on your own, without listening to what others have to say, means missing out on a treasure trove of information. In fact, you're overlooking the potential of a collective approach. The objective? Play as a team, pooling everyone's knowledge and talents to give weight and depth to your sales forecasts.

By taking this holistic view, our forecasts are nourished by a variety of perspectives, capturing the essence of what makes our company, in all its diversity and complexity.

It's this approach that gives us a complete vision rooted in reality, boosting the accuracy and confidence of our sales forecasts. By embracing teamwork, every obstacle becomes a chance to grow, every learning experience a step closer to success.

What if we took care of your sales forecast?

At Modjo, sales forecast accuracy isn't just a goal. But then, what is it exactly? It's a strategic imperative that shapes the success of your business. Our professional approach is characterized by rigorous data analysis, fine-tuned interpretation of market trends and judicious integration of customer feedback, to deliver projections that are not only reliable but also fully operational.

Modjo Deals is a revolutionary tool for optimal management of your sales pipelines. It's not just about managing data. Modjo Deals provides real-time visibility and advanced analysis thanks to artificial intelligence. Sales teams will be able to close more deals every quarter and make more accurate sales forecasts.

The key to success lies in the precise information and appropriate alerts that enable sales reps to progress serenely through the sales pipeline and calculate a reliable forecast. No more micro-management and missed opportunities due to inappropriate follow-ups or the absence of decision-makers in the process! With Modjo Deals, turn every interaction into a chance for sales success.

Florian Reboussin
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