For most businesses, being able to get a decent tell on future operations is critical for planning and resource optimization. If you have an estimate of what your sales are going to look like next quarter, you can take a decent guess of what kind of cash flow you’ll have and the resources you’ll need to support those sales.
But, what happens when that guess of future sells isn’t correct?
Not only can it lead to spend-to-income ratio inconsistencies, but it can act as a barrier towards optimizing operations and setting the groundwork for new, improved strategies based upon those guesses.
These sales forecasts are essential to almost every line of business — especially sales teams. So, making sure that they are as-accurate-as-possible goes a long way towards achieving predictive success (or success that uses predictions and analytics to help garner strategies in the immediate).
Today, we’re going to look at how data may be the source of your sales forecasting inconsistencies and what you can do about it.
Understanding Sales Forecasting
A sales forecast is used to predict what a team, team member, or entire business will sell during a specific timeframe (e.g., daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.)
To be clear, sales forecasts aren’t static, and they aren’t specifically representative. In other words, you can use sales forecasts across a wide variety of business channels and apply them to a broad or granular area of business. Operations managers can use them better understand where specific salespeople stand in relation to their department (i.e., coaching, reviews, etc.) And, businesses can use them to determine what cash flow they will have in the future and how they can appropriately gear their strategies and optimize their workflows to improve or expand upon their current failures or successes.
Sales forecasting is a big deal! In fact, companies with accurate sales forecasts are much more likely to grow their revenue year-over-year and hit their quotas.
But, what happens when your sales forecasts are inaccurate?
Better yet, what happens when your sales forecasts can’t accurately predict sales because you don’t have the data to support those forecasts?
Understanding the Link Between Data and Accurate Sales Forecasting
To say that your sales forecasting success relies on data would be an understatement. Data is your sales forecasting. The entire model of sales forecasting is built upon you have up-to-date, accurate data. So, when your data is lacking, your sales forecasting model isn’t going to be precise.
Since sales forecasting is used as a core component of so many different business needs (e.g., motivation, sales, operations, strategy, etc.) having an inaccurate sales forecast can lead to a plethora of issues. You could coach team members that aren’t making mistakes, you might invest in tools you don’t need, and you may fail to change your strategies when it’s critical to do so.
Think you don’t suffer from bad data? Think again! 91% of businesses suffer from data issues. And, those that do can expect a 12% loss annually due to that data. Poor data is a huge issue in the sales world.
Part of this is due to the tools that we use. So many sales teams now rely on data attribution from their sales stack. And, most of them are using Salesforce as their primary sales tool. For all of its positives (which are abundant,) Salesforce does have an issue — accurately portraying data across channels.
For example, if a salesperson were to mark a customer contact point in their calendar, that data wouldn’t be immediately synced to their core Salesforce profile. And, when this happens, it throws off both their sales forecasting and your brand’s overall forecasting.
So, what do you do?
Well Oliver Squires shows us how Ebsta solves this problem:
The Impact of Poor Salesforce Data
Let’s talk about how these incomplete data sources in Salesforce can impact your sales forecasting and beyond.
- Inaccurate intelligence. When you set out to create robust strategies or unique business decisions, you’re probably relying on those sales forecasts and analytics. When all of the data plugged into those forecasts in inaccurate, you’re making decisions based on flawed results. Do you really need to make that major change? Will that consulting firm really help? If you don’t know, you have a big problem!
- Automation struggles. The first thing that most businesses do when they see poor results is to invest in automation. If you can simplify some of those workflows, maybe your results will improve, right? So, what happens when you’re investing in expensive, time-consuming automation without accurate data to guide that decision? If your salespeople are performing above average, but you think it’s below average, you may invest in unnecessary automation — which can lead to immediate losses.
- Missed leads. When you have incomplete Salesforce opportunity profiles, you’re going to miss out on potential leads. Let’s say a salesperson has a ton of contact points shoved in an inbox. When that employee churns, you’re going to miss out on all of that critical data. You lose the ability to contact those “on the cusp” customers with a warm introduction. And, you miss out on sales.
- Poor coaching. Since sales forecasting is applied to both businesses and teams/individuals, poor data can lead to poor performance reviews. If you’re coaching an employee with stellar future sales on what they’re doing wrong, it may cause them to lose their edge. You may also make significant script or talking-point changes that damage your sales capabilities.
Look at all of those massive consequences stemming for a few missed data points! So, what do you do? How do you fix it?
How Ebsta Helps You Improve Data Accuracy
If you use Salesforce, trying to keep all of your data up-to-date and accurate across your tools and resources can be difficult. When a salesperson marks a meeting in a calendar or a critical contact point is buried deep in your reps mailbox, you can get an incomplete view of your customer profiles. This can, of course, lead to inaccurate sales forecasting — which can butterfly effect your entire business.
With Ebsta, you can sync all of those calendar data points and inbox meetings straight into your Salesforce profiles. This means that you aren’t impacted by all of the data gaps that exist between your various resources and your actual customers.
Ebsta seamlessly syncs all of that calendar and inbox data to your Contacts, Leads, Accounts, Opportunities and Custom Objects in Salesforce. On top of that, Ebsta lets you create personalized cadences and access Salesforce templates across your inboxes, which means better sales and better results.
The result is better sales forecasting. Don’t believe us? Request a demo of Ebsta here.