In many companies, sales forecasting is sort of like weather forecasting: an educated (or not) guess that may or may not pan out as predicted. Sometimes the problem here is complexity, so let’s take a look at how you can get to a simpler and better place with your own forecasting.

Most CRM systems have a ton of fields for the sales team to fill out, and the temptation is to use as many of them as possible in the effort to get the most bang for your buck. But all those fields for notes and numbers and campaigns create two problems: first, the more complex you make things, the less likely your salespeople are to follow through; and second, even if they do fill out every field you wind up with a jungle of data to hack your way through at the Monday sales meeting.

How can you create a believable, real-world forecast without drowning in data?

Most businesses operating in the realm of $1M to $20M in revenue probably need to know only 6 or 7 things about a pending deal. The rest is nice to have, but can create unnecessary clutter and distract from a quality discussion in that sales meeting.

So cut back and get to the root issues in any given deal. These are a fine start:

  • When will the prospect sign on the dotted line?
  • What’s the dollar value?
  • Product/service?
  • What stage of the sales process are we in? (See our post about this topic here.)
  • Notes from your last conversation
  • Next steps?
  • Where did this lead originate?
  • And of course, the basic data associated with the prospect: Name, title, company, etc.

If your sales professionals can bring that level of accurate detail – and nothing else – to a sales meeting, you can run a thriving company. And you can sleep well at night knowing your forecast is solid.