Members of a sales force are traditionally burdened with having to input tons of data into CRM, provide lengthy reports and engage in meetings with sales management—all so that their sales managers can formulate sales forecasts. Why on Earth would sales reps want to do their own sales forecasts in addition to all the administration they have to do already?
Most salespeople would answer with a resounding, “We wouldn’t!” But hang around for a minute and see how, first, it might be easily possible, and second, why it would be of substantial benefit.
Actual Benefit of Sales Forecasts
Since that second point gets to the crux of the matter—what possible benefit a salesperson would gain from doing his or her own sales forecasts—we’ll take that up first.
Who knows a salesperson’s individual sales pipeline better than that sales rep? While sales management and perhaps even sales force colleagues are going to have opinions about that rep’s pipeline, its potential sales cycles and closes, nobody but that sales rep knows the whole story. So a rep creating his or her own forecast is being done by the person closest to those sales and in the position to know best.
Another point is that salespeople are usually so engrossed in all the minute details of day-to-day sales, they rarely if ever get the opportunity to take a step back and view their whole sales pipeline. Without outside opinion or influence, it can truly answer the question for the rep: “How am I doing?” It shows a rep where they might need to obtain more leads, beef up efforts at particular steps of their sales process, and also where they’re excelling.
The first point is probably as important as the second, though: “As a sales rep, how could I possibly find time to do a sales forecast?”
To start with a company would have to alleviate much of the administrative burden that is already crushing salespeople and making their lives hell. The only way that’s going to happen is if the business adopts a leading-edge CRM solution that makes it possible for sales management and others to rapidly and visually see pipelines and calculate sales forecasts for individual salespeople as well as that of the whole sales force. Salespeople’s reporting “duties” would be radically reduced while sales management still obtains all the data they need. It’s a win-win situation.
That same CRM solution facilitates reps to do their own opportunity reports and sales forecasts, in a fraction of the time it would take with a traditional CRM application. Not only would salespeople reap the benefit of creating and having their own forecasts, they could even forward those forecasts onto their sales management. Sales managers could combine them with forecasts from other members of the sales force, modify as needed and send them on to company executives. Voilà! Instant sales forecast where it used to take days, including hours of personal interaction with salespeople.
Salespeople doing their own sales forecasts is a radical departure from tradition. But then, so is the leading edge CRM solution that facilitates that and provides the real benefit from it.