Is forecasting a waste of time?

Is forecasting a waste of time?
June 13, 2022

The following is a message from the president and founder of Sales Concepts, Don Sharp.

After working in sales and sales management for over 45 years, there are not many excuses I haven’t heard from salespeople. One of the most common excuses I hear from salespeople is, “I can’t do both. I am busy trying to close business, and you want call reports and timely sales forecasts.” Salespeople say this as much today as they did when I started selling decades ago. However, the methods for collecting the data evolved significantly.

Many salespeople view forecasting and call reports as a waste of time and believe they shouldn’t be bogged down by management’s constant requests for updates that provide little help.

I remember preparing monthly call reports for a dozen different products. My manager wanted a forecast of potential orders, closing dates, anticipated dollars, the chance of the customer buying from anyone, and the chance of the customer buying from us with pertinent remarks. Well, I didn’t believe anyone was reviewing these reports. No one ever asked me any questions about them or spoke about them at all. So, I forecasted 17 mass spectrometers, at $350,000 each, to be purchased in three months. I also forecasted a 100% chance of purchase. Then, I put a 0% chance of purchasing from my company because I did not like the decision-maker and would not call on him. My experiment worked! I proved my point! No one read this report. It was a total waste of time. No one called me to ask about this opportunity or discuss my poor attitude.

Is forecasting a waste of time? Well, yes, if you do it for someone else without much thought. The adage applies: “Garbage in, garbage out.” However, if done conscientiously, monthly forecasting forces you to evaluate your accounts and opportunities and causes you to develop a strategy for each. Proactively forecasting will lead to additional business and keep business from falling through the cracks. So don’t forecast for someone else; forecast for yourself! Special note for managers. Encourage your team! When you ask your people for information, follow up with them and let them know how it helps.

Your job as an account manager or salesperson is to manage your accounts. Therefore, promptly complete your forecasting and call reports, and win more business.

Do you want management to support you by providing help, analysis, demos, financial resources, etc.? Then you need to support your management. After crushing your quota, consistently providing accurate forecasts is the fastest way to get promoted.

To succeed, you must develop a sound plan. To create a sound plan, you must know where you stand. To know where you stand, you must accurately forecast.

Stop the excuses. It’s your job. Work for yourself, not your manager.

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