Nobody likes a missed sales forecast, yet it happens so often. Is your sales forecast a lottery? Like sticking your finger in the air? Your sales forecast is usually off because one or both of the following facts is true:

1) You don’t have a well defined sales process

2) Your sales team are not following the sales process

Remember that your sales process should mirror the buying process of your customers. The more complex the product or service you’re selling, and the more expensive it is, the more sophisticated your sales process should be, because your buyers will want to have an awful lot of ducks in a row before they commit to you.

Forecasts miss because companies don’t take time to map out their sales process and coach their sales people to follow it. Forecasts miss because managers have to rely on sales people’s subjective assessments of how a sale is going. An objective, scientific sales process takes personality and guess work out of forecasting and gives you the manager a checklist for assessing with your sales people what could go wrong in the sale and how you could prevent the mis-step.

Don’t forget that the sales forecast is based around an artificial time frame, namely the timeframe of the selling organisation. ‘I think I can close that deal by the end of our quarter.’ But what if your customer is not ready to buy at the end of your quarter? When a deal slips out of the sales month or the sales quarter, it’s usually because the customer’s not ready to buy from you.

The better you know the steps your customers want to take to buy from you, the better you follow those steps, the more accurate your forecast.