In a previous post I talked about why forecasts miss. Of course, the sales forecast is different from the sales target. The former is what you think you will sell in a given period. The latter is what you’re supposed to sell.

If you miss your forecast on the high side, in other words you exceed it, then people tend not to get concerned, even though they should. When you miss your forecast on the low side, as I alluded to in the previous post, it’s usually either because you don’t have a good sales process or your people aren’t following it.

But what if your sales forecast is less than your sales target? That happens a lot too, right? The sales target is $1.2 million and you’re only calling out $850,000 for your team. What to do here?

The first thing is to have an accurate forecast. If you have a well defined sales process and your sales people follow it, then you should have an indication pretty early in the sales period that you don’t have enough opportunity value to hit your number. Having an early accurate indication that you’re going to come up short gives you the chance to do something about it. This might be in the form of increasing your demand generation efforts to get more value into the hopper, but perhaps this doesn’t give the deals enough time to come to fruition before the time period is up.

If that’s the case, you need to coach your sales team to improve their effectiveness, either increasing the size of the deals on the table, or increasing the percentage of the deals you win, or – the hardest to do – accelerating the sales process so that the deals drop into the sales period.

Of course, it might be that your team’s sales targets are simply too aggressive. If, however, you can get your sales team to consistently and accurately hit the forecast, then you have a strong argument for more help to consistently and accurately hit the target.