3 Financial Impacts of a Predictable Sales Forecast

Question: How do you know your CRM and sales forecasting tools are working? How do you know when you have a predictable business model and have hopped off that roller coaster

Answer: Your month-end financial statements tell you so.

That’s right – you’ve cleaned your data, segmented and prioritized your contacts and assigned them sales stages. You’re using a CRM and you are generating reports. Now – take a look at your month-end financial statements. Here’s the payoff from all of your hard work:

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Refine and Rejoice: Celebrating Data

Yes, I said "celebrate data." It CAN happen!

My last blog discussed how you can create a smoother sales pipeline (aka sales forecast) by pulling the trigger on a CRM. As you'll recall, it is a process! Revisit our blog series to review this process in detail. Here's a quick recap: In order to step off the sales roller coaster (yes, you CAN do it!), you must create a smoother sales pipeline. To do this, follow these three important steps:

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Pull the Trigger on CRM

My past several blogs have focused on how to remove the roller coaster-effect from your sales forecast. Yes, it can be done - but you must focus on cleaning data, segmenting data, and creating well-defined sales stages.

As we know, it is important to work out the above processes before jumping into a software tool. Start with clean, segmented data and solid sales stages. Then - identify information fields (e.g., list source) and values (e.g., Big Conference 2014)  that are important for your organization. Play with the concepts: tweak and test! Once you have a design in place, you are ready to PULL THE TRIGGER. It's time to turn your design into a real-time sales report. This will require software.

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Set the Stage in Your Forecast

My last several blogs have been about smoothing out the ups and downs of that sales roller coaster, and creating something that brings you peace of mind.

To recap, there are three primary elements in creating a smooth sales pipeline (also called a sales forecast). Number one: good data. Number two: market segmentation. And number three: developing sales stages. 

This blog focuses on element three - sales stages, aka where the rubber meets the road. How do people buy from you? What are the stages they go through during the buying process? What do you need to know to help them?

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Divide and Conquer: Segment that Data!

As we know, a sales forecast can feel like a roller coaster ride. You can smooth out this ride with three simple steps:

  1. organize your data,
  2. segment your data, and
  3. create sales stages that match the way you go to market - thereby producing an accurate, meaningful sales pipeline.

My last blog addressed data organization: getting all of your data in one place (I highly recommend an Excel spreadsheet), cleaning it up and designating potential clients within your list.

This blog addresses the next critical step - grouping contacts in “like” categories. These categories will vary, depending on your organization’s needs. Potential segments include industry, geography, client status or even an internal rating. Or, a company may use all of the above!

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Data, Data Everywhere

My last blog discussed the problems that can arise from an inconsistent sales pipeline. I equate it to riding a roller coaster. When sales are going up, all is great! But when sales are going down, you lose your stomach. So, how do we create a consistent sales forecast? There are several steps involved, but it's not as difficult as you may think. Start with basic data segmentation and sales stages.

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