Sales forecasting represents the activity of predicting the sales pipeline and its final revenue within a chosen period, answering the two fundamental questions of any sales department — how much and when.
According to Salesforce, sales leaders tend to be accurate within 10% of their forecast more than 50% of the time.
Sales forecasts are employed out of various reasons, such as to set a standard against which to evaluate performance, for budgeting purposes or to predict future hiring needs. For instance, based on the estimated sales, the HR department will align their actions to fulfil company recruitment needs, while product leaders will plan product development according to the estimated demand.
An accurate sales forecasting practice will depend mostly on the reasonable judgement of your sales reps. When sales reps deal with an opportunity, they will estimate how much revenue is expected based on their impression of the prospect. Furthermore, assessing the date of when the opportunity might close (to answer the question of ‘when’), will give the forecast its timeframe.
In summation, using sales forecasts helps companies to:
- Plan resources based on a complete overview of the sales pipeline
- Update management rapidly, to pivot activities in the right direction
- Track the high-performers, and motivate the sales team
To learn more about sales forecasts and how to use them for your benefit, read on.
Collaborative Sales Forecasts in Salesforce
In Salesforce, forecasts are based on the gross roll-up of a set of opportunities. Because Collaborative Forecasts in Salesforce can estimate forecast amounts in several different ways, you can choose the forecast type you need.
A forecast type is a forecast that’s configured to use a specific type of data including:
- Standard opportunity fields
- Opportunity splits
- Overlay splits
- Custom opportunity fields
- Product families
The forecast amounts are totals of the opportunities in the four forecast categories:
- Best Case
Continuous updating of the pipeline and frequent analysing of the sales data will help you notice trends and adjust your forecast accordingly. To learn how to set up your first sales forecasts, check out Salesforce’s resources on Trailhead.
Additionally, Salesforce AppExchange can be an excellent place to find advanced tools to forecast based on your email data or even the prospects’ activity on social media. Another item to note — in July 2020, Salesforce had retired Customizable Forecasts and introduced Collaborative Forecasts as an improved way of estimating sales.
Collaborative Forecasts are available in both Salesforce Classic and Lightning Experience, in Profesional (no custom field or opportunity splits forecasts), Performance, Developer, Enterprise and Unlimited Editions with the Sales Cloud.
Have you been practising sales forecasting? If you need a helping hand in setting up or improving your forecasts, reach out to our team here at Cloud Orca.