How a CRM can help you with forecasting and sales funnel

One of the biggest challenges for sales leadership in all organizations is accurately forecasting the amount of upcoming sales. Most organizations have some type of forecasting process, even if it’s as informal as writing down opportunities on a sheet of paper. However, without a system in place, forecasting is usually nothing more than a guess.
Recent studies have confirmed that fact. According to a study from CSO Insights, less than half of all forecasted sales ever come through. More than a third of forecasted sales end up being a loss to competitors. In another 25 percent, the prospect chooses to do nothing rather than go forward with the purchase.
Forecasting doesn’t have to be this way, though. Companies can take control of their sales forecasts by implementing a standardized, measurable system. The key to implementing such a system is to use a CRM that can track every step of sales process.
A CRM is a useful tool for helping salespeople organize their pipelines and make regular, consistent outreach to prospects. However, it can also help leadership drill down to a true and accurate forecast. Here are a few of the ways in which a CRM can make forecasts more accurate:
It removes subjectivity. One of the biggest challenges in forecasting is getting an objective opinion on where a sale stands. Salespeople may be overly optimistic. On the other hand, they may also want to suppress expectations and may be overly pessimistic.
With a CRM, that bias is removed. A salesperson can simply designate the appropriate criteria, such as where the sale stands in the funnel and whether a quote has been presented. Using that criteria, leadership can make their own determination about when or if a sale can be expected.
It helps to formalize the sales process. Another challenge in many organizations is that different salespeople may have different sales processes. Some salespeople may have a very formal set of steps. Others may go in for the close whenever they see an opportunity. It makes it hard to forecast opportunities when everyone is operating on a different schedule.
With a CRM, an organization can set a standard process across the entire enterprise. They can put those steps into the CRM and require salespeople to correctly label each prospect. With a standard process in place, it’s easier to tell where each prospect is in the process.
It helps establish probabilities. A CRM gives salespeople the ability to document all of the variables surrounding a sale. Leadership can then use that documentation to determine the probability of a sale.
For example, a sales manager may see in the CRM that a sales person has met with the decision maker, that the quote is in line with the prospect’s expectations, and that the prospect has an urgent need. In that case, the manager may feel comfortable giving the sale a high probability to close in a coming month.
Without a system in place, forecasting isn’t any more accurate than simply flipping a coin. A CRM is critical in getting that system in place. Organizations that wish to take back control of their sales process can start by implementing a CRM.

Sébastien Forget
Sébastien Forget
Sébastien’s passion for entrepreneurship led him to launch Solutions Metrix, a firm that specializes in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. As of 2008, Solutions Metrix manages hundreds of CRMs in eastern Canada and continues to offer CRM services to numerous Fortune 500 companies. Sébastien maintains a strong growth trend for Solutions Metrix by leading the mission to help Canadian companies be more competitive in data management for sales and marketing.
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