Are you using all of your tools?

Published on September 2, 2003

Salespeople hate paperwork! They look at this as simply doing reports that take away valuable selling time. Titans see this task as an opportunity to evaluate their results and prepare their activities for the next few months.

One of the most challenging things a sales executive must do every month is to complete the dreaded Forecast Report. It is our commitment to our bosses and our company of what our revenue performance will be over the next 30/60/90 day period.

The first thing you must do is evaluate those accounts that are in your active pipeline. Whatever terminology you or your company use, there are 3 basic categories that your accounts get broken down into… Definites, Pendings and Tentatives.

Definites are those clients that are currently using your product or service. It is the easiest of the 3 categories to forecast what their revenues will likely be because you already have a signed contract in place, and often have a track record of their consumption.

Pending accounts are those customers where you expect the signed contract within the next 30/60/90 days. You have been working these accounts for a period of time and have the buy-in and commitment from the buyer, but the deal just isn’t quite closed yet. You may just be negotiating final terms or conditions with them. Maybe the money is budgeted and the lawyers are “dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s” on the final agreement, or the deposit is being processed by accounting. But, there aren’t really many surprises expected in this category.

Forecasting the Tentatives is the tough part. These are the accounts that are in the early or middle stages of the sales process. There is usually a need identified, but you still have a ways to go in gaining the commitment that your value proposition is the right solution for a particular client. They are both every salesperson’s nightmare and source of eternal hope.

The Tentatives is the key area that Titans focus on. Analyzed effectively, they are a great indicator of where your efforts need to be focused in the coming months. An experienced salesperson or manager has a good feel for how much potential business needs to be “in the pipeline” in order to meet their goals in the upcoming months. If there is a sufficient level of revenue potential in the pipeline, it either means that you just did a blitz and added a lot of new prospective deals to your pipeline that need to be qualified and moved up; or, it can mean you are having a challenge in the qualifying and value proposition area that prevents you from moving the customer to a successful conclusion. If you see the opposite, low levels of potential business, this indicates you’ll need to spend more time on prospecting and developing new leads.

Understanding the value of the reporting process is Step One to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Taking it seriously, writing your reports honestly and completely, and effectively analyzing them are critical to your success. Creativity is best not used in your reporting tools, but in trying to figure out value added solutions for your customers. Forecasting is the main tool Titans use to measure their productivity and determine actions necessary to maximize their bottom line!

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