Ever year in ancient Egypt, priests would predict the dates when the Nile would flood, and their prophecies would usually come true. The farmers and other people who relied on this information believed that the priests gained their knowledge through divine revelation, but in truth, the priests relied on science, not mysticism. They used a secret system of measurements, tracking the current water levels against the past behavior of the river, in order to make authoritative forecasts.
Many Sales Operations Leaders would love to be as accurate in their predictions as those priests were, and they often behave as if sales forecasting were a matter of divination, rather than calculation. But those ancient forecasters were successful because they gathered real-time data and correlated it with historical trends. Their predictive analysis was based on fact, not fiction.
When we neglect the data, we risk many forecasting pitfalls: putting our faith in the status quo, ignoring some probabilities and overestimating others, making unfounded correlations, and over-emphasizing factors that support the outcomes we want, rather than the outcomes we can reliably expect.
For the Egyptians who predicted the flooding of the Nile, accuracy was a must-have, not a nice-to-have. A mistake could result in damaged crops and famine. Your sales organization might not be threatened by starvation if the forecasts are off, but the consequences can still be pretty serious: poor quota attainment, inventory and supply chain management problems, misallocation of resources, and other types of volatility in the organization. Everybody loses. Of course, there are tools you can use to automate many aspects of predictive analysis, but in order to succeed, you’ll need buy-in from your sales teams, not only to follow sales processes but also to engage with the software platforms that enable accurate forecasts.
Some people worry that these data-centric expectations can lead Sales Operations Leaders to micro-manage their sales teams and force salespeople to waste time inputting information. But building the resources you need to make accurate sales forecasts doesn’t have to be onerous.
Rather, CRM and SPM tracking can be integrated into the culture of the sales organization, not to monitor salespeople but to empower them. When sales teams start seeking data-enabled outcomes—including accurate forecasts—to improve their own performance, they’ll reap the dividends and use the programs more robustly. Everybody wins.
To see how you can build data-enabled culture in your sales organization and make better forecasts, try a demo of Obero SPM.