sales forecasting

Why Forecasting in Spreadsheets Is Wasting Your Time and Money

The spreadsheet is the bane of a modern sales team. It did its part before better technology came along, but far too many organizations still use this flexible, yet uncontrollable, tool for forecasting and other mission-critical processes. Here are five ways that spreadsheets waste your time and money.

People Stop Believing What’s in the CRM

Essential sales data sits in spreadsheets in email inboxes, out-of-the-way network drives and other non-centralized locations. Every rep or manager has their own documents, and entering the data into the CRM is rarely at the top of their to-do list. Before long, no one trusts the information in a system that’s supposed to help your sales team improve their productivity and ability to win accounts.

You also run into major problems when people leave the company. The critical deal data may be lost forever when their network drives or business email inbox gets wiped out. The pipeline is left in a state of disaster after this happens.

You Can’t See the Deals at Risk on Time

You lack visibility into your sales team’s activities, as you’re entirely dependent on whether they send their spreadsheets or bother updating the CRM records. The data that you’re looking at could be weeks behind. You have no way of seeing whether a particular deal is at risk before it’s too late, which makes it difficult to provide an accurate forecast.

The last thing you want to deal with is going over a sales forecast with the C-suite and having to turn around and say that it’s completely wrong once you get the latest information from the spreadsheets. The modern business world is too fast-paced for an organization to lack near real-time insights into its sales data.

You Can’t See Movements in the Pipeline on Time

Another side effect of spreadsheet forecasting is a reactive approach to pipeline changes. You have to try and play catch-up in the moment, rather than planning a strategy to deal with sudden changes in your sales.

The lack of up-to-date information hinders your efforts and makes it difficult to coordinate with other people attempting to fix the pipeline problems. Redundant work and inefficient processes make the entire situation worse and could cause you to lose out on even more deals.

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Opportunities also pass you by on a regular basis, so you’re losing money from every angle. The rest of the leadership won’t be happy to hear that the forecast is not meeting expectations because half of your predicted deals end up slipping into the next quarter.

Everyone Adopts a Different Process

Each sales managers has their own preferred formats for setting up a spreadsheet and working with the data inside of it. Your resident Excel guru has so many formulas in theirs that you can almost count it as a self-contained application. On the other end of the spectrum, the new team members have to painfully figure out the process by trial and error.

A lack of standardized business processes makes everything more difficult. You have to work with data that’s delivered in dozens of different configurations and hope that no one messed up any formulas before the data reaches you. New sales managers come in and have people telling them a dozen different ways to work with the spreadsheet-based system. Sufficient productivity is difficult in this type of environment.

Sales managers also lack the ability to optimize their processes. What works for one team won’t work for another, so it’s impossible to scale operations. Onboarding new hires takes far longer than it needs to, and the training quality is all over the place. Someone might sound brilliant in their interview but fail to perform due to a lack of consistent training.

You’re Blind When You’re Not at Your Desk

Sales teams don’t want to stay at their desks all day. They need to head to client sites, give presentations, refine their pitches, attend meetings with the rest of the team and have access to deal information at hand. Spreadsheets cause blindness whenever you or your team are away from your desks.

Vital information gets lost on the way from the rep’s vehicle to their desk, which can result in deals that take forever to close or end up getting lost. The lack of mobility is also frustrating when your team uses many apps in their personal lives that can be accessed from anywhere.

You end up losing your best people because they want the tools required to perform at a top level. Over time, you end up with a team that isn’t filled with the motivated staff that you need to bring in consistent cash flow. This situation only gets worse if you have a direct competitor that offers a much better sales forecasting system than your organization does.

Information is always out of date when you do your forecast in a spreadsheet. You can’t build the type of top-tier sales team that your organization needs to grow when you rely on outdated methods. Ditch these documents and move to a system that provides the visibility and consistency that your sales team needs.

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