Sales Forecasting – an Insiders View from Salesforce.com and Datahug

Today, we bring you an article by Datahug’s VP Worldwide Sales & Alliances – Kieran Carrick


“Sales Forecasting is both an art and a science but it’s also very social!”

An insiders view from salesforce.com and Datahug

 

People have been debating the “is sales forecasting an art or a science?” question for years now. During my 11 years at Salesforce.com I concluded that it was definitely both an art form and a science.

Science was very evident in the rigorous use of the world’s best SFA solution where the real-time forecasting capability was used with the kind of discipline you would expect from a company whose DNA was all about selling. Art was also evident on those rare occasions when the plan didn’t quite come together and creativity and drama were used in equal quantities to save the day!

Accountability

The most important element in making forecasting work more effectively is accountability – sales people and sales managers need to feel personally accountable for delivering (and overachieving) on their forecasts. (The rigorous enforcement of Forecast Categories – Pipeline, Best Case and Commit was so much more effective than the “should have”, “could have” and “would have” methodology I had enjoyed previously.)  That sense of ownership for delivering the numbers combined with clear visibility of the sales pipeline and laser sharp focus on operational excellence was the proven formula for success.  That sense of ownership and accountability is, I would argue, genuinely social in the true meaning of the word.

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The Social Dimension of Forecasting

I did not think it was possible to improve on that best practice until I came to Datahug. Here, alongside my trusted and familiar Salesforce.com forecasting tools, I encountered what I now call the social dimension of forecasting.

analytics

Key to sales forecasting here at Datahug is the use of our own product to add an extra social dimension which is based on relationships. This is powerful and gives sales and management a complete view of all the communications that are happening around our deals (inside and external to our CRM).

Communication Scores

Datahug generates communication scores, which are based on the frequency, quality and type of communications, and these are a remarkably accurate predictor of how likely a deal is to close or not. This should not really come as a surprise, as we all know intuitively that the more we communicate with our customers the more likely we are to be successful. Datahug surfaces this information automatically and in a very visual and actionable way allowing us to spot problems early and leverage our internal network to ensure we close the deal. This helps sales and sales management bring operational excellence to a whole new level. Now that is really social and really practical!


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