Don’t we all wish that we could see into the future at times? In sales, the attempt to look into the future is a constant – and consistent – practice among top performers. Call it what you will, anticipation, projection or calculated guess, top performers do it intuitively, frequently and accurately. The dividend forecasts pay are huge for them.
My favourite saying here is the “top performers always go to the highest potential at the highest probability first”. For me this truth means that they are better at forecasting than the rest.
The three drivers of a decent forecast say one heck of a lot about the motivation of a top performer: Here’s my take:
1. Know more: They just have better knowledge about the customer and the needs. They have asked better questions and taking more time to dig into the customers decision making process. They understand how they stack up against the competition and position themselves accordingly.
2. Assess frequently: Things change with and for customers and they are on top of these changes. They know that sales evolve, and assessing the impact of customer actions and decisions along the way is critical to every success.
3. Act fast: They are agile. When they anticipate a move, they adjust, counter or align. Closing the gap between what they want to have happen and what they think will happen is an instinctive response.
On knowing more…
Everyday salespeople and their managers decide where and how to spend their time. Daily, they are challenged with the task of prioritizing effort and directing their time to the accounts or sales opportunities that will produce the greatest return. This is no easy task. Three variables loom large in their decision making: potential, probability and timing. Let’s crack these open.
Potential: What is the opportunity worth? Most often this relates to the size of the opportunity, and better, the profitability. Sometimes potential may take into consideration the opportunity to leverage the customer or the opportunity for future gain.
Probability: What is the likelihood you will win it? This is the most complex variable as it can relate to:
- The intensity and urgency of the need and your understanding of it
- The relevance and value of your solution versus the competition
- Your knowledge of the decision making process and relationship with key decision makers and influencers
Timing: When and how will it close? Sounds simple but many a sale is lost at closing.
Top sales professionals have a keen sense of these variables, in fact they preoccupy themselves daily with the reassessment of these variables for their most important sales opportunities. There is magic in this process.
There is a lot of intelligence packed into decent, accurate forecasting. It seems so much more than just a good guess.