Tim Hagen, President of Sales Progress
(A Training Reinforcement Partner Co.)
Coaching to the Salesperson’s Forecast
The purpose of a forecast is to provide accuracy of
projections of achievable sales revenue which is
based on historical sales data, trends, analysis of
market surveys and salespersons’ estimates.
Salespeople are required to create their own sales
forecasts. These forecasts have the capability to
see at a glance what is going to happen with their
sales and how they are doing for the week,
month, quarter and even a year.
These salespeople are making an important
statement as it relates to what they think is going
to happen and when. The majority of the time,
they overestimate the amount that is going to
come in versus what actually does.
Sales Forecasting Challenges
Accurate forecasting is a problem for sales organizations. There are many
reasons why sales forecasting is challenging. Here are a few of these reasons:
• No common language or process
• Lack of sales reps forecasting skills and knowledge
• Lack of insight of customer behavior
• Lack of sales management coaching
• Don’t have appropriate tools
• Lack of personal accountability of individual salespeople
Why Don’t Salespeople Forecast Correctly?
Aside from the challenges facing sales leaders today, there is a big reason
that salespeople don’t forecast accurately and it has to do with the
emotional element involved. They are emotionally invested in the process
and want to believe that every customer who they have a relationship with
really likes them and believes they will come through with the sale.
Why Honest Communication is Important
It’s important that the company can rely on the sales manager to deliver accurate
information. This means that the salesperson must give honest and accurate
forecasting numbers to his or her manager.
Essentially, there are layers of trust involved starting with the customer who is
making the purchase to the sales rep who is trusting the buyer’s authority to make
the purchase. Next, can the sales manager trust the forecast of his salesperson
whether it is based on past performance or if the salesperson is just telling the
manager what he wants to hear?
When salespeople are forecasting and the manager wants to know where his team
is at, 50% are either lying to the manager or lying to themselves or both. This sets
the rep, team and organization up for a fall.
Why Do We Need to Coach Salespeople on
According to Jim Dickey, Managing Partner with CSO Insights, he reported that over the past four or
five years that 48% to 53% of salespeople never hit their sales forecast. “The salesperson who is
going to be your best forecaster is the salesperson who knows the most about his customer,” says
Roger Bostdorff, president of B2B Sales Boost, a business advisory company.
1. Integrity: Forecasts are nebulous and it is important to be honest with your forecasting.
2. Accuracy: Companies bank their future on forecasts so it is important to be accurate.
3. Performance Development Revealed: At each stage of the process, there are performance
Coaching to Improve Sales Forecasting
To ensure that their forecasts are as accurate as possible,
managers can use the following coaching techniques:
• Ask Contingency-Based Coaching Questions: For
example, ask a rating question: On a scale of 1 to
7, with 7 being very confident and 1 being, I am
not sure, how would you rate your confidence in
hitting your sales numbers this quarter? What do
we need to do to move toward a 7?
• Group Coaching: Pair up a higher-performing
salesperson with a lower-performing salesperson.
Have them work out a plan of action that would
help to increase the lower-performing rep’s sales.
• Coach to Each Individual’s Different Performance
Areas: Some of these areas could be handling
price objections, competitor objections, cold
calling etc.. This will help to get a true
understanding and clarification of the issue and
to take action on what was learned thus moving
toward the forecasted sales numbers.
Coaching Creates a More Accurate Forecast
A coach can help a salesperson create a more accurate forecast by:
• Asking Questions: This will help uncover why the salesperson is not hitting
• Creating Honesty Factor: Coaching provides opportunity for salesperson
to be honest with themselves.
• Building Comfort: A salesperson who has developed a comfort level with
their manager/coach will be more engaged with them.
• Being Aware of Emotions: Many reps base their forecasting on emotions,
such as, “I feel…”, “I have a sense…”, “My Client really likes me so…” With
these type of emotionally-driven statements, the rep is selling themselves
as much as they are selling to their sales leaders.
Once you uncover the underlying issue that is keeping the
salesperson from reaching their quota, you will find that
there is either a lack of knowledge, lack of skill or a
behavioral issue that is the inhibitor. As a coach, it is your
responsibility to motivate them, challenge them, condition
them and drive them to improve their sales forecasts in
order to reach their goal.
Join our blog
For more information on this topic as well as various other
coaching topics, listen to our radio show on Blog Talk Radio.
Want to Learn More About Coaching?
Visit our website: http://www.salesprogress.com
Or call us at 262-377-5655
For more information, please visit us at: www.salesprogress.com
About Tim Hagen
Tim Hagen founded Sales Progress, a Training Reinforcement Partner
Company, in 1997. Tim has authored the Sales Progress Coaching
Training System™. This system teaches sales and non- sales leaders
how to systematically coach their employees to dramatically higher
levels of performance!
Ask About Our “Sales Progress Coaching Training System”
“Where We Build Managers Into Powerful Sales Coaches”
Connect with Tim: