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Sales Forecast Review: Story Time
By John Barrows | November 22, 2017

I call sales forecast reviews “Story Time.” Reps come up with all sorts of stories about why a deal is or isn’t going to close and managers have to sift through it all to figure out what’s real and what’s not. As a manager, I always knew a deal wasn’t going to close when a rep would start off the conversation with “Let me give you a little background on this one…” Brutal.

One of the hardest parts of being a manager is knowing how to translate stories from your reps into reality so that you have a chance of being somewhat accurate with the team forecast. This is the reason most managers take the team forecast and shave off at least 10-20% before sending it upstream. This happens at almost every level too which is why the ultimate forecast that gets reported to the Executive Level or the Board is a fraction of what the reps say it is.

The main reason we default to this is because of a lack of formal sales process with identified stages and objective measurements throughout. There is far too much subjectivity in most sales processes. Relying predominantly on your gut is not going to always result in success. We need to find a way to insert as much objectivity into the process as possible.

I never allowed my reps to say the words “feel” or “think” in my forecast reviews until we identified the objective components of what they really had. For instance, they could tell me they had the “decision making process” but if they couldn’t show me something that confirmed it from the client side I wouldn’t consider it real. Their “gets” needed to be tangible and the way we made them tangible was by using a “summary e-mail” which summarized the conversation with the client and asked for them to e-mail back confirming its accuracy. I wrote about this a while ago in a post called “My Favorite Nugget” which I highly recommend checking out and implementing.

By outlining the objective components of the sales process, summarizing them, and confirming them with clients we have a much better understanding of where the deal actually is and what we need to do to move it forward.

For more information on how  to tell if deals are real, watch my latest episode of Make It Happen Mondays.

Make It Happen!

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  • Tank Hanna

    No ‘feel’ or ‘think’ statements… pure objectivity! I love this. Thanks for the great article.

    • John Barrows

      it works great for marriages too 🙂

  • Andy Mutton

    Couldn’t agree more John! Essential Sales Process is a great example of a sales process which provides simple objective checks on opportunity status. Check it out at

  • thebigwillow

    Great POV, John. I’ll add that objective “outside -in” buyer intent data 1) improves B2B sales forecasts and 2) sources up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. More and more companies are following Commvault and others who use Intent Monitoring (meaning content consumption activities of an account tracked across the web) to gain intelligence on buyers and answer key questions…are they still reading about our competitors while we are forecasting at 90%? What research is happening around our solutions at other buying centers that we may not have in our CRM? Commvault found at $750,000 cross-sell opportunity this way… see for their SiriusDecisions ROI award-winning story.

  • Marah Sayaman

    Nice article, John! This is a great place to start for my team as we go for 2017 with the hopes of achieving our sales goals. Thanks for sharing this. By the way, if you or your readers are searching for a phone intelligence platform that integrates CRMs and phone systems, enabling companies to enhance prospect and customer interactions. I Hope you and your readers can give Tenfold a try.

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