Debunking the Myth of Process First to Improve Forecasting

In a recent blog, I discussed three quick checkpoints to assess the “state of your forecast process.” The focus was on process considerations when looking to invest in technology. Today I’d like to discuss the technology side of things and how sales and sales operations leaders can leverage technology to help improve their forecast process.

Debunking the myth of process first, then technology (Click to tweet)

If you have ever been involved in technology implementation, or any change initiative for that matter, then you probably had some level of effort focused on process—documenting it, analyzing impacts to it, making sure the new tool was aligned to it. Process first, then technology.

And how often have you seen new technology roll-outs result in process updates? It might be more common than you think, but it’s likely that such updates didn’t get as much fanfare as the technology roll-outs themselves.

Process, if one exists, might be first, but technology—especially with the many advanced technologies available today—also can help organizations identify process areas that might need improvements. Think of process like a map that might need some updating with the use of technologies such as satellite GPS and crowd-sourcing apps that gather user input. So it’s not just process first, then technology—it’s more like process, technology, then process again. (Click to tweet)

Here are three ideas to help “flip your thinking” and look at leveraging technology to improve your process on an ongoing basis, which will help make it more mature and dynamic. To read more on process maturity, click here.

Three “flip your thinking” ideas on how to leverage technology to improve your forecast process (Click to tweet)

1. It doesn’t have to be 100%! If your new forecast dashboard identifies gaps or improvement areas in your sales process, you don’t have to wait until you have the process 100% updated. Instead, keep an agile mindset, make the necessary adjustments, and fine-tune as you go. If the technology is identifying areas to address, that’s good news. And if one update you make triggers another one, then continue to adjust—but don’t stop everything to revamp the entire process!

For example, the new forecast dashboard might identify some activities in a sales stage that are not adding value. This might trigger you to remove that activity as a requirement. This, in turn, might trigger another activity later in the sales process to be updated or removed. Make the update, make the other update, and so on. The one caveat is to always do a quick impact assessment to make sure even your simple update does not have unforeseen consequences.

2. It’s OK to admit you might be wrong. Many forecast dashboard technologies utilizing machine learning are able to provide predictive analysis and proactive insights for sales teams in an almost real-time manner. They provide a multidimensional opportunity health score, compared to a more traditional one-dimensional close probability percent, by combining various data points from CRM, email, calling systems and more.

Such a capability is bound to identify areas for improvement—some of which might highlight flaws in the old reports or process. If that happens, it’s OK to admit that what you were doing before might have had some flaws. Leverage these findings, and drive the needed updates to improve the forecast process. If it results in improvements in forecast discussions which, in turn, drive forecast accuracy, then it’s a win-win after all!

3. Don’t forget: You actually have to use the new tool first! Does this sound familiar? You invest in a technology, train your sales teams and expect them to use it, but don’t actively use it yourself. Old habits are hard to break but, as a sales leader, you are critical to successful tool adoption and have to use it just as much as—if not more than—your sales teams.

This applies to the sales operations teams as well. If you are used to pulling Excel reports, stop doing that, and start using the new forecast dashboard instead. If you stop updating that Excel report, sales leaders will follow suit. If you don’t use the new forecast dashboard, then you may miss an opportunity to improve the forecast process. And if a more mature forecast process is linked to higher win rates (click here), you won’t want to miss the opportunity!

 

Questions for you:

  • Are you using your forecast dashboard to improve your process? If not, why not?
  • How can you use your forecast dashboard to improve your process?
  • When was the last time you updated your forecast process? Before or after your forecast dashboard was rolled out?

 
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