Your sales forecast is the base document, either hardcopy or soft, for your business development.
It must be a working document and not one which is wheeled out once a quarter or year.
OK, you say but how do I fill that document with meaningful figures.
This is down to your market intelligence.
So what is the process?
The two concepts often used to graphically describe this, are the sales funnel or pipeline. Basically the same but with one important difference which I argue for more a more efficient sales process should be the latter.
What are the various stages?
Ideally your sales cycle should be a pipeline but there is one problem– they leak!
So your model will end up looking more like a funnel – you need to put more in to get the required output.
Feeding your funnel/pipeline is a matter of intelligence – of your customer, market and importantly your product.
The better your intelligence the less input you need for your pipeline/funnel which will give you more time to seek out new potential fuel for your system.
There’s an awful lot of coffee!
Coffee shops are big business, just look at the proliferation of them at your local shopping centre and I like the occasional cup of coffee, but I’m confused by the various versions on the menu, Latte, Mocha, Americano, Au Lait, Espresso, etc.
I wonder how many customers really know, what these different versions are.
In addition there is often very little explanation on the menu board, to help you make a choice, just the price for small, medium or large.
OK you can use trial and error until you find the one you like and in some establishments the staff, are often not very helpful in enlightening you!
Am I the only one confused?
This is a bit like our own sales development, does your customer understand what you offer but most importantly do you understand their needs
For that, are their purchasing criteria?
Going back to the coffee shop let’s look at it from both sides, which is something a lot of businesses neglect.
Firstly; from the supplier view point (the coffee shop).
They want to demonstrate their comprehensive product range and knowledge but need to enlighten their potential customers such as a description of their products. The objective is to help the potential customer to identify the product which meets their need.
Secondly; from the purchasers viewpoint (the customer).
I have a need (coffee) and require a product to meet it. Take my own; I only drink black coffee (which is never on the menu board) so all of the other type are irrelevant. Likewise with your customers, understand their need and offer the product which meets it.
The basis of any sales transaction is to meet the need(s) of your customer. It is of no use in offering additional ‘bells and whistles’ if they are no use, as it will be perceived that they are paying for something they do not require and hence needless cost, to them.
You want a satisfied customer who will come back to you again.