As a consulting firm serving the small business community, we often run into small business owners who don’t have a business forecast. Without one business owners may be missing key opportunities because they can’t define a strategic direction that will enable their business to scale.
Many business owners don’t take the time to develop a forecast and prefer to reply on judgement or “gut-feel”. Judgement should not be overlooked but it needs to be combined with quantitative data for an accurate prediction of your business outcomes.
Running your business without a forecast is like going for a walk in the park without an umbrella because you didn’t expect it to rain and coming home soaked. You didn’t check the weather forecast because it didn’t feel like rain so you didn’t know to expect a downpour!
Here’s the point: A forecast helps you know the direction you’re heading and how you plan to get there.
With a forecast, business owners and managers can determine many things like which lines of business should be expanded and, how much you plan to earn for each initiative as you move forward.. It can mean the difference between being ready and being left behind
Once a business has a good plan outlined to cover their expenses, then a good next step is always to determine where and how you can increase sales. Effective sales forecasting is crucial for determining your revenue projections.
This is where a CRM comes in, empowering you to expand your opportunities for growth and increase sales. Specifically, a CRM will empower you to:
- Manage your sales team’s targets and see if they are on track.
- Manage your pipeline and adjust probability for closing.
- Identify your best lead sources.
- See if deals are lagging and identify where you might be able to move things along.
- Identify your top performers and whether they’re being rewarded/recognized/compensated appropriately.
- See who might be lagging behind and need some help meeting their sales target.
- Sync with your sales team, especially if you have remote employees.
- Generate on-demand reports to use in weekly or bi-weekly forecast calls. This way, you can ensure that your sales team has access to the same information in order to coordinate efforts.
- Configure an interactive dashboard to easily monitor key metrics.
- Provide a way for sales reps to always know if they’re on track to meet their quotas, reducing the likelihood that they don’t make their numbers.
Without the ability to forecast, you run the risk of large deviations in your revenue. You might not always be able to control the business. But you can identify trends in your organization that will help you to understand and therefore manage your business better.
Maybe your team missed its sales targets last month. More important, though, is the big picture:
- Is your business on track to meet its quarterly or annual goals?
- Have you put enough money in the bank to weather the storm?
- If you’re in a small, cyclical business, I’m sure you’re already well aware of the need to plan your finances effectively and tighten things up during the off season.
Now, you might start getting overwhelmed thinking that things have to be perfect. No, not true.
You just need to start somewhere. A CRM will help you easily set monthly, quarterly, and annual sales goals that you can track progress against and then react accordingly based on the realities of your business.
Tracking and measuring results enables you to figure out what is logical for your business. Knowing your numbers will also help you to focus on and fill any gaps.
Forecasting will help you determine best practices. You can analyze your sales team’s performance against other sales teams or their own past performance. See what’s working or not working, and what you can apply from past experiences.
Plan for growth. Determine what’s viable and be proactive, not reactive. Know where you’re going, grab your umbrella, and maybe even start dancing in the rain! Looking for a CRM to help you forecast your growth? Click here to schedule a discovery meeting.