<img src="https://ws.zoominfo.com/pixel/4z2e82sWyhmveGlCzuJa" width="1" height="1" style="display: none;">
Untitled presentation (1)

Best Practices for B2B Sales Pipeline and Forecast Management

Authored by Ric Ratkowski on January 21, 2020

New year, new blog series!  

The new blog series will focus on “Best Practices for B2B Sales Pipeline and Forecast Management”.   This covers a big area so this series could take most of 2020 to complete and its frequency will be more often than once a month.   

The reason for this blog series is companies continue to rely on human intuition and instinct to produce sales forecasts.  They continue to spend significant time managing, manually reviewing and updating the sales forecast despite advances in sales technology.

Focus of the Best Practices

The best practices to be covered will not be lofty, “boil the ocean water” best practices.  They will focus on tactical areas, and fixing specific bottlenecks and problems many companies face in B2B Sales Forecasting.  These best practices are based on our customer’s experiences.

To support the implementation of these best practice implementation These best practices will be written up in a “baseline”, “good”, “better”, “best”, progressive format.  This may feel like an oxymoron because “good” and “better” are obviously not “best practices”, but the purpose is to provide a migration path from baseline to “best” and help companies evolve their sales organization.

The best practices will be organized along the following five categories:

  • Data Access
  • Sales Process
  • Opportunity Management
  • Sales Pipeline Analytics
  • Sales Forecast

Organizing the best practices will be a bit of a challenge because these categories are tightly related.  The following diagram helps visualize the interrelationship.  

Best Practice in B2B Sales Pipeline Management and Forecasting Model

The core of the diagram is the sales process, opportunity [pipeline] management and the sales forecast but to have a data driven process you need both access to data and the related analytics they drive.  The basis for the sales forecast is the current sales pipeline, along with all the past history of close-won and close-lost opportunities and their related drivers and attributes. The sales process drives opportunity management as a basis for the sales forecast.  Accuracy and efficient execution of the sales forecast also drives opportunity management.

The evolution to best practices needs to be worked across all of these areas in parallel.  Incremental enhancements in one area creates positive impact in the other categories. Likewise, striving for perfection in one area while ignoring the other areas will experience diminishing returns.

A Perspective on an Accurate Sales Forecast

The ultimate outcome of best practices in B2B Sales Pipeline and Forecast Management is an accurate sales forecast.  Sales forecasting is a foundational process and an accurate sales forecast is an indicator that goes beyond the ability to predict the future.   A consistent accurate sales forecast is the result of a well managed/well defined sales process that supports and works in harmony with the customer buying process.   An accurate sales forecast reflects a good sales process. An additional outcome of an accurate sales forecast and a good sales process is sales growth.

Summary

I hope this was enough of a definition of “Best Practices in Sales Forecasting and Pipeline Management” to get you interested! 

My next blog will dig into the best practices related to data and data collection and access.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Lists by Topic

Leverage these best practices with automation and AI driven by TopOPPS

Learn how our customers are winning with artificial intelligence in their CRM:

  • Predictive Sales Forecasting
  • Automated Pipeline Management
  • Significantly More Updates from Reps

Watch Videos

More Recent Posts:

October 30, 2020

Best Practices for B2B Sales - Weekly Pipeline/Opportunity Review

This is a continuation of the previous blog on sales rep coaching.  The prior blog reviewed how sales rep coaching fits within the sales management process and outlined best practices related to “call coaching”, one aspect of sales rep coaching.  This blog focuses another aspect of sales rep coaching --  sales pipeline reviews and detail opportunity reviews.  The next blog will focus on the third aspect of sales rep coaching, sales rep performance one-on-ones.   ...

sales management, Sales Process, Sales Pipeline Management, AI for Sales, automated sales rep coaching, sales best practices, Sales coaching

October 16, 2020

Best Practices for B2B Sales - Sales Rep Coaching and One-on-Ones

Sales rep coaching and sales manager/sales rep one-on-ones are the catalyst for sales optimization and sales growth. They are also the tool for increasing the sales rep proficiency and converting C and B quality sales reps to B and A players.  Some supporting research from CSO Insights reveals a correlation between quota attainment and coaching.  The study found the better the sales manager coaching the higher quota attainment.   ...

Sales Executives, Sales Tools, AI for Sales, sales best practices, Sales coaching, Sales One-On-Ones

August 26, 2020

Best Practices for B2B Sales - Sales Management Process

The next four blog posts will focus on the sales management process.  This is the overarching sales processes between sales leadership and sales managers, sales managers and sales reps and sales operations with sales leadership, sales management and sales reps.  These processes align the different sales groups towards the same goals. This is the fourth category of blog series Best Practices for B2B Sales Pipeline and Forecast Management based on the original blog post for this best practice series started on January 21st. ...

sales management, AI for Sales, sales best practices

August 19, 2020

Best Practices for B2B Sales - Sales Opportunity Postmortem

or a sales team, complacency is the enemy of improvement and growth.   Top sales teams continuously improve to achieve better standards, no matter what level of success they have reached in the past.  The blog “Best Practices for B2B Sales - Sales Pipeline Data & Process Improvement, focused on using analytics as a basis to identify bottlenecks in the sales process and create a process for continual improvement.  That is one way.  Doing a sales postmortem is another.  It provides an operational perspective on how to enhance the sales process. ...

sales best practices, sales opportunity management, sales account management

August 11, 2020

Best Practices for B2B Sales - Always Know the Next Step

The most important step in any sales process is the NEXT step.   It is a hurdle that must be cleared to give you the right to move to the “NEXT, NEXT” step.  The next step is not granted, but earned by successful completion of the current step.  The next step has to be set up with the buyer as you finish out the current step.  ...

AI for Sales, Guided Selling, sales best practices, Sales Pipeline Visibility, sales opportunity management

August 4, 2020

Best Practices for B2B Sales - Guided Selling

Guided selling is the process of prescribing optimal sales execution steps to the sales reps to enforce a consistent and efficient sales process. The tasks and process are based on sales patterns of past close-won, and close-lost opportunities. Dynamic guided selling is the automated collection of prospect interactions and seller activities with the application of artificial intelligence and pattern matching to prescribe optimal buyer role based sales execution steps  and coaching ...

AI for Sales, Guided Selling, sales best practices, sales milestones

July 28, 2020

Best Practices for B2B Sales - Account Management

This blog may be a little controversial.  Many blogs and white papers talk about account management as a sales function.  Sales reps target accounts to sell to.  They then flush out sales opportunities within the account and work on closing those opportunities.  At TopOPPS we take a broader approach to account management.  We believe account management starts with marketing.  It includes both marketing and sales. ...

Sales Funnel, Marketing Funnel, sales best practices, sales opportunity management, sales account management

July 13, 2020

Best Practices for B2B Sales - Opportunity Management

This next couple of blog posts will focus on Sales Opportunity Management.  This is the third category of blog series Best Practices for B2B Sales Pipeline and Forecast Management based on the original blog post for this best practice series started on January 21st. ...

Sales Pipelines, Guided Selling, guide winning behaviors, best practices, sales best practices, sales opportunity management