"Find a tool that presents your data in an easy to read dashboard" - That's it. That is the worse advice we've heard when it comes to picking out a sales forecasting tool. The reason is because a dashboard will never solve your true problem. If you're a sales manager with an underperforming sales team or a disorganized sales pipeline, you can look at dashboards all day and not have the information that you need to be successful.
Everyone has seen the dashboards with the charts and graphs, some even printed out for sales meetings to illustrate performance and forecast projections. The issue with these reports can be the lack of clean and accurate data that go into them. Sales managers can be relying on data that is faulty due to a lack of a structured sales process or the fact that their reps don't feel enabled to enter in the information that they have on their deals. That is exactly why sales forecasting tools are more than just pretty dashboards.
The importance of the underlying data behind sales reports is why the best sales forecasting tools have outlined and easy-to-follow systems that help you clean your data and keep it trustworthy. Forecasting tools that empower reps to manage their sales pipeline from anywhere, as well as give them a digital personal assistant to update the on potential risks with their deals, are some qualities of top-tier forecasting tools. Some other qualities that make a sales forecasting tool elite are the level of predictive and prescriptive capabilities that they possess.
Predictive and prescriptive analytics take your dashboard and give you the ability to not just see your performance but to be in control of your outcomes. Predictive analytics uses high-level business intelligence to make accurate projections of your sales outcomes based on a variety of sales behaviors. Prescriptive analytics looks at your future sales outcomes and suggests behaviors that can reposition you to be successful. Both predictive and prescriptive analytics are based on solid data entry and maintenance so the demand still stands for having a tool that handles your data flawlessly.
Ultimately, don't be fooled by product demos that focus heavily on aesthetically appealing graphs. Great graphs built on bad data or an unenforced sales process are useless. When you are being presented a sales forecasting tool be sure to evaluate their ability to make sure your data is clean and accurate. As a bonus, be sure to vet our their predictive and prescriptive capabilities so that you have something that you can compare your projections to and have better knowledge on how to save your sales process should things not be going your way. Not all sales forecasting tools are going to be the same and some may be better for your sales team than others. To see how we approach sales forecasting, contact us! We would love to be your benchmark and help you and your sales team.