sales-forecasting-guess-work

TopOPPS Forecast Methodologies

Authored by Sean Kooyman on November 30, 2015

TopOPPS' forecasting methodology has a singular, core belief: People are different, and there is no one-size fits all.  We can stop flying blind through the quarter if our forecasts worked for each rep. 

Here at TopOPPS, we have several different forecasting algorithms under the hood, each of which resolves certain weaknesses in traditional forecast methods based on the behavior of each rep. This allows us to come up with the most accurate forecast possible, as well as to draw users’ attentions to those areas that need your guidance as a sales manager.

Consider a standard 'B player' sales rep. This guy needs attention and coaching, and you give it to him the best you can. He tries to follow the rules, keeps his data in the CRM fairly up-to-date, and follows your playbooks and sales process.

TopOPPS health-based forecast is perfect for this rep. At the center of it is a unique scoring algorithm, consisting of a well-defined sales process that TopOPPS helps you design with both stages and milestones. It also includes an ideal customer profile mapping out where your sweet spot is, and interactive alerts that allow automatic coaching and quick-fixing of bad data. It ties this together with a learning algorithm to determine the Projected Close Date, activity with key contacts and decision makers, and a sense of coverage risk. This is a comprehensive forecast, incorporating ALL of the information flowing through your CRM, as well as both yours and your rep's intuition and historical accuracy. This forecast tends to be the most accurate.

Imagine another sales rep, an 'A player'. This guy barely updates the CRM, but the one thing you can always count on is him calling the shots on his deals. He keeps the opportunities he intends on winning marked “Commit,” and he does tend to win them. Even if he can't be bothered to update the stages or milestones.

TopOPPS Commit Accuracy Forecast matches this player's strengths perfectly. The learning algorithm grows with the rep over time, watching how accurate the rep's Commits are, and uses that accuracy to determine a forecast based off the rep's current pipeline and committed deals.

Consider a third sales rep, the 'Cowboy'. No matter what you say, you cannot get him to update the CRM at all, but he usually does very well and hits his number, so what can you do? You need to come up with a forecast, and while you can usually count on this rep to come through, every now and then he has a rough quarter.

The TopOPPS coverage-based forecast is ideal for this Sales Rep. Based on a learning algorithm that analyzes historical coverage amounts necessary for your rep to hit his number, as well as his current coverage and pipeline status, we are capable of coming up with a valid forecast number that overcomes the lack of updated data in the CRM.

All these forecasts work together to meet your sales team where they are at, and provide you with a bottoms-up forecast that is most accurate for each individual sales rep. They also provide useful information for coaching. Mr. Happy Ears rep stands out with his 34% Commit Accuracy, and Mr. Sandbagger rep has that awkward 1.0 coverage necessary to hit his quota, or a sketchy 100% Commit Accuracy.

At an aggregate level, as a sales manager you have three options for constructing your final forecast.

1) You can choose to go with a specific forecast method globally for all of your reps

2) You can go through your reps one by one and choose the forecast method you think best matches their individual strengths and weaknesses

3) You can tell TopOPPS to "Choose Best". This will cause TopOPPS to go look at every individual sales rep and analyze which forecast method was most reliable and accurate for each rep for the last several quarters.

The "Choose Best" forecast is particularly powerful, as it maintains its dynamic nature each quarter, grows with your reps, and automatically re-selects the best method for each sales rep as they change.

We at TopOPPS believe we can bring you a more accurate forecast that allows you to focus your time on the deals that matter, causing you to win deals that would otherwise fall through the cracks, and spend less time on deals that you won't win. Through this, we will increase your bottom line.

Join us.

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