In planning for the future, the past is quite often your best friend. In the business world, things tend to be pretty cyclical. Use your CRM to gain a full overview of not only your current sales pipeline, but also the pipeline of the past; there are valuable insights to be gleaned.
– Make the Most of Your CRM
Do you have a CRM in place? Are you using it to its full potential, gaining total insight into company history, data, processes and more? A CRM is a crucial intersection into your business, giving you full access to the way in which all company departments are performing. How can you accurately forecast future revenue if you are incapable of finding out how much profit you’re currently making and have done for the past few years?
If you have chosen a user friendly CRM like Microsoft Dynamics, all the information you will need should be obvious to you, increasing your pipeline visibility.
– Train Your Team
The best way to get the most out of your CRM is to make sure that all your staff are well trained in using it. Firstly, get to know the ‘quick win’ functions within your company’s CRM. Take part in some general all-round training then advance this knowledge with further training, specifically honed into the financial elements of the system. Knowing your way around the CRM means that you’re only ever a few clicks away from visibility of your company’s financial information.
– Think Long Term, Act Short Term
The key to all revenue forecasting is to think long term; there is very little point in forecasting for the following week. It doesn’t provide enough useful information for your business to develop. Having said that, in all likelihood, the forecast you lay out for the next 6, 12 or 24 months won’t run exactly to plan. With this in mind, you must implement a short term approach to long term thinking.
At the end of the day you should expect the unexpected, it’s likely that something out of kilter with your plan will happen sooner rather than later.
– Plan for Multiple Outcomes
Once you have established a system that is capable of working on both a long term and short term scale, have multiple back up plans in place. If a short term goal post has been shifted, it does not mean that the long term goal is completely out of reach, so plan accordingly. Find different solutions to problems that are both probable and improbable; there is rarely just one path to a destination, so be sure to find the others.
Once again refer back to your CRM and continue to review past strategies and the effect that they had on your bottom line. You may even find the workaround to a current problem has already been identified in the past. Similarly, external issues may have previously arisen and the same solution could be applicable this time around.
– Review processes
If, during your review process, you find that some things aren’t working as well as possible, make it known. For example, if your sales pipeline isn’t as burgeoning as you would like, get Marketing to focus their efforts on lead generation. Conversely, if your pipeline is filled with leads but Sales aren’t getting much traction on them, then consider nurturing your leads better. A function-laden CRM, such as Microsoft Dynamics, will be capable of implementing a thorough lead scoring system to help monitor your company’s nurturing efforts.
Importantly, the more you do this in the short term, the less you’ll have to do it in the long term as your forecasting gets stronger and stronger.