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Sales Forecasts: Inspect What You Expect
Posted By Lewis Miller | Dec 06, 2012
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*Deeper visibility into rep’s activity enables spot-coaching* Regardless of your company function, as managers we all set expectations for employees in the form of quotas, deliverables, etc. to obtain results. We measure results at specific points, whether it is monthly, which I like to think of as 12 100-yard dashes, quarterly, or during annual reviews. The issue is, at any level in any company, a **manager shouldn’t wait until the review point to ask about progress toward goals**. If they do, then their ability to impact results in between the review times—points where they might be able to intervene and influence the outcome—is negligible. Recently, Anthony Iannarino wrote an excellent post, What We Are Teaching (A Note to the Sales Leader), which reinforced the need for inspection. “By failing to review their opportunities, we teach the sales force that they don’t have to work on deal strategy. We teach them that it’s okay to wing it, come what may.” And if sales management doesn’t have the necessary visibility into opportunities then they can’t and don’t add strategic value to the sales person. Sales managers typically have the experience and understanding of different routes that can be taken in order to provide timely resolutions to issues. To leverage this skill and experience, managers need to be able to observe choke points in the sales life cycle in their entire pipeline and intervene at the right time. A coaching oriented manager can then add more value to the process to increase the probability of a positive outcome. ###Complex Buyers, Complex Sales Processes But how does a sales manager know what deals to inspect and when? Many sales managers, especially those in large enterprises, might be managing 12 or more reps with 30 or more opportunities per month. That roughly translates into 360 deals a month to inspect, typically using a tool like Salesforce.com to do so. This volume can quickly become overwhelming. If there is no process or tool in place to manage this volume, managers will revert to only managing the largest and more strategic opportunities. Additionally, sales managers are faced with increasingly complex buying environments with many unique buyer personas and situations that complicate many opportunities. Typically, managers due to sheer volume will receive a high level overview of all these opportunities during the review period—whether it is weekly, monthly, or quarterly. But without deeper visibility and details into these opportunities it is difficult for managers to truly understand how they are progressing and if and when they should step in to help spot-coach an opportunity. **So here’s the big challenge for sales managers.** How do you manage the volume and find the right opportunities to inspect in detail and not waste your time on the other stuff? [Sales playbooks](/sales-playbooks) provides a solution that helps sales managers know when to take corrective action while providing them with buyer personas and other information on each unique selling situation. Remember, inspect what you expect!