Is your (excel) sales forecast template out of date?
Your sales forecasting process could be way off base.
A great sales forecast template does three things.
#1: It makes it easier for you and your team to identify and understand business risks.
#2: It reveals the opportunities that you could develop and enhance for future growth.
#3: And, it removes the guesswork from critical decision-making so that you maintain control over what is and isn’t possible for your company in the future.
The wrong template can make these things harder, murkier and reliably inaccurate.
This happens when businesses fail to update their forecasting methods as their sales grow.
Today’s post gives you a vital tool for checking if your forecast template is helping – or hindering – your company’s growth.
Is yours still adding the value you think it is or has it become dated and cumbersome?
First lets identify where you are in your forecasting lifecycle!
Phase 1: Startup Spreadsheets
Your company is just starting up. Your sales teams are motivated, but lacking processes
You are trying to attain your first set of customers. You’re focused on calls, one-on-one conversations and using excel spreadsheets to try and understand your process. You use your forecast to drum up investor excitement and for very high level planning purposes.
Of course, your pipeline struggles with inaccuracy, biased reporting and spontaneous outcomes. Your sales forecast spreadsheet is basic and limited. Everything is separate and subjective.
You are in startup sales forecasting infancy.
Here is a great (free) starter excel template to help you improve your sales forecasting at this infancy phase. Goal is to help raise money or understand how long before profitability.
- Sales forecast spreadsheet – Excel, Google docs.
Phase 2: CRM Integration
Your company has integrated cloud-based CRM systems to improve your sales pipelines.
You have a sales team and a CRM. Data-entry and accuracy is becoming vital. Aggregation tools have given you the power to improve cross-team collaboration and forecast accuracy.
Still, with inflated pipelines, and sales forecasts missing the mark – you have an initial incremental process in the works. Your information is there but inaccurate and unreliable.
According to the Aberdeen Group, sales reps who rely on CRM hit their quotas 82% of the time, compared to non-CRM users who hit it 65% of the time. So you are on the right track.
You are in sales forecasting adolescence.
Here is a great free (excel) template that you can use with your CRM to forecast sales more accurately.
- Sales forecast template – Excel, Google docs, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics
Phase 3: Data Automation
Your company has progressed to data automation, using toolsets to source and harness more reliable data for improved real-time reporting.
You now have an established sales team which means you have product market fit and are looking towards scaling. You are in the midst of adding a slew of automation tools to your sales stack.
With all the automation comes more work though. Reps move more and more away from selling and into admin work for all of the tools you need to run a business at scale. Either you have a sales operations team that is spending a ton of their time building forecasts or you don’t. Either way even with all the tools you have your sales forecasts aren’ that accurate.
You are in sales forecasting adulthood.
This is where a tool, like TwelveZeros starts to become really valuable. An accurate sales forecast can be the difference between life and death for a growing company. Setting up the right sales process early through TwelveZeros is vital to ensure that your team is ready to scale.
- Sales forecasting through TwelveZeros – Excel, Google docs, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and the chosen automation tools of your choice.
Phase 4: AI-Driven Sales Forecasting
Your company has reached full maturity with AI-driven sales forecasting.
Complex data sets are running through your CRM systems and other automation tools. You have a full team devoted to extracting insights and creating efficiency as you continue to scale your business.
But do you have an AI providing value for your sales organization?
- Sales forecasting by TwelveZeros – Excel, Google docs, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Automation Tools and TwelveZeros Sales Forecasting AI.
Update Your Company’s Forecast Template
Trustworthy sales forecasts lead to better year over year performance.
Having multiple teams and working with an outdated, inaccurate sales forecast formula will stunt your company’s growth.
Make sure that you streamline your sales by aligning your current sales forecast template to your present level of maturity.
Otherwise your company could be leaving money in a lingering pipeline that relies on intuition and guesswork, instead of low risk, high opportunity forecasting that works.
What stage of maturity has your company reached? Weigh in below.
10 years of corporate finance and forecasting experience at different technology startups across the US.