For those who have worked in sales organizations, you know that often even the word forecast sets off audible sighs, a sense of dread in the eyes of your coworkers, and the look of ultimate despair. Why do employees feel this way? Is it the actual task of forecasting or the forecasting process?
After talking with sales leaders and sales reps, we’ve heard the same issues repeatedly. Regardless of the frequency of a sales team forecast meetings, many describe the meetings as “painful,” “inefficient,” “a recurring problem with consistency in reporting as reps come and go,” “the data is typically outside of Salesforce and needs to be rolled-up in a manual, error-prone process.”
All of these problems aren’t related to the actual task of forecasting itself, but the forecasting process. It’s the process that sets off audible sighs in the office because in most organizations, the forecasting process is disconnected, inefficient, time-consuming, and run through spreadsheets.
How Much Time Does the Forecasting Process Take?
We all complain that there aren’t enough hours in a day, and we don’t have the time to complete all our daily tasks, whether that’s at work or home. Sometimes it does seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done—but other times, you’re doing tasks that require a sufficient amount of time, such as manually preparing the forecast in spreadsheets. But the question isn’t, how much time are you spending preparing your sales forecast? The question really is—why are you spending so much time preparing the sales forecast?
Manual preparation of the forecast in spreadsheets requires a sufficient amount of time from all employees involved in the process, which in turn, takes time away from other important tasks. When it comes to the number of days at work, it is estimated that:
- Most VPs of Sales are unavailable for a day every other week because they are in forecast meetings
- Most Sales Managers are unavailable for a day every other week because it’s the day before the VP of Sales forecast meeting
- Most Sales Reps are unavailable for a day every other week because it’s the day before the Sales Manager forecast meeting[i]
Now all of this may seem laughable, but perhaps obvious when you start to think about your own organization. Despite the fact that the forecast is a critical part of your business, organizations continue to use spreadsheets as the main forecasting method. But there’s a better alternative: an automated and collaborative process would eliminate the amount of time individuals spend on forecasting and their focus can be placed where it should be—on sales.
How Spreadsheets Add Pain to the Process
Not only is forecasting through spreadsheets time-consuming, but spreadsheets can introduce more errors into the forecasting process. It might be the case that spreadsheets continue to be used because they’re available to all, and most people have basic skills in Excel, but it’s still not the right place for an efficient forecasting process. Forecasting with spreadsheets essentially cripples the process but making it inefficient, and non-collaborative, as spreadsheets are not designed to maintain a streamlined forecasting process.
From a high level, here are some of the main issues when spreadsheets are used for the forecasting process:
- Spreadsheets require manual data preparation, making errors in data aggregation far more likely (studies suggest 9 out of 10 spreadsheets contain errors!)
- Information in spreadsheets is static, as it cannot be updated in real-time to take into consideration changes in the sales organization
- Spreadsheets lack collaborative features for employees because they are usually distributed via email
- Spreadsheets live in individual silos on individual computers and this means sales reps all have different methods for how they arrived at their forecasting numbers
- Spreadsheets lack historical context: historical data cannot be tracked, reviewed and analyzed in a central repository
While spreadsheets might be available to all, organizations should invest in a dedicated forecasting tool if they are serious about improving the quality of their sales forecasts, but also the entire forecasting process.
Vortini is a simple, customizable and powerful sales forecasting solution that eliminates the use of spreadsheets. Vortini is designed to drill-down into all aspects of the forecast, providing visibility to both sales managers and sales reps.
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Jess is a communications professional and Vortini’s lead content/web developer. Her current interests lie in the intersection of sales technology and machine learning. In her free time she reads a book-a-week, practices yoga, and is an avid gardener.