Better Analytics Leads to Better Sales Forecasting, Says New Report from Aberdeen Group
Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A new report from research analyst firm Aberdeen Group Better Sales Forecasting Through Process and Technology: No Crystal Ball Required finds that “sales analytics solutions can provide an enterprise-wide data flow into the forecasting process.”

Vice President and Group Director of Sales Effectiveness for Aberdeen Group Peter Ostow, explains in a blog post how sales teams have long deployed Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Sales Force Automation (SFA) solutions to forecast sales. Ostow writes, “While an increase in overall sales volume can obviously impact top-line performance, how can the forecast itself be utilized to drive better profit margins and sustainable business growth? Plus, how do we use forecast information to capitalize on the impact of consolidation or expansion around specific geographies, business sectors or industry verticals?” The new Aberdeen report offers insight into answering these questions.

To obtain data for Better Sales Forecasting Through Process and Technology: No Crystal Ball Required the Aberdeen Group surveyed 144 end-user organizations in April and May about their sales effectiveness practices and accomplishments. Aberdeen specifically wanted to understand how sales forecasting is most effectively used. Here are a few findings.

Barriers to sales forecasting

According to 44 percent of study participants, the most significant barrier to effective sales forecasting is insufficient data on current deals in the pipeline. This barrier is followed closely by

  • overconfidence of sales reps; 36 percent
  • lack of manager enforcement of data entry by sales reps; 35 percent
  • lack of accountability by sales reps; 34 percent.

Strategies for better forecasting

In response to pressures, organizations deemed Best-in-Class are “creating an environment more conducive to sales effectiveness.” Ranked highest on the list is replacing institution-based sales resource allocation with fact-based proactive sales analytics (47 percent). Trailing the list (at 24 percent each) are align sales forecasting processes with corproate objectives and identify points where the sales cycle slows down.

Bottom line

Enterprise sales organizations are under increasing pressure, often both from internal and external stakeholders, to provide more accurate sales forecasts of top-line revenue in order to better predict, and improve, the long-term health of their company. To maintain a competitive position in the market, sales analytics solutions can create a more refined snapshot of future revenue and empowering more efficient, margin-driven sales activity as well as more pure selling time by the sales team itself.

Better Sales Forecasting Through Process and Technology: No Crystal Ball Required includes benchmarking data for “Best-in-Class” and “Laggard” organizations, and details additional barriers and strategic actions for better forecasting. You can access an executive summary or purchase the complete report on the Aberdeen Group website.

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at 

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