Accurate sales forecasting-all about the science!

sales forecasting This morning, with tonight's Nor'easter looming just a few hours from now, and the end of the entire sales year only eight days away, it's interesting to compare two timely forecasting scenarios:
-On one hand, we have local Boston weather forecasters guessing about snowfall.
-On the other, we have professional salespeople forecasting real revenue.

My own sales forecasting for Q4 & December:

  • Expected to be within an accuracy level of a < 5%
  • Expected to have a base plan number plus an upside number
  • Expected to end the year with a forecast for January looking into Q1

Tools I use to forecast:

  • Years of experience and intuition   
  • Hubspot as my CRM & CMS integrated with other apps  
  • Proven pipeline conversion metrics and probability stats 

Boston Weather Forecasting on 12/15/20 @ 6:00 PM

Tools they use to forecast:

  • Hundreds of satellite tracking systems
  • NOAH tracking 
  • IBM supercomputers 

And yet, 24 hours before the storm:

  • 50% variability in their forecasts on the amount of snow
  • a forecast filled with "probably", "maybe", and "could be"
  • ...and the best phrase last night of "it's real hard and tricky to forecast"

sales forecasting I know, I know it's tough to forecast the weather especially after these same people totally miscalculated the last storm two weeks ago by 90%.  I'm also sure that it must be tough to be a TV weatherperson scraping by on paltry salaries and getting all of that attention. Ginger Zee probably only makes $5m a year for her five minutes on air a couple of times a day.  

The Science of Sales

As any experienced salesperson will tell you, the job of sales is tough and demanding requiring long days and work on the weekends, and yet the profession is very satisfying and potentially very rewarding. 

I know younger salespeople among my alums from my "Science of Sales" course who have been in the game for 10 years and never missed a quarterly forecast. I have young BDRs this fall who in their first 12 months are beating their quota by 100%.  Obviously, I also know plenty of salespeople for whom 2020 has been a very difficult year especially in those industries that have been negatively impacted by the virus. 

Sales planning and forecastingBut, that's the game of sales, and different from inanimate rain, snow and wind, which should be very easy to forecast, forecasting potential orders 30 and 90 days ahead of closing multiple deals is often made very difficult given the many personalities involved on the other side of the table or the Zoom screen.  

And yet, for the thousands of successful women and men in sales that I've known over my career, they love the profession and would never consider another job.  Even those who get promoted and advance to running their companies like Mark Cuban, Howard Schultz and Warren Buffett, all of whom started their careers as salespeople, still remain heavily invested in the time they spend in both Sales and Marketing in their companies today.  Having said that, only 30% of CEOs and Presidents come from the sales ranks simply because most people who build a career in sales simply love selling, and often lack a desire to move into management tracks.  

Having had almost every possible job in business and management, my own assessment is that there's nothing more exciting, more demanding of a multitude of skills, and more satisfying than the profession of sales and sales management...made much more efficient and effective today by the technology, the tools, the metrics and the science of sales.  For me, there's never been a more exciting a time to be in the profession of Sales.

Have a great day selling today!

  • At this time in the month, success is all about you and the team around you!
  • Your attitude, your drive, your energy will define your success!
  • With 8 days left, success is about the science...and maybe just a little luck!

For other ideas, check out our site for tactics at... 

Just be very careful shoveling tomorrow morning when the snow just might be somewhere between 2" and 12", or it could be more or maybe less depending on where you live and the amount of moisture in the air and some other factors.   


Jack Derby, Professor & Sales Coach


If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board for Sales, just connect with me at any time.  Text or email me, and I'll quickly set up a call.  I'm a pretty good listener. 

Obviously, no cost for a call or two; just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.













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