Folklore, Forecasting & Punxsutawney Phil

Today it's all about Punxsutawney Phil!

Groundhog Day 2The famous prognosticator has been making weather predictions from his Gobbler’s Knob home in Punxsutawney PA since 1887.  And with Groundhog Day 2024 here this morning, the pressure is on for Phil to once more deliver his prediction about how many dark and icy days are ahead.   

If Phil were a salesguy, then we would be looking for his forecast for the balance of Q1 given that January’s results were just posted.  The problem is that the famous groundhog has a not-so-great accuracy rate with Phil scoring only 39% over 135 years according to StormFax Weather Almanac



That number might be historically excellent if Phil played baseball leaving him with a .390 batting average, but as a weather forecaster in today's generative AI world, or as a salesperson with instant availability of ultra-sophisticated CRM tools, Phil would have already been kicked off the team by that famous Chief Revenue Officer, Bill Murray of Caddyshack fame.  

There’s no such thing…never was; never will be…as “a born salesperson”.  


That concept is as phony as Phil !!!


Sure, there’s a major emphasis on hiring “the right type of salesperson”, which also comes down to the science of the process of selecting, testing, onboarding and retaining the best people, but true sales success measured against forecasts in B2B sales today comes down to enabling:


  • Formal step-by-step processes that follow how the customer wants to be sold.
  • Proven sales tools at each step whose use is constantly adapted, monitored and evolved.
  • Exacting all-in-one AI-enabled CRMs that question, recommend, sequence and forecast.

So, what’s the problem?  


The problem is that when one measures the overall B2B data, the summary results of salespeople hitting quota are terrible. In Phil’s case over 29 years from 1988 to 2017, he met his forecast just 13 times, but Phil is good business for Punxsutawney, and for a few minutes every February we dream of warmer days ahead, so the corny tradition will continue.


In real life, with 2024 company success, jobs and personal reputations on the line, there needs to be zero tolerance for myths, folklore, hope and excuses like "we have a kinda process".   Very simply, if it's a kinda' process; it's not a process!  You and I do not our auto mechanic, our surgeon, or our accountant to have a kinda' process.   We should not expect any less from our professional salespeople in the way they work including the way that they forecast.  


The problem: 

  • In 2023, less than 25% of B2B salespeople believed their forecasts.
  • In 2023, 58% of forecasted deals never closed. 

The solution is a customized process for your team where everyone commits 100% to the religion of one process, with a defined and measured use of specific tools, with detailed practices all built on an easy-to-use , AI-based CRM like Hubspot as the single source of truth.


Here's an example:


Sales Funnel 2023-3Earlier this week, I worked with the senior sales management of a struggling SaaS company.  All solid, experienced and highly committed and signed up to the company's 2024 success.  A complex product, selling into two complex markets, but so what?  Everyone knew that going in when they committed to their 2024 forecast. 


The problem was a 6+ month sales cycle with a $75K ASP and a difficult to explain ROI to multiple decision makers in a complex market. Simply, the math was not working.  In a few hours, we redesigned the overall process, tightened up the Discovery step, added in more definition to the value propositions of their personas and refocused the messaging around revenue.  Still a ton of work to do, but not rocket science since they are already sophisticated HubSpot CRM users from our prior work with them.  Most importantly, they are totally driven professionals through their experience and their commitment to this business plan.  The relatively simple solution was an outside review to add more detail to their playbook and then make adjustments to their funnel step functions while tightening up their forecasting tool within HubSpot.  

A review like this might be something that you and your team want to do yourselves before jumping back into the next six weeks of what is going to be an early spring according to Phil's prediction this morning.  My own prediction is that 2024 is going to be a superb growth year, and for that, we need exacting science, not folklore !  



Sales Planning 2024You can click here for this brand new  "Writing the Winning Sales Plan in 2024", for a few ideas on structure, sales models, process, a number of productivity tools and how to hire.  

Have a great weekend.  I'm a Tufts today taking the Delta Upsilon brothers where I'm faculty advisor through a two hour workshop on the best marketing and sales tactics to use in searching for that perfect, high paying job. 


BTW, I always have tens of the best associate-level juniors and seniors available for an internship this summer or a full time job in June.  Through our 28 instructors at the Center, we can provide highly personal recommendations for jobs in Finance, Marketing, Sales, Product, and Computer Science.  Give me a call,  

Connect with me with any questions or your own ideas about improving your own sales forecasting in 2024. 
Always love talking to salespeople!  
Derby Entrepreneurship Center@Tufts.



Tags: Derby Entrepreneurship Center at Tufts, 2024 sales and marketing best practices, 2024 Sales Planning, 2024 Business Planning, 2024 Marketing Planning