Groundhog Day Results are in-Does your Q1 Sales forecast match up?

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Wed, Feb 03, 2016

Punxsutawney Phil, the Seer of Seers, and Prognosticator of all Prognosticators, did his thing yesterday on the barren Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, PA, and according to legend, it's going to be an early spring.  


Cute folklore and superb marketing for the town of Punxsutawney since otherwise how could they self-proclaim themselves as "The Weather Capital of the World"? My guess is there's not too much going on in downtown Punxsutawney, so having a group of loyal town advocates praise a groundhog in early February creating a national movement out of a non-event is what marketing is supposed to be all about.  

On the other hand, the rationale of the actual forecasting leaves a bit to be desired:


  • So, no clouds = no shadow; therefore = no storm; therefore = early spring= correct answer. Huh?
  • Pretty loose equation based on one point in time in one geo from one single point of contact, a badger
  • Even seems to be questions as to whether groundhogs are really badgers who are really woodchucks
  • And then, when we look at the actual data over time, Phil's forecast accuracy is only a depressing 40%

But, good old Phil, an Americana legend, continues to make headlines, continues to sell T shirts, continues to have acres of print devoted to him every February, and in the non-primary years of hotly contested politics, unlike 2016, he gets to be the only comic strip character worth blogging about.

Iowa_Politics.pngThe political analytics, on the other hand, are amazingly accurate.  With Iowa behind us, the data analytics of the results clearly shows the demographics of why the Hillary machine is only running neck-and-neck with political upstart, Bernie, who took a 25% advantage in the critical 18-35 year old sector, and in only six months, with barely no support mechanics on the ground, caught up to Hillary in every other demographic. Trump's loss is not as clear except that the majority of the data appears to indicate that his grandstanding play of skipping the last debate offended most corn-fed, grass-roots Iowans who quickly stepped away from the brash New Yorker at the last minute.


So, on one hand this week, we have the legend of Punxsutawney Phil and "the strategy of hope" for an early spring, while on the other, we have the highly accurate forecasting mechanics of $100 million marketing campaigns for each leading candidate, which can forecast probabilities not down to a state or a city or a ward, but to individual named voters and trend them over the time they enter the voting booth.  

Hope was only a strategy in the world of Sales back in the old days, five plus years ago.  Today, there are countless processes, tools and technologies that get you sharply up the accuracy ladder.  If you haven't read the book, do so-a bit out of date, but the basics still apply.

The question of the day is "Where do you sit along that spectrum of forecasting for this quarter?"  

  • Looking back on January, how was your own forecasting accuracy for the month?
  • How are you forecasting the balance of the quarter?  How do you feel?  What's the data tell you?
  • Are you more Phil sniffing the air and looking at the sky, or more Bernie/Hillary/Cruz/Trump?  

What do we know?  We know 3 Things:

1.  Success in sales today is all about "The Big Four" 

  1. sales_funnel_3-1.pngSales Process Steps
  2. Easy-to-use-sales tools at every step
  3. Easier-to-use technologies embedded into your process
  4. Easiest-to-use Metrics & Analytics that come directly to you 

It's pretty simple that there's way too much complexity in your products and services and way too many unknowns about your prospects for you to attempt to forecast any sale accurately based on history, your gut feel and even, what the prospect is telling you.  Only by  formalizing your sales process, getting everyone on board and not allowing anyone to color outside the lines will you surpass quota this year.  

2.  It's only February 

February_2016_Sales_Calendar.pngSuccess in any B2B sales year is going to be totally dependent on what you do with your salespeople during the first four months of this year.   Put the energy and discipline in now, and you'll be fine.  

  • Enforce the Rules.  How are you enforcing performance to create Key Account Plans with detailed activity planning for the next 30-60-90 days?  No KAPS, your success is going to be limited.  Look at the feet-on-the-ground machine of detailed planning of Ted Cruz, and there's zero question as to why he won Iowa.  Trump was simply late to the game in setting up processes and analytics.

  • Focus & Love your Critical Personas.  The groundswell success of Bernie so far, very similar to Obama eight years ago, is as a direct result of focusing on one large demographic with one simple message. Tell human stories to the generation that cares the most, the 18-35 year olds, and market the message about the bad guys on Wall Street.  It's working and who knows if it will last, but he's winning sales today and certainly next week in New Hampshire.
  • Train, Train & Then Do What?  Got it...More Training.   Read the stories of the unpaid volunteers and listen to their cold calls to specific prospects working diligently for hours merely trying to convince people to move from Awareness to Evaluation to Decision Making.  Then ask yourself how you're investing this year in training your highly paid salespeople to use the scripts, the technologies, and the marketing tools that are at their immediate disposal?  This is going to be a tough year of massive change, and no one really has their thumb on what will happen given oil, China, the weak economy and political shifs.  All the more reason, you need to schedule a couple of 4:00-6:00 pizza training sessions for this month.

3.   Finally, don't be Like Phil.   Cute stories, legends, #grownmenkissingsmallfurryanimals, and a once-a-year memory of Bill Murray's minor comedy, "Groundhog Day"   Even the movie was ranked the lowest of Murray's superb skills.  What is a good takeaway not from Groundhog Day, but from the highly accurate NOAH forecasting, is that it's not going to snow for a while, so it's a perfect time of year to take advantage of all that time you're saving from shoveling and being late to work.

Don't be like Phil, but do spend an hour this week studying the metrics and the details of the campaigns of Hillary, Cruz, Rubio, Bernie and Trump.  Somewhere in that list are the nominees and most probably the next president save for an entry by Bloomberg in the next 60 days, which will be increasingly difficult given the lack of systems and support mechanics, all of which he's lacking.  

You, on the other hand not only have many of these tools, processes and tactics, but you have the unique opportunity this month to tune everything up with your requirement for discipline and training.

Good Selling this week!

Best of success, health and happiness in this coming year !  

  Jack Derby 

Head Coach  

Derby Management...for 25 years
-Sales & Marketing Productivity Experts
-Business & Strategy Planning Specialists
-Senior Management Coaches for CEOs & VPs

Box 171322, Boston, MA 02117
Jack's Cell: 617-504-4222 

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Tags: sales