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The science of sales: Improving those needed forecasting skills

In the third of a four part series, global recruiter Michael Page and sales training business SalesGym 360 tackle the tricky topic of how salespeople can improve their forecasting skills.
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In part one of the series we covered prospecting and how to be relevant to our clients, while part two looked at how to sell value by identifying their strategic motivations. Having mastered both of these areas the next step is to begin learning forecasting skills for prospective deals.

While there is a lot of data we can rely on to forecast achievable sales revenue, there is an onus on your sales team to provide the lead. In order to confidently do this, you need to help them establish two things – trust with the client, and whether there is a deal to be made.

Establishing trust is key if you want staff to gain forecasting skills

In order to win any deal you need to establish trust with a client. That might sound simple, but what does it really mean to be trusted?

We break trust into four key requirements. The good news is that we’ve already covered one of these off in the first part of our series – demonstrating that you are both credible and reliable. Next show that you are commercially minded and can structure a deal in a way that suits the client. Finally, prove you are interested in an ongoing relationship with the client – do not go in for a quick win. Be keen to establish a longer term partnership.

By addressing these four concerns you can establish a genuine trust with your client and move onto analysing whether there is a deal to be made.

Spotting opportunities to deal

With trust as a strong foundation you can approach the crux of forecasting skills; identifying whether or not there is a deal to be made. It’s a complex process but we can simplify it by qualifying the following six criteria, known as the C.A.R.A.T.S.

• Credibility – First ask yourselves, does the person you have been dealing with have the credibility within their business to convince their peers to invest in our solution? If not, find the person who does.

• Authority – Does that person have the authority to make a decision? Have you met everyone with the collective influence and authority to complete a deal?

• Return on investment – Have you demonstrated that there is a tangible return on investment associated with your product or service. If you have not and cannot then there is unlikely to be a deal.

• Affordability – Is the solution you are offering affordable for your client? Is there budget, or could be budget be made available?

• Time – Is there anything happening in your client’s organisation that may prevent a deal from happening? Is it year-end? Is there a change-freeze, a pending acquisition or merger coming up? Any of these things could be a barrier to getting a deal completed.

• Strategy – Finally, is there a strategic priority that our product or solution aligns to? We covered selling a solution based on the strategic priority of our client in part two. By aligning your offering with the strategy of your client you can assure that there is a desire for the deal to happen.

Once you qualify that you have achieved a positive state for all of the C.A.R.A.T.S, then be confident that there is a deal to be made. If you can add the trust of your client to this, you can reasonably assume that you are in a good position to make that deal. Forecasting is a necessity. Shareholders will expect to see financial predictions from their sales team. We, as a sales and marketing community, must play our bit in ensuring we are on top of both our sales and forecasts. Challenge accepted!

Stay tuned for the fourth and final part of our science of sales series.

Matthew Gillen is managing director at Michael Page Sales

Image: Shutterstock

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