CSO Insight’s 2011 Sales Management Optimization research study found that less than 50 percent of forecasted sales opportunities were actually won. Could the problem be spreadsheets, the tool many organizations use to manage their sales forecasts?
According to Ventana Research, 67 percent of sales organizations use spreadsheets to manage forecasts on a regular or universal basis, with nearly half of them saying this method makes it difficult to manage sales efficiently. "Unfortunately, most people in sales do not realize the limitations and risk of their current approach in using spreadsheets,” said Mark Smith, Ventana Research's CEO and chief research officer.
Cloud9, a provider of on-demand sales forecasting and pipeline management solutions that counts Avaya, LinkedIn and Black & Decker among its customers, wants to take spreadsheets out of sales forecasting with its Intelligent Forecasting Suite, a product Cloud9 CEO Jim Burleigh, said is “the first solution that not only addresses the forecasting process, but also provides the intelligence needed to make the right decisions to deliver on the forecast.”
According to a Cloud9 news release, the software integrates with CRM systems to record all changes to CRM data and analyzes the data to identify historical patterns of success and failure. It compares existing forecasts and pipelines to the patterns to provide sales managers with early warning of the risks and opportunities in their forecasts. It also simplifies management and reduces Excel-related errors and inconsistencies by streamlining and standardizing the forecasting process.
The release mentions several specific features. Among them:
- The ability for managers to provide their judgment on their teams’ forecasts and track the full history of overrides to increase forecast accuracy
- The ability to enter, view, and aggregate forecasts by territory, role hierarchy, overlay team, product, or other desired perspectives
- The ability to provide managers with a predictive risk assessment for each forecast based on ongoing analysis at both the aggregate and opportunity level of how the current forecast compares to historical patterns of success