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Sales Forecasting Tools Features That You Actually Need
In a cluttered software landscape saturated with sophisticated sales forecasting tools, how do you clear a path to the one (or suite) that is right for your business? Our handy guide focuses on the features that you should be looking for, while also helping you avoid a costly purchasing mistake.
No sorting hats needed here. The easiest way to approach a wish list is by thinking about what’s missing from your current sales forecasting tool kit. This may mean asking yourself – or your team – some tricky but vital questions. For example:
- Is our forecasting output accurate?
- Can we use our tools for quota setting and KPIs?
- Is it all flashy graphics but very little substance?
- Does the territory management package align with the compensation plan software?
- Can our field sales staff look at reports and update in real-time?
Forecasting for now, then and the future
There’s one essential quality that all sales forecasting tools need, and that’s the ability to do an accurate job that far outstrips previous methods of spreadsheets, guesswork, calculators, the abacus… you get the idea.
When shopping around, ensure that any demo you arrange displays the range of reporting available. Can the software track the performance of an individual, team and product? Is it responsive to questions and queries on future output and performances? Robust forecasting is all about the algorithms of today and tomorrow, and not just using analytics in a historical context.
If you’re in the market for a 360 degree sales forecasting solution, a sales performance management software (SPM) package such as the one offered by Varicent covers all the essential elements. With automated compensation solutions, clear and value-rich performance dashboards, this one platform provides guidance and information that benefits managers, sales reps and other invested stakeholders.
- Want to know how a product is performing in a certain territory? Check.
- Need to be sure that your quota management plan is working? Check.
- Must see who in the team is under-performing this month or on their way to a gold star? Check.
From calculating compensation to driving stronger sales in weak areas, a holistic on-premises cloud-based sales forecasting tool like this one will create stronger cohesion in your sales force and help identify any weak links. And all with easy-to-digest dashboards that show what you need to know rather than what may just look pretty.
Focusing on Specific Needs
Rather than investing in a sales software tool that sweeps the board of sales intel, you may prefer to drill down into one particular area of concern or development.
If you’re scaling up from being a local concern to a nationwide or even global enterprise, then explore the merits of a territory management tool. The desired output from this not only helps you determine the need for a product or sales team in a region, but can also indicate if this is a territory best avoided or if there is overlap. If your wider sales strategy is about expansion or rethinking boundaries, the purchase and installation of this type of software should be easy to justify.
The same thinking applies for quota management and compensation plans. This ‘golden triangle’ of sales rationale should work together and be the cornerstones of how you move forward. Quota management software should ideally set some achievable targets and consider both historical evidence and projected performance – whether that’s for one person or many. And compensation plan software tools need to show real-time performance figures (to both a manager and the sales rep) while containing enough of an incentive to keep your team fully motivated – even when the sales climate is on the chilly side.
The best advice is to not be afraid of a big change in the way you’re currently using sales forecasting tools. We’ve come a long way since the abacus, but research, common sense and the innate ability to know what will be of a long-term benefit to your sales team should help guide you towards the best software package to meet your requirements.
Find out more about Varicent’s suite of sales software tools at www.varicent.com or speak to your Varicent sales rep today.