For every CEO, including those in the manufacturing industry, accurately forecasting revenue is a major component of reporting to board members, shareholders, and other investors in the business. Forecasting accuracy drives strategic planning and ensures that companies meet their revenue goals. However, numbers can sometimes be deceiving. Without a sales process that focuses more on the buyer than on the seller, conversations can become misaligned and affect the validity of projected income.
The Problem with Optimism
Every sales team says that they have a selling process. From initial contact to close, any salesperson can tell you exactly where they believe they are in that process, but sometimes this belief is simply optimism. A salesman tells the sales manager and the CEO that they are at 90% close with a potential buyer and that the sale should close in the next 6 weeks. The CEO questions why the seller needs another 6 weeks to close a deal already at 90%, but can only take the sellers word for it. After following up with the buyer, they discover that the company is still working internally to acquire the necessary funds, meaning that this opportunity is nowhere near 90% closed.
This story is familiar to almost every chief executive, and affects their ability to accurately forecast sales revenue. So, why were the buyer and the seller so far apart in their thinking? This disparity comes from a sales process that does not focus on buyer-aligned communication and verifiable outcomes. The Solution Selling method of tracking the buying process ensures that sellers consistently communicate with buyers through customer driven validation of each step.
Trust but Verify
The Solution Selling Pipeline Management system is broken down into 7 stages, each linked to verifiable outcomes derived from concrete communication between the buyer and the seller. Items such as a sponsor letter that details agreed upon next steps, a mutually agreed upon evaluation plan showing how the products or services will address the buyers needs, or a communication from a decision maker that includes a detailed plan of action, all qualify as strategic communication that indicates a verifiable sales stage. By ensuring that sellers are receiving confirmation of sales actions, those who oversee the pipeline can verify the progress of the sale.
Once verifiable outcomes are achieved, each stage is linked to a probable percentage that the deal will close. This buyer focused process helps sellers build customer centric communication and accurately depict revenue inside the sales pipeline. This accuracy ensures that there are no surprises when it comes to forecasting revenue, shortfalls are easily identified by the chances of deals closing, and stakeholders always have a clear picture of the company’s financial health.
Buyer Alignment Improves Accuracy
By implementing a sales process that focuses on buyer communication, sellers remain aligned with their buyers, execute verifiable outcomes that clearly state buyer intention, and improve forecasting accuracy through a realistic outlook on the odds of winning. With the Solution Selling Pipeline Management system, sellers will continue to be aligned not only with their customers, but with the goals of the business as well.