How Sales Forecasting Accuracy Keep You Out Of Trouble During Covid-19?
For many organizations, April and May are the months for Sales Forecasting. Last year, in April 2020, things were unpredictable too, but the extent of the effect of the pandemic was not known. Due to the intrinsic hopeful nature of businesses, ‘Optimism’ was still a major part of Sales Forecasting. Leaders knew that there will be a challenge, but the duration was not known. Last year, a majority of organizations ditched their yearly forecasting and went for a month to month forecasting. Leaders were keeping weekly and monthly targets with ‘We shall see what happens next’ approach.
Then things started improving. People started figuring ways out and then came the vaccine.
Lockdowns were lifted, with the consideration that people will take precautions. Hopes did soar, people became a bit bullish. Alas, the variants of Covid-19 virus emerged, and the second wave hit, and it hit hard. Despite the 'full throttle’ vaccination efforts, due to new strains, the spread of pandemic continues to threaten the survival of many businesses - small and big.
Businesses who were planning to scale higher targets this year, and recover from previous years losses, are now clueless on what to expect. This time, it will be extremely challenging for them to handle challenges due to the unpredictability of the pandemic. In this situation, one of the daunting questions is “How can you improve the accuracy of your sales forecasting?”
Here are some key aspects for you to stay focussed:
Adapt to the New Normal.. FAST
The first step to improve your sales forecasting during these uncertain times is to best your negative thinking. Take control of your pessimistic thoughts and grab opportunities where they arise; because the best way to survive and thrive in this unknown situation is to adapt and execute new strategies.
The covid-19 pandemic forced both buyers and sellers to shift to the digital platform to conduct business. However, what began as a need during a crisis has now become the new normal. Today, people have adapted to the current situation, and around 75% of them prefer doing business online over face-to-face interactions. This view may likely continue even after the situation improves and lockdowns lift.
Apart from the idea of safety, self-service and remote interactions have helped buyers to get information, place orders, and arrange service easily. On the other hand, customers enjoy the speed and convenience of buying products and services online.
Data Collection and Analysis
Once you have conquered your negative thoughts, the next step is to gather information using various tools and data. You'll have to keep in mind that the resources you have been using over the past few years to develop analytics for sales forecasting will now be unreliable. Things have changed radically over the last one year. The usual formulas have become inaccurate as customers have changed their buying patterns to adapt to the new market.
Buying psychology has changed. Consumer priorities have shifted in several ways, including their choice of category, channel, shopper trip frequency, brand preference, etc. Considering consumer preferences, forecasts for virus containment and economic recovery, it is crucial to develop sales strategies.
Fortunately, some management strategy models have proved to be resilient during these drastic changes. You can use models like SWOT and PESTLE to map the information effectively as long as your data is up-to-date. Use the past trends and the Product Life Cycle (PLC) to compare and make an educated decision.
Build Team Morale
Your team is probably feeling the pressure to give their best and achieve high targets during this pandemic. However, they may become more susceptible to wishful thinking, which makes pipeline estimates unreliable. If they fail to meet the expected targets, it can lead to a devastating cascade, lowering their morale.
Consider this as an opportunity to develop your team and boost their morale. Give them an opportunity to hone their skills through Sales Trainings and Negotiation Trainings. Be empathetic of the situation and guide your team accordingly. Take the team in the right direction and make them competent enough so they can stay motivated and keep achieving targets.
Review and Adapt
Last but not least, review your sales performance and adapt to the changing scenarios. As the overall consumer outlook will change based on the stage of the pandemic response, you will have to adjust the tone of your sales strategies, to cater to the current mood.
You can improve these actions through real-time testing and measurement. Through rapid testing, you can understand how effective the ongoing efforts are and adjust your course of action accordingly based on these insights.
Remember: History has proven that it is not the strongest of fastest, or the most powerful who survive, it is those who are the most adaptable to change!
- Sales and Negotiation Insights from Mihir Koltharkar (Mr.Sales) - Global Award Winning B2B Sales and Negotiation Trainer, Featured in TOP 20 Sales Trainers Globally, alongside Brian Tracy, Jordan Belfort and Victor Antonio.