If you haven’t yet implemented forecasting and tracking methods to carefully manage your sales pipeline for your business, you should seriously consider it. Read on for some of the ways in which it will help your business:

1. Financial Planning

A sure way for a company to run into cash flow problems is to not manage their sales pipeline. Understanding what’s in progress, what’s a sure thing, and what may or may not develop from a lead into a sale can help with financial planning so that the right steps can be taken to ensure you can operate, provide inventory, and plan for growth or for shortfalls.

2. Inventory / Staffing Planning

A good way to ensure you have the right inventory on hand and the right staffing in place is to manage sales forecasting carefully. Knowing there’s a good possibility of an order for 1000 widgets next month can help you line up your ducks, so to speak, so that the needed widgets can be delivered to meet the client’s needs (and so that you have an opportunity to negotiate with your own vendors for better pricing). Conversely, keeping your eye on forecasting can also help you avoid unneeded inventory and potential re-stocking fees if a deal doesn’t look like it’s progressing through your sales pipeline.

3. Analyzing Performance of Staff

Salespeople who leverage a forecasting tool can see whether or not they are on target to meet goals and objectives. This can help management see how things are stacking up performance wise, too. Yes, forecasting can create a bit of competition but that could be healthy and motivating, too. Management can also see where there might be issues and this could provide a good opportunity to step in and help a salesperson before big problems occur.

4. Analyzing Performance of Clients

Do you know what your win rate is?

Do you know how many of your clients are retained past the first order?

Do you know how much margin you are averaging per deal?

If you use a forecasting tool you can see whether clients are on target to buy as much as they did last month or last year and you can analyze a number of other things, too — depending on how robust your forecasting tool is. A big part of success in business is customer retention and by capturing important data about every potential deal you can continually improve client relationships and revenue potential per client.

5. Streamlining and Prioritizing Your Schedule

A forecasting tool can help a salesperson plan their schedule. By seeing what stage your deals are at you will be able to save time. Good organizational skills are an asset to any salesperson who is managing multiple clients and various deals at different stages in the sales process. A good forecasting tool can help you plan your day based on your pipeline, can help you keep close track of everything on your plate so that nothing gets lost in the shuffle, and you can have important info at your fingertips for dealing with customers, suppliers, and your boss.

6. Track Results for Future Improvements

Do you know where wins and losses generally occur? Forecasting can help you leading up to a sale but it can also help you after a sale or a loss has occurred, too. Doing forecasting will help you with analysis later on as you will be able to extract valuable information from your forecasting tool that will help you boost win rate and /or assess what may have gone wrong in lost deals.

Research Forecasting Options

There are different ways to manage your forecasting. There are a variety of tools that can help and that can be much more effective than using a white board or sales spreadsheet. Investigate your options and look for something intuitive, easy to use, scalable, customizable, and portable (so you can manage your pipeline from anywhere.)