You can’t overstate the importance of accurate sales forecasting. Especially in manufacturing. Everyone depends on it. From finance, production and sales ops, to supply chain and channel partners. Without a clear picture of sales outcomes, the company’s budgets, expenses, growth strategies, and resource management can fall apart. At its worst, this can mean significant profit losses, cash flow problems, supply chain delays, even layoffs.
If you’re the VP of Sales for a manufacturer with independent sales channels, your sales pipeline is constantly under scrutiny. What does the forecast look like? What does the pipeline look like? Do you have enough to hit your targets? Where are the gaps? What are the bottlenecks? Are you generating enough demand? Even with all the right answers, you’re lucky to get within 5 to 10% forecast accuracy. Then there are companies like Zendesk that routinely forecast to within 1%.
If you’re a manufacturer, you have the additional challenge of working with channel partners. Then your forecast relies on hard-to-get information. Here are 3 challenges of forecasting with channel partner sales and some solutions.
Sales Forecast Accuracy Challenge #1 – Inadequate Opportunity Insight
How can you forecast months in the future without knowing what your rep’s downstream opportunities are? You can’t. What you need is the ability to know the opportunities, their value and estimated close date before they get to the quoting phase.
Further, each opportunity may have its own unique sales cycle. And it’s difficult to know how long it will take for each deal to move through each phase of the sale. You end up being short-sighted about your pipeline. Your forecast must reach further into the future.
The problem is that the sales reps are too busy to stop what they are doing to accurately give their sales managers all this information for an accurate sales forecast.
Sales Forecast Accuracy Challenge #2 – Don’t Know What’s Being Quoted
If your sales channels are quoting in their own systems, you probably don’t get their quote information until they order. And if your internal sales reps are quoting in spreadsheets, you don’t know that either. Even if you don’t have exact figures for forecasting, it’s possible to forecast based on trends. For this you’d need a summary of the quantity and value of the quotes. But how can you monitor the progress of each sales channel, team, region, manager and rep? You can’t with limited visibility. You based win rates on historical data from your close rates.
Sales Forecast Accuracy Challenge #3 -Takes Too Long to Generate Forecasts
If you don’t have a streamlined process for forecasting channel partners sales, it will be a very time-consuming process to get your reps to deliver accurate information and updates. This takes time away from both Sales Reps and Managers from selling. Ideally what’s needed are accurate real-time results. What if you had reports and dashboards that delivered all the knowledge you needed about channel partners at a glance?
Meet eRep CPQ: Your One-Stop Solution for Sales Channel Forecasting Accuracy
eRep’s data visualization module makes it easy to review sales rep activities. You’ll get immediate knowledge on all projects, opportunities, quotes, and orders in process across your entire sales team.
eRep lets you know who’s quoting on what throughout your sales channels while they are selling. With eRep, all opportunities, quotes, and orders along with their probability and expected close date are being updated while the reps are selling and quoting. The reporting studio provides real-time insights to Sales Managers enabling better forecasts and coaching opportunities to help reps to close more sales.
eRep CPQ lets you check in on which deals are likely to close. As your sales reps are creating and updating their projects, quotes, and opportunities, eRep helps streamline the process by updating probability and close date tracking throughout the sales cycle automatically. Your sales rep doesn’t have to do anything except create the quote and submit orders, and you’ll get a more accurate forecast — a total win-win!
What eRep CPQ Customers Are Saying
eRep customers say they like knowing what their orders are before they get them and to have data showing how effective their reps are. They love having insight into how to coach their reps for better performance. Finally, they can see which reps may require additional training based on those who aren’t entering opportunities or quoting.