Improving Your Forecasting Model
One of the surest ways to improve your sales forecast accuracy is by having the right enterprise mobility solution. This is especially the case if your salespeople spend the majority of their time in the field. Not convinced that having a handheld computer will help with your sales team’s ability to properly forecast sales? If so, then perhaps it’s important to ask yourself how fast your salespeople are able to update their forecasts without having a handheld computer. More importantly, how accurate can these forecasts possibly be when your salespeople are constantly moving from one customer meeting to the next? If you’re not convinced, then perhaps it’s best to review the steps involved in retaining and transferring this information to the head office.
First, your salespeople have to immediately write this information down, that is of course, if they remember. Second, they have to wait until they have the time to call the office. The longer that takes, the less accurate the information. This is extremely difficult given the time constraints that salespeople must work with in today’s economy. Third, most salespeople visit multiple customers daily, making it that much more difficult to properly retain this information. Finally, some are only able to update their forecasts when they get to the hotel, and that typically coincides with the end of a long, drawn-out, exhausting day.
Now, how can your company ask your salespeople to spend time away from home, close more deals, deal with the stress of demanding customers, be fresh and able to deal with customer complaints, and still retain all the information needed to produce an accurate forecast? Under these aforementioned circumstances, this is next to impossible. Updating customer demand should be the easiest part of their time in the field. It must be automatic, and it must force them to review the information the moment it becomes available.
The reality is that we work in a mobile world. Customers are mobile and therefore, your salespeople must be mobile as well. However, it’s not just a question of memory retention, but ultimately about ensuring that the head office has this information the moment it becomes available. This is ultimately how your sales forecasts will become more accurate; you’ll eliminate costly delays and ensure instant feedback on any changes to your forecasting model. This will give all internal departments an opportunity to adjust accordingly. So, what are some of the features that your company’s enterprise mobility solutions should include?
This includes the difference between forecasted sales and actual sales. Making changes to both criteria via a mobile computer allows your salespeople to instantly impact their absolute error in forecasting. It’s much like a rolling forecast, one where each customer discussion might be followed up by a change in either of these two variables.
Forecast Accuracy %,
Your salespeople must be able to see their forecast accuracy in real time. This is especially the case if you’ve included it as a key performance indicator or metric. That forecast accuracy can be measured by customer account, or territory, and can be broken down by day, week or month. Your salesperson’s accuracy is determined by taking actual sales and dividing it by forecasted sales.
Finished Good Availability
When salespeople need to make a deal, it always involves having access to finished good availability. That information only comes from tracking actual sales and forecasted sales. Their rugged handheld computers can instantly provide them with feedback, allowing them to adjust their own forecasts and sales volumes accordingly.
Material Allocation and Production
Finished good availability is one thing, but customers also need to know what your company’s existing manufacturing capacity is. Your current inventory may be spoken for, but that shouldn’t stop your sales from closing long-term deals. They simply can’t do this without the visibility provided by a rugged handheld computer.
The ultimate purpose is to have an enterprise mobility solution where each salesperson has access to a mobile handheld computer, one that allows them to constantly input valuable, timely and accurate customer data. It’s this data that will help improve your company’s forecasting model by ensuring that your company always has the market’s most pertinent information. It not only improves how your salespeople manage their customers’ business, but it also improves how your own business manages its inventory and most importantly, how it meets all of your customers’ needs.