As you could probably tell from previous interviews about forecasting and the science behind it (or lack thereof), a good portion of my forthcoming book is devoted to how having the right sales conversations can lead to more accurate forecasting models. As such, I ask all my interviewees about their forecasting methods.
Greg got really excited when I asked him about this topic. “I’m a big proponent of forecasting,” he told me—then took it one step further: “That’s kind of my passion.”
In order to arrive at accurate forecasting, Greg said his team tries to get as “scientific” as possible—utilizing CRM, analyzing the sale from the buyer’s point-of-view, and then coaching the whole team in his forecasting method. “I look at the analytics a lot and we modify and we coach to it. It’s about having the right conversations through the buyer’s eyes to move a deal to closure.”
Ultimately, no matter your business or sales team, you need to focus on your specific science behind forecasting. Greg admitted “it’s hard to get right,” but if “you’ve got the right leaders who can coach to the [right process], you can start to see the predictability.”
The Agreement Network
As we continued to share our experiences, I started to notice a common thread among typical sales methodologies. At some point, these “tested” methodologies encourage their pupils to “have a strategic” conversation without even actually explaining what those conversations are or how to have them.
There are five Pivotal Conversations that motivate just about every complex sale:
- ) Business Conversation
- ) Financial Conversation
- ) Technical Conversation
- ) Competitive Conversation
- ) Risk Conversation
Greg agreed — and said, “I would add one too. Right now I think there’s this committee-buy — we call it The Agreement Network — [that is, the] people that you have to connect with to sell any of this. Pivotal Conversations is about connecting the dots between those 4-5 people and to do all the 5 things that you just mentioned.”
Finally, we talked about what makes up a good sales team. This is something I’ve been interested in. Hiring and keeping good salespeople is something every sales leader struggles with.
When it comes to building a team, Greg said, “I’m from the old school where it’s youth and coachability versus age and experience.” He added, “I’ve got both. Inside team — youth and coachability — and a real seasoned manager.”
But there’s something else Greg is looking for when hiring. “I have to look for guys who can think on their feet. They have to be resilient here. They need to know our business too. It’s an intangible.”
We ended the conversation with an agreement that this was “a dialogue we can continue,” and I hope you’ll continue with us as my team continues to highlight wisdom from other sales leaders like Greg.
- How do you coach your sales team through accurate forecasting?
- Have you seen the need for sales methodologies to have specific conversations outlined in a complex sale?
- What are the intangibles you look for when hiring good salespeople?