When it comes to sales forecasting, how do you determine which opportunities are hype and which are reality? Do you have a set process to build your forecast?

CSO Insights reports fewer than 50% of deals close as predicted. This leave sales managers with a challenging job. But, there is good news. With the right tools in place, you will be able to improve your forecasting accuracy. Consider these three tips next time you are managing your pipeline for forecasting.

1. Automate the process of capturing call activity in your CRM 

Accurate sales activity data is the most important asset for strong forecasts and inaccurate data is the greatest liability for weak ones. Industry data from Ventana shows most sales reps spend four hours per week manually entering data into CRM. Out of all their entries, only about 40% of their data is accurate. You need objective data in your CRM.

To get accurate data, you need a tool that can automatically capture all your reps’ call activity. This way, they aren’t tasked with doing it themselves and you know that the data is completely accurate.

By collecting this data, you’ll determine benchmarks for your company. For example, you’ll uncover how many calls your rep needs to make a day, how many of those calls lead to conversations, and how many conversations result in appointments.

There is often a direct correlation between a sales opportunity and the activities that led to it. This is why it’s crucial to find a tool to take the guesswork out of the equation.

2. Have sales activity data accessible in real-time

As a manager, you have a lot on your plate. You can’t be expected to sift through spreadsheet after spreadsheet. (Not to mention that data is likely dated by the time you get it.) You need to spend your time doing what really matters, which is tracking the right metrics and coaching your team to success.

If you know that 20 phone calls lead to six conversations, and from those six conversations your reps typically set two appointments, you’re going to want to monitor their behavior throughout the day to make sure they are hitting their numbers. Find a tool that gives you this real-time glance into activity. It is important for the tool to show you your team’s activity compared against your goals.

The better visibility you have into your rep’s performance, the better you can manage. The more efficiently you manage, the more you can improve the effectiveness of your team. The more effective your team is, the more opportunities you have to grow revenue.

3. Use speech analytics to improve selling behaviors

Next, add speech analytics into your process. Speech analytics allows you to delve into the conversational aspects of the sales interactions. With insight into prospect mood, rep script adherence, keywords, as well as phrases that get results during phone-based interactions, managers can better understand why some reps convert and others don’t.

This cultivates better sales behavior, puts a halt to bad habits. Most notably though, it bridges the visibility gap between your reps and revenue.

You might never achieve a perfect forecast. But, with the right tools and processes in place, you can help your company build a confident, robust pipeline of business.

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