Introduction:

Forecasting is essentially a guessing game. Regardless of how much data you have to indicate the most likely outcome, you can never really know what’s going to happen. In fact, according to a research study conducted by InsideSales, a meager 28% of business deals are forecasted accurately.

Nevertheless, sales forecasts are a hugely important component of both individual and overall business performance, as they do at least create a small window to peer through and make strategic plans accordingly.

There are numerous methods to creating a sales forecast, some much more complex than others. Which method you choose is largely dependant on your unique sales process and the amount of data you have at your disposal.

This checklist is designed to be executed by individual sales reps, account executives or account managers, and follows the opportunity stage model.

Preparation:

Record forecast details

Account manager details

Enter your sales revenue quota

Enter your sales quota in the form field below so you can compare it to your forecast later on. 

Data analysis:

Analyze your list of opportunities

Use your CRM software to analyze the list of your current opportunities. 

Think about which opportunities you expect to close within the forecasting period.

Be realistic. If you are currently working on an enterprise sale with numerous stakeholders and a typically long sales cycle, it is unlikely you will close the deal unless you have already started negotiating a contract. 

Evaluate the estimated value of each opportunity

Next, evaluate the estimated value of each opportunity. Ensure that each one is accurate. 

Evaluate the probability of each opportunity closing

Here’s an example of the deal stages you might use for your sales process and the probability associated with each one:

  • Appointment Scheduled (20%)
  • Qualified to Buy (40%)
  • Presentation Delivered (60%)
  • Contract Sent (90%)
  • Closed Won (100% Won)
  • Closed Lost (0% Lost)

The forecast:

Create a new spreadsheet

Create a new spreadsheet or download a simple pre-made template below. 

Write the forecasting period and account manager name at the top then add the following column headers:

  • Opportunity name
  • Stage
  • Probability
  • Amount
  • Forecasted amount

If your manager would prefer you to present your forecast in a CRM report as opposed to an Excel spreadsheet, simply create a report from your list of opportunities, ensuring that all relevant data (estimated value, probability of closing) is included. Then export the report or send your manager a link to it. 

Input data into the spreadsheet

Like in the screenshot above, fill in the details associated with each opportunity, referring to your specific sales stages and probability associated to each stage. 

Calculate total expected revenue

Once you have all of your opportunities and relevant details listed in the spreadsheet, calculate the total expected revenue. 

Expected revenue= Deal amount * Probability to close

Compare the forecast with your quota

Compare your quota with the total forecasted amount to ensure that you are on track to meet expectations. 

Your sales revenue quota: {{form.Your_sales_revenue_quota}}

Total expected revenue: {{form.Total_expected_revenue}}

Send to your manager for review

The last step is to send your forecast to your manager for review. 

You can use the email template below to do so without delay. 

Sources:

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