Sales forecasting models are a dime a dozen. There’s the moving average model, the exponential smoothing model, the trend projection model…the list goes on and on. So how do you know which one is right for your business? The truth is, there isn’t a single sales forecasting technique that will work for everyone.

Each method has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to choose the right one based on your specific needs.In this blog post, we’ll take a look at four of the most popular sales forecasting models out there:

What is sales forecasting?

Sales forecasts are an essential tool for sales teams, but it’s important to take active steps to ensure they’re accurate.

Forecasting your sales involves combining your expert knowledge of your business, current sales and historical data with predictive analysis to project your future sales figures.

You can use forecasting for any period of time, whether it’s weeks from now or years into the future.

A sales forecast can help you prepare for the future of your business.

The right sales forecast can help you make better, more informed decisions.

Why is sales forecasting important?

Forecasting sales is a crucial step for any business.

The main reason for tracking sales is to see whether you meet your quota. It shows how your company is performing and whether it meets the required standards.

Sales forecasting is important as it allows businesses to make changes in order to improve their sales. For example, if a sales forecast indicates that a business is likely to exceed their target sales for a certain quarter, the business can purchase additional inventory in advance. This helps businesses to be prepared for increased demand and ensures that they are able to meet the needs of their customers.

Forecasts can be used to determine whether your business should hire more staff or cover temporary absences.

If your sales team is forecasted to miss its targets, you can take proactive action by increasing your lead generation budget. This will help ensure that your business doesn’t slow down during periods of low activity.

You can focus your attention on existing customers to make up for a lack of new sales. Knowing your expected performance has major benefits for your entire company.

It’s important to note that relying too heavily on your instincts or on incorrect information can severely impact your ability to plan for the future.

Sales Forecasting Models

Sales forecasting models are mathematical models that are used to predict future sales. These models take into account historical sales data, as well as other factors that may affect future sales, such as economic trends, seasonality, and customer behavior. The goal of a sales forecasting models is to provide a best estimate of future sales, so that businesses can make informed decisions about inventory, staffing, and other planning needs.

Three Types of Sales Forecast Methods

Before getting into the various types of forecasting, let’s discuss the three main categories. This will help us determine which sales forecasting techniques are best.

Qualitative Methods 

Some ways to get started with your business forecast are through qualitative research. This includes things like conducting interviews and running polls.

When you are launching a new product, you often have to rely on your own judgment and intuition. This is because you lack the hard data that quantitative methods provide. However, qualitative research can be extremely helpful in market research.

When developing your method, use factors which are objective, systematic and impartial. This is difficult, as you’ll be starting from nothing, so you’ll need to define your approach as part of an entire family of methods.

Businesses that sell products or services need a way to forecast when they don’t have the data they need.

Time Series Analysis

If you have data already available, a time-series analysis of that data may be worthwhile. A timeseriesanalysisusesstatistics and takes into account information collected over severalyearsfor a specificproduct or service. Atime-seriesanalysiscan be helpful whenyou already haveclearinformation.

When you already have some data, time series analysis can be a useful way to analyze it.

Start by figuring out your sales velocity. Is it increasing or declining? Based on that, you can forecast.

Develop your forecasts using mathematic formulas.

Analyzing time series data can be difficult because it requires identifying trends and patterns. This can be tricky because you need to project the future from raw numbers. With careful planning, however, you can accurately predict how customers will behave in the future.

Data is raw and useless until it has been converted and put into a form that is useful.

The raw data of a series is the actual data points themselves. This could include sales figures for a particular product or several years worth of the same type of info.

By analyzing your phone calls over time, you can determine things like:

A time-series analysis of your sales data can help you identify seasonality, long-term cycles, and sales growth rate. This can be useful for making decisions regarding your inventory and your marketing campaign.

After processing and analyzing your raw business data, you can forecast your sales. Forecasting can be done using time series analysis and can be further broken down by various methods. This can help you predict the future and make decisions for your business.

Causal Models

If you have already done some historical analysis, and looked into how certain factors such as the economy, and the business climate affect each other, you can construct a predictive model that expresses these relationships. Predictive models, which are the most complicated type of forecast, use precise numbers to express how one variable affects another.

The most advanced way to forecast your sales is by using causal models. These use specific mathematics to identify relationships between the different factors that can affect your sales figures.

A causal model uses results from a time-series analysis and a market survey.

A causal model accounts for everything that influences a business, including business-related events, the actions of competitors, and any related economic effects that directly or indirectly affect it.

But if you don’t have all the data, you can still use a simple, basic, or crude model for forecasting.

Instead of making assumptions, you can instead make an educated guess about the relationship between two variables.

Companies often use predictive modeling to forecast future sales and predict when certain events will occur.

8 Types of Sales Forecasting Methods

Forecasting your sales can be a tricky business. There are a myriad of different forecasting methods to choose from.

Choosing the right sales forecasting software is the first step to using your data more effectively.

Here are 8 different ways to forecast your sales, their pros, cons, and when to use them.

1. Gut-feeling method

The gut feeling model requires your reps to provide feedback about the quality of existing accounts. It also requires you to monitor the activity of these accounts for signs of churn.

The Swing Deal and Slippage Forecasting Model is one of the least reliable of all the forecast methods because it relies on so much input from humans.

While your gut-feelings might be right sometimes, it’s important to realize that they’re often wrong. This is because these predictions are based on your personal opinion, which can often be incorrect. As such, it’s best not to put too much stock in the results of your gut feeling.

Let’s say you’re nearing the end of the third quarter, and your manager asks you for sales projections for the fourth quarter.

Based on their model, this company predicts a 10 percent increase in overall sales.

This forecast strategy assumes that last quarter was an exceptional one, but just because the company met its goals in that time period, doesn’t necessarily mean it will again.

While this method isn’t perfect, there are times where your gut-feeling is more reliable than your sales forecast.

This sales model is commonly used by smaller companies, and those who have longer, more complex processes.

2. Almanac method

The Almanac Revenue Forecasting method is an accurate way to forecast sales, but it shouldn’t be your only method. While this method relies on facts and removes any subjective opinions, it’s limited because it only looks at historical data.

There are some drawbacks to using the Almanac Method for sales forecasts.

Relying solely on your past data to predict the future of your business assumes that your industry and business will stay the same in the months and years ahead.

One of the disadvantages of almanac-based forecasts is that they don’t take economic factors, industry trends, or changes on a small scale into account. For example, the coronavirus outbreak.

Firms that were relying on their 2019 forecasts from the 2020 Almanac were sorely disappointed by the pandemic and the resulting shutdowns.

While it does come with its perks, it’s only useful if you’re certain that your industry won’t change drastically in the near future. Most business owners would agree, however, that this is an optimistic assumption.

Analyzing past performance can help predict how successful your salespeople will be in the future. By identifying which team members are most successful with which accounts and assigning them accordingly, you can optimize their abilities.

Companies with an established history can use the Almanac Forecasting Technique, which relies on large amounts of data. The more data available, the more accurate the forecast will be.

3 Funnel Forecasting Methods

Forecasting your sales funnels can help you predict future sales. By looking at your performance metrics, you can figure out if your team is meeting goals.

To forecast your revenue growth, you should look at your current performance across different key performance metrics. For example, your win rate is the percentage of deals you close, the average time it takes to close a deal, and your rate of up-selling existing customers.

If you know your average sale takes 2 months and your close rate is 40%, you can project how many deals you can complete in a certain period of time.

If a prospect has 10 opportunities that each have a $1 million dollar value, they predict that they could complete $4 million dollars worth of sales in one quarter if they were being very conservative. This is because their typical success rate is 40%.

Forecasting methods like funnel coverage and velocity can help you predict your future sales and revenue. The better your forecast is, the more accurate your predictions will be.

These techniques will be more effective for companies with long, drawn-out sales processes than for those with short, simple one.

The health of your sales funnel is critical to the success of your business.

4. Portfolio Forecasting – How Does it Work?

Forecasting a portfolio’s value involves looking at past performance, current market trends, and expected future returns. This data is then used by portfolio managers to make investment decisions.

These hybrid methods use a combination of the techniques above. Sales managers will use them because they combine historical and predictive data.

They use a combination of their experience and expertise along with forecast data from their funnels and gut feelings when making decisions.

So, how will it work in practice?

Your manager will first dig into your historical data, then look at your pipeline and do a checkup. Lastly, they will consult their sales reps and go over the information they’ve gathered.

They use their knowledge and expertise to create a forecast for the company.

Portfolio Forecasting helps management make informed business decisions that reduce risks. For instance, If a sales manager predicts that their business is going to decline, they may choose to focus their resources on selling more to their existing customer base. This is because income from an existing customer is more stable and, thus, more predictable.

5 Multivariate Regression Analysis

The Multivariate Regression Analysis is a statistical tool used to predict a company’s future sales.

By changing certain inputs, you can get different results.

Multivariate regression analysis is only as good as the data that is fed into it. Inaccurate data can lead to incorrect conclusions being drawn from the analysis. It is therefore essential that any data used in a multivariate regression analysis is complete and accurate.

Multivariate regression is a powerful tool that can be used to predict future sales activity. As machine learning becomes more prevalent in sales forecasting, it is important to understand how multivariate regression works in order to make the most accurate predictions possible.

Let’s say that your business has decided that it needs an analytic specialist who can run regression analysis. These calculations use historical data about sales, and calculate the probability of future successes.

Using this information, they can learn more about the current sales process and then predict the probability of winning the deal.

While data-driven companies use sophisticated tools to forecast their revenues, there are other outcomes you can derive from using this approach.

6. The Length of Sales Cycle Forecasting

Understanding your sales cycles and how long a lead takes to become a paid client is crucial for your forecasts. By knowing how different marketing strategies affect this, you can better allocate your resources and adjust your numbers.

If you know the typical length of your sales cycles, you can more accurately estimate the likelihood of a lead turning into a sale. For instance, if your average prospecting process lasts 5-months, and you’ve already been working with a prospect for 2.5 of those 5, there is a 50% chance they will turn into a client.

Forecasting your sales process allows you to predict how long it’ll take for a prospect to become a customer. This helps you plan your resources accordingly, and is more accurate than the estimates given by your sales team.

This model isn’t about someone feeling they have a hot prospect.

While a longer sales process may yield more revenue, companies should pay more attention to the individual value of each channel. By looking at the value of each part of the sales funnel, you can make better decisions about where to invest your time and resources.

You can measure the sales cycle of each of your different marketing channels and determine which one converts the most leads to paying customers.

You can further divide your Facebook sales cycles by breaking them down into length. For example, you can separate out how long a prospect takes to reach out to you after viewing your content, or how long it takes you to reach out after they’ve signed up for your newsletter.

You have so much valuable information to use by combining your sales cycles with forecasts.

Tracking the length of the sales process can help companies in their future revenue predictions. This is only possible when marketing and sales work together closely. If these two departments are disconnected, this method may not be as effective.

Firms with departments that are too segmented will struggle with this forecast.

7. Lead-Driven Forecasting

For companies with lots of campaigns, using forecasts by Lead is a good way to forecast.

This predictive analysis technique works by assessing each of your lead generation channels, and assigns a value to each based on the behaviors of past customers.

Forecasting your revenue by factoring in your predicted conversion rates will help you estimate how much your business will make. These predictions can be further integrated into other predictive models for your sales.

This model allows business owners to better allocate their time and resources by prioritizing which customers are most likely to convert.

To construct lead driven forecasts, you’ll need to know three important pieces of information:

Lead driven sales forecast model uses three important metrics to predict sales: the average sale price by each marketing channel, the number of monthly inbound and outbound qualified leads to each of your sales reps, and the percentage of those lead tos that are converted into customers.

There are a few downsides to using a data-driven approach to sales forecasts. For example, if your marketing strategy or customer base shifts, your forecast may be off. Also, if something happens in your industry, your predictions may no longer be accurate.

If your industry is constantly changing, your forecasts can become out of date and unreliable.

If your team’s lead generation strategies change, then so will your number of customers. Unfortunately, this will also change your conversion rate

8. Sales Forecasting With Machine Learning and AI

The demand is growing for faster and more accurate forecasts that are easily accessible.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are powerful tools that can identify trends that human analysts might overlook.

While it may take time to train these AI systems, once they are trained, they can become very accurate. This improved efficiency can better help companies make important decisions about sales and other areas of their business.

Models that utilize machine learning algorithms are highly accurate, producing forecasts that are easy to explain to management.

A sales training model could be created that looks at key metrics such as average deal size, days it takes to close the sale, and success rate.

The AI can then analyze what factors influence these numbers, such as seasonality.

By analyzing your sales data and discovering that the best times for lead generation and customer on-boarding are during spring and fall, you can ensure that you’re prepared to maximize sales and revenue during these peak times of the year.

With machine learning, decision-makers can trust that the models are highly accurate.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence can help to improve the accuracy of your sales forecasts. This confidence boost will help to increase employee and stakeholder confidence in your projections.

Factors to Be Aware of When Forecasting Sales

Sales forecasting is a tricky process, and there will always be some deviation between actual sales and forecasted ones. The higher this variance, the more impact it will have on the company.

As a forecaster, it’s important to consider various outcomes that could impact your business. By thinking ahead, you can better prepare for any unexpected events that could significantly impact the operation of your company.

Such examples could include sudden changes in the economy, such as the stock market, or new legislation or policies.

Sales forecasts are extremely important, but they should not be the only factor considered when setting targets. If a company’s forecast is way off, it could lose a significant amount of money.

A holistic postmortem is required to determine how all business elements contributed to a disappointing quarter.

Quantitative and qualitative forecasts each have unique properties that must be considered.

When using qualitative forecasting methods, it is important to keep in mind that these techniques are subjective. This means that you will need to create a comprehensive view and then use additional research to support your claims. In order to do this effectively, it is essential to use credible sources.

Quantitative forecasts can uncover patterns, but could still fall victim to the bias of correlationcausation.

What are the different methods of sales forecasting?

Sales forecasting is the process of estimating future sales. There are various methods of sales forecasting, including trend analysis, regression analysis, and time-series analysis. Trend analysis involves looking at past sales data to identify trends and using those trends to predict future sales. Regression analysis is a statistical technique that can be used to identify relationships between different variables. Time-series analysis involves analyzing data over time to identify patterns and trends.

What are the three types of forecasting models?

The three types of forecasting models are trend analysis, regression analysis, and time series analysis. Trend analysis is used to identify whether there is a long-term trend in the data. Regression analysis is used to identify relationships between variables in the data. Time series analysis is used to identify patterns in the data over time.

What are forecasting models?

A forecasting model is a mathematical model used to predict future events. Forecasting models are often used in business and economics to predict future demand for goods and services.

What are the 4 forecasting techniques?

The four forecasting techniques are trend analysis, regression analysis, time series analysis, and causal analysis. Trend analysis is used to identify whether a time series is increasing, decreasing, or staying the same. Regression analysis is used to identify relationships between variables in order to forecast future values. Time series analysis is used to identify patterns in data over time in order to forecast future values. Causal analysis is used to identify relationships between cause and effect in order to forecast future values.

Conclusion

Sales forecasting models are a dime a dozen. There’s the trend analysis model, the regression analysis model, the causal analysis model…the list goes on and on. So how do you know which one is right for your business?The truth is, there isn’t a single sales forecasting technique that will work for everyone.

Each method has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to choose the right one based on your specific needs.In this blog post, we’ve taken a look at four of the most popular sales forecasting models out there:


Need Help Automating Your Sales Prospecting Process?

LeadFuze gives you all the data you need to find ideal leads, including full contact information.

Go through a variety of filters to zero in on the leads you want to reach. This is crazy specific, but you could find all the people that match the following: 

  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
Just to give you an idea. 😀[/sc

Editors Note:

Want to help contribute to future articles? Have data-backed and tactical advice to share? I’d love to hear from you!

We have over 60,000 monthly readers that would love to see it! Contact us and let's discuss your ideas!

Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
This post was generated for LeadFuze and attributed to Justin McGill, the Founder of LeadFuze.