Sales Forecasting Software
Sales Forecasting Software Overview
What is Sales Forecasting Software?
Sales forecasting software evaluates historical business data and produces a report of expected sales based on trends. Forecast reports show sales targets vs. achieved sales vs. potential sales.
Sales forecasting technology aims to answer these questions:
1. What amount of revenue can we expect? This can be organized by salesperson, territory or account.
2. How did actual sales compare to expected sales? If those two numbers don’t match, why not?
3. What method will produce the most accurate forecast?
Sales forecasting software includes templates. These templates run statistical analyses on data and produce sales forecast reports. Typically, users program the templates with “assumptions” to simulate sales behavior and market conditions.
Ultimately, forecasting is a process of self-assessment, market assessment, and self-reflection. Accurate forecasts require detailed finances and business records, as well as external market conditions.
Benefits of Dedicated Sales Forecasting Software
You can create sales forecasts using spreadsheets or a general BI tool. However, the benefits of a dedicated sales forecasting tool are:
A UI for Sales (vs. IT or data scientists)
Visuals for sales managers
Better contextual understanding of forecasts
Deep integration with other sales technology
Sophisticated CRM systems often include sales forecasting as a capability.
Sales Forecasting Software Features & Capabilities
Functionality differs depending on the complexity of the product, and whether it’s a point solution or part of a Sales technology suite. Features may include:
Sales forecast benchmarking: Forecast sales and compare to company or industry benchmarks.
Quick forecasts / Dashboard: A quick overview of sales forecasts.
Sales forecast visuals: Clear and helpful visuals.
Sales forecast templates: Pre-built templates for forecast reports.
Sales forecasting factors: Multivariate forecasting algorithms that allow users to adjust the factors that influence projections.
Sales forecast review: Tracks forecast accuracy/model fit and confidence.
Sales forecasting management: Ability to manage models and assumptions based on forecast reviews.
Custom forecast models: Allows for granular control over the forecasting approach.
Record of previous sales forecasts: Record of previous forecasts/audit trail.
Sales forecast collaboration: Allows users to collaborate on sales forecasts. For example, different users may access, comment on and adjust forecasts.
Data import: Import historical data from CRM systems and other sales software.
Export to Excel
Demand Planning vs. Sales Management
Sales forecasting serves two main use cases. First, projections can be used for demand planning. In this ERP-use case, forecasts inform product inventory and resource planning. The goal is to improve production scheduling, inventory management and workforce logistics.
Factors to Consider when Selecting Sales Forecasting Software
Some sales forecasting tools offer static reports. More sophisticated tools offer dynamic forecasts that continually test model fit. In other words, they test how well certain assumptions predict sales accurately.
Either way, the software should document the models used and provide visibility into underlying assumptions. Sales forecasting templates help simplify the math and data analysis. However, they should not be a black box. The mechanisms should be available for review and adjustment.
Projected sales numbers are rarely 100% accurate. Therefore, it is important to understand trends in the inaccuracy of the sales forecasts themselves. This will help managers produce more realistic forecasts in the future. It will also provide insight into what type of operational inefficiencies might arise because of inaccurate forecasts. For example, under-estimation can lead to deliver limitations or customer service failures. Over-estimation can lead to wasted overhead due to over-investment in products and resources.
The most robust sales forecasting tools will perform meta-analysis on the type of errors made in forecasts, and improve model fit accordingly.
Sales Forecasting Products
Salesforce is a web-based CRM application that enables users to forecast revenues and track leads. It is a leading sales, service, and marketing app. Salesforce.com's Sales (CRM), Service, Platform and Marketing applications are designed to help companies connect with customers, partners, and...
Zoho CRM is a simple, very low-cost CRM option for the smaller end of the SMB segment. The product has several useful integrations with other products, including QuickBooks, and Google Apps and Google Docs. The product also has an integrated project management module.
InsightSquared is a sales analytics platform that provides sales leaders with the insights they need to drive performance and close deals. According to the vendor, the comprehensive set of reports provide sales leaders with ready access to all the analysis they need to assess their progress,...
Pipedrive is a customer relationship management (CRM) software built to help small teams to drive sales.
NetSuite CRM is built on the same code base as the NetSuite ERP product and is usually used by customers who are already using NetSuite for ERP/Accounting.
Oracle Sales Cloud is a sales automation software accessible through Microsoft Outlook, iOS, and Android, along with territory and quota management and social collaboration.
IBM Cognos Incentive Compensation Management (formerly Varicent) is a highly flexible and scalable sales ICM product. It is designed to increase operational efficiency, accuracy, and audiability by automating incentive calculations and providing online compensation statements and reporting for...
C9 Predictive Sales products are now supported by InsideSales.com since the May, 2015 acquisition.
Nutshell offers a CRM with contact management, calendar sync, click-to-call, and collaboration features.
According to the vendor, MoData is an AI-powered sales intelligence software that delivers: Hundreds of out-of-the-box Sales KPI charts/reports. Sales Forecasting Deal Scoring Pipeline Prediction Rep Quota TrackingTrack pipeline changes & Funnel progression. Account Based Sales &...
Datahug is a sales optimization solution that enables sales teams to increase sales velocity and reduce pipeline risk. The vendor says their solution gives sales managers deep visibility into the sales pipeline while reducing the burden on salespeople to update a CRM. The vendor’s value...
Avero Slingshot is an analytics platform specifically for sales forecasting and workforce optimization dedicated primarily to restaurants and hospitality, from Avero in New York.
Aviso Insights provides predictive analytics software that is designed to help sales organizations optimize their performance and exceed their revenue goals.
SalesDirector.ai is a sales forecasting and coaching tool that uses artificial intelligence to make predictions and recommendations based on combined CRM, Email, Calendaring and call log data.
TopOpps is a sales pipeline management and sales forcecasting solution. This solution provides pipeline visibility and a unified workflow for both inside and outside sales teams. The forecast tool is designed to give users an accurate representation of the sales pipeline in real time.
Fliptop was a predictive analytics application combining public web data with internal CRM and marketing data to score leads, identify target companies and trigger marketing actions. Fliptop was acquired by LinkedIn in 2015 and integrated with LinkedIn products. Fliptop is no longer available as a...
Azurepath is designed to automate lead management and performance tracking for insightful business growth. According to the vendor, Azurepath is remarkably easy to use and suitable for any sized business selling any kind of product or service. Visual lead queues for individuals and teams eliminate...
ForecastPRO is a sales forecasting and analytics software solution offered by Business Forecast Systems, Inc.
IBM Omni-Channel Pricing Solution is a software product developed by DemandTec (acquired by IBM in December 2011) for sales forecasting and deal / sale / promotion optimization.
Vanguard Sales Forecasting is a sales forecasting and analytics software solution offered by Vanguard Software Corporation.
Right90 is a sales forecasting and analytics software solution offered by Right90.
Axtria SalesIQ is a cloud-based platform that helps sales management run an effective and efficient sales operation. The solution includes modules for planning, deployment and performance management.
Demand Works Forecasting is a sales forecasting and analytics software solution offered by Demand Works Co.
IBM Cognos Planning is a sales forecasting and analytics software solution offered by IBM.
FunnelWise is a revenue and performance analytics tool that connects Sales and Marketing. In addition to revenue attribution, FunnelWise also includes goal tracking and forecasting. Metrics are tracked throughout the funnel and results are visible in real-time. It integrates with Salesforce.com as...