The Edge of Glory: PreSales Forecasting & Accountability

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PreSales Collective


Dec 1, 2021


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We all know that sales forecasting is essential to the success of not only the sales team, but the entire organization. And PreSales teams tend to have a lot of insights into potential deals because we’re very in tune with prospects and spend a lot of time talking to them and understanding their business and needs. But we’re not often asked to play a role in the forecasting process, especially in a formal way. In the recent PreSales Leadership Collective Executive Summit, we had a great session on ways to change this, with insights from:

Mélissa Chouikrat-Coyne, Senior Manager of EMEA Solutions Commercial at DocuSign

Marjorie Abdelkrime, Head of Multi-Cloud at VMWare

Why PreSales Should Play a Part in Forecasting

Sales forecasting works best when there’s multiple voices and perspectives involved, not just sales. These perspectives can offer different ways of viewing potential deals and evaluating their chances of success. And a different point of view might uncover issues - or upsides - that aren’t evident to the sales team alone.

So it’s clear that PreSales - often mentioned as the “trusted advisor” to both sales and the customer - can offer an informed, nuanced perspective to the sales forecasting process.

But why should we help with forecasting? What is in it for us as PreSales professionals?

  • We can offer an enriched forecast with holistic perspectives.
  • We can ensure the forecasting process focuses on what matters and sets customers up for success.
  • We can get seen and heard - additional recognition for a team that is often overlooked and undervalued.

Key Components

Mélissa has identified several components of her team’s sales forecasting process and deal health assessments that have made them successful. These components have been tried and tested, and tweaked along the way as well to ensure they’re working well.

  1. Design outputs for the wider team. This includes documenting key customer requirements, capturing the proposed solution, and accelerating the time-to-value realisation. This component helps the whole team get to a thorough understanding of the deal specs before onboarding customers to ensure the deal is successful past the point of making the sale.

  1. Grading. Her team assigns an A, B, C, or D grade based on two parts: the functional fit of the deal and the technical complexity of the solution. This is just one example of a grading system to record an opinion as part of the forecast. If you don't tell people what you think, they won’t hear it.

  1. Accountability. Build admin into your team’s routine and cadence. Empower the team with up-to-date data, and hold everyone accountable. PreSales has a greater knowledge of what’s happening on the field and depth of knowledge that every sales leader should be striving to access.

Mélissa’s team sorts potential deals into high, neutral, and low categories for forecasting. Then they look at what’s already been done, and what can still be done to move any deal forward. They’re determined to leave no stone unturned based on tangible assessments by both the deal AE and PreSales. This ensures that they have a realistic look at what the deal is now, and what can be done in future.

How Does This Look in Practice?

Mélissa used to not feel comfortable sharing her view in the forecasting process. She felt a bit like a big elephant in a china shop - not everyone will think it’s your role. But they will grow and get used to it because there are so many benefits that the success will show them you should be a part of it.

Over time as she spoke up more, she got invited proactively to share her opinion because the sales trusted her. And eventually she had a full seat at the table as a trusted partner. Also you will find new opportunities for resolution and help to fix the forecast based on reality, though you might need to kill your (or the sales team’s) darlings.

Getting to this endpoint of contributions and appreciation requires fine tuning and continuously improving. After a few months of positive contributions, the curiosity turns very positive. PreSales professionals can be more suspicious or cynical than our sales counterparts, which can be positive. We don’t want to force sales leaders to view things through that lens as well, but there is a space for us to question the reality so everyone knows it’s something solid. Reducing the “happy ears” within the sales team helps everyone have an accurate, realistic sales forecast.

Eventually, as a PreSales leader contributing to the forecasting process, you will be appreciated and seen as a key leader. No one can afford to have an inaccurate forecast. PreSales can help the whole team focus on what matters and set customers up for success. And when the voice of PreSales is seen and heard, we’re on the edge of glory.

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The Leadership collective is a group designed for PreSales leaders in a management capacity (Manager+ title) who are looking to network, grow professionally, and actively participate.

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Sorry, this content is available for Leadership Collective Members only!

The Leadership collective is a group designed for PreSales leaders in a management capacity (Manager+ title) who are looking to network, grow professionally, and actively participate.

Join Leadership CollectiveAlready a member? Login →