How to use Zoho CRM for sales forecasting

Use Zoho CRM to jump at business opportunity

One key challenge we see our Zoho CRM customers have is in using their sales forecasting module correctly. It is especially important in some industries as it can be a critical tool in managing accounts and sales.

The sales forecasting module of Zoho CRM allows you to see your business’s effectiveness more clearly as well as where you are missing out on opportunities.

An example of an industry that the Zoho CRM sales forecasting module is especially useful for is the spare parts sector of the automotive industry. Using this tool, a spare parts distributor can easily work out the maximum revenue each mechanic can generate in a workshop. By deploying the Zoho Business Intelligence engine we can calculate the maximum revenue each mechanic shop can yield by dividing the revenue by the number of mechanics. This result can then be displayed automatically in Zoho CRM.

Zoho’s dynamic data integration can extend to your accounting system, ERP, distribution system, and inventory system. Once this information is in Zoho CRM, account managers and sales people can see if they are missing out on sales.

What’s more, Zoho CRM can easily display the revenue by account and even by category. You can drill-in even more deeply by displaying the budget per account and per product category. Zoho CRM allows you to go one step further by displaying the category break down by number of orders. You can even see each category by revenue, order number, period of time, and compare the buying pattern to another time period.

Zoho CRM’s flexible interface also allows information to be displayed chronologically. You can display information by month and by year. This allows you to see and compare figures between years and/or months, thus giving you insights into the seasonality of your market.

Details like this provide the sales person the specific knowledge of where each issue is in each account and or when new issue is coming up.

For management, full visibility of trends and patterns can be derived. This helps managers steer the business and increase the effectiveness of their account management. Ultimately, Zoho CRM helps you strike when an opportunity comes up, rather than letting these sources of business be snatched up my competition.

Zoho CRM can show you why you won or lost a sale

Zoho CRM can show you why some reps succeed and others fail

Most of our Zoho CRM customers can easily make a link between sales results and lead sources. From this connection they find it relatively easy to identify the most effective way to advertise and bring business in.

The following questions remain more difficult to answer:

Why did we win this sale? Or why did we lose this sale? How can we minimize the loss of good leads?

Added to these questions is the often wide disparity between the performances of different sales reps.

However in some industries the performance of sales reps can be analyzed and predicted with Zoho CRM. If you operate in such an industry there is good news; guidance can be provided to reps to really improve their performance, especially when it comes to helping reps minimize the loss of quality leads. You can bring performance up to a point where if a quality lead is engaged by a good rep, the likelihood of a sale is very high.

One industry where Zoho CRM is particularly useful is automotive sales. In an industry like this we can ask the following question:

Is there any causation between a sales person’s activity and the outcome of the sale?

The parameters we then need to monitor with Zoho CRM are: the rep’s activity, the activities repetition, and the timing of the activity in relation to the outcome of the sale.

To shed light on these dimensions of business activity a company needs to use Zoho CRM to generate the following reports:

  1. All the activity types for sales won and lost
  2. All the activity types and repetition for won and lost
  3. All the activity type,repetition and timing for won and lost

By drilling into these Zoho CRM reports a business can begin to identify the activities that are helping sales people succeed in the sales process

A business will be able to see in good resolution the differ over dealership, sales person and be able to provide feedback to improve performance.

This is one of the ways that we can use Zoho CRM to help make data meaningful to your business, and as a result allow you to steer your team to success.

The top 3 key questions for sales force planning

Can your Zoho CRM tell you when how many sales people you need?

Did you know that 66% of small to medium size businesses don’t have the data they need to substantiate whether or not their sales force is the right size?  We’ve also noticed that this problem is more acute for businesses that have an aggressive sales strategy.

An undersized sales team means your business will lag by being unable to close opportunity.  On the other hand a sales force that is bloated is wasting money and can create the wrong expectations with staff and clients.

 It is also difficult to assess if your current sales force  is working at an optimum level.

 The following are the three key questions your need to be asking – along with best ways to answer them:

 1) Is the number of sales people we have is optimal , or should we increase/decrease our sales force? 

 To answer this you need to have a solid understanding as to how many man hours is needed to close and manage a sale in your sales cycle.  If you combine that metric with the accurate number of available business opportunities that your business has at any one time, you can start to see how big a sales force is needed to deal with your opportunities.

Zoho CRM is highly effective in helping you with this task. It holds all the knowledge needed to forecast what the optimal resources you will need to close sales in the future.

 2) What relevant data needed to make informed decisions about sales force planning?

Every companies sales process is different, therefore, different data needs to be collected in order to make an informed decision for that specific business.  In some businesses one sales person handles a client/customer throughout the entire sales and marketing process.  In others multiple people manages separate autonomous tasks, often concurrently. 

3) What are the specific things my type of business needs to do to make accurate sales force decisions? 

 Again this is answer changes from business to business.  A very account management centric business that focuses on fulfillment or repeat customers would have very different data collection requirements to a business that sells one-off solutions.  Season and event based business will have different time volatility that businesses who have constant activity year round.

Where to go from here

 To be able to answer the above questions well, you need the right skill set and considerable experience.  There are multiple metrics at play, and multiple tools needed to make sense of them.  Even if you have a CRM that collects data (such as Zoho CRM) you need people who understand data and sales processes  to make insightful decisions about how to structure your business.  

As experienced Zoho CRM consultants, we understand how to use your Zoho CRM to make sales force planning easier – making answering the question ‘should we add another sales person’ an informed process by removing the common guesswork.  If you want to answer the above questions with specific detail, and want to work with certified Zoho CRM consultants, then contact us to find out more.