Sales Teams Too Optimistic About Their Pipelines, Nimble Apps Finds

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Nimble Apps assesses the reliability of common and not-so-common forecasting methodologies

Losing a sales opportunity takes twice as long as winning one, Nimble Apps announced today as part of the results of recent research into business-to-business (B2B) sales cycles.

The developer of online sales analysis application SalesClic also found that on average, it takes 22 percent longer than initially expected for sales teams to win an opportunity.

“The analysis of our findings demonstrates that sales teams are consistently too optimistic about when an opportunity will close, and more generally, that accurate forecasting remains a big problem for B2B companies,” said Thomas Oriol, CEO of Nimble Apps. “This is disastrous for sales managers trying to anticipate future revenue.”

The research examines the dynamics of sales cycles (e.g. stage durations, conversion rates). The results show that two-thirds of lost opportunities are lost after the predicted closing date, meaning that B2B companies can streamline their sales processes by monitoring closing dates closely and detecting ‘stuck’ opportunities as early as possible.

“Our research confirms what most sales managers already know,” said Oriol. “The simple weighted pipeline forecasting technique -using declared amounts, declared closing dates and declared closing probabilities- is useless. It also reinforces that sales managers could improve their forecast accuracy significantly by leveraging existing historical data.”

The report also finds that a simple forecasting method based on “daily closing rates” performs better than more sophisticated ones: it improves simple weighted pipeline forecast accuracy by 53 percent. In addition to testing B2B forecasting techniques, the report suggests immediate ways for B2B companies to produce better forecasts, such as focusing on the right sales performance indicators and identifying meaningful early warning signs.

“This SalesClic research helps to explain why traditional sales forecasting is so inaccurate," says Bob Apollo of Inflexion-Point, one of the UK's leading B2B sales and marketing performance improvement specialists. "Perhaps more importantly, it identifies simple remedies that can enable sales leaders to dramatically improve sales forecast accuracy by making better use of the data that - unbeknownst to them - is already being held in their CRM systems.”

To conduct the research, Nimble Apps surveyed 12 sales teams in the UK, Asia and the United States within the software, electronic equipment and financial services industries. In all, Oriol and his team studied 144,817 closed opportunities with sales cycles of 75 to 250 days, over an average period of five years.

Full details on the research can be found in the corresponding white paper.

About Nimble Apps
Nimble Apps is an online software publisher created in 2008. Nimble Apps focuses on bringing modern visualization and analytic techniques to common management challenges, such as sales funnel optimization. For more information visit: http://www.salesclic.com/

Contact
Susie Hughes
Allison+ Partners for SalesClic
susie(at)allisonpr(dot)com
+44 203 463 2108

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Susanna Hughes

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