Data… Data… Data…

We know we sound like a broken record but when it comes to marketing, you need to be able to interpret your data if you hope to succeed in any meaningful way. Forecasting is just another word for that process. Interpreting the historical data in order to predict what’ll happen tomorrow.

But that’s not all you need…

1. What’s Trending?

Market trends are fast and furious, and for you to use your data in a meaningful way, you need to have your fingers on the pulse of those shifts. Ideally, your sales team is going to be taking ownership when it comes to interpreting these shifts and making sure that they have access to good, current data is going to create a situation where you’re going to be prepared for these changes and be able to determine what might come next, making your forecasting more accurate.  

2. Keep That Data Clean

Do you have opportunities that are going stagnant or inactive? Are your reps responding to inquiries from prospects in a timely manner? Do you know which accounts have the potential for larger growth? It’s not enough to see which opportunities closed and which didn’t. Your team needs to pay attention to the minutiae of each situation and determine what can be done better and what can be replicated in future efforts. This means reviewing what brought the prospect into the funnel in the first place, and then looking at things like response times and other communication specifics. By doing this, you’re going to see trends, and those trends can show you where your projections should be headed. 

3. Focus on What Matters Most

What are the metrics that matter most to you? Which numbers do you measure to measure success? If your company is subscription-based, you should be measuring things like the renewal rate as well as how many new subscribers you’re able to acquire each month. If you’re selling medical equipment, you’d probably look at how much of those sales are one-time purchases versus things like bandages that will need to be ordered again.  Taking all these metrics that define your success and laying them bare so that you can take them all in at once is going to do a lot for your strategy and your predictive model. 

4. Build a Culture Around Your Data

Your data-driven insights are going to be the guiding light of your team—more than your instincts, and more than the vibes. If you’re keeping a careful eye on your data, you’ll be able to tell your sales team the best time of day to reach out to a prospect. You’ll know what to post on social media that will get the most engagement, and you’ll be able to tell when the best time to post is to get the most eyes on your assets. You’ll even know what color things should be since you’ve done the testing and seen what people react positively to. 

The point is that you need to build good habits involving data with your entire team because everyone can benefit. Everyone in every position can make better decisions based on available data. You just need to be able to see how that data applies to their day-to-day. Once you determine that, you’ll be operating optimally, and the valuable insights those team members bring in can alter your forecasting models in a way that makes them far more accurate.

5. Never Stop Gathering Intel

Never rest on your bed of data. Data is ever-evolving, the market is ever-changing, and what works today may not be as effective tomorrow, from a strategy standpoint. If there are techniques, visuals, or processes that you feel like experimenting with, that’s completely fine! You just need to make sure that every interaction and every test is something you can learn from. 

Salesforce and Account Engagement have so many tools that allow you to track and graph this data if you know where to look. Everything you test can become an asset that’s easily understood and distributed throughout the organization. Always have a reason to try something new, and learn from it. Once you learn those patterns and trends, the future is yours.

Forecasting is tough. The laws of business basically say that in order to succeed, you need to be able to predict the future. But if you use your tools right, you’re never going in blind. You can make reasonable predictions and forecasts that you can act on. You just need to know where to look.

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