Forecast Review Meetings: Are You Asking the Right Questions?

The ultimate goal of any forecast review meeting is simple: Develop a level of confidence around each forecasted opportunity so that you can deliver the most accurate forecast to management. In order to do this you must ask series of questions around each opportunity that will get you to your answer. Here is a list of best practice questions that we have gathered from forecasting experts in the OpenView network.

 

For each opportunity, you should be asking the standard set of from your forecast template:

  • How much is the opportunity worth and why?
  • What stage is it in and why?
  • When is it going to close and why?
  • What is your level of confidence (probability) and why?

Those standard questions then lead into a series of additional questions that will help you dive deeper into the opportunity and peel back the layers of the onion. The goal of this questioning is to find out what else needs to happen for each deal to close on the forecasted date, and at the forecasted amount. Another way to think about it is that you are trying to uncover what it is that you don’t know that you need to know, in order to get the deal done. Here are some additional questions that you should be asking:

  • Who signs off on the deal?
  • When did you last speak with the decision maker?
  • Who else can say no?
  • Do we have the technical win?
  • Do we have the business win?
  • What is the impending event that is causing them to sign on that date?
  • What was the last step?
  • What is the next step?
  • Does it have to go through legal review?
  • What is their (the prospect) procurement process?
  • What other solutions are they evaluating?
  • Why do they like our solution?

Another good tactic to use during the forecast review meeting is negative questioning. Asking these types of questions puts the sales rep in your shoes and forces them to think critically about an opportunity. This tactic can also help you and your reps develop contingency plans for different scenarios. Here are some negative questions to consider:

  • Why wouldn’t we win this deal?
  • What else could get in the way of this deal closing?
  • Why would they choose the competition over us?
  • Why wouldn’t it get through legal?
  • What if the board meeting doesn’t happen?

The goal is to feel more comfortable about each opportunity, so you should run through as many questions as it takes to get to that point. As you get through each opportunity, you’ll develop your own level of confidence on whether it belongs in the forecast or not, as well as the probability that you think it will close.

With each opportunity, there’s also one additional question you should always ask:

  • What can I do to help on this deal?

This is your chance to offer additional support and guidance. You should be listening for opportunities to engage in deals and get other members of the organization, or referenecable customers, involved on deals helps bring them in.

You should also come to an agreement with your sales reps on the right next step for each opportunity. If you ask all of the right questions, you should walk out of each forecast review meeting with the input you need from that rep to incorporate it into your forecast for the team.

While this is a pretty good list, questions may vary by industry, and market.

What questions would you add?

Ori Yankelev
Ori Yankelev
VP, Sales

Ori Yankelev is Vice President, Sales at Own Backup. He was previously a Sales and Marketing Associate for OpenView.
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