The Future of Sales Funnels: Predictive Analytics and Forecasting

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What happens when you put together forecasting, predictive analytics, and sales? You get predictive sales forecasting.

This complex but critical process relies on data to enable businesses to predict future sales by analyzing market events, fluctuations, cycles, and trends

It allows companies to tap into various business areas and forecast future moves that could send more prospects down the sales funnel.

Predictive analytics and forecasting are top tools for driving business profits and great examples of how science helps with marketing. These processes are becoming invaluable and can help any company make plans for future growth, allocate resources, and predict sales revenues.

Let’s delve deeper into trends forecasts and predictive analytics to see how they can help your organization determine the future of its sales funnel.

Predictive sales forecasting explained

Simply put, sales forecasting is a technique that helps organizations forecast trends with data. They can ascertain the possible future value of a market, industry, or sector by assessing selected data sets. 

The Future of Sales Funnels Predictive Analytics and Forecasting

When applied to the sales funnel, forecasting and predictive analytics can help sales teams predict revenue based on specific events and the number of sales of a particular service or product.

Predictive sales forecasting analyzes past sales and applies the insights to the upcoming period, whether it be weeks, months, or years. 

Accurate forecasts enable a company to predict future short- and long-term sales and adjust its performance accordingly

Whether running a small business or a large enterprise, forecasting sales is paramount to improving decision-making with accurate and relevant analytical data.

Companies use this type of forecasting to develop predictive models driven by historical data.

The model relies on that data to forecast sales trends based on predetermined parameters, such as current sales, business performance, market events, and seasonality. 

Sales forecasting can do more for a business than just predicting sales – it can also provide the means to ensure better inventory management, optimize staffing, predict seasonal customer demand, and manage growth, profits, and expenses.

How predictive sales forecasting helps a business

Even though forecasting can benefit a company in various ways, it’s still a significant challenge for many organizations.

A recent study showed that 50% of sales teams struggle to make accurate sales predictions based on historical data, current sales performance, and past average sales

Although they base their forecasts on sales data, they also use gut instinct, which is why their forecast accuracy is prone to human error. However, forecasting is still the most powerful weapon in your arsenal for predicting business revenue. 

You take real-time and historical data to develop a predictive sales forecasting model.

The model bases its analytical abilities on the information you feed it to improve your approach to sales by providing actionable insights into market trends and sales patterns. 

It analyzes various variables and metrics, such as industry events, market changes, competitor prices, search queries, etc.

Benefits of predictive analytics and forecasting

Aside from eliminating human error, managing cash flow and resource allocation, and ensuring growth, predictive sales forecasting automates the process of gathering, saving, and processing sales data. 

Benefits of predictive analytics and forecasting

It helps companies understand their position in the market, measure performance, and compare it to the company mission. However, there’s much more than meets the eye to predictive analytics and forecasting. 

Lead generation

No matter how much data you feed to your pipeline, it will all be for nothing if you only get poor-quality leads. Thankfully, you can improve your lead generation and quality by using predictive sales analytics tools. 

These software solutions use your customer data to tackle an ideal buyer persona. That knowledge allows you to build highly targeted ideal customer profiles (ICP)

Your sales teams can base their marketing strategies on your ICP to avoid wasting time with bad leads. 

Sales forecasting and predictive analytics can also benefit your team members by giving them up-to-date insights on customer behavior and data to improve lead-generating and scoring accuracy. 

With predictive sales analytics tools, you can tap into:

  • Contact information such as email address, phone number, interests, job role, persona type, country, region, sector, and vertical;
  • Interactions and preferences such as social interaction, email click-through, and open rates, blog views, web pages, websites visited, return visits, etc.;
  • Negative aspects, such as unsubscribed emails, unengaged emails, etc.

Through a reliable solution like HubSpot lead scoring, your sales reps can prioritize prospects most likely to become loyal customers. 

Tailored messaging

With high-quality leads, your sales team can segment the market and custom-tailor marketing messaging according to demographics and customer preferences.

In addition, your sales reps can adjust their lead nurturing tactics to match each segment and improve their chances of driving more sales

Predictive sales forecasting software solutions help sales teams outline the best sales strategies and content to get potential prospects to become your customers at any phase of the sales funnel. 

Aside from improving lead generation and conversion rates, your sales rep can shorten the sales cycle and develop profound connections with your target audience.

Maximize lifetime customer value (LCV)

While every company should invest time, effort, and resources in attracting new customers, it should also cater to existing consumers by providing as much brand value as possible.

If customers frequently buy your products, chances are that you can turn their interests into opportunities for upselling and cross-selling

These opportunities are a great source of revenue and can significantly benefit your bottom line.

More importantly, they can help your sales reps increase the maximum lifetime customer value and unlock countless benefits, such as stronger customer relationships and increased value for your prospects.

Improve the accuracy of sales forecasts

The combination of sales forecasting and predictive analytics is a surefire way to improve the accuracy of your predictions and provide your sales reps with the most accurate sales insights. 

Improve the accuracy of sales forecasts

This accuracy is critical for taking your sales performance to the next level. 

However, it also plays a vital role in attracting investors and securing lucrative business opportunities within multivariable markets. 

Although predictive analytics in sales is yet to make the ultimate breakthrough across the digital business landscape, it’s quickly becoming a necessity that could help startups and modern businesses disturb markets with innovation and advanced technology.

How to perform predictive sales forecasting

Here are two ways to conduct predictive sales forecasting.

Qualitative techniques

Qualitative techniques allow sales teams to forecast numerical sales using instinct, expertise, and experience

These techniques involve the analysis of consumer demand, expectations, and preferences to help sales reps market products and services according to their audiences’ specific needs. 

Qualitative analytics are ideal for predicting three-month sales cycles while avoiding dealing with complex statistics. They can help companies improve trends forecasts by considering new product launches, product shortages, the state of the economy, etc. 

Quantitative methods

While qualitative methods focus on numerical data, quantitative techniques use historical data to forecast the future of your sales funnel. They rely on sales data to present insights into future and past industry and market trends to your sales reps.

Quantitative methods

Based on that knowledge, sales professionals can predict future sales for up to a year.

Quantitative analytics is one of the most effective ways to make accurate future sales forecasts and improve operational decision-making. It also allows businesses to change sales cycles, inventory management, workforce, supply chain, etc.

These two methods allow you to drive profits and ensure a prosperous future by:

  • Improving planning and decision-making;
  • Enhancing sales performance;
  • Optimizing inventory management and control;
  • Forecasting market and industry trends before your competitors;
  • Avoiding breaking a budget on unsold inventory and unused items.

We would also like to mention briefly that you should make trend forecasts based on metrics, accessibility, and compatibility

Metrics allow you to adjust your forecasting to your specific operations, accessibility makes it easy to use the forecasting tool, and compatibility ensures the tool is integrable with your existing system.

Conclusion

Predictive analytics and forecasting used to be optional, but that’s not the case anymore. Forecasting is now a necessity for making your way through an overwhelmingly competitive digital business landscape

If your company still hasn’t adapted to predictive forecasting and analytics, you should do it as soon as possible.

The latest forecasting software and analytics tools can ensure your sales team receives consistent, relevant, and clean data that can fuel your operations and ensure business growth for the years to come. 

About the author 

Peter Keszegh

Most people write this part in the third person but I won't. You're at the right place if you want to start or grow your online business. When I'm not busy scaling up my own or other people' businesses, you'll find me trying out new things and discovering new places. Connect with me on Facebook, just let me know how I can help.

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