• December 1, 2005
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Tech Solution: Sales Forecasting Tools

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Accurately forecasting sales is an important aspect of any sales manager's job. Doing so enables better planning and running of a sales force, improved decision making on the part of a sales team, and more accurate financial reports for executives and upper management to go by. Managers must account for sales stage, historical performance, probability of close, and other factors influencing each sales agent. Fortunately there is help. Sales forecasting tools take into account and provide insight into lead generation, sales opportunities, individual information on where accounts stand, and more.

Sage Software's ACT!
Delivery Model: On-demand Web-based or on-premise installation
Price: ACT! 2006 costs $229.99 per user, limited to 10 users or less. ACT! Premium for Workgroups costs $399.99 per user.
Business Benefits: ACT! enables sales professionals to forecast and track sales opportunities from initial inquiry through close using either a standard sales process or one customized to suit an organization's specific needs. Sales managers can view and report on all open opportunities and receive constant updates so they know where their sales teams stand.
Capabilities/Functionality: Managers can utilize a built-in sales process to customize the ACT! suite to specific business functions and processes. Managers can view sales opportunities and forecast reports individually or filter them by users, estimated close date, status, sales stage, or probability of close. In addition, managers can generate instant quotes without having to key information again. A sales pipeline provides insight into sales trends and can be printed via one of more than 20 preformatted sales reports or be exported to Excel.
Contact: Sage Software at 1-877-501-4496; email at customer.inquiry@act.com; or visit www.act.com

Salesnet Standard Edition
Delivery Model: On-demand Web-based
Price: Salesnet Standard Edition costs $65 per user, per month.
Business Benefits: Managers can increase sales predictability through visibility into potential future business. They can more accurately identify pipeline issues and bottlenecks before they become revenue problems and can utilize either activity- or probability-based forecasting.
Capabilities/Functionality: Managers can create an unlimited number of forecasts based on a combination of criteria, including sales activities, probability, or rolling forecast. They can assign forecast contribution factors to sales activities to deliver a high level of revenue predictability. For perspective, managers can create historical forecast snapshots for later retrieval and comparison. Forecasts can be displayed in any number of ways: by report, graph/chart, cross-tab, or chart animation. These displays can be added to dashboards to provide instant access.
Contact: Salesnet at 1-617-350-0160; email at info@salesnet.com; or visit www.salesnet.com

Entellium's eSalesForce
Delivery Model: On-demand Web-based
Price: $55 per month, per user as a stand-alone module, or $45 for an annual contract as part of Entellium's suite
Business Benefits: Entellium designed eSalesForce to improve and automate most of the routines and tedious tasks that other SFA providers still require users and managers to perform. Sales managers can gain access to sales information, forecast models, and view pipelines so they can manage their sales teams more efficiently.
Capabilities/Functionality: Visual Reports enables managers to examine key metrics visually using dials, gauges, and sliders, even creating what-if scenarios to better analyze past performance and anticipate future trends. Multiple sales processes allow major accounts, channel partner sales, direct sales, and inside sales to have their own definable sales processes, complete with sales stages, checklists, and forecasting rules. A quota planner helps managers predict where their business is going by tracking all activities that influence sales results, such as daily, weekly, and monthly quotas around cold calls, number of appointments scheduled, lead conversion targets, and outbound account management calls.
Contact: Entellium at 1-800-539-9973; email at sales-na@entellium.com; or visit www.entellium.com

Contact Editorial Assistant Colin Beasty at cbeasty@destinationCRM.com

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