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Monday, 5 March 2012

Ignoring the Sales Forecast and missing Targets


The first Monday of the Month is when we “review” last month’s Sales Performance at the weekly Sales Review. It’s a bigger than normal audience with “guests” from Marketing, Tech Support and Finance. We were honoured today by the attendance of the CFO and the CMO, the meeting was chaired by the CEO.

Why such an illustrious audience?

Because we have missed two consecutive Month’s Sales Targets and
we are NOT on track to hit the quarter’s Target!
This gets the attention of the Investors and the Board.
There was a smell of fear in the room.

They say wolves sense the fear of their prey and that’s when they start howling!


What the wolverines in the room didn’t know was the Sales VP and I had spent three days preparing for the encounter. We knew it was going wrong three weeks ago.

The early signs were “weak signals” an unusual Discounting Campaign from our prime Competitor announced in December, launched on Jan 1, was beginning to bite.

Despite Sales giving Both Finance and Marketing early warning, the signals were ignored.

Marketing decided they were NOT going to respond, Sales were told to SELL VALUE not discount.
Along with the Price Discounts, the Competitor offered great financial terms,
90 day payment terms with installation and setup charges delayed for 12 months.

Their offer was keen pricing and easy payment terms,
both very attractive in these “Frugal” times.

At the First Monday Monthly Meeting in February we had Presented Marketing and Finance with a list of 14 identified “at risk” Sales Forecast opportunities. They had stonewalled and not responded, we had escalated this to the CEO as a Valentine present of a visit with the CEO to an “at risk” Prospect.

“I like your Product, functionally its better, we have a great relationship,
BUT I can’t justify the extra cost. Comeback when you can compete financially!”

We lost the order.

The Sales VP and I had reviewed 6 lost opportunities during February, and a further 14 which were forecast for February close which were being delayed or postponed. The Competitor’s Disruptive Pricing had been a well executed Marketing Campaign, into a Product/Market with reduced budget and a drive for Cost Reduction.

So, “Who lost the Sale?”

Sales had brought early warning of the Competitive Threat to the table in December. Marketing and Finance had ignored them as “weak signals”. Sales had brought “proof” in February, Marketing and finance wanted to “wait and see”. The CEO had first-hand experience, a real time “Battlefield Intelligence”, but he had not reacted.


We closed the Presentation with the January and February “WINS” despite the competitive Disruptive Pricing. Sales had a 100% success where that Competitor was NOT present, Sales had only lost one time in five (20%) when the Competitive “Offer” was present.


Finally we offered the meeting this thought:

Consider the case of Bertrand Russell's Inductivist Turkey


“The turkey found that, on his first morning at the turkey farm, that he was fed at 9 a.m. Being a good inductivist turkey he did not jump to conclusions. He waited until he collected a large number of observations that he was fed at 9 a.m. and made these observations under a wide range of circumstances, on Wednesdays, on Thursdays, on cold days, on warm days.

Each day he added another observation statement to his list. Finally he was satisfied that he had collected a number of observation statements
to inductively infer that 
I am always fed at 9 a.m.''.
However on the morning of Christmas eve he was not fed
but instead had his throat cut.''

You cannot predict the future from inductive reasoning on past data,
a key lesson for Turkeys, Marketing and Finance.

Now, stop being Turkeys!

turkey cooked


Here are TWO excellent blogs on why Forecasting does NOT work:


Learn why the “Competitive PRICE Campaign” was so successful?

1 comment:

  1. McKinsey offers some good advice to CEO's, COO's and CMO's

    read and apply!