METHODS OF SALES FORECASTING

Modern Managers have several different methods available for Sales Forecasting.

Popular methods are:

  1. Jury of Executive Opinion Method
  2. The Salesforce Estimation Method
  3. Time Series Analysis Method

Jury of Executive Opinion Method:

In the Jury of executive opinion method of Sales Forecasting, appropriate managers within the organization assemble to discuss their opinions on what will happen to sales in the future.

Since these discussion sessions usually resolve around hunches or experienced guesses, the resulting forecast is a blend of informed opinions.

A similar, forecasting method, which has been developed recently is called the DELPHI Method. Delphi Method also gathers, evaluates, and summarizes expert opinions as the basis for a forecast, but the procedure is more formal than that for the jury of executive opinion method.

The Delphi Method has the following steps:

  1. STEP 1 – Various Experts are asked to answer, independently and in writing, a  series of questions about the future of sales or whatever other area is being forecasted.                                                      
  2. STEP 2 – A summary of all the answers is then prepared. No expert knows, how any other expert answered the questions.       
  3. STEP 3 – Copies of summary are given to the individual experts with the request that they modify their original answers if they think it necessary.                                                                                                    
  4. STEP 4 – Another summary is made of these modifications, and copies again are distributed to the experts. This time,however, expert opinions that deviate significantly from the norm must be justified in writing.                                                                                        
  5. STEP 5 – A third summary is made of the opinions and justifications, and copies are once again distributed to the experts. Justification in writing for all answers is now required.   
  6. STEP 6 – The forecast is generated from all of the opinions and justifications that arise from step 5.

 

SALES FORCE ESTIMATION METHOD:

The Sales Force Method is a sales forecasting technique that predicts future sales by analyzing the opinions of sales people as a group.

Salespeople continually interact with customers, and from this interaction they usually develop a knack for predicting future sales.

As with the jury of executive opinion method, the resulting forecast normally is a blend of the informed views of the group.

The sales force estimation method is considered very valuable management tool and is commonly used in business and industry throughout the world.

This method can be further improved by providing sales people with sufficient time to forecast and offering incentives for accurate forecasts.

Companies can make their sales people better forecasters, by training them to better interpret  their interactions with the customers.

 

TIME SERIES ANALYSIS METHOD:

The time series analysis method predicts the future sales by analyzing the historical relationship between sales and time.

Although the actual number of years included in a time series analysis will vary from company to company, as a general rule, managers should include as many years as possible to ensure that important sales trends do not get undetected.

 

Other complex sales forecasting methods include:

  • Statistical Correlation Method
  • Computer Simulation Method

 

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PLANNING TOOLS

The planning tools are techniques managers can use to help develop plans.

2 of the most important tools are:

  1. Forecasting
  2. Scheduling

FORECASTING:

Forecasting is the process of predicting future environmental happenings that will influence the operation of the organization.

Although sophisticated forecasting techniques have been developed only rather recently, the concept of forecasting can be traced at least as far back as Fayol.

The importance of forecasting lies in its ability to help managers understand the future makeup of the organizational environment, which, in turn, helps them formulate more effective plans.

HOW FORECASTING WORKS:

e.g: William C. House in describing the Insect Control Services Company, has developed an excellent illustration of how forecasting works.

In general, Insect Control Services forecasts by attempting to do the following:

  1. Establish relationships between Industry Sales and National Economic and Social Indicators.                                                                      
  2. Determine the impact government restrictions on the use of chemical pesticides Will have on the growth of Chemical, biological and electromagnetic energy pest control markets.       
  3. Evaluate Sales Growth Potential, profitability, resources required, and risks involved in each of its market areas (Commercial, industrial, institutional, governmental and residential)                                                                                                            
  4.  Evaluate the potential for expansion of marketing efforts in geographical areas of the country and abroad.                                          
  5. Determine the likelihood of technological breakthroughs that would make existing product lines obsolete.

TYPES OF FORECASTS:

Various types of forecasts includes:

Economical, Technological, Social  Trends, Sales Forecasting etc.,

Although a company’s complete forecasting process should, and usually does, include all these types of forecasting, sales forecasting is considered the key forecast for a company.

A Sales forecast is a prediction of how high or low sales of the organization’s products and/or services will be over the period of time in reference.

It is the Key forecast for organizations because it serves as the fundamental guideline for planning.

Only after the sales forecast has been completed can managers decide, for example, if more salespeople should be hired, if more money for plant expansion must be borrowed, or if layoffs and cutbacks in certain areas are necessary.

Managers must continually monitor forecasting methods to improve them and to reformulate plans based on inaccurate forecasts.

SCHEDULING:

Scheduling is the process of formulating a detailed listing of activities that must be accomplished to attain an objective, allocating the resources necessary to attain the objective, and setting up and following timetables for completing the objective.

Scheduling is an integral part of every organizational plan.

Two popular scheduling techniques are Gantt Charts and PERT – Program Evaluation and Review Technique.

PLANNING AREAS: INPUT PLANNING

Organizational inputs,process, outputs and environment are major factors in determining how much the organization will be successful.

Planning in areas, such as plant facilities planning or human resource planning, is called INPUT PLANNING – the development of proposed action that will furnish sufficient and appropriate organizational resources for reaching established organizational objectives.

e.g.: Human Resource Planning

Kind of questions personnel planners  should try to answer are:

  1. What types of people does the organization need to reach its objectives?                                                                                                                    
  2. How many of each type are needed?                                                                
  3. What steps should the organization take to recruit and select such people?                                                                                                         
  4. Can present employees be further trained to fill future needed positions?                                                                                                                   
  5. At what rate are employees being lost to other organizations?

WHY PLANS FAIL?

A study by K.A. Ringbakk determined that plans fail when:

  1. Corporate Planning is not integrated into the total management system.                                                                                                                     
  2. There is a lack of understanding of the different steps of the planning process.                                                                                                    
  3. Management at different levels in the organization has not properly engaged in or contributed to planning activities.               
  4. Responsibility for planning is wrongly vested solely in the planning department.                                                                                              
  5. Management expects that plans developed will be realized with little effort.                                                                                                              
  6. In starting formal planning, too much is attempted at once.          
  7. Management fails to operate by the plan.                                                      
  8. Financial projections are confused with planning.                                    
  9. Inadequate inputs are used in planning.                                                   
  10. Management fails to grasp the overall planning process.

 

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TYPES OF PLANS

STANDING PLANS are used over and over again because they focus on organizational situations that occur repeatedly.

SINGLE USER PLANS are used only once, or at most, couple of times, because they focus on unique or rare situations within the organization.

STANDING PLANS:

Policies, Procedures and Rules:

A POLICY is a standing plan that furnishes broad guidelines for taking action consistent with reaching organizational objectives.

A PROCEDURE is a standing plan that outlines a series of related actions that must be taken to accomplish a particular task.

Procedures outline more specific actions than policies do.

Organizations usually have many different sets of procedures covering the various tasks to be accomplished.

Managers must be careful to apply the appropriate organizational procedures for the situations they face and apply them properly.

A RULE is a standing plan that designates specific required action. A rule indicates what an organization member should or should not do and allows no room for interpretation.

 

SINGLE USE PLANS:

Programs & Budgets:

A PROGRAM is a single use plan to carry out a special project within an organization. The Project itself is not intended to remain in existence over the entire life of the organization. Rather, it exists to achieve some purpose, that if accomplished, will contribute to  the organization’s long term success.

A BUDGET is a single user financial plan that covers a specificed length of time. It details how funds will be spent on labour, raw materials, capital goods, information systems, marketing and so on, as well as how the funds will be obtained.

WHAT IS A PLAN?

A Plan is a specific Acton proposed to help the organization achieve its objective.

A crucial part of the management of any organization is developing logical plans and then taking the steps necessary to put the plans in to action.

Regardless of how important experience related intuition may be to managers, successful management actions and strategies typically are based on reason.

Rational managers are crucial to the development of an organizational plan.

4 Dimensions of Plans:

  1. REPETITIVENESS
  2. TIME
  3. SCOPE
  4. LEVEL

REPETITIVENESS:

The repetitiveness dimension of a plan is the extent to which the plan is used over and over again. 

Some plans are specially designed for one situation that is relatively short term in nature.

Plans of this sort are essentially non repetitive.

Other Plans, however, are designed to be used time after time for long term recurring situations. These plans are basically repetitive in nature.

TIME:

The Time dimension of a plan is the length of time the plan covers.Strategical Plans cover relatively long periods of time4 and tactical plans cover relatively short periods of time.

SCOPE:

The Scope dimension of a plan is the portion of the total management system at which the plan is aimed.

Some plans are designed to cover the entire open management system: the organizational environment, inputs, process and outputs. Such a plan is often referred to as a master plan.

Other Plans are developed to cover only a portion of the management system. e.g.: A plan that covers the recruitment of new workers.

The greater the portion of the management system that a plan covers, the broader is the plan’s scope.

LEVEL:

The level dimension of a plan is the level of the organization at which the plan is aimed.

Top Level Plans are those designed for the organization’s top management; whereas the middle level and the lower level plans are designed for middle and lower management, respectively.

Since all the parts of the organization are interdependent, plans developed at any level of the organization have effect on the plans at other levels.

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