Plan and forecast sales

Avoid sales forecast pitfalls


Consider how your business can avoid common sales forecasting pitfalls.

Wishful thinking

Being positive is fine, but being over optimistic with your sales forecasting will not help your business. It's a good idea to look back at the previous year's forecast to see if your figures were realistic. New businesses should avoid putting the level of sales they need for the business to be viable as the forecast.

Not making your forecast achievable

You need to consider if it is possible to achieve the sales levels you're forecasting. For example:

  • one taxi can only make a certain number of airport trips each day
  • a machine can only produce a given number of components on each shift
  • a sales team can only visit a certain number of customers each week

Ignoring your own assumptions

Make sure you link your sales assumptions to the detailed sales forecast. Otherwise you can end up with conflicting information. For instance, if you assume a declining market and declining market share, it's illogical to then forecast increased sales. For more information, see sales forecast assumptions.

Moving goalposts

Finalise and agree the forecast within a set timescale. If you're spending a lot of time refining the forecast, it can distract you from focusing on your targets. Avoid making excessive adjustments to the forecast, even if you discover it's too optimistic or pessimistic.

Not consulting your sales people

Your sales people probably have the best knowledge of your customers' buying intentions, therefore:

  • ask for their opinions
  • give them time to ask their customers about this
  • get the sales team's agreement to any targets they will be set 

Not obtaining feedback

Having drawn up your sales forecast, you need someone to challenge it. Get an experienced person - your accountant or a senior sales person - to review the whole document.