Forecasting sales in the Cabinet Industry is usually compared with things like crystal balls, black magic and summoning strange creatures, you know, the stuff of fantasy. If you’ve ever tried to get accurate forecasts for your sales team, you know what I mean. About the only thing you can guarantee about your forecast is that it will be wrong (a good friend of mine is famous for saying the only thing you can count on in a forecast is that the reality will either be higher or lower than your predicted). And the further out you try to forecast, the more of a guessing game it becomes.
Most kitchen designers and salespeople give up on forecasting because it just makes them look bad. And most sales managers just plain old guess or somehow convince upper management it’s a lost cause.
Here’s the typical 6-step forecasting cycle for our industry:
- The sales manager asks for an X-month forecast because sales are all over the board.
- The designer complies and puts down their best guess. Everyone feels good because hey, a forecast is in place.
- After the first month, the forecast is off (way off in most cases).
- Management clubs baby seals (a.k.a. designers/salespeople) with the forecast stick.
- Employees feel setup by management, stupid and even embarrassed.
- Go back to step 1 and repeat until people start quitting or until management abandons their mission of trying to implement meaningful sales forecasting.
This process can create wickedly bad feelings within your sales team. It’s a morale killer, total downer (as my 70’s friends would say) and completely unproductive. Total drag, dude.
The challenge with forecasting in the cabinet industry is that it’s usually implemented poorly at best. The entire process is setup to fail from the beginning because no one on the team has a process to forecasting that allows them to develop better forecasting skills over time.
So if you’re being clubbed like a baby seal on your forecast numbers, or you haven’t quite rolled out a successful forecasting process that sticks, there’s an easy solution.