Sales Pipeline Forecasting: A Step-by-step Guideline


Sales are the most crucial aspect of any company. Businesses need new ways to boost sales. Measuring current, historical, and prospective sales are must to accomplish this. Thus, giving businesses the capability to assess and monitor performance. According to 77% of salespeople, their company will invest significantly in AI sales products, including technology to automate sales forecasts without human errors. 

Having stated that, businesses must emphasize the importance of sales pipeline forecasting. It enables the sales, marketing, and finance departments to comprehend how much pipeline is currently available, the timing of active sales transactions, and the ability to meet long-term financial objectives. Let us understand what a sales forecasting pipeline is, the importance of a sales pipeline, and how to create a sound sales forecast pipeline. 

What Is Sales Pipeline Forecasting?  

A sales pipeline is a visual depiction of the sales process that shows the current value of possibilities at each step. Forecasting uses pipeline data and past patterns to predict the value of deals projected to conclude in the future. 

Forecasting the sales funnel is a critical component of planning. It gives executive management a detailed picture of anticipated cash flows, data-driven decisions for development, marketing budget allocation, and financing. However, according to a study, 68% of B2B organizations missed their projections by more than 10%. Pipeline projections must be automated and simplified system to maintain accuracy. 

Why Is It Necessary to Forecast the Sales Pipeline? 

Forecasting the sales pipeline is important for several reasons, and its importance has continuously grown. Some of the reasons are: 

  • Companies distribute financial and other resources to several departments, including sales and marketing, at the start of each year. Businesses can accurately estimate demand all year round and allocate resources accordingly through effective forecasting. 
  • Sales forecasting also assists businesses in understanding where they should make external investments. If a company’s sales process has suffered due to obsolete technology, it might be wise to invest in modern sales and marketing software. They may even recruit more personnel to boost sales. 
  • Forecasting assists businesses in identifying the stage of the pipeline where the most substantial customer loss occurs. Based on this information, they can take measures to uncover the cause of the problem and potential remedies. 
  • The most important reason is to identify inefficiencies in your sales process. If any actions are pulling away prospective customers, you can engage in their solution by allocating resources and investing in technology. 

Different Sales Pipeline Forecasting Methodologies 

Each company’s approach to sales pipeline forecasting can differ. The businesses can employ any of the sales forecasting methods: 

  • Based on previous sales data: This is one of the most effective sales forecasting methods. Examine historical performance, examine patterns over time, some impact of external factors, and anticipate potential sales. 
  • Based on present sales pipelines: Forecast is based on current sales pipelines. For instance, the phase of each sale, the possibility that it will be closed at a particular phase, and the benefit of each prospect. 
  • Based on lead values: Analyze past sales data from each lead source and then forecast depending on the usefulness of each source. This strategy necessitates monitoring sales indicators such as total lead count, the average cost of sales per lead, and average lead value. 
  • Based on potential phase: Forecast based on where potential is in your sales cycle. To use this, you must have specifically articulated sale phases, such as meeting scheduled, competent to purchase, proposition sent, deal cracked, and the deal failed. 
  • Based on the duration of the sales cycle: Sales pipeline forecasting methods are based on how long it takes to turn a potential lead into a paying client. 

Benefits of Sales Pipeline Forecasting  

The success of a sales pipeline by the use of sales forecasting methods and the precision of forecast management help in better management reporting, the ability to implement modifications in pricing, sales, and marketing rewards, and evaluate the efficacy of goods, characteristics, markets, sales prices and increase in pay. 

  • Sales Pipeline Forecasting Increases Accuracy 

The sales pipeline forecasting shows glimpses of the activity of sales representatives. It offers information about meeting quotas. The product, location, and department data will help provide monthly, quarterly, or yearly revenue estimates. Knowing when agreements conclude is critical as it impacts other areas such as revenue, logistics, production, manufacturing, and management reporting. 

  • Sales Pipeline Forecasting Assists in the Allocation of Resources 

Assessing the position of each prospect throughout the sales cycle, from prospect to client, allows for more precise resource allocation. The sales management component is also improved to emphasize significant transactions, time needs, and accountability. 

  • Sales Pipeline Facilitates Team Management 

Within the sales process, specified phases require particular tasks to be completed. Business prospects continue to flow through the pipeline  

with each successful completion of a step. Sales managers are more likely to discover problems when vital indicators are tracked. Similarly, a representative can identify problems before they hinder or jeopardize sales. 

  • Sales Pipeline Forecasting Boosts Transaction Speed or Velocity 

When prospects take more time to convert or resolve due to differences in levels, data tracking inside the sales funnel highlights such circumstances and contingencies. This condition can necessitate more urgency, strategic pivots, or initiatives to improve data-driven problems. 

  • Better Insight into Revenue and Profit 

Growth is influenced by the magnitude and frequency with which opportunities come and close. The sales pipeline shows when it is acceptable to devote more or less focus, effort, or resources to specific business possibilities. A sales forecasting pipeline that is well-managed and regularly monitored helps the pipeline itself. A steady pipeline strengthens and accelerates forecasting and sales activities. 

How to Create a Sound Sales Forecast Pipeline?  

Although sales forecasting can be done mechanically, you should use a sales enablement or CRM platform that uses Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for better insights and with less effort. These platforms can provide you with comprehensive forecasts and massively cut down the time and work required to implement the changes you need to make in order to achieve your goals. The following are the steps to sales forecasting: 

Monitor your Pipeline 

Monitoring your sales pipeline is the first step to accurate sales forecasting. This important information is useless if you don’t pay attention to the data it gives. Ensure that every team member is aware of the information being captured, the details of your sales cycle, and how this connects to the buyer’s journey. 

Although it’s normal to be excited about closing a project when sales forecasting, it’s better to be cautious. Be realistic and push those anticipated closing dates later so they won’t have a negative impact on your prediction if they take longer than you anticipated to complete. 

Choose Between Accounting Revenue and Sales Booking 

Leads in your pipeline that you hope to close by a specific date are known as sales bookings. The actual income generated by these interactions is accounting revenue. Most customer relationship management systems focus on bookings, but you will usually have to employ a separate solution for accounting revenue. Understanding the difference is essential. There is no right or wrong answer, and your market can occasionally influence your strategy. Grasp that there are two methods for sales forecasting revenue. 

Find Out a Sales Probability 

This method calculates the likelihood that a deal will close based on where it is in your sale funnel. You can review past data and draw conclusions if you’ve been keeping an eye on your sales pipeline. If you haven’t been tracking data, wait a few weeks before commencing. 

Adopting AI technologies with cutting-edge analytical features will help you save a significant amount of time and labor. These tools may provide in-depth evaluations of your KPIs at every stage of the sales pipeline, saving you a great deal of time. 

Execute your First Forecast 

Now you are all set to make your first forecast. You just add the weighted probability ratings to each contract in the pipeline by utilizing either the sales booking or accounting revenue. The next is just a miracle. This drill will provide you with a detailed breakdown of which deals should and should not complete, as well as a prognosis for the long term. 

Repeat the Method 

Once your plan is in place, you can continue to predict frequently to maintain momentum and eliminate any unforeseen issues. How often should your forecast be updated? A good beginning point is once a month, but twice a month or even once a week is alright. You will notice patterns sooner and be more prepared to act. Regular sales forecasting is considerably easier and more accessible once you have a structure in place and automation tools. 


Sales pipeline forecasting is a robust analytic tool used with other sales forecasting methods. It is used to validate non-data-intensive forecasting methodologies such as scenario building and insightful sales forecasting. We hope that this guide to sales pipeline forecasting will help you make better marketing decisions for your business. 

If you want to understand the importance of Sales Pipeline Forecasting better, enroll in IIM Indore’s Executive Program in Strategic Management.  

Pipeline forecasting is a way of anchoring sales forecasting employed by the sales teams as a component of their forecasts. A clean data pipeline is essential for any sales forecasting strategy businesses use. 

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