In 1985 a Wall Street Journal article noted that Toys ‘R’ Us ability of using computers to track products and quickly identify trends before their competitors were innovative and ahead of others. So how does a business praised for its ability to forecast and predict customer trends end up getting it so horribly wrong and closing all stores by June 2018?

The truth is that forecasting isn’t that simple and a failure to collect data, continuously look ahead and effectively plan can send a business of any size tumbling. Toys ‘R’ Us failed in many ways but I believe their major mistake was not to adapt quickly enough to the growing nature of an omnichannel shopping environment. Back on 1985 Toys ‘R’ Us lead the way and others needed to adapt to keep pace. But in 2018 the speed in which retail had the ability to change had dramatically increased and Amazon had already made the first move. Toys ‘r’ Us was now acting as a follower, not a leader and this was uncommon to them, Toys ‘R’ Us was unable to forecast for the volatility of the new retail market and understand their place within it.

I realise that although we all have goals, most aren’t on the same lines as Toys ‘R” Us. But we, as business owners or sales people do need to understand and accept the way shoppers buy in the 21st century and the volatile market. So here are a few tips that should help when forecasting.

Change your mindset

I often get told ‘I’m a new business so I don’t know what to expect for the future’. I understand why people think this, but remember if you’ve read my other blogs and been following my strategy you should have a business plan that will support your forecasting for the future.

Your business plan has been built and based on your ideal clients. Each idea client type will have its own sales pipeline feeding back relevant data, such as your sales performance, products sold, pricing offers that work, seasonal changes, and the amount brought per industry; and by using those verticals you can effectively forecast for the future.

Have a sales process regardless of the size of your business

Following on from my above tip, make sure you have a sales process. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a sales team of 20, 30, 40 people or whether you’re a solopreneur working by yourself, make sure you have a process in place to gain and monitor sales. With data gained from your sales process you’re going to be able to use that information to forecast effectively.

I forecast… confusion!

Remember your data doesn’t lie

Stop gambling on the future of your business by not doing the important stuff now. Spending that extra bit of time filling in your sales CRM system can give you some really valuable nuggets of information. This information can and will guide you through business helping forecast future problems and predict upcoming wins.

Remain focused

Do not get distracted by blips in your business, and do not celebrate prematurely just because you’ve had a great month. It easy to fall into a cascading trap of believing your company is heading down a path that’s either doomed or full of success, but realise it might only be a seasonal trend and an unseen change of direction could be just around the corner. Your business just like many others will have environmental trends. Forecasting allows you to see these trends or cycles and adapt accordingly.

What’s next

On Thursday, October 24th, at 6pm, I’d like to invite you to the official launch of ‘FunnelVision – Sales Made Easy’. The event takes place at Sheffield’s Piccolinos Restaurant, 4 Millennium Square, Sheffield S1 2JJ.

I’ll be treating you to an arrival drink, a few snippets from my book, a couple of guest speakers, quality networking and even – if you’re lucky – a slice of pizza!

Interested? Grab your free chapter of the book!

You can get hold a sneak peek of the book over on the home page. Head over there and follow the simple instructions, the chapter will be sent to you straight away!