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Set Sale for Neverland

We’ve always loved the idea of sales forecasting. In fact, it’s one of our favorite parts of business planning. One of the reasons we love it so much is that it’s like meteorology and economics: It’s as much art as science. It’s as much luck as skill. It’s as much remonstration as demonstration. Most important, it’s one of the few disciplines in which you can be wrong most of the time with absolutely no consequences.

We know there are lots of sales-forecasting apps available. Some of them have cool names like Datahug (who doesn’t feel emotionally attached to data?), Tubular (like totally rad, Dude!), SlickPie (we’re not making that up), ZenProspect (om ….), and Infogamy (there are some things even we won’t touch). But those aren’t the ones about which you have to be really careful.

Though we don’t mean to cast aspersions or to be unduly judgmental, you might be wise to take particular caution if your sales manager comes to the forecasting meeting with:

  • A divining rod. It’s not fair to say these never work. In fact, sometimes they work really well. Just in case they conjure something other than sales, you’ll be smart to keep a sump pump handy.
  • Tarot cards. These have proven to be quite useful in projecting sales, particularly of things like drug paraphernalia. But if your sales manager says his projections came from a free reading, be skeptical.
  • Pendulums. While these have had some effectiveness at projecting sales results, they’re better at telling things like time. That’s why we find them best left in grandfather’s clocks.
  • A black cat bone or gris gris. If you’re inclined to hire a sales manager who mentions either of these things, buy a copy of The Serpent and the Rainbow and read it before you make the hiring decision.
  • A Ouija Board. If the experience of Albert Murfwhiffle of Bent Spoke, Oregon, is any indication, ouija boards are nothing to trifle with. As Al was using a ouija board to forecast sales for MaxiGizmo International, he inadvertently summoned a spirit that claimed to be the evil twin of his mother-in-law. Given Al’s opinion of his mother-in-law, the very thought drove Al stark raving mad. MaxiGizmo was good enough to put him on permanent disability. But he spent the rest of his life in a closet, drooling in his shoe.

We’re not saying all sales forecasting is imprecise. But if you invest too much faith in it, say hi to Peter Pan for us.

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