Where buyer interviewing is impractical, the company may ask its sales representatives to estimate their future sales. Each sales representative estimates how much each current and prospective customer will buy of each of the company's products.
Few companies use their sales force's estimates without making some adjustments. Sales representatives might be pessimistic or optimistic, or they might go from one extreme to another because of a recent setback or success. Furthermore, they are often unaware of larger economic developments and do not know how their company's marketing plans will influence future sales in their territory. They might deliberately underestimate demand so that the company will set a low sales quota. Or they might lack the time to prepare careful estimates or might not consider the effort worthwhile.
To encourage better estimating, the company could supply certain aids or incentives to the sales force. For example, sales reps might receive a record of their past forecasts compared with their actual sales and also a description of company assumptions on the business outlook, competitor behavior, and marketing plans.
Involving the sales force in forecasting brings a number of benefits. Sales reps might have better insight into developing trends than any other single group. After participating in the forecasting process, sales reps might have greater confidence in their sales quotas and more incentive to achieve them.38 Also, a "grassroots" forecasting procedure provides very detailed estimates broken down by product, territory, customer, and sales reps.
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