“This client could be huge! If they win the contract they’re competing for, they would need to spend a massive amount of money on what we sell! They’re perfect for us!”

Have you ever caught yourself saying something that sounds like that when reviewing your pipeline? Have you ever heard a salesperson say something like that? Is this a case of happy ears? Whatever it is, it shouldn’t go into your forecast.

It’s Not Your Deal to Win or Lose

The problem with forecasting opportunities for prospects that haven’t been awarded the business that would cause them to need you is that it isn’t your deal to win or lose.

You have no idea how close—or how far—your prospect may be from winning their deal. You don’t have any way of knowing what their chances are, how their client is making their decision, what competitors they may be considering, or if they are considering an alternative. Because you don’t know any of this, these deal don’t belong in your forecast.

It’s not your deal to forecast.

You Have No Way of Changing a Decision

I have been so closely engaged with some of my clients in winning business together that we made sales presentations together. My client presented, and as their strategic partner, I did part of the presentation. But even being that closely aligned with my client didn’t give me any way to own the sales process or change the client’s decision. It was their client; they had to do the selling.

The problem with forecasting deals that you can only win if your prospect wins a deal is that there is no action you can take to influence the deal in your direction. You can’t call on your prospect’s prospect directly. And there isn’t anything that you can do indirectly to ensure the business comes to you through your client.

Here is the rule: If you can’t own the outcome, you can’t forecast the deal. If you have no ability to take some action to further the deal, you can’t forecast it.

It’s a Prospect

Unless and until your dream client wins the deal that will cause them to need you, they are at best a prospect in the very early stage of your sales process. If your client can’t buy because they don’t have an order to give you, then they aren’t yet an forecast-worthy opportunity.

Pursue them. Sell to them. Be in front of the deal should they win. But don’t count these chickens. Most of them won’t hatch.


Are there deals in your pipeline now that would require your prospect to win a deal of their own?

Do these deals really belong on a forecast report?

Other than supporting your prospect, what can you do to influence the deal in your direction before your prospect’s prospect makes a decision?

Are deals like this in your pipeline simply because you need them?

Sales 2012
Post by Anthony Iannarino on August 10, 2012
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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