Let's Get Realistic With Your Sales Numbers

Recruiters are often an optimistic bunch. They predict future sales with absolute certainty, but these deals don’t always pan out. This can lead to some uncomfortable conversations with managers in order to achieve what was forecasted.

Now, at the halfway point of the year, it’s important to take stock. You need to look at your numbers and honestly evaluate how likely you are to achieve your predictions.

But what do you do if you’re far behind on your numbers? What do you tell your manager? And how do you come up with a plan to get back on track again?

Read on to find out how to salvage your sales predictions in order to be successful once more.

Stick to the Facts

Businessman with a microscope. Consider your data. Where are the numbers against what you targeted and what you forecasted? It’s important not to sugar coat things, but it’s equally important to not make things worse than they are.  Keep your emotions in check, and be analytical. Determine what’s gone wrong, and start thinking about how you’ll report the situation to your manager.

You must look at what you can do better and be quite specific about it. Do you need to work on something in particular that will improve your placement rate? Make sure you’re armed with actionable information so your manager knows you’re still in control of the situation. It’s also important to look at what you’re doing well and what’s stopping you doing more of that. Is anything happening in the market that’s proving particularly challenging like a new competitor?

Whatever the circumstances are, you’re going to need to present these facts to your manager, alongside solutions to rectify the situation. Assuming that your manager wants you to succeed, then they’ll no doubt be supportive of you and want to help. But it’s critical that you don’t dump problems on them.

Take Ownership

You have targets and you alone are responsible for achieving them. You must look at everything that’s happened as your responsibility. If events were outside of your control, then how have you responded and what are you personally doing to resolve the situation?

If you’ve messed up somewhere then you need to acknowledge that. Pride can make it difficult to be honest with yourself but you must do it. You also must not beat yourself up too much. You're human, and we all make mistakes. 

Set New Goals

Football goal, black and white photo.It's one thing to admit your mistakes but you also need to commit to a solution. This needs to be actionable, with clear goals, realistic deadlines, and an explicit strategy about how you will accomplish them. This might mean that you need to agree a catch-up plan with management on how you’ll resolve the gap between your forecast and your actual numbers.  This meeting should cover any external factors like new competition or unforeseen changes in demand, which could lead to reduced and more realistic targets which you’re more likely to achieve.

As well as the actual sales numbers, it’s important to re-focus the activity goals that you'll hit - which are the small wins that we all need to get the deals done. This means determining long term goals, and then detailing the daily tasks that you’ll need to complete to get there.

Make a Plan

If you're significantly behind on your numbers, then this will likely lead to performance management from your line manager. Regardless of how it comes about, when you have a simple and clear plan with daily, weekly, and monthly goals, you can tick things off and see tangible progress towards getting deals closed.

This is really important for you because it helps you build momentum and confidence which we all know are essential in sales. It also gives your manager confidence that you’re doing the right things to succeed.


Green off road bicycle, dirt path.There’s no escaping the fact that recruitment is hard so you’ll only get though the tough times if you truly love it and are committed to it. As Henry Ford said:

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” 

You may have gone through all of these steps, perhaps under pressure from your manager, but you personally must believe that you can achieve your plan in order to be successful. Then you need to be prepared to make all of the sacrifices that are required to achieve it, otherwise you’ll fall at the first hurdle.

If you face the facts, take ownership, set some realistic goals, make a plan to achieve them, and then commit to that 100%, you’ll be in the best possible position you can be. When you do get back on track with your numbers you’ll emerge as a stronger and more effective recruiter.

Next Steps

In the future, make sure that your predictions are not only realistic, but take into account other variables, too. New competitors, a dip in market interest, or any other external factors outside of your control should be identified and shared with your manager as soon as possible. This type of information matters, and your manger will be happy to see that you’re aware of trends and issues that could affect your performance.

The key is to be honest, not only with your manager, but with yourself too. Keep your end goal in mind at all times, but know how you’ll get there. Break up your main task into small and manageable steps, and keep yourself on track. Don’t panic if things don’t go to plan – you’ve survived hard times before, and you will again!

We have put together an eBook to help you smash your targets. Click on the image below to download:

Sales Forecasting in Recruitment

Alan Hiddleston

Alan is an advisor here at Firefish with experience in both sales and marketing.

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