8 Best Sales Forecast Templates (Excel & Google Sheets) + How to Forecast Sales in 2023
Sales forecasting templates might not sound all that exciting. That's fair. But, imagine this scenario with two sales managers:
Sales manager 2 doesn't have to hope. She already knows exactly how many reps she needs to hit her end-of-quarter goal and has a snazzy report ready to send to the VP of sales with graphs and charts.
What's the difference? (Other than one is likely to get a budget to hire more reps and one won't.)
A solid sales forecast.
You were hoping it would be a little more exciting, right?
Sales forecasting is exciting—because it gives you the superpower to see what is coming down the pipe. More importantly, they're pretty easy to create using the right sales forecasting template.
In this guide, we'll give you a step-by-step method to create a sales forecast and access to several free sales forecasting templates (in both Microsoft Excel & Google Sheets format) that we love.
But first, let’s dive a bit deeper into why sales forecasts are crucial to growing your sales team—and your business.
What is a Sales Forecast?
When done right, sales forecasting helps businesses allocate resources, estimate costs, and predict whether they'll reach short and long-term business goals.
For example, a startup might use a sales forecast to determine whether they'll reach end-of-quarter revenue goals or see if they need to hire more sales reps.
The challenge is, sales forecasts are only as useful as they are accurate—which is why so many teams use a sales forecast template that standardizes the process and makes it easier to find important sales insights.
Why Are Sales Forecasts Crucial for Sales Teams?
Sales forecasting provides a little window into your business's future. You can see whether you'll reach your quarterly goal and track sales rep and overall sales team performance. That data makes it easier to see whether you're on track or your strategy needs adjusting.
Imagine you're the sales manager of a SaaS company and want to know whether you will hit your revenue goals or if you need to hire more sales reps.
Based on your sales forecast, you notice you're generating 10% fewer leads. That means it's time to scale up your lead generation efforts and maybe hire more SDRs.
Sales forecasting also provides clear insights into revenue, costs, and where you should invest more money.
Depending on the sales forecasting template, you might also get access to:
- More accurate cash flow projections
- Predict expenses
- See where to invest marketing dollars
- Better allocate hiring budgets
- Spot emerging trends early
- See potential issues in your sales flow early
Lastly, it is a powerful motivation tool for your sales team — especially if you have a longer sales cycle. It allows you to paint a clear picture showing how the work your team is doing today will pay off.
How to Forecast Sales in 4 Easy Steps
The truth is sales forecasting can be quite simple — if you follow a step-by-step process and use a sales forecasting template.
We broke the process down into 4 easy-to-follow steps you can use to build a great forecast for your business. If you need a quick and fast solution, this will get the process going.
Step 1: Calculate Your Sales Run Rate
The simplest way to get a rough revenue forecast is to calculate revenue if your sales continue at the exact same rate going forward.
To get this number, divide your current year-to-date sales by the number of sales periods to date.
Say you made $120,000 through March 30. You'd divide $120,000 by 3 months and see that you're generating $40,000 per month. That’s your run rate.
Then, multiply that monthly number by the remaining sales periods in the year for your annual projection. In this example, it would be $40,000 * 9 months left in the year.
This tells you $360,000 is the sales volume you can expect through the end of the year — if you change nothing about your business. Here's the sales run rate formula to help forecast your projected sales:
This is one of the easiest ways to predict future growth, but it's not super accurate. This formula doesn't consider seasonality, competition, market changes, or business growth or decline.
This is a good starting point; it just needs to be refined a bit.
Step 2: Adjust for Historical Trends and Seasonality in Your Sales Performance
Look at the previous 12-24 months' sales, paying special attention to spikes and dips. For example, if your business sells clothing to consumers, you likely see a huge spike around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and a dip in the summer.
According to Adobe, consumers spent USD 9 billion on Black Friday. That’s not an average day by a long shot.
If seasonality or trends impact your sales, calculate the percent increase from your average month during periods of spike or dip. For example, if your sales typically spike by 30% in November, adjust your sales run rate to account for these trends.
Don't sweat it if you don’t have historical data or seasonality in your business yet. Just skip this step.
Step 3: Modify Your Sales Forecast for Anticipated Market Trends and Changes
Changes in overall market growth rate, consumer behavior, and emerging trends can have a huge impact on sales.
For example, if you sell in the natural health market, and the industry is projected to grow by 23%, that can be a benchmark for your growth rate.
Double that is really aggressive. It’s possible with a great closing system, but everything has to go right. On the other hand, a 10% growth projection might be too low.
Consider market trends and your competitors, then add these calculations to your sales forecast. This will provide a more accurate picture of what the future holds.
Step 4: Account for Your Firm’s Strategic Business Plans
The outside world isn't the only factor that impacts growth. Internal changes can also affect sales forecasting.
Are you launching new products? How have product launches performed in the past? Are you marketing to new customer segments? How many new customers do you expect these new markets to add to your customer file?
Are prices changing? How might these impact your sales?
All of these changes can impact future revenue, making them important considerations for your sales plan.
Once you’ve included everything in steps 1-4, you’ve got the bones of a great sales forecast.
To consider more advanced trends and metrics (or if you don't have much historical data), there are more advanced sales forecasting methods.
That's where the right sales forecasting template comes into play.
How to Choose the Right Sales Forecast Template (& Forecasting Methods for Your Business)
The right sales forecasting template provides access to the sales metrics and KPIs that matter most to your sales team. The challenge is not all businesses are the same.
Retail businesses may need to track hundreds of products and dozens of different suppliers, while a SaaS company might only offer three plans but have a really long sales cycle.
Finding the right template for your business needs is crucial. Otherwise, you'll be left floundering in a sea of useless data.
Here's how to select the right sales forecast template for your organization.
Get Clear on Your Sales Goals (& Set Realistic Sales Revenue Targets)
Different sales goals and revenue targets rely on different data. For example, if you want to predict sales over the next two years, you'll want a sales forecast template that covers a longer time period.
Goals can also impact which template will work best for your team.
For example, suppose an eCommerce company wants to increase monthly sales by 10% and increase customer lifetime value. In that case, they'll need a different template than a small business looking to increase sales in a specific customer segment. Side note: Be sure to check out our roundup of the best small business CRMs this year.
Next, set realistic revenue targets based on overall market growth. If your industry is expanding by 25%, a 10% growth rate might be too low, while 50% is likely too high.
As you review the templates below, look for one that fits your business goals and revenue targets.
Consider Your Business Type (& Plan Ahead for Sales Fluctuations)
Your business type is one of the most important factors to consider when selecting the right sales forecasting template. The size, industry, age, and rate of growth can all impact which template will work for you.
Also, consider how often your sales fluctuate. For example, an eCommerce store may have ten to fifteen fluctuations a year, so they need a template that can handle their data. On the other hand, a small fly fishing business may have just two fluctuations—on and off-season.
As you look at the sales forecasting templates below, look for one that fits your business model and can handle your sales fluctuations.
Decide Which Method of Sales Forecasting to Use for Your Sales Team
When it comes to sales forecasting methods, there is no one-size fits all solution.
You'll need to adjust your sales forecasting method based on your historical data, the key metrics you need to track, and your confidence in the data. Goals and KPIs also impact the forecasting methods you use.
Here are seven sales forecasting methods, including who should use them:
- Lead-driven forecasting: Looks at previous lead conversion rates and projects future sales based on current lead volume. Best for businesses with clear historical data and a steady stream of inbound leads, such as SaaS or technology companies.
- Length of sales cycle forecasting: Tracks how long it takes a typical lead to close based on lead type. Best for organizations with insights into the entire sales pipeline and well-aligned sales and marketing teams, especially B2B.
- Opportunity stage forecasting: Calculates how likely a lead is to close based on specific actions and lead type. Ideal for businesses with good historical data on closing rates.
- Test-market analysis forecasting: Leverages data from a soft release to get a sense of projected revenue. Best for startups or businesses launching a new product line or service.
- Historical forecasting: Forecasting data based on historical data and market trends. Works well for any business with at least a year of historical data.
- Multivariable analysis: A complex analysis that considers multiple factors and closing ratios. Best for companies with varying deal sizes and close rates or selling multiple products or services.
As you look at the sales forecasting templates in the next section, make sure they fit the analysis method you use.
Look at Historical Data & Past Sales Metrics
We've already talked about how historical data can impact your sales forecasting, but it's also an important factor in choosing the right sales forecasting template.
Before choosing a template, take a look at your past metrics and historical data. How much data do you have? If you have several years worth of data, consider a template with a longer forecasting model.
What data do you want to include based on your business type and forecasting methods? Make sure the template you choose includes the fields important to your business.
Research External Market Conditions to Create an Accurate Sales Forecast
Finally, spend a few hours researching current market conditions and consider how they may impact your sales forecast. For example, if your industry is growing fast, you might select a forecasting template that updates in near real-time.
On the other hand, if a large competitor is acquiring another company, that might make growth more challenging, and you might need to lower your growth expectations.
As you look at the templates below, look for a template that works well with current market conditions.
8 of the Best Sales Forecast Templates for Your Team (Free Google Sheets & Excel Templates)
We started this with a list of 8 different templates. The reality is, not every sales team needs a super complex sales forecasting model. Some, like a small businesses, just want to track a few metrics.
Other companies, like eCommerce, need to track multiple products, which can be impossible with a simple template.
To make your life easier, we've sorted through all the free sales forecast templates we could find (in Excel format) and created one of our own. Choose the Excel (or Google doc) template that works best for your company, sales team, and industry.
1. Best General Sales Forecast Template (Without a CRM Like Close)
This sales forecasting template from Close provides a simple way to track and forecast two years of sales. The first tab allows for adjusting funnel metrics by adjusting your sales cycle, average deal size, lead growth, and number of leads.
The second tab forecasts sales by month based on meetings booked, new opportunities, and closed or won leads. A chart at the bottom displays expected growth.
The only thing better is when you have forecasting built into your CRM (like with Close), which enables you to have powerful integrations that can enrich your forecasting accuracy & pipeline health over time.
2. Best Sales Forecast Template for a Lead-Driven Sales Process
This template is ideal for companies that track their lead generation efforts and keep an eye on their monthly sales forecast.
The best part? This is a Google Sheets template (which can be accessed via Google apps and can also be downloaded for use in Microsoft Excel). You’ll see it breaks the year into quarters and tracks leads in all stages of the sales funnel.
It also tracks deal value and uses a weighted forecast model. It also tracks the probability of closing, which is ideal for B2B companies. You can download it right here.
3. Best Forecasting Template for Multiple Product Businesses
Does your company sell multiple products or services? This sales projection template could be a great choice for more complex offerings. It tracks sales over 12 months based on the number of units sold and multiple product lines all in one spreadsheet to streamline your forecasting accuracy.
It also carries over sales history from three previous years, making it easy to compare sales by unit, month, or across years. You can download this one right here in Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel format. Just make a copy and you will be able to edit the sheet.
4. Best Sales Forecasting Template for Retail Businesses
This template is ideal for retail stores that want to forecast sales, track gross sales, and mark up percentage and profit margin for each item with an eye on generating more new business. The yellow cells allow you to input your own data, and the spreadsheet uses smart Excel automation formulas to calculate the rest.
While it doesn't display previous year's data in this view, you could easily create a pivot table in Excel or Google Sheets to pull data from several years and compare average sales, total sales and other sales KPIs that matter to your leadership. You can pick this one up right here.
5. Best for Long-Term Future Sales Analysis (36 Months of Historical Data)
This is one of the most colorful templates on the list, but that's not why we included it. This template is ideal for companies that want to keep a close eye on long-term data.
In addition to 12 months of full historical sales data, you'll also see detailed insights & historical data for the past five years, including overall revenue for each type of item. This is a good option if you want to focus your sales analysis on the long and short term. You can grab this one right here.
6. Best Sales Forecasting Model for Scenario Planning (New Product Launches)
Forecasting sales for a new product launch can be a challenge—which is why many companies do a soft launch without too high of expectations at first.
After a soft launch, use this forecasting template to track your initial sales data and see where you can project total sales to be in the next five years. You can head over here and download this one.
7. Best for Projecting Increases in Marketing Costs
Ideally, sales increase every year, and you retain more customers than those that churn out.
But so do other costs, like marketing and administration. This sales forecast template tracks your sales for several products and forecasts out the next five years of revenue data.
On a second tab, it tracks income statements for the year and incorporates admin and marketing costs increases, providing a more holistic view of potential revenue. You can download this template for Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel right over here.
8. Best for Multiple Products at Different Growth Rates
Looking to track products that grow at different rates? This spreadsheet tracks the growth rate and forecasts revenue for 12 months, even if the products or services grow at different rates. This is a great fit for businesses with legacy products and regularly launch new products.
This forecasting chart also includes five years of historical data so you can see overall sales growth at a glance. You can pick this template up right here.
Final Thoughts: The Right Sales Forecasting Template Can Drive Long-Term Success
When it comes to sales forecasting, the right template can make all the difference. If you're still doing the process manually, you might miss out on actionable insights that could help your team meet your sales goals and exceed them.
Choose one of the templates above, but don't be afraid to make it your own. Add columns, include metrics that matter, and even plug in your brand color and name.
Over time, you'll end up with a custom sales forecasting spreadsheet that makes you look like a superstar. Want even more actionable insights? See how Close gives you access to the reporting metrics that matter.
Even if you’re working without a CRM—or using another product to manage your sales process, our Sales Success Kit will help your team achieve those goals that much faster.