Among the 30 education seminars hosted by various promotional products industry professionals during Expo East in Atlantic City, New Jersey, this week was Attribution Control & Forecasting: It Doesn’t Need To Be Rocket Science, led by Vince DeCecco, the founder and owner of Your Personal Business Trainer, a coaching and talent development company. During the hour-long seminar, which was held on the show floor, DeCecco described the highly complex and intricate topic of attrition control and forecasting. He opened by describing four reasons why mastery of the topic is so relevant—and pertinent—in business: it allows for harnessing better purchasing power with suppliers, better production planning, generating greater borrowing leverage with lenders and growing businesses strategically and as planned.

DeCecco began by introducing the concept of “intrapreneurship” as it pertains to salespeople. Intrapreneurship, he says, refers to accepting accountability for everything that happens—or doesn’t happen—within a salesperson’s assigned territories and within their assigned responsibilities, and making day-to-day decisions as if he or she were operating a standalone business. “An intrapreneur is worried about the sales they’re going to make three months from now,” says DeCecco. Intrapreneurs are described as proactive, go-getters and forward-thinkers. On the contrary, a person who is not an intrapreneur is someone who scrambles at the end of the month to make their quota, or someone who is highly skilled, but makes minimal sales calls, and therefore, minimal effort. These people, he says, are not individuals that businesses want to keep on their teams—and definitely not for the long term.

Next, DeCecco delved into the topic of customer relationship management, which, he says, consists of four pillars: the ability to map the sales process, time and opportunity management, attrition control and forecasting. Despite the multifaceted nature of these topics, they are underscored by the need to plan ahead. In mapping sales, DeCecco says professionals must know what needs to be done and in what order. Time and opportunity management can be understood as the following equation: $$$ = QNA. The dollars symbolize sales success, while QNA represents the quality of sales calls (Q), times the number of sales calls made (N), times the allocation of time with the right people (A). “If you want to get your foot in the door and you want to be opportunistic, then you need to be on the front step when the opportunity opens,” he says. And, to do so, he advises professionals to plan ahead.

Attrition—the loss of revenue in a particular account that was enjoyed last year, but is not resold this year—can always be attributed to a reason or a set of reasons, he says. Examples of controllable attrition includes examples, such as poor service, quality and delivery, poor salesmanship, loss of trust, failure to provide value relative to price and inconvenience. “People buy from people whom they like, trust and with whom it’s convenient to do business,” he says. “If you’re not, every day, trying to make yourself and your salespeople more well-liked, trustworthy, a joy to do business with, so much so that your customers go out of their way to do business with you, you don’t have your eye on the ball.”

Uncontrollable attrition, he says, includes going out of business, economic shutdown, relocation, labor strike or slowdown, government intervention and hostile takeover/acquisition. These are circumstances that cannot necessarily be controlled or reversed after they occur. Lastly, value-added attrition includes switching to less-expensive alternatives, improving efficiency, better regulating inventory and developing a reusable solution. If a client wishes to distribute a particular product during an event, for example, and the product cost is higher than desired, it is the salesperson’s responsibility to find an alternate solution that produces that same or a similar effect.

Finally, forecasting, DeCecco explains, is the bread and butter of planning ahead. Forecasting entails five components—and comparing such—including base sales revenue attrition (sales from the previous year), carryover from the previous year’s accounts, revenue from the current year’s accounts and price adjustment revenue, which equate the projected current year’s forecast. He explains the topic using examples from his own business, reflecting charts that organize this information into an easy-to-read format.

DeCecco’s seminar delved into deeper areas of attrition, but the takeaway message was to plan ahead and never remain static in business. He urged attendees to constantly train their salespeople and to constantly pursue areas where training is lacking. If the salespeople and the company executives alike can pinpoint and resolve key issues affecting their performance and business and incorporate this material into their planning, they can develop better customer relations and a stronger reputation, and better persist toward success.