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Almost a third of B2B sales leaders say they develop forecasts by referencing key deals and adding in qualitative analysis, according to a recent commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Outreach.*
The problem? This unscientific method makes it impossible to accurately manage your business.
Revenue leaders are never sure about the degree of risk in their forecast, and they steer the business based on what they believe to be correct rather than the hard facts. If they are wrong, it can be detrimental to their company value and ultimately their job.
With Outreach Commit, we are bringing science to the art of forecasting. Our revenue intelligence solution enables leaders to go from guessing the future to changing it with recommended actions.
Read below to learn more about how Outreach Commit helps you:
Forecasting is important to the livelihood of businesses of all sizes and stages of maturity. For private companies, it can affect company valuation and investor funding. For public companies, quarterly earnings drive market capitalization and shareholder value. In either scenario, missing the forecast has adverse impacts on the business.
The problem is, most organizations struggle with forecasting accurately. In the Outreach-commissioned study, Forrester found that 60% percent of sales leaders surveyed said they don’t have a well-defined or scientific approach to forecasting. Even more glaring, 10% of respondents indicated that they regularly miss their forecasts by 25% or more.*
Why does this happen?
One of the first challenges that plague many businesses is that the information needed to forecast with confidence doesn’t all live in one place and takes time to aggregate. The Outreach-commissioned study found that sales reps spend too much time forecasting. Seventy three percent of sales leaders surveyed said members of their sales teams spend more than 10 hours a week on forecasting – 12% spend over 20 hours forecasting.* When teams use an amalgamation of dashboards and tools, forecasting becomes even more time consuming.
For example, revenue operations teams may pull forecast data from their CRM system into a spreadsheet and run an analysis, or they might load CRM data into a BI tool such as Tableau or Looker for their data science teams to compile. Outreach Commit simplifies the process by providing a consolidated destination to view, analyze, and understand what goes into the sales forecast.
Outreach Commit’s flexible mapping layer connects to your CRM and references its entire history. This provides unique statistical modeling for every team and individual within your organization, offering a weekly roll-up view that highlights changes and pipeline movement. An AI-powered scenario planning tool enables revenue leaders to see the assumptions for the current sales forecast and adjust variables such as win rates or pipeline slippage to see how changes will impact the forecast. Finally, deeply integrated analytics capabilities enable operations teams to review the pipeline coverage across specific teams and time periods to compare the projections with actual outcomes. With Outreach Commit’s set of forecasting tools, revenue teams can spend less time pulling data and assembling the forecast, and more time performing analysis on how to drive it higher with the assistance of powerful AI modeling and trend analysis.
Another anxiety driver for revenue leaders when constructing their forecast is a lack of trust in the deals in their sales pipeline. Many businesses lack objective methods for measuring deal health, which forces leaders to rely on rep and manager opinions or take the time to arduously review every deal in their CRM for possible issues. Even then, possible red flags can get papered over when deal-level reporting is extrapolated into spreadsheets or BI tools. This leads to a high probability of last-minute slippages or losses that send revenue teams scrambling. For example, reps and managers can fall victim to ‘happy ears’, where they hear what they want to hear from a customer and miss or ignore signals that indicate the deal won’t close. With no objective system for measuring health, these deals can end up in the forecast and put the organization’s success at risk.
What if your sales pipeline had a built-in early warning system, just like the wearable tech on the market today that allows consumers to objectively evaluate their heart rate, sleep quality, and other health signals? Just like these devices, Outreach Commit continuously monitors every deal in the pipeline to identify risks early and provide guidance on what can be done to address them. Organizations gain an objective measurement of deal health, and sales managers can see which deals need attention so that they can proactively coach their reps to positive outcomes. And, with this intelligence connected to Outreach’s category-leading engagement platform, your teams can go straight from seeing an insight to acting on it.
At the root of every forecast is the pipeline that supports it. But how do you know whether you have enough pipeline and that your teams are successfully pacing against their goals? As with the other elements of the forecasting cycle, having too many data sources with insufficient depth and insight puts leaders in a position of risk.
Using historical trend analysis, Outreach Commit helps identify the pipeline coverage needed for each team within the organization to hit its sales goals. This includes accounting for and modeling any fast moving business that is likely to both open and close within the forecast period, and showing how deals in the pipeline are pacing at both the team and individual level. In addition, Outreach Commit makes it possible to help ensure every rep in the organization is performing against their goals with an interactive scorecard that can account for multiple goals with custom weighting.
The days of relying on intuition to forecast are long gone. Revenue leaders we see accelerating the growth of their business are those who embrace technology and use AI-recommended actions, instead of guesswork, to change the future.
* “B2B Leaders Usher In A New Era Of Sales,” a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Outreach Corporation, December 2021