4 ways to increase forecast confidence with Outreach

Posted January 7, 2022

By Kevin Mould

Senior Product Marketing Manager at Outreach

Many companies struggle with inefficient and inaccurate forecasting.

According to a recent commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Outreach, only 43% of sales leaders are forecasting within 10% accuracy.*

In addition, Forrester found that most firms lack the tools to make real-time course corrections. Without the tools that automatically capture and upload buyer and seller behavior activity across the revenue cycle, leaders lack the visibility to know which deals are at risk. And only 25% of sales leaders surveyed said they had the necessary tools to save at-risk deals.*

So how can you save yourself unneeded stress from inaccurate forecasting? Here we'll cover how Outreach Commit helps you:

  • Build data-driven forecasts with a summarized roll-up view of every team
  • Guide your teams to identify and resolve pipeline issues with deal risk signals
  • Check the actual outcome on dollars in the pipeline for any time period
  • See the math behind every forecast prediction and adjust model assumptions to compare scenarios

1. Build data-driven forecasts with a summarized roll-up view of every team

Running the weekly commit call from a spreadsheet has long been the standard for many businesses. This method is popular but flawed: it’s easy to view the forecast breakdown, and it is a tool that is familiar to many users. But to make it work, you must spend time pulling data from your CRM and trust that all manual entries to the sheet reflect the current state.

With the forecasting module in Outreach Commit, you can view the roll-up forecast for every level below you in your organization, including every team and individual. 

You can view:

  • What has been won to date in the forecast period
  • How much business you have open
  • Whether your gap coverage is sufficient to make up for any shortfalls between your won and open business

Unique to Outreach Commit, you can also see how much intra-period business you might expect to land. This represents deals that are not yet on your radar that might open and close within the time left in the forecast period — deals that are notoriously hard to account for. For example, while your forecast might indicate that you are short $400k in your current pipeline to hit your target – if there is $700k projected in the intra-quarter, you actually have enough. This is particularly common for companies with fast sales cycles.

Instead of pulling up a spreadsheet on your weekly forecast call, each sales lead can pull up their team in Outreach Commit and quickly run through their progress. Sales leadership at the end can then accept the roll-up number, or input their own!

2. Guide your teams to identify and resolve pipeline issues with deal risk signals

Some, if not many, of the deals in your pipeline may have issues that need to be resolved to get them across the line. But how do you identify where risk exists? And more importantly, how do you resolve it?

Risk signals in Outreach Commit help identify situations where you or your team may need to work with individual reps to intervene. For example, maybe one of the deals in your pipeline is missing a key decision maker and is moving slower than normal for a typical deal in the same stage. Outreach Commit will highlight this in a single view so that you can understand what needs to be done to resolve the deal risk. 

This view is accessible by clicking on any deal in Commit, and also includes all the key information on the deal as well as an activity timeline so that you can see everything that is going on in one place.

3. Check the actual outcome on dollars in the pipeline for any time period

To further triangulate your forecast, it can help to see what actually happened to pipeline dollars in previous time periods, as well as what is likely to happen for your current forecast period based on historical trends. Outreach Commit snapshots your data every time you submit a forecast, enabling you to check your historical accuracy.

Let’s say you want to know what happened at the end of November to what was in your pipeline at the beginning of the month. Outreach Commit’s analytics function will show you a breakdown of what was in each sales stage or forecast category, and allows you to click into each to see what happened. For example, clicking on ‘best case’ will show you how much of that amount was won, lost, or slipped.

To get a sense of where you might land, you can also apply this view to your current forecast period and see what Outreach Commit projects could happen with your current pipeline.

4. See the math behind every prediction and adjust forecast model assumptions to compare scenarios

Every forecast prediction in Outreach Commit is made up of a series of assumptions based on your business’s historical performance. Without understanding the assumptions, it’s risky to accept these projections at face value.

Using the scenario planner, you can see the variables Outreach used to establish a baseline and explore the distribution of outcomes created based on ten thousand simulations. And, if you want to change those assumptions to see how they impact the forecast, you can do that too!

For example, if you know you have a huge marketing campaign landing in the coming quarter that Commit isn’t accounting for, you can bump up your pipeline amounts. Or, maybe you are slightly short on pipeline for the quarter and need to see what win rates you need to achieve to still hit quota. Scenario planner can even be used for individual teams or reps to model different outcomes and forecast appropriately.

Your forecasting process doesn’t need to be riddled with mystery and guesswork. With Outreach Commit’s integrated set of reports and tools, you can commit with confidence.

* Base: 212 sales leaders in various industries across North America and the UK.

Source: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Outreach, B2B Leaders Usher In A New Era Of Sales, December 2021


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