My name is Harish Mohan, and I am a recovering forecaster. There, I said it, the first step is admitting you have a problem. Now let the healing begin.
I now cringe every time I hear the word forecasting in any setting. When I hear “forecast,” my brain immediately processes it as “guess.”
In some situations, this is acceptable. If the weather forecast says it’s going to be sunny tomorrow during my round of golf, but it in fact rains, then I will still be happy at the clubhouse with a beverage.
In other situations, however, I would run for the hills. If the captain of my flight “forecasts” he is going to land the plane at Seattle-Tacoma airport, get me out of there — Mt. Rainier or the Puget Sound, no matter how nice, do not make for a great runway!
So it baffles me that almost all sales leaders believe a forecast from their teams is an acceptable prediction of the final result. Do a search on Google for “how do I forecast?,” and you’ll get 514,000,000 results. This means there are at least 500 million different methodologies to support your guessing game.
Sales “forecasting” leads to a high risk game of chance. Millions of dollars of an organization's market value can be made or lost by its ability to hit revenue targets predictably. Investors, shareholders, investments, and careers are at stake on a sales team's confidence to deliver against committed revenue goals. Do not leave this to the “art of forecasting.” Intuition alone as a guide has had its day — and that day passed a decade ago.
Ah, the good old days when I used to forecast. No, no, no. I have moved on, and it's so much better on the other side — trust me!
I too used to praise the “art of forecasting.” My finely honed skills from years on go-to-market teams gave me the edge to process information and come up with the right prediction. My intuition was all I needed.
Here’s the problem: Intuition is only as good as the past patterns staying consistent. I honed my intuition based on how sales used to happen over the past decade — the consistency in buyer behavior, the consistency in sales processes and stages, the consistency in sellers leading the buying cycle, and the consistency in the CRM data. This is the same warm comfort that all my peers at all levels of sales or operations relied on to determine the magic forecast number.
As a result, revenue leaders do not even attempt to peer into the day-to-day activity and engagement layers on any individual team, seller, or deal. They have dozens of dashboards, but they’re not sure they can trust the data. Instead, they are forced to rely on the gut intuitions of their whole team to inform their forecasting models. What could go wrong?!
Intuition fails very quickly when it meets change.
And if the past two years re-affirmed anything, it is that the only constant is change. Everything changed with seller and buyer engagement. How we engage, how much we engage, how we communicate, buyer education, buyer expectations, seller education, seller expectations… the list goes on.
I guarantee every single VP hates forecasting now. They waste countless hours smashing together massive piles of disconnected, static data sets from countless point solutions and a CRM that’s nothing more than a system of record. The result? Their teams aren’t operating at peak potential. They don't understand the buyer process. They don’t have visibility into actual deal health. Their forecasting is unpredictable. And worst of all: They don’t have the visibility or information they need to guide their teams to resolve the individual opportunity issues that would increase their forecast instead of torpedoing it.
None of these traditional forecasting coping mechanisms help them understand what actions they can take right now to improve the outcomes. Guesswork using limited data results in serious forecast inaccuracy.
They’re trying to solve the wrong problem.
Revenue Innovators, on the other hand, look for opportunities to instrument the entire revenue cycle to take the guesswork out of the forecast. They commit with confidence.
That’s worth repeating: They commit with confidence.
Most traditional revenue organizations don’t have the technology to win the future. They don’t need another point solution that will create more gaps and friction. Most leaders know that and viscerally react to the idea of implementing another disparate tool. They understand that to drive long-term growth, they can no longer rely on siloed data, disconnected point solutions, and a static system of record like CRM.
Instead, Revenue Innovators demand systems of action.
They crave a unified platform to help their organizations make the right call in the moment, close the Sales Execution Gap, and leave guessing in the past.
Outreach is the only Sales Execution Platform that contains the data sales team need to accurately forecast revenue — and the answers to the questions we know our CRO will ask. How much of my pipeline is going to convert? Why is it converting? Why is it not converting? Where is it converting? How do I drive up productivity? What are the business outcomes?
We finally have the cheat sheet to answer all the hard questions — accurately and immediately — with the confidence that we’re seeing the complete picture of our deals, buyers, and teams. We have transformed the forecast process from guessing the future based on past results to changing the future using recommended actions.
Revenue Innovators, for the first time, can truly drive predictable, efficient growth. Check out our new ebook to find out why this equation is so powerful.