October 16, 2019

Revenue Operations

Forecasting

How to Nail Your Forecast in Week 1: Part 4 (Video)

Anthony Cessario

Anthony Cessario

Anthony Cessario
Nailing The Number 4

We're wrapping up our 4-part series on how to nail your week 1 number by bringing the entire revenue team together. Revenue is a team sport, not just the responsibility of sales. We strive for full-funnel accountability across sales, marketing, customer success and finance here at Clari.

Before I walk you through how that happens, I recommend you read (and watch) every step in the process.

Step 1: Triangulate a reality check

Step 2: Inspect current and out-quarter pipeline

Step 3: Conduct data-driven 1:1 coaching sessions

Step 4: Bring your revenue teams together

Ok, let's bring it home!

Step 4: Bring your revenue teams together

One of the benefits of pressure testing out-quarter deals and forecasting out-quarter pipeline is that this forward-looking visibility gives the entire revenue team much more confidence in the pipeline going into the quarter.

We see time and time again where sales, marketing, customer success, and finance never truly align on even in-quarter deals, let alone out-quarter. Even when these teams are all represented on the forecast calls, many of these executive forecast calls are done with the same inefficiency as the rep to manager pipeline inspection.

The Inefficient Status Quo

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

Typically, 2nd or 3rd line sales leaders will sort a spreadsheet by deal size and get a Monday morning news report on what transpired in the largest deals over the past week.

  • They then ask if there is any perceived risk that they don’t know about.
  • They poke holes in responses, get loose superficial answers with promises for follow up and then ultimately, they cast their judgment.
  • More lack of trust and reporting the news.

As a result, time allocated for things like inspection of out-quarter pipeline and/or renewals/churn inspection (if on the agenda at all) falls off the agenda, happens in a one-off silo, or is cut down dramatically. When out-quarter pipeline and renewal inspection does happen, the revenue teams frequently have disconnected numbers, reports, definitions, targets, and visibility.

The Clari Forecast Call

Here’s how we keep our forecast calls productive and strategic at Clari:

Prep and POV. Leaders come prepared with a POV to executive forecast calls just like managers do for 1:1s. Our executive leadership team posts comments in our Slack channel ahead of the meeting to call out key details they would like to inspect on the call.

Inspect and Prioritize. Our CRO doesn’t sort the forecast by deal size, he sorts committed deals by the AI score, focusing on opportunities in red (identified as at risk by Clari). He then comes prepared with pointed questions about why we are still committing these deals even though the data science says there is risk. Our theatre leaders almost always have a strong data driven POV for why we’re confident enough to keep them in commit and what we’re doing to get these deals on track.

Bring in the Revenue Team. Marketing is in the meeting with us and have also reviewed these deals for opportunities to accelerate with ABM and Customer Success offers customer intros to companies with similar business motions when appropriate.

Keep moving. We spend little if any time on the deals that are green (healthy) and move past risky deals and dive in to churn forecast with customer success driving.

Focus on Out-quarter. Every other week we focus the entire call on out-quarter pipeline inspection. Marketing drives this discussion and we focus on pipeline needs by stage/category for different products and regions.

Get AI Insights. Our targets are set by Clari’s AI, again leveraging those millions of data points to predict how much pipe we need in each stage in order to hit our out-quarter revenue targets. This out-quarter visibility leads to better linearity, higher ASPs (due to lower EOQ discounting practices) and faster pipeline velocity due to early focus and inspection.

Thanks to Clari's technology and great leadership across the board, our revenue operation is a well-oiled machine.

A new way to revenue

Organizations with this level of predictability have established a new way to revenue built on trust, collaboration, and data-driven decision making. At Clari, we like to say revenue is a process, and, like any other business process, it can be optimized and managed.

In two short quarters, I have completely changed how I manage my business and deliver value to our team, our customers and our shareholders. It’s no surprise that boards, VCs and PE firms are beginning to mandate this level of connected revenue operations in their portfolios.

Interested in hearing more? I’m happy to share my learnings. Email me at a ac@clari.com or request a demo from one of our Clari experts.

E-book

Okta: Forecasting and Pipeline Management

Learn how Okta took a “balanced pipeline” approach for achieving quota in current and future quarters to support its impressive growth plan and impending IPO

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