[Editor’s note: A week ago, we introduced “Clari Sales Innovator,” an ongoing blog series, putting a bright spotlight on talented sales professionals and leaders. As we continue the series, they’ll express valuable insights and advice on career-building, thought leadership, sales best practices, opportunity to close (OTC), and technology.]
Host: I’m your host Cristina Wong, Content Marketing Manager at Clari, and we’re back for another segment of “Clari Sales Innovator.” This time, featuring our special guest, Damian Kinsella, Senior Sales Operations Analyst, from Palo Alto Networks, APAC region!
Q: Damian, how long have you been in Sales Operations and what do you do now?
A: I’ve been in Sales Operations for over eight years. Previously, I worked in the Banking industry heading up Business Intelligence and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) initiatives before moving into the Technology industry. In my current role at Palo Alto Networks, I am primarily focused on sales planning, forecasting, sales analytics, sales performance measurement and day-to-day sales operations functions. Our team uses Clari extensively to support our activities.
Q: During your tenure in Sales Operations, what’s changed the most?
A: From my perspective, it’s how opportunities are being captured, managed, reviewed and analyzed. In my prior role, we used our own in-house (CRM) system and now we have moved over to the cloud using Salesforce. Working with new systems brings new opportunities to streamline reporting processes and improve visibility of data — but the addition of Clari really had the biggest impact on my day-to-day responsibilities. Clari has changed the way I work, how we look at opportunities and enabled Sales Operations to shape a different conversation with the sales team.
Q: In what other ways has Clari impacted the “Sales Operations conversation”?
A: In the past, I would spend a lot of time building databases, spreadsheets, pinpointing changes to opportunities, trying to dive into a data warehouse and get answers around deal status and movement. Clari allows us to save a significant amount of time catching up on deal status, and instead, focus conversations on risk assessment and strategy. For instance, I can now confidently go into our weekly sales meetings with the sales managers and VPs to provide a strategic assessment of how our quarter is tracking. We only have an hour for the call, so it’s key that we focus on the right topics to make it productive — which is exactly what Clari enables us to do.
Q: How are you and your team improving forecasting and the “opportunity-to-close (OTC) process”?
A: The longer my team and I use Clari to manage our opportunity-to-close processes, the more we can’t imagine doing our jobs without it! With Clari, we can go through the forecast, hone in on key deals, see what the managers are looking at on a weekly basis down to the rep level, and derive together with the sales leaders on what they are going to deliver for the business.
In the past, we lacked forecasting visibility through the organization, so we couldn’t see the gaps between the reps, the district managers and the VPs — which has a lot to do with how we assess risk and provide guidance on our outlook. With Clari, we’ve been able to alleviate that risk and identify where there might be issues in the business. I’ve been able to say to the managers, “Here’s the original pledge, this is the rollup, here are the behaviors, patterns and degree of accuracy we’re seeing across different teams,” which lets us engage in a productive discussion, around finding ways to help better educate some of our reps, improve various parts of our OTC processes and ultimately make optimal business decisions for the company.
Host: Thank you Damian!