Winter 2020 will forever be categorized in business history as a time of “uncertainty.”
That word has been emblazoned on just about every email you’ve gotten this month from your social platforms, your vendors, your Mastermind groups, and yes, you’ve probably even written it many times in messages to your own customers. We have, too.
I don’t have to tell you that doing business in this era of uncertainty is tricky. It’s downright mind-boggling; especially when you’re trying to deliver accurate sales forecasting.
When you can be certain about your forecasts, you can naturally plan better and make the best decisions for the future health of your business. But now, your deals probably look drastically different than they did two months ago and predicting has become far more complicated.
So what’s a revenue leader to do?
Well, according to Clari’s co-founders, Andy Byrne and Venkat Rangan, finding revenue confidence is the most critical action you can take at this time.
Executive veterans of three economic downturns, Byrne and Rangan learned what to expect during uncertain times and deeply understand how to prepare for the unpredictable. As they’ve been meeting with customers, prospects, and peers over the last few weeks to share ideas and create action plans, they’ve developed a unique knowledge of the steps needed to gain confidence in your revenue process.
Here are their key points:
Build Process Rigor
Engaging newly remote teams and honing in on which deals are real are two of the major challenges revenue leaders everywhere are facing. According to Rangan, both of these issues can be addressed by building process rigor through the right instrumentation.
“When our customers think about instrumenting their businesses, they have three major pieces in mind,” he says. “First, identifying key revenue metrics that inform them of their revenue process.”
This process involves methodically collecting business activity data related to revenue generation using signals such as CRM, email, calendar, marketing signals, and usage metrics. With these data points in hand, you can build a data warehouse that captures time series data of past outcomes, then apply AI and machine learning on historical outcomes to drive key insights that help drive their execution.
Having these insights give teams a predictive model to gut check the number their team is calling, and quickly identify if there is risk or opportunity in the pipeline, allowing them to make better decisions for the future.
Business Process Optimization
“Everyone is in ‘re-plan mode,’ and operations have had to pivot rapidly. So, in addition to the instrumentation requirements needed on the technology side, leaders also have to optimize their business processes by establishing the right meeting cadence and sales processes to pressure test each deal.
As Byrne points out, it’s the combination of both technology and business processes — forecast meetings, deal inspection, pipeline meetings, etc. — that will allow you to have more revenue confidence by knowing exactly which deals are going to land. When you are able to do that, you can plan more thoughtfully.
Invest In Your People
Your team is ultimately what is going to get you through this rough patch. Understand that they’ve been thrown into a hard situation, they are worried about the health of their families, are trying to juggle teaching their kids from home, and also want to contribute to the goals of the business.
“Be empathetic,” Byrne says. “You have the great opportunity here to show what it is to be a leader.” Create an environment in which your team members can do their best work and use this time to inform and strengthen your culture.
Both Byrne and Rangan stress that planning and preparing for the long haul is very important and encourage others to think deeply about what the world will look like at the end of the recovery. Talk about it with your team. Play out those scenarios together and create a strategy to help you succeed, no matter what the economic fall out may be.
As Rangan puts it, every global recession is like “an elevator crashing down,” but rebuilding resembles the longer process of “climbing the stairs.” Therefore, everything you can do to prepare yourself and your team for that journey will pay off long term.