March 20, 2020

Revenue Operations

The Path to Revenue Confidence

Andy Byrne

Andy Byrne

Andy Byrne
Andy Byrne

CEO, Clari

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“Confidence” is an interesting word.

There’s the confidence we feel when we know we’re well prepared to face a challenge.

We share confidences with people we trust.

Then there’s another definition of confidence: “The certain knowledge of the truth.” And in uncertain times like these, that’s what we’re all searching for.

Some things we knew as recently as a day ago are no longer true. The people we care about most, who count on us most — are looking to us for strength and guidance.

As business leaders, some things we counted on will not happen. Some investments will be pulled back. Customers we thought were ours, won’t be. Executives across the globe are re-working operating plans, asking how this will affect their customers, their employees, their investors, and their families. This uncertainty is the new normal, at least for now.

So as leaders, how can we inject some certainty into this uncertain world. Certainty that can lead to clarity about the go-forward plan. An area of certainty executive teams can deliver upon is what we at Clari call revenue confidence — having the confidence (i.e. certain knowledge of the truth) about future revenue results. The process to obtain revenue confidence is actually quite simple, even in uncertain times.

It boils down to 5 key steps we’re advising revenue leaders to execute now:

  1. X-ray your pipeline now, both current & next quarter. CROs need to dig in like never before here. Put extra effort into ensuring the integrity of your CQ & NQ pipeline. At Clari, we created a new ‘risk scale’ that shows us leading indicators of how deals are progressing (or regressing). Don’t just listen to what reps are saying. Ensure you have the right instrumentation and dive into the insights that show how your customers are engaging and how the deal is trending.
  2. Look beyond the CRM. Since Clari instruments the end to end revenue process across all sales, marketing and buyer intent signals, we easily understand what’s real in the pipeline — and what’s not. What are the patterns of interactions and signals that suggest deals are tracking well? Which deals should be pushed due to lack of activity? Which can we accelerate or pull-in from out quarters based on positive prospect engagement (e.g. the Economic Buyer is fully engaged)? Answering these last two questions lets us pivot resources to where they’re needed -- making the revenue machine much more efficient.
  3. Protect & grow the base: Many of our customers are SaaS businesses, where recurring revenue and net dollar retention are critical success factors. Protecting the revenue base is more important than driving net new customers. Given the health instrumentation we provide across the ARR base of current customers, we’re helping CROs understand how best to identify churn risk and upsell/cross-sell opportunities to ensure they’re getting the most from their current book of business.
  4. Build confidence to support go-forward guidance. We can't just focus on what we see happening today. It's critical we look at the landscape of inventory that we'll be counting on 1, 2, 3+ quarters out. Finding potential risk and opportunities for acceleration will help determine what adjustments we need to make to our operating plan, and how to communicate this to the street with confidence.
  5. Double down on culture. In uncertain times your culture is your team’s biggest competitive differentiator or perhaps the company’s most critical competence. For the revenue org specifically, a key component of this is taking a deep look across all relevant operating inputs — territories, quotas, GTM plans, and others — to ensure you made the right adjustments for a winning operating plan that leads to a great culture. Thoughtfulness and creativity here will keep world-class teams intact and can lead to new GTM motions to pursue moving forward.

When things become uncertain, our job as business leaders is to create certainty. “Certain knowledge of the truth.” It starts with Revenue Confidence. Once you have that, then take action.

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