Building Trust in Your Forecast and Sales Team
The most successful CROs and Sales leaders know a thing or two about balance and decision-making regarding sales forecasting. They use not only gut instinct but data and experience to call their number accurately and keep their boards and CEOs appeased. And there’s an intense amount of pressure to do just that. If you ask any sales leader (including myself!), they would give almost anything to be able to predict their number accurately.
In this volatile market, I need to have the ability to look at each deal more granularly than ever before. I need to be able to answer hard questions like, “Where is my pipeline getting stuck?” and “Am I working on the deals that are going to have the most value?” If you don’t have this kind of insight - you can’t compete effectively. And you also can’t coach your reps effectively. In my position, I have the option to be the kind of manager that uses data against my team and asks, “Why is this deal not closing? Why is this activity not getting done? Etc.” OR I can be the leader that uses data as a win-win to dissect each deal and figure out how I can be a partner to my reps to move deals forward.
That’s where the relationship-building with your sales reps and managers comes in — taking the time to get close to your team and understand what each individual wants to accomplish in their personal and professional lives. For example, last quarter, one of my reps was hustling and wanted to buy a house within a certain timeline. Every deal mattered so she could afford the downpayment. Since I knew her goal, we could work together on deals and get her where she needed to be. Working with my team on win-win deals has been one way to build trust within my team.
It’s extremely challenging to walk the line as a sales leader of being too harsh or too lenient. On the one hand, you want them to feel they can come to you and have the hard conversations… the conversations that sound like, “My deal is going to push to next quarter even though I was certain it was closing this one.” However, you also need to teach your team why accountability is key. If a single rep drops their call, it might not have a huge effect. But if an entire sales organization drops its call, then there are ramifications that build up and can have a big effect on how a quarter turns out. For example, if I have a ten-million-dollar number to hit across 50 reps, and each rep drops their call by 10%, that’s a million dollars. For each individual rep, it might not seem like a lot, but as a total, that’s a million-dollar hit to the number. That’s why accountability and building trust are so critical. If my number is wrong, then that goes up the management chain, and I lose credibility with my board and CEO. Quarterly results then trickle down into market presence and continue to affect deals, stock prices, etc., depending on a company’s situation.
Using Xactly Forecasting®, I can enhance my own hard-earned skill set with the value of AI. When Xactly’s CEO comes to me to discuss the pipeline and specific deals, I’m able to answer with confidence about which deals are most likely to close. The machine grows smarter and more productive while the human workload is streamlined. This helps drive productivity, improve efficiency, and save people time and organizational dollars.
I talk with customers daily who are also using Xactly Forecasting® to solve a variety of challenges. One of our customers, Planful, uses the solution to accurately predict growth using forecasting data, and other organizations have implemented the tool to identify pipeline issues and coach sellers toward the next best actions. This kind of precision is more important than ever because forecasting accuracy affects everything from resource planning, hiring, and company stock prices to boardroom decisions like potential layoffs or acquisitions. Accurate forecasting is imperative for companies that want to stay afloat during economically turbulent times.
There are many challenges when managing sales forecasting manually. I use Xactly Forecasting® to see with precise accuracy which deals in the pipeline are most likely to close, which deals will be best for profitability, as well as the health score and sentiment of each deal in real-time. I’m always going to use the experience I have to help call my number, but I will never try to beat the computer.
You can learn more about Xactly Forecasting® and its new functionality here. I’m also available if you’d like to have a conversation about sales forecasting, revenue operations, and sales planning best practices; feel free to reach out to me directly at email@example.com.