Revenue Leadership

When Weekly Forecasting Only Treats the Symptoms...

There is no dispute that it’s highly valuable – arguably essential – for sales organizations to conduct reviews of their deal pipeline and forecasts on a weekly basis. After all, that’s the operational output, the deliverables if you will, of the investment in your sales team and process.

Those weekly forecasting and deal reviews from a tactical standpoint help ensure you are working to reduce (where you can) any friction in deal advancement, talk through recurring themes across opportunities, and update reporting around likeliness to close so you have a better prediction of what to expect that month or quarter.

However, weekly forecasting is essentially a “downstream” activity. Upstream from that is everything you need to have in place to build that deal pipeline in the first place. It’s your revenue plan and its ongoing performance against emerging realities, both internal and external.

Here’s a view of how your upstream revenue foundation decisions affect your downstream pipeline and deal forecasting:

As you can see, the fundamentals on the left significantly matter in predicting your go-to-market teams’ output on the right. Said more bluntly: Your forecast is 100% dependent on your revenue plan’s performance and resourcing. It includes everything from when you are hiring into what sales roles, how fast they can ramp and be “in seat,” attainment levels by quota types, and even risks around attrition. And you need to ensure this is efficient by managing the overall cost picture.

Great, but how does this apply to weekly deal forecasting reviews?

Let’s start with a scenario that many of us are familiar with… a company missed its revenue target last quarter (maybe several quarters in a row) and/or they are at risk for this quarter. It’s normal and expected that you would scrutinize your sales pipeline and rally the team and other resources to try to maximize success for opportunities currently in play.

Where it becomes an exercise of diminishing returns is if you’re not taking into account on a weekly basis what’s been happening upstream. For example: You may have been several months late on a key hire, and this month your hiring may also be behind… you need to know how that’s going to affect you next quarter so you can address the hiring process now. Another: Your plan may have made incorrect assumptions on ramp times for one of your sales segments (i.e. it’s taking longer than expected), so knowing the actual ramp times can help you address that now with sales enablement to prevent risk in the next two quarters. 

Pick your analogy: Symptom vs. root cause. Cart before horse.

Here are some indicators we have seen or experienced when organizations only look at deal reviews and forecasting and do not regularly review their revenue plan performance KPIs:

  • Conversion Scrutiny. Pressuring in the near term to shorten average sales cycle lengths or to markedly improve conversion and win rates, without a strategic plan to achieve that. These are great goals, but generally not something you can turn on a dime to accomplish.
  • Marketing Pipeline: Because the pipeline isn’t there, turning up the heat on marketing to rapidly start to produce more inbound vs. taking into account that marketing has its own lead times and budget parameters.
  • Dealing: Making compromises on contracting terms, which may also include throwing in additional value-adds to sweeten the deal. This is generally fine on a case-by-case basis, but is problematic when it becomes a common practice.
  • Outsource: Quickly hiring and firing-up an outsourced BDR agency to get more initial calls and meetings passed to the sales org, which will drive up costs and also drain resources to get that group onboarded and managed.
  • Spamminess: Going heavy on the automation of cold outbound emailing, populated by ‘list dumps’ from external prospecting sources. This “spray and pray” technique aimed at unsuspecting lists often skips thoughtful segmentation in targeting or content strategy.

How do companies get out of this habitual practice? 

The easiest explanation is sometimes the best: make those upstream KPIs part of your regular review and discussion topics just like your forecasing reviews. On a weekly basis, you and your internal stakeholders should have available the status of your revenue-building fundamentals – your readiness and capacity to build future deal pipeline, as well as a history of what’s happened.

The challenge though is how to get that data and the important insights on a weekly cadence. This is exactly why the Revcast solution was designed by RevOps practitioners to help. That type of solution will help you answer these questions at ANY TIME:

  • Headcount: Do I have enough people in the right places? Am I delayed in getting them hired? Am I starting the hiring process early enough to make sure we can capture more opportunities and revenue?
  • On-Boarding: Are we ramping our people in the timeframes we should expect and ‘in seat’ to start producing as they should? How is this breaking down by segment and by sales managers’ teams?
  • Attrition and Leaves: Did we have attrition and leave levels that we didn’t account for? Where did that happen and how much of an impact did that have? How do we make up those gaps over the next 1-2 quarters?
  • Attainment: How is our attainment looking across all our different quota types, by rep? Are some segments performing better than expected and should we shift more resourcing there? Which specific months did certain segments or even specific reps under-perform, and how can we determine why that was?
  • Pipeline: How close are our pipeline actuals vs. our goals? Do large gaps indicate we set the wrong goals or do we have an issue with our pipeline generation strategy and resourcing?
  • Growth Efficiency: How is all of this tracking against our budget? Are we starting to build inefficiencies over time because we didn’t catch a trend or risk early enough?

Why you should do weekly reviews of revenue plan KPIs:

More agile, resilient, and efficient revenue leadership and RevOps impact comes when you can be proactive in spotting risks and growth opportunities, and to help your company reach its goals productively. 

In the video below, Revcast’s CEO talks about why it’s important to “zoom out” from traditional deal forecasting and stay on top of the bigger picture.

Adapt to Changes as They Happen: That revenue plan you wrote before the year started could not have possibly anticipated all of the internal and external changes and deviations that will inevitably occur. Excellent leadership is staying on top of this and having the insights available to make the best recommendations to the business.

Get Alerted: It’s great to automatically get notified when data is flagged because a KPI or other insight is either tracking too far below or above target thresholds. You can keep an active watch on how everything is playing out in real-time and stay in the driver’s seat.

Optimized Resources and Budget: It’s never ideal to have that tough conversation with your head of finance, much less the board of directors, when you need to make a major re-planning adjustment with significant budget implications. It’s even worse if it’s due to something that could have been caught and addressed sooner. These situations are mitigated when you can jump in sooner before things go too far off track. 

Spot Opportunities to Capture More Revenue: More great news is that it’s not just about missing revenue targets… you should also be able to easily and as early as possible spot trendlines where you’re seeing success. Armed with those insights to share with finance, you can make the case to shift or add more resources to a segment or move hiring up to capitalize on where growth is exceeding your goals.

Additional Resources from Revcast:

Revcast is the solution that gives you best practices plan building through ongoing, continuous performance monitoring and adaptation. We invite you to learn more about how we reduce this data and reporting burden on your internal teams, while also delivering significant capabilities to help you maximize revenue achievement.

Drive revenue performance by getting planning and forecasting right.

Discover the value of Revcast for your sales org today.
Get a demo