This past week, Aviso had the privilege of hosting a number of distinguished guests on the Sales Hacker webinar “Uncovering Actionable Insights to Accelerate Your Pipeline.” Each guest shared their own unique insight about how predictive forecasting has improved their business, and listening to their stories got us thinking about a uniquely transformative invention of the 20th century — autopilot.
I know what you’re thinking. How could a system “used to operate a vehicle without constant ‘hands-on’ control by a human” relate to predictive forecasting? Well as it turns out, in pretty much every way. Autopilot was first conceived pre-WWII with the goal of reducing pilot workload. Before its introduction, pilot attention was spread thin in the cockpit as they were forced to monitor and control a variety of complex systems, resulting in excessive fatigue which sometimes proved fatal. Autopilot in its current iteration was introduced in the early 70’s — the first decade in which pilot error contributed to less than 30% of fatal airline accidents. Coincidence?
Similarly, human imperfection is the overarching reason why sales-driven businesses miss their end-of-quarter forecast number. One of our webinar panelists, Bill Dolby (Sr. Director Sales Ops at RingCentral), made the point that before adopting the Aviso platform he and his fellow managers felt “uncomfortable” with sales forecasts. While salespeople do their best to ensure forecast accuracy, the sheer volume of spreadsheets that sales teams must manage creates reasonable skepticism; the amount of data is so extensive that reps are susceptible to losing track of deals that require immediate attention.
This trend of being overextended in spreadsheet hell sounds an awful lot like the problem pilots faced before the implementation of autopilot. And when you see your sales team as a band of pilots – and the opportunities in the pipeline as your fleet of aircraft – the parallels with Aviso come into focus. Aviso ensures that your reps and managers can take a step back and view the pipeline as a whole, allowing for effective prioritization instead of constant micromanagement of each opportunity. It’s this sort of systematic visibility that makes autopilot a must in today’s age, and it’s what will ensure the ubiquity of predictive forecasting in the near future.