TUE JAN 29 2019

Intuitive Insights Can Fail You: 5 Counter-Intuitive Insights Hidden in CRM

by Matthew Menard

Aviso's AI Research team has identified 5 counter-intuitive insights hidden in your CRM. Think of these as unexpected friendly winds that will help you hit your target. How did we discover them? By using AI to analyze trillions of data points across our customers from hundreds of quarters of real sales results. Whether it’s day 1 of the quarter or a week from close, it is always there looking at you from the horizon: your forecast. If you dare to look at your CRM forecast, it can feel like a gut punch: you may be millions of dollars away from your target, with no hail-mary prospects to come to the rescue. Read on to see how to use some counter-intuitive insights to close deals and properly utilize CRM data.

INSIGHT I: Deals not yet in your pipeline will HELP YOU WIN this quarter

Take a guess on Day 1 of the quarter: how many new deals will enter your pipeline in the next 90 days and close? What % of revenue will these deals represent? 5 percent? 10 percent? The real answer is 20-40 percent. These deals are known as “The Unborn” in data science— deals not yet on your radar that will make up a meaningful percentage of total sales. Surveys with operations and reps show “unborn” opportunities are underestimated—but deals that begin and close in the same quarter can sometimes account for almost half of the results. Up to 40 percent of this quarter’s revenue isn’t even in the picture yet.

"Up to 40 percent of this quarter’s revenue isn’t even in the picture yet"

INSIGHT II: Deals CURRENTLY listed in a future quarter WILL close this quarter

A common tendency by sales reps is to list an opportunity's estimated close date as next quarter in CRM, while make it close this quarter. When those future-dated deals close, it’s called a “Pull-In”: deals that are listed in a future quarter but close this quarter, and therefore don’t register on this quarter’s sales forecast. Pull-ins account for 10-20% of quarterly sales revenue. In fact, much to the chagrin of sales ops leaders and forecasters, this little data-entry technique is becoming more and more common, as it gives sales reps more control over their projected pipeline. Understanding your true estimated pull-in rate can be a game-changer in generating a more accurate forecast.

"Pull-ins account for 10-20% of quarterly sales revenue"

INSIGHT III: DEALS marked as $0 until they win AREN'T REALLY ZERO

What is a Pull-in’s best friend? A zero! “Zeros” are deals marked as $0 until they win, so they don’t count towards the forecast or pipeline. Sometimes a zero is due to a data-entry error in CRM, and sometimes reps intentionally hide the opportunity (for a spell) from the powers-that-be.  There could be a lot of money just sitting in your quarter's pipeline—and you didn't even know about it. Time to start counting those zeros.

"What is a Pull-in’s best friend? A zero"

INSIGHT IV: Deals CAN come back from the dead

In our data, between 1 and 3 percent of opportunities marked “dead” in a CRM eventually end up closing—some within the current quarter. Why does this happen? Some sales reps continue nurturing an opportunity even though it’s been labeled dead—making it hard to estimate the total zombies in your pipeline. Or sometimes an unforeseen circumstance on the prospect’s end transforms the deal from dead to “must sign now!”

"Between 1 and 3% of opportunities marked “dead” in CRM end up closing"

INSIGHT V: Deals CAN BE much bigger than AS listed in A CRM

Sales reps often under-report the potential size of a large iceberg-sized opportunity in their sales CRM data. Sometimes they don’t want a large potential deal to cross the radar of higher-ups yet to avoid the daily, unending questions about how the opportunity is going. Sometimes the conversation with the prospect starts out small, but evolves into a much bigger potential deal—and the CRM hasn’t been updated to reflect it. For many reasons, CRM could be littered with Icebergs: deals that are much bigger than they are listed as in the CRM, and when they close, your sales forecast is going to look a lot prettier.

"CRM could be littered with Icebergs"

At Aviso, we love diving deep into the dark, bottomless data of databases like CRMs and other sales systems and signals to find all the hidden opportunities that customers might not be seeing. We use AI to uncover real upside that human forecasting can’t predict. We turn these counter-intuitive insights into actionable directives that can help sales teams close over 20 percent more deals, help sales ops predict the next quarter with 95% percent plus accuracy, and help revenue teams find their true north.