Time to Trade in Those Old Sales Adages for Data

By Michael Lock

Last week, we released a new eBook about the Ten Sales Myths I have been blogging about. It’s a quick read, and will give you actionable, modern solutions if you find that you’re still relying on some of these old standbys.

The myths can be grouped into three key areas: forecasting, pipeline development and sales team structure.  First, let’s look at forecasting.  There are several myths that are still in play in large sales organizations.  For example: forecasting is giving “the number” to your boss once a week; or, forecasting is best achieved by scrubbing data and using weighted averages in spreadsheets. My personal favorite: The best way to start the quarter is with a good bottoms-up forecast at QBR.

Today’s successful sales organizations rely on total visibility and a large amount of data to manage the business. They can no longer afford to rely on forecast numbers that are out of date the minute the data is added to the “magic spreadsheet”.  AI-driven forecasts and automatic roll-ups are necessary to really understand what is going on with sales performance in every region, by every rep, product or territory.  The ability to drill-down into the forecast and leverage AI-assisted deal scores and insights gives today’s sales leaders the ability to spot trouble in the forecast, and find solutions before it’s too late.

Another set of myths lies around the pipeline.  Probably the most common one is that to make the number, you need 3X pipeline at the beginning of the quarter.  This is clearly just a guesstimate. Another one that is not useful is the 20/30/50 rule—meaning that 20% of the deals will close in the first month of the quarter, 30% in the second and 50% in the last month of the quarter.  The problem is that neither of these rules have anything to do with reality!

To manage pipeline appropriately and ensure that you have enough deals in the pipeline to meet the goal, you need real, data-driven information. To get this information you need AI and machine learning that can understand the nuances of your business, assess how your deals are moving through the pipeline, and identify whether you have enough pipeline to meet the number.  You must also understand the true value of your pipeline. Our Pipeline Value Predictor™ and our unique deal pacing helps sales organizations pinpoint how much pipeline is needed to meet the number from day one of the quarter.

The last set of myths can be grouped into productivity and predictability and sales structure.  The first is that front line sales managers know all the deals and can spot changes and trouble spots.  Related is the concept that the span of control of a good sales manager is only 5-7 reps.  Both these myths lie in the fact that deal predictability traditionally comes through human interaction, rep-to-buyer, and skilled pattern matching—which doesn’t scale.

The reality is that if sales managers are equipped with 360-degree visibility, rather than just pattern matching and intuition, they can manage a much larger set of reps and deals.  This introduces new levels of efficiency.  With data, sales managers can make better decisions, allocate resources appropriately, and focus on deals that will make the number.  Sales managers can also troubleshoot pipeline development and deal progression pacing trends to ensure that pipeline is developed at a rate sufficient to meet the needs of the business, and that deals move through the pipeline at a pace that meets the number.

Aviso is leading the charge in empowering modern sales organizations with the data they need. Stay tuned for more strategies to accelerate sales growth in today’s highly-competitive, fast moving sales environment.

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