Key Insights from your CRM are essential to Executive Leaders
Coming from a prior role in Financial Planning & Analysis and reporting to a CFO, I know how important a sales forecast is to understand how much cash will be coming into the business.
Every week, the data in our CRM provided key insights to answering these questions and guided business and marketing planning. As we reviewed the pipeline weekly, it became the driver of discussion.
- Getting the pipeline healthy. It must flow! Opportunity movement through the sales cycle stages, velocity, short selling cycle, and high conversion rates. Consistent pipeline review improves health.
- Understanding the difference between pipeline and forecast and why it matters. The pipeline consists of all prospects at various stages of the sales cycle. Sales Forecasts are opportunities nearing the end of the sales cycle and are used to estimate a company’s short-term revenue and cash flow.
- Weighting the pipeline, is it right for your Company? There is no guaranteed way to predict success or forecast sales perfectly, but a weighted pipeline can paint a more accurate picture of potential sales, a revenue projection technique. There are several ways to “weight” your pipeline; one example is based on the sales stage and the probability and not based on the total value, but perhaps “annual contract value”. This may give the finance team a more accurate view of potential future revenue versus the total pipeline value, which can be inflated based on total value, stage, and probability.
- Knowing the gap between your weighted pipeline and revenue target. Now that we have forecasted our revenue, determining how much pipeline we need to hit our revenue goal is easier. It may not reveal what you had hoped and planned for, but it gives you the insight to make decisions. Marketing campaigns to fill the top of the funnel, focus on selling the big deals in your pipeline, or leadership’s awareness of the forecasted reality can find ways to reduce the cost to compensate for reduced revenue. It also gives leadership insight into hiring decisions, “supply and demand.”
- Sales key performance indicators (KPIs). They allow you to evaluate all efforts and identify areas needing improvement. KPI examples: Year over year growth, revenue by product or service, # of deals lost to competition, % of revenue from existing customers, net new logos, etc.
Analytics show your activities, understand reality, and make positive changes. While it can be rough when you start dissecting your data, it’s a way to understand to a level of wanting to be better, what operational decisions we can make today to guide us tomorrow.
Why am I discussing this as a Salesforce Admin and Consultant? It is important to understand how vital a CRM plays in a company’s growth and sustainability, along with the business process and continuous review of your platform investment.
I think about the hours I spent doing manual snapshots and comparing them in a pivot table to reveal what has changed – how many new opportunities, how many closed lost, how many opportunity amounts changed, how many close dates were pushed out for the 5th week in a row, not just did the pipeline value go up or down, the specifics, a real pipeline inspection. I learned a ton, trying to answer the why, that all pointed to the same thing, how much net new revenue were we forecasting. The sales pipeline is one source of truth.
Great news! Salesforce CRM Analytics and Revenue Intelligence are driving tools (an add-on) in Salesforce’s Sales Cloud that bring key data to vision and clarify this. The benefits all point to one thing: Revenue Growth.
If you have these same thoughts, please contact us for an Assessment of your platform, business processes, and tools available to help you succeed!