Can Machine Learning Transform Sales Forecasting? Yes, Here’s How

Jonathan Costet March 15, 2022

Sales forecasting isn’t revolutionary — it’s been around since the dawn of time.

But the issue: It’s not always real. Forecasting relies on opinions … subjective percentages tied to “what we think” will happen.

Take a single deal: A sales rep who is overly aggressive may have a different looking forecast compared to a rep who is more conservative. It’s inevitable and it happens all the time.

So who is correct? Who is more accurate? Is the aggressive forecaster better? Are they “right” more often or is the conservative salesperson? Or (more likely) it depends … from deal to deal.

Imagine the following (very realistic) scenario: 

Let’s say you are in the middle of a deal that is normally a 3-month sales cycle. You are nearing the end of that timeline. Good news: The deal is projected to close.

But wait …

Pricing was never discussed.

Eek. Red Flag.

This is how far too many sales organizations across the world operate daily.

Sales forecasting software that thinks like you

The AI revolution is here.

Gong’s machine learning sales forecasting software reads and listens (and learns).

The net result: More accurate forecasting.

A true move from assumptions and best guesses to reality — what customers are saying or what they are not saying.

This machine learning can be used to forecast: 

  • Prospecting 
  • New deals
  • Upsells
  • Churn

As Alex Ball, VP of Mid-Market & Velocity Sales and Genesys said, “Gong is a ground point for where a rep thinks a deal is and where it actually is.”

Fewer errors. 

Fewer misunderstandings.

The best-of-the-best sales forecasting.

And the best part? All of the data — YOUR DATA — lives in Gong. It’s searchable, digestible, and always up to date.

Never leave Gong.

Sales forecasting breaks down quickly if the data is not accurate or up-to-date. 

As we all know, it can be a challenge to get sales reps to update a CRM — especially when that update needs to happen in multiple places.

Gong’s deal board has transformed how literally thousands of sales teams sell, train, and hit their goals.

The deal board empowers reps and their managers to: 

  • See an accurate pipeline: All customer interactions are analyzed, transcribed, and summarized … goodbye notes.
  • Get full visibility: From the 30,000 foot view down the a specific customer interaction (email, phone call, web conference), Gong has it all in one place.
  • Address risk early: Immediately diagnose the problem using AI. See crucial risks in your deals early.

With Gong’s reality-based pipeline management software, you can update your CRM from within the Gong deal board (🤯).

Inline editing is as easy as updating a spreadsheet. No bouncing back and forth between systems. Just stay in Gong. Camp out. Grab a cup of coffee. Live there. Do it all from withing Gong.

Goodbye opinions and goodbye excuses!

Quickly identify red flags with Deal Warnings 

Your deal has stalled out.

We’ve all been there. 

There are 100 (well maybe a few dozen) reasons:

  • No decision maker engaged: Deals that don’t involve DMs are 80% less likely to close.
  • Too few contacts involved in a deal: On average, winning deals have at least 3 people from the buyer’s side in meetings across the sales cycle.
  • Deal is in final stages but pricing not discussed: Win rates are highest when pricing is discussed on the first call — 10% higher.
  • Close date is in the past
  • Close date is before next call
  • Prospect sent an email with a red flag

Stalled deals are bad, but so are missed forecasts.

And missed forecasts are normally the result of information that is (a) incomplete OR (b) outdated, OR (c) unclear OR (d) ALL OF THE ABOVE.

AI helps mitigate potential “information issues.” 

Information is pulled directly from the source. It’s always up-to-date. It’s condensed so that risks are clear at a glance

Using (Gong) AI to is like knowing what’s in your pipeline without being in every deal.

Machine Learning can… forecast deals?

Sales leaders used to say AI/ML would “never work” for coaching. Here’s why they said that:

  • Every rep is unique
  • Coaching is impossible to quantify
  • Senior reps will always know better

Now that machine learning is coming to forecasting, the “it’ll never work” argument is back:

  • Every deal is unique
  • There will always be a margin of error
  • No AI knows how to save winnable deals

Sales leaders who embraced AI for coaching had an unfair head start.

So will those who embrace machine learning sales forecasting:

  1. They’ll spend less time on catch-up and more time on deal strategy.
  2. They’ll improve forecasting accuracy and buy more time to see what’s ahead for their business.
  3. They’ll take a proactive stance on deals instead of counting what’s coming in (and what isn’t) on the last day of the quarter.

Enter collaborative forecasting

Or as we like to call it … reality-based deal execution and forecasting.

Say goodbye to sale rep opinions. Instead, see the entire deal (including any gaps) — catch and address risks immediately, as they come up.

When sellers align with buyers, more deals close. This, in turn, helps increase salesperson confidence as more advice is backed by data

Finally, as we all know … it takes a village to win a deal. Make sure your revenue teams can collaborate easily on deal-winning strategies, using important insights from web conferencing, call, and email interactions.

The industry’s first reality-based forecasting

You know what they say, “A happy CFO makes for a happy (sales) life” — or something like that.

CFOs (and everyone who touches revenue and finances in your organization) make business decisions based on current and projected income. If your sales forecasting if off (likey do to non-reality-based “best guesses”) you are in trouble.

Machine learning has forever changed sales forecasting and Gong’s sales forecasting software is your new BFF.

WRITTEN BY
Jonathan Costet

Senior Growth Marketing Manager @Gong | Au revoir opinions, bonjour reality