Upwork’s RevOps team rockets to 95% sales forecast accuracy using Gong
Before Gong, Upwork recognized the potential for enhancing the accuracy of its internal sales forecasts, especially in an unpredictable market. They also needed better (and earlier) visibility into whether their new GTM initiatives worked at an enterprise level.
Upwork’s sales teams now forecast with 95% accuracy with highly reliable deal execution. Its RevOps team uses Gong to power well-informed decision making from day one for every GTM initiative.
San Francisco, California
Technology, Information and Internet
Upwork is the world’s leading work marketplace, connecting businesses with independent talent from around the globe. Their talent community earned more than $3.8 billion on Upwork in 2022 across more than 10,000 skills, with over 800k clients turning to Upwork to innovate their workforce, accelerate the velocity of their work, and achieve their growth objectives.
Their sales team navigated massive growth and scaled successfully using Gong data. Today, they rely on Gong Forecast — the perfect pairing of data and AI — to achieve incredible sales forecast accuracy while they continue to scale.
The company began using Gong in 2017 and it was well-received from day one. Gong is now the RevOps team’s go-to for forecasting its sales accurately.
Drew Korab, Director of Revenue Operations at Upwork, says his main challenge was being able to provide an accurate forecast to the business while scaling and implementing GTM initiatives that focus on enterprise sales. “Using Gong Forecast, we were able to call accurate sales numbers, even in the middle of major organizational change and an uncertain economy. Our old forecast process and data just didn’t cut it anymore. Gong Forecast gave us the new data, process, and insights we needed to project how our new business line would perform,” says Korab. “We’ve used Forecast for three solid quarters and our accuracy has only grown, to the point that we’re now at 95%. That’s invaluable for a company that’s moving into new sales territory in an uncertain economy.”
Upwork runs a predictable revenue org, even while scaling
The RevOps team uses Gong’s real-time insights to assess its pipeline health and uncover risks that would otherwise lead to a missed number. For a publicly traded company, that type of predictability and accuracy are critical.
Before Gong, Upwork recognized there was an opportunity to provide a more accurate quarterly sales forecast. A new upmarket sales motion and a growing team meant that forecasting based on historical data didn’t work any more. Last year’s data — even last quarter’s data — was no longer a good baseline for comparison, and the data coming via the CRM just didn’t provide an accurate picture of the pipeline.
The shifting economy magnified these challenges and made everything harder. The result was an unpredictable forecast that made double-digit swings in accuracy from quarter to quarter.
Upwork needed real-time data for every deal in their pipeline so the sales team could forecast consistently and reliably. With the help of Gong Forecast, Korab got everyone working in one application where they had access to deal health data and AI that highlighted risks and told them where they were going off track.
Here’s how Upwork’s GTM team now uses Gong to run their weekly forecasting process:
- Daily: Reps and managers use the Deal Board for pipeline inspection, and to update their opportunity progress and forecast categories (all syncing back to CRM). Gong’s deal warnings proactively alert the team to red flags and risk in their pipeline, pressure testing the quality of their commit.
- Wednesday: Gong automatically reminds sales managers to submit their forecast, and gives them a simple submission panel to update their forecast.
- Thursday: Directors, managers, and Ops review the current month and 90-day forecast in Gong. Using Trends and Gong Projection, the team quickly checks if they’re on track. Changes help the team understand which deals moved each week and why. And Deal Boards allow the senior managers and Ops to verify the quality of every deal in the forecast, with AI highlighting risk, helping validate the integrity of the team forecast.
- Friday: The team supplements the bottom-up forecast with top-down pacing and WoW analysis, reviewed by senior management.
“With Gong,” Korab said, “we see every step of the sales process.” This advanced visibility means the GTM team can make better business decisions about which opportunities to prioritize and whether or not to include certain deals in their forecast. Integrated data immediately tells the team if their approach is effective, so they’re never waiting on results.
Korab says, “Working with Gong lets us run a predictable revenue organization, reduce the number of tools in our tech stack, and save tons of time on forecasting.”
Sales forecasts take 50% less time, with 100% of reps reporting
According to Gong’s Reality of Forecasting Report 2022, only 22% of sales professionals say their forecasting process is efficient. That’s a problem for companies that are scaling. It prevents them from making quick business decisions about resource allocations, strategic directions, etc.
Before using Gong Forecast, Upwork’s forecasting process was archaic and time-consuming. It involved Google spreadsheets, Salesforce reports, and “a ton of rep sentiment,” and ate up a minimum of six hours per week across five meetings involving multiple people. Managers were constantly wasting hours chasing reps over data entry.
Forecast halved that time. “It got us into a routine. Now we focus on achieving our forecast instead of agonizing over whether we included the right numbers.”
Gong reminds reps to fill in their forecast, which may seem trivial, but it creates a clockwork routine that everyone understands. Korab says that, “Today, 100% of reps submit their forecast on time. It used to be that 75% was a good week. Now the platform does the chasing for us,” says Korab. That’s part of how Upwork increased their sales forecasting accuracy to 95%.
The team can call numbers confidently and accurately because they’re based on integrated and accurate data. “We give every C-suite member access to Gong because we trust the numbers,” says Korab. Mike Schaffer, the VP of Revenue Operations at Upwork says, “Instead of attending endless meetings, I’ve delegated inspections to my team. It’s one less thing I have to worry about. I trust the numbers I get from them.”
Gong provides priceless accuracy in any economy
Gong Forecast has changed how the RevOps team feels about the numbers they put forward. “I jump into the Trends tab every day,” says Korab. “ It helps me make reliable business decisions in real time, on a daily basis. I assess my sales forecast accuracy against 90-day historical wins, which I’ve found to be reliable in this economic environment. In Gong, I see those numbers at a glance.”
Not only are the company’s sales forecasts 95% accurate while they scale, the RevOps team has the real-time feedback it needs about GTM initiatives. They can take their initiatives forward with confidence, knowing they have the means to ensure each initiative’s success.
As Schaffer put it, “I can’t tell you how these economically uncertain times will turn out, but I know that we’ll be in a better position to face them because of the partnership we’ve built with Gong.”
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