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Take your sales forecasting to the next level with the Forecast Maturity Model
If there is one thing guaranteed in any business, its change.
Whether it is by external, economic factors like market shifts, competitor entries and exits, and customer needs, or internal constituents like growth, improvements, or product adjustments… At some point, everyone will need to account for some sort of change.
However, any sort of change will have a ripple effect on your sales forecast. Even if you constantly focus on making your forecasting more accurate, any (planned or unplanned) shift in business strategy can throw your forecast way off.
How to improve your SaaS Forecasting Process
So how can you maintain an efficient, accurate forecast while your business matures, grows, scales, and enters new markets with new products and new business models?
How do you alleviate the pains of your sales and ops teams while gaining the data that you need to make accurate predictions?
It all starts with a roadmap. You need to see exactly where you are today, as well as where the next steps take you as change occurs.
Enter the Forecasting Maturity Model.
Every business has different forecasting needs, depending on how advanced it is. Using the Forecasting Maturity Model, you can not only pinpoint exactly what you need to make the most accurate forecasts right now but also what will be required as you advance to the next step.
Progression through the Forecasting Maturity Model
Each model step includes the calculations, strategies, processes, metrics, and tools necessary to succeed. As you progress through the model, your forecasting becomes more complex and advanced but also more accurate.
BoostUp CEO Sharad Verma explains the model here:
The Forecasting Maturity Model in action
To see how the progression through the maturity model works, we’ve had the pleasure of hosting revenue leaders from both Sisense and Canva on our Revenue Masterclass Series.
How Mark Turner of Canva forecasts
Mark Turner, Global Head of Sales Operations and Enablement at Canva says that at their current point, only Stage Two of the Forecasting Maturity curve is necessary. But his past roles at Sapient and Acquia were four and three, respectively.
Sapient utilized over 10 years of sales data in advanced forecasting calculations that leveraged historical calculations and were extremely rigorous. The team has three to four calls per week dedicated to forecasting and utilizes a sales stage-driven method to calculate the forecast as accurately as possible.
Similarly, Acquia had a more lightweight historical model, with two calls per week devoted to forecasting. They leveraged a consistent process of reviewing risk, examining the week-over-week changes, and analyzing the variance in the forecast.
When it comes to Canva, which is early in its forecasting journey, they use a more lightweight, manager-verified model, which works for now but Mark recognizes the need to be more forward-facing.
So, he’s using the Forecasting Maturity Model to plan for the future. Looking to the next step, Mark will institute a bottom-up and top-down forecasting approach, that includes the pipeline and looks to the next quarter as well.
How Mike Sitter of Sisense forecasts
Mike Sitter, VP of Business Operations of Sisense also offers examples of his forecasting progression.
It initially began as a bottom-up forecast based on deal probabilities assigned by each AE, as well as a weighted pipeline. These were not tied to any stage or category definitions or had any sort of standardization.
There was a single forecasting call each week made by senior sales leaders, who examined the current month and quarter on data collected in Google Sheets and consolidated in Sisense dashboards.
The result was a forecast accuracy of less than 80%, a lack of shared visibility on the forecast or roll-ups, and the inability to ‘stress test’ the forecast with standard KPIs for pipeline coverage, stage progression, and so on.
Similarly to Canva, when they wanted to move to the next step, Mike and the Sisense team first wanted to be able to plan for the next quarter as well.
One of the ways Sisense moved from one stage to the next was by adopting BoostUp. Now, with an AI-powered forecasting platform, they gain deep insights into every component of their forecast.
They now have forecast roll-ups separated by new logo, expansion, and upsell while leveraging statistical modeling of in-quarter created and closed opportunities. They leverage collaborative forecasting with input from every team, including sales engineers to validate the placement of deals in the stage/forecast category.
Another key metric they will be using is a "stage-based weighted pipeline" to enforce sales process discipline and assign fixed probability scoring based on the sales stage. This will give them a much higher forecasting accuracy and pipeline coverage.
As Sisense launched BoostUp, they received requests from sales engineering, marketing, customer success, BDRs, and other teams to get access to get complete visibility into each deal and associated activity and risk.
Mixing the model and your own business needs
Of course, no two organizations are the same, and therefore there is no one-size-fits-all approach to forecasting.
So, when it comes to the Forecasting Maturity Model, it's important to consider your own business needs. Namely, this is your business model, sales process, and the metrics that matter to your organization.
When it comes to 6sense, Korey Geyer, their VP of Revenue Operations felt that marketing metrics are just as important as sales and success metrics for forecasting. These metrics include:
- Advertising View Thru Rate
- Unique Web Visitors by Page
- Program Engagement by Persona
- Campaign Influence Amount
- Unique Contacts Influenced
They are included in forecasting to get an idea of the pipeline along with sales and success metrics like:
- Pipe Coverage
- Forecast History
- Velocity Risk
That way, Marketing knows how many MQLs they will create and pass to sales, and sales can understand just how much pipeline that will help them build.
When you consider your business you should also consider your process, and how to involve your sellers within it.
Kory says that team involvement is a key driver for them in achieving forecasting rigor through discipline and a defined process. This, in turn, helps them become more accurate in the forecast and advance up the forecast maturity curve.
Want to experience BoostUp for yourself? Take the self-guided product tour.
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