Forecast 2016 Highlights: Part 2

Last week we took a look back at some of our favorite moments from the first three sessions of Forecast 2016. Now, it’s time for part 2 of our Forecast recap!

Sales Transformation in a Data-Driven World

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After lunch, Force Management Managing Partner John Kaplan strolled through the crowd while he discussed building and scaling an elite sales organization in a data-driven world. Kaplan shared his belief that one of the most critical components of sales success today is understanding the intersection between human intuition and data.

The ability to navigate this intersection helps sales leaders answer what Kaplan outlined as the four essential sales questions: 1) What problems do you solve for your customers? 2) How specifically do you solve them? 3) How do you solve them differently or better than anybody else? 4) Where have you done it before? Answering these questions isn’t easy, but doing so enables businesses to best position their solutions and close the right customers.

Analytics-Driven Sales Leadership

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Box SVP of Sales Lesley Young, DataHug VP of Sales Russ Hearl and Node.io VP of Revenue Daniel Barber took the stage with moderator TOPO Co-founder and Chief Analyst Craig Rosenberg for the second panel of the day. Daniel poignantly pointed out that sales leaders everywhere are still striving to achieve what has been deemed an acceptable 20% win rate, when in actuality, this means that companies are losing 4 out of 5 days a week!

So how can companies increase efficiencies and break through this 20% status quo? According to Russ, every business has signals that can be correlated to various events in its sales process, and understanding the significance of these signals leads to better conversions. To illustrate this point, Lesley shared a story of how her team at Box was able to go beyond the call to “row harder” by creating a task force to examine various points throughout the sales process, which led to a successful data-driven account pursuit strategy.

Beyond the Hype: How Data Transforms the World of B2B Software

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Next up, Base VP of Marketing Erich Ziegler led a discussion around the ways that data is changing B2B software with Brightfunnel CEO Nadim Hossain, Gainsight CEO Nick Mehta and Radius SVP of Customer Success Jen Mingo. As these industry experts shared, the past several years have seen big data and B2B software develop in such a way that every part of the organization, from sales and marketing to customer service, can better understand and connect the dots across the entire customer journey.

As Jen said when reflecting on the future of business software, “Data is how people make their decisions and become smarter as an organization.” So what’s the next? According to the group, the future lies in prescriptive insights. As technology continues to progress, platforms will be able to give businesses insight into the exact actions they can take to achieve specific results – and even automate these actions.

The Evolution of Business Software: From Databases to Insights

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The last panel of the day saw two Silicon Valley VCs come together to share their perspectives on the growing business software market. Tom Tunguz of Redpoint Ventures, Shardul Shah of Index Ventures and moderator Jason Heltzer from Origin Ventures discussed how insights are now required to have an effective rapport with today’s self-educated customers. Of course, as they went on to point out, the insights your team can glean are only as good as the data your business collects.

The group then discussed some of the common mistakes many companies make when starting to take a data-driven approach, as well as offered advice around measuring success and winning with data. According to Tunguz, the number one sales metric where companies tend to make a mistake is lifetime value, which is difficult and time-intensive to measure. Instead, he recommends zeroing in on MRR growth, quota attainment and payback period.

Building a Scalable Sales Process from the Ground-up

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To close out the day, Base CEO and Co-founder Uzi Shmilovici reclaimed the stage to talk with Andreessen Horowitz Partner Mark Cranney about what leading companies should consider when building out their sales organizations. What’s the number one thing Mark looks for when hiring a head of sales? Someone who has built a sales playbook. In fact, if Mark were interviewing a prospective head of sales and could ask only one question, he would ask about his or her sales process.

It’s important to note that Mark wasn’t talking about any old process – he was talking about an extremely granular process with a detailed mapping of every stage in the sales pipeline. Putting this type of plan into place and measuring it consistently over time will enable businesses to better predict and improve sales performance. Because the only thing worse than losing a deal is not seeing it coming!

Save Your Spot for Forecast 2017!

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That’s a wrap! If you attended this year’s conference, we’d love to hear about your favorite moments and suggestions for improvement in the comments section below. On that note, Forecast 2017 will be here before you know it – grab your pre-sale tickets below!

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