Sales Leaders Turn to Artificial Intelligence to Drive Resiliency Amid Volatility

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has left businesses scrambling to manage cashflows and drive continuity amid rapid and radical disruption. With liquidity top of mind, finance leaders are re-evaluating cash positions and making real-time adjustments to revenue and profit models in order to mitigate their organization’s exposure. This landscape has put added pressure on sales leaders who must steer business forward by delivering revenue commitments in the face of evolving market conditions and customer needs.

Reinvent Your Sales Strategies

Already, market volatility has seen deals delayed and contracts frozen causing massive disruption to the pipeline. Buying behaviors have shifted drastically as organizations focus on shoring up cash and consumers stay home. With traditional revenue streams threatened, sales leaders must reinvent their strategies for uncovering new opportunities to maintain pipeline without increasing spend.

Start by leveraging more predictive buyer insights, then open up the lines of communication with your CFO. This will help you refocus your sales and marketing teams on opportunities that will set your business up to accelerate quickly when markets rebound.

Leverage External Insights to Optimize Your Pipeline

As circumstances continue to evolve and revenue streams shift, being able to identify which deals in your pipeline are likely to close will help sales leaders make strategic pipeline decisions that optimize resources and maximize revenue. Normally a manual, time-consuming process, knowing which opportunities to prioritize often requires overreliance on historical data and subjective information from the sales team. With buying behaviors shifting rapidly and external factors changing on a daily basis, pipeline analysis and re-prioritization must happen quickly—and involve external insights—to be effective.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help enrich data that an organization has collected internally with predictive, third-party attributes. Instead of relying on historical data to optimize pipeline, sales leaders can leverage robust analytics and insights to prioritize deals with a higher likelihood of closing. Balancing external insights with internal data will make it easier for sales leaders to jettison bad fit deals early in the sales cycle and focus the right resources on the right opportunities, which in turn will motivate sellers and drive business forward. These external insights will also help marketing teams focus their efforts on winnable customers and orchestrate campaigns that align with the organization’s adjusted go-to-market strategy.  

Leverage Real-Time Modeling Capabilities 

While sales leaders work to optimize the pipeline and marketing teams realign their campaigns, finance leaders are making real-time decisions across the board in order to stabilize cashflows and mitigate risk. These changes to corporate objectives and financial priorities will quickly trickle down to the sales organization, and sales leaders must be prepared to revise territories, re-calculate quotas and make adjustments to sales capacity.

Accounting for unknown variables during times of increased instability can prove nearly impossible, but sales leaders must be ready to act on the fly when change occurs in order to keep business moving forward. Advanced modeling and scenario planning capabilities that incorporate predictive intelligence arm sales leaders with the ability to tie external insights with real-time data from across the organization into their existing models and plans. That way they can model outcomes against a number of evolving variables and better anticipate any necessary adjustments as operational and financial priorities shift within the business.

Break Down Organizational Siloes

With an increased focus on liquidity and cashflow, sales leaders will need to work in lockstep with their CFO to stay abreast of the rapidly changing landscape and ensure forecasts remain on target. With teams working remotely, cloud technologies will become even more critical to ensure operational decisions are synchronized and planning cycles are reduced. A single, unified platform to manage sales plans and consolidate insights from across the organization will help sales leaders quickly communicate sales performance to the rest of the business and provide finance leaders with a more accurate revenue forecast.

Breaking down siloed decision making will help ensure finance, sales and marketing teams have a line of sight into real-time information around sales projections, pipeline adjustments, campaign spend and company performance, which will make it easier for businesses to anticipate market changes and pivot when needed to maximize revenue and improve liquidity.

As global markets continue to swing and buying behaviors are disrupted, sales leaders will have to act quickly and strategically to adjust their forecasts and plans. That is why it is more important than ever to balance internal assessments with external insights, particularly related to revenue plans and sales forecasts. Additionally, open lines of communication between finance, sales and marketing will not only help mitigate risk and maintain solvency in the near-term, but ensure the business is set up to accelerate out of the curve quickly with new opportunities that will contribute to a successful long-term recovery.

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