Quarterback your QBRs with PreSales Insights to Forecast Deals that Actually Close

Football play diagram
Sam Wortman September 29, 2021

Sales Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) are often seen as a necessary evil to generate forecasts for the upcoming quarter that salespeople find time-consuming and extremely difficult to stick to. While PreSales teams have an uncanny pulse on what actually has a chance of closing, their involvement in the process tends to be passive at best and non-existent at worst. This leads to unrealistic forecasts, unnecessary friction among Sales and PreSales, and ultimately, wasted time.

Luckily, there’s a better way. PreSales insights help you run Sales QBRs like an NFL head coach on a Sunday afternoon—calling plays (and making forecasts) backed by hard data that lead to first down conversions and Ws (or technical wins and revenue). 

How is a typical Sales QBR run?

Sales QBRs can look different depending on the company, organization, and flavors of revenue leadership. Generally, Sales teams kick off a new fiscal quarter with lengthy meetings, often lasting all day for several days, during which they strive to map out territories, rank accounts, stake out opportunities, review deals, set salespeople up to hit their quotas and company targets. It’s a lot of pressure, and while many participants wish they had a crystal ball, they are left with their gut feelings and are forced to place siloed bets. Sales looks at the last quarter with a magnifying glass, reviews what worked and what needs to be improved, and then maps out the next quarter and what it will take for it to be a success. Essentially, Sales QBRs are a forecast and visibility exercise into what’s coming down the pipeline towards teams.

Who’s typically at the QBR table? Sales leadership, Sales teams, Account Executives (AEs), Sales Development Representatives (SDRs), and sometimes but not always, PreSales and other cross-functional teams like Product, Marketing, Services, and more. 

Sales QBRs need a makeover

A successful Sales QBR meeting results in arming Sales with the insights and metrics they need to increase and maximize sales in their territory. Yet most Sales QBRs fail to use hard data and rely on emotions to predict the likelihood of a deal to close. When Sales leadership, Sales teams, and AEs make their bets on deals for the quarter without hard data, they are gambling when making their predictions. Making the quarter ends up being a function of luck with “Hail Mary” deals saving the day.

When PreSales is at the table, they are more often than not a silent participant, little relied upon assets; however, they are the very professionals who possess the ability to fact-check an AE’s gut feelings that guide most deal forecasts. When Sales leadership, Sales teams, and AEs make their bets on deals for the quarter without hard data, they contribute to the growing disconnect between the data PreSales relies on and the salesperson’s predictions that are based off their emotions. This leads to unrealistic forecast expectations and sets up the entire organization for failure. 

How Vivun has changed the QBR game

While Vivun’s Sales QBR format is fairly standard—deal reviews, territory plan presentations, highlights from bets made the previous quarter—there is a fundamental and material difference from other traditional Sales QBRs. Our AEs work hand-in-hand with their SE counterparts throughout the quarter as well as during the Sales QBR process to make sure everyone is on the same page about deals and the likelihood for them to close. We take out the guesswork—the gut feelings—and replace it with hard data and metrics on deals that are surfaced in our platform Hero by Vivun®.

Compare Sales commits to the PreSales stage of a deal

We use Hero’s technical funnel to act as a reality check against forecasts prone to “happy ears”. The technical funnel categorizes deals by which PreSales stage they are in—Discovery, Research, Demo, Proof of Concept, Scoping, Technical Win, Technical Loss, Implementation, and beyond. It’s fully customizable, so you can outfit your funnel with the PreSales stages that most closely align with your process; however, the PreSales stages in the tutorial video below are what we use as best practice. 

Technical Funnel in Hero by Vivun®

The PreSales stages not only organize your opportunities but provide a timeline for each deal, and you can see how close deals are to securing the technical win. Revenue becomes more predictable when you can measure the time it takes a deal to achieve the technical win. For example, if Sales is forecasting a deal to secure the technical win within a few weeks, but the deal is only in the Demo stage that’s a red flag that the forecast is inaccurate. 

Inspect the technical strength of a deal with the Hero Score®

Making better forecasts relies on having solid data. The Hero Score® embodies this concept. The Hero Score® acts as the real-time technical conscience of a deal—the pulse of an opportunity. It’s based on the opportunity team’s data and how similar deals have performed in the past. The explainability of the AI makes the score highly actionable. The descriptions provide insights into why the opportunity is ranking in such a way and what can be done to increase the probability that it will close.

The Hero Score® in Hero by Vivun®

This is why in our Sales QBRs, Sales leadership, AEs, and SEs all use the Hero Score® when making sales forecasts and bets for the quarter. If the Hero Score® makes a strong case for why the deal will not close without certain product gaps being filled, while an AE still says they feel the deal will close soon, this data point is brought into focus and acts as another reality check. This is just another example of the benefits of involving SEs in the Sales QBR process. 

According to one of our AEs, Rachel Jepsen, “In Vivun’s Sales QBRs, SE participation is welcomed and expected. When I put together my deck and make my bets for the year, I always consult my notes from my internal conversations with SEs as well as review the data points in Hero like the Hero Score® and Presales concern. There’s an expectation that each AE has an in-depth understanding of the SE perspective.”

Jepsen works directly with SE, Taylor Bukowski. Bukowski reports similar sentiments, “Vivun’s Sales QBRs have led SEs to have better conversations with Sales, as they’re partners in the Sales cycles versus just being used as “resource”. The overall engagement of SEs in the Sales QBRs has dramatically improved with our use of Hero. We are not only mentioned specifically on deals we worked on, but we also get to see the Hero Scores® and PreSales concerns that came up in deals. We are treated as partners in the QBRs instead of just participants.”

This healthy collaboration between AE and SE extends beyond laying the foundation for effective Sales QBR meetings and guarantees a better purchasing experience for the buyer and the chance to consistently accelerate revenue.

PreSales concerns about deals

The third way we transformed our Sales QBRs is with data surrounding the concerns SEs have about various deals. SEs work directly with buyers and are privy to the many reasons that a deal may never close, whether it’s because of timing, competitors, pricing, political alignment, and more. Many of our AEs echoed a similar view that having access to the concerns of the SE running point on a deal improved the quality and accuracy of their forecasts. In Hero, SEs and AEs can create lists of deals and filter them by PreSales concerns in real-time so each stakeholder is aware of the health of the deal and potential issues. You can also simultaneously add the Hero Score®, what PreSales stage a deal is in, and several other filters to list views that allow you to create a comprehensive, data-driven overview of a deal.

List View of Opportunities in Hero by Vivun®

Bukowski also noted, “I’ve noticed that a lot of AEs I work with, saw various risk that came up in deals over the quarter (whether it be gaps logged, Hero Scores®, PreSales concerns, or what stage a deal is in relative to the tech win) and have adjusted their process and tactics based on what we learned while working on deals together. If a PreSales concern of timing is consistently coming up in their deals, I’ve seen reps react to that and push harder on creating MAPs or adhering to deadlines, etc.”

Making your QBRs count

When Sales leadership, AEs, and SEs work together more deals are won and forecasts are precise and on target. The many features of Hero make compiling and utilizing PreSales data in Sales QBRs as easy as breathing. Fostering this cross-functional partnership across all necessary teams and stakeholders is the key to leading effective Sales QBRs and turning bets into Ws on game day. 

Sign up for a demo of Hero by Vivun® and surface all the PreSales insights you need to run a successful Sales QBR!

Sam Wortman September 29, 2021