The beginning of a new year – be it a calendar year or a fiscal year – is the perfect time to reflect. We look back on where we’ve been and make ambitious plans for the future. This annual ritual is a normal part of life. Of course, in the world of sales – and the world at large – 2021 was nowhere near normal. As disorienting as the past year was, however, 2022 presents a fresh opportunity to pivot and grow, responding to all the changes we’ve witnessed in how people and businesses buy.
How, though, can businesses confidently carve their path forward?
Some businesses expand the different types of sales channels they offer – bolstering self-service buying options and investing in channel strategies. Others explore new sales models – developing from traditional one-time sales to subscription, usage, and consumption models or even milestone-based billing. Still, others experiment with new products and services – trying out different packaging bundles and flexible configurations, even with the most complex bills of material. But any one of these changes can be hard to drive forward.
These transformational shifts in revenue strategy require connecting a ton of data across various systems that span the front and back office. And once the business commits to these changes, it can be a huge undertaking to ensure the selling teams are aligned with these new revenue strategies.
I recently had an opportunity to discuss today’s sales-based challenges with Chief Revenue Officer Mollie Spilman, who leads the advertising and marketing portfolio for Oracle Advertising and CX. She shared her insights on how businesses can drive revenue growth in 2022.
“Our challenge as revenue leaders can pretty much always be summed up into one thing,” says Spilman. “Keeping up with what our customers need, when they need it, and how they want to buy it. Everything else is just details that change – and they will always change.”
As a CRO, Spilman is continuously striving to “gain a clearer understanding of our customers,” then mapping that understanding to what her team should be doing to successfully connect with buyers and supply solutions to their challenges.
“That’s been quite an adventure over the past couple years,” Spilman adds. She notes her team has had to “keep up with changing buyer preferences and a transition to primarily digital engagement channels for most – if not all – of our sales cycles.”
In 2022, Spilman notes that CROs and businesses need a clear strategy to gather “all the data they need to steer the business to revenue growth.”
“For years, revenue leaders looked to the fabled ‘customer 360’ as the key to getting the visibility we need,” says Spilman. “But it’s not enough to know how customers are being marketed to, sold to, and serviced long term. It’s not even enough to know how that connects to their interactions with billing and order fulfillment.”
“Today, we need a layer of intelligence that spans all these sources of data – that looks at historical data and real-time data and gives us prescriptive guidance to help drive our strategies,” says Spilman. “Things we’ve been able to do for a while, we can now do even better. We know with more precision who to target, when, and with what offers.”
“But, more excitingly,” she adds, “we can get completely new insights to drive decisions about things like new business models, sales compensation structures, account plans, etc.”
According to Spilman, this data-driven approach can make a significant impact by improving the seller experience.
“We’ve got an incredible team of sellers at Oracle, and it’s very rewarding to be able to equip them with all the information and direction they need to be successful,” she says. The key, from a leadership perspective, is “making data-driven decisions about quotas and territories and compensation plans and planning out really prescriptive approaches to our accounts,” she adds.
“Having all this visibility into the forecast, using predictive models to get a true sense of how we’re performing against how we should be performing – it all comes together to give my sales leaders new opportunities to provide better coaching and guidance to keep deals on track,” Spilman concludes.
“Right now,” she says, “revenue leaders should be focusing on these areas as part of our investment in retaining our top sales talent.”
In 2022, revenue leaders can no longer rely on a CRM system alone to create, track, project, and predict sales performance. Developing a unified strategy for planning and performance management requires input from ERP applications as well.
This, in a nutshell, is revenue transformation: the integration of your CRM, sales performance management and planning, CPQ, and subscription management systems, combined with your financial applications.
This strategy is generating a lot of buzz among business leaders as they navigate the changing customer landscape. According to Ventana Research VP and Research Director Stephen Hurrell, “Through 2023, the revenue management software category will evolve into the essential suite of applications and platform designed for a CRO and supporting organizations to effectively optimize revenue across all channels.”
But effective revenue optimization requires a solid sales performance management strategy at its core. Start your revenue journey off strong with our guide to Essential Strategies for Sales Performance Management.
Heather Sieberg is a senior product management professional focused on product strategy for Oracle Sales. Her day-to-day responsibilities include creating content and strategy for Sales Planning and Sales Performance Management, as well as managing the Oracle Sales CAB program. You can reach her at email@example.com.