How Motorola improved its sales forecasting process

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It seems unimaginable in today’s hyper-competitive business environment that over 50% of sales leaders say the data used in their sales forecast is inaccurate, 57% indicated that sales forecasting is not reliable, and 54% are seeking to speed up the sales forecasting process. And yet, that’s what Ventana Research revealed in a recent report.

Having an accurate and trustworthy sales forecast is critical to increase revenue, facilitate better profitability, and drive growth, especially in a climate of change. And in this Hub 2015 conference session, “Motorola Solutions and Accurate Sales Forecasting,” Bill Cate, Senior Director of Global Operations for Motorola, shared how Motorola Solutions uses Anaplan to achieve these goals.

From Normandy Beach to the moon and beyond

Cate started off this entertaining session with a brief recap of Motorola’s accomplishments over its 85 year history—from supplying communications to Allied troops during the invasion of Normandy to helping NASA stay connected with astronaut Neil Armstrong during his historic moon landing. Since then, Motorola has deployed over 12,000 mission critical networks in over 100 countries. Today, Motorola Solutions produces public safety and government products used by emergency responder such as police and fire departments. They also develop analog and digital two-way radio, voice and data communications products and systems, wireless LAN security, and mobile computing, among others. “We’re in the business of helping people be their best in the moments that matter,” said Cate.

Three key challenges and drivers

Motorola Services is clearly an undisputed global technology leader. Yet, in order to remain so, the organization recognized the need to overhaul its sales forecasting process. Perhaps your company shares a similar experience with Motorola. If so, it may be time for you to revisit the accuracy and efficiency of your sales forecasting process. Here are three signs it may be time to make a change:

  • Thousands of sales reps spread across globally dispersed regions, operating under multiple sales cycles, resulting in time consuming forecasting processes
  • Complex sales cycles of 18 months or more
  • Difficulty creating a revenue forecast in a dynamic and competitive business environment

With approximately 2,000 sales people across five different global regions and 800 partners situated in those regions, operating under two separate sales cycles, the forecasting process had become a time-consuming challenge. One of Motorola’s sales cycles was especially complex, entailing long term order opportunities lasting as long as three years. And, applied to these long cycle order opportunities were the revenue that went with it—also taking up to three years. Thus, creating a revenue forecast in this environment became difficult, something Salesforce—one of the platforms they use to manage the business—was not able to handle on its own. So Motorola turned to Anaplan for a solution.

Compounding existing challenges were Motorola’s divestitures and acquisitions. In parallel with implementing Anaplan, Motorola needed to do a total revamp of Salesforce, which was already deployed globally. Motorola’s goal was to simplify the sales forecast process for their salespeople, so this integration with Salesforce was vital. The key driver for Motorola was to build an environment that adds value so that using Salesforce and Anaplan would seem like the same process. According to Cate, “When you’re in Salesforce and you click on the opportunity tab, you want to do your opportunities. When you click the forecasting tab, you want to go into Anaplan and have it be a relatively seamless experience.” In addition, beyond just putting a forecast in, the salespeople will have visibility into their pipeline in ways they haven’t seen before—such as insight into opportunity progression, conversion history, and prioritization of deals based on metrics and how they’re forecasted.

How do you find somebody who can do this?

After mapping out where they were and where they wanted to get to with the desired outcomes, Cate went on to describe the challenge of finding the right vendor to provide all the services and solutions Motorola required. This due diligence process turned out to be an eye-opening learning experience for Cate, who discovered that failing to differentiate “forecasting” from “sales forecasting” brought in a totally different, and off-target, set of vendors and consultants pitching for his business. And of course, there were the big kids on the block, such as Oracle and SAP, with all of their complexities to consider. But with just a couple of demos and a proof of concept test, Anaplan was able convince Motorola’s global sales operations directors in no uncertain terms that they had found their “unicorn”.

Final Takeaways

In conclusion, here are the key lessons learned from Motorola:

  • Simplify the sales forecast process for sales people
  • Build an environment fit for integrating processes and software (i.e., Salesforce and Anaplan working seamlessly together)
  • Beyond the forecast, achieve visibility into the sales pipeline in ways you haven’t seen before
    • Such as insight into the opportunity progression, conversion history, and prioritization of deals based on metrics and how they’re forecasted
  • Map out where you are today and where you want to get to with desired outcomes
  • Never fail to differentiate sales forecasting from forecasting, or risk wasting time dealing with off-target pitches and proposals
  • Perform due diligence when reviewing vendors for asking for demos and requiring a proof of concept test

Check out this case study to learn more about how Motorola eliminated disparate processes to achieve a single view of its sales forecast.

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