Magazine article CRM Magazine

Yahoo Sees Crystal-Clear Sales Forecasts with C9 Analytics: Sales Operations Shift Focus from Number-Crunching to Pipeline Analysis

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Yahoo Sees Crystal-Clear Sales Forecasts with C9 Analytics: Sales Operations Shift Focus from Number-Crunching to Pipeline Analysis

Article excerpt

Yahoo counts on close to 1,000 salespeople, account managers, and sales leaders to sell advertising that accounts for nearly all the revenue of the Internet company, which has a network of Web sites on topics such as news, sports, and finance, as well as services such as Yahoo Mail. But when it came to forecasting advertising revenue, the company faltered.

"Forecasting was a weekly disaster here," remembers Patrick O'Leary, senior director of sales operations and effectiveness. Accuracy was questionable, with different salespeople sometimes using numbers pulled from the booking information at different times. "We had the same conversation each week, arguing about the numbers," O'Leary says.

After trying both a homegrown forecasting solution and an Excel version, in June 2012, the Yahoo sales operation team tested C9, which provides pipeline visibility and improved forecasting. Within three weeks, it had plans to roll it out across its North American operations.

C9's biggest asset wasn't providing more precise forecasts, but rather making it dramatically easier for salespeople to do their jobs. Before C9, if a forecast changed by $500,000 from one week to the next, it would take an "archaeological dig" to find out why, O'Leary says. With C9, a graph and list displays all the changes in the past week, making it easy to pinpoint the root cause of any revenue difference.

Implementing C9 led to a cultural shift as well. "People started talking about the size and shape of the pipeline in the forecast," O'Leary says, enabling them to step back and analyze the forecast instead of just creating it. Individual salespeople saved two hours a week, and managers saved at least four hours a week. That added up to five full-time-equivalent positions on the sales side and one on the management side.

C9 also has applications that help benchmark results against past performance. …

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