Forecasting Strategies for Sales Ops with Michaela Downs, Head of Sales Operations at Benchling

This week we are talking to Michaela Downs, Head of Sales Operations at Benchling. Based on her seven-year expertise in sales operations, Michaela shares strategies to create an efficient sales ops team for the first time. 

Listen to Michaela share her forecasting metrics, approach, and her top-rated tech stack for operational excellence. 

Michaela’s journey into sales ops 

Michaela started her journey as an Accounts Manager at Polyvore and worked in the same position for one year. But soon she explored her passion for sales operations and started her journey as a Sales Operations Manager in the same organization. 

Michaela has worked for renowned companies such as Yahoo as a Senior Manager ofSales Operations & Insights, PSafe Brazil as a Sales Operations Consultant, and Samba TV as a Director of Business & Sales Operations. She currently works at Benchling as the Head of Sales Operations.  

Benchling sales operation team structure

Michaela’s sales ops team at Benchling consists of twenty-five account executives and four sales managers. Sales managers are responsible for four fundamentals of sales ops, including productivity tools management, sales enablement, sales deal desk, and forecasting.

Overview of Benchling tech stack

Michaela uses Salesforce, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Clearbit, Zoom, Mixmax, RFPIO, Highspot, and PandaDoc for sales excellence at Benchling. 

The remote sales experience of Benchling

Benchlings’ teams are based in Switzerland, Germany, France, and the UK, and Michaela used to frequently visit her teams in different locations. However, during COVID-19, Michaela says that her team very quickly transitioned to remote working, and now she uses Zoom and Airtable to connect with her teams. 

Michaela considers remote transition as adventurous, as she believes that technology and automation are the future of businesses.

Michaela shares that Benchlings’ sales targets and milestones haven’t been changed throughout COVID-19. However, she would want to go back to resuming their customer relationships campaigns such as webinars, summits, and official dinners.

Forecasting sales at Benchling

Michaela uses two major techniques of forecasting; bottom-up forecasting and rolling forecasting through the Salesforce forecasting app. These forecasting techniques run through three major variables of sales and revenue forecasting; 

1. New customer acquisition

2. Existing customer renewal terms

3. Changing order opportunities 

Based on the data-driven forecasting results, sales reps are assigned to follow the most relevant targets and timelines. The Post-sales delivery metric for Michaela is analyzing the sales cycle and deal size variations monthly. 

Michaela further emphasizes the significance of forecasting as it provides sales ops managers with an idea of where the revenue will land monthly, quarterly, bi-annually, and annually. Based on the targets oriented forecast, the complete customer pipeline is created. 

No#1 sales metric: sales velocity analysis

Michaela shares sales velocity analysis as her favorite metric. It provides sales ops personnel the ability to diagnose issues in aggregated customers pipeline.” 

Michaela also shares her formula of analyzing sales velocity. 

The formula of sales gauging sales velocity: Sales velocity x (opportunities + average deal size + win rate for time-1) / average sales cycle.

Michaela’s biggest influence 

Who in the sales operation world Michaela Downs most like to take for lunch?

Key resources 

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Tom Hunt

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