The biggest mistake revenue teams make: the wrong data

A lack of unified collaboration prevents companies from becoming data-driven, but the rise of a new framework is improving efficiency, predictability and growth across the revenue process

With data having been crowned the world’s most valuable commodity by top economists and business experts over the past decade, it’s easy to see how the data revolution we’ve been living through has caused global companies to invest millions, if not billions, of pounds in the ultimate goal: becoming a data-driven business. Yet this is an accomplishment that most will not achieve.

Why so much promise and so little payoff? Unlike commodities like diamonds or oil, value doesn’t come from having the most data, but rather having the right data, at the right time, and knowing what to do with it.

Data is used to help leaders gain control over their businesses. The irony is that most teams are swimming in overwhelming amounts of data and don’t know which metrics to pay attention to. When individual departments look at different data sets, they unwittingly create silos based on their own perception of the data they happened to choose. As inconsistencies spread across departments, the entire company slowly deteriorates.

The better our data is, the better our conversations and coaching sessions are at every level – from managers and reps all the way up to our executive team

Operationalising growth

The growing trend of data overload and a lack of collaboration, exacerbated by a pandemic that forced teams into home offices, has fuelled the rise of revenue operations. This is the idea that go-to-market teams should collaborate as a simple entity, working towards the same key performance indicators and operating from the same data set.

“For a long time people have thought of revenue as, frankly, just an outcome,” says Andy Byrne, co-founder and CEO of Clari, the revenue operations leader. “The truth is it’s actually a business process that should be streamlined and automated, and have the same level of transparency and rigour that you would expect from any other business process. Because it’s not just any business process – it’s the most important process in every company. And yet it’s the most antiquated and the last to be transformed by technology.”

The weak performance and even plummeting stocks of some of tech’s most promising companies paints a grim picture for leadership who haven’t mastered the use of data. TripAdvisor’s stocks took a tumble after a missed earnings call leading to the departure of its CEO, Stitch Fix stocks fell 23% after poor quarterly sales, and low earnings ignited a significant drop in Alibaba stock. Meanwhile, Clari’s revenue-data focused customers recorded new highs. As of January 2022, 80 companies achieved unicorn status valuations north of $1bn, and 27 firms went public after implementing Clari’s revenue operations software.

Gaining traction

Results from early adopters have propelled the revenue operations framework up the business agenda. Companies with a revenue operations function increase their sales productivity by 10% to 20%, according to research by Boston Consulting Group. The tighter alignment can also double or even triple returns on digital marketing spend while increasing lead acceptance by 10% and customer satisfaction by up to 20%.

Though the concept of revenue operations is still relatively new, it is very quickly gaining adoption among the world’s leading companies. But for a revenue operations framework to deliver on its promise, teams need to understand which data is most relevant to their businesses in the first place. That’s where a revenue operations platform like Clari comes in.

Clari automatically collects sales activity data, applies AI and machine learning, and surfaces actionable insights to every member of the revenue team at every level of the organisation so they can execute with confidence. Increasing win rates and improving forecast accuracy ultimately drives more revenue, which is and always will be the lifeblood of every business.

The platform’s ability to surface data-driven revenue insights not only powers teams to win more, it also drives closer alignment across the entire organisation, from boardroom to front-line managers. Companies that use it to collect, analyse and act on sales and revenue data signals see, on average, a 7% increase in their win rates in the first year and 15% by their second year. Those that add Clari’s revenue insight capabilities, which help reps better understand customer engagement and relationships, see their win rates climb even higher.

Powering teams to win

“We’re seeing a profound influx of demand for Clari,” says Byrne. “Chief revenue officers now have all their revenue data at their fingertips, enabling them to drive more predictability and performance. By empowering them with AI that allows them to win more deals, we elevate CROs to a point where they are hitting their number quarter after quarter, which allows companies to drive more efficiency and growth.”

Clari has processed more than 1.6 billion data points across over 450 customers in the last year. That’s nearly 4 million data points per company, on average. Without a purpose-built platform like Clari – which is currently managing $1.5tn of revenue data in total – processing this volume of data would be an overwhelming resource drain for any in-house analytics team.

For a long time people have thought of revenue as just an outcome. The truth is it’s actually a business process

Cybersecurity firm Fortinet uses Clari to improve data quality. “The better our data is, the better our conversations and coaching sessions are at every level – from managers and reps all the way up to our executive team,” says Matt Schwartz, VP of global sales operations at Fortinet.

Dan Wright, CEO of DataRobot, adds that by “setting the tone” for his company to confidently make data-driven decisions, Clari provides “a clear view into deals, opportunities and a repeatable path to quota success”. Informatica also uses the platform to move more swiftly on big decisions. Amit Walia, CEO of the cloud data software firm, says: “Clari empowers us with the trusted insights we need to understand if we’re on pace to meet or exceed revenue goals.”

These success stories add a promising wrinkle in the story of the data revolution. The future of data, it appears, belongs to those who are most efficient - or to borrow a Silicon Valley-adopted adage, those who work smarter and not harder.

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