Best practices
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Best practices


Article summary

Who's this for? Revenue Ops

Where to go? Deals > Forecast

Plan: Working with Gong Forecast requires a Forecast seat.

Read these best practices before setting up forecast boards in your organization, in order to set up the most robust forecast motion that's suited to all your needs.

Simple or aggregate forecasts?

Forecasting in sales orgs is a critical tool for effective planning, performance evaluation, company financial management, and decision-making. It's important to have the forecasting mechanism optimized so that the numbers are always readily available for all stakeholders without the need for extensive processing of the bottom-up forecast data.

Common types of forecast rollup

The two most common ways to roll up forecasts are:

  • Simple forecasting - where each forecast category includes deals that are mapped to that category only

  • Aggregate forecasting (also known as cumulative) - where each forecast category combines deals that are mapped from multiple categories

How Gong forecasts

At Gong, we use aggregate forecasts.

Essentially, the reason why is because as deals shift from one bucket to another, you want that to be signaling positive or negative...positive & negative signals are easy to understand.

Michael Duncan, Director of RevOps, Gong

In order to achieve an aggregate forecast, we set up our forecast categories like this:

  • Our Commit forecast category includes deals in the CRM forecast fields Closed-won and Commit

  • Our Most Likely forecast category includes deals in the CRM forecast fields Closed-won, Commit, and Most Likely

  • Our Best Case forecast category includes deals in the CRM forecast fields Closed-won, Commit, Most Likely, and Best Case

Benefits of aggregate forecasting

We recommend setting up aggregate forecasting for the following reasons:

  • It gives you a better understanding of the full story of your pipeline (i.e. which deals were won or lost) because as a deal moves category, you don’t see a reduction in your wider categories

  • It gives you the ability to see the natural range of where you’re going to land, i.e. somewhere between Commit and Best Case

  • It's easier to see numbers quickly without the need to recalculate as the time period progresses - meaning the numbers are always ready for a temperature check without extra work

Why use simple forecasting?

Given that there are many advantages to aggregate forecasting, you may wonder why or when to use simple forecasting. Simple is useful when you don’t need to roll up the numbers. For example, you may want to know the forecast for separate product lines or churn.

How Gong forecasts for churn

We'll use the churn example to explain how you can set up a forecast category for simple forecasting. You may want to include this as a column in a forecast board alongside the aggregated categories (that's what we do!).

To achieve simple forecasting for churn, we set up an additional column as follows:

  • Our Churn forecast category includes deals in the CRM stage fields Churn Risk, Save/Resell Value, and Groundswell.

This column does not aggregate, and is read-only, i.e. it is automatically populated (by turning on autofill - see step 4c, second bullet, in the board setup article) by deals that fit the selected stage fields. We can then offset the churn number against the aggregated forecast.

Optimize your Salesforce setup

Who's this for? Customers using Salesforce.

Optimize your CRM setup so that deals automatically move forecast categories when they advance through deal stages, and get removed from the categories once the deal closes.

This optimization is particularly recommended if you use Salesforce's out-of-the-box Forecast Category field, because it's very common to map each option in the Opportunity Stage to one of the options in Forecast Category's picklist. This setup can cause deals to unexpectedly change forecast category in Gong as you update the deal stages. Therefore, we strongly recommend setting up a custom field for the forecast category.

Step 1: Create a custom forecast field

Who's this for? Salesforce admins

  1. Go to Object Manager, and within the Opportunity object, create a new picklist field.

  2. Give this field a unique and memorable name, for example, Forecast.

  3. Add the following options to the picklist:

    • Commit, Most Likely, & Best Case, or whatever forecast categories you use

    • Closed, which will be used to remove won deals from the forecast categories

    • Omit, which will be used to remove lost deals from the forecast categories

      Tip:

      If you already have the Forecast Category field, you can add all the same options you have there. Just make sure you add options for Omit and Closed if you don't have them.

  4. Add the newly created field to the Opportunity Page layout, and anywhere else you need it, and at the same time, remove the forecast category field from those locations (if you have it).

  5. Ensure that there's up-to-date data in the new field:

    • Have your reps start updating the new field manually OR

    • Load the value in the old Forecast Category field into the new Forecast field.

  6. Go to Flow.

  7. Build a flow that automatically updates the Forecast field as follows:

    1. When the opportunity stage changes to Closed Lost (or equivalent), change the Forecast field to Omit.

    2. When the opportunity stage changes to Closed Won (or equivalent), change the Forecast field to Closed.

    See the next section for instructions on how to build a flow.

Step 2: Build a flow to remove lost and won deals from forecast categories

Who's this for? Salesforce admins

Note:

Some fields may be named something different in your Salesforce instance.

  1. In the Salesforce Flow wizard, set the object to Opportunity.

  2. Set the trigger to A record is created or updated.

  3. Set the condition requirements to All conditions are met.

  4. Add the following condition:

    • Field: IsClosed

    • Operator: Equals

    • Value: True

  5. Click Done.

  6. Add a Decision element that will branch the flow based on whether the deal is closed-won or closed-lost.

  7. Edit the decision logic to accommodate both possible outcomes.

  8. In each branch, add an Update Triggering Record element.

    • For won deals, customize the Record Update settings to make the desired change to the Forecast field.

      Example:

      • Label: Set "Forecast" to Closed

      • How to find records to update and set their value: Use the opportunity record that triggered the flow

      • Set field values for the opportunity record

        • Field: Forecast__c

        • Value: Closed

    • For lost deals, customize the Record Update settings to make the desired change to the Forecast field.

      Example:

      • Label: Set "Forecast" to Omit

      • How to find records to update and set their value: Use the opportunity record that triggered the flow

      • Set field values for the opportunity record

        • Field: Forecast__c

        • Value: Omit

  9. Give the flow a name, and save it.

  10. Activate the flow.

Step 3: Set up in Gong

  1. Import the new field you created in step 1 into Gong ( learn how).

  2. Create or update a forecast board ( learn how).

  3. In the Categories area, for each category you use to forecast, set the CRM field to the newly created field, and add all values, with the exception of Closed and Omit.


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