Author: <span class="vcard">Cien</span>

AI-for-Sales Company Launches New Hidden Revenue Assessment

Cien Launches New Hidden Revenue Assessment

00Featured, Press ReleasesTags: , , , , November, 19

Dallas, TX, November 20th, 2019 – Cien Inc., a leading provider of AI-powered sales performance solutions, today announced the launch of its new Hidden Revenue Assessment.


Cien’s Hidden Revenue Assessment applies over 100+ AI models to a company’s CRM data to reveal the factors that are preventing their teams from achieving their sales quotas. Proprietary AI models automatically create “scorecards” that help identify issues in sales enablement, training and onboarding as well as provide a basis for more personalized coaching.


While other applications focus on quantitative factors that can be typically found in activity-based dashboards and KPIs, Cien’s assessments stand out by measuring qualitative and intangible factors and tie them back directly to a company’s revenue. Examples of intangible factors measured by Cien include skills such as a sales person’s ability to effectively engage customers, a propensity to focus on smaller deals, closing skills, product knowledge or work ethic.


This allows sales leaders to prioritize and track the financial impact of changing specific sales rep behaviors. Cien’s Hidden Revenue Assessment typically uncovers 15 to 20 percent of unrealized revenue due to gaps in selling skills or inefficient sales processes. To date, the company performs more than 117M sales-related predictions per day and has uncovered nearly $130M of unrealized revenue for B2B technology companies. 


One of those companies, Wide Eyes Technologies, a leading visual search provider for global Ecommerce companies, used Cien’s Hidden Revenue Assessment to identify their team’s individual strengths and weaknesses.


“With Cien, we are better able to understand where each salesperson needs to improve from a training, coaching and enablement perspective,” says Lisa Farioli, who runs the company’s sales operations.


Currently available to customers, Cien helps SaaS leaders from around the world get their sales teams to 100% quota attainment.


“When it comes to managing sales teams, it’s important to understand that no sales rep is created equal, and no opportunity is created equal,” explains Cien’s Co-founder and CEO Rob Käll.


Cien’s Hidden Revenue Assessment is easily accessible and available free of charge for qualifying companies. For more information visit




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Getting to the Root Cause of a Lengthening Sales Cycle

00Blog: The Science of SalesTags: , , , , November, 19

Most sales organizations have a well defined sales cycle, from initial contact to the closing of a deal. However, if you’ve noticed your sales cycle getting longer and longer, it can be hard to understand what’s causing it. Are you not qualifying your leads well enough? Or are your buyers’ budgets are tightening? Is it the new AEs you’ve onboarded who simply aren’t as good at closing late stage deals than their peers? Or are you chasing a greater share of new logos than you had been in the past?


With so many potential root causes of a lengthening sales cycle, finding out what’s driving long sales cycles can be a daunting task.


What is a sales cycle and how do you measure it?


According to the Business Dictionary, a sales cycle is “the course of time between the initial contact being made with a customer, the identification of services or goods to be procured, the acceptance of the intended purchase, and the transaction that completes the sale.”


As you might expect, shorter sales cycles generally lead to greater profits. Conversely, long sales cycles tend to reduce your cash flow and impact quota attainment.


The ‘normal’ length of a sales cycle varies depending on your industry and product. For instance, if your product is highly complex and specialized or if your buyer tends to be a large organization, then the higher the price point and the greater amount of people involved in the sales process, and the longer your sales cycle. Conversely, low price points, undifferentiated products tend to have more transactional buying processes and shorter sales cycles.


Getting to the root cause of a lengthening sales cycles


If your company’s sales cycle is getting longer, there may be many root causes. One company,  who provides multi-channel customer service software, had noticed a lengthening of their sales cycle but weren’t quite sure why. Their sales team was comprised of 24 account executives, 18 sales development reps and 13 sales engineers.


The company’s Chief Revenue Officer turned to Cien to understand the root cause. As it turns out, the lengthening of their sales cycle was due to a combination of factors. 


The first factor Cien identified for them was that their reps were not engaging their prospects sufficiently well enough. Otherwise said, the company had a group of sales development reps whose messages were not compelling enough for their target audience, or not adapted to the communication channel.


A second factor was poor stakeholder mapping. Some of their AEs were failing to get the right people involved in their deals, which in this case, were midlevel directors from the IT and finance departments. In certain industries such as telecommunications and finance, more senior contacts at the account needed to be looped in. Cien helped them understand which deals required which departments and seniority levels.  


The final factor was poor closing skills. A number of AEs had poor closing skills compared to their peers. Based on Cien’s findings, the sales managers were able to provide more personalized training and coaching. 


Put together, these three factors had accounted for $7.6M in lost revenue. As the company addressed the gaps in their team’s selling skills, they were able to realize $4.4M recorded the highest level of quota attainment in the company’s history.


Understanding your sales cycle is only the first important step towards improving upon your team’s sales performance. If your sales cycles are getting longer, request Cien’s Free Hidden Revenue Assessment and identify the root cause. 

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Cien To Attend EY’s Strategic Growth Forum

00Blog: The Science of SalesTags: , November, 19

Cien co-founder Margot Carter will attend EY’s annual Strategic Growth Forum from November 13-17 in Palm Springs, California to represent Cien and engage with other thought leaders in technology. 

Cien uses the power of AI to identify and track key selling attributes and improve the performance of sales teams. For more information, you can download Cien’s free Hidden Revenue Assessment

EY’s Strategic Growth Forum is an annual invitation-only conference that brings together more than 2,000 of the nation’s top CEOs, entrepreneurs and investors to discuss strategies for accelerating and sustaining growth. 

The event also celebrates the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® Program, the largest gathering of Entrepreneurs in America, which recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence in areas such as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.

The Forum will culminate with the Entrepreneur Of The Year National Awards gala, hosted by Seth Meyers, host, Late Night With Seth Meyers.

Since 1986, EY has celebrated entrepreneurial excellence by honoring those whose ingenuity, spirit of innovation, and discipline have propelled their companies’ success, invigorated their industries, and benefited their communities. These men and women have created the products, services and jobs that help our economy and communities grow, while also encouraging others to follow their lead. 

Notable speakers at the EY Strategic Growth Forum include Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, Shantanu Narayen, President & CEO of Adobe Inc., and Chuck Robbins, Chairman & CEO of Cisco. 

EY’s worldwide Growth Markets Network is dedicated to serving the changing needs of high-growth companies. For more than 30 years, they have helped many of the world’s most dynamic and ambitious companies grow into market leaders. Whether working with international companies or early stage, venture-backed businesses, their professionals draw upon their extensive experience, insight and global resources to help businesses succeed. For more information visit or follow them on Twitter @EY_Growth.


About EY

Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services they deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. They develop outstanding leaders who team up to deliver on promises to all stakeholders, and play a critical role in building a better working world for people, clients and communities.

For more information about EY, visit


About Cien

Cien helps SaaS leaders from around the world get their sales teams to 100% quota attainment. Using 100+ AI models, Cien tracks key selling attributes such as closing ability, product knowledge, engagement ability and more. For a free AI-powered assessment of your sales team, download our Hidden Revenue Assessment here. 

For more information, visit


Is Your Team Generating Enough Pipeline?

00Blog: The Science of SalesTags: , , , October, 19

Sales VPs today are spending exceedingly disproportionate amounts of time trying to figure out what is going on in their sales teams in order to ensure sufficient pipeline generation. This is an acute problem for sales and revenue leaders as it is often causes reps to fail to make quota. 

Pipeline generation is often measured via a key sales indicator called pipeline coverage. Pipeline coverage is generally measured by comparing a team’s pipeline value to the amount of deals their quota requires them to close. More specifically, pipeline coverage is calculated by dividing the sum of all your open opportunities by the quota required for a given period. In SaaS companies, a general rule of thumb is to have 4x pipeline coverage, meaning four times more open opportunities than what is required by the quota.


The Drivers of Insufficient Pipeline Generation

If you are not generating enough pipeline, or do not have sufficient pipeline coverage, the question then becomes: how do I solve it? Like most things, this depends on the root cause.

Typically, there are two drivers that lead to insufficient pipeline generation:

The first is quite simple: insufficient prospecting. This could be a quantitative aspect, meaning the sales team is simply not spending enough time prospecting and as a result do not generate enough opportunities every quarter for there to be sufficient pipeline. 

A second driver is a lack of engagement ability. This means that your sales reps may be spending enough time prospecting, or have sufficient prospecting activities, however they are unable to communicate effectively to potential buyers in a way that compels them to act. A lack of engagement ability can be exhibited in emails, phone calls, social media messages or in person meetings.


A Real-Life Example – Pipeline Generation

A sales leader at a commerce software company had problems both in terms of pipeline generation and pipeline coverage. They had a sales team of over 35 reps, with 14 sales development reps in charge of generating opportunities and 11 account executives tasked with closing deals. The company was already using industry standard CRM, marketing automation and sales engagement tools however fluctuations in the quantity and quality of opportunities meant that their pipeline coverage was less than 2x, significantly lower than the recommended 4x.

To figure out why this was happening, the company’s SVP of Sales turned to Cien. After syncing the company’s Salesforce data with Cien, he discovered that the main challenge wasn’t generating opportunities but closing them. Many deals were actually properly qualified by the sales development reps, and while the AEs were justifying losing early stage opportunities due to insufficient lead and opportunity qualification, something else was at play here. By measuring the value generated by the marketing, sales development and account executive teams to the overall revenue generation process, Cien was able to not just count deals, but also the value created by each part of the sales process to understand whether the problem was with the marketing, sales development or account executive team.

As it turned out, the company’s insufficient pipeline coverage was due to the fact that the account executives were not always successful at identifying the actual decision makers and looping in the relevant stakeholders.

In this case, applying artificial intelligence to their sales data helped the company solve two problems in a single stroke: understand the drivers of pipeline coverage and improve sales performance. 

By implementing Cien’s recommendations, the company could properly understand which reps needed to work on better opportunity qualification and which reps needed to spending more time prospecting. In addition, by helping the team identify it’s most valuable leads, the reps were able to focus on the most important deals, thereby increasing pipeline velocity by 22% .


Identify the Root Cause of Insufficient Pipeline Coverage

Cien looks at pipeline data as a whole and is able to understand the quality of the opportunities generated, and can re-classify the stages of deals based on each individual rep’s behavior. This can help to identify whether insufficient pipeline coverage is due to a poor lead generation by the marketing team, poor engagement skills from the sales development team or insufficient prospecting time by the AEs.

Not sure why your team is not generating enough pipeline? Request Cien’s Free Hidden Revenue Assessment and apply 100+ AI models to your CRM data to identify the root causes of insufficient pipeline coverage.

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What a Low Win Rate Really Means About Your Sales Team

00Blog: The Science of SalesTags: , , , October, 19

Few sales leaders would say they’re satisfied with their win rate. In fact, according to research, the average win rate per sales rep is just 47%. The question is, is your low win rate due to poor lead and opportunity qualification, below par closing skills, or a lack of product knowledge?

Searching for the root cause of declining or stagnant win rates can be an incredibly frustrating process. Most sales leaders will refer to their KPI dashboard in trying to solve this problem. However, looking at your sales KPIs alone will only surface the symptoms, not the root cause. 

The secret to improving your win rates is to get to the root of the problem. This article helps sales leaders address the issue of declining or stagnant win rates. 


What is Win Rate and Why Does it Matter?

A win rate is a key performance indicator commonly used by B2B sales teams to measure how good their account executives are at closing sales opportunities. This is typically calculated by looking at a rep’s total closed won opportunities divided by the number of closed opportunities for a given time period. 

When a company seeks to identify the root causes of lost deals, an important factor to examine is the ratio of closed won to closed lost deals. From this ratio, you can find the percentage of opportunities that the company actually won.

A win rate is often used interchangeably with the term ‘close rate’, although there is a small difference. While the close rate looks at all opportunities created, the win rate only takes into account closed opportunities.

Focus on close rates if your sales team has clear and consistent opportunity-qualification criteria and your reps consistently apply these criteria when creating opportunities. However, you should be looking at win rates if, like most sales leaders, you have weekly pipeline reviews with your team to flush out old opportunities or opportunities that are significantly longer than your average sales cycle.


Who is REALLY Closing the Most Deals?

A sales leader at a SaaS company with 22 account executives and 8 inside sales reps was frustrated with her team’s win rates. They had been hovering at 23-25% for the last 24 months. Was it a lead source, territory, or behavioral issue? But the quality of her CRM data was even more frustrating, so she turned to Cien to help her understand the factors that were driving her team’s win rate. 

At the end of the quarter, her best sales rep, Andy, had closed six deals and her second best rep, Melissa, had closed four. Looking at her standard sales dashboards, it was clear that Andy had a higher win rate than Melissa, yet she felt that his work ethic, communication skills and product knowledge were significantly lower.

With Cien’s Hidden Revenue Assessment, this sales leader learned that when measuring her team’s individual win rates, it was important to take into account that Andy was given 12 ‘easy’ opportunities and Melissa had been given five ‘hard’ opportunities. Given that Melissa’s opportunities were more qualified than Andy’s, and taking into account how much additional effort, time, and skill was required to close her deals, Melissa actually had a greater closing ability than Andy. 

Ensuring that each rep develops sufficient closing ability is essential to achieve the highest possible win rate.
For this sales team, their low win rates indicated that the company was not qualifying their opportunities well enough, not engaging effectively with their prospects, and not prioritizing their coaching efforts on their reps’ greatest weaknesses.

Get to the root cause of low win rates

What this sales leader learned was that working on your team’s closing skills is a huge factor when it comes to improving a team’s win rates, and not all the reps in her team needed the same coaching and support. In fact, other members of her team grew their win rates by addressing other causes or focusing on other skills and attributes. These include:

  • Poor lead and opportunity qualification
  • Poor prospecting or opportunity qualification
  • Poor engagement and communication skills
  • Insufficient stakeholder mapping and single threaded deals
  • Insufficient product knowledge

All of these potential causes can be overwhelming when trying to decipher which is impacting your team’s win rate. 

Not sure where to begin? Start by requesting Cien’s Free Hidden Revenue Assessment which applies 100+ AI models to your CRM data to identify the root causes behind your company’s low win rates.


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