Managing sales processes and resources without careful planning is a recipe for failure. Effectiveness in sales starts with planning that involves the full range of stakeholders. This planning should involve a systematic process, incorporate all relevant information and be supported by capable software designed for this purpose. Furthermore, everyone who participates in sales-related activities, including those dealing with quotas, territories and resources, should be providing input for the planning. Without broad participation the likelihood of less-than-optimal planning increases and anyone who is excluded may not fully buy into the plan and its execution.
To better understand these challenges we have underway our Sales Planning Dynamic Insights research. The research will explore organizations’ experiences with sales planning initiatives and their attempts to align programs, resources, territories and quotas with sales objectives. Using concise web-based surveys, the Ventana Research Dynamic Insights platform gathers real-world data while immediately providing research participants with a personalized assessment of their organization’s efforts as well as research- and experience-based advice on potential next steps to improve. Each participant who completes the survey is provided immediate insights to support decisions ranging from prioritizing application and technology investments to what best practices are most relevant to the organization’s efforts.
It’s imperative that organizations examine their sales planning processes and tools to determine if they are operating as effectively as their competitors. In this examination, it’s important to identify the best path to improvement and what the schedule should be for undertaking it, along with any impediments to optimal planning and a strategy to overcome them. This process should correct inefficiencies that sap time and resources in sales planning, freeing up time for forward-looking what-if analyses and scenario planning in areas like quotas, territories and incentives.
Properly done, sales planning can improve every aspect of sales. For example, it is critical to attain maximum outcomes in each territory; planning helps people focus on what can be achieved in their area and thus be more efficient. Planning to include what-if analysis of the accounts in the territory and their potential interest in products and services can enable better decision-making about next steps. Likewise, fluctuations in the sales pipeline that is managed in the sales force automation (SFA) system impact the forecast and overall sales plan. This information can sharpen understanding of how the sales organization will perform in the future, just as planning to optimize the number and timing of new hires and the use of sales resources will impact the ability to achieve quotas and overall sales targets. Good planning also improves sales forecasting, which almost always is a challenge to do with accuracy. Our business planning benchmark research found that fewer than half of organizations do it very well (13%) or well (30%). All aspects of sales planning should be performed efficiently and in a common environment using accurate data and consistent analytics.
Applying best practices to planning can help sales organizations increase agility and be able to easily revise plans as necessary as well as increasing sales, helping reps achieve quotas and making the sales plan a more valuable tool for the entire company. We advise organizations seeking to support more effective sales planning to assess the processes and tasks that currently support their efforts. This new Dynamic Insights research is designed to help examine if your current sales planning efforts are comprehensive enough and if planners are using all the data needed. Participants will learn where they should make critical improvements in their processes and technology to be more effective in sales planning. Click here to take the survey and here to learn more about our other research efforts.