How Analytics can help elevate Sales planning
The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 made it clear that enterprises need to have the ability to adapt and pivot to survive and thrive. Events such as the pandemic have proven to be inflexion points for organizations that recover and prosper, eventually disrupting themselves. One of the most critical factors that will help an enterprise success is to keep revising its plans as per the changing market conditions and for sales leaders, nothing beats creating a dynamic and strategic plan that will help meet its goals.
With today's dynamic markets and increased competition, it is now a best practice to frequently monitor your sales plans and evolving market conditions to respond swiftly to them. This allows organizations to stay relevant and competitive. This approach to streamlined sales performance is called Operational Sales Management (OSM).
It empowers enterprises to update their plans rapidly by delivering pathways to revenue that connect data, increase ROI, and drive growth. By streamlining processes, organizations can quickly change and take new approaches to quotas, territories, roles, and targets with their sales organizations based on shifting market dynamics. Through active monitoring of performance data, companies can pinpoint any deviations and course-correct before being derailed from their target goals.
Let’s look at some of the Challenges in the Sales Planning
Sales planning needs to be a dynamic process that enables the business to adapt to changes swiftly. It is traditionally carried out as a departmental activity to achieve a set sales target. Sales leaders must work out how to achieve it – generally using a spreadsheet-based plan. In creating this plan, sales leaders face numerous challenges:
Information coming from multiple sources – Market trends, past performance, previous customer purchases, territories, sales commissions, and other factors will impact the final number. This information typically sits in different systems and is hard to reconcile without considerable manual effort and cross-comparison.
Integration with corporate processes – The sales plan is created in isolation from other departments, meaning it doesn't consider the impact of different factors on achieving the desired numbers. What if operational capacity is not high enough to deliver the number of products required to hit a set target, making it impossible to achieve?
Dynamic planning – Sales plans are subject to change. A shift in the market, the unexpected success of a product or staff churn, can impact sales performance, and the plan needs to be able to adapt accordingly. It is difficult to see the impact of these changes using static, spreadsheet-based plans, and it is even more challenging to make changes as a result.
Forecasting – A sales planning activity is the creation of accurate sales targets. Is this activity accomplished better through managerial judgment or sales predictive analytics algorithms? Is there a back-testing process in place to check the consistency of past projections?
Benefits of a connected sales planning and analytics solution
A sales planning solution can bridle these issues and transform sales performance by bringing together all the information needed to produce an accurate plan. A comprehensive platform that also incorporates sales analytics can allow organizations to:
# Get deep insight into consumers through detailed customer segmentation, considering factors such as preferences, needs, and cross-selling opportunities.
# Produce detailed and accurate sales plans in a short timeframe, planning quota for sales reps by allocating them planning territory and customer portfolios objectives by accumulating the sales targets for each rep.
# Simulate the impact of various sales strategies on the rest of the business, and on the predicted outcome, before making a decision.
# Integrate Machine Learning predictive forecasting and traditional methods, using sales pipeline analysis & inspection, figures generated by human estimates, and sales predictive analytics algorithms within a machine learning environment.
# Monitor and control sales performance in real-time, automatically conducting variation analyses between targets and current data within a multi-dimensional environment and dissecting results regarding volume, price, and mix effects.
# Drive commercial efforts towards strategic targets by integrating compensation management and sales force incentives with territory and quota planning.
# Get visibility of the lead journey, customer behavior, and customer sales history, fostering sales planning efficacy thanks to integration with CRM systems.
Use Cases For Sales Planning and Analytics
Sales Territory Planning and Quota Planning
Every sales executive wants their team to perform better when it comes to meeting quota, territory sales, and winning a higher percentage of opportunities. Over time, they also need to see annual improvements in the length of sales cycles, size of deals, and how well the entire team hits its sales targets.
Leaders armed with sales planning analytics can utilize more accurate forecasts to make useful adjustments to sales quotas and territories. They can assist and keep targets realistic for sellers with positive impacts on sales performance, employee turnover, and morale. Analytics grounded in historical data on deal size, win rates, sales rep performance, and other relevant measures also create better visibility for the entire business. Having a clearer view of sales performance helps the companies manage its cash flow better, operate more efficiently, and hire more effectively across the board.
Sales forecasting is still a time-consuming process for sales planners, often reverting to the tools or good old Excel spreadsheet that gives insufficient analytics and insights to inform the sales forecast for the next quarter, month or week. Having analytics in place can help ease the burden on sales planners by automating rolling forecasts and providing executives with more transparency and intelligent decision support for enterprise performance management. The importance of a rolling forecast is that it gives decision-makers insight into the dynamics of revenue and expense and their related drivers.
Sales Capacity Planning
Capacity planning is in use by organizations worldwide in a wide range of industries. In fact, as per the survey by FSN, 73% of respondents agreed or strongly agree that they are developing a culture of capacity planning.
Numerous businesses still base their strategy on annual plans and budgets, a management technique developed over a century ago. In the current scenario, plans, and budgets are required to reflect current reality—not the reality of two, three or more quarters ago. Capacity planning frequently throughout the year, on a monthly or quarterly basis. It is a methodology for shortening the planning cycle and updating plans, and allows managers to see patterns, trends, and 'breaks in the curve' long before their competitors, and therefore make better-informed decisions regarding products and markets. It also helps organizations address emerging threats more proactively and enclasp emerging opportunities.
While the business climate has never been as volatile as today, enterprises are looking to build resiliency and innovate despite challenging conditions. Excellent planning is key to allowing an enterprise to thrive in uncertainty, correct as necessary, and drive growth despite external factors. To help organizations succeed, planning must be dynamic, continuous, and connected across different business functions.
Sales planning is a crucial element because it is responsible for revenue generation and growth. Enterprises that invest in a planning platform that connects sales planning with financial planning and workforce planning will be prepared not only to face the uncertainties of the future but also to achieve better outcomes than their peers.
Polestar Solutions is a leading consulting company with leaders who possess a deep understanding of industries and sales organizations. Polestar’s sales force effectiveness practice professionals combine strategic thinking and sales experience with broad technical and operational capabilities for fine-tuning of your sales planning. Get in touch today.