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3 Tips: Solve Revenue Operations Issues with Sales Planning

Access a free copy of our newly released guide, "3 Steps: A Framework for Orchestrating Revenue with Better Sales Planning" to learn more.

How is it that revenue teams are caught by surprise when they miss their revenue forecast, even though they still use the same tools and processes that they always have — and continue to hire the same profiles? 

Introducing RevOps

Old approaches don’t work any more. And that fact drives today’s leading executives to embrace Revenue Operations (RevOps). 

Independent research from both Aberdeen and Sirius Decision has shown that companies that use revenue operations to coordinate marketing, sales, and post-sales—and sometimes other organizations like sales enablement and product— can triple annual revenue.

Their aggressive pursuit of that 3X revenue multiple is one reason why Rev Ops is the fastest-growing title on LinkedIn. 

Exposing Revenue Operations Issues

Another reason that revenue operations is a top executive priority? The pandemic has exposed operational inefficiencies that have plagued revenue performance for decades. 

At best, sales teams use ⅓ of their time selling, and when sellers are selling, 80% of decision makers complain that they squander first meetings. This is likely a big reason that buyers spend only 17% of their purchase journey talking to vendors. (If there are three vendors in the process, that means your company likely receives just over 5%!) The rest of the purchase journey—as much as 80% according to some research institutions—is spent in digital channels.

Technology is not the answer anymore. Even though most teams use more than 20 tools, and the majority still miss their goal.

Clearly, we need a better approach to revenue operations that coordinate currently siloed roles and technology to drive on-target revenue performance.

In our experience working with hundreds of industry leaders, we’ve seen over and over that Sales Performance Management (SPM) is the glue that holds Rev Ops together. This is largely because—done right—SPM involves three strategic pillars:

  1. Orchestrate revenue performance
  2. Motivate the entire revenue organization to perform
  3. Incentivize the entire revenue organization by paying for performance

Many organizations overlook the first pillar, revenue orchestration: a data-based, insights driven approach to five different disciplines:

  1. Territory management
  2. Quota management 
  3. Capacity planning
  4. Sales planning
  5. Sales forecasting

This blog dives into Sales Planning, an integral discipline for orchestrating revenue. 

What Is Sales Planning?

Sales planning connects a business’ strategy — objectives, target markets, products — with field execution. Sales planning is the crucial link between how a sales team segments its market opportunity and aligns its team members to support that segmentation. That’s why a robust sales plan involves quota design, territory allocation, and sales capacity plans.

Why Is Sales Planning Important?

Sales planning is how executives chart a course from sales to revenue, and it’s important for the following reasons plus more:

  • Sales planning identifies risks and designs battle plans to account for them.
  • Sales planning positions sales teams to succeed. 
  • Sales planning coordinates quota management, territory design, and sales capacity planning. It brings all of those components together into one cohesive plan. 
  • Sales planning makes sales forecasting possible.

3 Steps to Defining A Sales Management Planning Process

Whereas 55% of revenue leaders meet their forecast when they don’t use forecasting best practices, 97% meet their forecast when they do. Which group would you rather be in? Here’s how to chart your bearing from one waypoint to the next.

Step #1: De-Flaw Your Process

First, take your organization and target market’s maturity into account.

  • Greenfield. Startups need to start with deciding targets, then quotas, then territories, then capacity planning. That order reflects the ultimate question leaders need to answer: How many people do I hire?
  • Established. Conversely, companies that have been in business for years need to know what size territories they need to hit their next growth stage. They begin with targets, then capacity, quotas, and finally end with territories.

Support either approach with intelligent, machine learning-enhanced tools—especially to ensure you have the right reps in the right roles.

Step #2: Get everybody in the room

Most sales planning excludes other revenue-critical pieces of the funnel: 

  • The top of funnel (marketing and account/business development)
  • Upsell/cross-sell (customer success/service)
  • New offerings (product)

The best car salesmen have life-long relationships with their customers. There are some smart lessons we can learn from people who have been in business for a long time.

Step #3: Reschedule the schedule

Integrating these functions can go wrong. As demand generation managers know, your end of Q3 generally involves identifying how many meetings the SDR team needs to book for the next calendar year. It’s unlikely for teams to ask how many meetings get them to their sales number.

Only with a view of the entire journey can we know how many meetings produce our revenue number. This requires continuous planning that incorporates all revenue constituencies. Getting all of these leaders—marketing, sales, customer success, product—in the same room can be uncomfortable because sales planning happened in a silo for a long time. But discomfort aside, the best way to meet our revenue plan is to evaluate performance with all revenue leaders in the same room on a weekly or bi-weekly cadence, and adjust if needed. 

5 Sales Planning Rules to Break

We got into the situation because we’ve been doing sales planning the same way for years. Now, we need a new approach, and here are the sales planning rules we need to reimagine along the way.

  1. “Planning once a quarter or year is enough.” We now need to plan continuously.
  2. “Sales planning isn’t called marketing planning or customer success planning for a reason.” We now need revenue planning.
  3. “Traditional methods for quota and territory planning work.” Today, we need an automated, intelligent approach.
  4. “I just need more data.” Today, we need actionable insights, based on data.
  5. “I can do all I need to do with Excel or Google spreadsheets.” Spreadsheets involve herculean effort and umpteen errors. Only automated platforms deliver the maturity that today’s revenue leaders need as they plan.

Breaking out of data jail with sales planning maturity involves processes that are continuous, collaborative, automated, and data driven. The effort is worth it: You can double or triple efficiencies and raise productivity 12% when you automate all sales planning processes.

Access a free copy of our newly released guide, "3 Steps: A Framework for Orchestrating Revenue with Better Sales Planning" to learn more.

 

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