Great sales decisions: Don’t leave them stuck in neutral

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As the entire sales world knows, Dreamforce is approaching—a fun-filled week of meeting people, sharing ideas, and learning about the new products that help sales teams perform better.

In my role, I spend a lot of time thinking about sales teams: how they’re put together, how they work best, and what tools they need to succeed. What I’ve learned is that CRM systems are inordinately useful—but they’re not all that a sales team needs.

To understand why, I like to imagine the following thought experiment:

You line up three identical Ferraris, fresh from the lot. All contain the exact same components and have equal performance benchmarks. Now give each one a driver and set them on a 12-hour road race.

The question is: Which car wins?

To answer this, let’s think about sales. As good sales leaders know, what matters most in sales isn’t always the product. It’s the team doing the selling. Hire the right people, arm them with the right tools, and your team can sell anything.

This is why the best sales leaders work hard to empower their team—to turn those teams into fine-tuned Ferraris. It’s why they search out top talent and teach best practices. It’s also why they outfit their employees with a robust CRM system, which gives sellers unprecedented ability to manage opportunities and win deals.

But here’s the key: Great sales leaders also know that it’s not the team alone that gets them to the finish line, even when that team is equipped with the best tools, including a top-of-the line CRM system.

The truth is, to succeed in the market, sales leaders need more than a great team and more than a great CRM. They also need a strategy for organizing and deploying that team and that CRM, a strategy for attacking the market and taking it down. This is what great sales leaders bring: a powerful go-to-market strategy.

What is this go-to-market strategy? It’s the unique way a sales leader sets out to target and win your market. It’s the way he or she manages things like carving up territories, segmenting and scoring accounts, defining capacity plans, allocating and cascading sales targets, motivating behaviors with cash and non-cash incentives, analyzing and scoring the pipelines and forecasts, and driving other sales KPIs. It’s how leaders plan for the future, and how they prepare for and react to unexpected obstacles. Although a great team opens the possibility of success, it’s their go-to-market strategy that pushes that team over the line.

Lots of sales leaders can build a team. Only one can wield that team the way you do.

Put differently: it’s not the car, it’s the driver.

That’s why success in sales depends on “how you sell” as much as it does “what you sell.” What do you bring to market? That’s just your product. How do you go-to-market? That’s your recipe for success.

CRM plus Connected Planning

If sales success is about how you go to market—your go-to-market strategy—where does your CRM come in?

By now, we all know how effective CRM systems are for tracking accounts and deals, or following leads, or organizing campaigns, or moving prospects through the pipeline. If you’re a sales rep, your CRM is where you live, because it gives you a 360-degree view of your customers.

If you’re a sales leader, the CRM isn’t quite what you need. Things like account segmentation, territory plans, incentive programs, sales coverage models, pricing and discounting optimizations, sales forecasting, and more—these are what you consider as you chart your company’s future and prepare to go to market. And your CRM, powerful as it may be, isn’t really where those strategic insights live.

How to drive your team to success

For a sales team to run its best, it needs two complimentary systems: one for accounts, leads, and day-to-day selling activities, and one to manage the go-to-market strategy. This is where Connected Planning comes in. By allowing you to manage, adjust, and update your go-to-market strategy—all of it—from a single platform, Connected Planning puts your CRM data to its best use.

Going back to the earlier thought experiment: by giving your team a CRM, you turn that team into a Ferrari. But it’s Connected Planning that tells the Ferrari where to go and how to get there.

Connected Planning gives you your whole go-to-market strategy in a single place. Where you’re going to drive it? That’s up to you.

Anaplan for Sales: Empowering your go-to-market strategy

Read the paper

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