How to plan a winning sales strategy in a resource-constrained environment

Fiona Ehret-Kayser

Industry Marketing Lead, TMT

In the current resource-constrained business landscape, business leaders in technology, media, and telecom (TMT) are exploring more innovative and strategic approaches to ensure more predictable and profitable revenue growth. From product- and ecosystem-led growth to land, retain, and expand strategies—every aspect of their operations is under scrutiny. The question continuing to plague anxious TMT sales leaders persists: How can revenue and operations teams ensure sufficient sales capacity to hit their goals? Despite ongoing buyer uncertainty and layoffs, research shows that 63% of leaders are increasing their GTM headcount in 2023 relative to 2022¹Yet CSOs are finding it difficult to attract high-quality operations and sales candidates, job requisitions are taking much longer to fill, and new talent is expensive. Today, effective sales capacity planning plays a crucial role in achieving your target numbers, but it has also become more complicated than ever.

Do your current sales capacity planning methods empower your revenue teams?

Sales capacity planning is a strategic modeling process that helps you predict your company's ability to hit its numbers this year and next. It's based on having an accurate and achievable sales target, understanding the performance of your current salesforce, and identifying future sales headcount needed to close any performance gaps to achieve desired goals. With more pressure to deliver profitable growth, it's crucial to understand your sales capacity needs to successfully execute your sales strategy. If you lack sufficient capacity, you risk missing top-line growth targets. If you over-hire, you risk missing bottom-line targets, and may lead to budget and resource cuts across the organization. When it comes to getting this right—the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Sales and finance leaders face key challenges in forecasting sales and revenue, as well as in long-range and annual revenue planning to establish sales targets and allocate resources effectively. Uncertainties about the future have impacted the behaviors of buyers, slowing deal velocity, shrinking renewals, and eliminating upsell and cross-sell opportunities. Sales leaders must collaborate more closely with finance, marketing, customer success, partner, and operations teams to analyze market trends, assess risks, and distribute accurate and achievable quotas. By setting the right goals, you can motivate and retain sellers while also enabling more accurate modeling and scenario planning to determine how much additional capacity is needed to reach your target.

Sales leaders across TMT are often focused on hitting their numbers for the next quarter, or year, and hiring needs for the future can quickly become deprioritized. Mid-year planning is another area where sales capacity gaps arise. Continuously improving the productivity of all the teams that touch revenue - including SDRs, account executives, sales managers, sales engineers, customer success, partner, and alliance teams - helps bridge any gaps between your organization's current state and its revenue targets. Comparative analysis of individual and team performance can help you identify where individuals or teams are underperforming, enabling tactical coaching and more effective changes to your sales strategy. Understanding the performance of your current sales teams doesn’t just get you closer to your target this year, it helps drive ramp and performance assumptions of new hires when evaluating what roles to fill in your sales capacity plan.

Do your current sales capacity planning methods empower your revenue teams?

TMT sales leaders are constantly seeking optimal alignment between sales targets and team capacity. However, pushing teams beyond realistic capabilities can lead to a disconnect between plan and performance, increasing costly attrition and more opportunities for sales to fall short of their goals.  

Effective sales planning and sales capacity planning should enable sales leaders to:

  • Improve the capacity and agility of your revenue operations teams by streamlining your territory, quota, sales capacity, and incentive compensation planning in one place. With all the data needed for effective collaboration, modeling, scenario planning, and what-if analysis at their fingertips, your operations team will do more with less, driving more confident decision-making and strategies to achieve your top and bottom-line targets.
  • Stay ahead of the competition by adapting and responding to changing market dynamics and customer preferences with agility throughout the year. Sales leaders must continually monitor the market, analyze customer needs, and develop responsive sales strategies that guide sales execution, uncover new opportunities, and realize revenue growth.
  • Optimize sales coverage and balance workloads across all your teams that touch revenue from SDRs, AEs, CSMs, partners, and more. Sales leaders should assess the revenue potential of each segment and account to make informed decisions about territory assignments, account distribution, and where new headcount can have the greatest impact. Alignment with your workforce and operational headcount planning ensures your team can attract and hire the right candidates in the right roles to hit your number.
  • Quantify sales performance and retain your sellers by setting and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) such as deal velocity, win rates, deal sizes, and more in real-time, and providing targeted feedback on performance. A comprehensive talent strategy identifies areas in need of improvement through coaching, recognizes top performers, and guides career development for your revenue-generating teams, increasing retention to achieve short and long-term sales objectives.

How can you modernize sales capacity planning and leverage it to win?

Many sales organizations do not include capacity planning as part of their formal sales planning processes—but they should. Given the pressure to hit targets and the precarious state of hiring today, sales leaders can’t afford the risk of understaffing and attrition, nor the risk of overhiring and restructuring. Optimizing your sales capacity and coverage in resource-constrained environments is essential for driving predictable and profitable growth.

Creating optimal sales coverage models with proactive capacity planning offers several benefits to sales organizations, including the ability to:

  • Better align sales strategies with mid-year and annual goals and build a smarter decision-making culture driven by data.
  •  Enhance the productivity of existing sales and operations teams, improve resource allocation, and make more strategic recruitment decisions.
  •  Improve forecasting accuracy, satisfy customer demands—and increase revenue.

Today’s uncertain and resource-constrained economy requires businesses to sell smarter—not harder. By prioritizing sales capacity planning, sales leaders can effectively manage capacity gaps, optimize sales performance, and achieve consistent results. A highly coordinated, strategic approach to managing sales capacity can help your organization navigate change, capitalize on growth opportunities, and carve out a decisive competitive advantage.

Learn more about sales capacity planning
By providing valuable insights, Anaplan empowers sales leaders in tech, media, and telecom to improve and optimize future endeavors. It enables them to measure and analyze sales performance metrics, aligning capacity and coverage with expected targets. Anaplan's AI and ML capabilities can help sales leaders achieve a deeper understanding of their customers and identify profitable market opportunities to focus your sales resources.

Learn more about Anaplan solutions for sales capacity planning, and check out the following resources:

 

References:

1.     Sales Talent Productivity Risks and Remedies for 2023: https://sbigrowth.com/insights/sales-talent-productivity-risks-and-remedies-for-2023