Today’s sales environment is being radically transformed by new and disruptive technologies. In a recent webinar, “The future of sales and how big shifts will impact your sales organization,” I joined principal Brandon Kulik and senior manager Simmi Mehta from Deloitte Consulting LLP’s sales force effectiveness practice to discuss key technology disrupters and their consequences. The resulting insights I’ve listed below can help attune sales leaders to today’s unprecedented changes while also providing practical advice on harnessing these changes for competitive advantage.
Disruption creates major opportunities
Several trends are altering how sales organizations operate. Ubiquitous technology devices and other data sources will continue to generate enormous amounts of new data, spurring automation as companies struggle to extract value. Furthermore, the millennials that now comprise half of today’s workforce bring a tech-savvy and do-it-yourself mentality to work that focuses on solutions rather than specific jobs. Meanwhile, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and cognitive computing will continue to gain traction among companies looking to better meet customer needs.
Embedded analytics enable strategic change
How can sales leaders remain competitive in this new environment? According to Deloitte, companies are increasingly embedding advanced analytics into their sales forecasting, planning, and management efforts in order to utilize all that data at their fingertips. Instead of looking solely at internal metrics, they can now incorporate social media, economic information, and other external data into their planning. This results in improved pricing, territory design, talent management, and quota setting.
Three ways to hit the ground running
To succeed in today’s environment, companies need a customized roadmap to move forward. Fortunately, both Deloitte and Anaplan have learned what strategies really work when it comes to building a highly competitive, analytics-driven sales organization.
1. Select the right platform
To support advanced analytics, select a platform that can integrate vast amounts of data and enable connected planning across the customer experience and sales process. This platform should likewise enable advanced modeling techniques. Because it can serve as a comprehensive data repository, a platform like Anaplan is ideal for accomplishing these goals and creating a more connected data and planning environment.
2. Adopt a phased approach
Companies should build, test, and implement sales planning applications, starting with data they already have, then incorporate new data and improve applications in phases. Creating common data definitions and a more connected planning environment are also important foundational steps. If you’re unsure where to begin, assess your biggest pain points and opportunities, then conduct a feasibility assessment of the most critical actions. One Deloitte client looking to revamp talent management implemented the Anaplan platform as the first phase of their initiative to achieve connected planning across the organization.
3. Align sales and marketing
According to a McKinsey study, 40 percent of sales activities are manual in nature, requiring sales reps to handle huge amounts of transactional business. By creating efficiencies and the right incentives, companies can refocus their reps from product selling to value selling and better sync sales and marketing goals. Indeed, connected planning is at the core of improved alignment between sales and marketing, leading to a more strategic, competitive business.
Dealing with rapid and major technological change can be daunting for any sales organization. But smart sales leaders can use disruption to their advantage and come out on top. To learn more about technology disrupters, embedded analytics, and other best practices for modernizing your sales organization, watch the full webinar.
The future of sales planning