Research reveals a correlation between sales force buy-in, an investment in technology, and an achievable sales plan


The Sales Management Association (SMA) and Anaplan recently partnered together to conduct a survey to research how organizations are meeting the challenges of an effective and efficient sales planning process. The research report, published in March 2016, revealed some valuable insights into typical practices and the impact of technology on sales planning effectiveness. It is not unusual in our research to see a gap between what is considered ideal business practice and what is actually implemented, but in this recent study with Anaplan, we also saw a strong relationship between high-performing sales organizations and the use of sales planning technology.

High-performing organizations are more effective at sales planning

We defined high performers as organizations that had exceeded their revenue objectives from the prior year. Average or low performers, on the other hand, included those who missed or achieved their revenue objectives. High-performing organizations are more likely to be rated effective on each element of the sales planning process. Notice in the chart below that five out of six items in the table can be facilitated by the right technology—which then raises the question: Is there a relationship between effective sales planning and the use of enabling technology?


High-performing organizations use technology more effectively to enhance sales planning processes

Based on the respondents use of technology—our survey also shows that among high-performing organizations, 53 percent say their sales organizations use technology to plan effectively. In contrast, only 20 percent of “the other” organizations say they use technology to plan effectively. This technology gap is reflected in how well these organizations perform in key data-related tasks (see chart below), such as collecting inputs, providing flexible analyses, and capturing all the required information in a single place.


This is all interesting, but why would it matter? Why is effective sales planning associated with a performance advantage?

High-performing organizations have sales force buy-in into the planning process

Once last important key finding is the correlation between the speed and timeliness of sales planning and the sales force buy-in to the planning results. High-performing organizations execute the planning process in a timelier fashion, allowing sufficient time for sales force participation. They are 24 percent more effective than other firms in securing the sales organization’s belief that the plan is achievable. We believe this is tied to the sales force’s participation in the planning process. Through their participation, the sales force will have a better understanding of how their goals were created and insights into what they must do to achieve them.

It may be this link between sales force participation and sales performance that makes the enabling via technology valuable—or it may be that an effective use of technology creates a more realistic and achievable sales plan. In either case, the winner is the organization and its stakeholders. To see the full research and analysis around sales planning practices, read the report—and discover how your organization can become a high performer.

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