Research reveals how to gain better results from your sales plan

The mission of sales leadership with the support of sales operations is to define a sales process and methodolodgy with specific milestones to minimize volatility and maximize repeatable success across the sales team. Sales leaders must capture the success of one rep and figure out the critical steps to make it happen again and again.

In this webinar, we found that the best sales organizations tend to be good at both sales planning and sales execution—specifically, with a few optimizations to your sales planning, your team can develop a more coherent and accurate sales process, leading to better pipeline velocity, higher conversion rates, and better sales results.

In the recently concluded webinar from the Sales Management Association, SMA Chairman Bob Kelly presented powerful insights, research data, survey results, and best practices on how sales leaders can develop a better approach to sales planning.

This webinar is worth watching for any sales leaders interested in getting bigger results from their sales teams through improved sales forecasting and tactical sales planning. Below are a few of our key takeaways from the sales planning webinar.

Sales planning takes time.

Many sales organizations devote a lot of time and resources to sales planning. According to the SMA’s survey of sales managers, most sales organizations conduct organization-wide sales forecasting, sales expense budgeting, and headcount projection on a quarterly basis. Many companies do their planning and forecasting on a monthly basis. It’s clear that sales planning is very much on the minds of sales managers all year long, not just once a year or once per quarter. What is your cadence of re-discussing and evolving your sales plan and forecast?

Mid-year course corrections are less successful.

The survey found that the most effective activities for sales planning involved communicating performance expectations and securing commitment from stakeholders. In contrast, the least effective activities were course correcting the plan in the middle of the year. Instead of taking an episodic approach to sales planning, it’s best to take a continuous approach—ensure communication with your team happens early and often instead of trying to blindly change course mid-year. With sales planning, targets can and will change, but your organization’s leadership needs to be ready to adapt and pivot at any point in time.

Get buy-in from the entire sales organization.

Sales planning is done best when the plan is a living document created with input from everyone in the organization, including front-line sales reps. If a sales plan is seen as being handed down by top executives, it will have a much lower chance of being enthusiastically adopted. The SMA’s research showed that survey respondents tended to agree that “goals are clear at the individual level,” but they were much more ambivalent when asked if they agree with the statements that their “sales organization believes the plan is achievable” and that the “sales organization contributes to plan change decisions.” This research is a sign that sales teams need to do a better job of including the entire team’s expertise and ideas as part of the sales planning process—this will lead to better morale and more accurate sales forecasts.

Sales planning is a time-consuming and challenging process for many organizations, but by adopting the latest best practices, your team can create more accurate sales forecasts and enjoy more efficient sales operations all year long.

Are you ready to learn more about the latest research-backed best practices for sales planning? Check out this webinar, Sales Planning Best Practices. You’ll see some of the latest research from a select audience of sales managers and gain insights on how to improve your organization’s sales planning process.

Check out our weekly demo of our end-to-end sales planning platform.

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