“Know your customer” has long been the mantra of sales people across the globe, and it has never been more important. As Anaplan’s Chief Revenue Officer, I know how important it is to understand customer intentions. Accurate sales forecasts, cross-departmental communication, and credible data all are crucial for knowing what customers think, want, and need. With that in mind, Anaplan’s new report “Joining the dots: how connected planning will transform banking,” prepared by Financial Times, makes intriguing reading. The report examines the importance of cloud-based connected planning in the retail banking sector. The report is based on a survey of 50 banking executives conducted by FTRemark, but I found insights for sales professionals both inside and outside the financial services arena in it. Here are my four key takeaways: Customer demands are shifting. In today’s constantly evolving business landscape, it can be difficult to pinpoint customer intentions, and while digital innovation has created lots of opportunity, it has also increased competition and challenged traditional business models. Incumbent businesses (retail banks, in the report) have had to become more flexible and adaptable to meet customer needs as new players enter the market. The survey reflects this shift within the industry: 80 percent of respondents rate changing customer demands as a significant challenge facing retail banks, while three quarters cite digital transformation as a strategic challenge (click to tweet). In this environment, customer demands are changing faster than ever, and sales professionals risk losing business if they can’t change with them. Cloud-based planning enables a connected approach, which helps you hear what your customers are saying to and about other parts of your organization. Lack of communication hurts sales. In my job, I communicate with departments all across Anaplan every day. If I don’t, I risk missing valuable information. Having visibility throughout a company is key to alignment, but just 34 percent of respondents’ business plans are visible across their entire organization. Connected planning allows sales, operations, finance, and marketing to collaborate on opportunities—aligning strategy and boosting productivity and revenue. By receiving historical, economic, and industry data, the sales team can respond and close deals faster. Data can be a dilemma. Data is the lifeblood of an efficient sales machine, enabling more accurate predictions and sales forecasting. Yet many companies in financial services (and, in truth, most other sectors) still struggle to access and analyze credible data. The report reveals that, for sales departments, the biggest challenges associated with cloud-based planning are analysis (44 percent) and forecasting/modeling (38 percent). And on a broader level, these challenges cut across the whole organization. Three quarters of survey respondents say driving decisions with data and analytics is a significant strategic challenge. By bringing together data from across the business, connected planning allows sales professionals to make better-informed business decisions based on trusted, real-time data. Sales can’t be siloed. I was drawn to a comment by one respondent to the survey, the head of strategy at a Malaysian bank. He said, “When marketing and sales work closely together, the likelihood of achieving goals increases.” He is absolutely right, but building that connection between sales and other business functions can be tricky. However, the desire is definitely there. Over a quarter of those surveyed believe that sales would benefit the most from cross-departmental planning. By embracing cloud-based connected planning, the sales team can share information seamlessly throughout the enterprise, and barriers between sales and marketing (and all other functions) can be bridged. While my take on the Financial Times report focuses on how connected planning can help sales teams, other departments also stand to benefit from connected planning. Uniting data and planning on one platform is good for the whole business. Against a backdrop of digital disruption and changing consumer habits, we need to adapt and stay ahead of the game to ultimately succeed. Download the report and share your reactions in the comments.
Joining the dots: how connected planning will transform banking