For many B2B organizations, the planning process is one that is very siloed between product, marketing, and sales. This siloed model is what can lead to delays in territory design and what often prohibits sales reps from attaining their quotas and meeting their targets. Mark B. Levinson, service director, sales operations strategies at SiriusDecisions recently joined our own Kevin Gray, director, product marketing, for a webinar that unpacked the typical sales planning process.
To do this, Levinson began by analyzing the data collected in our recent sales planning survey. Over 450 senior leaders responded, all with critical roles in the sales planning process. The majority of the survey respondents identified themselves as Chief Revenue Officers (26%), Chief Sales Officers (20%), and Executive Vice Presidents of Sales (15%). Of those who participated, 58% were from North America, 26% from Europe and the Middle East, and 15% from Asia and the Pacific region. Most of the survey participants represent companies with $500 million to $1 billion in annual revenue.
Levinson began by looking at the planning process on the whole. The majority of survey respondents reported starting their sales planning two to three months before the end of the current fiscal year (click to tweet this statistic). He pointed out that from a calendar perspective that would mean sales planning occurs during Q4. This puts additional pressure on planning efficiency, as sales leaders must find a way to balance their time between core selling activities that help close current year business, and also be able to put the right attention to the planning process for the new fiscal year.
Efficiency can be dramatically hindered if the right departments are not represented in the planning process. Despite this, only one third of survey respondents reported inviting marketing or product to the planning table. Levinson pointed out that the effects of this lack of collaboration become apparent further down the planning process in the form of costly delays and misaligned territories.
Planning in a silo without input from finance, marketing, or product means that critical pieces of the plan are likely missing. These missing pieces could be why half of all survey respondents reported going through five or more iterations of the planning process (click to tweet this statistic). Reevaluation and modification of quota plans often adds an additional one to three months to the overall planning process, and is a costly waste of time. In sales terms, Levinson warned, this means that no one is selling during Q1. However, using the right tools, and by inviting all the necessary groups to be involved in the planning process, these mistakes can be reversed or more preferably, avoided.
In order to avoid some of the pitfalls highlighted by the survey results, Levinson offered three key takeaways:
- Collecting valid data over multiple years is critical to sales planning and analysis
- As a best practice, sales organizations should take an opportunity-based approach to quota allocation
- Adoption of better tools cuts down the number of plan iterations, which increased productivity
Using the right tools is critical to maximizing efficiency in the sales planning process, and Gray highlighted that Anaplan’s scalability allows for collaboration across the enterprise. Spreadsheets are cumbersome, encourage errors, and are resource intensive. Anaplan’s flexible platform allows for streamlined business planning and ensures alignment with corporate objectives. Ready to improve your sales planning process? Watch the webinar archive or Download our data sheet for more information about Anaplan for sales.