LinkedIn transforms go-to-market planning for flexibility, agility, empowerment

Data-powered sales headcount and territory planning feed forecast and performance tracking in an end-to-end GTM enterprise solution

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Anaplan has greatly reduced the frustration and anxiety that used to come with a lot of our planning processes.
— Rachel Krall, Senior Director, Go-To-Market Operations, LinkedIn


more frequent sales planning improves business agility 


faster territory planning puts sellers to work sooner


hours saved in GTM operations (FY23) creates bandwidth to support sellers

Go-to-market operations in LinkedIn’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) business have been transformed with Anaplan. Headcount plans drive sales territory creation, and data from multiple sources enhances territory precision. Territories are delivered much more quickly, and this newfound agility supports more-frequent sales planning. Territory plans are used for sales forecasting and performance tracking in Anaplan, and Anaplan models are repurposed and adapted for other business units by an empowered GTM ops team.

In 2019 Rita Griebenow joined LinkedIn Corporation, and preparing files for sales territories was one of her first tasks. “Someone had spent hours building a territory model for our division in a spreadsheet — getting all the metrics and making sure the data was right,” Griebenow, now Sales Operations Manager, recalls. “Then four of us spent an entire Friday breaking that model into pieces to send each sales team their territories.”

Go-to-market (GTM) operations teams perform tedious, time-consuming tasks like this all the time, but that’s not how it’s meant to be. “GTM ops is really intended to be an enabler for our sales teams,” says Rachel Krall, Senior Director of GTM Operations at LinkedIn. “We’re there to help them do their jobs more effectively and spend more time with their customers.”

Through years of hypergrowth, the technology supporting GTM at LinkedIn hadn’t kept pace with the company’s massive scale-up. “Our tools just weren’t cutting it for the number of people using them and the amount of data that we had,” Krall says. “So, we have invested in true enterprise solutions like Anaplan over the last few years to ensure that we're aligned with industry best practices.” These agile tools have proved their value as the business climate has become more dynamic.

Greater complexity and increased frequency

LinkedIn’s SaaS business uses Anaplan for sales forecasting and territory planning, but José Almaraz Reséndez, Senior Manager of Sales Operations, says the process really starts with a headcount plan. “Every year we re-analyze how many people we need in each market with Anaplan before we distribute thousands of accounts to the right reps,” he says.

Then comes territory-building, which is much more than just matching a seller’s name to an account. Data from the LinkedIn platform itself, and metrics developed by LinkedIn’s data science team (including a “sweet spot” score that forecasts account growth), drive the plan. “We have so many products, and a wide range of clients from the largest to the smallest,” Griebenow explains. “The sales motions are different, and the way we plan needs to reflect that. We’ve created a solution with Anaplan that can serve LinkedIn’s business in all its complexity.”

Once the territories are in sellers’ hands, their structure is used to track business performance. “Having everything in Anaplan makes that flow seamlessly,” Reséndez says.

The speed and agility of the solution has helped LinkedIn move from annual to semiannual sales planning. “We have to repeat some processes multiple times a year, which has reinforced the need for an efficient and successful tool like Anaplan,” Krall says.

LinkedIn’s SaaS business — where Krall, Griebenow, and Reséndez work — has more than 500 Anaplan users, including sales managers. The company’s media business has about a thousand additional Anaplan users. Given this large user base, LinkedIn is investing in people with Anaplan model building, solutions architecture, and data architecture skills because of the substantial return on those investments.

“Anaplan has greatly reduced the frustration and anxiety that used to come with a lot of our planning processes,” Krall explains. She estimates that 7,500 GTM ops hours were saved in FY23, and notes that the territory planning time was cut by more than 75%, from 34 days to eight. “It’s a massive time savings and a quicker go-to-market for the business,” Krall says. “It also drives consistency, alignment, and trust in the Anaplan tool.”

Building value

“Building our territory planning and roster in Anaplan saves a lot of time at the start of the fiscal year,” Reséndez says. “Some sales managers say they save 40 hours in that critical first month. By helping them save time, we're setting up the organization up for success that much quicker.”

Griebenow and Reséndez both say the value of Anaplan lies in three areas: Flexibility to accommodate a complex business model; agility to adapt quickly as business conditions change; and empowerment to address challenges within the GTM ops team. “We're not reliant on engineering to build solutions,” Griebenow explains. “The business can go to market quicker with solutions we create ourselves.” Reséndez adds that the work itself is also more satisfying, which builds team morale.

“Planning season is an incredibly stressful and busy time,” Griebenow says, thinking back to her early days splitting up territory plans by hand. “We now have an Anaplan model that makes that manual work unnecessary. That gives people a little bit more of a life, empowers them to focus on strategic work that really matters, and helps LinkedIn continue to grow.”

Rachel Krall, Senior Director of Go-To-Market Operations, LinkedIn: We are a professional network who is helping support economic opportunity for the global workforce.

We chose an Anaplan as a way to help simplify and support our teams in getting the job done.

We now use Anaplan for our territory planning process, and so the tool is actually allowing us to build our books and distribute them to sales managers for review and sign off. And then it allows sales reps to have confidence and know that they have the right accounts in hand and can immediately start selling.

I remember late nights with teams frustrated over the fact that we had version control issues or collaboration issues with online spreadsheets. And so Anaplan has greatly reduced the frustration and anxiety that used to come with a lot of our planning processes.

I'm Rachel Krall, and I'm a senior director in go-to-market operations at LinkedIn. And we plan with Anaplan.

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