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At Vodafone, connected sales planning success has other departments calling

Telecommunications leader’s commercial business unifies and automates sales plans for efficiency and alignment

With Anaplan, Vodafone’s commercial business shaved six weeks off a three-month planning cycle and automated many mundane tasks. This freed up sales managers to support reps on better, more strategic deals, and provided the success needed to inspire planning transformation in other departments.

“Anaplan helps us to see what’s possible with collaborative planning—within sales, and across Vodafone.”

Kerry Small, Commercial and Operations Director
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faster sales planning
 
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automated sales target-setting
 

Solution

Sales

Industry

Media & Communications
Vodafone connects more than 650 million people and organizations worldwide to the digital society. That massive scale means great complexity: The Commercial Operations business alone, accounting for a third of company revenues, encompasses six product groups and 5,000 accounts in 25 countries. In total, about 750,000 variables are used to create sales plans for 2,000 quota-bearing salespeople.

In the past, sales planning at Vodafone was performed inconsistently, manually, and in functional silos. Rolling up numbers across business units and comparing performance against key criteria was nearly impossible; the company wanted to support sales managers in creating targets that were consistent, objective, and aligned with go-to-market priorities. Senior Sales Operations Manager Sarah Elfaham was tasked with improving the process. “We wanted to create a high-performance sales culture where quotas are based on opportunities and performance is rewarded,” she said.

Elfaham had used Anaplan at a prior employer and knew that the platform could deliver what Vodafone required. “We needed something that we could spin up quickly and collaboratively, where changes didn’t require months of development work,” she explained. The end-to-end account-based planning system she envisioned would start with the revenue waterfall, which would feed with pipeline data from Salesforce, along with local sales knowledge, to establish objective and interlocked sales targets and to generate target letters using DocuSign.

“Passing data from Salesforce into Anaplan for modeling gives us better insights,” Elfaham said. “We are able to add greater emphasis on the need for accurate data when we use it to model something like sales targets. We have dramatically improved data quality as a result of making data more visible in this context.”

With Anaplan, sales planning time was cut from three months to six weeks, and fewer sales operations resources were needed to compile and input data. This freed up their time to support the sales business with valuable insights during this critical planning period.

The effect has been transformational, Elfaham said. “The value of the accountability and ownership that we’ve now got is unlimited. With Anaplan, we’re making better decisions that will impact the top line for years to come.”

She adds that the effort is part of a multi-year strategy to improve sales operations and drive continued growth. Now that they’ve proved Anaplan’s ability to make target-setting faster and more objective, Elfaham and team are refining the underlying models and building dashboards (using Anaplan’s new UX) to give sales leaders real-time visibility into their reps’ targets and attainment.

Based on sales operations’ success, Anaplan is now recognized as a strategic platform across Vodafone—a designation that will further accelerate collaboration and data-sharing between teams. “Finance and Commercial and Sales Operations teams will work together using the same core data and the same model to build a rolling revenue forecast,” Elfaham said of one near-term effort. “It’s incredible to bring together functions that historically haven’t always collaborated well.”

And this new level of collaboration promises to unlock other opportunities in the company. “Anaplan helps us to see what’s possible with collaborative planning—within sales, and across Vodafone,” said Kerry Small, Commercial and Operations Director at Vodafone Business.
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