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3 Simple Steps to Boost Your Continuous Sales Planning Game

Jul 15, 2020
2 min read
To hit goals, sales leaders have to handle endless variables. Discover how to improve sales planning using data and analysis in three simple steps.

Sales planning can be complicated, really complicated—and “three easy steps” may sound too good to be true. When it comes to hitting targets, sales leaders must balance their overall pipeline opportunities with their team’s actual bandwidth. Effective sales capacity planning determines how you set, pursue, and achieve your goals. In order to hit your targets, motivate team performance, and get some sleep at night, you’ll need an accurate sales capacity plan to pave the way.

Follow these three steps to set yourself up to achieve your booking goals.

Step 1: Create a Viable Resource and Sales Capacity Plan

Identifying how you will achieve your sales targets is often quite complicated. You might spend months running scenarios, gathering current and historical data on ramp, attrition, and time to hire.

For example, Forrester Research states that attrition is on the rise, with 65% of companies reporting they are experiencing unwanted sales attrition and 59% saying that the average tenure of C-level executives continues to shrink.

But, let’s press the rewind button real quick. The first thing you should do after determining a target is to evaluate whether or not you have the sales capacity to hit that goal. Once your sales capacity has been established, it’s time to decide if you need to add or reduce your headcount—and by what date you need to do so (taking into account ramp and time to hire).

Step 2: Combine Your Plan With Your Actuals

Traditionally, companies create a plan and let it sit for 365 days—failing to reassess and adjust it throughout the year. With today’s dynamic markets and increased competition, it’s now a best practice to frequently monitor your plan against actuals. By regularly checking in with your performance data, you'll be able to pinpoint any deviations and course-correct before being derailed from your target goals.

According to a recent Forrester report based on the responses of 352 C-level executives, a key takeaway reported was the need for speed. More specifically, how achieving key objectives in today’s market requires an organization to adapt to the speed of market change.

Annual planning—or even quarterly planning—is a thing of the past. Leaders must evolve to the point of being able to make near-real-time plan optimizations based on current and trusted data like the ones stated above in the first step—quota, capacity, resources, headcount, etc.

Step 3: Analyze Sales Performance & Take Action

By closely following Steps one and two, you will be able to spend less time on the initial planning process, giving you more time to analyze important data. This data includes your sales performance management strategies and results. By identifying and evaluating the impact that factors—such as unforeseen attrition, ramp time, and untimely hiring—have on your sales capacity, you'll be able to derive the best approach to ensuring the success of your team and business.

Here are three key recommendations we think can help you in your new, continuous approach to planning:

  1. Speed and Agility: The ability to adapt your plans quickly is now more essential than ever due to the current volatile market. Make sure you have the technology to make these key pivots.
  2. Data Insights: It’s time for growth leaders to take a data-driven approach. The days of gut-level decision making are well behind us, it’s time to access your data for actionable insights.
  3. Sales Performance Management (SPM): Inefficient processes and homegrown systems won’t cut it. Organizations that only rely on homegrown solutions will not be able to compete with organizations that leverage SPM automation and AI-driven insights.

Learn more about continuous sales planning and the latest research on Sales Performance Management (SPM) in this on-demand session with Forrester’s Principal Analyst Mary Shea.

  • Sales Planning