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How to Use Optimized Sales Planning to Drive Growth like Salesforce

Every sales organizations needs strategic planning and analysis. See how Salesforce uses Xactly to manage their global sales force and drive company growth.

7 min read

Salesforce is one of the most successful technology businesses in the world. From the beginning, Salesforce has needed to design effective sales plans to grow, scale, and drive revenue. So how do they continue to operate so efficiently? Here's how you can plan, execute, and optimize to drive growth like Salesforce

It was not a one-and-done fix. Salesforce has worked since it's founding to optimize and improve their sales planning processes. Ultimately, they had to look at their existing plans and as a overall sales organization, they had to look in the mirror and reinvent their sales strategies to focus on unleashing the power of their organization by empowering their number one resource—people. 

The Need to Eliminate Manual Processes

80% of spreadsheets contain errors.

Read that again (and again if necessary). More than 3/4 of spreadsheets contain errors—so why do more than 80% of companies still rely on them to manage their sales data and planning processes? Manual processes are also more time-consuming. For example, when companies automate their territory design, they reduce planning time up to 75%

This is true for every part of the sales planning process. In order to optimize operations like Salesforce has, companies must focus on efficiency and building the strongest plans to drive growth. To grow and scale appropriately and develop plans that guide this, companies must eliminate their manual processes. It also opens the door to use technology to use data more effectively and improve planning as a whole.

    Recognizing the Importance of Data

    Consider how many companies go about about designing their sales plans. More often than not, sales plans are based on gut instinct. The resulting plan is static. The worst part? You don't know if your plan is actually a good plan. It's one thing to automate your processes for efficiency, but if you're plans are data-driven, they're still the same poor-performing plans—just automated.

    Automation does more than automate processes. It creates a single source of truth for every part of your company. Sales, Finance, Operations, and C-Level leadership can all access data in one place. This means your plans are more aligned and decisions are more strategic and better informed—which means your sales team is set up for success from the start.

    In fact companies using data to drive planning have achieved:

    • 99% commission payout accuracy
    • 10-15% increase in quota attainment
    • 170+ hours of administration time saved

    How Salesforce Uses Data to Drive Growth

    In recent years, Salesforce transformed their sales compensation design process by integrating their sales and compensation design teams. This integration has given Salesforce greater insight into the effectiveness of their compensation plans, ensuring any incentives can realistically be administered by compensation team.

    Ultimately, sales compensation comes down to incenting the right sales behaviors. To do this, compensation design teams must align incentive plans with company objectives and values. Start by thinking what’s important to your company and design plans to drive behaviors that drive growth.

    At the foundation, design teams must understand company strategic initiatives to build compensation plans that drive what’s right for both the company and the sales team.

    By taking advantage of their data wisely to guide sales planning, execution, and optimization.

    Data is one of the most critical components of strategic, optimized sales planning. Alongside analytics, data is the foundation of your sales plan. They key is to find tools that seamlessly integrate your data sources and provide quality data, ensuring the necessary information is available to pay sales compensation earnings out efficiently and accurately.

    Current and past performance data and analytics show the ROI of incentives and help compensation design teams plan create more effective plans.

    See the Xactly Advantage for Yourself

    For sales reps, data can be an effective motivator. The more frequently you can provide sales reps with their earned commission data, the more motivated your sales team will be. Data also provides key indicators of how your company is doing, and when designed effectively, compensation plans can be a key driver for growth.

    Nearly 70 percent of Xactly customers use Salesforce to manage their sales force compensation plans, and Salesforce is a long-standing Xactly customer (since 2010), using Xactly Incent to manage more than 15,000 payees on compensation plans.

    By using Xactly Incent, Salesforce gives their sales teams the ability to see their earned commission in real time. They are able to benchmark, analyze, and adjust their compensation plans using Xactly Insights.

    Having the right data easily accessible to sales and finance leaders allows for more accurate forecasting and sales compensation payouts, ultimately, helping companies achieve their sales objectives and drive growth. See where you stand against competitors in using data in this assessment