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Better Sales Planning in Three Easy Steps

To hit goals, sales leaders must balance overall pipeline with team bandwidth. Discover how to improve sales planning using data and analysis in 3 easy steps.

4 min read

Sales planning can be complicated, really complicated—and “three easy steps” may sound too good to be true. When it comes to hitting sales 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 sales 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 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—or arguing over how many leads the marketing team should deliver to make the plan work.

Let’s press the pause button. The first thing you should do after determining a target is 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 dynamic markets and increased competition, it’s 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.

*Tip! Xactly recommends checking your actuals against your plan at least once a month, but if you're consistently missing your targets, checking in on a weekly basis may be a better option.

Step 3: Analyze Sales Performance & Take Action

By closely following Steps 1 and 2, 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 attrition, ramp, and untimely hiring—have on your sales capacity, you'll be able to derive the best approach to ensuring the sales success of your team and business.

These fundamental steps will help you craft a stronger sales foundation—but making them “easy” is our job. Xactly Sales Resource Planning can help you determine the resources you’ll need to hit your sales goals.

Learn more in this short video.