From Sales Planning to Profit

Think of sales as a strategic battlefield.

Your job is to figure out where to deploy your resources to maximize returns.

Much like orchestrating a military operation, it's a challenging but highly rewarding task.

So, how does effective sales planning significantly influence and enhance overall sales performance?

With a background as unique as his transition from the US Army Finance Corps to leading a sales planning and strategy in the B2B space, Dana Therrien of Anaplan brings his practical insights to answer the question.

Let's dive into his approach.

Step-by-Step Guide to Enhancing Sales Effectiveness

  1. Embrace a Holistic Sales Strategy
“If you think about operations and enablement and being a partnership in sales productivity, that's where it's evolved.”

Sales strategy represents an incredibly dynamic mix of components, evolving from a number-focused approach to a more holistic view. This includes forecasting, account strategy, sales operations, resource allocation, and analytics.

Focus on integrating operations that ensure efficiency, allowing salespeople to capitalize on as many opportunities as possible, and enablement that focuses on effectiveness, equipping operations with the necessary tools and knowledge.

  1. Balance Leading and Lagging Indicators

Effective sales performance management requires a balanced focus on leading (pipeline building and engagement) and lagging indicators (revenue per rep and average deal size).

Lagging indicators offer insight into past performance while leading ones are essential for predicting future success.

That's where sales intelligence tools come in. However, use them wisely.

As Dana warns about their misuse, “What happens occasionally is that tyrannical CROs will use these sales intelligence tools as an instrument to demotivate and micromanage reps. And I think we're running into an era of sales fascism with some of these tools. When these incredible tools get in the hands of the wrong individuals, they're used as a punishment instead of a guide and a coach. And I think that's where we're at a risky point in sales now where the technology has become so good.”
  1. Streamline RevTech

Managing RevTech tools effectively means integrating key solutions into a single platform.

Anaplan is a good example as it gathers data across different processes, providing real-time insights for informed decision-making.

So, opt for an integrated platform that provides real-time insights across sales, marketing, and customer success to make more informed decisions.

“The beauty of the technology is that it provides the information to you at the point that you need it. The intelligence that's being provided to you is, without question, accurate in most cases. So you save all that time that you used to spend debating the accuracy of the numbers, and you're looking at reality. Now, you can have a conversation about the strategy of trying to close this deal, penetrate this account, and increase both the breadth and the width of our presence inside of this account. So yes, when used correctly, it's a great conversation for coaching.”
  1. Develop a Realistic and Balanced Sales Planning

Accurate sales planning increases the likelihood of hitting targets by four times and results in 1.7 times more sales reps meeting their individual goals.

However, businesses often overrate their ability in sales forecasting while underperforming in sales planning.

Don't fall into this trap. Ensure your sales planning is well-balanced and equitable.

“Most companies believe they should be much better at sales planning. They think that they're falling short in that area. But when they're bad at sales planning, inevitably, they rate themselves very good at sales forecasting.”

We mentioned in the beginning that turning your sales planning into profit is a complex yet achievable goal.

However, it requires a holistic strategy that blends operations and enablement, a balanced focus on different performance indicators, streamlined technology, realistic planning, and a culture based on continuous learning and coaching.

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