From Sales Planning to Profit with Dana Therrien

GUEST: Dana Therrien, VP of Sales Performance Management and Revenue Operations at Anaplan

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Sales planning - a daily discussion topic for every CRO and sales expert.

Only a handful of organizations are really able to drive their sales numbers, while others feel like getting stuck.

Is their sales planning broken?

Actually, let's start from the beginning with a fundamental question:

How does effective sales planning significantly influence and enhance overall sales performance?

To shed light on this important topic, we are joined by Dana Therrien, VP of Sales Performance Management and Revenue Operations at Anaplan. Dana is a well-known sales and revenue operations leader with a rich history of driving double-digit growth and profitability. He is also an exceptional public speaker, writer, and a Certified Sales Compensation Exam Item Writers Cohort Member at WorldatWork.

How Can You Leverage Both Sales Efficiency and Effectiveness?

Sales strategy represents a dynamic blend of elements, evolving from a number-focused approach to a more holistic view, incorporating sales operations, forecasting, account strategy, compensation, resource allocation, and analytics. Sales operations focus on accurate forecasting, probability analysis, and effective resource deployment across various account types. 

Sales compensation seeks to be motivational. Recently, the focus has shifted towards sales enablement and methodology, ensuring sales reps are well-prepared, supported, and equipped to maximize efficiency and effectiveness for optimal productivity.

“If you think about operations and enablement and being a partnership in sales productivity, that's where it's evolved. And the operations side is ensuring that the efficiencies are there to help salespeople show up in as many opportunities as they possibly can. And then the enablement side is the effectiveness side. And it's ensuring that when they do show up, they're properly empowered, they're knowledgeable, they've got the tools and the instruments they need to have a really wonderful conversation”.

Dana Therrien, VP of Sales Performance Management and Revenue Operations at Anaplan

Leading or Lagging Indicators?

Effective sales performance management requires a balanced focus on both leading (pipeline building and engagement) and lagging indicators (revenue per rep and average deal size). While lagging indicators offer insight into past performance, leading ones are essential for predicting future success.

Sales intelligence tools can significantly enhance the accuracy of these measurements, guiding sales teams toward more productive activities and better results. However, they should be used mainly for guidance and coaching rather than micromanagement. In the hands of the wrong leaders, these tools can undermine a sales rep's creativity and passion, leading to a demotivated and counterproductive environment.

“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”.

Dana Therrien, VP of Sales Performance Management and Revenue Operations at Anaplan

Streamlining RevTech

To effectively manage RevTech tools, focus on integrating key solutions into a unified platform to reduce complexity and enhance efficiency by combining sales, marketing, and customer success operations. Anaplan is a great example as it collects data across various functions, providing real-time insights for informed decision-making. As a result, instead of juggling numerous disconnected tools, aim for a streamlined system that captures and analyzes essential data points.

“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”.

Dana Therrien, VP of Sales Performance Management and Revenue Operations at Anaplan

Aim for a Realistic and Balanced Sales Planning

Successful sales strategies rely on realistic and effective sales planning. Businesses often overestimate their ability in sales forecasting while underperforming in sales planning. To avoid this, ensure that your sales planning is well-balanced, equitable, and carefully built. Avoid relying just on forecasting, as it can lead to unrealistic targets. According to the Sales Management Association, 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.

“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”.

Dana Therrien, VP of Sales Performance Management and Revenue Operations at Anaplan

Now that you know how to help your organization become more effective in sales through sales planning, check out the full list of episodes at The B2B Revenue Executive Experience. If you enjoy the show, instructions to rate and review it are found here.

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