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    Best Practices for Strategic Sales Planning

    Sales planning for revenue organizations is key for growth. It’s also essential to gain a competitive advantage and achieve high sales performance. But where do you start? Here are some tips on how you can jumpstart your organization’s sales planning strategy.

    1. Continuously Analyze & Make Plan Adjustments

    The most important part of strategic sales planning is continuous analysis and adaptation. To be successful and gain an advantage over competitors in today’s business environment, organizations must be able to respond to market changes and adapt their sales plans quickly. According to Forrester, 90% of companies say making real-time decisions based on real-time insights is important to be effective, yet only 27% of respondents said they were equipped to do so. 

    By implementing strategic sales planning, organizations ensure they use their data effectively and have the strongest plan for the year ahead. Access to data creates a more informed sales organization, resulting in higher performance, productivity, and better decision making. 

    2. Aim for a Data-driven Sales Planning Approach

    Sales planning is a continuous, automated, collaborative, and data-informed process. According to Forrester research, only 48% of decisions made within an organization are made based on quantitative information and analysis. Leaders need to have a data-informed and continuous approach to sales planning to ensure every decision that is being made for your sales department is putting you in the best position to succeed.

    When using data as your planning driver, you can identify the biggest opportunities for growth and ensure you have the right resources and solutions you need to hit your numbers. Sales leaders must adapt and evolve to the point of being able to make near-real-time course-corrections based on current and trusted data if they want to really drive success in their organizations. Leading companies are leveraging these insights to create a continuous and holistic sales planning process across the sales organization, from capacity and quota planning to territory and incentive design and beyond.

    3. Consider Your Capacity Needs 

    The way you handle sales ramp time and attrition can make or break your sales success. Sales capacity planning ensures you have the right resources to hit your organizational goals. It's important to consider ramp time and rep turnover when capacity planning as well as having the right number of sales reps to cover each territory. Strategic sales planning ensures you have enough sales reps ramped and up to speed to meet your goals.

    4. Allocate Accurate Quotas

    Misallocated quotas can hurt sales performance. A quota that is too low might result in overpayment of sales reps, even if organizational goals aren't hit. And a quota that is too high might result in demotivated reps and lower performance due to the lack of incentive pay. 

    Having access to historical quota attainment patterns helps to better understand how your sales organization has performed in the past, so more accurate assumptions can be made. With data-driven sales planning, organizations can better allocate quota for the new selling year.

    5. Aim for Fair and Balanced Sales Territories

    Like quota planning, poor territory design can result in low performance and morale. Balanced and fair territories are designed so that each territory offers reps equal sales opportunities and resources to hit quota. Territories can also be designed such they consider historical factors as well as anticipated changes. For example, known planned investments made by existing customers or particular industries that are entering a strong business cycle.

    6. Consider How Incentives Play a Role in Your Plans

    The right capacity, quota, and territory design sets the stage for better sales incentive planning. With a clear sales plan in place, you will have a deeper understanding of how best to pay reps in order to achieve your goals. 

    Using data, you can look at what types of incentives drive the right behaviors and implement similar sales commission structures into your plan.

    7. Test Out Your Sales Plans Before Rollout

    Before you roll out any part of your sales plan, it’s key to run your plan through various scenarios. By creating and running multiple sales planning models, you can: 

    • Understand and plan for external and internal factors that may disrupt your plans
    • Identify situations that adversely impact sales coverage
    • Tune the right timing of resource onboarding to meet your sales objectives

    Want to learn more about how Sales Performance Management (SPM) can help you harness real-time insights to inform smart decision-making and help you kickstart your sales planning strategy, schedule a meeting here.

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