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The Essential Components to Effective Sales Planning

by Rachel Clapp Miller /


lock_and_key2.jpgAccountability couldn’t be more important than in the sales planning process. That cadence with which you are enabling your managers to inspect and reinforce is critical to driving revenue predictability.

 You’ve been there. It’s the end of the quarter and your reps are scrambling for the number. The whole organization is a stress ball.

So, what happens? Sales reps go into the accounts and opportunities trying to squeeze anything they can into the quarter. They discount and lose margin, while they desperately try to close deals that aren’t baked. As sales leaders, you need to ensure your reps are doing two things well:

  1. Spending time on the critical high-value sales activities
  2. Building pipeline at the territory level

Repeatability and consistency drive effective sales planning. Sales organizations that provide their managers with critical line-of-site are able to create efficiencies in forecasting, account and territory planning and opportunity reviews.

A salesperson’s time is valuable.

High-performing sales organizations put processes in place that ensure their salespeople focus their efforts on the highest value sales opportunities. If you create a predictable cadence around territory, account and opportunity planning, you’ll improve forecast accuracy and your reps ability to build a healthy pipeline.

Here are key questions to consider when developing a cadence that drives sales planning activities.

  • What are the critical few activities I should focus on? 
  • How frequently should I be doing those activities?
  • What tools are available to help me?
  • How will my success be measured?

We call the tool that drives that predictable cadence a Management Operating Rhythm® (MOR). It helps sales leaders focus on executable action with their sales teams. An MOR brings together all of your sales planning and execution processes in one tool. It makes it easy for sales managers to find what they need, when they need it. It also sets clear expectations of job responsibilities with senior management. 

When everyone is using the same Management Operating Rhythm®, they’re all speaking the same language and everyone knows the benchmarks they need to create success. As a result, your front-line managers are less burdened and there’s consistency throughout the sales organization. Your sales managers then have the opportunity to become sales leaders, because everything they do has value attached to it, instead of being some sort of compliance exercise.

Providing your front-line sales managers with a repeatable rhythm helps support consistency throughout your sales organization.

Do your front-line managers have a cadence that helps them coach reps to success?

The amount of time your front-line managers waste just trying to keep up with the forecast is valuable time not spent on helping their team sell. Ensure consistency and improve efficiency by giving them tools that make their jobs easier. Develop a sales operating rhythm that provides a consistent language and process around:

  • Territory Reviews
  • Account Reviews
  • Opportunity Reviews
  • Forecast Reviews
  • Active Sales Call Participation and Feedback

Many sales leaders are completing some of these critical steps to coach teams on building pipeline. It’s important however, that we complete all of these steps to achieve success. Missed steps equal missed revenue.

Often our perception of the time is takes to do all of these steps is typically what keeps us from building this into our routine. BUT, in actual time spent, it is less than what we believe. It’s also nowhere near close to the time it will take for you to rectify poor planning at the end of every quarter.

Remember, elite sales organizations accurately predict their number. Build the process to ensure your organization gets there -- every time. 

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