HomeBlog ′Tis the Season for Sales Planning: Five Elements That Must Be Checked Off Your List

′Tis the Season for Sales Planning: Five Elements That Must Be Checked Off Your List

November 14, 2012 | By Mark Levinson

I know that for many, the sales planning season does not conjure up thoughts of joy and happiness. However, it is that time of year when sales leaders and sales operations must focus on how to ensure success in the coming fiscal year.

I know that for many, the sales planning season does not conjure up thoughts of joy and happiness. However, it is that time of year when sales leaders and sales operations must focus on how to ensure success in the coming fiscal year. For help, sales organizations should take a lesson from the jolly old guy in the red suit: Make a list and check it twice. The list below contains five critical elements that need to be on the planning list to make sure that the sales organization kicks off the new year aligned.

  1. Target diagnostics. The corporate targets may not make us smile, but before sales operations can begin to apply a strategic plan, it must understand the targets and how they relate to corporate goals and objectives. Since sales will be expected to grow the business, where does the company want that growth to come from? It’s important to determine growth potential from existing customers, net new customers, product/solution offerings, contract renewals and acquisitions.
  2. Business analysis. Once the sales organization knows exactly what is expected (how successful performance will be defined), sales operations must understand what happened last year (descriptive analytics) and what the future looks like (predictive analytics). Using history to validate what worked well and highlight where improvements are needed will help align the strategic plan of action – based on forward-looking market intelligence.
  3. Territory optimization. Are key accounts (prospective and existing) identified along with targeted geographies or industries? How does this compare to the current coverage model? Sales operations should define the potential addressable market, align it to current pipeline, and then begin to design potential quota allocated at a high level.
  4. Resources. What does the current year’s sales rep performance look like? Were the sales roles aligned to the needs of the buyer? This is the time of year to review the required competencies for each role. It’s also time to diagnose if each individual has the right skills and knowledge to perform his or her role, and ensure that the right processes are in place to enable each sales role to effectively engage with buyers.
  5. Compensation. Hopefully, a sales compensation health check has been performed throughout the year that indicated what priorities should be focused on for the new year. What did the attainment percentage look like? Did the plan give the right guidance? What guidance is needed for the new fiscal year?

The right focus and patience in preparing a sales planning list will become the proverbial gift that keeps on giving throughout the entire year. So, pour another cup of eggnog, add a log to the fire and, most importantly, remember to check your list.

 

Mark Levinson

Mark Levinson is Vice President and Group Director of Sales and Channel Services at SiriusDecisions. Mark’s nearly 20 years of experience includes a wide variety of sales operations issues including strategic planning, territory optimization, compensation plans, account management, sales tools and sales analytics. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkBLevinson.

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