Go-to-Market Optimization: Future of Sales Planning

Go-to-market motions have increased dramatically in complexity, with frequent and unpredictable market changes becoming the norm. How can you grow revenue in such a volatile market? For this next episode, I invited Sarah Van Caster, Vice President of Growth Marketing at Varicent, to discuss how strategic sales planning can deliver a path to revenue growth.  

Sales planning is often looked at as a painful, inefficient process. Without an effective sales plan, one with attainable quotas and balanced territories, sellers become frustrated. And frustrated sellers often look for the door. Sarah and I dive into how you can turn your processes around to optimize your sales strategies.  

 Here are the 6 key topics we covered in our conversation. 

1. Sales Operations is moving from tactical to transformative  

A recent LinkedIn study reported a 38% increase in sales operations roles. Why the rise in demand? The volatility in the market is transforming the sales operations role into one of the more strategic aspects of a go-to-market organization. It is becoming increasingly clear that strategic sales planning helps you adapt to shifting markets and drive revenue growth. 

 2. Everything is connected… and that adds complexity

 The word ‘sequence’ is commonly used to describe the steps involved in creating a sales plan. But sequence is a tricky word because the process isn’t so linear. There are many pieces to the sales planning puzzle: territories, quotas, compensation, capacity… and the complexity lies in how all the pieces are interconnected. A change to one piece causes a ripple effect.  


3. Is there a cure for quota woes?  

 This ripple effect has a negative effect on your timelines. One curveball in the planning process pushes out those connection points and sellers are left wondering what their quota is. The longer it takes to deliver the quota, the harder it is to deliver the results. So, is there a way to make the process better and more efficient? You’ll have to watch the episode to find out. 

 Sarah advises that you can start the evaluation of your quotas by honestly answering this question: What should your quota actually be? You want the quota to be attainable, but you need to manage costs associated with accelerated commission rates. And it should be in line with your organization’s revenue goals. Also, look at what your quota attainment is now, and what you would like it to be. Identifying the gaps will help you focus on what needs to change and what can remain the same.  

 4. Sales planning is a team sport

Keep your sales planning processes on track and efficiently address changes by building alliances between the sales and sales operations teams. This collaboration needs to happen not only between the people, but also the data and processes you have in place. This is another example of how sales planning is a complex network of connectivity. Watch the episode for our discussion on how you can work towards a more collaborative approach. 

5. Is there a crystal ball for predicting seller turnover? 

There isn’t an organization that is immune to sellers quitting. And we all know the impact that seller turnover can have on your revenue growth plans. So, the first step is to understand what a healthy turnover looks like for your organization and look for the signals that indicate a problem. Factors like quota attainment, and low commission payout can suggest frustrated sellers. But there are also subjective factors worth considering. Watch the episode to learn more about the role leadership plays in seller turnover. 

 6. What impact does technology have on sales planning?  

 Historically, technology was not focused on planning. Rather, the technology prioritized execution, like enablement software and prospecting tools. When it came to sales planning and strategy, everything was being flowed into spreadsheets. Endless tabs after tabs of data. With the volatile market demanding the need for strategic sales planning, it’s an exciting time for technology to step in and introduce efficiencies, better collaboration, and actionable insights.  

Speaking of actionable insights, the right technology can help sales operations leader use data in more approachable ways. Deloitte pens this as a “human-machine partnership”, where technology can do the complex analysis for you and provide real time analytics that give insight into performance and identify gaps in your plans. Predictive intelligence is something I talked with Joel Shapiro about on the very first episode of What I Wish I Knew. Predictive intelligence in sales planning is a competitive advantage. It will help you evaluate potential and project probably outcomes so that you can make changes swiftly and with confidence.  

How are companies taking advantage of sales planning technology?  

Watch the episode to hear a compelling example of how the Varicent sales planning solution has transformed one sales organization. Champagne, anyone?  

 It’s hard to believe but this is the last episode of 2022! I’ll be recapping key moments of the first season of What I Wish I Knew in the next episode. Hit that subscribe button to make sure you don’t miss it. What do you want to know more about in 2023? Let us know in the comments of the the latest episode.