As your business grows, the pressure on your sales department increase as they have to achieve ever higher revenue targets. They may be struggling with current quotas, however, and many businesses identify insufficient revenue growth as the key motivator to pursue sales management initiatives, such as practices and technology. According to a report by Harvard Business Review, “optimizing sales performance in today’s knowledge economy calls for a more rigorous and data-driven approach to foundational sales processes, including strategic planning, territory allocation, resource planning and compensation programming.” I will address the main points of the article, and summarize with our view of the future of sales. Find a link to the whole study below.
Main Areas to consider:
1. It All Starts with Planning
Planning is essential and providing data-based insights can improve decisions on everything from sales representatives allocation to performance targets and compensation rewards. Strong planning also leads to more accurate forecasting. But just as vital to accuracy is continuous measurement and monitoring. It is also important to be open to alteration, should there be a larger shift in the market, or a new competitor affecting your business.
The first step is to bringing together the vast amount of data across the organization in a single location and in a form that can be easily accessed and analyzed by everybody. For this end, using technology, to migrate from static spreadsheets to cloud-based applications should be considered. It will improve not only the speed and accuracy but the entire planning and forecasting process. The end result is accurate and flexible planning and forecasting and a quick return on your investment.
2. Executing the plan
It is important having a hands-on approach to the whole process. Incorporating analytics and data-driven planning will change how sales representatives will execute on their plans, and will, in the end, affect the entire enterprise. It has to be acknowledged that organizations need to lay the groundwork in terms of both IT infrastructure and the cultural changes required to realize data-driven planning and forecasting. Cloud-based systems, such as Netsuite and Adaptive Insights offered here at Shearwater, will allow your organization to start small, and scale up capabilities as is needed.
3. Monitoring Performance; Responding to Change
Analytics generated by cloud-based solutions, such as the aforementioned, will enable your business to monitor performance and act on and take advantage of changing market conditions. The sales process can be complicated and determining resource allocations based on past knowledge or guestimates, will always be inferior to live data-driven analytics. Cloud-based solutions will help you leverage the rich data from both plans and execution to make continual adjustments to critical processes like territory planning, quota management, capacity planning, forecasting, deal optimization, etc., throughout the financial period.
On the Future of sales:
The benefits of data and analytics for sales organizations are becoming ever clearer. Your business will still have to rely on competent, creative and intelligent salespeople, but even talented ones will struggle to achieve their sales quotas unless they get comfortable with implementing data-driven plans to seize the customer opportunities before them.
At Shearwater we have deep experience implementing two powerful cloud-based SaaS CRM and ERP systems. Netsuite and Adaptive Insights, please follow the links for more information, or feel free to contact us with any question you may have.