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Budgeting, Planning & Forecasting

- 4 min read

Sales Planning Software: Why You Need It and What to Consider

In Dresner’s recent Wisdom of Crowds Sales Planning Market Study, which explores attitudes to Sales Planning in organizations worldwide, a huge 84% of respondents scored sales planning as important, very important, or critical to their success. The study also presents some interesting figures relating to the correlation between successful BI initiatives and the use of sales planning solutions.

Whether you’re in the same camp as the 72% of organizations using, evaluating, or considering sales planning software, or the 28% who said they were not currently looking into it, you’ll want to ensure that when the time comes to review the best sales planning software on the market you make the right choice.

What is sales planning software?

Sales planning software enables organizations to optimize various elements of the sales planning process, including sales quota planning, sales territory planning, sales capacity planning, and the segmentation of target accounts. It replaces disparate processes, which are typically spreadsheet-based, with a more unified approach that enables businesses to maximize the potential of their sales teams based on factors such as historical activity, capacity, resources, and market opportunities.

What are the benefits of sales planning software?

So why should you consider investing in sales planning software when you can forecast your sales figures and make decisions based on that information?

A key difference between sales planning and sales forecasting is that sales forecasts, while useful for predicting financial performance, don’t provide the detailed level of information required to ensure that resources are being utilized to their full potential. Sales planning, on the other hand, brings data together from various sources to help maximize sales targets by ensuring the most efficient allocation of resources is achieved.

Let’s look an example of sales planning solutions in action to illustrate the point.

  1. You explore, in detail, your previous sales performance by organization type, size, industry, geography, buyer persona, and any other variable which helps you to identify your key sales targets.
  2. Next, you compare this data with the performance of individual salespeople to understand exactly which type of sales situation their strengths lie in.
  3. Then, you combine this data with information from your operations team to understand exactly what capacity the business has, or requires, to meet demand.
  4. Finally, you model different scenarios in order to predict outcomes based on the setup of the sales team, the sales strategy, and type of organization targeted, within the bounds of your organization’s operational capabilities and resources.

This approach gives you true visibility into sales performance and the factors influencing the end result, helping you to make an informed decision on where to focus your sales efforts and who to focus them with.

Achieving this level of decision-making support with spreadsheets is impossible without considerable manual effort to collate, deduplicate, error-check, and compare your data. By that point it’s probably out-of-date anyway so isn’t really going to help with driving your sales based on the latest data. This is where a sales planning solution, and more importantly, one which offers the ability to consolidate and utilize data from across the business comes into its own, offering true decision-making support.

Factors to consider when choosing a sales planning solution

As with any change project, the full process will require some careful thought and evaluation, but here are some key considerations to get you started:

  • Ease of use – Complex solutions with difficult user interfaces are not going to make life easier or encourage users to move away from those familiar spreadsheets. Ensure the solution is user-friendly to maximize adoption and success.
  • Customization – Out of the box solutions can be tempting, but their rigid approach may not be the best fit for your processes. A solution which offers customization throughout the planning process – and even better the ability for that customization to be conducted by end users and admins rather than technical consultants – is a definite advantage.
  • Connectivity – It’s no use having an all-singing, all-dancing sales planning solution if it doesn’t incorporate all the necessary data for true business insight. Check that the solution can talk to other databases to give you the full picture.
  • Additional capabilities – A planning solution requires data to function. A solution with built-in Business Intelligence capabilities gives you visibility at a wider level and helps you to make a more-informed decision thanks to the extra insight it provides.
  • Control – While freedom to explore and play with data is a good thing, you don’t want to go overboard. Ensure that the planning process is controlled through functionality such as workflow or other measures, keeping things running smoothly.

 Ensure your software evaluation takes these factors into account and you’ll be on the road to higher sales figures in no time.

Sales Planning Case Studies

If you’d like to know how other organizations are utilizing sales planning software to improve their sales results, check out our case studies for Puma, Groupe SEB, and Gruppo Amadori, who are utilizing BOARD’s decision-making capabilities to improve their sales and promotion management capabilities.

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