Let’s face it, companies miss their sales targets. Sometimes they miss targets for “macro” or environmental reasons like a shift in the marketplace that reduces customer demand or a new competitor unexpectedly entering the market. These macro events are difficult to predict and are the hardest to adjust to quickly.
Other times companies miss targets for execution or managerial reasons like when the sales team underperforms due to insufficient training or a top account churns unexpectedly due to customer satisfaction issues. These events should be addressed by strong sales leaders who identify the issues, get their team the training and marketing materials they need and address the customer’s concerns quickly and effectively.
Other times companies miss their targets simply because the plan wasn’t realistic in the first place or because no one bothered to track performance to plan throughout the year. In my opinion, these are the worst reasons to miss sales targets because they are the most controllable.
So how do sales leaders get better at planning and monitoring? With data and analysis.
Using an application to plan instead of Excel makes it easier to analyze historical sales data for more accurate plan inputs. We recently conducted a research report on sales capacity planning. For it we evaluated a company’s Excel-based plan with that company’s data in the OpsPanda application.
The original plan used a 6 month ramp up time before new hires were able to attain “normal” quotas. Data showed that a 9 month ramp was more accurate. Based on this single difference the Excel scenario required hiring 74 new reps to make the company’s sales target while the OpsPanda scenario more accurately forecasted that 88 new hires were necessary. Of course this company was going to miss their sales target if they only hired 74 reps. The plan wasn’t realistic and set the team up for failure.
The OpsPanda scenario also more accurately modeled quota achievement based on data (61% with no overassignment compared to an original 71% with 10% overassignment) and more accurately distributed attrition and new hire timing throughout the year. Success is in the data-driven details.
The more realistic and accurate your plan variables are to start with the more useful they are as a yardstick to measure against throughout the year. Using an application instead of Excel takes the SWAG out of your most important plan and makes it easy to monitor your important plan variables throughout the year and course correct if you get off track, which is crazy important.
With a little data and a bit more analysis we can all make better plans and make our targets more often. Let’s raise the bar and make data-driven sales capacity planning a reality for all!