87% Say Scenarios are the Toughest Part of the Sales Planning Process

Have you ever looked over the shoulder of your sales operations manager while he or she tinkers with your sales planning model? Scary, right? Truth is, sales planning models tend to be rather brittle. Which explains why 87% of sales professionals told us it's difficult to run scenarios as part of their sales planning process.




Sales teams struggle with sales model scenarios for 2 primary reasons:

  1. It's hard to build the models in the first place. During the sales planning process, teams are often pressed to decide which variables to include in their models, collect the data, build the actual model and validate the results.
  2. Flexibility isn't baked in. Models are typically designed to get to a single answer at a single point in time. How many sales reps do I need to hire at what quota to hit my number? Running what-ifs are often secondary.

There are two primary scenario categories you should focus on in your sales planning process. Let's call them "micro scenarios" and "macro scenarios".


Micro scenarios are the ones you tweak in order to understand the impact a particular variable can have on your sales plan. For instance, changing AE ramp from 90 days to 80 to 70 days. What does that do to your resource planning? Is that a big enough bump to warrant a focus on reducing rep ramp time and building that new figure into your model?


Macro scenarios are the broad what-ifs you present to your Board of Directors. These are real scenarios you will create contingency plans for. An example would be if competition heats up causing your average selling price and win rate to drop. How will you react by shifting sales resources so you can still hit your goal?


The point is, the ability to run scenarios is key to a successful sales plan. Looks like we still have a little ways to go yet.



John Rode

Written by John Rode

John has been working closely with sales operations and demand generation teams for over a decade. He specializes in managing both the art and science of driving and analyzing pipeline growth. When not at work, John is most likely to be found running around with his kids just north of San Francisco.