We recently conducted a survey of sales and sales operations leaders to get a grasp on how most organizations are approaching their Annual Operating Plan. Some of the results were no surprise to us. People start their plans months in advance, planning takes a long time, and modeling scenarios is challenging (we did a full-blown blog about that here).
There were other results that show significant room for improvement in how sales leaders approach their sales planning process. We’ve highlighted a few of the most interesting results from our survey and provided a few tips on how you can improve your sales planning.
Only 22% of Sales/Sales Ops Professionals think they’re good at tracking the accuracy of their assumptions
Assumptions are not facts so we cannot stress the importance of monitoring actuals against your plan on a regular basis to verify your assumptions. If your assumptions are off your entire plan could leave you at risk of missing your sales targets. Keeping tabs on how good of a job you did/are doing with your initial assumptions will reduce the number of unexpected surprises you have throughout the year.
35% of sales pros don’t know what a 1 month hiring delay would cost them
We know that creating scenarios of your sales plan can be difficult, but we are living in the data age, so having the ability to identify how a delay in hiring or other inaccurate assumptions will affect your business is not an extraordinary request. Hiring delays can have a huge impact on your bookings as you may not have enough coverage to close out deals in the pipeline. If you’re missing targets we advise that you examine how well you stuck to your initial hiring plan, and while you’re at it, check to see how long it’s taking your reps to become fully ramped.
61% of companies allow 3+ people to make changes to their sales plan model
We are all about collaboration at OpsPanda and encourage multiple stakeholders to work together and agree on a viable sales plan. However, what concerns us about this particular statistic is we’ve seen far too many Excel errors and version control errors that lead to detrimental results for organizations. In fact, 90% of spreadsheets contain errors. If your creating your plans in Excel (as many companies do), keep in mind the tool wasn’t built for planning dynamic business models and you’ve probably already outgrown it. If you aren’t ready to make the jump to software that can help alleviate some of the Excel pain make sure you have someone who is in charge of maintaining and updating your plan as too many cooks in the kitchen could lead to expensive mistakes.
Download our state of sales planning infographic to see more interesting stats.
When it comes to sales planning, there’s still a lot of work to be done to improve the process. As you close out each quarter, make sure you use your plan to provide you with visibility and insights into your business that will help you make targets.
P.S. Huge thank you to all who participated in our survey!