Planning to Succeed: Using Technology to Improve Sales Performance

How the right software makes sales planning easier, faster, and more accurate

Technology is important to sales performance management because the right technology will give executives and managers a clear picture of the current sales situation and provide them with the tools to make reliable forecasts for the future.

Robert Kugel, CFA
Senior Vice-President & Research Director

00:00:13I want to talk about how technology can improve sales performance. Improving sales performance begins with planning. Planning is the discipline that companies use to set the goals that align with their strategic objectives. Planning is essential to a company's ability to succeed.

00:00:33The sales planning process is an essential part of managing sales performance. Sales organizations set goals and create plans to achieve those goals. They periodically assess how well they performed and then reset their sales plan based on what they need to achieve next. This sounds pretty simple, but in reality it's a challenge. For one thing, sales planning is a dynamic process because nothing ever goes completely to plan. For another, speed and agility are important in responding to competitive changes in the market. So it's important to shorten planning cycles.

00:01:09Companies need to be able to optimize and re-optimize territory, customer, and quota allocations as needed. To do that, everyone needs immediate access to reliable, up-to-date information and guidance on the best actions that will enable them to achieve their goals. Technology - the right software - can make managing sales performance easier, faster, and more accurate. In order to effectively plan for where you're you're going, you first need to understand where you are.

00:01:43A common challenge for sales executives and managers is having a clear and immediate picture of their current sales situation, and this is where modern technology plays a key role. Sure, CRM systems collect a great deal of data, but they don't necessarily organize and report it effectively. So you need a system that has seamless integration with CRM. But that can also integrate with financial and operational systems to compare plans with actual results, support gap analysis to identify issues and opportunities, and generate insights on what to do next.

00:02:21This way, the sales leadership team has a clear understanding of what's working and what needs attention. And by a clear understanding, I mean being able to understand how things stand, at both a high level and at any lower level of detail. Sales executives and managers need to look at sales performance by region or territory, all the way down to the individual sales rep, or by product family down to the SKU, or by customer category down to an individual store or customer location. And by any and all combinations of these so managers and executives can have the clearest possible understanding of where they are now and what they need to do next to achieve sales objectives.

00:03:05To be able to do this quickly and reliably, you need the right technology. Technology that ensures everyone is working from the same, accurate, up-to-the-minute numbers. Technology that cuts through the clutter to present decision-makers with the information they need to maximize the performance of their sales organization. The right technology will help companies improve the quality and accuracy of their sales forecast. The right software can take data from individual sales pipelines and by analyzing past performance, mold that data into an accurate sales forecast week by week or month by month.

00:03:43Analytics can then be used, for example, to identify salespeople who are consistently optimistic or deliberately low-ball their forecasts. And the right technology can reliably and quickly gather information from multiple systems so that it can be used for sales analysis, forecasting, and reporting. So while the sales planning process often starts from the bottom up, modern sales systems can use analytics to help managers transform the field forecast into higher level sales and revenue forecasts that are consistently more accurate.

00:04:18Technology is important to sales performance management because the right technology will give executives and managers a clear picture of the current sales situation and provide them with the tools to make reliable forecasts for the future. This is what it takes for the sales organization to manage performance effectively. And technology enables the sales organization to play their key role in achieving the goals in strategic objectives of their corporation.