Companies usually task their sales team members with targets they need to meet by the end of a term. These quotas can go up or down depending on the previous period’s performance and current market conditions. When leads fail to prepare their sales team with clear strategies to acquire new clients, those quotas rarely get met. In contrast, a well-equipped team that understands the market won’t just hit their targets – they’ll exceed them.
Does your sales team engage in strategic programs like sales planning and forecasting? If yes, congratulations. Reading the market and anticipating potential issues allows you to skillfully navigate your team to success. In addition, gathering insights from your team’s previous performances helps you map out a better sales strategy for the future. All this requires sales planning.
What is sales planning?
Sales planning helps salespeople understand both the general market and their unique clients better. Having a firmer grasp of the customer entails anticipating their needs and even possible objections. When reps arrive at a sales call with this knowledge in tow, they have a better chance of closing the deal.
Similarly, companies that invest resources into sales planning gain a clearer understanding of what the upcoming year will look like. Gathering intelligence about competitors and their market shares can also help. Analyzing industry data can showcase the market’s full potential. It also involves input from marketing, customer service, manufacturing, logistics, HR, finance, and management.
Planning for the future
Combining all of this information paints a more accurate picture of the overall market situation – including how much of it is up for grabs. Finally, sales planning shows how much market share can your sales team realistically capture. This projection will serve as the basis for your sales team’s quotas for the upcoming period.
Sales planning doesn’t only show market potential and projections. It outlines the strategies and programs the sales team must implement to achieve the projected targets. Below are four ways effective sales planning can improve your sales team’s chances of success.
Sales planning improves decision-making
Making decisions that can help sell more products or generate more profits is generally easier if everybody is on the same page. Sales planning helps sales and all relevant parties align their movements with the current market. This leads to better-informed business decisions.
Sales planning can open the door for discussions concerning operational issues. Taking stock of the current situation is part of strategic planning. Before making sales projections, a company usually assesses how many products are currently sitting in inventory, are under production, or are in transit. These quantities will then be compared to current sales performance to determine the current demand.
This information grants management the ability to make informed decisions. Should the current rate of production continue, or should we dwindle the inventory first? Is the demand high enough to warrant increasing production? Or are warehouses filling up without the corresponding sales? In this case, should the company offer lower prices? These are some of the decisions management can arrive at easier with the numbers in hand.
Sales planning enables accurate budgeting and forecasting
Effective sales planning accurately measures how well your company’s products will perform in the market. To yield as detailed information as possible, it’s critical to gather data not just from sales but from other departments as well. This can help management make critical decisions, such as how many products to produce and sell.
An understanding of the market situation helps companies develop even more accurate sales projections. Is the economy doing well enough for people to buy non-essential products? During hard times like a recession, households often hold back on buying luxury items and splurging on vacations. Producing too many products at times like these can lead to oversupply and slow movement. In such cases, management might ease up on production and call for increased sales activities instead.
In contrast, high demand for products can trigger management to make plans to raise production. This can lead to expansion projects such as creating additional plants and expanding distribution centres. Increased production also implies expanding the sales team. These decisions have seriously big financial implications for the company. As such, they require a careful assessment of sales data before signing on the dotted line.
Sales processes are streamlined
Establishing real-time coordination between sales and the supply chain can help ease the pressure from suppliers. It can also benefit customers by offering lower prices or faster deliveries. Sales planning can help establish a permanent connection between these two parties.
Sales teams can benefit from this integration by having instant access to inventory and pricing information. Even during field sales calls, they don’t have to call the office over and over to provide customers with the latest stock and pricing information. Clients with a better grasp of product availability and pricing can make purchase decisions faster. Ultimately, this leads to improved buyer-seller relationships and better customer experiences.
Sales planning improves inventory management
Knowing your manufacturing department’s production rate helps the sales team set targets that won’t turn into stock issues. Producing too much leaves you with too much supply and not enough demand – forcing you to offer promotions and lose out on capital. Conversely, producing too little results in angry customers and distorted prices. Effective sales planning means maximizing your plant’s production capabilities while avoiding warehouse issues.
Another factor that sales planning determines includes product movement in the supply chain. This includes the time spent processing at the warehouse as well as the total time spent in delivery. Awareness of these factors can spur management to implement more effective production planning and inventory management programs. Having products arrive at retail outlets in time for launches or sales promotions maximizes the opportunities for sales. It also means lower storage costs since products spend less time sitting idly in warehouses.
Sales leaders use tech to improve sales planning and efficiency: Skynamo
An integrated sales and operations planning strategy can help jumpstart your sales efforts.
Skynamo helps your field sales team maximize this synergy by having important sales and supply chain information available at all times. As a cloud-based system that integrates with your ERP and accounting software, Skynamo equips field sales agents with accurate product stock and price information – anywhere, anytime.
The use of field sales CRM tech to improve the decision-making process and establish synergy between the company’s sales and supply chain teams can lead to better sales performance. Accurate forecasting leads to efficient budget use. Meanwhile, enhanced sales planning means better opportunities for sales teams to close more deals.
Are you interested in increasing your field sales team’s productivity and efficiency? Get in touch with us to learn what Skynamo can do for you, your sales team, and your bottom line, today!