A guide to mastering sales revenue planning

Sales planning is an important process that is used by businesses to achieve their sales targets by adopting a structured approach to the overall sales process. By focusing on areas like appropriate forecasting and resource allocation, the sales planning process can ensure that the organization successfully achieves its targeted sales revenue.

In this blog, we will explore the concept of sales planning, what it encompasses, the different roles that organizational teams play in this process, and the various benefits of sales planning. We will also dive into some of the software that can be used by professionals to excel in the sales planning process. 

What is Sales Planning?

Sales planning is the process of setting sales targets and drafting plans to achieve them. It involves extensive analysis of historical data, identifying trends, and forecasting future sales.

Leaders involved in the sales planning process broadly perform the following steps:

Analyze historical data 

Analyzing historical data can help in identifying trends, patterns, and other relevant aspects needed to begin the sales planning process. This step involves closely studying sales and customer data along with other relevant data sources to gain meaningful insights into customer behavior, market trends, and additional factors that may impact sales.

Identify goals

After analyzing historical data, the next step is to narrow down sales goals and objectives. This stage involves setting realistic sales targets and chalking out a plan to achieve these goals. For instance, an organization may desire to achieve 200% sales in the next financial year. However, the important question to ask here is whether this goal is realistic and achievable. 

Design strategies

The next step in the sales planning process is to design sales strategies that are aligned with the sales goals set in the earlier step. This involves coming up with an action plan, highlighting priorities, and identifying areas that require improvement.

Allocate resources

Once sales strategies are identified, organizations must allocate resources to achieve the sales goals. This involves identifying resources like marketing budgets and sales force that are required to achieve the desired sales revenue.

‍Implement strategies based on specializations

The last step in the sales planning process is to implement the sales strategies by focusing on the company’s specialties/niche, executing the designed action plans, constantly monitoring progress, and making changes as needed in the process. This can ensure that the organization achieves its sales revenue targets.

This image depicts each crucial step in an ideal Sales Planning Process

What is the role of different teams in the sales planning process?

Role of sales teams

Sales teams are at the core of any organization’s sales planning process. They are responsible for studying and closely analyzing customer needs, maintaining customer relationships, and executing sales strategies to achieve sales targets. Sales teams can also offer valuable insights to other teams, like product development and marketing teams, to help them improvise products and strategies.

Role of finance teams

Finance teams are important in any sales planning process as they help analyze financial data, forecast future sales revenue, and allocate resources for achieving sales targets. These teams offer valuable insights into the financial implications of sales strategies. This, in turn, helps businesses optimize their resources and successfully achieve their sales targets.

Benefits of sales planning

Sales planning has numerous benefits for businesses, including:

Helps in setting realistic goals

With the help of sales planning, businesses can set realistic sales targets after considering historical data, market trends, and associated factors. This can ensure that sales targets are achievable, and businesses can avoid unrealistic expectations that may end up demotivating teams.

Optimal resource allocation 

Sales planning allows businesses to effectively allocate available resources. This helps in optimizing resources and achieving desired sales targets.

Meaningful forecasting

Sales planning involves analyzing historical data and forecasting future sales, which can help businesses make informed decisions. This can impact the business’s future investments, product development, and other business strategies.

Strategy development 

Sales planning helps businesses to develop effective sales strategies by identifying areas for improvement, setting clear objectives, and developing action plans to achieve those objectives.

As per a Harvard Business Review, companies that have a clearly defined sales plan have a chance of achieving 18% more revenue growth than those that do not have one.

Software that can aid the sales planning process

There are several software options that can help with the sales planning process, including:

Sales forecasting software 

This software helps businesses forecast future sales by considering historical data and market trends. Businesses can use this to set realistic sales targets and come up with effective sales strategies.

Customer Relationship Management software

CRM software helps businesses to better manage customer interactions and maintain relationships. This software can aid sales teams in identifying customer needs, keeping a close track of sales progress, and effectively managing customer relationships.

Business intelligence software 

With this, businesses can analyze data, gain meaningful insights into customer behavior, and keep up with market trends. This software aids in enhancing sales strategies, effective resource allocation, and other business areas.

Modern FP&A software

Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) software can streamline and enhance the entire process. The software can help organizations make data-driven decisions, improve collaboration among teams, and provide insights to achieve sales targets more effectively.

FP&A software can pull data from multiple sources, such as CRM, ERP, and financial systems, to create a centralized and consistent database. This integration helps in maintaining data accuracy and provides a holistic view of the organization's financial and sales performance.

The software enables organizations to run various scenarios and assess the impact of different sales strategies on revenue. FP&A software also offers real-time reporting and analysis tools that help organizations monitor their sales performance and track progress toward their targets. With these insights, decision-makers can make adjustments to their sales strategies as needed to optimize results.

The power of effective collaboration

Through sales planning, businesses can reach their sales targets as per plan and within the available resources to achieve long-term growth. However, this process can be successful if there’s effective collaboration between sales and other teams within the organization. By following the sales planning process and ensuring effective collaboration among teams, businesses can also stay ahead of the competition.

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