A lot of people who work in sales operations are sharing some serious high-fives these days.
Why? Because those of us who have been using spreadsheets for sales capacity, quota, and territory planning now have something to celebrate.
Every sales ops team I’ve been on has struggled with sales planning. We always resorted to spreadsheets in our efforts to drive better sales performance, strike the right balance in our territories, and achieve an acceptable level of predictability in our planning.
There’s a reason they call it Excel hell
But static, fragile, and manual spreadsheets make it awfully hard to plan in a business that operates in real time. Clumsy quota setting and ramp assumptions are too often based more on intuition than actual data. And trading single-user spreadsheets is a disconnected and inefficient way to plan, estranging sales plans from the corporate financial plan.
Throughout my career, the finance team assigned to support sales would help create our sales planning model in Excel. This is problematic for several reasons:
- The planning process—from changing assumptions to updating inputs—was always too slow. Changes required a lot of back and forth and reconciling. It was needlessly time-consuming on both sides.
- Spreadsheets frequently broke, and version control was a nightmare.
- Collaboration with sales leadership and executives was limited to emails and spreadsheets that were out of date as soon as they were sent.
All this changes today because the new Adaptive Insights Business Planning Cloud offers a comprehensive planning and analytics solution for sales. It’s called Adaptive Insights for Sales. Think of it as Adaptive Insights transforming sales planning just as it transformed planning for finance—automating time-stealing manual tasks, simplifying modeling, analyzing trends, and anticipating impacts. It’s the result of two core company beliefs here: that everybody (not just finance) plans, and that people across the enterprise should have a powerful and easy-to-use planning platform.
I can tell you that here in the sales operations group at Adaptive Insights, we’re thrilled!
Sales and finance, working together
It’s not that sales planning should occur without finance. Sales planning typically starts and ends with finance. But those of us in sales can’t do our job in a vacuum, and neither can finance. If we can work together on the same plan, a plan that sales can own and modify the moment we need to make changes and that integrates fully with the corporate-level plan, then that’s a far better environment for sales ops and finance both.
Fortunately, that’s exactly what Adaptive Insights for Sales delivers. Take quota and capacity planning. This is absolutely crucial to a successful sales operation, and it requires a close partnership with finance. With this new solution, we’re able to work in real time to understand how changes to certain assumptions (such as attainment, attrition, ramp times, or quota over assignment) will impact sales performance. Because Adaptive Insights for Sales is part of the Business Planning Cloud, it supports an integrated planning approach where a change to one plan automatically impacts all other related plans. This goes way beyond the usual (and limited) “connecting” of plans that other organizations may know.
With our integrated planning, when you adjust capacity in ways that naturally impact quotas and productivity, all these changes flow across your various plans and up to the corporate financial plan. No version control nightmares. No back and forth. No drama. Just an easy way to optimize your planning and collaborate with sales leadership and finance.
This new sales planning solution also streamlines and enables territory planning, and thank goodness for that. I’ll dive deep into that experience in another blog.
The game is changing with sales planning
In his blog about the launch of the Adaptive Insights Business Planning Cloud and Adaptive Insights for Sales, our CEO, Tom Bogan, describes this new sales planning solution as a game-changer for sales ops organizations. He’s right.
My team can now measure the effectiveness of our sales organization and course-correct where and when we need to. We can collaborate with our sales leadership to review our options and plan our strategy. We can report on and monitor actuals versus plans. We can model any part of our sales business or consider alternatives to enable what-if scenario planning. We can do a better job managing attrition. And everything we do is reflected in the corporate plan orchestrated by finance.
So much of this was so difficult before—and in some cases impossible. Now it’s easy to improve performance and predictability, staying agile in a marketplace that demands it. Simply put, it’s easy to succeed.
So yes. High-fives all around.