Businesses have already felt the impact of uncertainty in 2020, caused by a diverse mix of events including ongoing trade negotiations between the U.S. and EU, an official Brexit in the UK, and the widespread global disruption of the coronavirus outbreak. CEOs are increasingly bearish and as PWC’s latest Global CEO Survey revealed, for the first time in the survey’s 23 year history, over half of CEOs think the rate of growth in the world economy will slow. Not surprisingly, business investment continues to contract as companies prepare for a potential downturn.
This complex landscape can prove tricky for sales leaders who must steer business forward by delivering new revenue streams efficiently as organizations brace for a possible recession. With increased ambiguity sales leaders must deploy agile, intelligent sales planning to uncover new insights that can increase pipeline without increasing spend.
“The anticipation of a potential buying slowdown has put added pressure on sales leaders this year,” said Jason Loh, global head of sales solutions at Anaplan. “With predictive, AI-driven solutions, sales leaders can sharpen their forecasts and elevate sales planning into a strategic driver for company-wide growth.”
Take account segmentation and scoring as an example. Often a manual, time consuming process, knowing which accounts to prioritize and which reps to assign requires extensive research involving thousands of accounts at a time. Point solutions house a limited number of attributes, leaving sales leaders to rely on a small batch of insights in order to allocate resources and optimize accounts. Performing account segmentation with AI-enriched, Predictive Sales Planning capabilities means internal data is augmented with predictive attributes, so sales leaders can leverage robust analytics and insights in order to prioritize accounts with a higher propensity to buy and spot new market opportunities before the competition. Leveraging Predictive Sales Planning capabilities helped an open-source technology company generate a high-definition picture of ideal prospects, which enabled the company to, without increasing budget or spend, focus its efforts on prospects that consistently became high revenue customers.
Complex business environments also make it difficult to predict where new opportunities might arise, so organizations must be nimble and ready to shift quickly. For instance, think about the trickle effect of necessary business adjustments that comes with a territory change. From financial forecasts and territory hierarchies to compensation plans, these adjustments can involve extensive lag time and require sales teams to be agile in order to make changes without sacrificing revenue. A connected approach to sales planning can make it easier to optimize territories based on actionable metrics and insights. By leveraging strong data, sales leaders can test new territory options, evaluate expansion opportunities and easily adjust territory plans to accommodate market changes. This insights-based approach to sales planning helped a multinational technology company reduce time spent aggregating sales data from a month to just three days, giving their sales team more time to identify new opportunities for improvement. “It allowed us to make changes that we never would have discovered or uncovered without the insights that we can get from the Anaplan engine,” said the company’s SVP of Indirect Sales.
Accounting for unknown variables during times of increased instability can prove nearly impossible, but sales leaders must be ready to act on the fly when change happens in order to keep business moving forward. Having the ability to model future, “what-if” scenarios, review potential outcomes and develop contingency plans can help decision-makers feel better prepared to make real-time adjustments and ensure optimal sales coverage and capacity in any market conditions.
“As businesses push into new markets and competition continues to heat up, an effective sales plan is often the difference between strong pipeline and missed revenue,” said Loh. “The ability to model various scenarios based on predictive insights can empower sales leaders to feel confident adjusting, so they can combat real time changes without sacrificing sales and revenue projections.”
With a connected approach to sales planning, one OEM of car audio systems was able to reduce the time it took to conduct “what-if” scenario analyses from a full day to just 10 seconds, freeing up time for sales teams to focus on driving growth.
During an economic slowdown, having clear insights and the agility to turn on a dime is crucial for business success. Companies battling for market share, while also preparing for a further downturn will need to find the right balance of growth and savings, which often falls to the sales organization. For sales leaders, the pressure is on to make impactful business decisions that maximize resources and optimize accounts, all while anticipating market changes. These decisions can not only help businesses react confidently to disruptions but add a new layer of innovation to the sales organization, increasing effectiveness in the future.