It’s widely accepted now that effective CRM tools have a vast amount to offer when it comes to driving business success from the inside. Unfortunately, many simply don’t have the inbuilt functionality that is necessary to master planning too. However, there is a way to link up these essential processes to make sales planning more effective – the right software can have the effect of optimising an existing CRM and provide new opportunities for accuracy and efficiency in the planning process.
The reality is that spreadsheets have a foundation role to play in sales planning and that isn’t going to change in the near future. The smart move is to embrace those tools that allow you to take advantage of Excel and which minimise training and maximise familiarity because they have a similar look and feel to spreadsheets.
Maintaining perspective over the process
Sales planning often suffers from a lack of perspective when it comes to the processes involved. However, sales planning software can support better workflow and provide real time updates with respect to status. Notifications can be sent once specific stages in the process are complete and, once approved, data is locked in, minimising the potential for unseen amendments or errors. The smarter approach to sales planning is one that enables perspective over the entire process so as to maintain control and provide insight to all the relevant stakeholders.
Customisable sales planning
There are a myriad of different elements involved in the sales planning process and the combination of those that are relevant will be different for every business. In order to optimise planning, the smart solution is one that enables a comprehensive approach that brings together input from all over the business while at the same time enabling different combinations of data, dimensions and detail, as each individual enterprise requires.
Allowing for multiple budgets
Testing different versions of a budget is inherent in the sales planning process for many organisations today. However, this can often create confusion, particularly if it’s not that easy to maintain perspective on the different versions. One solution to this is to integrate software that provides complete transparency over all the different versions of the budget, as well as locking in the final budget to the system and making it accessible for a range of uses, from analytics to financial forecasting.
Integrating sales into wider performance
It’s not enough just to look at sales performance and planning in isolation – this data is at its most powerful when it forms part of a broader financial performance analysis. Sales planning data that is also integrated with other key data drawn from sources such as P&L or HR can help to create a much more accurate picture of enterprise-wide performance. A planning solution that enables this kind of integrated enterprise planning is incredibly powerful in terms of identifying opportunities and dealing with issues.
The smarter approach to sales planning goes way beyond spreadsheets. The right sales planning tools can not only give your business a competitive edge but greater insight into potential and performance too.