Volatility is killing businesses and their plans, causing chaos across the tech world. What this means for you is that planning no longer means planning for multiple outcomes, but planning for every outcome.
It's less about getting it right, and more about just not getting it wrong - It's vital for survival, growth, and success. The "how" is through scenario testing your sales capacity plans, either within a spreadsheet or using dedicated sales capacity planning software.
We'll run you through more detail on the why and the how, however we've also built a really handy business scenario testing template, free for you to download, if you already know the why and want to just get to work.
Why Scenario Testing?
The chances are that you or people you know have been caught up in the mass layoffs that have occurred since late 2021 and well into 2022. Even this year has seen more companies fail and layoff teams due to getting their plans wrong and not being able to weather the storm. Volatile market conditions underscored the importance of being prepared for all possible outcomes, including the worst-case scenarios. Scenario testing allows you to do just that, giving you an opportunity to stress-test your plans with scenarios that you hope to never see.
The Value of Scenario Testing
Whilst it should be obvious, the value of scenario testing comes from helping businesses visualise their key metrics across multiple future scenarios. Turn tough situations into conquerable pathways, it helps to create a resilience to further change and can build effectiveness in strategies. By predicting the impact of potential changes on sales capacity plans, businesses are better able make informed decisions, mitigate risks, and seize opportunities.
The Limitations of Spreadsheets
While spreadsheets have been the go-to tool for many businesses for scenario testing, they come with their own set of challenges. Spreadsheets can be time-consuming and prone to errors., with teams like Finance and Revenue Operations having to pick up the task of building complex excel models.
Most importantly they lack the flexibility and scalability needed to handle complex scenario testing. Whilst it's not impossible to get the data in at the level of complexity needed, to then visually process and interrogate it to build strategy and decisions off the back of is a pretty impossible task. Tip in the added challenge of multiple people across a business with differing objectives all trying to run the same analysis, you ultimately end up in a situation of inconsistency and confusion.
Best Practices for Scenario Planning
Whilst using a dedicated planning platform is the ideal way to run scenario planning & analysis, following some best practices can enhance the effectiveness of your scenario testing.
Identify Key Drivers
Start by identifying the key drivers of change for your organization - These are the factors that have the greatest impact on your business performance. For most SaaS businesses this is going to centre around demand and conversion metrics. Areas like lead generation and opportunity size and conversion are going to have huge impacts.
Define Business Logic & Levers
Once you've identified the key drivers, the next step is to define the business logic - What are the levers that you are able (or needing to) pull. This often comes with a large interplay between driver variables and financial outcomes, in most GTM teams it's the balance between people hiring, marketing and targets. This forms the backbone of your scenario testing, and each carrying levers that can be pulled to vary effect.
Collaborate with Key Stakeholders
Effective scenario planning requires the input of key stakeholders from across the organization, and their insights can help you refine your assumptions and enhance the accuracy of your scenarios. You need to be able to effectively pull in people across Sales, Operations as well as Finance as the context of whether pulling certain levers is achievable can't simply be assumed.
Examples of this would be assuming that increasing prices could lead to larger deal sizes - Other factors that might not be considered are the impact on deal length (and so when the revenue arrives) and conversion rate, both of which would likely move in negative directions diminishing the benefit of higher pricing.
Execute Scenario Analysis
With all the inputs in place, you can now run your scenarios through your scenario planning sheets or software . This is where managing and comparing scenarios becomes considerably more difficult depending on how you run your scenarios.
If working out of spreadsheets you can expect to run into XX's of tabs across multiple sheets, and even then you may still be unable to effectively work out what scenarios you could be hit with.
Scenario testing template
You can get a great head-start with scenario testing your sales capacity plans, using out free spreadsheet template.
Overcoming Spreadsheet Limitations
The limitations of spreadsheets call for a more robust and efficient way of scenario testing, one that enables fluid planning so that not only do you know what the impact of each scenario would be to your current plan but also what the plan would need to look like to remedy the situation.
This is where scenario planning software like Clevenue comes into play. out platform enables you to quickly and easily create and process unlimited scenarios, with immediate recommendations around how hiring and spend needs to change to remain on track.
By moving out of spreadsheets you can drastically reduce the risk in planning, making scenario testing a much smoother and error-free process.
The Power of Scenario Planning Software
With a more agile and connected approach to planning, decisions around hiring and spend become more fluid and relevant to current business direction, meaning that blindly travelling in the wrong direction purely because of the plan becomes a thing of the past.
Planning cycles are fractured into monthly and quarterly checkups and adjustments, reducing the load on teams at the end of the year ultimately keeping sales and revenue teams in the game at a critical time of year.
Collaborative Scenario Planning
Collaboration is key when it comes to scenario planning, and approaches like Revenue Sandboxes make it easier than ever for everyone to be able to interrogate the plan without the risk of destroying the model.
With sandboxes being everyone's personal spaces to test and amend the plan prior to approval, it means that the collaboration piece becomes quicker, cleaner and easier.
Scenario testing your capacity plans is a crucial part of strategic financial planning as it empowers you to navigate uncertainties and make data-driven decisions. While spreadsheets have traditionally been used, the limitations they present combined with the growing need to deal with volatility make scenario testing a key requirement for healthy business planning.
Clevenue is a first of its kind planning platform dedicated at making the lives of Sales, RevOps and Finance teams simpler & easier when it comes to planning, and is well and truly the future of revenue planning. See it for yourself: