With the 2023 planning season on the horizon, the year so far has seen a rapid shift in the way that business are built and how they operate.
Rate increases have stemmed the flow of cheap money, and financial positions exacerbated by businesses battening down the hatches to reduce burn and extend runway. Last year was the year of layoffs, this year is the year of hibernation & hope.
The rise of AI has also had major impacts - AI prospecting tools appearing left right and centre, promising personalisation at scale and a route to efficiency through leaner sales teams, leading to noisier inboxes, influxes of AI written content and noise and chatter aplenty.
The sales landscapes have always rapidly evolved, but ever quite so quickly?
Planning sales teams has become a more arduous & fraught task, and one that is potentially becoming impossible to reconcile with reality using the old spreadsheet approaches.
When targets have been continually missed, it's maybe time to ask if the way we try and reach targets is flawed, if maybe the spreadsheets are missing something. It's the big ask:
What should my Sales Capacity Plan consider in 2024?
Better planning and & Revenue Projection - Build your Crystal Ball
Gone are the days of building team plans in spreadsheets (although if you want the best template on the internet you can grab it here), planning needs to be an agile process that doesn't pause business progress for weeks on end, and certainly never goes out of date.
Live progress & revenue projections vs. target should now be the key dashboard of health for businesses, looking far further than forecast.
Drop the spreadsheets and start using a planning platform to build your plans, or hook live data into your spreadsheets using APIs and webhooks.
Update your plans with live data, or connect them to your CRM so that your revenue projections are always up to date based on current business performance
Use the plans to test for adverse conditions & changes to performance, and change your plans when it's clear that you are heading the wrong way.
Scenario planning & testing - Expecting the Unexpected
Testing the "what if" is how the best businesses avoid disaster, and scenario planning & testing should be a central part of your plans. Without it you're left open to the risk of further changes in business conditions draining your remaining cash, or missing opportunities if market conditions improve. The best plans are always made ahead of time.
Best case / worst case is dead, change can happen across more than one business area - Build sandboxes where you can simulate each of these conditions and build your strategies to limit their impact, and understand your capabilities in each scenario
Build sandboxes in a way where different leadership can have their own scenario, and collaborate on potential outcomes - Challenging to do in a spreadsheet so we'd recommend a dedicated platform for scenario & capacity planning
Tie the scenarios to live data, so that your shifts are based on today, not what ever performance you were seeing 6 months ago - Chances are that things have changed.
Doing More with Less - The Drive for Greater Capital Efficiency
The need to achieve greater capital efficiency has become paramount and in 2024, businesses will have to do more with less. With tightening investor funding and the constant pursuit of profitability, revenue leaders must find innovative ways to optimize resources, extend their runway, and reduce burn.
Analyze and streamline sales processes: Identify inefficiencies in your sales processes and eliminate redundant steps. Optimize your team's efforts to focus on high-priority leads and opportunities.
Embrace lean methodologies: Adopt lean principles to foster a culture of efficiency within your sales team. Encourage continuous improvement and experimentation to enhance performance.
Leverage technology: Invest in sales tools and technologies that enable greater efficiency, such as automated workflows, revenue projection and analytics platforms.
Data-Driven Selling - The Key to Outperforming Competition
Data-driven selling is no longer an option but a necessity, and you need to arm sales teams with the right data and insights to make informed decisions, identify the right leads, and measure the impact of marketing efforts accurately.
Data integration and accessibility: Ensure that your sales teams have access to comprehensive and up-to-date data from multiple sources. Centralize data to eliminate silos and enable informed decision-making.
Analytics and performance tracking: Implement robust analytics tools to measure sales performance and track key metrics. Use these insights to identify areas for improvement and make data-backed decisions.
Data training for sales teams: Equip your sales team with the necessary training to effectively use data in their selling process, including interpreting analytics, understanding customer behavior, and identifying buying patterns.
Personalization and Customer Experience - Winning Customer Loyalty
Personalized customer experiences will help set businesses apart, and you must prioritize understanding the individual needs of customers and providing tailored experiences throughout the sales journey.
Buyer persona development: Create detailed buyer personas based on demographic, behavioral, and psychographic factors. Use these personas to personalize sales conversations and offerings.
Empathetic selling: Train your sales teams to approach each customer interaction with empathy and genuine interest, understanding pain points and demonstrating how your product addresses their specific needs.
Customer success focus: Align sales and customer success teams to ensure a seamless handover and ongoing relationship with consistent engagement and support.
Social Selling - Tapping into the Power of Social Media
The influence of social media on the buying journey has skyrocketed in 2023, thanks in part to AI tools making it easier than ever to write content, regardless of your writing ability. Acknowledging the growing importance of social selling as an integral part of the sales strategy, and leaders themselves need to be establishing their own profiles & brands.
Social media strategy: Develop a comprehensive social media strategy that aligns with your sales objectives. Engage with potential customers, nurture relationships, and amplify your brand presence.
Educate your sales teams: Provide training on leveraging social media platforms effectively. Teach them to identify prospects, engage in meaningful conversations, and convert leads through social channels.
Monitor and measure results: Monitor the effectiveness of your social selling efforts through analytics, measuring engagement, conversion rates, and track the influence of social media on your sales pipeline.
Automation and AI - Revolutionizing Sales Efficiency
Automation and AI have evolved to play a pivotal role in the sales process, offering untapped potential for sales teams to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
Identify repetitive tasks: Identify tasks that can be automated to free up your sales team's time for more strategic activities. This includes email follow-ups, lead scoring, and data entry.
AI-driven insights: Utilize AI-powered tools to gain deeper insights into customer behavior, trends, and predictive analytics. These insights will enable more targeted sales approaches.
Human-AI collaboration: Embrace a collaborative approach, combining the strengths of AI with human skills. Develop a team that can interpret AI-generated insights and translate them into effective sales strategies.
2024 will bring a host of new challenges and opportunities, but hopefully some stability also. By changing the approach to planning, you can cover off for needing to go all in on one strategy or another, with less of a risk of tripping over unknown negative consequences.
The new drives and technologies will no doubt drive more profitable businesses, but for some they'll be too far invested structurally to shift as quickly as they really need - Now is your opportunity to build in a way that keeps you agile in 2024, no matter what the market conditions throw at you.
At Clevenue, we're on a mission to revolutionise the way the Revenue teams approach Sales Capacity & Scenario Planning, working to build more sustainable & efficient sales teams.
We believe that there's a real science to sales & revenue, and have built our platform around cutting edge models and approaches, making it simple to build plans that never go stale.
Q: What changes in business operations and planning have been observed in 2023?
A: In 2023, there's been a noticeable shift in business operations and planning due to increased financial pressure and the rise of AI. As businesses are focusing on reducing burn rate and extending their runways, the use of AI tools for operations like prospecting and content generation has increased, creating a highly competitive environment.
Q: How has the role of AI in business changed recently?
A: AI has significantly influenced business operations, with the advent of AI prospecting tools that promise personalization at scale and increased efficiency. This has led to leaner sales teams but also to an increase in AI-generated content, causing more competition and noise in the market.
Q: How can my business adapt to the evolving sales landscape?
A: Adapting to the evolving sales landscape requires a shift from traditional methods to more dynamic and data-driven approaches. This includes ditching old spreadsheet methods for more agile and real-time planning platforms, embracing capital efficiency measures, leveraging technology for process automation, and focusing on personalized customer experiences.
Q: What should I consider for my Sales Capacity Plan in 2024?
A: Your Sales Capacity Plan for 2024 should focus on agile and updated planning methods, data-driven sales strategies, scenario planning, capital efficiency, personalization in customer experiences, social selling strategies, and the use of AI and automation for sales efficiency.
Q: Why is better planning and revenue projection important?
A: Better planning and revenue projection are crucial for tracking business health and forecasting future performance. By updating your plans with live data and testing for various business scenarios, you can make proactive adjustments to your strategies based on real-time business performance.
Q: How can businesses achieve greater capital efficiency in 2024?
A: Businesses can achieve greater capital efficiency by streamlining sales processes, adopting lean methodologies, and investing in sales tools and technologies that enhance operational efficiency.
Q: Why is data-driven selling important?
A: Data-driven selling is critical for outperforming the competition as it empowers sales teams to make informed decisions, identify the right leads, and accurately measure the impact of marketing efforts. Key to this is having integrated and accessible data, robust analytics tools, and a well-trained sales team.
Q: How can personalization enhance customer experience?
A: Personalization enhances customer experience by providing tailored interactions throughout the sales journey. This can be achieved through the development of buyer personas, empathetic selling, and aligning sales with customer success teams.
Q: What is the role of social selling in business?
A: Social selling plays a significant role in sales strategy by leveraging the power of social media to nurture relationships, amplify brand presence, and convert leads. It involves having a comprehensive social media strategy, training sales teams to use these platforms effectively, and monitoring and measuring results.
Q: How can automation and AI improve sales efficiency?
A: Automation and AI can revolutionize sales efficiency by automating repetitive tasks, providing deeper insights into customer behavior, and fostering effective collaboration between humans and AI. This allows sales teams to focus more on strategic activities while leveraging AI for insights and efficiency.