Whew — for most of us, planning season and SKO will soon be behind us. We can breathe a sigh of relief and move on to other strategic activities.
Or can we?
After the sales team returns home, they unpack their bags and hit the streets, energized and excited to hit the ground running. Until…….stuff happens!
You name it, the GTM plan is continuously disrupted by it —
….and other unpredictable events. Sales faces a revolving door of change.
In truth, in the face of these potent forces, the static GTM plan never really stood a chance.
What is continuous GTM planning?
In most organizations planning is treated as a static exercise, but there is a better way.
Continuous GTM planning is a pillar of agile and lean methodologies. It relies on automation to minimize the cycle time of updating the GTM plan.
When the plan is in alignment with execution, your territories remain optimized and sellers are focused on the best opportunities. This keeps sales productive and ensures that the company is getting the most out of existing resources.
Continuous planning does not mean you have to be constantly re-doing your plan.
In the context of go-to-market planning, it’s important to understand that continuous planning does not mean you have to be constantly re-doing your plan. Rather, a continuous plan entails making small tweaks. You see something in the market, you make a hypothesis, and you test it, and then quickly roll it out.
The benefits of continuous GTM planning
Here are three key benefits of continuous go-to-market planning:
1. You can respond to market changes fast
Companies that maximize business agility will win the next business cycle.
COVID is an obvious example of market volatility. There were plenty of industries where opportunities skyrocketed and others where it crashed. Organizations using continuous planning were able to quickly assess the changes and pivot their GTM plan to take advantage or minimize the impact.
Even without a global pandemic, there will always be market unpredictability, whether it be due to the economic outlook, M&A activity, regulatory changes, and so on.
2. You can eliminate sales downtime
Seller turnover is a huge problem that costs companies millions in lost revenue.
Continuous planning eliminates sales downtime. It allows you to quickly assign temporary coverage for a ‘to be hired’ role so that no opportunities are missed.
Likewise, you can accurately calculate ramp for a new hire so that you keep expectations realistic for that person as well as for your revenue goals.
The automation that forms the foundation of continuous planning can also ensure that planning is aligned with execution. When RevOps teams set automated rules of engagement for common GTM activities, like lead routing or holdouts, everything automatically stays in sync when territory or account changes occur. For example, when a new rep starts in the middle of the quarter, continuous planning ensures that all leads are automatically routed to the new rep without any lag or effort required on the part of the RevOps team.
3. You can improve ops efficiency
During difficult economic times, operational efficiency takes on a special importance.
A continuous planning approach leads to dramatic improvements in ops efficiency. It automates time-consuming manual tasks and eliminates spreadsheet chaos. These operational efficiencies save the ops team time and money.
Furthermore, transparent territories and quotas keep sellers happy. Not only does this reduce seller turnover, it means less firefighting and fewer tactical distractions, thereby enabling the ops to shift from a supporting role to a true, trusted strategic partner for the business.
How to get started with continuous GTM planning
For a large team, the benefits of continuous planning are tremendous. So how do you make continuous planning a reality?
The last thing you want to do is add more spreadsheets. Instead some companies write their own code to automate crucial GTM tasks. Others rely on out-of-box GTM planning software. Whichever path you choose, here are some important steps to get started.
Step 1: Automate assignment and role changes
Keeping role and assignment changes straight may seem trivial, until you get bogged down managing the details of constant change.
In order to successfully execute on your GTM plan and eliminate any downtime or confusion in the field, it is important to be able to update territory assignments quickly and efficiently.
Be sure to automate role changes for sales reps and other revenue team members, such as SDRs, Sales Engineers, and Customer Success reps, such as:
when a person is terminated;
whether there is temporary coverage;
when a replacement is starting;
the ramp profile for the respective role; and
if any holdouts may apply.
Automation improves Ops productivity and accuracy by eliminating spreadsheets and manual updates. It prevents the “Oops! I forgot to add the new sales rep to the CRM” on their start date. It enables Ops to proactively pre-schedule role changes and set productivity profiles, while at the same time providing visibility to the entire team.
Step 2: Track effective dates
Constant role and assignment changes can throw your crediting and commission processes into chaos.
Most organizations have no ability to track who worked on what account when, so disputes are common. They are often solved by paying multiple commissions to different sellers which eat away at a company’s margins.
That’s why it is so important to have a record of truth for your GTM plan. Your system needs to be able to track the effective date of role changes, so that this information can be delivered to your commission system.
The historical data in a GTM record of truth provides an audit trail of any changes and ensures accurate crediting.
Step 3: Define and automate policies
RevOps execution policies represent the rules of engagement for your RevOps and Sales teams.
Without them, most decisions are arbitrary and implemented without consistency. Decisions take longer and they are less predictable. The more chaos in the culture of an organization the more that employees will churn.
For example, say that a sales rep is promoted out of a territory in the middle of a deal cycle. What is the holdout for that sales rep?
Without a formal policy in place that rule may change based on the whims of the particular sales or ops manager.
The first step toward implementing policies is to write them down. Think through all of the different scenarios that impact your GTM, like holdouts, account hierarchies, or routing. Ops and sales need to work closely together to come to agreement on the rules of the road.
Then codify these rules in your GTM systems and automate them as much as possible. Automation improves the accuracy of your GTM plan because it eliminates human error and manual updates that sap the Ops team’s time. Policies enforce important Salesforce guardrails so that your team is marching to the beat of one drummer.
The grand GTM plan rolled out with much fanfare at SKO is typically immediately out of date due to unpredictable market changes.
When plans are constantly changing, it is almost impossible to keep your sales team operating at full strength, especially when relying on spreadsheets and manual updates.
Those companies that adopt continuous GTM planning will attain a level of agility that enables them to stay on top of the market and ahead of their competition.
If you need some help putting continuous planning in place, check out Fullcast today.
Edited by Kendra Fortmeyer @ Sales Hacker 2023