It’s hard to overstate the importance of strategic sales planning. An effective sales plan aligns the sales team’s targets with the business’ goals and objectives, and motivates sellers with achievable targets and fair compensation. But striking this balance can be a complex process.
For this blog, we sit down with the brains behind Pigment’s own sales planning process to find out about their approach, and how they’re using Pigment to improve the process.
Q: Who are you, and what do you do at Pigment?
Jonathan: I’m a Revenue Operations Manager at Pigment, and when it comes to sales planning I’m responsible for territories, capacity plans, and compensation planning.
Joe: I’m also a Revenue Operations Manager, and I focus on deal desk, pipeline, forecasts and performance tracking.
Sami: I’m a Business Analyst at Pigment and my role is managing cross functional data initiatives at Pigment.
Q: How do you use Pigment for strategic sales planning?
Sami: We’ve integrated Pigment with our other tools, so all the data from Salesforce and other platforms flows into Pigment, forming the basis of our reporting, analysis and planning.
Territory carving in Pigment (not real data)
Q: Territory planning is one of the most important parts of strategic sales planning. How do we approach this at Pigment?
Jonathan: We really approach this as a three stage process, with the following steps:
1. First up, account segmentation. This year we started segmenting our account base by number of employees, and then layered region and country on top.
2. We decide how the sales organization should be structured to determine how many territories we need to create. We operate in North America as well as EMEA, so there are quite a lot of different regions to think about. This process is really collaborative, we work with sales as well as finance so we can plan for budgeted headcounts and new hires.
3. Finally, we align our account segments to the Sales managers and create the territories. At Pigment, our AE account lists are manually selected based on a lot of different inputs including third party data enrichment and our own intent scoring system. What’s great about the way we do it is that it’s really collaborative: we’re able to collect inputs from lots of different people including sales teams, solutions consultants, BDRs etc.
Q: What are the biggest challenges of territory mapping, and how do you overcome them?
Jonathan: There are two big challenges when it comes to territory carving:
1. The data. Whether you’re the smallest startup or the biggest organization, you’re always going to have to make decisions about the accuracy of your account data, which data points you want to consider for carving and how much weight to assign to different factors. Before you start carving territories you really have to communicate with the team so everyone is aware which data you’re working from and how it’s being used.
2. Stakeholder management. You absolutely should not fly solo when it comes to territory planning, but the more people you bring in the more consensus you need to build and the longer it can take. The key here is balancing who is involved, and communicating really clearly about what is happening and aligning finance, sales leaders and RevOps from day one.
Q: What is the benefit of Pigment for territory mapping?
Jonathan: There are a lot of moving parts, and the best thing about using Pigment is that it’s completely dynamic. You can move things or change data points really easily and the changes automatically update everywhere so you and everyone you’re working with can see the impact of any changes in a planning environment. Because Pigment is such an intuitive, easy-to-use tool, it also makes it a lot easier to keep all your stakeholders on one page. Everyone can see the same data and understand how it’s being used, plus collaboration features like being able to comment on what’s happening in the platform help teams to stay aligned and get queries answered fast. There are also workflows and automations that help to keep everyone on track and make it quicker and easier to move through the process.
Quota planning in Pigment (not real data)
Q: Moving on to look at quota planning, how do we approach this?
Jonathan: In a lot of organizations, quota mapping happens either alongside or just after territory planning. It’s so important for quotas to be balanced: they need to feel achievable to reps to keep them motivated, but if you set quotas too low it’s bad for the business. To achieve this, you really need the finance, revenue and headcount plans to be set in stone. Effective quotas are heavily dependent on the number of people in the sales teams, their seniority/compensation, the type of segment they’re dealing with and the date they’re going to start.
Q: How has Pigment helped with quota planning?
Sami: There are two reasons Pigment is so helpful here. First of all, a lot of different data dimensions go into quota planning and with Pigment you can connect them and see them all together a lot more easily than with other tools. Secondly, there’s often a lot of movement in sales teams: reps move into different teams or move between different companies. With Pigment we can see dynamic roll ups, so the platform accurately reflects sellers moving from one team to another and displays their quotas in the right place at the right time. Once the planning is done, we also use the quota app in Pigment to keep track of quotas for the rest of the year.
Q: Once the sales planning is complete, how do we keep using Pigment to track performance and forecasting over the year?
Joe: Each team has their own view in Pigment that pulls out the most important metrics for them, with breakdowns between regions, managers and reps. Some people even have their own individual boards so they can see a leadership board for their team.
We also use Pigment for sales forecasting. Forecasting is always a really manual and subjective process, which is why sales managers are able to override the numbers we pull into the Pigment forecasting app, so we get a picture of where we are and the level of confidence we have in the deals as they progress that goes beyond just the numbers.
Because the tool is so easy to use, we use a weekly snapshot to get a sense of where we are and what’s changing. The operating cadence changes over the quarter, often as we get towards the close we’ll be forecasting every day.
Sami: We use a series of connected apps in Pigment to report on sales performance, all based on live data from Salesforce and other data sources. This means that all the different applications are using the same data to give all the different teams, from finance to sales, a really clear picture of the business.
… That’s all from Jonathan, Sami and Joe.
But if you’d like to hear more about sales planning with Pigment, we have a monthly live demo showcasing what the platform can do. Sign up for the next one here. Or, if you have specific questions about how Pigment could help you and your business with sales planning, book a 1:1 demo with one of our experts here.